Frank Viola has recently published a booklet on the Internet, entitled "Bethany: The Lord's Desire for His Church".
He gives a vivid exposition of several events in the Gospels that happen at Bethany:
- the scene when Jesus and His disciples are received in the home of Martha and Mary, where Martha is busy preparing the meal and Mary chooses to sit and listen to Jesus,
- the raising from the dead of Lazarus, the brother of Martha and Mary,
- the meal at the home of Simon the leper where Mary anoints Jesus with precious perfumes,
- the Ascension of Jesus.
Bethany was a unique place for Jesus.
"Love and friendship. These two words sum up the heart of Bethany. Bethany is the place where Jesus Christ loves His own, and His own do not doubt it. It is also the place of friendship. Friendship with the living God.
"These two words reveal the heart of Christ. He desires friends, not servants. He desires love, not servitude.
"In the cold temple of Jerusalem, God was served. But in the warmth of a Bethany home, He was loved and befriended.
"When I read this passage, I see a Lord who is saying, 'I didn't come to this earth to be served. I came to have friends. I came to love and be loved. I came to take a people into my very bosom. I came to disclose the secrets of my heart to my friends. For I am at home with them.'
"This the meaning of Bethany. And it's what the Lord is after in His church."
For me, Frank Viola has a gift of bringing people and events described in the Bible alive in an authentic , credible way. The familiar passages that have been endlessly sermonised over suddenly come vividly to life. We are there among the people. It is real, actual, credible.
And so Frank's vision for church in our age is deeply rooted in this insight into how Jesus lived. Church is to be an integral part of life. Being church is being community. Church is a group of friends, a body of believers, making a "Bethany" - a home for their Lord together.
Download "Bethany: The Lord's Desire for His Church".
"God's Ultimate Passion: Unveiling the Purpose Behind Everything" by Frank Viola