May is usually one of the busiest months of the year. School plays, sports, banquets, graduations and weddings creep onto the calendar. For that reason, every year it proves to be a key month for thinking through what I am doing–and why. As a Christian, questions about purpose drive me to think about Jesus, and the way He lived.
Jesus did a lot of puzzling things. Yet there was logic to each, a purpose behind the action. Since His purposes for people and His own life were so much grander than mine, no wonder some of His behavior seems unusual or unpredictable. Reflection on His life helps me to consider whether I am asking big enough questions about my work as well. Here’s an example:
Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. So, when he heard that Lazarus was ill, he stayed two days longer in the place where he was. John 11:5-6
There may not be a more confusing couplet of verses in the bible. Jesus hears that someone he loves is sick. Why does He not go to see them right away? Of course, it helps us to suspend our disbelief because He is Jesus. But what is He up to? In the time he delays, Lazarus dies. Our confusion is only compounded by the confident—and heartbroken–statement made by both Martha and Mary (11:21,32) –‘Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.’
Jesus’ delay was puzzling. Then when He arrives, He does a troubling thing. He asks them to remove the stone from the tomb (11:39). Lazarus is dead. Jesus is asking them to disturb a grave and appears to be tearing open a wound that is still emotionally bleeding. When they hesitate to do so, Jesus reveals a vision and purpose bigger than we would dare to hope: ‘Did I not tell you that if you believed, you would see the glory of God?’ (11:41)
His intent becomes plain, as Jesus raises Lazarus from the dead. Jesus delayed because, while God would get glory from his healing of a sick Lazarus, He gets much more glory from raising a dead Lazarus. This was the cause of His delay. The logic does not make sense to us, because He did the impossible. We cannot plan for the impossible. Yet if we follow Him, from time to time He may lead us to a place that seems like there is no natural solution. We might be stuck between the armies of Pharaoh and the Red Sea, or in a den of lions, or surrounded by unsatisfactory options. Awareness that God can do the impossible is a crucial calculation in setting our own priorities and purpose beyond the scope of the feasible. If we follow Jesus, people will ‘see Glory of God.’
Amidst the bustle of May, I need the reminder to reorient my priorities. What are the big purposes for which God has created me? In difficult situations, I need to ask myself if I trust Him enough to believe that He still does the impossible. Luke 18:27 reminds us: Things impossible with men are possible with God.