Today’s Text and Thought of Encouragement:
“When you walk, your steps shall not be hampered, (your path will be clear and open); and when you run, you shall not stumble.”
Proverbs 4: 12
“The Lord never builds a bridge of faith except under the feet of the faith-filled traveler. If He builds the bridge a rod ahead, it would not be a bridge of faith. That which is of sight is not of faith.
There is a self-opening gate which is sometimes used in country roads. It stands fast and firm across the road as a traveler approaches it. If (she) stops before (she) gets to it, it will not open. But if (she) will drive right at it, the wheels will press the springs below the roadway, and the gate swings back to let her through. (She) must push right on at the closed gate, or it will continue to be closed.
This illustrates the way to pass every barrier on the road of duty. Whether it is a river, a gate, or a mountain, all the child of Jesus has to do is to go for it. If it is a river, it will dry up when you are near enough to it, and are still pushing on. If it is a mountain, it will be lifted up and cast into a sea when you come squarely up without flinching, to where you thought it was.
Is there a great barrier across your path of duty just now? Just go for it, in the name of the Lord, and it won’t be there.”
Henry Clay Trumbull
Today’s Study Text:
“Jesus still stayed two days longer in the same place where He was. Then after that (two day) interval He said to His disciples, ‘Let us go back again to Judea.’ The disciples said to Him, ‘Rabbi, the Jews only recently were intending and trying to stone You, and are You thinking of going back there again?”
John 11: 6 -8, Amplified Bible
“The Fragrance of His Presence” Part 17
“Jesus! What Are You Thinking?”
“Jesus Christ will be Lord of all or He will not be Lord at all.”
Augustine of Hippo
Would I follow Jesus no matter where the path took me?
If I was a disciple of Jesus, do I think I would have questioned Christ’s judgment in returning to Judea, a place where He recently had stones thrown at Him?
“Discipleship costs everything we have.”
Evangelist Billy Graham
“’If any of you wants to serve me, then follow Me. Then you’ll be where I am, ready to serve at a moment’s notice. The Father will honor and reward anyone who serves Me. Right now I am storm-tossed. And what am I going to say? Father, get Me out of this? No, this is why I came in the first place. I’ll say, Father, put Your glory on display.’”
John 12:26, 27,28, The Message Bible
I’d like for us to take a few minutes today to gain a geographical perspective from the disciple John who gives us a clear understanding of Jesus’ travels just before and during the sad events which transpired in Bethany.
In John 10, we are told that after likening Himself to a “Good Shepherd” who carefully monitors the location of every one of the sheep under His care, Jesus found Himself threatened by “the Jews” who again “brought up stones to stone Him” (John 10: 31, Amplified Bible). This hideous behavior, attempted by Jesus’ own countrymen, was in their minds completely warranted for Jesus, in the words of His attackers, made Himself “out to be God” (John 10: 33, Amplified Bible). Obviously, with His life in jeopardy, Jesus, along with His disciples, chose to go “back again across the Jordan (River) to the locality where John was when he first baptized, and there (Jesus) remained” (John 10: 40, Amplified Bible).
In order to clarify in my mind Jesus’ location, I chose to spend some time with Matthew Henry’s commentary and check out his notes on Jesus’ whereabouts. As Henry notes, because of the attempted attack, Jesus decided to take His band of followers to a “private part of the country…there He found some rest and quietness, when in Jerusalem He could find none.” As Henry then continues, it wasn’t just for Jesus own security that this trip to a remote area was made. Instead, “Jesus chose to go thither, because there could well remain some impression’s of John’s ministry which would dispose (the people) to receive Christ and His message.” Jesus’ mission was blessed in this region for the disciple John notes that “many came to Him…and many people there believed in Him” (John 10: 41, 42, Amplified Bible).
It is with this background that we find a messenger’s arrival interrupts what was an outreach into regions of the country which were not as well-traveled by Jesus. Actually, delaying His return to Bethany by two days, while being something we might question, it was Jesus next move that really throws us off for as John tells us, after the messenger delivered the critical news that Lazarus was ill and after Jesus decided to stay-put for two more days, if our thoughts pointed to Bethany as the next stop on the map, we would be completely mistaken.
Let’s just say we were gathered with the disciples awaiting Jesus’ instructions then out of the blue, He informs us that we should all “go back again to Judea” (John 11: 7, Amplified Bible).
It doesn’t take long for John to give us a clear picture regarding the disciple’s thoughts about this idea. This is where The Message Bible helps us gain a contemporary insight into the reaction of John’s companions in ministry: “They said, ‘Rabbi, you can’t do that. The Jews are out to kill You, and You’re going back?” (John 11: 8, The Message Bible).
If I had been among Jesus’ followers, knowing “Dorothy-talk,” I think I would have looked at Jesus and said, “Are You thinking straight? Do You have a death-wish?” That about sums up what we all might have had going through our minds at Jesus’ absurd plan to return to the very place He’d left after being threatened with “death by rocks.”
Some Biblical scholars point out that the disciples could well have been thinking about their own safety. Maybe they were worried that one of the rocks might get off course and hit them. This could have been possible. However, I truly believe that Jesus’ disciples loved Him deeply and were extremely concerned for His safety. After a few close calls, I think they thought Jesus was in a perilous position and walking back into the death-pit by returning to Judea was simply a dangerous move.
In the back and forth of Jesus’ discussion with His disciples, there are two topics: The first is the point being made about Jesus’ security and I want to add, the safety of His disciples as well. The second is the discussion about Lazarus’ death.
For today I want to share some of the insights from Matthew Henry as he looks at the issue of Jesus’ safety and as an extension – the disciples safety as well. Henry points out that it was “a trial regarding the courage of the disciples. Would they venture to follow Jesus when they had so (recently) been frightened by an attempt on their Master’s life, which they looked upon as an attempt upon theirs too? To go to Judea, which was so lately made too hot for them, was a saying that ‘proved them.’”
Then Henry uncovers the importance of taking in every word written in the Bible. As he points out, “Christ did not say, ‘Go you into Judea, and I will stay and take shelter here;’ no, (Jesus says,) ‘Let us go.’ Christ never brings His children into any peril but He accompanies them in it.” How often might we skip over what looks like an insignificant phrase, ‘Let us go,’ only to find that the word “us” makes a huge difference.
When Jesus called those around Him to ‘Follow Me’, He did not give them the assurance that their lives would be ease-filled. Rather, quite the opposite. As the disciple John penned the words of His Lord, “In the world you will have tribulation, trials and distress and frustration.” In the Greek, that word “tribulation” means “anguish, persecution and trouble.” Jesus’ warning though, came with this encouraging promise, “but be of good cheer, take courage, be confident, certain, and undaunted! For I have overcome the world. I have deprived it of power to harm you and have conquered it for you” (John 16Ú 33, Amplified Bible).
No matter the danger, the hardship or the pain – may we promise to follow Him to the end.
“Jesus invited us, not to a picnic, but to a pilgrimage; not to a frolic, but to a fight. He offered us, not an excursion, but an execution. Our Savior said that we would have to be ready to die to self, sin, and the world.”
Evangelist Billy Graham
O Jesus, I Have Promised
“O Jesus, I have promised
To serve Thee to the end;
Be Thou forever near me,
My Master and my Friend;
I shall not fear the battle
If Thou art by my side,
Nor wander from the pathway
If Thou wilt be my Guide.
O let me feel Thee near me;
The world is ever near!
I see the sights that dazzle,
The tempting sounds I hear;
O Jesus, Thou hast promised
To all who follow Thee
That where Thou art in glory
There shall Thy servant be.
And Jesus, I have promised
To serve Thee to the end;
O give me grace to follow
My Master and my Friend.”
John E. Bode, 1866
Dorothy Valcárcel, Author
When A Woman Meets Jesus
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