Jesus The Hero
Prepared by Dr. John E Marshall
John 11:7-8 (Holman) Then after that, He said to the disciples, ALet=s go to Judea again.@ ARabbi,@ the disciples told Him, Ajust now the Jews tried to stone You, and You=re going there again?@
The threat of being stoned to death did not deter Jesus. There was a man in Judea who could not be delivered unless Christ did it, so Jesus bravely went.
Jesus= bravery was based not on pride, or love of applause, but on compassion and duty. He loved Lazarus and loved God, and knew both would be helped if He went to Bethany. Jesus was heroic because He was loving and right.
Jesus expected His followers to go with Him into hostile territory. Followers of Jesus must be willing to go wherever His work needs to be done.
Christians who let fear keep them from the fray are a hindrance to the kingdom. They may be ornamental, but not useful. May God keep us from becoming delicate greenhouse plants that cannot bear to face an unsympathetic, ruthless world. We must pray for God to fill us with the Spirit of Him who said, ALet=s go to Judea again.@
John 11:9-10 AAren=t there 12 hours in a day?@ Jesus answered. AIf anyone walks during the day, he doesn=t stumble, because he sees the light of the world. If anyone walks during the night, he does stumble, because the light is not in him.@
We each have an appointed measure of working time given to us. Our work can be done only as long as this appointed time lasts. Even Jesus had to do His duty while He had opportunity.
There was enough time, but not too much time. We are given time enough for the task, but not enough to waste any. Jesus felt no need for haste (He had already tarried two days), nor room for waste (He could not tarry any longer).
Jesus had a task to do. He knew Bethany was merely a stepping stone to Jerusalem, the place of His crucifixion, but He refused to stray from the path.
If He stayed in the Father=s will He knew the path would be clear. If He tried to save Himself, His steps would be in darkness. Jesus was saying, AI have a certain work given to Me, and an allotted amount of time to accomplish it in. Until My work is done, and My time is expired, nothing must hinder Me.@
Such singleness of purpose always is a characteristic of true greatness. Has any great general placed personal safety above victory? Have we known of a great physician who was more concerned about being exposed to disease than about healing? Singleness of purpose allows duty to become simpler for us.
John 11:11-14 He said this, and then He told them, AOur friend Lazarus has fallen asleep, but I=m on My way to wake him up.@ Then the disciples said to Him, ALord, if he has fallen asleep, he will get well.@ Jesus, however, was speaking about his death, but they thought He was speaking about natural sleep. So Jesus then told them plainly, ALazarus has died.@
Jesus displayed supernatural knowledge. The messengers had mentioned only sickness, but Jesus knew Lazarus was dead.
Jesus told the disciples by saying Lazarus was asleep. They misunderstood, thinking He meant rest. By saying Lazarus was better, they may have been hinting there was no more any need to enter Judea. Jesus bluntly clarified His meaning, ALazarus has died.@
ASleep@ is a word which makes death sound more pleasant and less formidable to us. The word also reminds us our belief in Jesus should make it as easy to put off our body and die as it is to put off our clothes and go to sleep.
Frances Ridley Havergal took pneumonia after speaking outdoors regarding temperance and the Gospel. As she continued to deteriorate, her Doctor finally told her she was dangerously ill and said she could die that day. She responded, ABeautiful, splendid to be so near the gate of Heaven.@
Later, after a spasm of pain, she nestled down in the pillows and said, AThere, now; it is all over B blessed rest.@ She then tried to sing, but only sang one word, AHe . . .@ Then all was still. She finished her song in Heaven.
Death is the common experience of us all. We must come to see it as a natural migration. It can be our finest triumph.
What if, instead of dying, all Christ-followers were translated into Heaven as Enoch and Elijah were? Death could then boast, AThese believers dare not meet me in battle! Their Lord is afraid to put His people to the test.@
One reason Jesus lets us go through death is that we might see how harmless Satan=s most powerful weapon is against us once we are saved. For believers, death is sleep, a healthy, refreshing state that can do us no harm.
Jesus had business with Lazarus. Death severs all other friendships, but does not terminate our friendship with Jesus. Friends walk arm in arm, but at a grave, one must walk away alone. But when Christ=s friends are taken from this world, they are brought into a closer walk with Jesus.
Notice this test was applied to Jesus= favorites. He often applies more discipline than usual to saints He cherishes much. He uses trouble to draw especially precious ones nearer to Himself.
The more favored we are the more of His discipline we may have. It can be painful to be a favorite of Heaven. It is a standing to be sought after and rejoiced in, but challenging. Gardeners prune their favorite trees, not those that grow in the wild. Jesus said every branch that bears fruit is purged by God, Aso that it will produce more fruit@ (John 15:2).
We should view our trials as discipline and schooling, not cruelty and punishment. Picture them not as lightning bolts sent to blast and destroy, but as a sculptor=s strokes, making marble ever more beautiful.