This reflection is from Hannah Stewart. Hannah is the Director of Girls Camp and the Director of Team Development.
‘Six days before the Passover celebration began, Jesus arrived in Bethany, the home of Lazarus – the man he had raised from the dead. A dinner was prepared in Jesus’ honour. Martha served, and Lazarus was among those who ate with him.’
I find it really interesting that in the week before Jesus’ death and resurrection, he decided to spend time with his friend who had died and come back to life.
I wonder if he took comfort spending time with him, knowing that he too would go through the pain of death but would return full of life just a few days later. I wonder if they talked about what the 4 days in between dying, and resurrection were like for Lazarus. I wonder if Jesus told Lazarus that he would share in the experience but would also take on the weight of the world as he died.
Jesus loved Lazarus and he wept when he saw his grave even though he knew that God would bring him back. I can imagine the bittersweet emotions of losing your friend and knowing you will see them again – I actually know that feeling. Even in death, there is hope in Jesus. But I wonder if seeing Lazarus’ grave made what was going to happen to Jesus real for him. I wonder if it stirred deeper emotions in him than just loss. Maybe not, but I can imagine Jesus feeling a deep connection to Lazarus.
In the build-up to Good Friday, it’s important to remember Jesus’ humanity.
He knew what was coming – what had to be done – but it doesn’t mean he was ready for it. He felt real fear in Gethsemane as he waited, he felt real sorrow with his disciples as they ate their last meal together, he felt real pain from the Roman’s torture. Jesus felt pain. He experienced pain.
He trusted in God’s big-picture plan, but he still struggled to accept the situation in front of him. We read that in the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus asked God to take it all away from him (Luke 22:42). Have you ever felt like that? That what is in front of you is too much, too hard, too painful? That you want it all to go away and for life to be easier and more normal? I think right now a lot of us are feeling that way. I certainly have prayed for God to ‘take corona away’ because it is too heavy for me and for the world. I think it is okay to feel that way, in fact I think it is right to feel that way. We should feel unsettled and burdened by things that are overwhelmingly hard – we are not designed to take on the weight of the world. Jesus did that for us.
If we look to him as our example, then it is important to read the whole story and see his whole response.
He prayed for God to take it all away, but he also prayed ‘yet I want your will to be done, not mine’ (Luke 22:42). He knew the pain that was ahead, he knew how hard it would be, yet he still went through with the salvation plan. He still stood there as he was mocked, as lies were said about him and as his followers turned on him and demanded his death.
He did it because he loves humanity so deeply that it was worth it. It was worth it for the relationship between us and God to be restored. Jesus believes we are worth dying for. That’s why he did it. As for the how, I believe that God gave Jesus true peace as he surrendered his will, his anxieties, his doubts over in prayer. Jesus was able to stand there silently because God was with him, giving him strength and filing him with his presence. I believe that God promises that same love, peace and strength to us when we surrender our fears and struggles over to him.
My challenge for you today is actually an encouragement.
It’s okay to feel all of those things, but it is not okay to cling onto them and let them take over. Surrender them to God in prayer saying, ‘your will be done, not mine’ and trust that God is near. ‘The Lord gives his people strength. The Lord blesses them with peace’ Psalm 29:11).
Yours in Christ,
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