9 A large crowd of Jews heard that Jesus was in Bethany. So they went there to see not only Jesus but Lazarus, whom Jesus raised from the dead. 10 So the leading priests made plans to kill Lazarus, too. 11 Because of Lazarus many of the Jews were leaving them and believing in Jesus. —John 12:9-11 (NCV)
Sin always takes us further than we want to go. The leaders had planned to kill Jesus and now they would have to kill Lazarus as well. How many others would have to die before the movement was stopped? We don’t know because Christians are still being killed today for their faithfulness to Jesus. The persecuted church of today will tell you that it is much harder to live for Jesus than it is to die for Him. Would we suffer and die for Jesus? Jesus said that we must be willing to do that. 34 Then Jesus called the crowd to him, along with his followers. He said, “If people want to follow me, they must give up the things they want. They must be willing even to give up their lives to follow me. 35 Those who want to save their lives will give up true life. But those who give up their lives for me and for the Good News will have true life.–Mark 8:34-35 (NCV)
Have we made that commitment? Can we say along with Paul: 10 I want to know Christ and the power that raised him from the dead. I want to share in his sufferings and become like him in his death.11 Then I have hope that I myself will be raised from the dead.–Philippians 3:10, 11 (NCV)
The great thing is that for us, it is a win-win situation. Paul put it this way: 21 For to me, living means living for Christ, and dying is even better.–Philippians 1: 21 (NLT)
7 Then Jesus said to his followers, “Let’s go back to Judea.” 8 The followers said, “But Teacher, the Jews there tried to stone you to death only a short time ago. Now you want to go back there?” 9 Jesus answered, “Are there not twelve hours in the day? If anyone walks in the daylight, he will not stumble, because he can see by this world’s light. 10 But if anyone walks at night, he stumbles because there is no light to help him see.” 11 After Jesus said this, he added, “Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep, but I am going there to wake him.” 12The followers said, “But Lord, if he is only asleep, he will be all right.” 13 Jesus meant that Lazarus was dead, but his followers thought he meant Lazarus was really sleeping. 14 So then Jesus said plainly, “Lazarus is dead. 15 And I am glad for your sakes I was not there so that you may believe. But let’s go to him now.” 16 Then Thomas (the one called Didymus) said to the other followers, “Let us also go so that we can die with him.”—John 11:7-16 (NCV)
The followers of Jesus asked a reasonable question, one that we would most likely ask had we have been there. Why would anyone want to return to a place where the people had tried to kill him? While the question shows their love for Jesus it also shows again their lack of faith in His ability to protect them and Himself. Had they not just walked away before? How quickly we forget the goodness and mercy of God when danger seems to lurk at our next step. Jesus uses the illustration of natural sunlight, but the followers had much more than that to watch over them. They had the Light of the world leading them. Jesus knew that Lazarus was dead and the purpose for which Lazarus had died. “And I am glad for your sakes”! Think of it, the followers are concerned, but Jesus is rejoicing! They will see the miracle of a friend being raised from the dead and their faith will be strengthened. Walking in the Light of Jesus, we are always safe from harm. If we live, He walks with us and if we die, we walk with Him. We should rejoice and be glad! Jesus does all things well and in His timing. 36 You must hold on, so you can do what God wants and receive what he has promised. 37 For in a very short time, “The One who is coming will come and will not be delayed. —Hebrews 10:36-37 (NCV)
1 As Jesus was walking along, he saw a man who had been blind from birth. 2 “Teacher,” his disciples asked him, “why was this man born blind? Was it a result of his own sins or those of his parents?” 3 “It was not because of his sins or his parents’ sins,” Jesus answered. “He was born blind so the power of God could be seen in him. 4 All of us must quickly carry out the tasks assigned us by the one who sent me, because there is little time left before the night falls and all work comes to an end. 5 But while I am still here in the world, I am the light of the world.” 6 Then he spit on the ground, made mud with the saliva, and smoothed the mud over the blind man’s eyes. 7 He told him, “Go and wash in the pool of Siloam” (Siloam means Sent). So the man went and washed, and came back seeing!—John 9:1-7 (NLT)
In those times, the people thought that physical ailments meant that you or someone in your family had sinned and the problems were God’s way of punishing them. This was why the disciples asked the question, “why was this man born blind?”. Jesus explains to them that his blindness is not caused by a particular sin of either the man or his parents. After all, how could a person sin before they were even born? This blindness was another evil thing that occurred because sin was a still in the world. But Jesus used the evil for good to demonstrate the power of God against such things. People are still asking the same question today, “Why do bad things happen to good people?” The answer is the same, sin is still at work in the world. But Jesus can still use those situations to show the power and the glory of God. All of us are born spiritually blind and we still need Jesus, “the Light of the world” to open our eyes. But rejoice! The day is soon coming when all these evil and bad things will be gone! That day could be tomorrow! 4 Say to those with fearful hearts, “Be strong, and do not fear,
for your God is coming to destroy your enemies
He is coming to save you”.
5 And when he comes, he will open the eyes of the blind
and unplug the ears of the deaf.
6 The lame will leap like a deer, and those who cannot speak will sing for joy!
Springs will gush forth in the wilderness, and streams will water the wasteland.–Isaiah 35:4-6 (NLT)
28 While Jesus was teaching in the Temple, he called out, “Yes, you know me, and you know where I come from. But I represent one you don’t know, and he is true. 29 I know him because I have come from him, and he sent me to you.” 30 Then the leaders tried to arrest him; but no one laid a hand on him, because his time had not yet come. 31 Many among the crowds at the Temple believed in him. “After all,” they said, “would you expect the Messiah to do more miraculous signs than this man has done?” 32 When the Pharisees heard that the crowds were murmuring such things, they and the leading priests sent Temple guards to arrest Jesus.–John 7:28-32 (NLT)
When it comes to the message of Jesus Christ, nothing in the message has changed and it never will. Apparently, the reactions and responses from the crowd haven’t changed much either. People see the same signs and hear the same words today. Just as it was then, there are some who believe and some who don’t believe. Not everyone that saw and heard Jesus believed, Not everyone that saw and heard Paul and the other apostles believed. Not everyone that hears the message from us is going to believe. However, just as Jesus, Paul and our other Christian ancestors never gave up, neither can we. They preached until the crowds persecuted and killed them. Not many of us will have to pay that price. 12 Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. 2 We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith. Because of the joy awaiting him, he endured the cross, disregarding its shame. Now he is seated in the place of honor beside God’s throne. 3 Think of all the hostility he endured from sinful people; then you won’t become weary and give up. 4 After all, you have not yet given your lives in your struggle against sin.—Hebrews 12:1-4 (NLT)
The things we suffer here and now are nothing compared to what Jesus has prepared for us in eternity. Count it all joy!
13 It was nearly time for the Jewish Passover celebration, so Jesus went to Jerusalem.14 In the Temple area he saw merchants selling cattle, sheep, and doves for sacrifices; he also saw dealers at tables exchanging foreign money. 15 Jesus made a whip from some ropes and chased them all out of the Temple. He drove out the sheep and cattle, scattered the money changers’ coins over the floor, and turned over their tables. 16 Then, going over to the people who sold doves, he told them, “Get these things out of here. Stop turning my Father’s house into a marketplace!” 17 Then his disciples remembered this prophecy from the Scriptures: “Passion for God’s house will consume me.”—John 2:13-17 (NLT)
Jesus celebrated the Passover according to Jewish law, because He had not yet been crucified as the “Lamb that takes away all sin”. Jesus was a great reformer, cleansing the temple of the illicit trade business was one of the first acts of His reformation. These people who were selling these animals in the temple were making a mockery of the sacrificial rites. According to the law, the animals were killed outside at the door of the Temple. (See Leviticus: 1-3). Parts of the animals would make the Temple area unclean. This disrespect for His Father’s house was what angered Jesus and caused His immediate reaction. Where is our passion level on keeping the “temple of God” pure? Do we cast down every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God? Are we filled with righteous indignation when we see others being mistreated? What does God expect of us? 8 He has told you, O man, what is good;
And what does the Lord require of you
But to do justice, to love kindness,
And to walk humbly with your God?—Micah 6:8 (NASB)