… and then he said to his disciples, “Let us go back to Judea.”
“But Rabbi,” they said, “a short while ago the Jews there tried to stone you, and yet you are going back?”
Jesus answered, “Are there not twelve hours of daylight? Anyone who walks in the daytime will not stumble, for they see by this world’s light. It is when a person walks at night that they stumble, for they have no light.”
After he had said this, he went on to tell them, “Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep; but I am going there to wake him up.”
- John 11:7-11
“Just because I don’t understand what Jesus Christ says, I have no right to determine that He must be mistaken in what He says. That is a dangerous view, and it is never right to think that my obedience to God’s directive will bring dishonor to Jesus. The only thing that will bring dishonor is not obeying Him. To put my view of His honor ahead of what He is plainly guiding me to do is never right, even though it may come from a real desire to prevent Him from being put to an open shame. I know when the instructions have come from God because of their quiet persistence. But when I begin to weigh the pros and cons, and doubt and debate enter into my mind, I am bringing in an element that is not of God. This will only result in my concluding that His instructions to me were not right.”
- Oswald Chambers, My Utmost for His Highest
In the Scripture above, we have the disciples questioning Jesus regarding Jesus’ desire to return to Judea. Many people today question Jesus’ loyalty to His friend Lazarus and Martha and Mary, Lazarus’ sisters. Many cannot fathom why He delayed the urgent call to heal Lazarus before Lazarus died. As Jesus said here, Lazarus is asleep (dead) before they even begin their journey.
Of course, those who read a few sentences further use 20:20 hindsight and explain that God’s will was for Lazarus to die so that it set a few things into motion. First, Jesus proved His power over death, although the other Gospels speak of two other people rising from the dead, a widow’s son and the daughter of a synagogue leader. Second, the church leaders, who heard of Lazarus rising from the dead, became frightened. What had become talk in many of their minds, became cold hard resolve to kill Jesus in any way possible. And third, it put Jesus back in Judea, only a few miles from Jerusalem, where the High Priest and the Sanhedrin had their greatest power network.
But the focus that I want to make is on the disciples. They recognized the danger. Jesus had mentioned that He would be arrested and killed. They had heard the rumors that people were wishing Him dead. They were bold in approaching Jesus to warn Him about His return.
It made little or no sense to return to Judea, but they followed Him anyway.
Chambers’ first sentence in the quote above could apply to the questions and arguments of any non-believer. If you do not have the saving knowledge of having Jesus in your heart, you do not have the Holy Spirit indwelled within you. Thus, none of the Scriptures make sense, at least not beyond a cursory reading.
Jesus says the words, “Whoever has ears, let them hear” 15 times in the New Testament. Seven times in the Gospels (some duplicate stories), and eight times in the book of the Revelation, throughout the letters to the churches. He is not talking about those who are not deaf or hearing impaired. He is talking about understanding what the words are saying. He could have said, “The Holy Spirit will come upon those who are my children, and they will understand what I have just said.” Even if a believer explains a parable to a non-believer in plain language, the non-believer will still not understand, for the deep meaning comes from revelation through the inner workings of the Holy Spirit, and the Holy Spirit enters upon salvation. Even so, a deeper meaning may be evident further along each person’s journey of faith.
But, getting back to Chambers, if you read the entire paragraph – beyond that first sentence, the focus quickly shifts to believers. Wait! We have the Holy Spirit within us, should we not understand what Jesus is saying already?
Sometimes we fail in following God’s directions. Sometimes we do not listen to the Holy Spirit, another way of interpreting the ‘having ears’ thing – are we really listening? But sometimes we hear God plainly. As Chambers says, you will know that it is God, because He is rather persistent.
I have mentioned my ‘call’ to write a blog before. I was in a state of prayer for days. I had just written a Sunday school series and wanted to sell it to make money. My wife and I were broke, and my temporary job in Florida was about to come to an end, with no new work in sight – yet, I was a couple of years shy of proper retirement age.
A Voice said, “Give it away. Write a blog. Give it away. Trust me. I will see you through.” Maybe not those exact words. Maybe not all at once, but over several days these words were repeated so many times, I could not mistake them.
They say to test these ‘voices’ versus Scripture. If there are two sentences that are proven throughout Scripture is that God can be trusted, and God will see us through the hard times. I knew this was from God. I had no idea where this would lead, but God did. My first step in faith to answer God’s urging call was to figure out what a blog was, how to start one, and what do I do with it once I have started a blog. The only Christian blog that I had ever read was that of Ben Witherington III. I couldn’t compete with his knowledge and skill, but God kept encouraging me.
Do you feel something urgent within your soul to do something for God? Do you feel the need to become a missionary in Borneo? Do you feel the need to become a Meals-on-Wheels driver in your local community? One word of warning: If God is calling you to Borneo, becoming a Meals-on-Wheels driver will not work out well. The work will not be satisfying, even though you are doing ‘good’ for your fellow man. It is not God’s plan.
Even when you do not understand why God sent you in a certain direction, you will see fruit. In time, you will understand. All it takes is to walk in the direction God is leading, obeying God’s call, even when it makes little to no sense.
Soli Deo Gloria. Only to God be the Glory.