Which is Your Agenda?

3So his sisters sent word to Jesus, “Lord, the one you love is sick.” 4When Jesus heard that he said, “This sickness is not terminal, but is for God’s glory, so that the Son of God might be glorified through it. 5Jesus loved Martha, her sister, and Lazarus. 6So when he had heard that Lazarus was sick, he stayed in that same place for two days. 7Afterward, he said to his disciples, “Let’s go into Judea again.” 8His disciples responded, “Rabbi, just now the Jews were planning to stone you and you want to go there again? — John 11:3-8

Supposing you had an opportunity for service that came up suddenly. Let’s suppose it’s a response to a natural disaster, and you would have the opportunity to join the first responders and really do some good. The resources are there. They’ve identified a skill you have and they need. It’s time to grab those overnight items, and jump on the bus, the truck, or maybe a helicopter and go serve.

What’s your first thought?

Now let’s all be honest here. I think any of us with families would have to give thought to our family’s safety and their economic needs. We’d want to know that everything could be taken care of while we went to serve. The professional first responders think about those things and have plans for those they leave behind under such circumstances. Before I had a family, it was much more likely that I would jump up and volunteer than it is now.

People who are oriented to service solve those problems in most cases and manage to make the call to go serve. We should always be grateful to those who do, both the professionals, and those who get called in to provide additional support at the last minute. Both groups have to be able to order priorities and accomplish the most important goals, often in the face of difficulty and danger.

The disciples have a similar situation here. If you look at the response of the disciples when Jesus proposes to go to Bethany (v. 7-8). They believe it’s too dangerous to go there. It appears to me that for the two days that Jesus delayed, the disciples assumed that he was not going to Judea because of the danger.

It doesn’t say that explicitly at the beginning of the chapter, but since that is their immediate reaction when Jesus says he is going, I suspect they spent those two days in relief that Jesus had chosen not to go to Lazarus, even though he was sick.

But when Jesus announces that he will go to Bethany, the disciples suddenly realize that Jesus is not on their program. He has a kingdom agenda. He is going to do the thing that brings glory to God. Ultimately, this trip is dangerous–so dangerous that it leads to the cross.

The question for each one of us is this: When we come to that fork in the road, which agenda is first for us: personal safety or advancing the kingdom?

[Note: Part of this post was extracted from a post I wrote earlier on the Participatory Bible Study Blog.]

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