This week is my birthday, and I am officially older, and have lived longer than…
I heard a song the other day based on Lewis Carol’s Alice in Wonderland where the Cheshire cat said to Alice, “If you don’t know where you are going any road will take you there”. The music was catchy, upbeat, and inspiring. I found myself singing along before I realized the words I was repeating. I was singing a chorus I would never want to live out. Life certainly feels easier when you lack a clear purpose because people don’t expect much from you. They aren’t threatened by you or your goals and they don’t find you to be controversial.
The only problem is that Jesus would never encourage you to live that way. His purpose was so clear that others had no choice but to reach a conclusion about Him. He demonstrated His power and authority so clearly that
neutrality was never possible. He was either the Son of God who had come to save the world or He was the greatest threat on earth.
After Lazarus was raised from the dead, “many of the Jews who had come to visit Mary, and had seen what Jesus did, believed in him.” (John 11:45) They could not deny the power and saw the compassion in the miracle. They had never met anyone like Him and they had no reason to be afraid of Him even though they had a healthy respect for Him.
Not everyone was so excited, however. “Some of them went to the Pharisees and told them what Jesus had done. Then the chief priests and the Pharisees called a meeting of the Sanhedrin.” (John 11:46-7) Isn’t that awesome? God did an amazing miracle so people called for a committee meeting to review the results! This group of people was threatened by Jesus’ compassionate power. They couldn’t deny that He had performed a legitimate miracle but they wished He hadn’t. Jesus could have avoided the confrontation and met up with Lazarus in eternity but His purpose was clear. He could have quickly left the home of Mary and Martha to reduce the conflict but He knew where He was going. He was on the path of securing salvation for men and women and He was determined to give everyone a clear choice. He was not content to be subtle, silent, or secretive. He would present everyone who came in contact with Him irrefutable evidence of His true identity so they would all have to decide whether they would embrace Him as their advocate or oppose Him as an adversary.
It is clear that the leaders were frightened by His influence, “If we let him go on like this, everyone will believe in him, and then the Romans will come and take away both our temple and our nation and . . . from that day on they plotted to take his life.” (v. 48, 53)
Now it is our choice. We must all answer two strategic questions. First, we must ask, “What will we do with Jesus?” He cannot be ignored so He must either be trusted as the source of salvation or He must be rejected to our own peril. Second, we must ask, “Will we seek a clear purpose at the risk of making others uncomfortable or will we take the safe road that neither offends much nor offers much?” As for me, I’ve never found the safest road to be very attractive.