So then he told them plainly, “Lazarus is dead, and for your sake I am glad I was not there, so that you may believe. But let us go to him.” (John 11:14-15)
When we heard that my mother had suffered a serious stroke, our first response was to try and get to the hospital as quick as we could. That’s normal and natural. When Jesus heard that one of His best friends was dying, He delayed going to him. That’s not normal. There had to be a reason for the delay that went beyond what can be seen in the natural.
The disciples were as puzzled by Jesus’ behavior as we are. We gravitate toward what we perceive as normal behavior for us. Someone we love is in trouble? Our first thought or response is to go try to fix it or at least be with the person in his or her difficulty. We become horizontally focused upon the situation and the person rather than upon the God in charge of the circumstances who loves the individual(s) involved more than we could ever think or imagine.
Jesus certainly had that loving horizontal focus for Lazarus. But the horizontal action was determined by His vertical priority. In this case, Jesus explained to His disciples that He had delayed to the point of Lazarus’s death, in order that His disciples might believe. This was not a cold-hearted decision to teach recalcitrant followers, but a sacrificial, loving demonstration that they (and we) needed. Remember, it was the death of Lazarus that brought forth tears from Jesus.
Staying vertical, focused on the purposes and desires of the Father, will bring tears for us as well. It requires doing that which isn’t expected or “normal.” Sometimes it means leaving family and friends to serve the cause of Christ in other lands. There are times it means giving up a lucrative career for the sake of Jesus. What our Savior would like for us to always remember is that after the tears, there was a resurrection.
Lord, help me to pay attention to what You are doing, and then follow You wherever You are going. Let my actions not be determined by what is expected of me by others, but only by Your Spirit. Take me deeper with You that I might do those things that encourage others to follow You, and extend Your kingdom.
–Adapted from Vertical with Jesus: A 30-Day Journey to Impact Kingdom Living by David and Kim Butts. This book is available at prayershop.org. Use the code CONPSP3 at checkout to receive an additional 10% discount.
Praise the One who sits upon his throne, supreme in power and authority. Give thanks that the Almighty is your Father in Jesus Christ. Confess your own hardness of heart and disobedience against God’s authority over you. Commit yourself to God so that you “do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its evil desires” (Rom. 6:12). Ask God to help you endure, so that you may reign with Christ (2 Tim. 2:12).
Pray that the relationships among your family and friends will be spiritually honest and productive. Pray that Jesus Christ will be a frequent and comfortable topic of conversation.
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