The events in John 11 are so powerful, and if we are willing, it can teach us a lesson. This story of Lazarus and Jesus is typically well known and well preached. There are even songs written about it!
For some reason though, when I read this passage, prayer comes to mind. Which seems like a stretch or maybe you can see the connection right off, but I hope to make it very clear by the end of this.
At the beginning of the chapter, Jesus receives news that Lazarus is sick. It is then observed that Jesus stayed two more day where He was. I think we all know that Jesus could have healed Lazarus, and that he loved Lazarus, Mary, and Martha very well. So why did He tarry?
The answer is given in verses 4 and 11. Jesus declares that this sickness was unto the glory of God and that He would “awake him out of sleep.” Please remember that often in the Bible, “sleep” refers to death. Even the disciples had to be told by Jesus that Lazarus was dead and not resting.
Fast forward. Jesus shows up. Martha runs to meet Jesus and says that if He’d only been there, Lazarus wouldn’t have died. Jesus assures Martha that if she believes in Him, she will see her brother again. And in a rare turn of events, Martha was thinking the very future resurrection of the saints while Jesus was talking presently and literally.
Mary then runs to Jesus and basically says the same thing, “if you had been here, he wouldn’t have died!” (loosely paraphrased) She begins to weep and so does Jesus. He was greatly troubled at the sadness of those around Him. They take Him to the grave, He prays, and then He speaks, “Lazarus, come forth.” And Lazarus does is fact come out, even bound in his grave clothes.
Mary and Martha called upon Jesus knowing He could change the situation. Jesus answered, but He did so in His own time. The women were distraught because Jesus didn’t come right away, but in His delayed answer, Jesus was able to bring glory to God.
We, as Christians, pray and pray and pray. We often want God to answer RIGHT NOW!!! And we are usually so disappointed when He doesn’t immediately give us our desires. But what we don’t realize is that God knows all things, including every outcome of our prayers. We may see “no” or “not right now” but we have no idea what God is doing. He might be protecting us from something or growing us in a specific area for a purpose, or any number of things really. We just have to trust that God knows what He’s doing and acknowledge that His way is infinitely better than what we could dream up for ourselves.
So now, when I pray, I pray that overall, God’s will is done. Because you never know when God is going to do something miraculous, you just have to be willing to let it happen.
Read: John 10.15-40
As we continue in verse 15, Jesus is stating that He will lay down His life for the sheep. I love the important truth that Jesus has for us in verse 17-18, “...because I lay down my life, that I might take it again. No man taketh it from me, but I lay it down of myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again…”
We have got to understand that Jesus was making a sacrifice for us. He knew that He must die, and He chose to die knowing that He would rise again and that we may live eternally with HIm. Moreover, He even gives us a choice as well. Jesus doesn’t force us to accept His gift no matter how much it must hurt to see people throw His sacrifice away.
Jesus goes on to explain in verses 27-29 that His sheep will not perish, and get this, no man will be able to pluck His sheep out of His hand. Please hear this, if you are a Christian, a true follower of Christ, no one can take your salvation or make you unsaved.... Not even yourself.
There are a lot of religions and even “Christian” denominations out there that teach their people that you can lose your salvation. Let me ask you this, who are we to think that we are more powerful than God?
We are just men whose salvation depends on the Faithful One. Our only choice is to accept or reject His gift. Christianity is not works based because there is NOTHING we could to earn God’s favor. To think we can work or earn our way to heaven or that we could lose our salvation is to think very highly of ourselves and not very highly of God.
God is more powerful, more loving, more just than anything we could imagine. So I pray that the choice you’ve made is with our Creator, to follow Him to eternity. I also pray that as believers, we can be CONFIDENT that Christ took care of it all on the cross, and that God can handle anything we throw at Him.
Jesus goes through all of this with the crowds, which seems like great news, but to them, it was blasphemy. They actually took up stones to cast at Jesus (verse 31). The pattern never changes. Jesus is the Savior of the world, yet when He is around, most people were aiming to harm or be rid of Him. It is the same today, more so in other countries but even in our own. The presence of Jesus in our lives and our very faith cause people to “take up arms” whether that be literally (as in China or many Middle Eastern countries) or legally (like we’ve seen here in America). It is prudent that as Christians, we realize that Jesus never said following Him was going to be a cake walk filled with health, wealth, and prosperity. He said if the world hated Him, they most surely will hate us for His sake. That doesn’t mean we should walk around being hateful or ridiculous since they will do the same to us. It just means to not be surprised when people don’t respond to the cross or the faith like we think they should and don’t be offended when people are offended by the things of Christ. Do your duty as a Christ follower and let God handle everything else.
Read: John 10.1-14
There are so many awesome things in this chapter and really noteable and well known verses such as John 10.10, “The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and the they might have it more abundantly.” That’ll preach. But for today, there are some other things I’d like to bring our attention to.
The chapter is opened up by a comparison to sheep and how sheep know their shepherd’s voice. Now this may not have any relevant meaning to us, but i believe it is always important to look at what Jesus was saying to the people with cultural lenses on. Remember that the people to whom Jesus was speaking with would have completely understood His references because it would have been a part of everyday life for them. I have a story that I hope with clarify how literally the “sheep knowing the shepherd’s voice” parable is.
I had a college professor who was previously a missionary to Israel. He told us that while he was in Israel, he was walking down a road at the same time as a shepherd that was leading his sheep. My professor thought of this passage of scripture and decided to try out and see if sheep really knew their shepherd’s voice.
He asked the shepherd to go up the road a short distance and call the sheep to him. Sure enough, they moseyed up the road to the shepherd. He then asked the shepherd if he could try the same thing. My professor went up the road and called the sheep… lo and behold, they did not move. He tried this back and forth with the shepherd a couple of times to make sure it wasn’t a fluke. But the sheep never did follow after my professor.
I love that story because it is a reminder that Jesus was speaking on a very understandable level for the people. He didn’t come to impress people with His knowledge and PhD, He came for real people. All that to say this… only those who truly belong to Christ will follow Him. Like the beginning of the chapter lays out, others may try to come and assume the shepherd’s position or take the sheep, but only the true shepherd will be followed and protect His own. John 10.11 says, “ I (Jesus) am the good shepherd: the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep.” and on further in verse 14, “I am the good shepherd, and know my sheep, and am known of mine.”
Jesus knows His followers and cannot be tricked into taking those who aren’t His, just as no one can truly steal sheep from His fold. Sure, we may wander or lag behind, but we are still Christ’s and He won’t ever let us be lost to Him. Let us make sure that we are following Christ as our shepherd over all.
Full Disclosure: This is one of my favorite chapters in the Bible. So if I get hyped, you’ve been warned!
This chapter begins with a blind man and a question. Why was this man born blind? Was it sins of his parents? His sin? Why would God allow this? Jesus answers so simply.
“That the works of God should be made manifest in him.”
There are things that happen in our lives that we want answers for, we need it to be justified. Sometimes these events are caused by others, caused by nature, caused by our own actions. And the aftermath, big or small, is so hard to deal with. But ONE THING we can do is let God take those hard, broken, confused pieces and do what He will. Make it a part of your testimony, help comfort others with it, be reconciled, guide others… God can do so much more with our questions, with our situations, than we can imagine.
Jesus made a clay salve for this man’s eyes and told him to go wash. We know the man was then able to see. This occurred on the Sabbath, which we have seen before is a major no no in the Jewish community, and all of his neighbors were very shocked to see this man who had been blind since birth suddenly receive sight. They questioned him, and then took him to the Pharisees who of course would love to use this Sabbath day healing as a chance to “get” Jesus.
The Pharisees begin questioning the man, who answered simply and factually. They didn’t believe him and called his parents in. They were so afraid of getting kicked out of the synagogue that all they did was confirm that the man was their son and blind from birth. They call the man again. He answered simply again, “I was blind, now I see.” That wasn’t good enough for the Jews. So the young man hits them hard with a speech defending Jesus to these Jews, at the risk of being outcast from the synagogue.
And they did cast him out. Now this is my favorite part. While that man didn’t exactly know who Jesus was (the Messiah), he defended Him at a major expense, was cast out...
And Jesus came back for him.
Friend, Jesus does care for us and He will NEVER leave us alone. He’s got us. Especially when we go out and fight battles for the Kingdom of God, battles that may cast us out of the world’s eyes of popularity, success, friendship, you name it. But in all that it costs to be a follower of Christ, we are never fighting alone, God is always with us, even when it doesn’t seem that way.