Do You Believe This?

Click Here For Today’s Reading

1 SAMUEL 26:1-28:25 | JOHN 11:1-54 | PSALM 117:1-2 | PROVERBS 15:22-23

Click on the link below to listen to an audio recording of this post:

If Saul had an epiphany yesterday, it was indeed short-lived.  Today, he is hunting David again.  And yet again, the hunter becomes the hunted.  David comes upon Saul and his men in the dead of night, and yet again David spares Saul’s life. 

David says this to his companion who is prepared to use Saul’s own spear to kill him:  “Don’t destroy him! Who can lay a hand on the LORD’s anointed and be guiltless? 10 As surely as the LORD lives,” he said, “the LORD himself will strike him, or his time will come and he will die, or he will go into battle and perish. 11 But the LORD forbid that I should lay a hand on the LORD’s anointed. 

And once again, Saul is contrite about his intentions, and says to David, “I have sinned. Come back, David my son. Because you considered my life precious today, I will not try to harm you again. Surely I have acted like a fool and have been terribly wrong.”

But David has become wary of Saul, and where this is no trust, there is little respect.  David doesn’t wish to be a man on the run, and decides to leave the plains of Judah—traditional Israelite territory—and takes his men and goes over to Philistine territory, and it is there that he settles for a while.  The king of Gath thinks he has had a good deal with a strong warrior friend like David who can help him in his own battles.  He actually proposes that he will install David as his personal bodyguard for life!  Little does he know that he is addressing the future king of Israel.

In the meantime, Saul is yet again disturbed and has a premonition that his end is near.  So strong is this premonition that he insists that it be confirmed by a medium, although he himself has had banned all such mediums and the occult arts from the land—most likely in a wave of repentance and turning to God’s ways.  But his great fear and distress cause him to seek out a female medium whom he approaches incognito.  This woman invokes the spirit of Samuel, who in turn tells Saul that his end is near, very near.

Turning now to our reading in the gospel according to John, we encounter the story of Lazarus and his sisters Martha and Mary.  These three siblings must have been around Jesus’ age, and evidently enjoyed a close friendship with Jesus.  When Lazarus falls ill and suddenly dies, his two sisters are devastated and send word to Jesus.  Jesus is moved by their faith, and goes to them at once. 

When Martha comes out to meet Jesus, who still quite far off from the house, Jesus assures her that her brother will rise again.  But Martha says plainly to Jesus that yes, of course, she knows that he will rise again on the day of resurrection.  But Jesus is speaking of an instant resurrection!  He says to Martha:   “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; 26 and whoever lives by believing in me will never die. Do you believe this?”

Yes, says Martha, yes, I do!  And so, Jesus accompanied by Martha, Mary, his own disciples, and perhaps many other neighbors and lookers-on, go to the tomb where Lazarus has been buried for four days now.  And what happens next is nothing short of incredible.  It is one of those scenes that may only be described as surreal. 

Imagine the reaction of the people when they hear Jesus call out:  “Lazarus, come out!” and they see Lazarus walk out from the tomb toward them!  Imagine the horror, the fright, the amazement, the hysteria!  This was a man who had been dead for four days, and whose body was placed in the tomb, but today, he is walking toward them.  Lazarus is alive!  Can you imagine what a story Lazarus must have had to tell for the rest of his life.

And yet, despite even this supernatural act, the leaders in the Temple are wary of Jesus, and believe him to be a blasphemer possessed with powers from the evil one.  They have been plotting to put him to death, and soon we shall see how they band together to accomplish this.  Woe is to them!

Turning now to our reading of the psalms, we find a very short one in Psalm 117, a short and sweet psalm of praise:

1 Praise the LORD, all you nations;
extol him, all you peoples.

2 For great is his love toward us,
and the faithfulness of the LORD endures forever.

   Praise the LORD.

And finally, two verses from our reading in the book of Proverbs.  Unrelated to each other, these two are as follows:

22 Plans fail for lack of counsel,
but with many advisers they succeed.

23 A person finds joy in giving an apt reply—
   and how good is a timely word!

May God bless the reading and reflection of His Word.

4 thoughts on “Do You Believe This?

  1. I find it very helpful to be reading John’s gospel in its entirety and to see this amazing story of the raising of Lazarus in its context: as the culmination of the previous six signs and following Jesus’ long explanations of his identity. It is also the last straw for those plotting to execute him. Thanks, as always, for your excellent reflections!

    1. Thank you, as always, for your insightful observation. I wasn’t even keeping track of the number of signs prior to the story of Lazarus. The Gospel according to John is a very personal one I think, in the way Jesus is speaking to everyone, he is actually speaking to you and I.

      Regards, Simmi D. Isaac (Sent from my iPhone)

  2. Dear Eric:

    I wanted to make an additional comment here that just occurred to me: the story of Lazarus showcases the very beautiful gift of friendship, does it not? These were friends of Jesus, and in the true spirit of coming to the aid of a friend, Jesus comes to them to comfort them, only he does so much more. It is a fine illustration of what true friendship ought to be: sincere, kind, caring, even selfless.

    Again, thank you for sharing.

  3. Such a thoughtful response, Simmi, thank you for adding that! For both of your responses. I hadn’t thought about the role that friendship plays in this moment with Lazarus and his sisters but yes, it demonstrates the power of friendship and love – life-giving power! Thank you so much for your insights and for sharing them so generously. You are a great friend to those who read your words.

Leave a Reply