When the great crowd of the Jews learned that he was there, they came not only because of Jesus but also to see Lazarus, whom he had raised from the dead. So the chief priests planned to put Lazarus to death as well, since it was on account of him that many of the Jews were deserting and were believing in Jesus. John 12:9-11 (NRSV)
You’ve been there; don’t tell me you haven’t.
You just stopped at the grocery for a couple items. You’re there for a stick of gum, three bananas and a half-gallon of milk, and……..look at that mother of all lines! There are thirty-two checkout counters and only 3 are lit up! If you go home without that milk there will be no peace in the house, and you’re not really into spending the next 25 minutes developing a deep and meaningful relationship with the tattooed guy ahead of you, or the odd-smelling one behind, so you are busy trying to remember if there’s a pasture on the way home where there might be a cow to milk.
Then the unimaginable good thing happens…
Another line is about to be opened, and the cashier is looking right at you, pointing to the counter two rows over; she gives you that unmistakable “over-here-get-out-of-jail-free-you’re-next-smile. You clutch the milk and bananas and do your best Olympic high jump over two toddlers clinging to their mother as you knock over two candy racks and a video display in your dash for freedom. But you’re not quick enough!
A lady with three tons of groceries in two carts cuts you off and sweetly smiles as she informs you I believe I was next in line.
Now, you’re a Christian; that should mean something at this point, but these bananas are going to be overripe if you don’t get out of this store in the next thirty seconds. And, besides, the woman must be Satan’s sister; everyone could easily see that you were next in line….and, who does she think she is...if she was really a nice person she’d let your milk and bananas go first.
Rewind to 33 AD.
Lazarus is minding his business dying…then the gates of heaven. Suddenly he not only loses his place in line, he’s yanked out of the line altogether….Lazarus, come forth!
A few weeks later he and Jesus are the center of attention. That is….they’re at the top of the Sadducees and Pharisees “hit list”. Lazarus thinks to himself, “How fair can this be? I already died once; I had Paradise in view, and this time they want to hang me”!
There’s always something bigger going on than you think! Whether it’s being patient with the obnoxious person who takes your place in line at Food Lion, or trying to make sense of the Lazarus syndrome (“now you’re in your body…now you’re not….back in again and the religious leaders want you dead”).
The lady at the grocery store didn’t have a fish symbol or Jesus bumper sticker on her car (I watched as she pulled away).
(Oh, I forgot to mention it was ME doing that Olympic Toddler-jumping move.)
The question still lingering in my mind two days later is, did I blow the moment with my lack of patience? Was there something bigger than overripe bananas at stake here? Was this a divine appointment? Was I trashing an opportunity to be a Lazarus-kind of witness to a weary woman trying to get home to her six hungry kids?
(On the odd chance that weary lady is reading this – I’m sorry I wasn’t more gracious; you met the human Russell yesterday. I was doing a good job of hiding the Jesus you should have seen. You really were next in line…my line of people Jesus wanted to love and hold.)
Join me in a prayer? Lord, next time help me be ready…patiently!