By Mike Kasdorf_
Him: "I'll raise you..."
I have a full house. Full house almost always wins this game. Does he think he can bluff with the cards he's showing?
Him: "I'll bet..."
Interesting...he's showing three high hearts. But what are the odds he has the last two?
Him: "I'll bet..."
Now he has four cards to a royal flush. My gut says he has it. I'm gonna get crushed. But still...I have to see it to believe it.
Me: "I'll call. Show me whatcha got."
<he shows his final card>
Royal Flush. The best possible hand. Game over.
My dad has long said that you can learn a lot about life from playing poker. You have to make decisions on incomplete data, operate in best-guess scenarios, and trust your gut. From time to time, a poker hand will pose a situation so improbable that you simply have to see it to believe it (and it's nice to be on the winning end of those situations!).
In the course of life, however, we don't limit our need for proof to statistically improbable situations. From catchy phrases like “show me the money” to advertisers showing us “proof” that their product will solve our problems, we are seemingly ingrained with the creed: "I'll believe it when I see it."
Seeing is believing.
But is it?
In John 11 we read the narrative of Lazarus' death. We learn in the opening verses that Jesus is out doing his thing when he gets word that his buddy, Lazarus, is very sick. A curious chain of events follows: Jesus purposefully waits for two days before heading to Lazarus' place; he arrives like a funeral crasher (the process of mourning was a big deal in this culture); and his presence is not received altogether positively by Mary, Martha, and the others mourning Lazarus.
But for Jesus, none of this comes as a surprise; he set it up for a singular purpose: "...for God's glory so that God's Son may be glorified through it (v4)." From this purpose, Jesus goes out to where Lazarus was buried and calls him out of the grave, back to life (vs 38-44).
If we pause here, anyone following Jesus' ministry up to this point almost has to think "this is it! He just raised his third person from the dead, this time in high-profile fashion. He even called it in advance! What more proof do people need that He is the Son of God? Game on!" He proves it; shows everyone.
Seeing is believing...right?
Verse 45 tells us that "...many Jews...who had seen [this] believed in Him..." Many. Not All. Whaaaaat?
Back to my card game. After seeing the final cards turn—proof that my opponent held the best possible hand in all of poker—would it have made any sense to argue? No way! Not only did I surrender my chips but I joined everyone around the table in cheering and celebrating something as rare and improbable as a royal flush.
So how on earth could people witness this miracle and still not believe? Verses 46-53 show how fear leads to unbelief.
If we're willing to be honest with ourselves, it can be all too easy to let fear impede our response to Jesus. We may be willing to proclaim, "Yes! I believe Christ rose from the dead! Yes, I believe he saves me from my sins!" But are we willing to believe that Christ can rescue us from
...our bad habits?
So I pose for you the same question I ask myself: What are you really afraid of? For the skeptics and Pharisees in John 11, it was the fear of losing their temple and their nation (vs 48)—a rather unfounded fear. Do you also wrestle with unfounded fear that you've learned to justify over time? Or like Mary (vs 32), do you fear that Jesus won't come through for you in the way you wanted him to?
Wherever you find yourself, may the message of Easter be a reminder of the choice ever before you: to follow fear or to follow love. Be reminded that Jesus faced the same choice as he prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane. Be reminded that perfect love drives out fear (1 John 4:18) and that the same spirit of God, who raised Jesus from the dead, is in you (Romans 8:11).
Will you let Christ illuminate the fears hidden in the corners of your heart? Will you accept that power and let Him show His glory through you?
He is risen, indeed.