Author Frank Viola called Bethany, the tiny village two miles east of Jerusalem, “God’s Favorite Place On Earth.”¹
Bethany was the only place Jesus felt accepted. Jesus spent lots of time there. Mary and Martha and their brother Lazarus lived there and Jesus loved them.
It was in Bethany that Jesus first proclaimed, “I am the resurrection and the life.” He was about to raise Lazarus from the dead.
It was in Bethany that Jesus taught us that life in Him requires death in us. Lazarus was in the grave three days. Jesus said he was sleeping and that he would rise again.
But for the life Jesus gives, Lazarus had to die.
So do we.
Jesus told Nichodemus,
“I tell you the truth. No one can see the Kingdom of God unless he is born again.” John 3:3.(NIV)
And in Luke 9:23, Jesus told his disciples,
“If anyone would come after me he must deny himself, and take up his cross daily and follow me.”(NIV).
I believe denying self means humbly submitting my will to God. For me it’s not about rituals or denominations or reading the Bible or going to church. It’s about saying no to what I want and yes to what God wants. Allowing Jesus to live His life in me and through me. It’s about putting others’ needs before mine. Loving one another. Loving my neighbor. Loving Jesus.