IN the rest of John 12, we Jesus and how he dealt with groups of people…
The next group we see are: The Passover pilgrims-
Jesus was openly announcing to the people that he was the King of Israel, the promised Messiah.
They quoted from Psalm 118:26, a messianic psalm shouting:
"Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!"
"Blessed is the King of Israel!"
But while they were doing this, Jesus was weeping.
If they only knew what the cost was going to be for their peace
But it was hidden from their eyes.
People were caught up in the emotion, following the crowd
But Jesus knew in just a few days this same crowd would be calling out “Crucify!”
And shows to us how important it is-
That our conviction is based on more than our feelings.
Then he deals with: The Gentile visitors-
Here we see a group of people from among the Greeks who came to worship at the feast.
And we really do need to commend them for having it on straight.
Although the Jews would always come “looking for a sign” These Greeks came “Looking for Jesus”
And Jesus gave them the words of Life.
“The hour has come for the son of man to be glorified”
As we see from his analogy with the seed, he was referring to himself being crucified!
But it is amazing how he looked at this event.
He saw beyond the cross to the glory that was going to follow.
And, I wonder…. How do we look at what lies in store for us?
The Bible tells us how we should.
2 Cor 4:13-18-
Jesus then goes on to use the illustration of a seed. And the process by which it bears fruit.
The only way for us to have a fruitful life in Christ is to follow him in his death burial and resurrection.
We must die to ourselves,
But we do so in full knowledge that a new man raises from the grave of baptism to bear fruit for God.
And if we notice, Jesus’ next words are interesting…
"Now my heart is troubled, and what shall I say?
He doesn’t question, “What shall I do”
He knows what he needs to do, the will of God had been made clear, But now what to say..
We can do the right thing with the wrong attitude,
we can desire the right results and say the wrong words
But when we speak and act as Christ did, results happen.
His decision on what to say? “Father, glorify your name!"
And the result was a response from God.
This day was the last day of Jesus’ public ministry.
What we see from here on out are private times with his followers and his journey to the cross.
Yet even at the end of his public ministry we still find many left in the fourth and final group:
The unbelieving Jews-
The word believe is used 8 times in this section.
And in verses 37-40 he tells us that these people Would not believe-
In spite of the clear evidence they just plain refused.
When a person starts to resist the truth, something begins to change inside of them
And as excuses and rationalization and hardness of heart develops,
they get to a point at times where they just will not believe.
And still others, believed, but hid it under a bushel!
Yet at the same time many even among the leaders believed in him.
But because of the Pharisees they would not confess their faith
for fear they would be put out of the synagogue;
for they loved praise from men more than praise from God.
Are we in that position?
Again Jesus calls us to make a choice.
Revelation 21:8 says that among those in hell will be the fearful.
And it is time that we understand that it is better to fear God and be in heaven
Than to fear man and be in hell.
These people loved the praise of men, more.
In the closing text Jesus makes the judgment clear.
The light has come to you, and his words have been made clear
What choice will you make?
Will you love him more than praise from men?
Will you love him with conviction, and not just out of emotion?
Will you love him when things do not go your way, and when it is time to hear the truth?
In the end, judgment will not be based on how we feel.
Or on what we would prefer.
It will be judged on his very words.
Jesus has not come into the world to condemn but to save.
Will you trust his words right now?
It is time for you to choose.
John opened his Gospel by saying Jesus came into the world,
Yet the world did not recognize or receive him.
And for the first 11 chapters he gave proof after proof after proof that he was the messiah
He is the Son of God.
In John 12 Jesus then relates to four different groups of people.
And the choices each of them are making, are starting to come down on them.
In the first section, we see Jesus with His Friends-
One of the lessons in this chapter jumped right out at me here.
Those impacted by Jesus stuck together.
Each with their own way, and each with their own talent- they stuck together.
Martha we see in doing her normal thing- as verse one simply put it, Martha served
Mary too, we see in her normal state, reclining at the table at the feet of Jesus worshipping him
And Lazarus we see here as a witness to the power of God.
In these people we see the balance of what is needed in the kingdom: worship, work, and witness
And we see how they all come together to form a body in Christ.
As we read on we find Mary giving honor and showing her love for the savior
Then Mary took about a pint of pure nard, an expensive perfume; she poured it on Jesus' feet and wiped his feet with her hair.
And the house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume.
Mary of Bethany was not one of the Mary’s we see anointing Jesus at the tomb.
She did her anointing right now
She came to him at his feet, in the position of a servant and gave her very best to him.
Within a week, her savior would be crucified.
But with Mary just like with anyone else, when you give your best to Jesus
There will always be someone there to misunderstand and to criticize.
For Mary it was Judas.
"Why wasn't this perfume sold and the money given to the poor? It was worth a year's wages."
Listen close to Judas’ words.
Just like many others who try to destroy the work of the faithful, He never said much good.
We never see him very involved.
But when the time comes to tear down someone else,
He is quick to find a religious sounding, “holier than thou” way of doing it.
But as I said, listen close-
Those words were the first ones you ever hear from Judas in all 4 Gospel accounts
The last words you ever hear from him are in Matthew 27:4
"I have sinned," he said, "for I have betrayed innocent blood."
Judas was a thief.
There is a lot of speculation about Judas.
Why he did it, and what drove him to do it, even if he could be forgiven for it.
But when I see him here, I see a pattern I see in so many like him
He had a plan, he wanted things his way,
So when he got challenged- when things were not going how he wanted them to-
He went off to somewhere else, and found some people to support his ideas.
And he became clouded, bitter, and even hateful towards those who corrected him
Another Gospel account gives us a clue as to how long this process can take
Be careful where your own will takes you.
Because when you make that choice, you will have to both live with it, and die with it.
And the side you take will determine your outcome.
Lazarus learned that lesson too in John 12.
He was on a side, he was a witness to the power of Christ.
As we said last week, choosing a side may not always bring you rewards or comfort in this life
But the righteous do not live for this life anyway, do they?
***** ******** *****
For the next few posts, we'll look at the other three groups Jesus spoke to here.
THANK YOU ALL for reading along with ths so far.
I know many of you are busy, and catch this when you can... I appreciate this too.
Please, if you can.. if something sticks out to you, or if anything is impacting you from your reading, let us all know.
I'm sure we'd love to be encouraged by you.
John 11 (part two)
We claim to believe so much of what the Bible says…. But do we?
Do we believe in the forgiveness of our sins?
Do we believe that God’s power is working in us?
Do we believe we have a purpose and mission?
Do we believe we can do greater things than he- that the hairs on our head are all numbered?
In John 11, Mary learned the difference between stating the right doctrine and true faith
True faith takes action when it is put to the test.
And in Jesus Christ, every doctrine is made personal… demanding that action.
When you belong to him, you have all you will ever need, in life, in death, in time- for all eternity
But do you believe?
It is easy to believe in what God can do or may do. Easy, and very convenient.
But it takes true faith to believe in what God will do, and is doing!
Have you fallen into that trap?
Can God change a heart? Yes! Is he changing yours? Hmmm…
Can God raise up people to lead his church powerfully? Yes? Could it be you?… Hmmmm…
We believe God can do anything he wants, any time he wants,
But how many times do we believe he is doing it with us, right now?
Jesus understands our weaknesses
In this passage we find the shortest verse in the Bible
John 11:35- Jesus wept
It wasn’t because Lazarus was dead, Jesus knew he was going to raise him
It wasn’t because he took so long in coming, he did it for a reason.
He also knew in about 10 minutes there was going to be joy beyond belief here…
So why weep?
He wept, simply because we weep.
He can sympathize… he knows what we are going through.
He knows the pain, he knows the doubts, and he cares deeply and personally.
Even though he knows the remedy.
And he wants us ALL to know the remedy.
Have you ever thought of what Jesus was referring to in Verse 41?
"Father, I thank you that you have heard me
Heard him when?
Not when he called “Lazarus come out” he hadn’t called him out yet
He is not referring to his last statement. That just does not fit
He gives us a clue in the next phrase:
I knew that you always hear me
Jesus was in prayer all the while.
When he decided to stay 2 extra days, he was in prayer.
When he decided to comfort the disciples, When he chose to open the tomb, he was in prayer.
And now as he looked forward to the witness of God’s power being revealed, he was in prayer.
Jesus was always in communion with the father.
The plans and this entire event were done at the father’s will.
But he made this statement for a reason.
For the benefit of those standing near, that they may finally believe.
But even miracles can not persuade some.
There was another Lazarus Jesus spoke of to teach us this lesson.
Jesus said, some people will not be convinced, even if someone rises from the dead…
And some of these people here in John 11, weren’t convinced.
They didn’t decide to believe him, they decided to kill him.
Lazarus shows us a great example of the Christian life:
Lazarus was dead- just as all sinners are dead
He was decayed- just like many of us are covered in rotten deeds
He was raised from the dead by Christ- just as we have been born again to new life
He was set free from his grave clothes- and we have been clothed with Christ
We see him in John 12:2 at the table with Christ- just as we will sit with him in the kingdom
And his living witness caused many to believe- just as our living witness should
But what if you were Lazarus?
If it was you he raised from the dead, what would you fear?
How much faith would you have in his power?
What would you live for?
Would you feel free?
Really? Do you?
We too have been given new life
Where is our faith?
JOHN 11 contains one of Jesus’ greatest miracles.
The raising of Lazarus from the dead.
Here was Jesus, most likely in a town called Bethabara. 25 miles from Bethany.
And a messenger came from Martha and Mary to tell Jesus that their brother Lazarus was sick.
But as we look at the time frame here, something in this story brings on some difficulty.
The 25 mile trip from Bethany to Bethabara would take a day to travel.
So on day One- The messenger leaves to tell Jesus
On day two- the messenger returns with Jesus’ message
Day three- Jesus was still waiting to depart for Bethany (he waited two days)
And on day 4- Jesus arrives in Bethany.
Now if you paid attention, Jesus got an interesting message when he arrived:
On his arrival, Jesus found that Lazarus had already been in the tomb for four days.
What this means is: Lazarus died the day Jesus got the message that he was sick.
Now in this light, look at Jesus’ response to that message-
This is where faith comes in.
What would that message from Jesus do to Martha and Mary-
Now that their brother was already dead and buried?
If this message were given to you, would you still believe?
And we see that Jesus was right, the sickness did NOT end in death.
We see from the beginning here that Jesus knew what was going on
Jesus had the plan and the scenario already figured out.
All of this was for the benefit of the faith of his disciples, and to show the glory of God
But the disciples, they didn’t quite get it.
Can you imagine the questions going on in their minds?
If Jesus loved Lazarus so much, why did he allow him to get sick?
Even more, if he loved him so much why did he delay 2 full days before going to him?
For that matter, couldn’t he have healed him from a distance, like he did the nobleman’s son?
And these are good questions:
The fact is: Jesus could have prevented Lazarus’ sickness or even healed it from where he was
BUT God’s concern is not always comfort.
If it was, he would not have let his son die such a horrible and brutal death.
The concern that Jesus had was stated in his message.
“This was for God’s glory, so that God’s son could be glorified through it”
There is a lesson here for our faith.
It is not important that we as Christians are comfortable
What is important is that in all things God is glorified.
How much faith do we have when we are the ones, uncomfortable, sick, or having to deal with death?
We need to believe Jesus is who he claimed,
And With this, we too need to have faith in his power.
We see a lot about the character of these sisters and what made up their faith in this section
Martha is the busy one, the active one, and Mary is the thoughtful one who sat at Jesus’ feet
So it makes sense that Martha would run out to Jesus while Mary stayed with the guests and wept.
But we see something else with these two sisters… There was some poison brewing in their faith.
Look at the greetings both of them used when they met Jesus
"Lord," Martha said to Jesus, "if you had been here, my brother would not have died.
When Mary reached the place where Jesus was and saw him, she fell at his feet and said,
"Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died."
Can you imagine these two at home for those 4 days?
Being destroyed by one of the smallest words, that is the biggest faith killer
I wonder how many times they repeated this to each other-
If only Jesus was here, then things would be OK
If only things had turned out better, then I could be happy
What “If only’s” have destroyed your faith?
If only I got more support, then I could make a difference
If only I had more time, then I could serve.
Jesus answers these excuses by doing something I just love!
Jesus tells Martha a living truth- “Your brother will rise again”
Martha answers with a doctrinal position- “He will rise in the resurrection at the last day”
And then Jesus makes something clear:
He takes the doctrine out of the book and makes it alive in a person!
Jesus said to her, "I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die.
Remember those who studied diligently thinking they would have life,
But refused to come to Jesus for life?
Jesus said to Martha, this is not a doctrine, this is not a story,
The power of God is standing before you now
Martha, Do you believe?
As we continue in John 10, we see that Jesus is: The good shepherd-
Jesus both leads us, and has shown us the way, and he did so with a knowledge of his sheep.
Consider the care and knowledge the shepherd has for each sheep.
He knows each ones special traits, and special needs, and if one is wounded or week they get special care
Look at 1 Corinthians 12, in light of our shepherd and how he cares for us
1 Cor 12:21-27-
Keep in mind the Jewish shepherds did not tend the sheep to slaughter them generally.(Unless they were used for sacrifice)
Shepherds tended the sheep so they could benefit from the wool, and milk and lambs,
The sheep are needed, they are productive, and their wellbeing is of great concern to the shepherd.
But check this out…. Jesus the Shepherd then says that HE dies for the sheep!
Isn’t that amazing! Normally we would think of sheep dying to feed the shepherd,
But with Christ, the shepherd dies to feed the sheep.
The hired hand, in contrast, watches over the sheep only because he is paid to do so
But when there is danger or trouble the hired hand runs away.
Many times when it comes to how we relate to the flock, we have a hired hand mindset don’t we?
We do not take “ownership” of how others are doing.
We do our duties, but when things get tough, there is only so much we can do.
After all it’s just the church, and they are just the sheep… I have a life to lead too, you know.
But not the shepherd.
The shepherd dies for the sheep, we are his because he bought us, and he did so with his life
He knows us, He knows our names, just like he did Simon and Zaccheus and Mary…
And he knows our natures too-
One sheep may be afraid of high places, another afraid of dark shadows,
Some like one kind of grass better than another
We may be sheep that like to roam and graze, or sheep that like to stay close to the flock.
But this shepherd guards and cares for each one of us personally
As we allow the shepherd to care for us more, we get to know him better and find a security in him.
As that trust develops, soon we too will know his word and follow him wherever he calls us.
In verse 16 he tells us a little something about the sheep who are truly his-
His sheep both know him, and listen to his voice.
But some people just refuse to listen!
The “Feast of Dedication” takes place in December.
It is the celebration of the Temple being re-dedicated to God in 164 BC
And here is Jesus explaining to them that he himself is the temple
It is Christ that was dedicated, not by man but by God.
This again angers the Jews, and they ask him:
"How long will you keep us in suspense? If you are the Christ, tell us plainly."
But as he explains to them… he already did.
And then he went on to explain why they did not see it.
They did not see it because they did not listen to his voice
They did not listen because they were not his sheep.
And they were not his sheep because they refused to believe.
It is amazing the trouble we can avoid if we would just take Jesus at his word and believe.
And then he gives the proof of who he is…
But I wonder if I can prove who I am by the Same method….
As we read in verse 37, he makes the statement:
Do not believe me unless I do what my Father does.
I wonder if I am willing to make that claim?
That I should not expect to be known as a Christian, unless I too, do his will?
Have I cared for the sheep?
Have I strove to bring sheep into his fold?
Have I trusted his word, and kept it with me as I come and go and enjoy pasture?
I guess each of have to look at our hearts and ask…
Are we good shepherds,
Or hired hands?.