“Jesus answered, “Aren’t there twelve hours of daylight? Those who walk during the day don’t stumble, because they see the light of this world. However, those who walk at night stumble because they have no light in themselves.” John 11:9-10 GW
The stories in the bible are not scientific or historical accounts – they are sacred stories that reveal God’s amazing love to rescue, redeem and restore us from the dark world of sin. The narratives of healing, for example, are to inspire us to draw closer to God and to renew our souls in times of suffering.
As we read the story of the healing of the cripple at the Temple by Peter and John, a small group member noted that Jesus did not heal the cripple although he must have seen him during his visits to the Temple. However, the healing of the cripple by Peter and John provided them with the golden opportunity to preach the power of the resurrection of Christ:
“You rejected the man who was holy and innocent. You asked to have a murderer given to you, and you killed the source of life. But God brought him back to life, and we are witnesses to that. We believe in the one named Jesus. Through his power alone this man, whom you know, was healed, as all of you saw.” Acts 3:14-16 GW
When Lazarus was dying, Jesus went to see him only two days after he had received the news. It may appear that Jesus did not care. But Jesus knew that Lazarus had already died for when he arrived, Lazarus had been in the tomb for four days:
“Jesus meant that Lazarus was dead, but the disciples thought Jesus meant that Lazarus was only sleeping. Then Jesus told them plainly, “Lazarus has died, but I’m glad that I wasn’t there so that you can grow in faith. Let’s go to Lazarus.” John 11:13-15 GW
“When Jesus arrived, he found that Lazarus had been in the tomb for four days.” John 11:17 GW
Instead of arriving for Lazarus’ funeral, Jesus delayed his visit in order to demonstrate to the disciples that He is the Light of the world (John 8:12, John 12:46) who has the power over death as well as the one who brings people back to life for he is life itself (John 11:15).
Without the light of Christ, we cannot see the new and life-giving way that Jesus died to give us. I had read the scripture passage from Hebrews 10:19-25 in the Upper Room devotional on Tuesday morning:
“And so, dear brothers and sisters, we can boldly enter heaven’s Most Holy Place because of the blood of Jesus. By his death, Jesus opened a new and life-giving way through the curtain into the Most Holy Place.” Hebrews 10:19-20 NLT
When I attended a meditation group later that evening, the following verse from the song, “Maranatha, O Lord Come,” tore away the veil in my mind to see the truth of Jesus opening a new and life-giving way that I had read in the morning:
“Now we watch , for Your appearing
When the veil Is torn away
As we see our freedom nearing
May this prayer grow stronger every day”
During the lectio divina meditation with the passage from John 1:45:51, I felt drawn to the verse, “Come and see.” I was encouraged by the promise of Jesus to Nathanael:
“I tell you the truth, you will see heaven open and the angels of God going up and down on the Son of Man, the one who is the stairway between heaven and earth.” (John 1:51, NLT)
This was the experience of Jacob who was not aware of God’s holy presence in his life. God broke into Jacob’s consciousness in a dream of a stairway reaching from earth to heaven with angels of God going up and down the stairway:
“Surely the Lord is in this place, and I wasn’t even aware of it!” But he was also afraid and said, “What an awesome place this is! It is none other than the house of God, the very gateway to heaven!”
God is always present with us but we are blind and deaf to His presence. Rob Bell noted that we can be very religious and well versed in complicated theological systems and yet not be a person who sees. The good news of the gospel is that Jesus has given us a new and life giving way to come before the throne of God to receive His mercy and find grace to help us when we need it most (Hebrews 4:16, NLT). We have victory over sin and death through our Lord Jesus Christ (1 Corinthians 15:57, NLT). Our mission is live our way into this new kind of thinking – a life of resting in the love of God.
The Christian faith is not a fearful performance based religion of a slave of sin but the Spirit filled life of a child of God. Silence is the first step of the spiritual ladder to heaven. It is the invitation to the Holy Spirit to use scripture to judge our thoughts and intentions and to fill our hearts with the love of God. Our stories of fears and failures become our narrative based faith that is rooted in God’s faithful presence, protection and power when we pray:
“Teach me to feel that thou art always nigh;
Teach me the struggles of the soul to bear.
To check the rising doubt, the rebel sigh,
Teach me the patience of unanswered prayer.”