Throughout generations there have always been times of uncertainty. Our world has consistently been in cycles of calm and chaos. Within each person’s own life, this uncertainty, calm and chaos occurs at a micro level which mimics the reality of the world. Above all of this exists the One who can calm our troubled lives. This One has the power to settle even the greatest chaos. What is even more amazing is that the One with such power, who has always been and is above all things, has each one of us on the mind and in the heart all the time. Our Lord even had us in mind when out of love, he placed himself beneath the power of sin and death to destroy it forever.
The verse for today is the answer to the trivia question, “What is the shortest verse in the Bible?” This comes in the midst of Jesus’s arrival to the tomb of his friend, Lazarus. The passage is a bit ambivalent in indicating to us the cause of Jesus’s weeping. Was the cause the weeping of Mary? Perhaps the cause was sadness over the death of Lazarus. Another potential cause may be the limited faith he saw in the people, especially Martha. Whatever the cause, the gospel writer tells us two different times that Jesus was moved. This movement of emotions leads Jesus to tears.
This verse is one of the most overlooked, important passages in Scripture. In these two words, we witness the depth of love Jesus has for us. No matter the cause of the tears, Jesus wept because of the sorrow found in the situation. The words also communicate to us that we have a Lord who shares in our grief and has felt our grief. What a comfort this type of intimacy can be as we journey through grief. Our tears are felt and shared in Jesus’s tears.
It is important to remember this verse. We are reminded that our Lord is not distant and unattached from us. No, our Lord is in the very midst of our experience. Our Lord feels for and with us every emotion we experience. What greater example of love can we ever desire? Oh wait, that comes later in the gospel.
There always seems to be some place on the planet where a drought is occurring. The level and the length of time may vary but the need for moisture is noticeable. Most living creatures not adapted for an arid climate need moisture of some form on a regular basis for survival. There are times when I seem to constantly be watering the plants in our landscaping in order to keep everything alive. Science tells us that humans can go through longer periods of time without food than we can without water in some form.
In today’s passage Jesus makes an offer to quench the thirst of anyone who comes to him. This thirst is not a physical one but instead it is a spiritual one. Not only does he promise to meet the spiritual thirst of people, he goes on to say that these individuals would be able to provide for the thirst of others. All of this is possible because the Spirit is the living water for all whose soul is thirsty.
An observant person can see that in the world today there is a great spiritual thirst. Just as the need existed when Jesus shared this invitation for his contemporaries, the people of our time have this great need. Everyone is searching for the one thing which will satisfy their thirst. Many attempt to fill the need with activity and possessions. Others use alcohol or drugs to eliminate the thirst. Still others may seek out cults and ethereal substances to overcome this drought in their lives.
The answer is found in what Jesus says in this passage. The Lord is the only one who can satisfy our thirst. As experienced in the Spirit, the living waters of Christ can flow in us and through us. We do not need to remain parched. When we receive what our soul pants for, we are able to share with others who are also thirsty.
Anticipating something can create anxiety for most of us. This anxiety increases if we do not know the timing of whatever we are anticipating. You might recall as a young child on a road trip the way you nagged your parents with the question, “Are we there yet?” Maybe you had a child who consistently would ask that question, or ask “when?” We think that by knowing the timing, we can manage our anxiety better. Unfortunately, this is seldom the case.
We witness the annely of the disciples in today’s passage. Jesus tells them that the large, revered temple will be reduced to rubble and they want to know when. Jesus warns them that some people will come and try to convince them that the end is near based upon events which they see around them. He tells them not to be fooled because those events are just a part of the status of the world. Jesus says the wickedness in the world will increase but they are to stand strong in love. When others no longer live in and by love, Jesus’s followers are to do the opposite as a testimony of the kingdom in the world.
Since Jesus spoke these words, history has recorded individuals trying to convince people that the end of the world is close at hand. Even today we experience leaders, speakers, preachers, and public figures trying to equate natural or human-created events as signs of the end times. Whether it is true or not, our focus should not be on timing but instead our focus should be on remaining solid in love. Jesus clearly tells us that whatever is occurring around us, whatever wickedness is flooding the world, we are to not acquire a cold heart. The love which we daily receive from the Lord must create our foundation. This love surrounding us is also what we are to be sharing with others.
Leave the timing of the world’s demise to God. Do not let the world’s wickedness steal the love from you. Make love an alternative to the events of the world. By doing so, you will be testifying to the kingdom for others to see, a kingdom which is defined by love.
There exist many times in life when two opposing views present themselves. These views are usually based upon our perception. Is the glass half full, or is it half empty? This question is often quoted to show the concepts of pessimism and optimism. We also eventually realize that life generally resides somewhere in the middle of opposing views.
In the familiar passage for today, we see this challenge of contrasts. The Israelites are seeing their lives solely from the perspective of what they do not have. This perspective leads to complaining and an amnesia in regards to all which the Lord has given them. God shows the people abundance in quail and manna. They had all that they needed, and an abundance remained.
We can often have a perspective like the Israelites. We look at the world around us, complaining about all the things we do not have. Quickly, we can forget what we have thanks to the love, grace, and mercy of our Lord. All of which we truly need is provided by our God, and there is an abundance to share with others. Let each of us strive to achieve an attitude of abundance. If we succeed, it might just lead to less complaining and more gratitude.
Highly successful college basketball coach, John Wooden, is quoted as saying, “It’s what you learn after you know it all that counts.” Wooden’s quote reminds us of the importance of always being in a learning mindset. Similarly, Albert Einstein said, “The more I learn, the more I realize how much I don’t know.” These successful and brilliant men stress the importance of spending a lifetime learning. They also remind us that no matter how wise or knowledgeable one may appear, there is always something more which can, and should, be learned.
When it comes to our faith and understanding of God, this could not be more true. Our passage for today comes from the book of the Bible named Proverbs. A Google search of the word proverb gives this definition: “a short pithy saying in general use, stating a general truth or piece of advice.” The proverbs found in this book are usually credited to Solomon who was considered to be the wisest king of the Israeli people. It is a collection of sayings and insights intended to assist the people of God in learning who God is, who they are, and how Gad intends them to live. These first verses are encouragement for the people to continue to always be learning.
We have not only the book of Proverbs but the Bible as a whole which invites us to continue to learn about our faith, our God, and ourselves. Add to this the insights provided by mothers and fathers in our faith and we have no limits in what is available to us from which to learn. Fellow believers and faith leaders of today continue to add to the lessons available to us.
None of us know all. Every day we are given the opportunity to learn and grow in our faith. Praise be to our Lord for the people and the learning given to us throughout our lives.