Monday, November 4, 2013

Walk Peacefully in the Light

I don’t know about you, but many people when they get urgent news tend to drop whatever they are doing and reshape all of their thoughts and actions around that news. After all, we think what could be more important at the moment, and what is happening obviously needs our immediate attention.

In contrast to this, I thought about President Bush when he got the news of the planes crashing into the towers on September 11, 2001. He was in a classroom setting with a number of children, and before he emoted a strong reaction he paused to consider what else was going on around him. Rather than showing panic or exerting whatever authority he might have had, he looked for the right opportunity to excuse himself to a place where he could better assess what was going on.

Having spent a couple of days looking at some passages on Mary and Martha, I thought I might go back to one surrounding them and their gravely ill brother. In John 11, which was cited a couple of days ago when the messenger came to Jesus to tell Him that Lazarus was sick. Jesus responded by saying that He knew the limitations of Lazarus’ illness, and then in verse 6 John went on to record, “So when He [Jesus] heard that he was sick, He then stayed two days longer in the place where He was.”

Between verse 6 and Jesus arriving at the home of Mary and Martha, we read the following, “Then after this He said to the disciples, “Let us go to Judea again.” The disciples said to Him, “Rabbi, the Jews were just now seeking to stone You, and are You going there again?” Jesus answered, “Are there not twelve hours in the day? If anyone walks in the day, he does not stumble, because he sees the light of this world. But if anyone walks in the night, he stumbles, because the light is not in him.” This He said, and after that He said to them, “Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep; but I go, so that I may awaken him out of sleep.” The disciples then said to Him, “Lord, if he has fallen asleep, he will recover.” Now Jesus had spoken of his death, but they thought that He was speaking of literal sleep. So Jesus then said to them plainly, “Lazarus is dead, and I am glad for your sakes that I was not there, so that you may believe; but let us go to him.”” (John 11:7–15, NASB95)

There is a lot going on here, but let’s look at just a couple of parts of it briefly. First of all, in order to go to Lazarus they had to return to Judea where the Jews there were seeking to stone Him. The disciples were clearly aware of this and fearful. From the passage it appears that the disciples would have much preferred to travel during the night hours when they would not be easily identified. Jesus responded to them and told them that there are plenty of daylight hours (12 of them) and that those who walk during the day—in the light of this world, do not stumble. In Jesus’ response we see no indication of concern about being stoned, but rather we find Him instructing them to walk in the light so that they can see. I find it interesting that John records these words of Jesus just three chapters after writing, “Then Jesus again spoke to them, saying, “I am the Light of the world; he who follows Me will not walk in the darkness, but will have the Light of life.”” (John 8:12, NASB95, also repeating “Light of the World in John 9:5) Think of this—the Light of the world was instructing them about the normal things concerning walking in the light of this world.

By the time John wrote this record He truly had come to know that Jesus was indeed that Light. Just go back and read chapter 1 and see how the Word who became flesh was indeed the light of men.

Next, the disciples focus on Jesus’ comment about Lazarus sleeping. The disciples totally misunderstood what Jesus meant by this. The disciples thought that when Jesus had said that Lazarus was sleeping that he really was sleeping and that he would soon wake up. Jesus put an end to this thought when He responded, “Lazarus is dead, and I am glad for your sakes that I was not there, so that you may believe; but let us go to him.” Jesus knew that the power over death rested with Him, and He was soon going to demonstrate that power, and in doing so would prove to them again who He was so that they might believe. He not only had power to heal but He also had power to give life, and they were soon to see it demonstrated right in front of them.

All of this was spoken of during the course of their day in the face of some pretty huge events. In all of it Jesus was fully in control while those around Him might have been in a slight (or even not so slight) panic. And just as Jesus was present with them then, so is He present with us now. As we walk through the light of the day and even in the darkness of night we can know that the hands of God enclose us before and behind and are fully in control of all that would mount up before us to give us concern.

The psalmist wrote of God, “Where shall I go from your Spirit? Or where shall I flee from your presence? If I ascend to heaven, you are there! If I make my bed in Sheol, you are there! If I take the wings of the morning and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, even there your hand shall lead me, and your right hand shall hold me. If I say, “Surely the darkness shall cover me, and the light about me be night,” even the darkness is not dark to you; the night is bright as the day, for darkness is as light with you.” (Psalm 139:7–12, ESV)

As we go through the events of our day, and as we try to calculate how to manage them for our best, these lessons also remind us that we need to be constantly mindful of the presence of our God and the guidance of His Word that shines light on our steps.

Today in “Jesus Calling” by Sarah Young (11/4)

Walk peacefully with Me through this day. You are wondering how you will cope with all that is expected of you. You must traverse this day like any other: one step at a time. Instead of mentally rehearsing how you will do this or that, keep your mind on My Presence and on taking the next step. The more demanding your day, the more help you can expect from Me. This is a training opportunity, since I designed you for deep dependence on your Shepherd-King. Challenging times wake you up and amplify your awareness of needing My help.

When you don’t know what to do, wait while I open the way before you. Trust that I know what I’m doing, and be ready to follow My lead. I will give strength  to you, and I will bless you with Peace.

“And He said, “My presence shall go with you, and I will give you rest.”” (Exodus 33:14, NASB95)

“Your locks will be iron and bronze, and according to your days, so will your leisurely walk be.” (Deuteronomy 33:25, NASB95)

“Now the God of peace, who brought up from the dead the great Shepherd of the sheep through the blood of the eternal covenant, even Jesus our Lord, equip you in every good thing to do His will, working in us that which is pleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be the glory forever and ever. Amen.” (Hebrews 13:20–21, NASB95)

“The Lord will give strength to His people; the Lord will bless His people with peace.” (Psalm 29:11, NASB95)

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