Pause for Thought – a five minute read – 9

John 11 v 17 – 44 or longer read John 11 v 1 – 44

I’m going back to the cupboard under the stairs because also in there I uncovered some documents and programs of a training course I gave to Local Authority Building Control Surveyors back in the early 1990s. The course consisted of a series of one day sessions held at various venues across the Midlands. A national organisation made all the arrangements and I just had to turn up at each venue and deliver the training. It was called ‘Brick Bats’.

All went well until we came to Birmingham. I received all the details and directions as usual and set off by train to Birmingham New Street Station. I can’t remember exactly the name of the venue but it was something like the ‘Queen Elizabeth 11 Centre’

I followed all the instructions and passed all the predicted landmarks and reached the point where it said ‘follow the signs for QE11 Centre’. The problem was there were no signs for the QE11 Centre. I retraced my steps to make sure I had followed the route correctly, but still no signs for the QE11 Centre. I spotted a man wearing a suit and carrying a brief case and asked him if he knew where the QE11 Centre was. He replied ‘No’ and walked away. I found the only man in Birmingham that can give a one word answer.

Beginning to worry about the time I gave my best London Taxi Cab wave and flagged down a passing taxi.

 ‘QE11 Centre please’ I said as I climbed into the cab.

‘Where?’ came the reply.

‘QE11 Centre’ I repeated.

‘Where’s that then?’ came the reply

I explained that I had no idea where it was and I hoped that he, who was a taxi driver, might know, and I showed him the letter and directions that I had received.

‘Ah that’s the Cultural Centre’; he said ‘I know where that is’.

And sure enough five minutes and £6.50 later I was outside the venue.

I was greeted by one of my colleagues from another local authority who I had met several times at previous sessions. A bit of a flamboyant extravert who I always thought looked an RAF type but he wasn’t.

‘Did you find it alright’ he said, and without waiting for an answer carried on, ‘I had a devil of a job, thought it was going to be a Lazarus trip.

He obviously noticed my confused look and he clarified, ‘take me three days and the place would be dead when I got here.

I have to admit it’s a phrase I had not come across before, neither since, but it brings me to my scriptural point.

It is confusing as to why Jesus took so long to return to Lazarus after receiving Martha’s message (John 11 v 17 – 44). My colleague was correct in so far as it was at least two days before Jesus set off and Lazarus had been dead for four days when Jesus arrived. It seems out of character especially when Lazarus and his sisters were very dear to Jesus and there is no evidence as any urgent business that would keep Jesus on the other side of the Jordan.      

 It’s also confusing as to why Jesus had to go to Lazarus to heal him in the first place considering that Jesus healed a government official’s son without going anywhere near him.

(John 4 v 43 – 54)

Could he have not healed Lazarus in the same way? Why wait until Lazarus had died?

Perhaps that is the whole point. Jesus wanted for everyone to see the Glory of God through him by bringing Lazarus to life when everyone knew without doubt that Lazarus had died.

Jesus’s critics would have said that any doctor can heal, miracles can be tricks and it doesn’t prove that Jesus is the Son of God. But even they have to concede that only God can give life.

When Jesus arrived at Martha’s house Lazarus had been dead for four days and sealed in a tomb. His resurrection was through the Glory of God and proved without doubt that Jesus is the Son of God. In human terms Lazarus’s resurrection was impossible but in God’s terms everything is possible.

In the present Coronavirus crisis it is important that we acknowledge that everything is possible through our Lord Jesus Christ.

As individuals we may feel we are helpless to be able to do anything about the situation in China, Italy, Spain, USA or even across the UK. We feel that it is beyond our capabilities, but it is not beyond God’s capabilities because everything is possible to God.

Bring your concerns of the world to God in prayer through our Lord Jesus Christ and God will hear his people’s cry, because God is almighty and God is good.

I went back to Birmingham in 2018 with my granddaughter to look at their university. We received their instructions for the day and the directions to the open day. Unfortunately the directions took us to the wrong campus, but never fear, a taxi, five minutes and £12.50 later and we were at the correct campus. Alleluia for Birmingham’s taxi drivers.  

Derek T.

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