Believing in Jesus

When the large crowd of the Jews learned that
Jesus was there, they came, not only on account
of him but also to see Lazarus, whom he had
raised from the dead.
If life is filled with anything, it is filled with
noise—all kinds of noise. We experience literal
noise that is part and parcel of our stage in life.
Parents of young children, for instance, find
themselves in the midst of a very noisy time. Little
voices make big demands, often unwittingly, and
the resultant responsibilities engulf parents’ time
and, virtually, all of their energy. Also, people in
positions of authority hear frequent concerns,
challenges, and complaints of others, each of
which carries the twin expectations of response
and solution. Wherever we are in life right now,
there is real, relentless noise that demands our
time, and that competes for our attention. We all
experience distraction.
Each of us also deals with figurative noise
on a daily basis. This typically consists of
thoughts, images, and unspoken moral and
spiritual challenges. It is comprised of our
struggles—physical, emotional, mental, and
spiritual—that are constantly before us. It is made
up of our temptations, those silent entreaties
beckoning us into the darkness. Our world of
figurative noise is liberally populated by past
failures and current fears. It is a tool of Satan that
he often wields to dramatic effect. For many of us
for whom dwelling fruitlessly upon our past
mistakes has become habit, it is the chief weapon
in his arsenal arrayed against our hearts. The
same is true for others whose primary fight is
against their own passions and desires. By
nature, each of us is subject to this noise. Each of
us is subject to being preoccupied and therefore
missing what is true, right, and essential. We all
experience distraction.

Unsurprisingly, in John 12, a large crowd is
following Jesus. Jesus has done amazing
works among them. He has healed the
sick. He has restored sight to the blind. He
has made the lame to walk again. It is
astonishing what Jesus has done. As a
result, it is natural that the crowd pursues
Jesus. But Jesus has done even greater
things than these. In fact, at this point in
the story he has also raised the dead.
Particularly interesting in this case—and
also telling—is a little detail that John gives
in verse 9 about the reason that the people
came to Bethany, “They came, not only on
account of [Jesus] but also to see
Lazarus, whom he had raised from the
dead.” It is great that the people came to
see Jesus. We came to Jesus for the same
reason—because he is clearly the
Messiah. In a sense, therefore, their faith
confirms ours. Yet it is noteworthy that the
interest of the people was divided. Their
curiosity was focused not only on Jesus on
this occasion. Instead, they were every bit
as excited to see Lazarus as they were to
see Jesus. There is nothing necessarily
wrong with this, in my opinion. Yet it does
speak clearly about human nature, and it
brings up a few questions. How deep is our
desire to simply be with Jesus? I realize
that what Jesus has done is what has
drawn humanity to him. But the call is “to
believe in the one whom [God] has sent”
(John 5:38). Which is more important,
then: living for and loving Jesus, or living
for and loving what Jesus has done?
Which takes precedence in our lives?

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