Friday, December 30, 2011

Prophets and Messages

When we think of prophets we usually think of writers of the Old Testament like Isaiah, Hosea and Joel. We think of righteous men of God. But there are at least two incidents in the Bible when men who were not in good standing with God prophesied the truth. One man was Saul the king who tried to kill David (I Samuel 19:19-24). The second man is Caiaphas, the high priest who would be responsible for having Jesus crucified.

“You know nothing at all, nor do you consider that it is expedient for us that one man should died for the people, and not that the whole nation should perish.” Now this he did not say on his own authority, but being high priest that year he prophesied that Jesus would die for the nation, only, but also that he would gather together in one the children of God who were scattered abroad” (John 11:49-52).

A message from God is not intended to glorify the messenger. It is to glorify God.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Cross Purposes

Friends of Lazarus came for his funeral. The event was not like ours only lasting a couple of hours. The funerals of that day lasted for days. The mourners knew Lazarus had been in the tomb for four days, because they had been part of the burial process. So when they saw Lazarus come hopping out of that tomb, they believed that Jesus was indeed the Messiah (John 11:45).

Some of them went immediately to the Pharisees to tell them what Jesus had done. Perhaps they thought the Pharisees had to believe if they knew what had happened. But the Pharisees were more interested in their political positions of power and Jesus was getting in their way. They decided to get serious about having him murdered (John 11:48, 53).

The people needed a savior, but the Pharisees needed the approval of the Romans. So the needs of the people to whom they were responsible to minister were easily set aside in favor of maintaining power.

It is a good reminder to examine our own motives in our service to others.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Lazarus Couldn't Do It Alone

Lazarus’ death and resurrection was a prelude to Christ’s resurrection. Please note that Lazarus came out of the tomb “bound hand and food with grave-clothes” and “his face was wrapped with a cloth.” Jesus had to tell the people to unwrap Lazarus (John 11:44). It would have been impossible for Lazarus to unwind himself. He needed help.

If Jesus was only a man like Lazarus, he too would have needed help to unwind the linen strips that bound him at his burial. Scripture tells us he was buried in linen strips mixed with about 100 pounds of spices (John 19:38-39). It would be impossible for anyone who had been tortured and crucified, and his hands bound to his sides to break through the 100 pound strips of linen and spices. Yet his strips were left in the empty tomb and the head pieces folded up in a place by itself (John 20:3-7).

Jesus raised himself from the Dead (John 10:18).

Monday, December 26, 2011

Power Over Death

The people were about to see proof positive that God had sent Jesus to rescue them. “Father, I thank you that you have heard me. And I know that you always hear me, but because of the people who are standing by I said this, hat they may believe that you sent me.” (John 11:41-42).

Jesus says those famous words, “Lazarus, come forth!” (John 11:43).

“And he who had died came out bound hand and foot with grave-clothes, and his face was wrapped with a cloth.” Jesus said, “Loose him, and let him go.” (John 11:43-44).

Jesus had the power over death, physical and eternal.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

The symbolic Christmas Tree

The Christmas Tree is symbolic of all Christ has done for us.

It is evergreen - we receive eternal life through him.
It is a tree - Jesus died on a tree for our sins
The Bulbs - represent the fruit of the spirit
The lights - He is the light of the world and we carry his light to the world
The gifts - He gave us the greatest gift, eternal life
The gifts - we share his gift and love to others
The tree - points to heaven where we will live with him forever.

Friday, December 23, 2011

shortest Verse

Jesus did not attempt to explain things to Mary. He simply responded by asking where they had put the body. Then we read the shortest verse in the Bible that contains volumes of information. “Jesus wept” (John 11:35).

We know he was not weeping for Lazarus because he knew that he would be a live again in a matter of minutes. But he wept for Martha and Mary (John 11:33-34).

Jesus bore our grief and carried our sorrows (Isaiah 53:4). Though God knows what good will eventually come out of our sorrow, he does not lightly dismiss us. He had compassion for our confusion and what we must suffer in the moment.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Who's at Fault

Mary responded in much the same way as her sister. She ran out to Jesus and fell at his feet. “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died” (John 11:32).

When tragedy hits, we are all prone to question the wisdom of God. But when something happens during the Christmas Holiday we are especially vulnerable to criticize God. How could a loving God allow this to happen, especially now?

We forget that it was mankind that brought sin into the world, and when sin was introduced death, suffering, disappointment and senseless tragedy came with it.

The marvelous thing is God did not leave us in this hopeless state. He sent his son so that regardless of the physical tragedy that comes into our lives, we are comforted by knowing God will work all things for everyone’s good who loves him; even “senseless tragedies”.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Went Her Way

Jesus told Martha that her brother would rise again. She was too angry to contemplate his words. She could only respond, “I know that he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day” (John 11:24). She must have been thinking, “I don’t know why you are telling me this now. The last day is a long way off and I am hurting now,” so she brushed him off.

Jesus again attempted to reach past her anger. “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me, though he may die, he shall live. And whoever lives and believes in meet shall never die. Do you believe this”? (John 11:25-26).

Martha was finished with what she thought was a pointless discussion. “Yes Lord I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, who is to come into the world.’ Then she turned and “went her way” (John 11:27).

When we find ourselves in pain, let’s not flippantly answer the questions burning in our hearts. Let’s ponder and wait to see what God will do.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Angry Disappointment

Many people had come out for Lazarus’ funeral and the grieving process that would follow. Some late comers must have told Martha that they had passed Jesus on their way to the sisters’ home. Martha immediately runs out to meet Jesus, leaving her sister in the house with the rest of the guests (John 11:17-20). Why? Jesus would eventually arrive. Lazarus was already dead. What was the point?

We know from her responses to Jesus’ words that she certainly did not expect Jesus would raise Lazarus from the dead (John 11:38-39). So what did she mean when she said to Jesus, “…even now I know that whatever you ask of God, God will give you”? (John 11:22).

I think we are seeing her angry disappointment in Jesus. In our language she might be saying. “I sent you a message in plenty of time to get here and heal my brother. God gives you whatever you want; couldn’t you have found the time to come a little faster?” She still believes he is the Messiah (John 11:22-28). She just was angry with him.

Are you?

Monday, December 19, 2011

The Twin

Thomas has gotten a bad rap by many Christians. He has been nicked named by some as doubting Thomas because he did not believe the disciples that they had seen the Lord alive after his resurrection. The disciples didn’t call him that. They called him the Twin.

Read what Thomas said in response to Jesus insisting on going to Judea, “Let us also go, that we may die with him” (John 11:16). He knew the Jews were out to kill Jesus and anyone associated with him. The death would not be as easy as being bludgeoned by a sword. It would mean crucifixion.

True, he eventually fled when the soldiers came into the garden, but he and the rest of the disciples had every intention following Jesus to the death. They would later gain the strength through the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, but for now it is good to honor their intent.

Let’s not be so quick to judge Thomas, or anyone else for that matter.

Friday, December 16, 2011

What if He Had Been There?

Jesus told the disciples, “Lazarus is dead. And I am glad for your sakes that I was not there, hat you may believe. Nevertheless let us go to him” (John 11:14-15).

Besides the fact that Jesus was going to raise Lazarus from the dead, what was the correlation between Jesus not being there and his disciples believing? Would he have healed his friend if he had been there when Lazarus was near death? If he had been there and allowed Lazarus to die and be buried how would that have affected all of his friends? How would it have affected those who had been curious about him? How about his enemies?

Jesus did all things well and at perfect timing. He allowed everyone to go through a grieving process so that that would believe in God.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Stumbling About

Jesus often spoke in figurative speech (John 16:25). His answers to some of their questions sounded off track like he had not heard their question. This is one of those instances. Jesus had told the disciples that he was going to return to Judea to see Lazarus. The Disciples were rightfully worried. “Rabbi, lately the Jews sought to stone you, and are you going there again?” (John 11:7-8).

Jesus’ answer seemed to ignore their question. “Are there not twelve hours in the day? If anyone walks in the day, he does not stumble, because he sees the light of this world. But if one walks in the night, he stumbles, because the light is not in him.” (John 11:9).

I wonder if he is not saying, “Right now the light is not in you, but I am going to be the sacrifice so that the light may be in you and you will no longer stumble about in spiritual darkness” (John 12:35-36, 46).

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Not unto Death

When Jesus hears of Lazarus’ illness, he says something that must be confusing to first time readers of this story. “This sickness is not unto death” (John 11:4) yet just a few short verses later we find out Lazarus does indeed die. So why his comment?

Jesus is speaking of the eventual outcome. He sees beyond the moment into the eternal. He saw that the illness was for the glory of God. God had allowed both the sickness and the death to occur so that people would see the glory of Jesus (John 11:4).

We will see that Martha and Mary still had to experience the grief of their brother’s death. Sometimes God allows us to experience grief for a while, but his joy will return (1 Peter 1:6-7; Ps 30:5; James 1:2).

Our trial is not unto our death but for God’s glory.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Introduction to Lazarus

We now come to the story of Lazarus whom Jesus raised from the dead. It was by design that this occurred right before the crucifixion of Jesus. It was a kind of picture of what was about to happen. It showed that Jesus had the power of life within himself. There are several lessons within the chapter that we will explore.

Martha, Mary and Lazarus were good friends of Jesus. Scripture specifically points out that Jesus dearly loved them (John 11:5). When it became apparent that Lazarus was seriously ill, the sisters’ first thought was to send for Jesus (John 11:3). They felt confident he would come in time.

But he did not…or least they thought he didn’t. But God had a different plan. There is a song that says, “When you can’t see his hand, trust his heart.”

Monday, December 12, 2011

A Question

Jesus told the Pharisees who were angry that he was “making himself out to be God” (John 10 33), “If I do not do the works of my father, do not believe me; but if I do, though you do not believe me, believe the works that you may know and believe that the Father is in me, and I in him” (John 10:37-38).

He will later tell his disciples, “If I had not done among them the works which no one else did, they would have no sin…”(John 15:24). Not only his works, but the abundance of his works testified that he was the Messiah.

Let me ask a question. If everyone did the same amount of miracles as Jesus did, how would people know which person was the Messiah? Could that be why no one has ever accomplished the number of miracles Jesus did?

We will see this question again in John 14.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Mocking God

The Jews knew exactly who Jesus was saying he was. Look at John 10:31-33. “We don’t stone you for good works but we stone you because you make yourself out to be God.” (Paraphrase).

How then can we be cavalier about what he has taught us? Do we really have the option to take it or leave it? If we casually follow when we want but chose our own way when it conflicts with his, are we not putting ourselves in a perilous situations?”

James writes “When desire has conceived it gives birth to sin, and when sin is full grown it produces death. Don’t be deceived” (James 1:15-16). Paul writes, “Do not be deceived. God is not mocked: for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap. For he who sows to his flesh will of the flesh reap corruption …(Galatians 6:7-8).

Don’t try sin. You won’t like it in the long run..

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Misplaced Salvation

You are not going to wake up one morning and find you have misplaced your salvation. You will not one day be walking down the street and your salvation accidently fall out of your pocket or purse. No one is able to come up to you and rob you of your salvation. How do we know this?

We know it because Jesus said, “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of my hand. My father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of my father’s hand. I and the Father are one.” (John 10:27-30).

Your salvation is secure. You may choose to walk away, but you will never accidently lose your relationship with God.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Standing Firm

The Jews surrounded Jesus while he was taking a walk on Solomon’s porch. “How long do you kep us in doubt If you are he Christ, tell us plainly” (John 10:24).

I’m not sure how much more plainly Jesus could say it. “Before Abraham was, I am” (John 8:58). “I am the bread of life. He who comes to me shall never hunger, and he who believes in me shall never thirst” (John 6:35). “My doctrine is not mine, but his who sent me” (John 7:16). “For the Father judges no one, but has committed all judgment to the Son, that all should honor the Son just as they honor the Father” (John 5:22-23). “I am the light of the world. He who follows me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life.” (John 8:12).

If someone does not want to believe, no amount of miracles, words or works will convince him. Therefore Jesus gave them the following answer to their question.

“I told you and you do not believe. The works that I do in my Father’s name, they bear witness of me. But you do not believe, because you are not of my sheep, as I said to you “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me” (John 10;25-27).

Jesus set his limits and did not conform to their demand for more proof. There comes a time when we need to stop convincing and simply stand firm.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Demented Miracle Worker?

It was a very confusing time for many of the Jews. Here was a man who did unbelievable miracles. And he didn't just do them now and then; he was continually healing people of diseases, raising the dead and casting out demons. Yet their "ministers" were telling them this man was a heretic and anyone associated with him could forfeit their lives.

Some told themselves that he was crazy and had a demon (John 10:19). Others argued that the accusation didn't make sense. "These are not the words of one who has a demon. Can a demon open the eyes of the blind?" (John 10:20).

That is pretty descriptive of what men must decide today. They must convince themselves that Jesus was a demented fool who happened to do miracles or he was who he claimed to be.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Other Sheep

John 10:16 is especially important to those of us who are biologically Gentiles. Jesus said, “And other sheep I have which are not of this fold; them also I must bring, and they will hear my voice, and there will be one flock and one shepherd.”

Jesus first came physically to the Hebrew people, but he also calls to the Gentiles to be his sheep (Mathew 15:22-28; 27:34; John chapter 4; Acts chapter 11; Romans 9:22-26; 11:25-28).

Friday, December 2, 2011

Under Shepherds

John 10:-13 compares the good shepherd with the hireling. Jesus is the shepherd of the sheep, but he also has under-shepherds. They are commissioned to take care of the flock until the Shepherd returns. Some hirelings pretend to be shepherds but when they see the wolf coming they high tail it out of there and leave the sheep to tend to themselves.

Peter wrote to the elders of the church, “Shepherd the flock of God which is among you, serving as overseers, not by compulsion but willingly, not for dishonest gain but eagerly; nor as being lords over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock; and when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the crown of glory that does not fade away” (1 Peter 5:2-4).

Those who pretend to be shepherds but have a hireling mentality forsake sheep when the sheep are hurting. They may verbally abuse the sheep, continually insist on financial control, and demand strict adherence to their rules. Good shepherds walk the talk, are compassionate and are examples of the Shepherd who gave his life for the sheep.

Thursday, December 1, 2011


When we read that Jesus gives his life for the sheep we usually think of the crucifixion. But if we look at what he says about the hireling we may get a broader and deeper understanding of what he means.

“The hireling, he who is not the shepherd, one who does not own the sheep, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and flees; and the wolf catches the sheep and scatters them. The hireling flees because he is a hireling and does not care about the sheep” (John 10:11-13).

Wolves do attach the flock, but Jesus gives his sheep his life to his sheep.

When the wolf comes to temp you, to rip your assurance out of your heart and devour your faith, Jesus is there to fight off his ferocious attack. He will give you his life so that you are able to avoid spiritual eternal death. He gives you life the moment you need it.