Tuesday, January 31, 2012


Have you ever been in your living room and tried to walk blind folded or with your eyes closed? You most likely did not walk far before stumbling over something.

Jesus was the master of word pictures. “Walk while you have the light lest darkness overtake you; he who walks in the dark does not know where he is going” (John 12:35).

Attempting life without the Spirit of God working in us is like walking blindfolded. The wisest of us is a fool compared to the wisdom of God(Proverbs 1:7).

Confusing Prophecy

People were confused when Jesus said he was to be crucified. “We have heard from the law that the Christ remains forever; and how can you say, ‘The Son of Man must be lifted up?’ Who is this Son of Man?” (John 12:34).

Prophecy in the Old Testament spoke both of Jesus suffering and his glorious eternal reign. The prophecies were scattered through different books and hundreds of years apart. Many details were interspersed in passages dealing with current events as well as future events. So it was no surprise that people who depended on priests to interpret the Law and the prophets were confused. Naturally people focus on the coming Messiah’s power rather than his suffering.

Do we also focus so much on the promises of eternal joy and freedom from suffering that we miss passages like 1 Peter 4:12-13; James 1:1-3; and Galatians 4:13-14?

Monday, January 30, 2012

Draw All to Himself

Jesus said that he would draw all to himself. Most translations add the word “men”. The News Kings James adds the word “peoples”. But neither word is in the original texts. He simply states, “I will draw all to myself.”

The Truth is clearly stated in the original text. Jesus draws all to himself. In other words every person at some point in his life is drawn to God because of Jesus sacrifice for our sin.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Lift Jesus Higher

Sometimes we sing songs that make no doctrinal sense. There was on old Chorus that said, “Lift Jesus higher, lift Jesus higher. Lift him up for the world to see. He said if I be lifted up from the earth, I will draw all men unto me.” You would think by the words of this song that we should talk about Jesus more often and as we exalt his name in our conversations that he will draw all men to him.

This chorus is based on John 12:32. But Jesus is not speaking about conversations among people when he says, “If I am lifted up from the earth I will draw all men unto me.” He is talking about his crucifixion. So if the song were taken literally, we would be chanting, “Lift that cross with Jesus on it, higher up on that hill. Make the pole higher!” (John 12:33)

It is important that we take the time to know what scripture actually teaches. To neglect the accurate study of God’s word leads to either confusing people or chasing people away from knowing the truth. Neither option is pleasing to God.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

A Ruler Cast Out

Jesus told the crowd, “Now is the judgment of this world; now the ruler of this world will be cast out” (John 12:31). Once again we are puzzled at Jesus words when we see the injustices in life and the obvious working of Satan among men. How could he say the ruler of this world is cast out, when obviously he is still at work here?

The point is Satan has only the power that people give him. He cannot murder, steal or destroy without human actions. He has quite literally been defeated but human give him back his power.

Let’s agree that for at least this day we will make him flee by resisting his temptations (James 4:7-8).

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

A Prayer for the Death of Dreams

Jesus prayed, “Father, glorify your name.” Then a voice came from heaven saying, “I have both glorified it and will glorify it again” (John 12:28).

Jesus was about to face physical death. He felt every fear we would experience if we were about to face such an horrendous death. He told his disciples, “My soul is troubled, and what shall I say? “Father, save me from his hour?” But for this purpose I came to this hour.”

When we face either physical death or death of our dreams, we are wise to join in Jesus’ prayer, “Father, glorify your name.”

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

My Father Will Honor

I know of people whom have received public honors. They have usually done something extraordinary for the community or for a hurting people. It is not unusual for the recipient of such honors to make it into the local newspaper. Few are honored so publicly that the nation is aware of them such as the first man to step on the moon, Neil Armstrong.

But those who follow Christ receive the greatest honor. Jesus said, “If anyone serves me, him my Father will honor” (John 12:26).

What grace! Who are we that God should honor us?

Monday, January 23, 2012

Divine Imitating

Shortly before Jesus was to go to the cross he told his disciples, “If anyone serves me, let him follow me: and where I am, there my servant will be also” (John 12:26).

We know he was not referring to his physical body, because that was about to be crucified. His disciples would not all be on the cross with him or in the grave with him. So what did he mean?

First, we follow Jesus by living according to his teaching. Secondly, when we notice God is doing something in a particular situation, we join in. If we do not see God working, we step back and become very cautious. It is much like what Jesus told the Pharisees early on in his ministry. “Most assuredly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of himself, but what he sees the Father do…the Son also does in like manner” (John 5:19).

Friday, January 20, 2012

Secondary Preservation

What did Jesus mean when he said, “…he who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life”? (John 12:25). Are we to hate our life? Is God only pleased with us when we are miserable? I suppose most of us have met people who seemed to think so.

But Jesus is giving us a comparison. If we love our life in this world to the point that we refuse to lay down our life for his will, then we are cherishing ourselves above God. We must always remember that our life is temporary at best. Our physical bodies are mere seeds. Unless that seed dies, there can be no fruit produced.

Our love for God is so great that self preservation becomes secondary.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Self Preservation

We all have the natural instinct to live. It is a gift from God to protect us from doing foolishly dangerous things. We not only protect our physical bodies, we also protect our egos.

Jesus establishes a new way of viewing life. He tells us to lay down our lives for the sake of following him. Unless we die to ourselves, we will bear no fruit. If we deny our selfish tendencies God will produce much spiritual fruit through us. If we hold onto our self-centered rights, we remain alone.

Jesus put it this way, “He who loves his life will lose it, and he who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life” (John 12:24-25).

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Greeks Want to Interview Jesus

The people who saw Jesus raise Lazarus from the dead spoke freely about what they had seen. As a result the crowds around Jesus once again began to increase. The excitement was mounting until the Pharisees were frustrated accusing one another of not doing enough to stop this religious rebellion (John 12:17-19)

The stories about the miracles reached as far as Greece so that certain men made the trip to Jerusalem to find Jesus. They approached Philip telling him they wanted to speak with Jesus. Philip told his close friend Andrew and the two of them approached Jesus. I am quite sure they expected Jesus to take the time to speak with these men. Instead, Jesus talks to the disciples about sacrificing their lives for the sake of following him (John 12:20-27).

It may seem counter intuitive, but there are times when we are to focus on those following God than those who simply want to talk about him.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Uneducated Disciples

It is important to remember that the disciples were not religiously educated men. Many were fishermen by trade. One was a tax collector. They were not familiar with prophecies of the Old Testament about the Messiah. They only held a generic knowledge that a Messiah would come. The only disciple that has anything said about him relating to religious education was Philip when he told Nathaniel, “We have found him of whom Moses in the Law and prophets, wrote about – Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph” (John 1:45).

So while they retrieved the donkey for Jesus to ride on, they had no idea that they were fulfilling prophecy (John 12:16). We do not have to have a degree, or understand all the fine details of scripture before God can use us. God is fully capable of fulfilling his will through you just as you are today.

Later the disciples studied scripture intently, but for now, they simply obeyed.

Monday, January 16, 2012

The Colt

John is focused on demonstrating to the reader that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, so that believing you might have life in Jesus name (John 20:31). This intense focus causes him to sometimes skip over particular details. We have now reached one of these brief descriptions.

John writes, “Then Jesus, when he had found a young donkey, sat on it; as it is written; Fear not, daughter of Zion: Behold, you King is coming, sitting on a donkey’s colt” (John 12:14).

The rest of the gospel writers give us a little more detail. Jesus instructs two of his disciples to go into town where they will find a colt tied in front of a doorway. Jesus did not tell them to ask permission from anyone in particular, but if anyone should ask what they were doing, they were to simply respond “The Lord needs it and will send it back shortly” (Mt 21:2-7; Mk 11:2-7; Lk 19:30-35).

This story points to at least two things. One that Jesus was known well enough that whoever owned the donkey would immediately know to whom the two disciples were referring when the said “The Lord” needs it. Secondly the disciples trust Jesus enough to do what would seem very contrary to acceptable behavior.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Political Climate

The general public quite naturally responded to the news of Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead by hailing Jesus as the promised Messiah. They took to the streets chanting and singing Jesus’ praises (John 12:12-13). “Hosanna blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! The King of Israel!”

It would not be long until some of those same people would be chanting, “Crucify him, Crucify him” (John 19:14-15). Those who sang his praises then turned against him just a few short days later had based their praise on what was popular at any given time.

Only those who are truly born again by the Spirit of God worship regardless of the political climate.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Wise in Their Own Eyes

Lazarus had died from an illness. After four days of being in the grave, Jesus restored him to life. As a result the Jews who saw this miracle came to believe that Jesus was the Messiah. They told their friends, who told their friends until the news spread throughout the entire region. Crowds began coming to Lazarus’ house to see the two men with their own eyes (John11:45; 12:17, 12).

But the Pharisees did not worship God for this amazing miracle. Instead they saw it as a threat to their political power (John 11:47-48) and began to plot to kill both Jesus and Lazarus (John 12:10-11).

Political power seems to have the ability to blind us to logic. If they succeeded in killing Lazarus, why wouldn’t Jesus just raise him from the dead again? Why didn’t they understand that if Jesus was powerful enough to raise Lazarus from the dead would he not have enough power to raise himself from the dead? The Pharisees were blinded by their opinion of themselves.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Heavenly Incense

There are particular times when our love for our Savior overwhelms us and we yearn to touch him as Mary and the other two women did when they poured out their fragrant perfumes.

The wonderful news is that we can do this. Revelation 5:8 explains that our prayers are a literal part of the heavenly worship that is going on in heaven this very moment.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Anointing Oil

Spikenard oil was extremely expensive. We understand from Judas’ comment that a pound of spikenard would cost the equivalent of one year’s wages of a worker. In today’s economy at minimum wage it would cost approximately, $16,640.

Jesus said when Mary washed his feet with it she was doing it for his burial (John 12:7-8). A couple of days later another woman did a similar thing, but in that case she also anointed Jesus’ head (Mark 14:3-5) In both cases the women were criticized, and in both cases Jesus defended their actions as part of the process of his burial (Mark 14:6-9).

In the beginning of his ministry a woman anointed Jesus’ feet with fragrant oil, her tears washing his feet. She also used her hair to dry them (Luke 7:37-39). She also was criticized by onlookers.

In the Old Testament the priests were anointed with fragrant perfume before they began their ministry (Exodus 29:29; 40:12-15). Jesus’ ministry began with anointing and ends with anointing. He was and is our High Priest (Hebrews 5:1-6).

Monday, January 9, 2012

Some Listening

We read last Friday about Judas suggesting the perfume be sold and the money given to the poor. Jesus certainly had to know that Judas was stealing from him. He knew Judas’ motive for the sale of the perfume, yet Jesus did not address that issue. He simply responded, “Let her alone; she has a kept this for the day of my burial. For the poor you have with you always, but me you do not have always” (John 12:7-8).

Judas’ words sounded pious. His comment might have confused the rest of the disciples so Jesus addressed himself to his true followers. “The poor you have with you always, but me you do not have always” (John 2:7-8).

There are times when we need to address an issue, not to help the one who brought it up, but to help those who are listening to the conversation.

Friday, January 6, 2012

A Judas Heart

While Martha, Mary and Lazarus were busying offering their gifts of love, there was one onlooker who was more concerned about himself. His self focus was exposed by his critical spirit against Mary.

When she worshiped Jesus with her sacrifice, Judas responded, "Why was this fragrant oil not sold for three hundred denarii (one year’s wages) and given to the poor?" Scripture tells us he said this because he was a thief and used to stealing from the treasury box (John 11:5-6).

God focus pours out worship. Self focus pours out criticism.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Gifts of Love

It was just six days until Jesus would face his worst trial. The emotional stress was nearly unbearable. He turned to his best friends, Martha, Lazarus, and Mary (John 12:1).

Each of his friends ministered to him the best way they knew how. Martha enjoyed cooking and serving, so she prepared him a meal. Lazarus knew he needed someone to talk to so he joined him reclining at the table. And Mary brought her favorite, expensive perfume and washed his feet with it then dried them with her hair (John 12:1-3).

Jesus accepted each gift graciously in the manner it was intended, as expressions of love.

What gift would you like to offer him today?

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Accepting Our Responsibility

Often we read in John the words, "Therefore they sought to take him; but no one laid a hand on him, because his hour had not yet come" (John6:30). These scriptures indicate God's divine intervention to protect Jesus until his appointed crucifixion.

But there are also verses that speak of a decision by Jesus to avoid those who sought to kill him (John 7:1; 8:59; 10:39; 11:53-54). Jesus was aware of the plot to kill him so he took appropriate steps to hide himself from them.

We both trust God and do what we need to do to protect ourselves. If we are doing what we need to do and are still harmed, then we can receive it from the Father's hand for his glory and our testing of faith.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

The Cost

It is more difficult for some of us to understand the pressure by the religious leaders to reject Jesus. The man whom Jesus healed was thrown out of the synagogue. That did not mean he could not attend church on the one day. It meant he could never again enter the house of worship. That meant no more animal sacrifices which in turn meant no forgiveness of sin. It meant eternal damnation, or so they thought.

It was not small sacrifice to become a follower of Jesus.

After the resurrection of Lazarus the pressure increased to the point that all were held accountable to report it if they so much as saw Jesus (John 11:57).

Christians in other countries now face the same persecution. Becoming a believer means losing family, friends and in some cases, life. Let’s pray for God to encourage them today.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Completed Jews?

I recently had a discussion with someone about whether we are Jews as Christians. Since all of the Old Testament came through the Jews, and since Jesus and his disciples were Jews by nature, I argued that Christians are actually completed Jews. But through our discussion and scriptures I realized I was wrong. We are a completely new people.

John wrote, “But that he would gather together in one the children of God who were scattered abroad” (John 11:52). Paul wrote, “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus” (Galatians 3:28). He also wrote, “…Having abolished in his flesh the enmity, that is, the law of commandments contained in ordinances so as to create in himself one new man from the two, thus making peace” (Ephesians 2:15). Peter writes, “…Who were once not a people but are now the people of God” (1 Peter 2:10).

Though in this world we are descended from Jews, Germans, Americans, Swedes, etc, as believers we are a new people. We are the people of God.