Saturday, October 29, 2016

Plot to Kill Lazarus Dumbest Ever

I recently was surprised during my New Testament reading.  This is always happening to me. I don't know if it shows that I have a bad memory or that I really haven't been paying attention in my previous readings, but I find new things all the time. Strange and wonderful things in both the New and Old Testament. In my last post about Donald Trump I included some interesting sentences about a basket with a woman in it. You can check that out in Zechariah chapter five.

But I am more surprised when something in the New Testament pops out that I haven't noticed before. Or maybe I noticed it and then forgot? That reminds me of the other day when I locked my keys in the car.... alright so maybe it makes sense that I was surprised in my reading but humor me!

Was J.C. Ryle Exaggerating?

I had been reading in John because J.C. Ryle was going on about how important John chapter 11 is. I was startled at how highly he spoke of the passage regarding the death of Lazarus, look at what he says about the text "He whom you love is sick" John 11:3:

"The chapter from which this text is taken is well known to all Bible readers. In lifelike description, in touching interest, in sublime simplicity, there is no writing in existence that can compare with that chapter. A narrative like this is, to my mind, one of the great proofs of the inspiration of Scripture. When I read the story of Lazarus, I feel "There is something here that the unbeliever can never account for." "This is nothing else but the finger of God.""

This is from the chapter on Sickness in the book "Practical Religion." We had been reading this at the men's book study at Andover Baptist last year and our wonderful next door neighbors gave me this book for my birthday a few year's back.  Let's not talk about how many years back. But Beth and I are trying to read a few pages every morning with breakfast after getting some good advice from my parents. Anyway - back to my point.

Obviously this chapter is very important to Ryle. So that seemed like a really good reason to go back and do some reading and meditating on the passage. I know I have read John 11 before but I didn't really have that same impression.

Did I Read that Right?

I was a little sleepy and having trouble staying focused. I had read John chapter 11 and Ryle's remarks on the passage and was greatly helped in thinking about the gentleness, mercy, and power of Jesus Christ. What could be better than having a relationship with Jesus who loves His friends and has the power to give eternal life? And what a great way for Him to show us His power by raising Lazarus (and Himself!) from the dead.

So I was continuing into chapter 12 and read the following in verses 9 to 11:

When the large crowd of the Jews learned that Jesus was there, they came, not only on account of him but also to see Lazarus, whom he had raised from the dead. So the chief priests made plans to put Lazarus to death as well, because on account of him many of the Jews were going away and believing in Jesus.

Wait - did I read that correctly? I thought I had just read in chapter 11 that Lazarus was sick and died but was raised from the dead? And now the chief priests are planning to put him to death?

I must admit that my first reaction was that I had gotten my reading mixed up and out of order. I went back to Chapter 11 and read about Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead. So yes, he had JUST been raised from the dead. And yes, I was in the right chapter.

How Dumb Can They (We) Be?

So my second reaction was, "How dumb can they be to want to kill Lazarus after he was just raised from the dead?!?" And furthermore, the very motivation they have for killing him came from the fact that he was raised from the dead! Isn't that kind of circular. 

They so are angry that people are believing in Jesus because he raised Lazarus from the dead that they want to kill both Jesus and Lazarus. But didn't they think, "Wow - plotting to kill someone who was just raised from the dead probably doesn't make any sense because Jesus will just raise him from the dead again." 

I guess they didn't. Of all the dumb things to do, plotting to kill Lazarus probably ranks up there in the top 5 or 10. 

But, lets remember that this kind of foolishness is part of who we are as humans. Shouldn't the Jews have had a similar thought when putting Jesus to death on the cross? "Hey, this guy will probably just raise Himself up from the dead again - after all, he did raise that girl and Lazarus!" 

Nope.  The heart of unbelief is wicked and irrational. We would rather kill Lazarus and Jesus and make them come back from the dead than submit to God. Don't you see the absurdity in that? 

This is the absurdity of sin and unbelief. Sin and unbelief make us do things that are irrational and silly - like trying to kill someone who was just raised from the dead. 

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