It is popular to talk about life as a drama, God’s story being acted out on the stage of history. This is a helpful analogy. It reminds us, as Mike Wilkerson puts it, that “He is both the author and the main character” [Redemption, p.26]. God has written us into his story to say something about him. But, as Wilkerson goes on, “...we tend to script our lives with ourselves as the protagonists and God in some supporting role”. We, rather than he, try to write the script; and inevitably we give ourselves the starring role.
What blasphemy – to see God as a mere extra in our lives! John the Baptist had the right perspective as he spoke of his role in comparison with Jesus’ part: “He must increase, and I must decrease!” With that, John got out of the spotlight and let Jesus take centre stage.
Michael Horton makes the same point when he describes the dramatic story of Lazarus. “In terms of the unfolding plot,” he writes, Lazarus is a character in Jesus’ story, not vice versa” [Quoted in Guthrie: O love that will not let me go” p.20].
Lazarus’ sickness and death seemed like a powerful story-line. And of all the times when we tend to feel that we are the focal point of the drama, our times of suffering are surely the times when we most want the spotlight of everybody’s attention on us. The dying swan routine is not limited to the ballet; it is performed before their wives by many men whenever they are under the weather! If Lazarus and his family ever deserved a day as the centre of attention, it was surely on this day of suffering.
Yet, as Horton says, “The glorification of the Son as the Messiah is the real ‘show’ here.” It always is. So it’s time to get out of the spotlight. And, like John the Baptist, shine the spotlight on Christ: “Behold the Lamb of God!”