RITE OF PASSAGE: Surprise endings
One day, a teacher gave her class a test. She listed the first part of some famous sayings, asking to students to fill in the rest. The responses were varied as well as humorous. Here are some of the more interesting answers.
You can’t teach an old dog new . . . math. The pen is mightier than the . . . pigs. An idle mind is . . . the best way to relax. A penny saved is . . . not worth much. Two’s company, three’s . . . the Musketeers. Where there’s smoke, there’s . . . pollution. Children should be seen and not . . . spanked or grounded. A rolling stone . . . plays the guitar. A bird in the hand is . . . a real mess. It’s better to light one candle than to . . . waste electricity. It’s always darkest before . . . I open my eyes. You have nothing to fear but . . . homework. If you can’t stand the heat . . . don’t start the fireplace. If you lie down with the dogs . . . you’ll stink in the morning. The squeaking wheel gets . . . annoying. We have nothing to fear but . . . our principal. I think, therefore I . . . get a headache. Early to bed and early to rise . . . is first in the bathroom. There is nothing new under the . . . bed. The grass is always greener . . . when you leave the sprinkler on. Laugh and the whole world laughs with you, cry and . . . you have to blow your nose. Laugh and the world laughs with you, cry and . . . someone yells, “Shut up!”
I listened to an incredible sermon at Bristow, First last week-one of the best I have heard in years. The pastor and some of the church members had gone to New Orleans for a mission trip, leaving the pulpit to the associate pastor, who happens to be my youngest son, Caleb. (Yes, there is a slight possibility I might be biased). I want you to know that I am not one of those parents who always think their children are the best. Still, when it comes to preaching to the needs of people, there is no one better than Caleb. That is just . . . my humble opinion.
Last Wednesday, I preached on John 11:35, the famous verse that every Baptist has memorized . . . “Jesus wept.” Sunday, Caleb announced his text, which also happened to be . . . John 11:35. What are the odds that a father and son would independently choose to preach on the same text during the same week? Knowing my son and me, the odds are probably pretty good. Neither of us is a theologian, so we leave the more difficult passages to the professionals.
That morning, Caleb began to relate the story of Martha and Mary. He told about Mary’s complaint to Jesus (which sounded a lot like her sister’s) that if He had only been there, their brother Lazarus would not have died. (At that point, I would have given Mary a lecture on “faith and trust”).
If any one could give an answer as to why something bad had happened, it would have to be . . . Jesus. He is God in the flesh. He knows the answer to every question, so wouldn’t you think He would offer some wise counsel? No. He doesn’t. All He does is just . . . weep alongside her.
My son explained that Christians seem programmed to give “dime store” answers-trite phrases like, “He is going to a better place,” or “It is going to be all right.” Now, all of these things are true, but people who are hurting often have a greater need. Sometimes, they long for someone to stand beside them and . . . weep.
Jesus knew Mary didn’t need a lecture or a 10-point sermon on the sovereignty of God. What she needed the most was exactly what Jesus did. That is why Scripture tells us. . . “Jesus wept.”
Maybe, just maybe, we need to be more like Jesus. We can give words of comfort. We can remind each other of the great truths in the Bible. But sometimes, we need to lay all of those things aside and just . . . weep. Isn’t that what the family of God is all about?
Like the school teacher, I am going to give you a test. This time, though, I am going to give you the last half, and you have to fill out the first part. Ready? ________________ . Jesus wept.