Jesus had to make a very hard choice four days ago: he could have come to Bethany. He wanted to come, he wanted to heal his beloved Lazarus, he wanted to give this family who had taken him in as a brother the gift of health, but he chose the gift of delay, for now. With the death of Lazarus, he entered into grief in a way which means that he knows our depths of grief, and that means everything to us. It is what makes our tears and heartache holy, the fact that Jesus knows it too, and is inseparable from it.
Lent is a season in which we move past the expected, the conventional, the easy answers and trust that God is drawing us out of the shadows of complacency or comfort and into the brightness of discipleship, so we may see the glory of God around us.
Dialogue happened, lives were changed, and the living water began to flow more freely. This all seems to be a part of God’s plan.
I pay attention to those who come last, for often some of my most important conversations are with people who come “at night,” people who are afraid or feel unworthy to come to me or to our church in the light of day. It is often from the darkness of night, don’t you think, that we bring our deepest questions, or search for some purpose to our lives, other than our mundane existence or routines.
It is almost unfathomable to me that God leads us into temptation, and yet we pray against that happening each week in the Lord’s prayer as we say, “Lead us not into temptation and deliver us from evil.” If we pray against it happening, it means we must imagine it as a possibility, and one that only the grace or mercy of God can prevent. And our gospel story today reinforces the concept that God leads us into temptation, as it is clearly stated that the Spirit leads Jesus into the wilderness, into the place of testing and temptation. Somehow the time of testing and temptation serves the Spirit’s purpose. Does that seem odd to you?