The Path Of Least Resistance
John 11:7-9, “Then after this He said to the disciples, ‘Let us go to Judea again.’ The disciples said to Him, ‘Rabbi, the Jews were just now seeking to stone You, and You are going there again?’ Jesus answered, ‘Are there not twelve hours in the day? If anyone walks in the day, he does not stumble, because he sees the light of this world.’”
Purpose has been replaced by an emphasis on personal need. Forget the world. I’m talking about the church. The missionary mindset of days gone by has been sadly displaced by a “what has God done for me lately” mentality. A lost world? What does that matter when I have my own needs? Look at the best-selling books. Glance at the most popular speakers. As long as the emphasis is on how God can improve our own quality of life we are all in. But Biblical concepts like sacrifice? Surrender? Sanctification? Selflessness? Service? Don’t be silly. The masses care little about such archaic notions.
We are a people who want the glory of resurrection without having to experience the fellowship of His suffering. We want heaven but we are have become increasingly hesitant to talk about the Cross. We shout “Amen!” when the pastor starts talking about the abundant life but we grow strangely silent if he dares to mention a life fully abandoned to God. We crave blessing but we turn the deaf ear to the call to be a blessing. We want to be comfortable. We want life to be convenient. But all the while our love for the lost has become cold and our willingness to do the necessary work of evangelism is disappearing.
John 11 reminds us that serving God has a high price. Obedience seldom leads us down the path of least resistance. Our prosperity and religious freedom has caused us to forget some of Bibles’ strongest warnings. “If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you;… You will be hated by all because of My name,… all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.” Most of us probably don’t have any of those promises highlighted in our Bibles. Nevertheless, it is a reality that we must all face if we are going to live and walk in obedience. There will be times when the call will put us at odds with the culture. Times when standing against compromise will cost you some friends. Times when proclaiming your love for Him is going to result in persecution.
The disciples were dumbfounded by Jesus’ decision to return to Judea. His previous trip had incited a riot. Look at it John 10. Jesus declares His divinity to the Jews. “I and the Father are one.” Their response? In verse 31 they pick up stones in order to stone Him. In verse 39 they try to seize Him. In the minds of the disciples Jesus’ last outing had been a public relations nightmare. The worst possible thing He could do was to go back to Judea.
And yet, that is where Jesus decides to go. Why? I see two reasons. The first one should be pretty obvious. Lazarus and his sisters lived in Bethany of Judea. Their need was greater than any potential fallout. The Bible declares that our God is a very present help in trouble. And that is exactly what Martha and Mary were going to get. Jesus could have sent His word to heal Lazarus but this situation required His personal touch. He loved this family. And He was going to be there for them and with them in their time of need.
Secondly, there was a populace that needed to know that the Messiah had come. Draw a line through John 11-12 connecting all the places where the text refers to the concept of “belief.” Ultimately, Lazarus’ resurrection was a sign. It demonstrated to all those who would receive it that Jesus had power over life and death. It would settle the question regarding His true nature. The Jews who had previously chased him out-of-town would now know beyond a shadow of a doubt that His earlier claims were indeed true. They would now believe. Look at it there in verse 45. “Therefore many of the Jews who came to Mary, and saw what He had done, believed in Him.” In John 10 they had resisted His words. But now in John 11 they were powerless to deny His actions. He went so that they might believe. His own personal harm was nothing compared to their spiritual need.
We are surrounded by a lost and dying world, a world that desperately needs to hear about the life-changing love of our Savior. At some point our obsession with getting our personal needs met has to become secondary to their need for salvation. The threat of death holds no power over the one who is willing to lay down their lives for the welfare of others. And maybe that’s the problem. Instead of choosing the way of obedience we have opted for the path of least resistance. Our time is limited and the world is in desperate need. Sadly, we have chosen the low road of comfort. We have taken the path of least resistance. It’s time we walked in the light. It’s time we walked as His light. It’s time to be His hands and to proclaim His words. The world is depending on us. It’s time to take the high road.