Clear and Clean
Another Resurrection Sunday has come and gone. Our day was filled with joy and celebration. I pray yours was, too. But even if your day was not full of joy, the fact remains, Jesus is alive. The events around the resurrection are what fascinated me this year. I was drawn to Lazarus’ story over and over. I love that many people believed in Jesus because of Lazarus’ story. So many, in fact, the leaders added Lazarus to the hit list, right alongside Jesus. 

After Jesus raised Lazarus, there was a conversation among the temple leaders about whether Jesus would come to Jerusalem for Passover. If He was planning on celebrating Passover, because He touched Lazarus, who was practically dead moments before, He needed to go through the purification rites. That meant He’d have to celebrate Passover later. Here’s the deal, all the leaders could see was a rule. They totally missed the fact that a man had just been restored to life from death! Plus, they were looking for the right time to kill Jesus. They thought, “If he’ll just come to Jerusalem, the timing will be perfect!” But they couldn’t imagine a scenario where a good Jew would ignore the rules and come after touching a dead man. For a non-rule keeper, this kind of conversation blows my mind! But it really happened, just like God intended it to. 

That’s the part of the story that gets hard to swallow. Just like God hardened Pharoah’s heart so His glory would be displayed, God used the hard hearts of the religious leaders to lead Jesus to the cross. You couldn’t order the circumstances more perfectly. Jesus had to be at the right place at the right time with the right people to go to the cross and be placed in tomb. Just like everything else in the Word, the death of Jesus was no chance thing. 

I wonder if the religious leaders ever regretted their decision. We know Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimathea did. They both sought Jesus out secretly. They both worked to unpack the mysteries of the Kingdom they’d never before considered. They both made themselves unclean by taking Jesus’ body off the cross and preparing Him for burial. They most likely lost their seats of influence, but they gained something far more precious: tender hearts. 

I don’t want to be the guy whose hard heart pushes people away from God. I don’t want to be one shouting “Crucify” or manipulating the situation to get what I want. I’d much rather be like John or Mary, trusting God and waiting on His outcome. But I find myself much more often in the place of Nicodemus or Joseph, thinking, trying to understand but coming up short, working to protect my reputation instead of throwing pretense aside… 

Where is your heart today? Do you find yourself resisting the boundaries Jesus establishes so you can have your way? Are you pushy or manipulative or rude to the Lord? Are you more concerned with protecting your reputation than living faithfully? Do you find yourself ever demanding things of God? Maybe like Nicodemus and me, it’s time for you to let go. Being with Jesus is more important than the established rules. Mary understood. His sweet presence is more valuable than a years’ worth of salary. The freedom He brings from darkness, sin and death is the most precious gift ever given anyone. If you know your heart is harder than it should be, I’d encourage you to pray a prayer like this: 

“Oh Jesus, I need you! I am helpless and hurtful without you! I find myself protecting my heart and my assets often. Teach me to trust you fully. You always lead me in the best path. I just want to be with you. Please forgive my harsh attitude toward you and my inclination to trust myself before I trust you. Please make me clean.”

Jesus tells His friends twice they are clean because of the words He’s spoken to them. Are you clean because of the works and words of Jesus? Maybe it’s time to ask!