675. The Bethany Celebrity

“How was your church service yesterday?” I asked Stan one Monday morning.

“Fabulous!” he replied.  “How about yours?”

“Curious,” was my one-word response.

“In what way or ways?” Stan asked.

“Well,” I replied, “attendance has been down lately.  The pastor has been trying different things to see if more people can be attracted to be part of the church.  Yesterday he again tried something different.”

“What was that?” Stan asked.

“I hate to expose my ignorance,” I replied, “but the pastor invited a group of local performers to do the music.  I had never heard of the group and, frankly, I don’t remember their name. Actually, I didn’t care a whole lot for the music.”

“What about the other people in the church?” Stan asked.

“Seems that quite a few people liked it,” I replied.  “In fact, the number of people at the service was quite large and enthusiastic about the group and the music they played.  I think there were a lot of people who came to see and to hear the group.”

“So,” Stan replied, “the pastor’s strategy worked.”

“Not so much,” I said.  “As soon as the group was done performing, a lot of people got up and left before the pastor even began his message, which, by the way, was a really good message on the truth of Jesus.”

“Sounds to me,” Stan replied, “to be kind of like some of the people who went to Bethany.”

“What do you mean by that?” I asked.  “Who’s Bethany?”

“It’s a ‘What’ not a ‘Who,’ Stan replied.

Continuing, he added, “In John’s gospel, there’s an account where Jesus went to the village of Bethany, which was near Jerusalem, to have dinner with Mary, Martha, and their brother, Lazarus.”

“And this has something to do with church music?” I asked with a smile.

“Bear with me,” Stan laughed.  Continuing, he added, “This was after Jesus had raised Lazarus from the tomb.  A whole bunch of Jews heard that Jesus was visiting.  They showed up, but John’s gospel records that they came, not just to see Jesus, but to see Lazarus.  He was kind of a local celebrity because he had been brought back to life after being dead for four days.”

“So,” I said, “you’re saying that the people who were new to the church service yesterday may have been more interested in hearing the music than they were in hearing about Jesus.  More interested in seeing the local celebrity performers than in seeing Jesus.”

“That happens,” Stan replied.  “But just like some of those who went to Bethany may have heard what Jesus had to say, I pray that at least some of those who stayed at the church service heard and were affected by the message about Jesus.”

______________________________________

The great multitude therefore of the Jews learned that He (Jesus) was there; and they came, not for Jesus’ sake only, but that they might also see Lazarus, whom He had raised from the dead.  John 12:9.

Prayer:  Thank you, Father, that you allow me to see Jesus through your word and through your voice of the Holy Spirit.  I confess that too often there have been instances when I wanted to see someone other than Jesus, to hear what they had to say, rather than what you, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit have to say.  Please forgive me.  And please, Father, help me in following every step of your lead into an ever-deepening relationship where I want only to see and hear what you have for me.  Thank you I can and do bring these prayers before you in the name of Jesus.  Amen.

Think on this:  It’s common to be attracted to people and to want to hear what they have to say, rather than hearing directly from God.  Are you or have you been in that situation?  If so, what do you think is the reason for that?  Do you think God wants you to be attracted to Him and Him alone?  Why or why not?  Would you like to build into your faith walk the desire to only seek God and what He has for you?  If so, do you know how that can happen?

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