Shovel at the Ready

John 12:19 “…See, this is getting us nowhere.”

Observation: Jesus had entered Jerusalem to the adulation of great crowds made all the larger by those clambering to see Lazarus, whom Jesus had raised from the dead. In growing alarm the watching Pharisees said, “See, this is getting us nowhere. Look how the whole world has gone after him.”

Application: Is it possible to feel some sympathy for the Pharisees? Accustomed as they were to being the center of religious attention, they now found themselves sidelined and irrelevant. Their centuries of control and denominational traditions had been undone by the never-before-seen miracle of a man once dead who now lived again. Offended and afraid, they made plans to kill Lazarus as well as Jesus (v. 10).

Their minds were truly messed up by fear. What could they think might be gained by killing a man whom Jesus had already decided should live? What would the crowds have done if Lazarus had been raised yet a second time, or a third?

“This is getting us nowhere,” they said. They found themselves in a hole but refused to quit digging. Sinking ever deeper with each shovelful of dirt, increasing darkness enveloped them so completely that they lost all sense of reason. Remembrance of their original purpose finally and completely extinguished as they gave voice to their spiritual impoverishment. “This is getting us nowhere,” as though their goals, their plans, were supreme.

I have been in such a place where fear of this thing or that was so overwhelming as to utterly squeeze out the last remnant of light. In that season I, too, could only focus on achieving my own ends. Without so much as a backward glance to consider what God’s purposes may have been, my present darkness became overwhelmingly evident. “Where is this getting me?” I wondered. “This setback wasn’t in my plans. What can I do? Who can I kill/reject/gossip about/blame?”

The darkness accompanying fear eventually becomes complete. If not challenged by the light of faith, all is lost. Here is what Jesus says: “Walk while you have the light, before darkness overtakes you. Put your trust in the light while you have it, so that you may become sons of light. (vv 35, 36).

Prayer: Lord, there are still areas of my life where I seem to keep a shovel at the ready. Forgive me for my willing embrace of darkness. By a fresh act of my will, I choose to lay down all such self-destructive tools and turn once again into Your light.

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