By Elizabeth Thomas
As a third-grade teacher, I like to think I have a lot of patience. But lately, my students have been driving me crazy over something so silly – pencils. They’re constantly losing them, stealing them and always, ALWAYS asking to sharpen them! I have tried to ignore it, but last Friday was the last straw.
I had refilled the pencil bin earlier that morning, but around lunchtime they told me it was empty again. As you can probably imagine, I lost it. I told them no more pencils! When you lose your pencil, find something else. Well, that was interesting. They found crayons, colored pencils or even markers to use. (Let’s just say the spelling tests were quite colorful that day….) I stood firm. I’d had enough. It was the “pencil that broke the teacher’s back.”
This story reminds me of something we taught in Kid’s Klub on Sunday. In preparation for Easter, we’ve been teaching the kids about Jesus’ journey to the cross. People might say that His journey began when He triumphantly entered Jerusalem or during the Last Supper with His disciples. But I’ve learned that His journey started even earlier than that. It started with death.
More specifically, Lazarus’ death. The Bible says Jesus loved Lazarus (John 11:5). But when his sisters, Mary and Martha, sent word that he was sick, Jesus didn’t drop everything and leave. He stayed where He was for two more days before going to see Lazarus (John 11:6). His disciples warned Him not to go, saying, “But Rabbi, … a short while ago the Jews there tried to stone you, and yet you are going back?” (John 11:8). Now, Jesus could have saved Lazarus before He died, or even healed him from afar. But He chose to return, even if it was dangerous for Him.
When He arrived, Jesus learned that Lazarus had been in the tomb for four days (John 11:17). Jesus mourned Lazarus, comforted his sisters, and then raised him from the dead. An amazing miracle which caused many Jews to believe in Him (John 11:43-45).
When word got to the Pharisees that Jesus had raised Lazarus from the dead, a man who had been declared legally dead for more than three days, it caught their attention. They worried that people were starting to follow Jesus and they were losing control. The Bible says that from that point on, they plotted to kill Him (John 11:53). This might have been avoided if Jesus hadn’t raised Lazarus from the dead.
Jesus hadn’t made a mistake. He hadn’t “accidently” upset the Pharisees. He chose to perform His miracle, knowing that they would set out to kill Him. He literally set the last straw on their backs. Jesus was in control of His journey from the very beginning. He knew it would start with death, Lazarus’ death. And He knew it would include His death. But He also knew that His journey wouldn’t end in death.
Isn’t it a relief to know that our journey won’t end in death? Our Messiah came to earth and literally orchestrated His death to save us. Even more amazing, three days later, He rose and conquered death! He put Himself on the path to rescue us, because of His love for us?
As we enter this Easter season, don’t forget that Jesus did it all on purpose. He was tried, beaten and crucified on purpose. He saved You on purpose. Remember to be grateful that Jesus’ journey to the cross started with death, but ends with our resurrected life.
Elizabeth Thomas is a third-grade teacher with Albuquerque Public Schools. She and her family have attended First Baptist Church of Albuquerque for seven years. She is passionate about working with children and serves in Kid’s Klub on Sunday mornings.