Deacon Bob Evans
It's in Your Hands, Lord
It was winter, 1917, just outside Cairo, Egypt. A young Bible School teacher who was serving as a chaplain to the British troops in North Africa, died of complications from an emergency appendectomy. His name was Oswald Chambers.
Oswald Chambers would be lost to the pages of history were it not for his wife, Gertrude (“Biddy”). From 1919 until her death in 1966, while operating a boarding house for students at Oxford, England, Biddy tirelessly organized and published many of her husband’s class notes and commentaries on Bible passages.
The most widely read is My Utmost for His Highest, published in 1927 and still in print today. It wasn’t long before this text was recognized as one of the most insightful bible accessories of the early 20th century.
There’s an important connection between the story in John’s Gospel about The Miracle at Cana and that of The Raising of Lazarus.
One of Chambers’ best-known commentaries is on the connection between the story in John’s Gospel about The Miracle at Cana [John 2:1-11] and that of The Raising of Lazarus [John 11:1:45]. Chambers was one of the first bible teachers to recognize that John’s Gospel presents several sets of parallels. A lesson taught in a story in the first half of John’s Gospel is often repeated again in another story in the second half.
At first the connection between the Miracle at Cana and the Raising of Lazarus might seem to be hard to imagine. The stories are about miracles that have no apparent connection. But, after some reflection, we see that both stories teach us something often overlooked when we pray.
At Bethany, Lazarus’ sister left it all in Jesus’ hands.
At Bethany, the sisters sent word to Jesus about their brother, Lazarus, saying, “Master, the one you love is ill” [Jn 11:3]; no statement at all on what they expected Jesus to do. The situation was gravely serious, their brother was near death, but they left the response entirely in Jesus’ hands. They couldn’t possibly have imagined how miraculously it would all turn out.
At Cana, Mary left it all in Jesus’ hands.
At Cana, Mary, the mother of Jesus, said to Him, “They have no more wine” [Jn 2:3]. That’s it; she made no statement at all on what she expected Jesus to do. She also left the response entirely in His hands.
Actually, this was much more than some socially embarrassing situation. Running out of wine at a first-century Jewish wedding had serious implications for the couple and the whole community. In their times, marriage was not only a union between two individuals, but between two extended families. The couple was married at the erusin ceremony but lived apart until the wedding feast. The wedding feast joined the extended family of the bride with the extended family of the groom. That joining took place in the final event of the wedding feast: The Sharing of the Cup of Joy.
If there was no wine for Sharing the Cup of Joy, the families were not joined in the union and the couple was suddenly with no connection to either family or the larger community around them. Further, there was no means in ancient Jewish custom to rectify this situation. So, there was a serious need Mary was bringing to Jesus. And, they couldn’t possibly have imagined how miraculously it would all turn out, either.
It’s very natural for us, when praying for a loved one who is ill to ask for their swift recovery; or if our son has been laid off at work, to ask that he receive a job opportunity soon. I could offer more examples, but you get the point. The “right” outcome seems obvious to us and, often without realizing it, in our prayer we’re “telling God how to be God.” We are reminded in both of these stories in John’s Gospel that we should humbly make known to Jesus the need that is before us and then submit to His will as to how He will respond.
Every adversity in life comes to us, not as a burden, but as an opportunity for the work of God to be manifested in it. Of course, when we’re in the midst of trouble, it’s hard to see it as an opportunity but that’s precisely what Jesus said to His disciples who questioned Him about Lazarus: “this is (happening)… that the Son of God may be glorified through it” [Jn 11:4].
We need to just leave it all in Jesus’ hands.
Jesus already knows our need before we speak of it [cf. Mt 6:8]. Our speaking to Him in prayer is really a privilege He gives us, after all He is our loving and caring Lord. So, we need to just leave it all in Jesus’ hands.
‘Till next time.
Dcn. Bob Evans
January 28, 2020
John 2:1-11; John 11:1:45; Matthew 6:8