Monday 28 April 2014

John 11:45-57 - Dealing with Jesus

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Many of the people who'd been mourning Lazarus and saw what Jesus had done began to follow him. But some of them reported the events to the Pharisees. The chief priests and the Pharisees called a Sanhedrin meeting to discuss their response.

From their perspective this is a very dangerous situation. They clearly don't believe Jesus is the Messiah, but they can see that many of the people do. And if the people follow Jesus as the Messiah there will, they believe, be riots and an attempt to rise against the pagan Romans. They consider that such an uprising would be fatal, to the Temple, to Jerusalem and even to the Jewish nation. They are right! When there was an uprising in 66 AD, the Romans reconquered the land, demolished the Temple in 70 AD and ejected all Jews from the city of Jerusalem.

The High Priest, Caiaphas, speaks prophetic words about Jesus although he doesn't realise it. His intended meaning seems to be purely practical and politically motivated. But from John's perspective and from ours as believers, the deeper significance is clear. Jesus died in my place and in your place.

Knowing that they are plotting to kill him, Jesus avoids public appearances in Judaea and stays in a safer area. The scene is set for the final act, at the right moment Jesus will appear again in Jerusalem one more time and his life amongst us in bodily form will come to its conclusion, fully accomplished.

How many of us will be able say that at the end of our lives we will have fully accomplished everything that the Almighty called us to do? And what does that really mean? If, like Jesus, we only do what we see him do and only say what we hear him say, then we will be able to end our lives on Earth in fulfillment of his purpose. Ultimately, what he wants is obedience. And our obedience will bring life to others as we demonstrate the love and life of the Son as essential parts of his body.

Our role is smaller and more limited than his; the head decides what the body will do. But make no mistake that you, we are part of his redeeming work [Tweet it!] - not in our own strength but relying on Christ who is the head.

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Wednesday 2 April 2014

John 11:17-44 - Lazarus lives!

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Yahshua arrives late, Lazarus has been dead for four days. Martha shows extraordinary trust in him; she knows he could have saved her brother if he'd come sooner, yet she rules nothing out. All things are possible for Jesus, and Martha believes it. So should we.

Their conversation is brief, but is focussed on who Jesus is and on the idea of returning life following death. Martha believes in eventual life at the last day and she knows who Jesus is - the Messiah. Mary and others were in tears, mourning for the loss of Lazarus and Jesus is greatly moved by this. He was troubled and he, too was tearful. It's very clear that Jesus, the Messiah, the Son of the Most High, is also a very normal human being. He loved Lazarus, Mary and Martha, he is touched by their distress. If ever we doubt that Jesus is human we can turn to this passage for a powerful reminder.

When he asked them to move the stone blocking the tomb, Martha objected. The body would have begun to decay by this time. But he reminds them that he has told them that Yahweh's glory will be revealed if they believe - and they roll back the stone. Notice his words here. Jesus speaks for the benefit of those around him; he wants them to believe.

All it takes is a direct and loud command, 'Come out'. And Lazarus, dead Lazarus, decaying Lazarus obeys! Here is a deep insight, I am dead and touched by the decay and sin of a spoiled world. But when Jesus commands me to come out of this world and follow him, I obey. Out I come, and all the glory is the Father's. And, like Lazarus, once I am alive in Christ I need to be dressed as one who is living, not as one who is dead [Tweet it!]. I know what this means for me. What does it mean for you? And, having come out and had the grave clothes removed, I am free to go. Free to go in Jesus name! HalleluYah!

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