November 18, Saturday

REPOST Today’s Spiritual Food for Thought, first posted on September 3, 2016, is provided by Pastor Jason Sato who, along with his wife Jessica and three young children, serves in Japan as an AMI missionary.  Jason is a graduate of UC San Diego (BS) and Westminster Theological Seminary (M.Div.).

Spiritual Food for Thought for the Weekend

“The Stench of Death”

John 11:38-44 

Then Jesus, deeply moved again, came to the tomb. It was a cave, and a stone lay against it. [39] Jesus said, “Take away the stone.” Martha, the sister of the dead man, said to him, “Lord, by this time there will be an odor, for he has been dead four days.” [40] Jesus said to her, “Did I not tell you that if you believed you would see the glory of God?” [41] So they took away the stone. And Jesus lifted up his eyes and said, “Father, I thank you that you have heard me. [42] I knew that you always hear me, but I said this on account of the people standing around, that they may believe that you sent me.” [43] When he had said these things, he cried out with a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out.” [44] The man who had died came out, his hands and feet bound with linen strips, and his face wrapped with a cloth. Jesus said to them, “Unbind him, and let him go.”

In the city, the strongest sensations may not be the sights but the smells.  An interesting mixture of something rotting and urine constantly reminds you of where you are.  Our preference is to avoid such unpleasant or ugly things, but life is not found in an artificially sterile environment—neither is glory.

Jesus asks that the stone to Lazarus’s tomb be taken away.  Being courteous, Martha desires to shield Jesus from the awful smell that must be within.  But Jesus intends for all to see the glory of God.

Glory shines brightest in the darkest, ugliest places.  God’s glory is revealed most clearly in the cross of Christ—the most awful spectacle in history.  So when we avoid the dark places of our world or deny that the darkness in our hearts exists, we prevent ourselves from seeing the Lord of Glory conquer that darkness and make things new.  

There is no resurrection without death.  Lazarus had to die in order to be raised again.  And when Lazarus is raised from the dead, he is not raised so he can flee from a world of darkness to one that is light and easy.

We must not forget that later the Pharisees plot to kill Lazarus.  He very likely experiences persecution as a member of a sect banned from the synagogues and Jewish communities.  Lazarus does not live forever and eventually experiences death again.

Lazarus is raised so that he and many others might see for themselves the weightiness and splendor of God.  And those who believe are then sent back into a world of darkness to honor this awesome God and call others to bow before His glory.

Prayer: Father, we thank You that You do not turn away from the ugliness of our world and of our hearts.  You shine, You redeem, You restore.  May we follow You and by Your Spirit may we shine Your light, and may we and those around us see for ourselves the light of the glory of God. Amen.

Bible Reading for Today: Proverbs 6-7