In our journey with Jesus in His last 40 or so days of walking this earth we have ... 1) reflected on Jesus' life, death and resurrection (on Ash Wednesday we talked about God's purpose in sending Jesus so that we will live out the purpose God has planned for us), 2) thought about how often we say "if only you had been here" when He, in fact, has been present with us constantly and 3) remembered God's perfect timing (this week) as Jesus spends his past 40 days as a fugitive. I have wondered why Jesus didn't go to the cross right after raising Lazarus. The Jews were hot on his heels. They were plotting to kill Him. He was just a few hours away from Jerusalem at Bethany. It seems all the ingredients were in place. So ... why this 40 day wait?
God is an amazing connector of things. The 40 days Jesus spends in the wilderness at the beginning of His ministry is book-ended tidily by the 40 days of His struggle and ministry during Lent. We remember the 40 years in the wilderness and the 40 days of rain during Noah's flood. I wonder if God is using these numbers as what Methodists would call "outward signs of inward grace." By this I mean that God is letting us know, through the order of life, order in His creation and order in Jesus' last days, that He has all things under control. God is quite aware of His plan and the timing of Jesus' last journey is perfectly coordinated to bring us forgiveness and grace through the cross. God is connecting us to His Word and our future!
We also know that God's timing here coincides with the feast of the Passover. While the Jews are making preparations and thinking of the days in Egypt when the angel of death passes over them (because the blood of a slain lamb is on the top and sides of their doorpost, a symbol of God's pardon and grace), Jesus death on the cross (with the blood on His forehead, hands and feet ... the slain Lamb of God being the embodiment of God's forgiveness and grace) is our passover. God carries our sins to the cross, burying them in the grave. For the Jews the Passover is a big deal. For us as Christians God's forgiveness is the biggest deal ever ... the very foundation of the faith. God prepares a way into His presence!
A final reason for Jesus flight and plight (John 11:54-57) might be that He is modeling for us something very deep. He suffers persecution, weariness, misunderstanding and the knowledge of impending judgment (for our sins and from the Jewish/Roman authorities) as he travels, teaches, heals and shows us that sometimes you travel to what might seem a dire fate so that God's plan can unfold in how you pass through that fate (Isaiah 43:2 "When you pass through the waters, I will be with you, and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you ... when you walk through the fire, you will not be burned"). Isn't it reassuring that God in human form had the access to God's (the Father's) presence during His time of persecution? He truly is the great High Priest who has gone before us and passed through the rivers we also face (Hebrews 4:15). God leads us on our journey to His place!
God's timing is perfect. One old preacher said, "God arrives just before it is too late." I like that ... Randy!