Peeling Back the Layers
by David Dahl
“Consider him who endured such hostility against himself from sinners, so that you may not grow weary or lose heart.” (Hebrews 12:3)
Slowly, I’m making progress on bringing “Lazarus,” my 1951 John Deere B, back to full operating capacity. It’s a long road full of details. What amazes me doing this work is how much corruption hides under what originally looked to be solid. Cracks have shown themselves as the cleaning process moves forward. The removal of the top layer of paint has revealed rust and pitting of the sheet metal. The battle has revealed itself. Wholeness must confront corruption.
This is what the women faced that first Easter morning, when they went to the tomb. Violence had faced off with Life. The victor seemed obvious.
Evil has a way of upping the ante. From the very beginning of His taking on our humanity, Jesus was faced with death. Herod pursued Him while a babe. As the years passed, every step Jesus took was met with increasing opposition. While he enjoyed the support of His followers, He was manhandled by those who opposed Him – one time taken to the brow of a hill, the crowd threatening to throw Him off it. (Luke 4:29). Trained spies and informants were sent into the places where Jesus taught the crowds. And when Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead, the plot to kill both Jesus and Lazarus was solidified. (John 11:53). John continues by stating, “Jesus therefore no longer walked about openly among the Jews but went from there to a town called Ephraim in the region near the wilderness; and he remained there with the disciples.” (John 11:54). The final blows came with the compromising of His inner circle, Judas. Then finally, His arrest and crucifixion.
This is dark stuff.
I don’t know about you, but I would not be prepared to handle that kind of relentless opposition. How can we learn from Jesus here?
This isn’t fancy . . . What we learn from Jesus is to know the Scriptures and pray.
We Christians have been called “people of the Book” by others who recognize our understanding of the role the Bible plays in our lives. Jesus often quoted Scripture to those – especially the religious leaders – who opposed Him. He opened the understanding of His disciples to its depths as well. The Bible is God’s revealed Word. It has been tried and tested more than any other text. In its pages, we hear God speak. God’s voice clarifies the noise around us, helps us to hear God’s heartbeat and opens us to the working of God’s Spirit to deal with the situation in a God-centered manner. It’s why we encourage being involved in a Bible class or small group study. Discussing the Bible openly wrestling with your current situation brings to light perspectives you would not otherwise be able to see.
Secondly, invest time in prayer. Many of us turn to deeply respected people for guidance or have a close friend to “vent” and laugh with. Put your Heavenly Father as your Number One on that list. Jesus modeled this all through His walk with us. He often went by Himself, away from the crowds and from His disciples, to spend time with the Father. In that same way, you were made for God. You have a special place in His heart. He openly invites you to join Him in furthering the salvation of the human race through the work He has given you to do.
Where does this lead us?
It leads us to seek peace whenever possible. When Jesus was being arrested, Peter drew his sword and cut off the ear of the servant of the high priest. “But Jesus said, “No more of this!” And he touched his ear and healed him.” (Luke 22:54). Jesus brought healing into a complex and evil situation.
It leads us to stand up and expose motives when necessary. Jesus was accused of violating Sabbath law, drunkenness, gluttony, eating with moral rejects, etc. In each situation, Jesus used clear statements that directly fit the expertise of his accusers. To the lawyers who accused Him of violating the Sabbath, Jesus asked, “Is it lawful on the Sabbath to do good or to do harm, to save life or to kill?” (Mark 3:4)
It leads us to discern when to speak and when to keep our mouths shut. Some of the most powerful moments in Jesus’ trials were the times He did not answer His accusers.
It leads us to LOVE. Even on the cross, Jesus pleaded for the forgiveness of those who perpetrated the violence against Him. “Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing.” (Luke 23:34)
That draws us again to the writer of Hebrews: “Consider him who endured such hostility against himself from sinners, so that you may not grow weary or lose heart.” (Hebrews 12:3).
I’m reminded of this every time I put my hand to restoring an old machine. Corruption must be met by Life. Without God’s guidance, I wouldn’t know what to do. Let’s follow Jesus in challenging Death with Resurrection Life. May God’s grace and peace attend you all.
Let us Keep and Live the Faith!
-Pr. Dave Dahl
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