Saturday, February 19, 2011

Reflections from the book of John #11: The Slippery Slope

John 11:45-48  Many of the people who were with Mary believed in Jesus when they saw [him raise Lazarus from the dead]. But some went to the Pharisees and told them what Jesus had done. Then the leading priests and Pharisees called the high councilttogether. “What are we going to do?” they asked each other. “This man certainly performs many miraculous signs. If we allow him to go on like this, soon everyone will believe in him. Then the Roman army will come and destroy both our Temple and our nation.”

Are you kidding me?  Only some of the people who saw Jesus raise Lazarus from the dead believe in him? Yeah, and the rest were so upset that they went to tell the Pharisees, the ones who wanted to kill Jesus.

What were they thinking?  How many times do they see a formerly dead guy walk out of a tomb?

And get this, the Pharisees don't praise God.  They don't question whether or not the report is true.  They conclude, "Man, this guy really can do a lot of very cool impossible stuff."   That doesn't prompt them to change their minds and say, "Wow.  Maybe this guy really is who he says he is."  No, instead they worry about what will happen if he keeps on doing cool impossible stuff.

They say, "If we don't stop him now, pretty soon everyone will believe he's God.  And then the Romans will come and destroy our Temple and our nation."

Talk about a slippery slope.  Who says one thing will lead to another?  What if Jesus actually is God?  (And for the record, I believe he is.)

There's no prayer.  There's no seeking God to find out what he wants.  There's no asking the Almighty One whether or not Jesus actually is the one sent to redeem Israel.  No.  Even though they're already living in an occupied country, even though their king is chosen by the Romans and not by them, even though they have to compromise certain aspects of faith in order to please the occupying forces, the Pharisees want to keep what they've got and they don't want to risk having it taken it away.

It doesn't matter what God wants.

And I know it's not from the book of John, but this story very much reminds me of something Jesus told his disciples, recorded in the ninth chapter of Luke.
If you try to hang on to your life, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for my sake, you will save it.And what do you benefit if you gain the whole world but are yourself lost or destroyed?
Sometimes I think I'm more like a Pharisee than I want to admit.  Sometimes, instead of looking to Jesus, at his glory, at his plans, I try to hang on to whatever I've got right now.  Sometimes, instead of asking God what he wants, I chase after the things I want.

In giving up my life, my plans, my stuff--in surrendering them to Jesus--somehow I save them.  It doesn't make sense, but it's true.  And even if for some reason I don't see God move right away, what benefit will I have if I save everything that matters to me, but lose what matters for eternity?  

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