Can you hear me now?

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Image copyright CNN and Verizon Wireless

The gospels are a fascinating study in stubbornness.

Most of the Sanhedrin, the Pharisees, the Scribes, the Chief Priests, and the Elders of the Jewish Nation obstinately refused to listen to Jesus. They were nonplussed by His astounding miracles. So determined were they, to cling to their little sphere of power, that they ignored the voice of the only one who could save them. 

The apostle John records for us the death and resurrection of Jesus’ friend Lazarus in John chapter 11. This revealing account shows the power of God, the persistent faith of those who loved Jesus, and the appalling foolishness of the Pharisees.

Lazarus was dead.

Four days he laid in a tomb, dead and decaying.

Not four minutes.

Not four hours.

Four days.

Human decomposition begins approximately four minutes after a person dies. The cells, suddenly deprived of oxygen, begin to fall apart. Eventually, rigor mortis—the stiffening of the body—sets in. Within the first 72 hours, the organs decompose. Within 3-5 days, the body bloats, with foam and blood leaking from the mouth and nose. Putrefaction causes the body to stink.

The body of Lazarus was in this stage of decomposition.

Several people witnessed his lifeless body being put in the tomb. Many more came to mourn with the bereaved sisters. Jesus arrived four days after Lazarus’ death, to the disdain and grief of some who said, “Could not he who opened the eyes of the blind man also have kept this man from dying?” Beneath the gaze of both the believing and the cynical, Jesus performed a miracle proving beyond a shadow of a doubt who he was. Jesus spoke life into the lifeless. He brought the soul of Lazarus back into his body and restored his decaying flesh. Lazarus walked out of the tomb, without the aid of a defibrillator. He wasn’t rolled out on a gurney or assisted by a nurse.

Jesus spoke, and there was life.

This miracle reaffirmed the faith of the faithful. It gave joy to the grieving. It pulverized the cynicism of the scoffer. Most who witnessed this event believed in Jesus and He was glorified. A few went to tell the leaders.

There should have been no denying Jesus’ power at this point, but sometimes what is missing from the story is more revealing than what is told. Nobody asks the witnesses to verify that Lazarus had actually died. It went uncontested. Nobody questions whether or not this was some sort of hoax. The truth was incontrovertible. There were too many witnesses, and far too much evidence to deny the legitimacy of this miracle.

The Jewish leaders should have fallen down at Jesus’ feet, ready to follow Him wholeheartedly. Instead, like stubborn children, the leaders metaphorically clapped their hands to their ears and sang at the top of their lungs to drown out the message. The text tells us they gathered together and said, “What are we to do? For this man performs many signs. If we let him go on like this, everyone will believe in him, and the Romans will come and take away both our place and our nation.” (John 11.47-48, ESV)

The real question is, why don’t they believe? Why aren’t they listening?!?!

Jesus’ divinity and power was devastatingly obvious, but they refused to listen or believe. They plot to kill Jesus first, and then conspire to kill Lazarus for good measure.

I shake my head pityingly at their recalcitrant behavior.

And yet… 

Are there times I am guilty of the same? Do I stubbornly ignore the voice of the Lord?

Do I read His Word selectively, skimming over the parts that make me uncomfortable?

Do I ignore or minimize commandments that would force me to change a certain habit?

Do I stubbornly refuse to analyze passages that don’t seem to fit neatly into the square of “church doctrine?” Do I refuse to compare “what I’ve always been taught” with what God’s Word teaches to see whether they are actually in alignment?

Do I witness God’s providential care in my life, but cling desperately to the small shreds of control I think I have?

We have the Word of God, preserved for us through the ages. In spite of all attempts at destruction, there are more manuscripts of the old law, the prophets, the gospels, and the letters from the apostles than any other historical document on record. The Holy Spirit inspired men to write, guiding them to speak the truth. We possess this exquisite library of books within a book, teeming with life-giving knowledge, but do we read in such a way as to be changed by it? Are we hearers but not listeners?

God has spoken, but are we actively listening?

 

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24 thoughts on “Can you hear me now?

  1. oneta hayes December 6, 2016 / 05:31

    You raise some good questions for self evaluation. When we ask these questions, will we listen for answers? 😀

    Liked by 2 people

    • Elihu December 6, 2016 / 05:36

      Haha! Good point!

      I find I’m not a very good listener interpersonally, so I’ve been wondering how well I’m listening to God. Both are highly important.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Debbie L December 6, 2016 / 07:03

    Excellent!!! God keeps reminding me of my own stubbornness and hard-headedness as I care for and watch my grandsons, now one is 15 months and the other nearly 3 1/2.
    Love the Gospels! Now my husband and I are in 1 Corinthians….God’s Word goes on and on to enrich us!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Elihu December 6, 2016 / 13:07

      You know, caring for young children is one of the most humbling experiences. When I had children, I considered myself a patient, even-keeled person. Boy was I ever wrong. 😉 They’ve unwittingly taught me to see many of my own flaws.

      Thank you for your comment and for sharing this post on Twitter! I really appreciate it. On a side note, I am reading 1 Corinthians too!

      Liked by 1 person

      • Debbie L December 8, 2016 / 05:21

        We finished Chapter 13 yesterday. That was a key chapter to helping Bill see what marital love is! It was great to re-read it together!
        Oh yes, humbling even as grandparents!!! Lol
        I do get a bit political in my tweets as an encourager….but I try to balance with things of the Lord! You are always right on!

        Liked by 1 person

      • Elihu December 8, 2016 / 04:12

        Hanging in there. It’s been a busy month so far, but we are still trucking along.

        Like

  3. beckielindsey December 6, 2016 / 10:17

    Elihu, A convicting post! I’m sure God has spoken many times and I have behaved much like the Pharisees and Sanhedrin. Your post has prompted me to pray, “Forgive me, Father. Open my eyes and my heart to hear You and then obey You.”

    I find it interesting that within the name, Pharisee appears the words “I” “See” and yet they missed Him. They missed WHO ‘He’ is—God’s son full of mercy and grace. Sad.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Elihu December 6, 2016 / 13:14

      i really like your prayer, and it’s one I will put in my prayer journal to remind myself each day. The Pharisees weren’t the only stubborn ones in the Bible. People throughout the scriptures dug their heels in many times over many things. And yes, there is much irony in the word Pharisee… they didn’t see or hear to well, did they?

      Thank you so much for your great comment, Beckie! I hope you are doing well.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Wally Fry December 8, 2016 / 14:59

    Reblogged this on Truth in Palmyra and commented:
    God has spoken, and is speaking….through His Word to us. All we have to to is open it..and pray, study, and meditate upon on it. If we listen, He will speak. Great post here by Elihu, and worth of reading and doing some serious self reflection over. Blessings and enjoy!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Elihu December 9, 2016 / 04:26

      Thank you for sharing this article, Wally! How are you?

      Like

      • Wally Fry December 9, 2016 / 05:11

        You are welcome Elihu. I am fine, thanks. New position at work, and many things changing, so been hard to pop around her like I would like. How about you?

        Liked by 1 person

      • Elihu December 10, 2016 / 04:17

        I am doing well, thanks!

        Change is challenging at times. Starting a new position tends to require plenty of adjustment. May God strengthen you and continue to bless you.

        Like

  5. Brandon Adams December 8, 2016 / 15:22

    There was a Jewish superstition that held that the spirit of a deceased person remained “nearby” the dead body for three days after death, in the hopes of resurrection. True or not, it may explain why Jesus seemed to purposely wait four days to arrive and raise him. In the eyes of the witnesses, hope would have been truly gone by that point – and thus, all the greater the miracle.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Elihu December 9, 2016 / 04:31

      I’m glad you brought that up. I believe I’ve heard that in a bible class as well. I truly believe each miracle was calculated to have profound effect on the belief of at least one person. This one was surely unforgettable. Thank you for such an excellent comment!

      Liked by 1 person

  6. ectrb1e December 8, 2016 / 19:39

    Great post. I read somewhere that the reason that Jesus was very hard on the Pharisees was that they were the closest to great post. I read somewhere that the reason that Jesus was very hard on the Pharisees was that they were the closest to the truth about the father. And they above all the sects should have been the first to recognize him for who he was. As Dr. Dre one said, “you’re too near me not to hear me.”

    Liked by 1 person

    • ectrb1e December 8, 2016 / 19:41

      Sorry about the echo. echo.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Elihu December 9, 2016 / 04:33

        No worries. I’ve done it before. You make a good observation about the Pharisees. I tend to be harder on my kids when they “should know better” than when they make a mistake in ignorance. They just wanted things their own way; their perspective was the exact opposite of what it should have been. Thank you so much for reading and commenting!

        Like

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