John 11:17-44

Beyond all the essential, troubling and preparatory questions the Lord provokes within a soul, probably the most important question a person will ask in this life is, “How can I become a Christian?” I hear this question answered frequently this way, “You just have to ask Jesus into your heart“. Even though the phrase “ask Jesus into your heart” is not even in the Bible, I believe many have actually come into the kingdom through this recently fashioned door. But…, the ones who continue to walk with Him, either on the front end (which I think was the original idea) or in their experience along the way, discover and adjust to the fact that the One they invited into their hearts is a relational, loving, jealous Lord who aspires to expand His rule (his kingdom) into every aspect of their lives. The ones that follow Him discover He is definitely not a just-on-Sunday (and maybe Wednesday) kind of God.

If someone were to ask me this important question today, “How can I become a Christian?” I might just refer them to John 11:25-26 and let Jesus tell them spirit to spirit;

I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in Me shall live even if he dies, and everyone who lives and believes in Me shall never die.

I might invite them out for coffee in a week or so and follow up with the same question that Jesus used, “Do you believe this?” If George Barna, the author of Revolution, were given permission to look into the spirit realm and poll all those who have ever been authentically “born again”, I think his research would reveal that all authentic rebirths shared this one simple common denominator, “THEY BELIEVED IN HIM”.

After we follow Him for a while, more challenging aspects of having a Lord living in the center of our being, vying for our hearts, enter into play. We learn that we have our opinion on how things should transpire in our lives and that God has His. In three different places in this passage this inevitable impasse is seen. (Check out 11:21, 32 and 37.) The opinion and pattern of reasoning, even by Martha and Mary, who believed He was the Messiah and had inherited eternal life, began with: “IF ONLY ……..”

That innocent sounding phrase, “if only”, betrays their dissatisfaction and ours. We must listen for it, in its different forms, as it surfaces in our thoughts and words as, “Oh man!” or “That’s not fair!” or “What’s the deal!”. Isn’t our sarcasm, “Oh, that’s just perfect!” also just another thinly veiled form of “if only” (it was handled as I believed it should have been)? I heard a very wise statement to this effect, “As those who are filled with His Spirit, we are no longer obligated to react to our circumstances, rather – we are invited to respond to a Person”. That is a nice restatement of Hebrews 4:13;

“… is with Him whom we have to do.”

This is what all who learn to follow Him discover; it is every aspect of our life He is interested in. He has a way that is better than our opinion. Learning that the Holy Spirit is indwelling us and has actually become our life is the essence of relating to Jesus as our Lord. Walking in the Spirit (living out of His Life) involves the ongoing experience of repentance – the laying down and exchanging of our opinions for his truth. This is also called discipleship.

Tragically though, in our Have It Your Way-culture, discipleship somehow became an optional track within Christendom for those “called” into ministry. (I am sure one of Hell’s grand prizes was awarded to the demon that crafted this whopper.) From this lie a hundred more have been spawned, such as; “discipleship” (which is nothing more than the process of learning to daily live out of His life) has been easily sold as an excessive burden that only the “called” are equipped to carry.  We know this is an outright lie because Jesus said, “My burden is easy and my yoke is light”.

Will there be an award ceremony in heaven where Truth and Reality Awards will be handed out to those who overcame and displaced speculations and demonic strongholds with living truth? My hunch (not nearly as impressive as exegesis I know) is, probably not. The banquet is going to be all about Jesus – the Truth – who, by His initiative and strength, came to live in (and through) a body of people whose lives and teachings, among many things, saved salvation itself from the bifurcating lie that had neutralized so much of the army for so long.

I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in Me shall live even if he dies, and everyone who lives and believes in Me shall never die.


However….if I am wrong (it’s been known to happen) and we do (either individually or collectively) stand before Jesus and give an account of our lives, I could imagine the King of Kings handing out those white stones to those he calls Overcomers in Revelation 2:17. I confess I have allowed my imagination to run a while on this track. This part of my brain (whether it has been sanctified or not I cannot say) dearly wants (imagines?) to be a part of this division of the family-army. I would love to approach the throne on that great day and hear him say, “Well done good and faithful servant. I shall call you “Hoss”. If that name is already taken and I looked down and my stone read; “R.D. (Real Deal)”, that would be equally tremendous.

Father, thank You that you persevere with us even in our insistence on living our lives on our own terms. Let this folly run its course and let us be those who truly walk in the Spirit. May our lives serve as living proof to those around us that You indeed have sent Jesus – One who is not only worthy of our belief as Savior but worthy as well of our dependency on and submission to as Lord. Amen.

Note: Salvation was never meant to be just an event in time – something that happened way back whenever. To those who have cooperated with the Spirit, processed the questions he plants in the heart and have consequently received the grace and chosen to believe, a rebirth occurs. Jesus – the Resurrection and the Life invades the still-born spirits of man and children of God are born. Salvation is meant to be the fearful and wonderful outworking (aka;discipleship) of this inner miracle. No we shall never die because in Christ we are already dwelling in eternity.

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