Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Words! Words of Jest. Words of Life.

"You won't be sorry!" Those were the words I called to a young couple last night. It was dark and bitterly cold. I was exiting Lowe's where I had picked up primer, paint, brush, and roller for our bathroom.

This young couple were loading a good-sized snow blower into the back of their pickup. I figured they were anticipating the storm that's forecast for today and tomorrow.

"You won't be sorry!" I called. The wifey turned to look at me and laughed, "We bought it for insurance! We figured if we buy it the storm will go around us!"

I called back over my shoulder, "Well, I hope you live next door to me." Meaning if the "insurance" works, I want to live where they live. In the midst of "no snowstorm".

Then we parted and I drove to the jail. On Tuesday evenings I teach a women's Bible study there. My friend teaches Sundays. I teach Tuesdays. I missed last week because of the weather and I was glad to be back again.

Last night we read in the Gospel of John. This book is John's eye-witness account of the teachings of Jesus as well as the miracles Jesus performed. John's testimony, as well as that of the other apostles, was handed down, generation after generation, to us today.

In John 10:17-18 Jesus declares that He has the power over life/death, that He (would at the cross) lay down His life of His own volition and His own authority. He forcefully points out that "I have authority to lay it down and I have authority to take it up again." He points out that His death is no mere happenstance, but that it is premeditated and purposeful and that He will accomplish what He purposes.

Soon after these words Jesus dramatically demonstrates His power over death. His friend Lazarus died and was in the grave four days before Jesus arrived on the scene. Lazarus' sister points out in John 11:39, "Lord, by this time there will be a stench, for he has been dead four days." Lazarus is dead. Stinkingly dead. This is no "near-death experience" where someone is declared "dead" but who still maintains some minuscule brain wave pattern undetected by machines but still there. No, indeed. This Lazarus is past any "near-death experience". He's DEAD. In caps!

Jesus, after praying to the Father, commands with a loud voice (John 11:43), "Lazarus, come forth!" The loudness of His voice was not for Lazarus' benefit, for He could have whispered and dead Lazarus would have been raised. No, the loud voice was for the benefit of those standing around Him. Loud enough for all to hear so that they might believe.

And while we were not among those standing that day, we are among those who have the written eye-witness account of John. John mentions in John 20:31 that these words were written so that we might believe and have eternal life in Christ.

After the resurrection of Christ and after His ascension into heaven (Acts 1:9-11), the disciples, including John, shared their witness with those around them. The church was first established in Jerusalem, and then spread throughout the surrounding continents and then on into all the world. Ten of the disciples died martyr's deaths. Only John lived to old age before dying. He, too, spent time in prison for his spreading of the Good News. None of these men lived lives of ease, none of them ever heard of the "health, wealth and prosperity 'so-called' gospel". (Nor did they ever teach that false idea.) They were imprisoned, they were whipped, chained, in exile. They died for what they believed. And they continued to witness unto death so that we might believe as well.

P.S. Mom's furnace is still awaiting the arrival of the UPS man with the needed part for repair. Today. We hope. She's cool, but not cold. I'll keep you posted.



Debby said...

Well, I hope when UPS arrives, the part your mom needs in on the truck. I'm not real happy with UPS right now. We shipped two boxes to our daughter at Fort Hood the 12th of December. She has yet to receive them.

You know, sometimes I just need to see it laid out for me. I know these things, but sometimes it is important to hear someone who believes strongly just lay it out there again. I needed that. Thanks.

Kelly said...

John was always my least favorite Gospel until I did the Beth Moore study about it.

Now I love it! (but Luke is still my favorite)

Lynn said...

How neat that you are teaching a Bible study in a prison. Are you using the Joy of Living curriculum, by any chance? I am currently studying the book of Mark,with, of course, many of the same miracles and stories from John. How cool is it, that we get to see our Savior's power over death and sickness. It gives great hope and perspective as we are reminded once again that this world is merely a stopping place. Thanks for the thoughtful post :)

Whidbey Woman said...

Great post!
Thanks :)

S. Etole said...

Yes, the words, "he stinketh," are so applicable to conditions in our lives at times ... but the Lord can bring life out of anything

Forrest said...

Good thoughts, Judy. I was reminded of a sermon I heard years ago.

Acts 1:11 says "Which also said, Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? this same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven."

The counsel in his message was this.

We should GLANCE at our problems, we should LOOK upon the lost world, and we should GAZE upon the risen Saviour.

His point is that the word "gaze" (used in Acts 1:11) means to stare, examine, and ponder.

Blessings to you as you "gaze" upon Christ! The risen Saviour.