The Foolishness of Containment
John 12:9 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. 10 So the chief priests planned to put Lazarus to death as well, 11 since it was on account of him that many of the Jews were deserting and were believing in Jesus.
The Jewish leaders were frustrated with the traction that Jesus had gotten among the people. Somehow they believed that they would need to contain the reports of his activity. The story of Lazarus was beyond belief, and this was a problem. Too many people were coming to Christ as a result and something needed to be done.
Trying to contain the story of Lazarus’ resurrection, they plotted to kill him. Can you imagine the absurdity of trying to kill someone whom Jesus has already raised? It would seem, had Jesus raised him once from the dead, he could raise him again! Trying to contain the truth of what had happened with Lazarus simply made the religious leaders look foolish.
In today’s language one might say that the Jewish leaders were engaged in damage control. Jesus, raising a man who had been dead and in the grave for several days was beyond belief. As this story spread “many of the Jews were deserting and were believing in Jesus.” It was the story of Jesus that was compelling, but the religious officials thought it would be clever to get rid of Lazarus. The truth of the work of Jesus and the attraction to the Messiah could not be contained for God is far more powerful than any of our human schemes.
We face issues of containment on many fronts. There may be a family member who simply doesn’t want to hear about Jesus. There may be political pressure which tries to set up legal barriers to the spreading of the gospel. There may be pressure from more powerful religious groups or denominations who seek to silence the voice of the gospel. All of this is folly! Trying to contain the gospel is just as ridiculous as trying to kill a man who had already been dead.
Let’s look for a moment on the flip-side of this argument. If containment is folly, then why should we be discouraged. Anytime we try to manipulate the truth and realign the story for our own personal benefit, we will ultimately lose. That’s because Holy Spirit empowered truth cannot be contained. People will spend energy, time and resources on trying to contain that which is impossible to capture. Lean into the truth of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Allow the Holy Spirit to empower on a daily basis and follow the Lord’s leading and there will be no barriers able to contain what God can do in and through you.
Lord, please help me to live into your truth and leading today as you overcome the barriers of this world. Amen.
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