Believe

Role Reversal

(John 12:12-19)

 

INTRODUCTION

“In J. R. R. Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings trilogy, characters interpret ancient lore and rhymes in order to discern events in the present in much the same way that Christians interpret Old Testament prophecies to predict the coming of Christ.

 

In the third book of the trilogy, The Return of the King, the hero, Aragorn, who is the rightful claimant to the throne of Gondor, returns to the city Minas Tirith. He is victorious in the battle against the dark lord Sauron, but he's not yet able to claim the throne.

 

He enters the city in disguise in order to go to the Houses of Healing. There he seeks to heal his friends who were struck in battle. As he performs this healing, one of the attendants repeats an ancient verse: ‘The hands of the king are the hands of a healer, and so shall the rightful king be known.’”

 

J. R. R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings; submitted by F. Bradford Townley, Dover, Massachusetts.

 

[https://www.preachingtoday.com/illustrations/2002/may/13690.html]

 

Jesus has the hands of a healer and He was entering the city of Jerusalem in a humble way.

 

BODY

  • ME

    • Asked to serve on a board

        • Within the past year I was asked to consider serving on a local board in the community

        • It’s always an honor to be asked to serve

        • Sometimes I’m tempted to agree immediately without taking time to think and pray about it

        • I didn’t agree immediately, but asked for time to pray and seek Judy’s counsel

        • It was during this time that I heard the Lord tell me, through studying John 3, that, like John the Baptist, I needed to make sure that Jesus becomes greater and that I must become less

        • The decision was simple at point – I had to decline the offer to serve on the local board

    • Humility

        • It wasn’t easy to humble myself and decline the offer

        • I want to serve our community, but I also want to do it with humility and not pride

 

  • WE

    • Humility has changed in our culture as Carina Chocano points out:


“An article in the 
New York Times observes how ‘humility is not what it used to be.’ As a matter of fact, it may be the exact opposite of what it used to mean:


Lately it's pro forma—possibly even mandatory—for politicians, athletes, celebrities, and other public figures to be vocally and vigorously humbled by every honor awarded, prize won, job offered, record broken, pound lost, shout-out received, ‘like’ copped and thumb upped.


Diving at random into the internet and social media finds this new humility everywhere. A soap-opera actress on tour is humbled by the outpouring of love from fans. Comedians are humbled by big laughs, yoga practitioners are humbled by achieving difficult poses, athletes are humbled by good days on the field, Christmas volunteers are humbled by their own generosity and holiday spirit.

 

And yet none of these people sound very ‘humbled’ at all. On the contrary: They all seem exceedingly proud of themselves, hashtagging their humility to advertise their own status, success, sprightliness, generosity, moral superiority, and luck. When did humility get so cocky and vainglorious?”

 

Carina Chocano, "Calling Yourself 'Humbled' Doesn't Sound as Humble as It Used To," The New York Times (1-24-17)

 

[https://www.preachingtoday.com/illustrations/2017/february/4022717.html]

    • Perhaps all of us would agree that having true humility can be difficult, especially when our culture is modeling anything but humility

 

As John continues to outline Jesus’ movements throughout Judea and Galilee, he shares about Jesus entering Jerusalem during His final week on earth. ​​ It wasn’t how the Jews expected Him to arrive. ​​ In fact, they misinterpreted His entrance into Jerusalem. ​​ His own disciples misunderstood His mission and the Pharisees would prove, once again, to be misguided in their intentions. ​​ Jesus was entering Jerusalem in a humble way, which was a role reversal in the minds of the crowd. ​​ As followers of Jesus Christ we are to live our lives in humility, just as Jesus did. ​​ John wants us to understand that . . .

 

BIG IDEA – ​​ Our humility is misunderstood by the world.

 

We are in good company, because the world misunderstood Jesus’ humility too.

 

Let’s pray

 

NOTE: This scene is recorded in all four Gospels, which speaks of its importance (Matthew 21:1-11; Mark 11:1-11; Luke 19:28-44).

 

  • GOD (John 12:12-19)

    • Misinterpreted (vv. 12-15)

        • If the anointing of Jesus by Mary took place on Saturday evening, then the next day would be Sunday

        • The great crowd

          • Who was this crowd?

            • John tells us that it was a great crowd that had come for the Feast

            • It’s understood that the crowd would have been those who had already made their way to Jerusalem for the Passover Feast

            • They would have only been about 1.7 miles from Bethany, but perhaps it was even closer than that

              • Matthew, Mark, and Luke tell us that Jesus had left Bethany and was headed to Bethphage, which was nearly half way between Bethany and Jerusalem

              • So now Jesus is only about one mile from Jerusalem

              • Jerusalem proper would not have been able to accommodate the population increase, so people would have set up temporary housing in the Kidron Valley [Burge, The NIV Application Commentary, John, 340]

              • So, they would have been closer still to Jesus and the crowd following Him from Bethany through Bethphage

            • It would have been easy for them to see this smaller crowd cresting the hill of the Mount of Olives and hearing their voices rejoicing

          • What were they doing?

            • Took palm branches and went out to meet Jesus

              • It wouldn’t have been difficult for them to find palm branches, because date palms were plentiful there

              • They especially grew around Jericho which had the name “City of Palms” (Deut. 34:3; 2 Chron. 28:15) [Köstenberger, Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament, John, 369]

              • John doesn’t tell us what the crowd does with the palm branches

                • Throughout church history to our modern day, we see people waving palm branches in remembrance of Jesus’ triumphal entrance into Jerusalem

                • Luke doesn’t even mention the palm branches at all

                • Matthew and Mark tell us that the crowd cut branches and laid them on the road with their cloaks (in our modern time this would be considered “rolling out the red carpet”)

                • It’s certainly acceptable to think that some of the crowd were waving the palm branches, perhaps before they laid them down on the road

              • As they are coming from the Kidron Valley and from Bethphage, the crowd is shouting something

            • Shouting/Acclaiming

              • Hosanna!

                • It’s an Aramaic term that literally means, “save us now!” or “give salvation now!” or “save/salvation now!”

                • The Jews would have been familiar with this term from Psalm 118

                • Psalm 118:25, O Lord, save us; O Lord, grant us success.

                • The crowd probably misinterpreted their cry for salvation

                • They were looking for political salvation from Roman rule

                • Little did they know that their cry for salvation was so much deeper (not political, but spiritual)

                • They didn’t stop with crying out for salvation, but continued with a blessing

              • Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!

                • This had traditionally been a blessing on the pilgrims who made their way to Jerusalem for the Feasts

                • It is a direct quote from Psalm 118:26a, Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.

                • It is likely that the blessing is not for the pilgrims at this point, because they are saying this in response to Jesus riding in to Jerusalem on a donkey

                • It has a messianic meaning

                • “So here; the crowds do not simply pronounce a blessing in the name of the Lord on the one who comes, but pronounce a blessing on the one who comes in the name of the Lord. ​​ The next line shows that this is the way the crowd understands their own words: ​​ Blessed is the King of Israel is not a quotation from Psalm 118, but messianic identification of ‘he who comes in the name of the Lord’.” ​​ [Carson, The Pillar New Testament Commentary, The Gospel According to John, 432]

              • Blessed is the King of Israel!

                • This is not the first time in John’s Gospel that someone has referred to Jesus as the King of Israel

                • John 1:49, Then Nathaniel declared, “Rabbi, you are the Son of God; you are the King of Israel.”

                • Certainly Jesus is the King of Israel, but not just Israel – He is the King of Kings and Lord of Lords!

                • While a previous crowd tried to force Him into this title and role, it was not yet time for Him to claim that role

              • It’s an exciting time in Jerusalem as Jesus begins the process of truly revealing Himself to the crowds

              • Yet their acclamation of Him misses the mark, because they are misinterpreting His role and purpose

            • Application

              • There is a positive principle for us even though the crowd misinterpreted it here

              • “What ‘the Jews’ could not accept, this crowd, five days before Passover, does accept, albeit on its own terms and in the traditional vocabulary of its own liturgy.” ​​ [Michaels, The New International Commentary on the New Testament, The Gospel of John, 676-77]

              • PRINCIPLE #1 – God is pleased when His people worship Jesus.

                • As followers of Jesus Christ, on the other side of His death, burial, resurrection, and ascension, we can and should worship Him

                  • We can cry out to Him to “save us now!”, because He has already done the work of redemption

                  • We can bless Him with our worship, because He came in the name of the Lord

                  • We can bless Him, because He is the King of Kings and Lord of Lords!

                • My Next Step Today Is To: ​​ Take time, each day this week, to worship Jesus because He has saved me and is my King!

          • The crowd consisted of those, coming out from around Jerusalem, and those who have been with Jesus in Bethany

          • They are rejoicing in the fact that Jesus is coming into Jerusalem, but He isn’t doing it in the way they probably thought

        • Jesus fulfills prophecy

          • Jesus rides into Jerusalem on a donkey

            • “Here he accepts kingship, but on his own terms, ‘sitting on a donkey’s colt.’” ​​ [Michaels, 678]

            • Jesus was showing the crowd that His kingship didn’t have anything to do with the political difficulties of the day

              • He was reversing the role of “king,” in the minds of the crowd, by not riding in on a war horse

              • He wasn’t coming to conquer the Romans

              • He was coming to bring peace between God and humanity

              • That was the significance of riding into Jerusalem on a young donkey

            • PRINCIPLE #2 – Jesus models humility in leadership.

              • He was not going around beating His own drum, like Carina Chocano mentioned about our modern politicians, athletes, celebrities, and other public figures

              • He very quietly climbed on the back of this young donkey and rode into Jerusalem

              • We can learn a lot from how Jesus handled His “popularity”

              • Some of the greatest managers I’ve ever worked under are those who are willing to step up and help with any task at work, no matter how menial

              • That shows humble leadership – leading by example

              • For those of us who are in positions of leadership, we should take our cues from Jesus

              • Our humility is misunderstood by the world.

          • Where did the donkey come from?

            • John just tells us that Jesus found a young donkey and sat on it

            • Matthew, Mark, and Luke all tell us that Jesus gave instructions to a couple of His disciples, about where to get the donkey colt in Bethphage

          • Jesus was simply fulfilling Zechariah’s prophecy

            • John doesn’t quote Zechariah word-for-word, but the same meaning is clear

            • Zechariah 9:9, Rejoice greatly, O Daughter of Zion! ​​ Shout, Daughter of Jerusalem! ​​ See, your king comes to you, righteous and having salvation, gentle and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey.

            • The phrase, “Daughter of Zion,” was another way of referring to the people of Jerusalem

        • Jesus is embracing His kingship, but not in the way that the crowd was probably thinking, as they were rejoicing and welcoming Him

        • They simply misinterpreted His role and purpose, but His own disciples were struggling to understand everything that was happening

    • Misunderstood (vv. 16-18)

        • John explains that Jesus’ disciples did not understand all this, at first

          • This wasn’t the first time that the disciples misunderstood Jesus

            • Read Matthew 15:10-20

            • Read Luke 24:19-27 (two disciples on the road to Emmaus)

          • Their misunderstanding was only temporary as John points out

            • John points out that at first his disciples did not understand all this

            • It wasn’t until Jesus had risen from the dead that the disciples truly understood how He had fulfilled Old Testament scriptures

            • Luke 24:44-49, He said to them, “This is what I told you while I was still with you: ​​ Everything must be fulfilled that is written about me in the Law of Moses, the Prophets and the Psalms.” ​​ Then he opened their minds so they could understand the Scriptures. ​​ He told them, “This is what is written: ​​ The Christ will suffer and rise from the dead on the third day, and repentance and forgiveness of sins will be preached in his name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. ​​ You are witnesses of these things. ​​ I am going to send you what my Father has promised; but stay in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high.”

              • This all happened after Jesus came alive again and right before He ascended into heaven

              • The disciples were to remain in Jerusalem until the Holy Spirit was poured out on them

          • PRINCIPLE #3 – God provides understanding of His Word through His Holy Spirit.

            • The same Holy Spirit that was given to the disciples is given to every follower of Jesus Christ

            • The Holy Spirit gives us power to witness for Jesus Christ with our family, friends, neighbors, and coworkers – it is the power from on high

            • The Holy Spirit, as part of the Godhead, also helps us to understand Scripture

              • 2 Timothy 2:7, Reflect on what I am saying, for the Lord will give you insight into all this.

              • Read Ephesians 3:14-19

              • Psalm 119:17-18, Do good to your servant, and I will live; I will obey your word. ​​ Open my eyes that I may see wonderful things in your law.

            • My Next Step Today Is To: ​​ Ask the Lord to help me understand His Word as I read and study it this week.

          • While the disciples misunderstood Jesus role at this point, they were not alone

        • The crowd also misunderstood

          • Two crowds

            • The crowd that was with Jesus at the raising of Lazarus

              • This crowd had witnessed the incredible miracle of a dead man being brought back to life

              • It transformed them and they couldn’t remain silent

              • PRINCIPLE #4 – God is pleased when His people share with others about Jesus.

                • Acts 1:8, “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”

                • Matthew 28:18-20, Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. ​​ Therefore, go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. ​​ And surely I am with you always to the very end of the age.”

                • This is the mission of the church – Pursue, Grow, and Multiply disciples

                • We accomplish that mission by sharing with others about Jesus and what He has done in our lives

                • My Next Step Today Is To: ​​ Share about Jesus with at least one person this week.

              • The crowd who was witnessing had been with Jesus in Bethany, but the second crowd was coming out of Jerusalem

            • The crowd that was coming out from Jerusalem

              • They had heard about the miraculous sign and went out to meet Jesus

              • John doesn’t say that they believe in Jesus

              • In fact, in John 12:37, we read these words, Even after Jesus had done all these miraculous signs in their presence, they still would not believe in him.

              • “But when they realized Jesus had a different agenda than a political one, a different agenda than a national one, a different agenda than a material one – their cry changed from ‘Hosanna’ to ‘Crucify him.’” ​​ [Courson, Jon Courson’s Application Commentary, New Testament, 540]

              • “The same is still true. ​​ Christians individually and churches corporately mobilize politically for this cause or for that personality; to change our government or to change our economy. ​​ But very few are interested in a Cross that speaks of dying to self. ​​ An arresting picture of Calvary depicts three empty crosses on Golgotha, with a donkey in the background, chewing on a palm frond. ​​ You see, it’s one thing to shout at a parade, and something else altogether to stand at the foot of the Cross.” ​​ [Courson, 540]

              • That’s a powerful challenge for us – are we willing to die to self or are we content to just shout at a parade

          • While the one crowd was witnessing about Jesus, we realize the second crowd probably misunderstood what was happening as Jesus was coming into Jerusalem

        • The crowd and the disciples misunderstood Jesus’ role, but the Pharisees were misguided

    • Misguided (v. 19)

        • If you recall from chapter 11, Caiaphas, the chief priests, and the Pharisees had determined that Jesus must die

        • They had instructed the swelling crowds in Jerusalem to let them know when and where they saw Jesus, so they could arrest Him

          • Their plans were getting them nowhere

          • They thought that with the help of the crowds they would finally be able to arrest Jesus, but the crowds were going to see Jesus

          • They were excited about His arrival and were rejoicing as they ushered Him into Jerusalem

          • The Pharisees were misguided in thinking that the crowd was going to help them

          • God’s timing is perfect

          • As we’ll see, the crowd will eventually help the Pharisees bring about Jesus’ death

 

  • YOU

    • How will you set aside time every day this week to worship Jesus because He has saved you and is your King?

    • Will you ask the Lord to help you understand His Word as you read and study it this week?

    • Who will you share Jesus with this week?

 

  • WE

    •  

 

CONCLUSION

“King Jesus, why did you choose a lowly donkey to carry you to ride in your parade?

 

Had you no friend who owned a horse--a royal mount with spirit for a king to ride?

 

Why choose a donkey, small, unassuming beast of burden trained to plow not carry kings?

 

King Jesus, why did you choose me, a lowly unimportant person to bear you in my world today?

 

I'm poor and unimportant, trained to work not carry kings--let alone the King of kings, and yet you've chosen me to carry you in triumph in this world's parade.

 

King Jesus, keep me small so all may see how great you are; keep me humble, so all may say,

 

‘Blessed is he who cometh in the name of the Lord,’ not what a great [donkey] ass he rides.”

 

Joseph Bayly in Psalms of My Life. Christianity Today, Vol. 33, no. 5.

[https://www.preachingtoday.com/illustrations/1997/december/4911.html].

11

 

Believe

A Beautiful Thing

(John 12:1-11)

 

INTRODUCTION

“In Leadership, pastor and author Stu Weber writes:

 

My youngest son is the third of three boys. The first two are high-powered; the third is not any less high-powered, but he's the third out of three. By the time you've had a brother who's All-Conference this and another brother who's All-Conference that, there's not much left for you to do.

 

As a father, I worried about our caboose. He is the most sensitive of the three. To encourage him, I spent a lot of time with him in the outdoors—camping, hunting, fishing. Anybody who has spent time in the outdoors knows that a pocketknife is essential gear—the man with the best blade gets the job done. So, whenever you're setting up camp, you're always looking for the knife.

 

My son Ryan had a pocketknife that became his identity. His older brothers always had to ask him to use the knife as we were setting up camp. That became his status in the tribe. He was the man with the blade.

 

My birthday came around one year, and my family was planning a party for me. Earlier in the afternoon my youngest walked into my office at home where I was studying. At first I didn't hear him; I felt him—I could sense his presence—and I turned around.

 

He had chosen this moment because he wanted to give me a birthday present, but not at the birthday party. He wanted it to be just me and him. He handed me a present, and I opened it—it was his knife.”

 

Stu Weber, "What It Takes to Reach Men," Leadership (Fall 1994), p.128.

 

[https://www.preachingtoday.com/illustrations/2000/june/12477.html]

BODY

  • ME

    • Auto-Pilot

        • It happens from time-to-time that as a Pastor, I can go into auto-pilot mode

        • I can prepare services for Wednesday evenings or Sunday mornings without thinking too much about it

        • I can accomplish my work without engaging my heart

    • Holy Spirit led

        • Most times I’m engaging my heart by seeking the filling of the Holy Spirit in preparing the worship service

        • I want the Lord to transform me as I’m preparing for Wednesday evenings, Sunday mornings, and any discipleship opportunities throughout the week

        • There are times when I’m worshipping the Lord and allow the words to really sink in and when that happens it’s hard not to cry

        • I’m engaging my heart and mind in worshiping the Lord

 

  • WE

    • It’s easy for all of us to fall into the habit of just mindlessly doing our work without engaging our heart and mind

    • It can also happen when we worship the Lord

        • We don’t really engage our hearts and minds in worship, but just go through the motions

        • We know the tune and the words by heart, but don’t sing them from the heart (we don’t allow the message to transform us)

 

This passage is rich with all kinds of themes, but there are two main themes we’re going to focus on. ​​ We’re going to see that the Christian life is a balance of three things: ​​ work, worship, and witness. ​​ We’re also going to see the contrast between the heart of Mary and the heart of Judas. ​​ John wants us to understand that . . .

 

BIG IDEA – ​​ God knows our heart.

 

He knows our heart as we work for Him, as we worship Him, and as we witness for Him.

 

Let’s pray

 

  • GOD (John 12:1-11)

    • Work (vv. 1-2)

        • Background information

          • John gives us a time stamp

            • It is six days before the Passover

            • Passover would begin on Thursday evening, so Jesus would have arrived on the preceding Saturday

            • According to how days were determined in Jewish culture, Saturday would have started after sundown on Friday

            • The meal honoring Jesus probably took place on Saturday evening, after sundown, when Sabbath had officially ended [Carson, The Pillar New Testament Commentary, The Gospel According to John, 427]

          • John also gives us a location

            • He is back in Bethany

            • It’s not the Bethany on the other side of the Jordan, but the Bethany where Lazarus lived with his two sisters, Martha and Mary

            • It was the one that was less than two miles from Jerusalem

            • We also know that it isn’t some other Lazarus that John is talking about, but the one that Jesus raised from the dead

          • These specific identifiers let us know exactly where Jesus is, six days prior to Passover

        • Meal in Jesus’ honor

          • There is a meal that has been prepared in Jesus’ honor

            • We know from John 11:54 that Jesus left Bethany, after raising Lazarus from the dead, and went up to a region near the desert to the village of Ephraim

              • Perhaps in His haste to leave the area around Jerusalem, there was not time to provide a meal in Jesus’ honor

              • They weren’t going to miss another opportunity to honor Jesus for what He did in raising Lazarus

            • Where did the meal take place?

              • If we only read the record found in the Gospel of John, we could very easily assume that the meal was hosted at the home of Lazarus, Martha, and Mary

              • But, Gospel writers, Matthew (26:6-13) and Mark (14:3-9), also record the anointing of Jesus by a woman in the village named Bethany

              • When we read those two accounts we know that the meal was hosted in the home of a man named Simon the Leper

              • Since John does not record an actual location, it is not inconceivable that it was hosted in Simon’s home (this removes any contradiction that some see in the Gospel writer’s accounts)

            • What we see next is Martha’s servant heart

          • Martha helped to serve

            • It didn’t matter whether the meal was hosted in her home or not, Martha has this incredible servants heart

            • She steps right in and helps to serve the meal at Simon’s home

            • She’s not concerned about who is or isn’t helping to serve at this point

            • Jesus knew Martha’s heart and the reason behind why she was willing to serve, even at someone else’s home

            • Her servant heart was one of her spiritual gifts and a beautiful character trait – it was a beautiful thing

            • God knows our heart.

              • He knows why we serve others

              • He knows whether or not our intentions are genuine or self-seeking

              • When we serve Jesus by serving others, with the right heart attitude, it’s a beautiful thing

              • I really appreciate those of you who serve the Lord through serving Idaville Church as a volunteer, and our community through the Gettysburg Soup Kitchen, Upper Adams Food Pantry, New Hope Mobile Food Pantry, Operation Christmas Child, Ingathering, the Hallelujah Party, and many other opportunities

              • You can also view your work as worship

                • You can connect your faith and work

                • We’re hosting the Work As Worship Retreat again for the third year in row

                • This is a one-day retreat on Friday, May 15, 2020 that’s part of the RightNow Media ministry

                • I appreciate the 8 tenets of Work As Worship

                  • Work is good

                  • Sin corrupted work

                  • Jesus makes it possible for work to be redeemed

                  • God gave us a mission

                  • We carry Christ into our work

                  • God grows us through our work

                  • God can do more with our work than we can imagine

                  • Work is worship

              • I want to encourage you to continue to serve the Lord with the right heart attitude, whether it’s at work, at home, in your neighborhood, or at church

            • Martha was doing what came natural to her, she served

          • Lazarus was reclining at the table with Jesus

            • It’s a pretty good guess that Simon the Leper was also in attendance at the meal

            • When we look at the account in Matthew’s Gospel, we know that Jesus’ disciples are there

            • John names Judas Iscariot as being present

            • We aren’t given any other names of potential attendees, but perhaps there were more from the village of Bethany

        • The first scene shows us that the Christian life should include work/service with the right heart attitude

        • As we continue with the meal scene, we’ll also see that worship, with the right heart attitude, is important to the Christian life

    • Worship (vv. 3-8)

        • Mary anoints Jesus’ body

          • The perfume

            • We’re not told where she got it from – it may have been part of her dowry or a family heirloom

            • Amount

              • John says it was a pint

              • In the Greek it is litra (probably about 0.5 liter)

              • For us westerners it would about 11 to 12 ounces (about the amount of a can of soda – show picture)

              • Matthew and Mark both mention that it was in an alabaster jar (show picture of an alabaster jar from Cyprus)

            • Type

              • Mark and John mention that the type of perfume was pure nard

              • “Nard, also known as spikenard is a fragrant oil derived from the root and spike (hair stem) of the nard plant, which grows in the mountains of northern India (Harrison 1966: ​​ 48-49).” ​​ [Köstenberger, Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament, John, 360]

              • The color of nard would have been a deep, rich red color, like a red rose

              • It smelled like gladiola, a sweet scent [Burge, The NIV Application Commentary, John, 338]

              • Some people diluted it or added other ingredients to it

                • Notice, that the nard Mary had, was pure

                • The rare Greek word for “pure” may mean “genuine”

                • Hers was not diluted and did not have any additives

              • That was probably why the cost of this jar of perfume was considered so much

            • Cost

              • John says it was expensive perfume

              • Matthew and Mark mention that it was very expensive perfume

              • Judas explains that the jar of nard was worth a year’s wages

              • That would have been about 300 denarii

                • A day’s wage was one denarii

                • They did not work on the Sabbath (52 days) and on special feast and festival days (13 days)

                • To relate that to today’s wages, we have to look at the minimum wage for Pennsylvania which is $7.25 an hour

                • So, if someone earning minimum wage, worked 40 hours a week, their annual income would be $15,000

                • Imagine pouring a $15,000 jar of perfume on someone

            • That’s exactly what Mary did

          • The act

            • Mary poured the pure nard on Jesus’ body

              • We have to look at all three accounts again to understand what Mary did

                • John tells us that Mary poured the pure nard on Jesus’ feet

                • Matthew and Mark tell us that Mary poured the nard on Jesus’ head

                • Some people want to use this discrepancy as a way to marginalize and minimize the inerrancy of Scripture

                • The amount of the nard was nearly 12 ounces, which is a considerable amount to pour just on Jesus’ feet

                • More than likely, Mary started with His head and then moved to His feet

                • In Matthew and Mark’s accounts, when Jesus defends Mary’s action, He says that Mary poured perfume on my body beforehand to prepare for my burial (Matt. 26:12; Mar. 14:8)

                • “John emphasizes Jesus’ feet to show the sheer act of humble devotion on Mary’s part and to provide a contrast with the foot-washing of the next chapter.” ​​ [Burge, 339]

                • So there’s not a contradiction in the three accounts, but rather John is focusing on just one part of the pouring out of the nard

              • Mary pours it on Jesus’ body and then does something perhaps unexpected

            • Mary wiped Jesus’ feet with her hair

              • The washing of feet was a task reserved for a servant within the household and not the members of the household, yet Mary is taking on the form of a servant as she worships Jesus

              • Women in the 1st Century rarely if ever let their hair down in public

                • Also, women would usually have their head covered

                • Married women especially guarded their hair

                • The only person who routinely saw a woman with her hair uncovered and let down would have been her husband and perhaps her father, if she was unmarried

                • Women who walked around with their hair uncovered and let down would have been considered to have loose morals [Köstenberger, 362]

              • Mary is again showing an incredible act of humility, devotion, and worship of Jesus

                • In a spiritual sense she was already acting like the bride of Christ – she was letting her hair down

                • Jesus knew her heart

                • Her act of devotion and worship was a beautiful thing

            • “She [Mary] brings out the best, most extravagant, most expensive ointment of the day, and she pours every ounce on him. ​​ Her gift is her way of yelling from the top of the mountain, ‘Jesus is worth it!’” ​​ [Carter & Wredberg, Christ-Centered Exposition: ​​ Exalting Jesus in John, 242]

          • Application

            • PRINCIPLE #1 – God is pleased when we give our best to Him in humility, devotion, and worship.

            • We don’t have the luxury of Jesus being right in front of us in physical form, like Mary did

            • Perhaps the first step in imitating Mary’s humility, devotion, and worship is to have a correct understanding of who Jesus is

              • Jesus is God

              • He is almighty, infinite, and Creator

              • He came from heaven to earth to take our punishment for sin, by dying on a cross

              • “. . . he is the all-satisfying, wondrous, joyful God who promises to give peace, blessing, and satisfaction in himself to those who come to him.” ​​ [Carter & Wredberg, 242]

              • When we truly understand who Jesus is, then giving Him our best is the natural response

            • Our best will be different than someone else’s best

              • There’s not just one answer for everyone

              • That would take away from us doing the hard work of thinking about what Jesus would love, and how we can demonstrate our love for Him [Carter & Wredberg, 242]

              • What time, talent, or resource would you consider your best, and are you willing to give it to Jesus?

              • If you already know what it is and you are already giving it to Jesus, then I want to encourage you to continue to do that

              • Perhaps you’re like others who need to take time to really think about what Jesus would love, that you have or do, and then determine to demonstrate your love for Him by offering it to Him in humility, devotion, and worship

              • What are you best at? (numbers, teaching, relationships, cooking, hunting, fishing, car repair, electrical, plumbing, shopping, hospitality, listening, etc.) [Are you willing to use it in a way that demonstrates humility, devotion, and worship for Jesus?]

              • What do you have that is the best? [Are you willing to offer it to the Lord as a way of demonstrating humility, devotion, and worship of Jesus?]

            • My Next Step Today Is To: ​​ Determine the best of my time, talents, and resources and offer them to Jesus as a demonstration of my humility, devotion, and worship of Him.

          • God knows our heart and when we offer our best to Him it’s a beautiful thing

          • God knew Judas Iscariot’s heart and eventually Jesus’ disciples also knew

        • Judas Iscariot and others objection

          • Who was objecting?

            • John identifies just Judas Iscariot as objecting to Mary’s use of the pure nard

            • Matthew says that the disciples were indignant (Matt. 26:8)

            • Mark keeps us guessing by saying that some of those present were indignant (Mark 14:4)

            • Perhaps Judas was the first one to speak up, but he said what the others were thinking and feeling

            • When we look at Judas’ words, without having information that is revealed later, we may have agreed with him also, just like the disciples and some of those present did

            • At this point, the other disciples did not know that Judas was plotting to betray Jesus

            • John is writing after Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection

          • What were they objecting to?

            • Judas wanted to know why this expensive jar of perfume, that was worth a year’s wages, wasn’t sold and the money given to the poor

            • Matthew and Mark record the disciples and some of those present as stating that Mary’s act of humility, devotion, and worship, was a waste (Matt. 26:8; Mar. 14:4)

          • Judas’ motives were not pure

            • Here we see a contrast between Mary and Judas

              • Mary offered pure nard

              • Judas makes a pious statement that shows concern for the poor, but with impure motives

            • Judas was only concerned about his own selfish gain

              • John tells us that Judas didn’t make this statement because he cared about the poor

              • He made the statement because he was a thief

              • He would help himself to the money in the box as the assigned keeper of the money box

              • “Because I am my church’s financial secretary, my children are familiar with the weekly trip to the bank. ​​ But one day my 3-year-old opened the bank bag and looked in.

                ‘Where did all that money come from?’ he asked

                ‘From the collection plates at church.’

                David looked at me wide-eyed. ​​ ‘Does God know you did that?’”

                Linda J. Beck, Chicora, Penn. Christian Reader, “Kids of the Kingdom.”

                [
                https://www.preachingtoday.com/illustrations/1997/september/2609.html]

            • PRINCIPLE #2 – God knows our true motives

              • We may object to how funds are being used, simply because we’re jealous that we don’t have the funds to do the same things

              • It can happen in our family, at work, or at church

              • We aren’t necessarily upset that funds are being spent a certain way, but we’re upset that they’re not being spent on things that we consider important

              • We may find ourselves envying, what others have the financial resources to do, that we don’t have the financial resources to do

                • I have to confess that there have been times in my life when I’ve felt that way in my own personal life and also as it relates to the church

                • I don’t find it as much in my personal life anymore

                • I see what other churches are doing, because they have the financial and personnel resources available, and wish that we could be doing those same things

                • I believe that sometimes we’re not entrusted with the same financial and personnel resources as others, because God knows our true motives and that we would not use the resources as He designed or desires

                • Luke 12:47-48, “That servant who knows his master’s will and does not get ready or does not do what his master wants will be beaten with many blows. ​​ But the one who does not know and does things deserving punishment will be beaten with few blows. ​​ From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked.”

                • James 4:2b-3, You do not have, because you do not ask God. ​​ When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.

              • My Next Step Today Is To: ​​ Make sure that my motives are pure before I object to someone else’s extravagant demonstration of humility, devotion, and worship of the Lord.

              • God knows our heart.

          • Jesus knew what was in Judas and the other disciples’ hearts when they objected to Mary’s act of devotion and worship, so He defends her

        • Jesus defends Mary’s actions

          • Leave her alone and stop bothering her

            • Jesus tells Judas and the others (Mark 14:6) to leave Mary alone

            • Matthew and Mark tell us that Jesus says, what Mary has done to Him is a beautiful thing (Matt. 26:10; Mark 14:6)

          • Foreshadowing of Jesus’ burial

            • John mentions that the pure nard was intended to be saved for the day of His burial

            • Matthew and Mark state that the act of pouring the perfume on His body, beforehand, was to prepare for His burial (Matt. 26:12; Mark 14:8)

            • All three times that we see Mary in the Gospels she is at Jesus’ feet

              • While Martha was busy with preparations Mary was sitting at Jesus’ feet listening to Him (Luke 10:38-42)

              • When Jesus arrives after Lazarus has died, Mary goes out to meet Him and falls at His feet (John 11:32)

              • She was at Jesus’ feet as He reclined at the dinner table and then poured the pure nard on His feet

              • I believe she already understood what Jesus had said about His death and burial, even if His disciples did not yet understand

              • While it certainly isn’t hard and fast proof, it’s interesting, as some commentators point out, that Mary of Bethany is not mentioned at Jesus’ cross or as one of the women that went to the tomb on the first day of the week

              • Perhaps Mary understood that Jesus’ death was not the end for Him, but that He would rise again

              • She anoints His body as an act of devotion and belief in Him as the Messiah and Son of God

            • Jesus makes a pretty strong statement in Mary’s defense

              • While John does not record His words, Matthew and Mark do

              • “I tell you the truth, wherever this [the] gospel is preached throughout the world, what she has done will also be told, in memory of her.” (Matt. 26:13; Mark 14:9)

              • This is a significant endorsement for Mary’s act of humility, devotion, and worship

              • We should strive to have the same endorsement from our Lord and Savior

            • As part of Jesus’ defense of Mary, He mentions the issue of the poor that Judas brings up

          • Taking care of the poor

            • I like Mark’s accounting of Jesus’ words

            • The poor you will always have with you, and you can help them any time you want. ​​ But you will not always have me. (Mark 14:7)

            • The poor weren’t going anywhere; they would have plenty of time to help them, and God would provide the resources needed

            • Jesus needed His followers to understand what was about to happen to Him

              • Within a week He was going to give His life as a perfect sacrifice for humanity to take away their sin

              • After that He would ascend into heaven and sit down at the right hand of the Father, where He would intercede for them

        • Mary’s act of humility, devotion, and worship is another important part of our Christian life, as is witnessing

    • Witness (vv. 9-11)

        • News of Jesus’ arrival in Bethany spread fast

        • It’s assumed that the large crowd of Jews came from Jerusalem

        • They not only came to see Jesus, but also to see Lazarus

          • Perhaps they were not close friends with Lazarus, Martha, and Mary, so they didn’t come to His funeral or stay for the time of mourning following his death

          • Since they knew Jesus was going to be there, they thought they could also appease their curiosity about Lazarus

        • The chief priests aren’t happy about this turn of events

          • While John doesn’t record Lazarus saying anything, his life is a testimony and witness of the power of God through Jesus

          • This power of God is what was drawing people to Jesus and they were putting their faith in Him

          • This would never do for the chief priests

            • They realized that just killing Jesus would not stop God’s redemptive plan

            • When the Apostles were being persecuted and brought before the Sanhedrin, Gamaliel speaks an important word

            • Read Acts 5:35-39

          • The chief priests made plans to kill Lazarus as well

            • The Greek word for “made plans” is the exact same one that was used in John 11:53 and is translated as “plotted”

              • Last week I mentioned that it should really be translated as “they resolved”

              • They had made up their minds about the need to kill Lazarus, just like they had done concerning Jesus

            • PRINCIPLE #3 – One sin leads to another.

              • Last week Caiaphas had justified killing Jesus by using the idea of the sacrificial system, that had one lamb/goat sacrificed for the nation (Day of Atonement) or one family (Passover)

              • Now the chief priests are justifying the killing of a second person

              • We’ve heard the term “gateway drugs”

              • That’s what justification of sin does for us also

                • It’s like a gateway sin that opens the door to stronger, more powerful and addictive sin

                • Think for a moment about a habitual sin that you may be struggling with and have begun to justify

                • Perhaps you haven’t moved on to another sin yet, but are you being tempted to?

                • Maybe you’ve already taken the step into stronger, more powerful and addictive sin

                • Accountability is the key to overcoming habitual sin and stopping the progression from justifying our sin, which opens the door to greater sin

              • My Next Step Today Is To: ​​ Confess my sin to the Lord and seek out another believer who will hold me accountable.

 

  • YOU

    • Will you give your best to the Lord today?

    • Are there some motives that you need to make sure are pure?

    • Is there sin that needs to be confessed?

 

  • WE

    • Perhaps someone will approach you this week about holding them accountable – will you respond positively to that request?

 

CONCLUSION

“In the Preaching Today illustration Mark Buchanan on Real Community, pastor and author Mark Buchanan shares the conversion story of an alcoholic named Wanda. In a 2008 article for Leadership journal, Mark was able to tell the rest of her story:

 

Wanda did well for about eight months—got into Alpha and a 12-step group, got her kids back. Then she didn't do well, in and out—mostly out—of rehab. Then she vanished.

 

Then one day she called again, sober, after a year in rehab in Vancouver. She was getting out the next week.

 

Could she come home?

 

Her first Sunday back, I initially didn't recognize her. She looked healthy. Dressed and in her right mind.

 

I was preaching on the ten lepers Jesus healed, and the one, a Samaritan, who returned to give thanks. I said that anyone who has been cleansed by Jesus, who wants to be made whole by him, worships at his feet in deep thankfulness, in utmost desperation. They have nowhere else they want to go. And then, to close, I reminded people we have a tradition at our church: anyone can come up to the front and pray with one of our prayer ministers.

 

Wanda came forward. But she didn't go to a prayer minister. She walked onto the platform, between the guitarist and the drummer, and stretched her hands heavenward. She worshiped like One Leper returning.

 

A woman who didn't know her, and who isn't on the prayer team, walked up, put her arm around her, and worshiped, too.

 

Then—you could hear it—all of us worshiped with deeper thankfulness, out of greater desperation. Out of the storeroom had come new treasures as well as old, and the Kingdom hovered very close.

 

Condensed from our sister publication Leadership Journal, © 2008 Christianity Today International. For more articles like this, visit Leadershipjournal.net.

 

Mark Buchanan, "Treasures Old and New," Leadership journal (Fall 2008), p. 114

 

[https://www.preachingtoday.com/illustrations/2008/november/2110308.html].

15

 

Believe

One For All

(John 11:45-57)

 

INTRODUCTION

“In November 2004, Loyola University Medical Center in Chicago joined 15 other hospitals around the country experimenting with the use of Polyheme, a synthetic blood substitute. According to medical center spokesman Stephen Davidow, Loyola would equip their medic transport helicopter and ambulances with Polyheme.

 

This is a historic change in policy since ambulances do not carry human blood due to its short shelf life. Ordinarily, patients transported by emergency vehicles get an intravenous saline solution to restore fluid volume and blood pressure. But unlike blood, the fluid does not contain tissue-nourishing oxygen, so patients risk organ damage.

 

While the benefits of Polyheme have been validated in hospital settings, the experimental mobile use of the fake blood (undertaken by Loyola and the other medical centers participating in the study) will attempt to save lives of trauma patients before they get to the hospital. It can be used in patients with any blood type and lasts longer than blood.

 

Whereas the synthetic blood product is capable of sustaining life (at least temporarily), when it comes to the blood of Christ there is no substitute. Even 2,000 years of animal sacrifices weren't capable of producing what the blood of Christ alone can accomplish.”

 

Greg Asimakoupoulos, Naperville, Illinois; source: AllHeadlineNews.com (11-4-04)

 

[https://www.preachingtoday.com/illustrations/2005/february/15798.html]

 

BODY

  • ME

    • Substitutions

        • Baseball – another boy and I played first base when I was in the Major Leagues Division in Shippensburg (we would substitute in and out for each other

        • Basketball – when our boys played basketball, they wouldn’t play the whole game, because they needed a rest (a substitute would come in for them)

        • Teacher – when Judy isn’t able to go to school because of an illness or vacation, the school administrator has to find a substitute

        • Food – Judy has had to substitute other items in recipes when we didn’t have the original item or so we could use a healthier alternative (the boys will tell you that they don’t like her healthy substitute for sour cream, which is plain Greek yogurt)

 

  • WE

    • Do you realize how many sugar substitutes there are today? ​​ Here’s a list of the ones that are approved by the FDA

        • Acesulfame K (brand names: ​​ Sunett and Sweet One)

        • Advantame

        • Aspartame (two brand names: ​​ Equal and Nutrasweet)

        • Neotame (brand name: ​​ Newtame)

        • Saccharin (two brand names: ​​ Sweet ‘N Low and Sweet Twin)

        • Sucralose (brand name: ​​ Splenda)

    • What kind of substitutes have you had to make, either with recipes, food, repairs, sports, etc.?

    • Have they been successful?

 

We’ll see today that the high priest had a political plan, of Jesus being the substitute for the Jewish nation, while God had a spiritual plan, of Jesus being the substitute for humanity. ​​ So, our big idea today is that . . .

 

BIG IDEA – ​​ Jesus is God’s perfect substitute.

 

Let’s pray

  • GOD (John 11:45-57)

    • Political Substitute (vv. 45-50)

        • PRINCIPLE #1 – Faith comes from witnessing the power of God.

          • This was our big idea last week

          • I mentioned that we would see the power of God last week, but that the faith of the Jews would be seen this week

          • The Jews were those who had come to comfort Mary and Martha

          • When they saw what Jesus did, in raising Lazarus, they put their faith in Jesus

          • They could not deny or dispute what had just happened

          • The power of God is what transformed them into disciples of Jesus Christ

          • Burge explains that the phrase “put their faith in him” was one of John’s favorite ways to express true belief in Jesus [Burge, The NIV Application Commentary, John, 320]

          • Other scholars question whether or not there was a true transformation that took place in the lives of the Jews, but that’s hard for us to determine since we can’t talk with those Jews or watch their lives following their transformation

          • This principle was true for some of the Jews, but not all of them

            • The same is true for us

            • There are individuals who see and experience the supernatural, but refuse to believe in God

            • They try to explain it away as something other than the hand of God

            • Even though they see it first-hand, the power of God doesn’t bring about faith in God

            • It may bring recognition that God is real and was in control of that situation, but it never goes beyond that

            • It doesn’t transform every area of their lives

            • As disciples of Jesus Christ, we need to be praying for those individuals, that they will recognize the power of God and put their faith in Jesus

          • Some of the Jews saw the miracle at Bethany, but it didn’t transform them

        • Reporting to the Pharisees

          • They simply went to the Pharisees and reported what Jesus had done

          • It’s assumed that these Jews did not put their faith in Jesus

        • Meeting of the Sanhedrin

          • The report from the Jews prompted a meeting of the Sanhedrin

            • The chief priests and the Pharisees are the ones who called for the meeting

            • The Sanhedrin was a seventy-member body made up of priests (Sadducees) and scribes (Pharisees) that oversaw the judicial, legislative, and executive duties for the Jewish nation [Köstenberger, Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament, John, 348 and Borchert, The New American Commentary, John 1-11, 364]

            • The current high priest was the seventy-first member of the Sanhedrin and would be the tie-breaking vote in any matters [Borchert, 364]

            • They did this under the direction and watchful eye of the Roman Empire

            • Michaels believes the meeting of the Sanhedrin was not an official meeting of the full seventy members, but rather a preliminary meeting of a smaller group, because the definite article is missing in the original Greek [Michaels, The New International Commentary on the New Testament, The Gospel of John, 648]

          • Discussion points

            • “What are we accomplishing?”

              • What’s really being said here is, “What are we going to do?”

                • I think that part of their concern comes from the fact that they have tried to arrest and or stone Him on multiple occasions and have been unsuccessful

                • What is our next step?

                • How can we stop Him from having such incredible influence on the people?

              • Jesus is performing many miraculous signs and people are turning to Him and putting their faith in Him

              • Their greatest fear is losing their status and position

            • Rome will come and strip us our status and position

              • There was a very tenuous relationship between the Jews and the Romans

              • “Rome gave partial freedom to the Jews as long as they were quiet and obedient.” ​​ [The NIV Life Application Bible, footnote on verse 48]

              • The Jews were concerned on two levels

                • Nationally

                  • There was the obvious concern that Rome would step in and remove their temple, if there was an uproar concerning the raising of Lazarus, or any other miraculous signs, that Jesus would perform

                  • Rome could also remove the partial freedom that the Jews had as a nation and require them to begin following Roman law and abandon Jewish law

                • Personally

                  • “. . . the position of hēmōn (“our”) in the Greek suggests that it was not the temple and nation about which the Council was most worried. ​​ It was their role as leaders (i.e., “our place,” cf. NIV) and the nation as they knew it that would therefore be at stake if, as they thought, this Jesus fellow were permitted to continue his activity.” ​​ [Borchert, 365]

                  • The Jewish religious leaders liked their position of power and influence and didn’t want the Jews putting their faith in Jesus and following Him

              • Obedience to God’s Word was of less importance to them than their own selfishness and pride

                • Their refusal to believe is shocking

                • These were the leading religious’ leaders of the day – presumably the most spiritual men in Judaism

                • They looked religious and pious from the outside, but they were full of pride and selfishness on the inside

                • “Their primary concern was maintaining control.” ​​ [Carter & Wredberg, Christ-Centered Exposition: Exalting Jesus in John, 234]

                • They didn’t want anything to change, even though the Son of God was standing right in front of them

            • Application

              • PRINCIPLE #2 – Our selfishness and pride can blind us to the truth.

              • “You can be religious but lost. ​​ You can memorize Scripture and still be ignorant of its truth. ​​ You can say all the right things but have a heart that has not been transformed by the power of Jesus Christ.” [Carter & Wredberg, 234]

              • We can think we’re Christians, and yet, not really be Christians

              • We may be more concerned with maintaining control at church

              • We don’t want to submit to God and His vision for our church, because it may require us to change, and frankly we don’t like change

                • We want to tell others how we want church to be, but are unwilling to get involved in leadership

                • We want to maintain authority, but put the responsibility on someone else (authority and responsibility can never be separated)

              • My Next Step Today Is To: ​​ Confess my selfishness, pride, and desire to maintain control and ask the Lord to help me see His vision for His church.

            • The Jewish religious leaders were struggling with selfishness, pride, and a desire to maintain control, which caused them to not see that Jesus was the Messiah

            • As the storyline continues we see that one of their members shares a plan

          • Caiaphas’ plan

            • The way that this member is introduced is probably another indication that this was not an official gathering of the Sanhedrin

              • Caiaphas was the high priest during the year that all of this is taking place

              • He was not the high priest for just one year, in fact, he was the high priest for about 18 years (A.D. 18 to A. D. 36)

              • As high priest, Caiaphas would have been the one to call an official meeting of the Sanhedrin, and he would have presided over the meeting

              • We get the sense here that he was part of the meeting, but not necessarily in charge of it

            • Caiaphas speaks down to the other members that are gathered

              • He tells them that they don’t know what they’re talking about

              • They aren’t going to lose their positions of power or influence, because they’re going to sacrifice Jesus to protect themselves and the nation

                • You do not realize that it is better for you that one man die for the people than that the whole nation perish.

                • The concept that Caiaphas presents is Biblical in the sense that God had provided the sacrificial system for the Jews, so they could have their sins covered over until the Messiah came

                • Passover was the beginning of this sacrificial system

                  • The final plague in Egypt was the death of all first-born sons both of humans and animals

                  • The Israelites could avoid this plague if they sacrificed a perfect lamb for the entire household and placed the blood from the lamb on the doorposts of the house

                  • The remembrance of this miraculous event was to be celebrated every year through Passover

                • The Day of Atonement was another important sacrificial day for Jews (Leviticus 16:1-34)

                  • Two goats were brought to the priest

                  • One was sacrificed to the Lord as a sin offering for the nation

                  • The other one was set free in the wilderness, as a scapegoat, after the high priest laid his hands on its head and confessed all the sins of the nation, thus placing their sins on the goat

                  • “The goat that was released pictured expiation: the removing or covering of sin. ​​ The goat that was slaughtered pictured propitiation: pacifying the just wrath of God.” ​​ [Carter & Wredberg, 237]

                • So, we see that Caiaphas’ idea, to sacrifice Jesus for the nation, comes from God’s sacrificial system

                  • Unfortunately, he’s using this Biblical concept as justification to do something wrong

                  • “He declared his perspective in one of those time-honored arguments concerning ‘the end justifying the means.’” ​​ [Borchert, 365]

                  • I’ve never been a fan of the saying, “It’s easier to ask forgiveness than it is to get permission.”

                  • PRINCIPLE #3 – Justification of our sin is sin.

                  • If we are consumed with religion instead of a personal relationship with Jesus, it will lead to spiritual rationalization

                  • “So we begin to play this game: ​​ we look at an action that is wrong, and we begin to justify why it’s really not that bad. ​​ What we’re doing is coming up with a defense for our actions; we’re justifying ourselves.” ​​ [Carter & Wredberg, 235]

                  • I see this all the time when it comes to lying, swearing, gossiping, hatred, what we’re willing to watch online, on TV, or at the movies, how far we’re willing to go with our boyfriend or girlfriend before marriage, whether or not cheating is ok, and on-and-on the list goes

                  • We know what God’s Word says, and yet, we try to justify doing what is wrong

                  • When we do that we create a God in our own image

                  • We’re not really concerned with pursuing holiness and being obedient to God’s Word

                  • My Next Step Today Is To: ​​ Confess to the Lord that I’ve been justifying a sin(s) in my life and ask Him to help me pursue holiness.

              • Caiaphas was simply justifying the killing of an innocent man in order to benefit himself and the other religious leaders

              • They don’t have to worry about Rome coming to strip them of their power and authority, because His plan will eliminate the “problem” (one for all)

            • Caiaphas has the perfect substitute to ensure their political position with Rome

        • What Caiaphas doesn’t realize is that he is not really in control, and that his plan is really God’s plan

        • John explains this in verses 51-52

    • Spiritual Substitute (vv. 51-52)

        • PRINCIPLE #4 – God is sovereign! (He has the right to rule and He rules rightly)

          • God is in control of everything that’s happening with Jesus and the chief priests and Pharisees

          • His plan will be executed at just the right time

          • God can and does use sinners to speak for Him and that’s what we see here with Caiaphas

          • John tells us that Caiaphas’ plan had a spiritual side to it that he wasn’t even aware of (although he should have known)

          • Caiaphas was simply sharing God’s plan of redemption, but that wasn’t his intent

          • John tells us that Caiaphas’ words were really a prophesy about God’s plan to deal with sin in the world and it would encompass both Jews and Gentiles

        • God’s plan of redemption

          • Gospel

            • Romans 5:12, Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all men, because all sinned. (we have all sinned)

              • I’ve never sinned! ​​ (lied, stolen, used God’s name as a curse word, hated, lusted, etc.)

              • James 2:10, For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it.

              • God doesn’t grade on a curve – He doesn’t say, “Well, since you’ve kept 8 of the 10 Commandments, I’ll let you into heaven. ​​ I guess 80% is good enough.”

              • The grade to enter heaven is 100%

              • If you’ve broken one commandment, you’ve broken them all, which is 0%

              • We can’t reach heaven on our own

              • God knew that, so He provided a perfect substitute in His Son Jesus Christ

            • 1 Corinthians 15:3-5, For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: ​​ that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Peter, and then to the Twelve.

              • God sent His Son, Jesus, from heaven to earth

              • He was born as a baby and grew up to be a man

              • He ministered on earth for three years and then willingly died on a cross to take our punishment for sin

              • He is our substitute

              • Jesus took the “Wrath of God” test and passed it with a perfect 100%

              • He lived on earth and was tempted in the same ways you and I are, but He never gave in, He never sinned

              • Jesus is God’s perfect substitute.

            • Romans 10:8-10, 13, But what does it say? ​​ “The word is near you; it is in your mouth and in your heart,” that is, the world of faith we are proclaiming: ​​ That if you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. ​​ For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with our mouth that you confess and are saved . . . “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”

          • My Next Step Today Is To: ​​ Confess with my mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in my heart that God raised Him from the dead, so I can be saved!

        • God’s plan was for all of humanity

          • God’s plan was “One For All”

          • Jesus would die for the Jewish nation, but not just for them but also for the children of God who were scattered throughout the world

            • The Jews who were reading this would have naturally thought about other Jews who were scattered throughout the Roman Empire (Diaspora)

            • But John is expressing the fact that Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection would also open the way for Gentiles to become part of God’s family

            • Jesus’ perfect sacrifice would bring Jews and Gentiles together as one – as Christians (Christ followers)

        • God’s plan of redemption is AWESOME!

        • Because God is sovereign, He used Caiaphas’ words, in spite of his heart, which was in opposition to Him, to show that Jesus was the perfect spiritual substitute

        • John concludes this section with some important details for the storyline

    • Storyline (vv. 53-57)

        • The Jews plotted to kill Jesus

          • The Greek word for “plotted” is really “they resolved”

          • Their minds were made up

          • “In short, Jesus is not to be arrested in order to be tried; he is to be tried because he has already been found guilty (as Mk. 14:1-2 presupposes).” ​​ [Carson, The Pillar New Testament Commentary, The Gospel According to John, 423]

        • Jesus went north to get out of Jerusalem

          • God’s timing for Jesus’ arrest and death had not yet come

          • Jesus was safe under God’s protection until the right time

          • Jesus took His disciples and headed north toward the desert to a village called Ephraim

        • Movement to Jerusalem

          • Those in the region where Jesus was, began to move up to Jerusalem for their ceremonial cleansing in preparation for Passover

            • Passover was perhaps the most significant celebration of the year, for all Jews

            • No one wanted to miss out

            • They didn’t want to be excluded because they were ceremonially unclean

            • So, they went up early to Jerusalem, went through the prescribed number of days for cleansing, depending on how they had become unclean, and then waited for the Passover festivities to begin

            • There was obviously excitement in the air

          • Looking for Jesus

            • Perhaps every day they go to the temple courts

            • While they’re there they go to the places where they’ve seen Jesus teaching in the past

            • There’s excitement and anticipation for Jesus’ arrival

              • Do you have the same excitement and anticipation about coming to church each week to meet with Jesus?

              • PRINCIPLE #5 – God is pleased when His people seek Jesus.

                • What’s your reason for coming to church?

                • Is it to hang out with friends?

                • Is it to appease a spouse, parent, or other family member?

                • Is it to check off a box for the week?

                • Or is to meet with Jesus, to be encouraged and strengthened through the fellowship of other believers, and to be challenged to grow in your walk with God?

                • My prayer has always been that you come to church, because you want to become more like Jesus

              • My Next Step Today Is To: ​​ Ask the Holy Spirit to prepare me on Saturday evening to come to church on Sunday morning, excited and anticipating an encounter with Jesus.

            • The crowd also had questions about whether or not Jesus would even come

              • This is a result of the orders given by the chief priests and Pharisees concerning Jesus

              • They wanted everyone in the crowd to keep an eye out for Jesus, so they could arrest Him

        • Jesus wasn’t in Jerusalem yet, because He needed to stop in Bethany one more time

        • But, that encounter is for next week

 

  • YOU

    • Is there some selfishness, pride, and desire to maintain control that you need to confess to the Lord today?

    • Is there a sin(s) that you’ve been justifying that you need to confess to God today, so you can begin to pursue holiness?

    • Do you need to confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead?

    • Do you need to ask the Lord to help you prepare to meet with Jesus each Sunday?

 

  • WE

    •  

 

CONCLUSION

“A story coming from the Kejave Medical Center in Kenya tells about a case involving an eight-year-old named Monica who broke her leg when falling into a pit. ​​ An older woman, Mama Njeri, happened along and climbed into the pit to help get Monica out. ​​ In the process, a dangerous black Mamba snake bit both Mama Njeri and Monica. ​​ Monica was taken to Kejave Medical Center and admitted. ​​ Mama Njeri went home, but never awoke from sleep.

 

The next day a perceptive missionary nurse explained Mama Njeri’s death to Monica, telling her that the snake had bitten both of them, but all the snake’s poison was expended on Mama Njeri; none was given to Monica. ​​ The nurse then explained that Jesus had taken the poison of Monica’s sin so that she could have a new life. ​​ It was an easy choice for Monica. ​​ She then received Jesus as Savior and Lord on the spot (Swindoll, p. 541).

 

Jesus has taken all our poison. ​​ The poison of confusion which so clearly marked the disciples; the poison of sadness and hopelessness experienced by Mary and Martha; and the poison of the chief priests and Pharisees, who directed their murderous intent at Jesus.”

 

[Gangel, Holman New Testament Commentary, John, 223].

12

 

Believe

The Seventh Sign

(John 11:38-44)

 

INTRODUCTION

Jesus Speaking Scripture

 

A friend of mine tells of a Persian migrant who arrived at a refugee center at 6 a.m., visibly upset. He told his story to a Persian pastor: During the night he saw someone dressed in white raise his hand and say, “Stand up and follow me.” The Persian man said, “Who are you?” The man in white replied, “I am the Alpha and the Omega. I’m the way to heaven. No one can go to the Father, except through me.”

 

He began to ask the Persian pastor: “Who is he? What am I going to do? Why did he ask me to follow him? How shall I go? Tell me.”

 

In response, the pastor held out his Bible and asked, “Have you seen this before?”

 

“No,” he replied.

 

“Do you know what it is?”

 

“No.”

 

The pastor then opened to the Book of Revelation: “I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end.” The man started crying and said, “How can I accept him? How can I follow him?” So the pastor led him in prayer and peace came over him. The pastor then gave the man a Bible and told him to hide it, since the Muslims in the camps could cause him trouble.

But the man replied, “The Jesus that I met today, he’s more powerful than the Muslims in the camp.” He left and an hour later returned with 10 more Persians and told the pastor, “These people want a Bible.” No one had to teach him an evangelistic strategy.

 

Man in White

 

Another friend of mine had heard the gospel in Athens, but she struggled to believe. One day she went home despondent, and hid behind the couch in her family’s apartment. She began to pray:

 

You know what, God? Since I have absolutely no excuse, absolutely none, I have run out of excuses. I don’t know what to do, but following you means I have to deny everything I have believed and everything all of my family, generation after generation, believed. I can’t be in the middle. I have to either follow you or not. I can’t do it myself. It’s just hard to make that step. I need you to help me.

 

After she prayed, she did not know whether she was awake or asleep, but a man in white walked into the room. Her reaction was to blurt out, “Don’t come close to me. You are holy, and I am a sinner. Do not get close to me.” The man replied, “[Name], I told you, and I tell you again, I am the way and the truth. No one comes to the Father except through me.” That day she believed the gospel and was saved.

 

Walked on Water

 

There was a family on a boat with other migrants traveling from Turkey to Athens. On the way they lost their 7-year-old daughter into the water. Everyone in the crowded boat was looking for her but couldn’t find her. Suddenly, she appeared on the other side of the boat, saying over and over, “A man who walked on the water took me and brought me to the other side of the boat.” The parents dismissed her words as silly.

 

Upon arriving on the island of Lesbos, they met a Christian who made a fire and offered to talk to them. That day, without knowing what happened, he asked if they would like to know about a God who walked on water. They started crying.

 

The man had never used that illustration in evangelism, but that morning he felt like he had to. They asked him, “Who are you?” to which he replied, “I’m a Christian.” They said, “What do you mean ‘walk on the water’?” He opened the Bible and read the story of Jesus walking on the water. They continued crying. “Our daughter fell off the boat,” they explained. “We thought she was crazy because she was dry on the other side. We didn’t understand it. But she kept saying, ‘It was a man who walked on the water that took me to the other side.’”

 

[https://www.thegospelcoalition.org/article/muslims-dream-jesus/]

 

BODY

  • ME

    • Call to enter Pastoral ministry

        • Praying on the way to work one day, asking the Lord what He wanted me to be doing

        • He answered, “I already told you.” (I knew it was pastoral ministry)

        • A week later, the assistant to the President of Every Generation Ministries (EGM) told me she was having a time of prayer with the Lord and the Lord asked her to ask me if I had ever considered being a Pastor

        • I shared this calling with my pastor at the time and he encouraged me to start leading a discipleship group, which I did

        • The President of EGM held me accountable each week to sending out resumes and applying for pastoral positions

 

  • WE

    • Perhaps most of us can recall a time when we heard the voice of God or had a vivid dream about God or Jesus

    • Some of us can point to a time when we’ve experienced the supernatural power of God

    • Both of those experiences probably strengthened the faith of those who went through it

 

While we are very familiar with John 11:38-44, which is the raising of Lazarus from the dead, sometimes we focus more on Lazarus and what he might have been thinking and feeling. ​​ But the true focus of text is on Jesus. ​​ In fact, the word believe is used twice, once in verse 40 and a second time in verse 42. ​​ The purpose behind the raising of Lazarus is really the focal point of the passage. ​​ God allowed Jesus to raise Lazarus from the dead, so that the Jews would believe in Him. ​​ This takes us back to the theme verses for the book of John, Jesus did many other miraculous signs in the presence of His disciples, which are not recorded in this book. ​​ But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name (John 20:30-31). ​​ Our big idea today is that . . .

 

BIG IDEA – ​​ Belief comes from witnessing the power of God.

 

While we won’t see the belief of the Jews until next week, we’ll see the power of God through the raising of Lazarus this week.

 

We’re going to look at the three commands that Jesus gives in verses 38-44

Let’s pray

 

  • GOD (John 11:38-44)

    • Command #1 (vv. 38-42)

        • Jesus’ emotional state

          • The same Greek word is used here as in verse 33

          • Jesus isn’t just deeply moved, but rather He is angry, outraged, and disgusted by the events that have unfolded

          • He is angry about the effects of death on His close friends

          • Jesus comes to the tomb where Lazarus had been laid

          • John then gives us a description of the tomb

        • Description of the tomb

          • This is helpful for us from a modern western culture, because this is not what we would naturally think of as a burial place

            • We’re used to cemeteries with row after row of headstones and burial plots

            • In some cemeteries there are Mausoleums that stand as a memorial to an individual or a family and can house one or more individuals

            • This is perhaps the closest thing, in our culture, to the 1st Century tomb

          • The description is simple, but adequate

            • It was a cave with a stone laid across the entrance

            • These tombs would have been “formed from hollowed out caves” [Borchert, The New American Commentary, John 1-11, 361]

            • There would have been multiple vaults on multiple levels, meaning that more than one person (family member) would have been buried in each tomb

            • There was perhaps a main horizontal vault where the recently deceased person would be laid

            • Eventually, the bones of the deceased person would be piled up in another vault

            • The stone that covered the entrance could be “four or five feet in diameter and several inches thick” [Gangel, Holman New Testament Commentary, John, 219]. ​​ It would roll back and forth in a stone trough

            • VIDEO – “Experience Bethany” (rightnow Media) [https://www.rightnowmedia.org/Content/VideoElement/231088]

          • This sets the stage for Jesus’ first command

        • Command“Take away the stone”

          • It’s unlikely that Jesus is talking to Martha and Mary at this point

          • Jesus is probably asking some of the Jews, probably the men, to go up to the tomb and roll the stone in the trough so the tomb will be opened

          • Before the men have a chance to obey Jesus’ command we see Martha objecting to the command

        • Martha’s objection

          • She is simple stating the obvious

            • Decomposition would have started after four days, which means that Lazarus’s body would be stinking

            • Opening the tomb now would expose everyone to the intense smell of death and decomposition

          • Illustration of stray cat trapped under the enclosed porch

            • We have a stray cat hanging around our house that was living under the crawl space below the enclosed porch

            • The foam insulation board had fallen down on one side making a perfect ramp for the cat to climb up into the batt insulation

            • I bought new batt insulation and some plywood to repair the entire section under the enclosed porch

            • We made sure to fill in the holes where the cat was getting into the crawl space

            • The day that Alger and I finished closing up the underside with plywood, I was certain that the cat was not up in the floor joists

            • I was wrong, because Judy heard the cat meowing a couple of days later, but couldn’t find where it was at

            • A week later, I was cleaning up where we had been working, and I heard the cat meowing – sure enough I saw a little face peeking out from a crack between the repaired section and another section that I hadn’t replaced yet

            • I knew I had to open up the next section and let the cat out or otherwise we would eventually smell the awful smell of a dead animal

            • Now both sections, under the enclosed porch, have new batt insulation and plywood, and everything is sealed up

            • The cat now lives under the neighbors shed, but still comes over to share breakfast, lunch, and dinner with our two cats

          • While Martha is objecting to opening up the tomb, Jesus reminds her of something He had told her earlier

        • Jesus’ response and prayer

          • Jesus asks Martha a question

            • “Did I not tell you that if you believed, you would see the glory of God?”

            • This takes us back to John 11:4, When he heard this, Jesus said, “This sickness will not end in death. ​​ No, it is for God’s glory so that God’s Son may be glorified through it.” ​​ (this was the message that Jesus sent back to Martha and Mary)

            • Read John 11:25-27

            • Martha had already expressed her belief in Jesus as the resurrection and life

            • She is about to see the glory of God revealed, right in front of her

            • Application

              • PRINCIPLE #1 – God’s desire is that His people see His glory.

              • We do not simply want to see glory; we want to be a part of it. When we lived in Chicago, a friend of ours regularly gave us Bulls tickets. Every year I would take my son, Johnny, to a game. The seats were located alongside the tunnel at the United Center, so when the Bulls ran out on to the floor, when Michael Jordan would run through the tunnel, everybody nearby wanted to give him a high five. They wanted to share his glory.

                We all want to touch glory. We want to connect with it. We want to be a part of it, even though we know we are not worthy.

                The Bulls had a reserve player named Stacey King. During the 1990 season King only started six games and averaged 15 minutes per game. But one night, during an overtime game against Cleveland, he contributed to an important victory. He said it would always be the greatest memory of his life: the night he and Michael Jordan scored a combined total of 70 points in a NBA playoff game. Michael Jordan scored his career-high 69 points, but King shared in the glory.”

                John Ortberg, from the sermon "For the Glory of God Alone"

                [
                https://www.preachingtoday.com/illustrations/2012/august/7080612.html]

              • We can see the glory of God, since we have believed in Jesus

              • Perhaps we miss it sometimes, because we aren’t focusing on Jesus or on what God is doing

              • We can so easily focus on all the things that we think are going wrong or are bad

              • It’s in our human nature to focus on the bad instead of the good – to allow the bad to consume our thoughts

              • It’s in those times that we need to begin listing everything good that God has done recently and in the past

              • That will help to change our focus and perspective

                • While we’re facing the payroll tax debt, God is doing so much good

                • We are doing well as a church right now (in 2019 to present, we have paid all of obligations including payroll taxes and have some money in the bank – we have plans to begin again some other financial things we used to do in the past)

                • We served 15 families through the New Hope Mobile Food Pantry on Feb. 20, which was up 11 families from January

                • The Thursday evening discipleship gathering is growing

                • Attendance on Sunday mornings has been improving

                • We’ve had some guests on Sunday morning in the last month

                • Giving has been strong

                • Individuals are asking about baptism

                • We are seeing answered prayer

                • We have much to praise the Lord for and we are seeing His glory revealed through each of these things and many other things

              • Perhaps we all need to change our focus and perspective away from the negative to the positive

              • My Next Step Today Is To: ​​ Change my perspective and focus on the glory of God.

              • This is God’s desire for His people

            • As believers, we can see the glory of God, and that’s what Martha was about to see

          • Jesus had dealt with Martha’s objection, so the men rolled the stone away

          • Jesus looks up and begins to pray out loud

            • I’ve always taught children that the position of prayer is to have their eyes closed, head bowed, and hands together

            • I do that to help children focus in prayer

            • Here, Jesus looks up, presumably with His eyes open

            • It was not uncommon for Jews to stand and lift their eyes and hands up when they prayed

          • Jesus’ prayer has three important aspects [Burge, The NIV Application Commentary, John, 319 and Carson, The Pillar New Testament Commentary, The Gospel According to John, 418]

            • Jesus uses the direct reference to God as Father, which shows the intimate relationship He had with Him – Jesus isn’t doing this by Himself, but through the power of God

            • Jesus is thanking the Father for already hearing His prayer for Lazarus’s life – it wasn’t a last minute request, but something that was planned, for God’s glory

            • Jesus’ prayer is audible and out loud so that the people standing by the tomb would believe that Jesus was sent by God – He is the Messiah! (Jesus wouldn’t have needed to pray out loud for the miracle to happen)

            • Belief comes from witnessing the power of God.

          • PRINCIPLE #2 – God is pleased when His people recognize His power and authority through prayer.

            • Jesus knew that His power came from God and He recognized that by communicating with Him continually

            • The memory verse for February is an incredible reminder of God’s desire for His people to communicate with Him

            • 2 Chronicles 7:14, if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land.

            • Philippians 4:6-7, Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. ​​ And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

            • Power comes from God

              • We do not have any power of our own

              • We have to turn to God in prayer, if we want to see the glory and experience the power of God in our lives and the lives of those around us

              • Perhaps we’ve been trying to accomplish things in our own power and for our own glory?

              • We have to submit to God and call out to Him, recognizing His power and authority

              • My Next Step Today Is To: ​​ Recognize God’s power and authority in my life by turning to Him in prayer.

        • We see the power and glory of God displayed through Jesus’ second command

    • Command #2 (vv. 43-44a)

        • After Jesus had prayed, thanking the Father for hearing His prayer, He calls out in a loud voice

          • Jesus didn’t whisper this command or even give a firm request, but rather He shouts it with raw authority [Burge, 320 and Köstenberger, Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament, John, 345]

          • The authority with which Jesus makes this command perhaps comes as a result of His anger at the effects of sin and death

          • He shouts with an authority that proves He has “supreme power over death” [Borchert, 362]

          • PRINCIPLE #3 – Jesus has power over death, through God.

        • Command“Lazarus, come out!”

          • Köstenberger cites Morris when he says “The command is ‘wonderfully succinct: ‘Here! Outside!’’” [Köstenberger, 345]

          • The power of God is revealed, because Lazarus comes out of the tomb with his hands and feet wrapped with the burial linens and the burial cloth around his face

            • “A long, narrow sheet was folded in half, and the body was inserted between the folded halves. ​​ Then the wrap was bound together, and the body was thus secured. ​​ The head was wrapped separately, which explains the note both in the Lazarus situation (11:44) and the separate head wrapping in the case of Jesus’ grave clothes (20:6).” ​​ [Borchert, 362]

            • The cloth around the face was intended to keep the deceased’s mouth closed

        • Jesus has one more command for the people gathered there

    • Command #3 (v. 44b)

        • Command“Take off the grave clothes and let him go.”

          • “This practical command brings to mind Jesus’ promise to ‘the Jews who had believed him’ at the Tent festival that ‘you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free’ (8:32), free from the prospect of dying in their sins (see 8:21, 24). ​​ ‘So if the Son sets you free,’ he had added, ‘you will really be free’ (8:36).” ​​ [Michaels, The New International Commentary on the New Testament, The Gospel of John, 646]

          • Lazarus was set free from sin and death and was guaranteed eternal life

        • PRINCIPLE #4 – Jesus sets us free from the bondage to sin and death.

          • Paul explains this when he writes to the Ephesian believers

          • Read Ephesians 2:1-10

          • “Lazarus was dead, and all sinners are dead. ​​ He was decayed, because death and decay go together. ​​ All lost people are spiritually dead, but some are more ‘decayed’ than others. ​​ No one can be ‘more dead’ than another. ​​ Lazarus was raised from the dead by the power of God, and all who trust Christ have been given new life and lifted out of the graveyard of sin (see John 5:24).” ​​ [Wiersbe, The Bible Exposition Commentary, New Testament, Volume 1, 337]

          • My Next Step Today Is To: ​​ Ask God to set me free from the bondage to sin and death by trusting in Jesus by faith.

        • We’ll see next week that belief comes from witnessing the power of God. ​​ (the Jews witnessed the power of God)

 

  • YOU

    • Do you need to change your perspective so you are focusing on the glory of God?

    • Do you need to recognize God’s power and authority in your life by turning to Him in prayer?

    • Do you need to be set free from the bondage to sin and death by trusting in Jesus by faith?

 

  • WE

    • We have a responsibility as disciples of Jesus Christ to tell those who don’t believe about Jesus and teach those who have recently believed

    • “Although it was Jesus alone who could bring the dead to life, he delighted to involve the bystanders in the miracle. ​​ First, they were told to move the stone. ​​ Then, after the miracle, they were told to unbind Lazarus. ​​ True, we cannot bring the dead to life. ​​ But we can bring the word of Christ to them. ​​ We can do preparatory work, and we can do work afterward. ​​ We can help to remove stones – stones of ignorance, error, prejudice and despair. ​​ After the miracle we can help the new Christian by unwinding the grave clothes of doubt, fear, introspection, and discouragement (Boice, p. 278).” ​​ [Gangel, 220]

 

CONCLUSION

During his pastoral ministry, Augustine came to know a woman in Carthage named Innocentia. A devout woman and highly regarded, she tragically discovered that she had breast cancer.

 

A physician told her the disease was incurable. She could opt for amputation and possibly prolong her life a little, or she could follow the advice of Hippocrates and do nothing. Either way, death would not be put off for long.

 

Augustine reports: Dismayed by this diagnosis, "She turned for help to God alone, in prayer." In a dream, Innocentia was told to wait at the baptistry for the first woman who came out after being baptized, and to ask this woman to make the sign of the cross over the cancerous breast.

 

Innocentia did as she was told, and she was completely cured. When she told her doctor what had happened, he responded with a contemptuous tone, "I thought you would reveal some great discovery to me!" Then, seeing her horrified look, he backpedaled, saying, "What great thing was it for Christ to heal a cancer? He raised a man who had been dead for four days."

 

[https://www.preachingtoday.com/illustrations/2001/february/12908.html]

10

 

Believe

Hope Beyond The Grave

(John 11:17-37)

 

INTRODUCTION

“Author Edgar Jackson poignantly describes grief:

 

Grief is a young widow trying to raise her three children, alone. Grief is the man so filled with shocked uncertainty and confusion that he strikes out at the nearest person. Grief is a mother walking daily to a nearby cemetery to stand quietly and alone a few minutes before going about the tasks of the day. She knows that a part of her is in the cemetery, just as part of her is in her daily work. Grief is silent, knife-like terror and sadness that comes a hundred times a day, when you start to speak to someone who is no longer there. Grief is the emptiness that comes when you eat alone after eating with another for many years. Grief is teaching yourself to go to bed without saying good night to the one who has died. Grief is the helpless wishing that things were different when you know they are not and never will be again. Grief is a whole cluster of adjustments, apprehensions, and uncertainties that strike life in its forward progress and make it difficult to redirect the energies of life.”

 

Robert Slater, Moscow, Idaho. Leadership, Vol. 5, no. 1.

 

[https://www.preachingtoday.com/illustrations/1997/may/665.html]

 

BODY

  • ME

    • I’ve lost three of my four grandparents

    • I’ve lost acquaintances that I knew through work, our neighborhood, and church

    • I’ve lost pets

    • But, I’d have to say that Edgar Jackson’s description of grief is something I’ve not really experienced

 

  • WE

    • His description seems to be for those who have lost a parent, spouse, child, or a very close friend – someone who is with us on a daily basis

    • How many of us can connect with this description of grief?

 

Pastor Marc spoke last week about hope, hope beyond hope, and hopelessness as Martha and Mary were wrestling with Lazarus’s sickness. ​​ We already know from Jesus that Lazarus is dead. ​​ As the story continues we’ll see that Jesus arrives in Bethany and He comforts Martha and Mary in their grief. ​​ He speaks to them of hope beyond the grave. ​​ They understood His words from an eschatological (future) perspective. ​​ Little did they know that He was not only speaking from a future perspective, but also a present perspective. ​​ But, we’ll have to wait until next week for that present perspective. ​​ Jesus is able to bring hope beyond the grave, because He is divine – from God. ​​ He is able to comfort Martha and Mary, perfectly, because He is fully God and fully man. ​​ That is our big idea for today . . .

 

BIG IDEA – ​​ Jesus is fully God and fully man.

 

Let’s pray

 

  • GOD (John 11:17-37)

    • Introduction (vv. 17-20)

        • The reference to Lazarus’s body being in the grave for four days is significant

          • There was a Jewish tradition, that is mentioned much later, that many commentators refer to as the reason why John mentions four days (here and in verse 39)

          • “Until three days [after death] the soul keeps on returning to the grave, thinking that it will go back [into the body]; but when it sees that the facial features have become disfigured, it departs and abandons it [the body].” ​​ [Michaels, The New International Commentary on the New Testament, The Gospel of John, 628, footnote 5]

          • It was certainly evidence that Lazarus was dead

          • Martha makes mention in verse 39 that after four days, Lazarus’s body would be stinking – decomposition would have started

          • No one would mistake Jesus’ miracle as Lazarus simply being resuscitated – he was dead

        • Distance from Jerusalem

          • John tells us that Bethany was about 1.72 miles from Jerusalem

          • John’s note about the distance is to help us understand that perhaps many of the Jews who were there, to mourn with and comfort the sisters, lived in Jerusalem

          • Most scholars agree that the reference to “many” Jews coming to comfort the sisters was an indication that this “family enjoyed considerable social standing” [Köstenberger, Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament, John, 333] – they were a prominent family in Bethany and were well known in Jerusalem

          • The reference to “many” Jews being in attendance at Lazarus’s funeral may also be setting the stage for Jesus’ miracle – He didn’t do this miracle in a void or out of sight of the religious leaders

        • Jesus was near

          • We’re not told how Martha found out that Jesus was near, but we can probably assume that people were coming and going and at least one person recognized Jesus and told Martha

          • Customs of the day

            • The custom was for the bereaved to remain seated in the house and for the guests to come and sit in silence and periodically support the grieving parties with sympathetic tears and moans.” ​​ [Borchert, The New American Commentary, John 1-11, 355]

            • We have to be careful that we don’t read into this text something that isn’t there, concerning the actions of the two sisters

              • Both, here and in Luke 10, we see Martha up and moving around and Mary sitting

              • Some people praise Mary and perhaps elevate her spirituality beyond what it actually was, while marginalizing Martha’s spirituality and commitment to the Messiah (Martha has incredible faith, as we’ll see in verse 27)

              • “In both narratives the key is that Martha is the oldest and so has the responsibility of hospitality and food preparation (cf. Luke 10) as well as overseeing the activities of this day and greeting Jesus (John 11).” ​​ [Burge, The NIV Application Commentary, John, 316]

              • Martha getting up and going out to greet Jesus is simply her fulfilling her role as the oldest – nothing more and nothing less

            • We see that Mary remains in the house

            • Application

              • Neither are wrong

              • Both are needed

              • It takes discernment to know when to act/serve and when to quietly sit at Jesus feet and listen and learn

        • This sets the stage for Jesus’ comfort of the two sisters

    • Comfort of Martha (vv. 21-27)

        • Martha expresses her belief in Jesus’ power

          • PRINCIPLE #1 – Jesus is all-powerful (omnipotent).

          • What incredible faith Martha has!

          • There is no doubt in her mind who Jesus is and what power God has given Him

          • She knows that if Jesus had been there, when Lazarus got sick, that He had the power to heal him

          • Martha also expresses her belief concerning where Jesus’ power comes from

            • It comes from God

            • She confirms her trust in God’s power through Jesus

            • She recognizes that Jesus’ power comes from communicating with God, through prayer

          • Some people look at Martha’s words here and say that she is rebuking Jesus for not coming when they first summoned Him

            • That’s not the case here

            • She probably wasn’t aware that Jesus waited a couple of days before leaving for Bethany

            • We’re aware of that because of John’s record, so we have to be careful that we don’t read our feelings and emotions into the story, because of knowing this bit of information

            • “Those words were hardly a condemnation of Jesus for not being present when Lazarus was ill . . . Instead, her statement should be understood as indicating a strong confidence in Jesus’ relationship with the Father and that in spite of her resignation to Lazarus’s death, somehow Jesus would understand the plight of the mourning sisters as well as the general nature of Lazarus’s future hope.” ​​ [Borchert, 355]

          • Martha’s not angry or upset

            • Her faith has not wavered in the death of her brother

            • Her faith remains strong through hardship, through grief

          • Application

            • How is your faith in Jesus today?

            • Everyone one of us is either going into a trial, in the middle of a trial, or just coming out of a trial

            • Is your faith in Jesus and His ability to do anything, wavering?

            • Do you really believe, like Martha, that Jesus is all-powerful?

            • Do you believe that God will give Jesus anything that He asks for?

            • My Next Step Today Is To: ​​ Confess that my faith is wavering, right now, as I’m going through a difficult time.

            • My Next Step Today Is To: ​​ Proclaim and truly believe, like Martha, that Jesus is all-powerful!

        • Veiled reference

          • In response to Martha’s expression of faith, Jesus tells her that her brother will rise again

            • The word “again” is not in the original Greek – “Your brother will rise.”

            • This is a veiled reference to the miracle He is about to do, but Martha isn’t aware of it

            • Jesus had used the metaphor of sleep with His disciples in verses 11-13, as Pastor Marc shared last week

            • They took His metaphor literally and said that if Lazarus was sleeping, he would get better

              • How many of us have experienced this truth recently?

              • I’ve heard about several of you who spent last weekend in bed with the flu

              • We all know how important rest is for our bodies when we’re sick

            • Jesus then told them plainly that Lazarus was dead

            • Hopefully, His disciples then transferred the rest of the metaphor, in their head, to understand that waking Lazarus up, meant that Jesus would raise him from the dead

            • Martha was not privy to this conversation, so she immediately shares her theological beliefs about rising again

          • Martha’s response

            • She understood Jesus’ teaching on resurrection at the last day (cf. 5:21, 25-29; 6:39-44, 54), which the Pharisees also believed

            • She believed that Lazarus would rise again in the resurrection at the last day

            • Her belief was eschatological (future/end times)

            • Not all the Jews believed that way, because the Sadducees didn’t believe in the resurrection of the body on the last day, that’s why they were sad you see – there was no resurrection in their theological beliefs at all

            • Jesus moves the conversation from the physical to the spiritual

            • “Jesus seeks to shift Martha’s focus from an abstract belief in resurrection on the last day to personal trust in the one who provides it in the here and now.” ​​ [Köstenberger, 335]

          • Jesus is the resurrection and the life

            • The resurrection

              • Jesus’ reference here is certainly about the resurrection on the last day

              • He fleshes this out in the first part of His next statement, when He says, He who believes in me will live, even though he dies

              • We know that many people from the Old Testament days believed in God, prior to Jesus’ arrival on earth

                • Genesis 15:6, Abram believed the Lord, and he credited it to him as righteousness

                • Hebrews 11:1-40 highlights many who trusted God by faith

              • That’s our future hope for those who have passed on and for us if we pass on before Jesus returns again

              • There is also a present hope

            • The life

              • Jesus wants Martha and us to understand that we can experience eternal life now

              • That’s the second part of His statement, which fleshes out what He meant by being the life

              • Whoever lives and believes in me will never die

              • This is for us right now

              • It’s also for those who will be alive when Jesus returns again

              • Most likely, we will all experience physical death, but none of us have to experience spiritual death

            • PRINCIPLE #2 – God promises resurrection life and eternal life to His people.

              • Perhaps you don’t see the importance of resurrection life and eternal life

              • You may be thinking; “My life is just fine – I’m living my best life now.”

              • But Jesus tells us here that we can only have resurrection life and eternal life through Him

              • This is the result because, Jesus is fully God and fully man.

              • We can only live our life to the fullest when we’re in a relationship with Jesus

              • As human beings, we’re all born in sin

                • Paul says that with sin in our lives we’re not actually living at all

                • Ephesians 2:1-2, As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient.

                • Paul tells us that we’re all sinners (Rom. 3:23) and that the punishment for sin is spiritual death, separation from God forever (Rom. 6:23)

                • Perhaps you don’t think you’re dead in your transgressions and sins, but there is a simple test

                • Good person test (have you ever lied, stolen, used God’s name as a curse word, lusted, hated)

                • We’re all dead in our transgressions and sins

              • The good news is that we don’t have to remain dead in our transgressions and sins

                • We can be made alive

                • Colossians 2:13, When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your sinful nature, God made you alive in Christ. ​​ He forgave us all our sins, having canceled the written code, with its regulations, that was against us and that stood opposed to us; he took it away, nailing it to the cross.

                • We can move from death to life

                • John 5:24, “I tell you the truth, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be condemned; he has crossed over from death to life.”

                • Jesus Christ made this possible through His death, burial, and resurrection – He took our punishment on the cross

              • Jesus is asking you the same question that He asked Martha, “Do you believe this?”

                • Do you believe that Jesus is the resurrection and the life?

                • Do you believe in Jesus as your Savior?

                • If you’ve never done that I encourage you to take that step today – cross over from death to life

                • My Next Step Today Is To: ​​ Believe in Jesus as my Savior and cross over from death to life.

            • Martha answers Jesus’ question definitively, without hesitation

          • Martha’s statement of faith

            • Martha expresses her belief in Jesus in two ways

              • She believes that Jesus is the Christ

                • She is saying that she believes that Jesus is the long awaited Messiah, foretold in their Scriptures

                • Most of the religious leaders in Jerusalem did not believe this about Jesus

                • That’s why they were watching for Him at the various feasts and festivals

                • They were trying to trip Him up and find reasons to have Him arrested and killed

                • They called Him a blasphemer for claiming to be God or equal with God

                • Yet, that is Martha’s next statement of belief about Jesus

              • She believes that Jesus is the Son of God

                • She doesn’t question His divinity

                • She isn’t put off by His claims to be equal with God

                • She recognizes that He is God

            • She also expresses her understanding of His purpose – as the Messiah, He had to come into the world to take our punishment for sin (He was the perfect sacrifice)

            • Jesus is fully God and fully man.

        • John gives us some storyline to help us transition between Martha and Mary’s encounter with Jesus

    • Transition (vv. 28-31)

        • Martha shares her statement of belief in Jesus and then goes back to the house to find Mary

        • They have a private conversation about Jesus arriving and that He is asking to see Mary

        • Mary’s response is immediate and abrupt, which draws the attention of the other mourners

          • In an emotionally charged state, most people may act quickly

          • The mourners just think that Mary is going to the tomb to mourn there

          • Perhaps they thought that she had memory of Lazarus and just wanted to be close to him

          • So, the mourners follow her

        • Mary isn’t going to the tomb, but rather she is hurrying to be with Jesus

          • John tells us that Jesus hasn’t moved from the spot where He and Martha had met

          • He was still outside the village at this point

          • Perhaps meeting outside the village allowed Jesus to speak with, and comfort, the sisters privately

          • We know Martha was able to experience that, but Mary didn’t, which is perhaps why Mary’s conversation is shorter with Jesus

        • While Martha’s worship of Jesus was verbal, we’ll see that Mary’s worship of Jesus was physical

    • Comfort of Mary (vv. 32-37)

        • When Mary reaches the place where Jesus is, she falls at His feet and says the same thing that Martha had said, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.”

          • Just as Martha’s words showed her faith in Jesus’ omnipotence, so Mary’s words express the same faith

          • Her faith wasn’t wavering in the death of Lazarus

          • Rather, she is confident, that, had Jesus been there during Lazarus’s illness, He had the power to heal him

          • Lazarus would not have died

          • PRINCIPLE #1 – Jesus is all-powerful (omnipotent).

        • Jesus’ anger (vv. 33-34)

          • Jesus sees the weeping of Mary and the Jews that are with her

          • Most modern translations soften Jesus’ reaction here

            • He was deeply moved in spirit and troubled

              • When we read those words we think of Jesus empathizing with Mary and the other mourners, but that’s not the case

              • The original Greek is much stronger than simple empathy

            • The NLT does a good job of capturing the intent of the original Greek, When Jesus saw her weeping and saw the other people wailing with her, a deep anger welled up within him, and he was deeply troubled.

            • The idea here is that Jesus is angry and is physically shaking

            • Why is Jesus angry?

              • Some believe that He is angry at the lack of faith and unbelief that Mary and the mourners have

              • Others believe He’s angry at the “professional mourners” who are wailing at the top of their lungs, perhaps ruining His private time with Mary

              • Most likely, Jesus is probably angry at the effects of sin and death on those He loves

              • “Rather, he is overcome by the futility of this sorrowful scene in light of the reality of the resurrection. ​​ God’s people possess knowledge of life; they should possess faith that claims victory at the grave.” ​​ [Burge, 318]

              • There is hope beyond the grave!

                • How many of us have that hope for a loved one who has passed away?

                • We have victory over the grave, because Jesus is the resurrection and the life!

                • We know that someday we will see our grandparents, parents, siblings, spouse, child, other relatives, and friends, again, if they have believed in Jesus and crossed over from death to life

          • Jesus asks to see where Lazarus is buried

            • Their response is, “follow us to the tomb, we’ll show you.”

            • It’s believed that Martha probably came with Mary to see Jesus, and it’s the two sisters who are responding to His request to see the tomb

          • It’s probably after Jesus arrives at the tomb that we see the shortest verse in the Bible

        • Jesus’ compassion (v. 35)

          • While it’s the shortest verse in the Bible, it’s filled with deep meaning

          • John uses a different Greek word for wept than the one he used for the weeping and wailing that Mary and the mourners were expressing

            • This is the only place in the New Testament where this Greek word is used [Borchert, 360]

            • It’s not the loud wailing of the mourners, but rather a quiet shedding of tears

            • John probably used a different Greek word to differentiate between the reason for Jesus’ tears and the tears of Mary and the mourners

            • He already knew what He was going to do about Lazarus, so He wouldn’t be grieving his death

            • Rather, His tears should probably be connected to His anger over the effects of sin and death on His loved ones

          • This is not to say that Jesus isn’t empathetic or compassionate

            • Jesus’ tears reveal His humanity

            • Jesus is fully God and fully man.

            • Isaiah 53:3, He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering (grief).

            • Jesus’ humanity helps us to know that He can and does sympathize and empathize with us

            • Paul encourages us to rejoice with those who rejoice and mourn with those who mourn (Rom. 12:15)

            • Paul would have received this nugget of truth and wisdom from God

            • Jesus was doing that with Mary and Martha and does that with us also

            • Application

              • You can trust and find comfort in the fact that Jesus knows the pain and grief you are experiencing

              • He can and does sympathize with you

              • You can turn to Him for comfort and strength as you go through the stages of grief

              • He is weeping with you right now

            • My Next Step Today Is To: ​​ Trust that Jesus is with me and will comfort me through my grief.

        • The Jews response (vv. 36-37)

          • The Jews recognized Jesus’ humanity

            • They knew that Jesus loved Lazarus, Martha, and Mary

            • It was evident through His quiet tears

          • They missed His omnipotence

            • It seems like they believed His power was limited to healing the sick

            • Once someone died, Jesus’ power stopped

            • PRINCIPLE #1 – Jesus is all-powerful (omnipotent)

            • They were in for a big surprise!

          • That part of the story is for next week

 

  • YOU

    • Is your faith wavering in the middle of grief and difficulty? (Claim the promise and truly believe that Jesus is all-powerful)

    • Trust that Jesus is with you and will comfort you through your grief

 

  • WE

    • God uses us, as His followers, to help others through their difficulties and grief

    • Read 2 Corinthians 1:3-5

 

CONCLUSION

“In his book Unspeakable, Os Guinness tells the story about a well-known Christian leader whose son had been killed in a cycling accident. Although the leader was devastated, somehow he managed to suppress his grief, even preaching eloquently at his son's funeral. His display of hope in the midst of tragedy earned him the admiration of many.

 

But a few weeks after the funeral, the man invited Guinness and a few friends to his home. According to Guinness, this man spoke and even screamed ‘not with the hope of a preacher but with the hurt of the father—pained and furious at God, dark and bilious in his blasphemy.’ In his agony, he blamed God for his son's death.

 

Rather than rebuke him, one of Guinness's friends gently reminded the enraged father of the story of Jesus at Lazarus' tomb. On three occasions in that story, Jesus expressed anger, and even furious indignation, in the presence of death. When Jesus came to earth, he became a human being just like us, feeling the abnormality of our suffering. In Jesus' humanity we see God's perspective of our pain: the beautiful world God created is now broken and in ruins. Jesus will heal this broken world and our broken lives, but first, he came to earth in order to identify with our anguish.

 

Guinness concludes that when we understand Jesus' humanity, it frees us to face the world's brokenness just as Jesus did. Like Jesus, we must never accuse God of wrongdoing or blaspheme God, but like Jesus, we are ‘free to feel what it is human to feel: sorrow at what is heartbreaking, shock at what is shattering, and outrage at what is flagrantly out of joint …. To pretend otherwise is to be too pious by half, and harder on ourselves than Jesus himself was.’”

Os Guinness, Unspeakable (HarperSanFrancisco, 2005), pp. 144-145.

 

[https://www.preachingtoday.com/illustrations/2010/november/3112910.html]

13

 

Believe

Like Father, Like Son

(John 10:31-42)

 

INTRODUCTION

“‘I feel like a monster,’ Gabriel Marshall said to his dad. Eight-year-old Gabriel had recently undergone surgery to remove a tumor from his brain, and he now bore a conspicuous scar on the side of his head. His dad, Josh, had an idea: he got a tattoo on the side of his head that was in the exact shape of Gabriel's scar. ‘If people want to stare at you,’ he told Gabriel, ‘then they can stare at both of us.’ A picture of the two sporting their scars eventually won first place in a Father's Day photo competition run by St. Baldrick's Foundation, ‘an organization dedicated to fighting childhood cancer.’ In some ways, their story might remind us of another story: about an empathetic Father, a wounded Son, and scars that were chosen because of love.”

 

Matt Woodley, Andrew Finch, and Emily Lund, at PreachingToday.com

 

[https://www.preachingtoday.com/illustrations/2016/july/1070416.html]

 

BODY

  • ME

    • Shaving

        • There are certain things I miss about my boys when they were younger, but I’m also enjoying the stage of life they are currently in

        • They loved to do some of the same things I did

        • The one thing I remember most was when they wanted to shave with me

        • We would get shaving cream out and put it on our faces and then they would use their toy razor – that didn’t have any sharp blades – and carefully remove the shaving cream from their face

        • They would shake the razor in the sink, filled with water, and continue to shave

        • I think we also used to put aftershave on together

        • They wanted to be like their Dad

 

  • WE

    • Being like our parents

        • We can probably all remember a time when we wanted to be just like our father or mother

          • Maybe as boys we put shaving cream on and pretended to shave like our fathers

          • As little girls we may have put on an apron and helped in the kitchen or pretended to provide an incredible meal for our dolls and stuffed animals

          • There are pictures of little boys and girls who have attempted to put on makeup like their mothers

        • Perhaps most of us have a fond memory of something our child or children did that was just the same way we had done it

 

Jesus defends His identity, His deity, by telling the Jews that they should not believe Him unless He does what His Father does. ​​ Jesus’ identity was evident because He did the same things His Father did – Like Father, Like Son. ​​ The Gospel writer, John, wants us to understand that . . .

 

BIG IDEA – ​​ Jesus’ works prove His words.

 

The same should be true of us as followers of Jesus Christ. ​​ Our works should prove our words. ​​ The works that we do are an outpouring of the transformation that took place through Jesus Christ. ​​ Our works can sometimes betray our words. ​​ Are we doing what the Father does? ​​ Are we saying what the Father is saying?

 

Let’s pray

 

  • GOD (John 10:31-42)

    • Rejected (vv. 31-39)

        • Jews want to stone Jesus (v. 31-33)

          • This is a continuation of last week’s message

          • We have to look back to verse 30 to see why the Jews are again picking up stones to stone Him

          • “I and the Father are one.” (John 10:30)

          • Jesus explains that He has shown them many great miracles from the Father

            • Jesus’ words here are important

              • The miracles He has done were not done by Him, but through the Father

              • God was the One who enabled Jesus to do the miracles

              • I love the fact that Jesus isn’t elevating Himself, but rather pointing the Jews to the Father

              • There is no greater role model than Jesus

              • We should be doing the same thing when we experience the miraculous in our lives

              • We should be pointing people to the Father and the Son

            • As we saw last week, those who trusted in Jesus by faith were given the ability to understand that the works, Jesus had done, proved that He was the Christ, the Messiah

            • The Jews, who refused to believe in Jesus by faith, were unable to understand that Jesus’ works proved He was the Christ

            • They were not His sheep, so they wanted Jesus to say it plainly and directly

            • While He didn’t say, “I am the Christ,” the Jews obviously understood His claim to deity when He said “I and the Father are one.”

            • That’s why the Jews have picked up stones to stone Him

          • Jesus asks them a question

            • Jesus wants to know which miracle is prompting them to pick up stones to stone Him

            • “Imagine if Rembrandt went back to elementary school. ​​ He gets his report card and notices that among all of the As he has an F in art class. ​​ He goes to the kindergarten art teacher and spreads out all of his finest paintings on the table in front of her. ​​ All over the walls are plastered the scribbling and finger-painting efforts of kindergarten students. ​​ He points down at his priceless masterpieces. ​​ ‘Which one of these beautiful pictures,’ he asks, ‘is the reason I failed your class?’ ​​ Here Jesus, the perfect Son of God, is living in the midst of a wicked, godless world. ​​ Every action, every word, and every conversation is spotless. ​​ Not only is he free from sin, but he travels around healing the helpless – restoring sight to the blind, making the lame walk, and curing the leper. ​​ He spreads his works out on the table in the sight of these men and says in effect, ‘Which one of these beautiful works is the reason you want to kill me?’” ​​ [Carter & Wredberg, Christ-Centered Exposition: Exalting Jesus in John, 224]

            • We know of a few miracles in the Gospel of John up to this point

              • Jesus turned water into wine (John 2:1-11)

              • Jesus heals a Government Official’s son (John 4:46-54)

              • Jesus heals a lame man by the Pool of Bethesda (John 5:1-18)

              • Jesus feeds five thousand (John 6:1-14)

              • Jesus heals a man born blind (John 9:1-12)

              • We know that Jesus probably performed many other miracles, but John has only highlighted these five, in His Gospel, so far

            • Jesus wants to know which of the miracles He has performed is the reason for their desire to stone Him

            • Jesus’ works prove His words.

          • The Jews reason for their desire to stone Jesus

            • The Jews explain that it’s not Jesus’ works (miracles), but His words that have them upset and ready to stone Him (they can’t deny the miracles He has performed, because there are too many witnesses)

            • They are accusing Him of blasphemy

              • They obviously don’t connect His miracles with deity or being from God, which is why they say that He is a mere man

                • This is the belief of many in our culture today

                • They believe that Jesus was just a mere man

                • He was a good person, a great teacher, an incredible prophet of God

                • They refuse to acknowledge that He is God, that He is divine

                • They strip Jesus of His deity and make Him a mere man, in their eyes

              • The Jews recognized Jesus’ claim, when He said, I and the Father are one.”

                • A mere man is claiming to be God

                • “They think Jesus is a man who is making himself God (v. 33). ​​ They’ve tragically reversed the truth. ​​ He’s God who made himself a man.” ​​ [Carter & Wredberg, 225]

                • The form of punishment for blasphemy was stoning [Burge, The NIV Application Commentary, John, 297]

                • Leviticus 24:13-16, Then the Lord said to Moses: “Take the blasphemer outside the camp. ​​ All those who heard him are to lay their hands on his head, and the entire assembly is to stone him. ​​ Say to the Israelites: ‘If anyone curses his God, he will be held responsible; anyone who blasphemes the name of the Lord must be put to death. ​​ The entire assembly must stone him. ​​ Whether an alien or native-born, when he blasphemes the Name, he must be put to death.’”

            • The Jews have the right punishment for blasphemy, but Jesus has not committed that offense

          • Jesus’ works prove His words.

        • Jesus uses Scripture to defend His claim (vv. 34-36)

          • Jesus quotes Psalm 82:6 in His defense

            • Debbie Hilling read the entire Psalm this morning

            • Psalm 82:6-7, “I said, ‘You are “gods”; you are all sons of the Most High. ​​ But you will die like mere men; you will fall like every other ruler.”

            • The rulers and judges of Israel were called “gods” and “sons of God” (Most High) by God, Himself

            • They were given those designations, because they had received God’s word and were responsible with making judgements, based on God’s Word, for the Israelites

            • Exodus 4:16, He will speak to the people for you, and it will be as if he were your mouth and as if you were God to him (speaking of Aaron and Moses)

            • God had referred to human beings as “gods”

          • So, Jesus’ perfect argument goes something like this: “If God referred to your ancestors, who were rulers and judges, as god, then how can claiming that God and I are One, be blasphemy?”

          • Two important facts that Jesus presents to the Jews

            • Scripture cannot be broken

              • PRINCIPLE #1 – God’s Word is perfect.

              • Do you believe that today?

                • When I worked for a Savings & Loan in Florida, I remember being asked by a fellow employee how I could believe that God brought all the animals two-by-two to the ark

                • I responded by saying, “I don’t know how God did it, but I believe that it happened.”

                • That’s what faith is – believing in something without seeing it

                • I don’t question the validity or truthfulness of God’s Word, because I believe it is perfect, without error or contradiction

                • When someone begins to question the validity or truthfulness of God’s Word, then it no longer holds the status of being perfect in their eyes

                • They can and will begin to question other parts of the Bible and before long their faith in God is gone

              • Where are you today as it pertains to the God’s Word?

                • Perhaps someone at school or work has shared, what seems to be, compelling information that proves God’s Word can’t be trusted and isn’t true

                  • Most of the time those compelling arguments are a result of incorrect information or interpretation of God’s Word

                  • I would encourage you to take this next step

                  • My Next Step Today Is To: ​​ Reaffirm in my heart and mind that God’s Word is perfect, true, and trustworthy.

                • If you already believe that God’s Word is perfect, true, and trustworthy, then I would encourage you to take this next step

                  • My Next Step Today Is To: ​​ Thank the Lord for His Word.

              • The Jews would have agreed with Jesus that Scripture cannot be broken, which means that Jesus cannot be accused of blasphemy

            • God had sanctified (set apart) Him and sent Him into the world

              • The Jews would have understood from the Torah that God had promised to send the Christ (the Messiah) into the world – they believed that

              • They just didn’t recognize and believe that Jesus was the Christ

              • That didn’t change the fact that God had set Jesus apart as the One who would redeem humanity and fulfill His promise

              • It didn’t change the fact that God had sent Jesus into the world

          • Jesus’ argument probably has the Jews thinking seriously about who He is, so He encourages them to just believe in Him

        • Just believe (vv. 37-39)

          • I wish we could have heard Jesus’ tone of voice at this point, because my guess is that His tone was one of pleading with the Jews to believe

          • Challenge

            • Don’t believe me

              • If I don’t do what my Father does, then don’t believe in Me

              • This would certainly be an indication that Jesus was not from God

              • He would have been a false prophet or teacher trying to direct them away from God

              • So, they obviously shouldn’t believe in Him or follow Him

            • Believe the miracles

              • While Jesus doesn’t say it directly here, He is saying to them, “Even though you don’t believe my words, believe the works (miracles) from the Father

              • “Jesus’ works were the window into his words.” ​​ [Borchert, The New American Commentary, John 1-11, 344]

              • PRINCIPLE #2 – God’s people recognize His Son through His miracles.

              • If you believe the miracles from the Father, you will understand that the Father is in me, and I’m in the Father

                • “Interestingly, coming to understand is presented as the result, rather than condition, of believing.” ​​ [Köstenberger, Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament, John, 317]

                • This takes us back to last week’s Big Idea, Faith opens our eyes to believe God’s words and works

                • Sometimes we have to take the step of faith without having all of our questions answered and then we will be able to understand that Jesus’ works prove His words

              • PRINCIPLE #3– Jesus and God are One!

            • Jesus’ works prove His words.

              • Our works should prove our words

              • Is that true of us today?

                • Does what we say and do match?

                • Do our actions prove that we are a follower/disciple of Jesus Christ?

                • Would someone question our claim to be a disciple of Jesus Christ by how we act or react to certain situations?

                • Perhaps they would question our claim of being a disciple of Jesus Christ by what we say

                • I wish we could all live perfect lives without making mistakes, but that’s not reality

                • 1 John 1:9, If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.

                • Even how we handle our mistakes proves whether or not we’re a true disciple of Jesus Christ

                  • Do we readily admit when we’re wrong?

                  • Have we apologized for being wrong?

                  • Are we willing to return to the person we have wronged and ask for forgiveness?

                  • If we’ve shared incorrect information with others about someone else, have we done everything in our power to correct that information?

              • My Next Step Today Is To: ​​ Make sure that my works and words prove that I’m a true disciple of Jesus Christ.

            • Even though Jesus is pleading with the Jews to believe in Him, they aren’t quite ready to take that step yet

          • Reaction of the Jews

            • They try to seize Jesus either to stone Him or to arrest Him

            • Jesus escapes their grasp, because it’s still not God’s timing for Him to be put on trial and killed

        • While the Jews in Jerusalem have rejected Him, there are other Jews who will accept Him

    • Accepted (vv. 40-42)

        • We see that when Jesus escaped their grasp that He didn’t hang around Jerusalem anymore

          • John tells us that He went back to where He was introduced by John the Baptist

          • It was in Bethany, on the other side of the Jordan – this would have been on the eastern side of the Jordan River

        • He stayed there

          • We don’t know exactly how long Jesus stayed on the eastern side of the Jordan

          • We know that, according to John, He didn’t return to Jerusalem until it was time for His arrest, trial, and crucifixion

          • As we’ll see in coming weeks, He did go to Bethany, just outside of Jerusalem, to bring Lazarus back to life

        • Many people came to Him while He was there

          • Not everyone was angry and upset with Jesus’ claim to be the Son of God

          • I’m certain that those who believed in Him were following Him from place to place

          • But there were others, who were perhaps still trying to make up their minds, that were following Him too

          • The people who lived on the other side of the Jordan would have come to see Jesus and hear Him teach, as well

          • Those who came to Jesus were saying the same thing, “We never saw John perform a miraculous sign, but everything that he told us about You, Jesus, was true!”

            • Certainly, John the Baptist told them more than John the Gospel writer recorded, but we do know what John recorded

            • Michaels outlines it well [Michaels, The New International Commentary on the New Testament, The Gospel of John, 611]

              • Jesus is “the Lamb of God” (1:29)

              • Jesus is “the Son of God” (1:34)

              • Jesus is “the bridegroom” to whom “the bride” belonged (3:29)

              • The Spirit was his “without measure” (3:34)

              • The Father loved him and gave him all things (3:35)

              • Only those who believe in Him have eternal life (3:36)

              • Jesus will “take away the sin of the world” (1:29) [we know that this happened even though it hadn’t happened yet for them]

              • Jesus will “baptize in the Holy Spirit” (1:33) [we know this happened, but it hadn’t happened for them yet]

            • PRINCIPLE #4 – Our testimony about Jesus should be true and draw people to Him.

              • Is everything we share with others, about Jesus, true?

              • Are we enthusiastic about our relationship with Jesus and what He has done for us?

              • Is that evident when we talk with others about Jesus?

              • Think for a moment about something you’re passionate about

                • How do you talk about with other people?

                • Most often it is with enthusiasm and excitement

                • Our voice raises and we may talk faster

                • If you really like a song, you download it and listen it to over and over again, you tell your friends about it, and you know all the words

                • Do we do the same thing with our relationship with Jesus

                • That’s how we should be sharing Jesus with others

              • My Next Step Today Is To: ​​ Share the truths about Jesus with excitement and enthusiasm, so others will be drawn to Him.

          • Perhaps it was the cumulative effect of knowing, that everything John the Baptist said was true, that motivated the crowd to believe in Jesus

        • While Jesus was on the eastern side of the Jordan River, many believed in Him

 

  • YOU

    • Do you believe that God’s Word is perfect, true, and trustworthy?

    • Do you recognize that Jesus and God are one through the miracles that God has done?

    • Is your testimony about Jesus true and does it draw people to Him?

 

  • WE

    • These three truths are important for us to accept and hold to as a body of believers

    • These truths are important for us to share with those in our sphere of influence

 

CONCLUSION

As we saw in the opening illustration, Gabriel’s father had a scar tattooed on his head to match his son’s scar. ​​ As followers of Jesus Christ, His cross should be tattooed on our hearts.

 

We are all children of God when we believe in Jesus by faith. ​​ We are His sons and daughters. ​​ We should strive to do and say the things He does and says. ​​ Others should be able to say of us, “Like Father, Like Son” or “Like Father, Like Daughter.”

10

 

Believe

Flock Insurance

(John 10:22-30)

 

INTRODUCTION

“A man returned to his native country to find that the authorities no longer believed in his existence upon this mortal plane. Constantin Reliu, 63, returned to Romania after a 20-year-stay in Turkey to find that the Romanian government, at his wife's urging, had previously declared him deceased.

 

Unable to corroborate any details with his wife, the Associated Press conducted a phone interview with Reliu from his residence in Barlad. ‘I am a living ghost. I am officially dead, although I'm alive. I have no income, and because I am dead, I cannot do anything.’

 

Reliu explained that in the early nineties, he left to work in Turkey. Upon returning and discovering his wife's infidelity, he decided to leave again for good—or so he thought. In December of 2017, Reliu was detained by Turkish officials for having outdated residency documents, and was deported back to Romania in January where he discovered that authorities believed him already to be dead.

 

Border agents subjected Reliu to six hours of testing and questioning, asking him topographical questions about his hometown and measuring the contours of his face compared to old passport photos. They finally released him after their investigation was satisfied.

 

Officials in Barlad, however, were not as accommodating. Citing his delay as a clerical error, they denied his request to overturn the death certificate on the basis of it being too late.”

 

Jelani Greenidge, pastor, PreachingToday.com; source: Associated Press, "Dead man walking: Court rejects Romanian's claim he's alive" MSN (3-17-18).

 

[https://www.preachingtoday.com/illustrations/2018/april/court-rejects-romanians-legal-claim-of-being-alive.html].

 

Imagine how Reliu felt after going through all of the testing and questioning by the Romanian government, only to have the city officials refuse to overturn his death certificate, because it was too late. ​​ They knew he was alive. ​​ They could see him face-to-face, but it didn’t matter. ​​ They didn’t have faith that Reliu was actually who he said he was.

BODY

  • ME

    • Hospital visitations

        • HIPAA laws help to protect us and our health information

        • It can be a little tricky when doing hospital visitations

          • If I don’t have a person’s birth name, I can’t get any information at all

          • There have been a couple of times, when I first started pastoring here at Idaville Church, that I went to the hospital and gave the receptionist the name of the person

          • Here was the response, “We don’t have anyone here by that name.”

          • I knew they were in that particular hospital, but the receptionist was not allowed to give me any more information than that

          • I made a quick phone call and found out that the first name, I knew that person by, was not their birth name

          • When I got their birth name and returned to the receptionist, she was able to give me the room information that I needed

        • Having the correct information was the key

    • Opening a bank account

        • When we moved to California, we went to one of the banking institutions there to set up a joint account for Judy and I

        • After running all the credit checks, they needed to, with our names, dates of birth, and social security numbers, the customer service agent said that I could open the account in my name, but not a joint account with Judy

        • Someone with her name had done something with another banking institution that flagged her name

        • After working through everything, we realized that this person shared her name, but not her social security number

        • Somehow the negative information had been applied to Judy’s credit information and once we got that cleared up, she was added to the joint account

        • The customer service agent didn’t have faith that Judy was who she said she was and that she had not written any bad checks

 

  • WE

    • World Trade Centers on 9-11

        • We’ve all heard stories of families who didn’t know if their loved one was safe after the attacks on the twin towers at the World Trade Center in New York City

        • Some people who were thought to be dead had actually survived, because they weren’t at work that day

        • In some instances, it took hours for them to communicate, that they were safe, with their family and friends

        • Some family members and friends didn’t have faith that their loved one was safe and had not died in the collapse of the World Trade Center towers

 

Jesus had been teaching in the temple courts since the Feast of Tabernacles. ​​ He continued to teach, perhaps every day, between the Feast of Tabernacles and the Feast of Dedication, that was celebrated three months later. ​​ The Jews are still doing the same things that had always done with Jesus – try to catch Him saying or doing something wrong, so they could arrest Him and have Him eliminated. ​​ It is happening again in the temple courts. ​​ They want Him to declare something directly, so they corner Him. ​​ While Jesus hadn’t said it directly, His actions proved what He said about His identity. ​​ The Jews weren’t able to understand this, because they weren’t part of the flock of God. ​​ John wants us to understand that . . .

 

BIG IDEA – ​​ Faith opens our eyes to believe God’s words and works.

 

Let’s pray

 

There are benefits to having insurance coverage whether it is life, health, vehicle, homeowners, disability, etc. ​​ We’re going to see today that there are benefits to having “flock insurance.”

 

  • GOD (John 10:22-30)

    • Benefit #1 – true knowledge (vv. 22-27)

        • Time stamp

          • John gives us a time stamp of when this encounter between Jesus and the Jews took place

          • It happened during the time of the Feast of Dedication at Jerusalem

            • The Feast of Dedication was not one of the feasts authorized in Hebrew Scriptures, because it celebrated something that happened in 164 B.C. [Carson, The Pillar New Testament Commentary, The Gospel According to John, 391]

            • Three years earlier, in 167 B.C., the Syrian leader Antiochus Epiphanes desecrated the altar in the Jewish temple by sacrificing a pig on it

            • Judas Maccabaeus, together with his band of guerilla fighters, ran Antiochus Epiphanes out of Jerusalem, and then cleansed the altar and rededicated the temple to the Lord

            • The rededication took places three years to the day

            • This eight-day festival begins on the 25th of Kislev, which is December 25th (Michaels, The New International Commentary on the New Testament, The Gospel of John, 594]

            • We are familiar with the other name for this feast, Hanukkah (it was also called the Feast of Lights)

            • The Feast of Dedication was three months after the Feast of Tabernacles

          • We see that Jesus is still in Jerusalem when the Feast of Dedication begins

          • John tells us that it is winter, which makes sense since it was December

            • This bit of information ties in, with where Jesus is teaching, when He is surrounded

            • He was walking in Solomon’s Colonnade

              • Some scholars believe this note, about Solomon’s Colonnade, is not significant, while others believe it is

              • Solomon’s Colonnade was located on the eastern side of the temple and was about 200 yards’ long

              • During the cold winter months there was a brisk east wind that would blow [Köstenberger, Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament, John, 310]

              • The Colonnade would protect those who taught there, and their students, from this cold east wind

            • Borchert highlights a unique perspective, about it being winter, when he states, “. . . the thoughtful reader of the Gospel understands that time and temperature notations in John are reflections of the spiritual condition of the persons in the stories (cf. 3:2; 13:30; 18:3, 18; 20:1, 19; 21:3-4).” ​​ [Borchert, The New American Commentary, John 1-11, 337-38]

              • Nicodemus came to Jesus at night, representing that he was still experiencing spiritual darkness (John 3:2)

              • Judas Iscariot betrayed Jesus (John 13:30), and pointed Him out for arrest (John 18:3) in the darkness of night, representing his own spiritual darkness

              • The reference, then, to it being winter, here in 10:22, would represent that the Jews hearts were still cold toward Jesus and His identity

              • Application

                • The same can be said of us today – we can be spiritually cold toward God and Jesus

                • What is your spiritual temperature right now?

                • Perhaps you’re feeling cold towards God, because He hasn’t answered your prayers the way you wanted Him too

                  • You’ve been praying for healing, but it hasn’t manifested itself yet

                  • You’ve been praying for a new job with higher pay, so you can get out of debt, but you’re still working the same old job

                  • You’ve been asking the Lord for a boyfriend, girlfriend, or spouse, but nothing has happened

                  • The list can go on and on

                  • When God doesn’t answer the way we want Him too, we can easily slip into feelings of coldness towards Him

                • How do you feel about sharing the Gospel with others or even inviting them to church?

                  • Is there a burning desire to help people understand their eternity without Christ?

                  • Are we apathetic or not interested in sharing the Gospel with others, even though Jesus commanded us to do it?

                  • Are we hesitant to invite people to church, because of the distance they would have to travel or fear that they will reject us?

                • All of this shows our spiritual temperature and where we are with God

                • If you are feeling cold toward God, you can change your spiritual temperature, today!

                • My Next Step Today Is To: ​​ Ask the Lord to reveal my spiritual temperature and seek to be on fire for Him.

            • We know that it’s winter when Jesus is walking in Solomon’s Colonnade at the temple

          • Verse 24 lets us know that the spiritual temperature of the Jews is cold toward Jesus as they surround Him

        • Trapped

          • Not allies

            • “Gathered around him” can literally be translated, “circle in on him”

              • “They boxed Him in, hemmed Him in, surrounded Him.” ​​ [Courson, Jon Courson’s Application Commentary, New Testament, 524]

              • The same Greek word is used in Luke 21:20, “When you see Jerusalem being surrounded by armies, you will know that its desolation is near.”

              • Of the four times this Greek word is used in the Bible, two of them have a military meaning and application [Carter & Wredberg, Christ-Centered Exposition: ​​ Exalting Jesus in John, 221]

            • The Jews are circling Jesus like wild dogs ready for the kill

              • I had a colleague, when I served with Child Evangelism Fellowship in Ohio, who told me about an experience she had while attending Dallas Theological Seminary

              • During the first week, her fellow classmates were questioning each other about their theological beliefs, whether they were Calvinists or Arminianists

              • Somehow they missed asking her until graduation day

              • They cornered her and wouldn’t let her off the hook until she answered them

              • Her response was not original to her, but something that has stuck with me ever since

              • She said, “I pray like a Calvinist, like it’s all up to God, and I work like an Arninianist, like it’s all up to me.” (referring to salvation by predestination and election, Calvinism, or human’s free will to choose or reject salvation, Arminianism)

            • The Jews do not want Jesus to squirm out of answering their question, so they surround Him, they trap Him and then ask their question

          • The Jews’ question

            • “How long will you keep us in suspense?” is how most of modern translations phrase the question

            • Commentators also translate the question in a negative way, “How long are you going to annoy us?”

            • They want a clear answer about whether Jesus is the Christ (the Messiah) or not

              • Jesus had been using metaphors to express that He is the Christ (Bread, Light, Shepherd, and Door) [Michaels, 596-97]

              • Their desire for Jesus to tell them plainly, is not so they will believe in Him, but rather so they can condemn Him

              • Jesus was aware of their intentions and doesn’t fall for their trap

              • Jesus was also aware of how loaded, both politically and militarily, the term “Messiah” or “Christ” was in the 1st Century [Carson, 392]

              • He knew that the Jews were looking for a political and military leader that would set them free from Roman rule – that was their view of the role of the coming Messiah/Christ

              • Jesus did not want to be associated with or forced into their view of the Messiah

              • He wanted them to recognize that the Messiah would be a spiritual leader, directing them back to God

            • Jesus then responds to their question, but not in the way they had hoped

          • Jesus’ response

            • Instead of saying, “Yes, I am the Messiah!”, He says, “I did tell you, but you do not believe.”

              • Jesus claimed that He was the Christ, only once, but it was privately

                • Jesus confronts the Samaritan woman at the well

                • At the end of that discourse we read these words, The woman said, “I know that Messiah” (called Christ) “is coming. ​​ When he comes, he will explain everything to us.” ​​ Then Jesus declared, “I who speak to you am he.” (John 4:25-26)

                • Jesus said it plainly in a private setting, but not in a public setting

              • Certainly He told them through metaphors, as I mentioned before (Bread, Light, Shepherd, Door)

              • But, they want Him to say it publicly, directly, and plainly – they want Him to use the exact words they have used

              • The miracles that Jesus did in His Father’s name, are proof that He is the Messiah

                • He couldn’t have done those miracles aside from the power of God flowing through Him

                • God gave Jesus the ability to do the miraculous, as proof that Jesus was His Son – the Christ, the Messiah

            • Unbelief is the problem

              • “Their problem, Jesus said, was not lack of information but failure to belong to his sheep. ​​ His sheep understood his works (10:25) and his words (10:27), the indication of true knowing.” ​​ [Borchert, 338-39]

              • Here’s the kicker, those who truly believed in Jesus by faith were given the ability to understand His works and His words

                • Faith opens our eyes to believe God’s words and works.

                • There are those in our culture today, who want to debate how a loving God can allow bad things to happen to good people

                • There are others who are asking how we know that God is real

                • They are looking for reasons in the Bible to justify their belief that God doesn’t exist or shouldn’t be followed, because He allows famine, hunger, disease, death, and so much more to happen

                • They say, “Why would I want to follow a God who really isn’t loving?”

                • What we see in this encounter with the Jews is that Jesus says, “You all aren’t going to understand that my words and works prove that I am the Messiah, because you haven’t taken the step of faith to believe in Me.”

                • Do we really want to understand God’s sovereign will, His love, His justice, His grace, His mercy, and the rest of His attributes?

                • If we do, then we have to take the step of faith to truly follow Him and become His sheep, whether we have all the answers to our questions or not

                • With faith comes understanding, because we have the Holy Spirit of God living within us to help us understand God’s Word and His ways

                • PRINCIPLE #1 – God’s people understand His words and works.

                  • Read 1 Corinthians 1:18-25

                  • Are you ready stop debating and questioning God?

                  • Are you ready to stop running from Him?

                  • Are you ready to submit to Him by faith?

                  • My Next Step Today Is To: ​​ Stop trying to justify my unbelief in God and submit to Him, so I can understand His words and works.

            • Benefits of belief – true knowledge

              • Know Jesus

                • As Jesus’ sheep (followers) we know Him and listen to His voice

                • We understand His Word and His works

                • We know what He is calling us to do and we follow

              • Known by Jesus

                • As Jesus’ sheep, we are known by Him

                • This is important for us in light of eternity

                • In order to spend eternity with God, we must be known by Jesus

                • Read Matthew 7:21-27

        • All of the benefits of “flock insurance” are mentioned together as Jesus continues

    • Benefits #2 and #3 – eternal life and security (vv. 28-30)

        • Eternal life

          • Another benefit of being a follower of Jesus Christ is He gives us eternal life and we will not perish

          • This reminds us of John 3:16, “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish, but have eternal life.”

            • This does not mean that we will not die physically, but it does mean we will not die spiritually

            • Romans 6:23, For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord (eternal separation from God)

            • What is sin? (anything we think, say, or do that displeases God or breaks His commands, decrees, and precepts)

            • It’s the human condition, we are all born in sin

            • David puts it this way, For I know my transgressions, and my sin is always before me. ​​ Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight, so that you are proved right when you speak and justified when you judge. ​​ Surely I was sinful at birth, sinful from the time my mother conceived me. ​​ Surely you desire truth in the inner parts; you teach me wisdom in the inmost place (Psalm 51:3-6)

            • God says to us in John 3:18 that we are condemned to eternal separation from Him and remain in that state of condemnation until we believe in Jesus and follow Him

            • When we do that we pass from death to life

            • John 5:24, “I tell you the truth, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be condemned; he has crossed over from death to life.”

          • You can cross over from death to eternal life today

          • My Next Step Today Is To: ​​ Believe in Jesus so I will not perish, but have eternal life.

          • That’s the best benefit of belief ever, but there’s one more

        • Protection from eternal harm

          • Jesus says that no one can snatch His sheep (followers) out of His hand or His Father’s hand

          • PRINCIPLE #2 – God promises to protect His people from eternal harm.

            • In verse 28, the Greek word for snatch is harpazō and it is in the future tense and indicative mood, which simply means that it is certain that no one will snatch Jesus’ sheep from His hand in the future

            • In verse 29, the same Greek word is used, but in the present tense, which tells us that not only in the future (v. 28) but right now, no one will be able to snatch God’s sheep from His hand

            • “The perishing of true sheep was an unthinkable idea to early Christians. ​​ But contemporary Christians often wrestle with the question because they fail to perceive the logic of the biblical writers. ​​ Moreover, they often fear to read thoroughly texts like Hebrews 6 (diligent to the very end, not lazy). ​​ The biblical writers did not have such a superficial view of salvation that would consider walking down the aisle of a church and going through waters of baptism to be a guarantee of salvation. ​​ Nor did the biblical writers have a superficial temporal view of salvation based on an inadequate understanding of John 3:3 (must be born again to see the kingdom of God) and other passages. ​​ Instead, the biblical writers have no problem placing side by side texts concerning God’s love, grace, and covenant promises with God’s stern warnings to the readers of the Scripture.” ​​ [Borchert, 339]

            • This does not mean that we will not experience hardship and persecution here on earth

            • Jesus stated that we would experience those things, because He experienced those things (John 16:33; 1 Pet. 5:10; James 1:2-4)

            • What we’re promised here is God’s protection until we reach eternity with Him

            • My Next Step Today Is To: ​​ Claim God’s promise that He will protect me from eternal harm until I see Him face-to-face in eternity.

          • Jesus says one more thing that will drive the Jews crazy

        • PRINCIPLE #3 – God and Jesus are One!

          • While Jesus doesn’t answer the Jews question directly or plainly, they certainly understood what He was saying in this statement

          • He is claiming equality with God

          • In no uncertain terms, He is saying, “I am the Christ (Messiah)!”

 

  • YOU

    • What is your spiritual temperature today?

        • Is it cold?

        • If so, what steps do you need to take to be on fire for the Lord?

    • Do you understand God’s words and works?

        • If so, that is evidence that you are His sheep

        • If not, I would encourage you to take the step of faith to submit to Him, even without having all your questions answered

    • Are you living with the hope that, as God’s sheep, He promises to protect you until you reach eternity?

 

  • WE

    • God has called us, as a body of believers, to help others know, understand, and follow Jesus

    • How are we intentionally doing this?

    • What changes do we need to make to ensure that we are doing this?

 

CONCLUSION

“It has been called the greatest rescue mission of World War II.

 

Late in that war, American bombers were sent on dangerous missions over southern Europe to cripple the Nazis' oil supplies. Hundreds of crews in flying tin cans soared through storms of anti-aircraft shells. Many American pilots were forced to bail from their shot-up planes. The injured airmen drifted by parachute into occupied Yugoslavia, expecting to be captured or killed.

 

Instead, on the ground remarkable rescue teams were already in place. Serbian peasants tracked the path of the floating flight crews. Their sole mission was to grab the flyboys and bring them to safety—before the Nazis arrived.

 

Risking their own lives, the peasants fed and sheltered the downed solders. These rescued men were in friendly hands but on enemy soil. They still needed to escape.

 

The story of what became known as Operation Halyard builds toward a daring mission, a secret landing strip, and a clandestine evacuation plan. Amazingly, those Serbian peasants rescued every single American airman—over 500 in all.

 

Here's the fascinating subplot to the rescue. To travel to the evacuation site, the airmen had to spend weeks following the Serbian freedom fighters, who alone knew the path to the evacuation site. Despite the profound language barriers, the direction, the pace, and the destination were in the hands of their rescuers. The men had been saved from their enemy, but the journey had just begun. They still had to walk to freedom.

 

The story of Operation Halyard sheds light on an important spiritual reality: to be rescued from something sets us on the path toward something.

 

For the airmen it was a journey of survival. For us it's a journey of faith. The One who saved us is now calling us to walk. It's nonnegotiable. Though snatched from spiritual death, we soon discover that the Christian life isn't an arrival; it's an adventure. Christ rescues us then he points us to the path of following him.

 

The apostle Paul describes this active view of the Christian life in his letter to the Ephesians, urging them to ‘walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called’ (4:1).”

 

Dave Harvey, Rescuing Ambition (Crossway, 2010), pp. 63-64.


[
https://www.preachingtoday.com/illustrations/2010/september/3091310.html].

11

 

Believe

Do You Believe?

(John 9:35-41)

 

INTRODUCTION

“In the late 1940s, Charles Templeton was a close friend and preaching associate of Billy Graham. He effectively preached the gospel to large crowds in major arenas. However, intellectual doubts began to nag at him. He questioned the truth of Scripture and other core Christian beliefs. He finally abandoned his faith and made an unsuccessful attempt to persuade Billy to do the same. He felt sorry for Billy and commented, ‘He committed intellectual suicide by closing his mind.’ Templeton resigned from the ministry and became a novelist and news commentator. He also wrote a critique of the Christian faith, Farewell to God: My Reasons for Rejecting the Christian Faith.

 

Journalist Lee Strobel interviewed him for his book, The Case for Faith. Templeton was 83 and suffering from Alzheimer's disease. He revealed some of the reasons he left the faith:

 

I started considering the plagues that sweep across parts of the planet and indiscriminately kill—more often than not, painfully—all kinds of people, the ordinary, the decent, and the rotten. And it just became crystal clear to me that it is not possible for an intelligent person to believe that there is a deity who loves.

 

Lee Strobel then asked him about Jesus and was surprised at the response. Templeton believed Jesus lived but never really considered himself to be God:

 

He was the greatest human being who has ever lived. He was a moral genius. His ethical sense was unique. He was the intrinsically wisest person that I've ever encountered in my life or in my readings. He's the most important thing in my life. I know it may sound strange, but I have to say I adore him! Everything good I know, everything decent I know, everything pure I know, I learned from Jesus. He is the most important human being who has ever existed. And if I may put it this way, I miss Him.

 

Templeton's eyes filled with tears and he wept freely. He refused to say more.”

 

Lee Strobel, The Case for Faith (Zondervan, 2000), pp. 7-23; submitted by Jerry De Luca, Montreal West, Canada.

 

[https://www.preachingtoday.com/illustrations/2001/december/13397.html].

BODY

  • ME

    • Struggling with my faith

        • I’ve never struggled with my faith to the point of Charles Templeton, where I doubted that God is who He says He is

        • That’s not to say that I haven’t questioned my personal relationship with Jesus a time or two

        • By God’s grace, when I have questioned my personal relationship with Jesus, it has always driven me to seek Him more, not to turn away from Him

    • Hypocrites

        • I know that some people have been turned off to Christianity because of the hypocrites they have seen and experienced in their lives

        • Hypocrites have had the opposite effect on me – I’m not driven away from my faith, but driven forward in my faith to make sure I’m not being hypocritical

        • That is not an easy task

 

  • WE

    • Perhaps all of us can identify a time when we struggled with our faith

        • What did it look like?

        • Was there a turning away from the Lord?

        • Maybe it was just questioning our personal relationship with the Lord and trying to decide if we were really a Christian

    • Some of us may know individuals who have been turned off to Christianity, because of the hypocrites they encountered

        • Fortunately, Christianity isn’t about the hypocrites, but about Jesus Christ

        • If we focus upon Him, we’ll see clearly that He is faithful, true, perfect, loving, gracious, and so much more

 

John is finishing the episode between Jesus and the man born blind. ​​ There are still Pharisees hanging around within earshot of Jesus. ​​ Through His interactions with the man and the Pharisees we’ll see today that . . .

 

BIG IDEA – ​​ Jesus’ presence clarifies our spiritual sight.

 

Let’s pray

 

  • GOD (John 9:35-41)

    • Belief (vv. 35-38)

        • Jesus’ question (v. 35)

          • Jesus takes the initiative when He hears that the man born blind was thrown out of the synagogue

            • “The Jews cast him out of the temple, and the Lord of the temple found him.” ​​ [Chris Austin cited by Gangel, Holman New Testament Commentary, John, 185]

            • He knows the seriousness, of the man being thrown out of the synagogue

            • He would be cut off from all religious and social relationships he once had

            • As a blind person he was able to beg, but now that he had his sight, he would need to find a job

            • That would be nearly impossible with no social contacts

            • It would seem that this man’s life was over – he had no hope

            • PRINCIPLE #1 – God is always with us (omnipresent).

              • As this man found out, Jesus was concerned about him, even when his situation seemed bleak and dark

              • Jesus sought him out and asked him an important question – “Do you believe in the Son of Man?”

              • We can trust that God is always with us and that Jesus will seek us out in our darkest hours

              • He’ll ask us the same question, “Do you believe in Me? ​​ Do you trust me?”

              • My Next Step Today Is To: ​​ Trust that God is always with me and that Jesus will seek me out in my darkest hour.

              • God and Jesus are always there for us

              • Hebrews 13:5-6, Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have; because God has said, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.” ​​ So we say with confidence, “The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid. ​​ What can man do to me?”

            • So, this man has been thrown out of the synagogue and is perhaps searching for what’s next in his life

            • God knows what is next for him

          • PRINCIPLE #2 – God continually seeks His creation, so they can believe in Him.

            • God wants to be in a relationship with all of humanity

            • He wants everyone to recognize who He is and what He did to take care of our sin

            • We know His will from His Word

            • 2 Peter 3:8-9, But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: ​​ With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day. ​​ The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. ​​ He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.

            • If you don’t have a relationship with Jesus Christ, God is patiently waiting for you

            • Gospel

              • Sin

                • God knew, before He created humanity, that we would rebel against Him and choose our own way

                • Isaiah 53:6, We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all.

                • Romans 3:23, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God

                • Romans 5:9, Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God’s wrath through him! (we are being saved from God’s wrath, from eternal separation from Him)

              • God’s love and Jesus’ sacrifice

                • God had His plan of salvation worked out long before we needed it

                • 1 Corinthians 15:3-4, For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: ​​ that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures . . .

                • John 3:16, “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.

                • God’s plan was to send His only Son, Jesus, from heaven to earth to take our punishment for sin

                • Jesus did that perfectly!

              • My Next Step Today Is To: ​​ Believe in Jesus and receive God’s eternal life.

          • Jesus has asked the man a question and his response is to ask Jesus a question

        • The man’s question (v. 36)

          • Who is he, sir?

            • It was a very good question, because the man didn’t know who the Son of Man was

            • This man did not see who had healed him and he would not have known that Jesus was referring to Himself as the Son of Man

            • The man is probably equating the Son of Man with the person who had healed him

              • In the past, the man referred to this person in three ways [Michaels, The New International Commentary on the New Testament, The Gospel of John, 566]

              • “The man called Jesus” (v. 11)

              • He considered Jesus a prophet (v. 17)

              • He also considered Jesus a man from God (v. 33)

            • The Greek word for “sir” is kyrios – the man is simply being respectful toward Jesus

            • We’ll see the second meaning for kyrios in v. 38

          • Eagerness to know

            • Notice the man’s eagerness to know who had healed him – “Tell me so that I may believe in him.”

            • I’m sure we’ve all heard stories of how an individual shows up and helps in a crisis, but later on no one can find that person to thank them

              • We have an eagerness to know who the mystery person is

              • As Christians, we recognize that it is an angel or Jesus, Himself, who came

              • Nancy Tate had an experience like that while on vacation – the man protected her from hitting her head when she passed out

              • Sherl & Judie Shaffer’s family had an experience like that when their grandson had his car accident – the man knew everyone’s name and was telling them that everything was going to be alright

            • Eagerness to hear the Gospel

              • When Wade was ready to believe in Jesus, he couldn’t wait for me to get home from work so we could have our own Good News Club with a Bible lesson and then the invitation

              • I’ve experienced that at least twice this past year when sharing the Gospel with individuals – there was an openness and eagerness to know the Son of Man, Jesus

          • The man’s response to Jesus’ question was a question of his own and Jesus then tells him who the Son of Man is

        • Jesus’ response (v. 37)

          • Jesus seems to do it in a roundabout way, but in doing so He is highlighting the fact that the man can now physically see

            • “You have now seen him; in fact, he is the one speaking with you.”

            • Jesus is saying to the man, “I’m the Son of Man! ​​ I’m the One who healed you!”

          • I can only imagine how the man felt

            • The person who had removed a life-long ailment was now standing in front of him

            • He no longer had to guess what Jesus looked like and who He was

            • He was speaking with Him face-to-face

          • The man’s response is incredible!

        • The man’s response (v. 38)

          • The man becomes a follower of Jesus Christ

            • The Pharisees had said that this man was a disciple of Jesus Christ, but he wasn’t a follower of Jesus Christ (a Christian) yet

            • This man, who had never wavered in his faith, even under heavy persecution, was taking the final step toward salvation

            • “Lord, I believe!”

              • As I mentioned earlier, there is a second meaning for the Greek word kyrios

              • The second meaning is “Lord”

              • Through his transformed mind and heart, the man now knows that Jesus is the revelation of God, right in front of him, and consequently addresses Him as Lord [Burge, The NIV Application Commentary, John, 276]

            • At that moment the man was healed of his spiritual blindness

            • Jesus’ presence clarifies our spiritual sight.

            • Everyone and any one can be healed of their spiritual blindness, by believing in Jesus and receiving God’s gift of eternal life

            • I’ve already shared with you how you can do that

            • I want to encourage you to take that step today!

            • The man’s immediate response to being healed, spiritually, is worship

          • Worship

            • The man falls down in front of Jesus and worships Him

              • “This is the only place in this Gospel where anyone is said to worship Jesus. ​​ The verb occurs several times in chapter 4 of worshipping God, and it is found in the same sense in 12:20 . . . The man has already recognized that Jesus came from God (v. 33). ​​ Now he goes a step further. ​​ He gives to Jesus that reverence that is appropriate to God (Morris, pp. 495-96).” ​​ [Gangel, 186]

              • All of this is significant in identifying who Jesus is and where He has come from

                • Jesus accepts the man’s worship, because He is God

                • “Jesus’ silence signals his acceptance of the man’s worship, in contrast to the angel in the book of Revelation in the presence of the prophet John (Rev 19:10; 22:9), or Peter in the presence of Cornelius. ​​ Even though he is ‘Son of man’ (v. 37), Jesus does not, like Peter, tell his prostrate worshiper, ‘Get up. ​​ I myself am a man too!’ (Acts 10:26; see also Acts 19:15). ​​ By giving no answer, he acknowledges his deity.” ​​ [Michaels, 569]

            • PRINCIPLE #3 – God is pleased when His people worship Him.

              • When is the last time you’ve fallen on your face before God to worship Him?

              • Too often we’re concerned about what others may think if we express ourselves in worship, so we stand and sit when we’re told

                • We don’t raise our hands or clap

                • We don’t come to the altar and prostrate ourselves, whether or not the pastor has given an altar call

                • The pastor that Judy and I sat under in California told the story of how he used to be reserved in his worship, until he attended a pastor’s conference where the speaker said that when we worship, the only audience should be God or Jesus and not those around us

                • We can certainly worship the Lord without any of those expressions, but how is God calling you to worship Him?

                • Is He the only audience you have when you worship?

              • My Next Step Today Is To: ​​ Commit to worshiping an audience of One (God), and be obedient to how He is calling me to worship Him.

        • The man’s salvation is an incredible climax to John’s story about him, but not everyone was ready to take that step

    • Unbelief (vv. 39-41)

        • Jesus’ statement about His purpose in coming to earth (v. 39)

          • He begins His statement by saying that He came for judgment

            • Some individuals try to say that this statement contradicts John 3:17 which says, For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.

            • We can’t stop at v. 17, but have to continue, Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son (John 3:18)

            • Jesus came into the world to offer salvation to everyone, but each person has a choice – they can believe or not believe in Jesus

            • When a person makes the choice to not believe in Jesus, they are condemned already, because they are born in sin

            • The condemnation rests with them and not with God – they’ve made their choice

            • Now, when Jesus Christ returns, He will judge those who have rejected God’s plan of salvation

            • Jesus came into the world the first time to offer salvation to humanity

            • When He comes into the world the second time, it will be to judge

          • The second part of His statement clarifies the first

            • There will be some who recognize their sin and turn to Jesus and believe in Him

            • There will be others who think they can see clearly on a spiritual level, and therefore, refuse to believe in Jesus

            • “Christ came to earth so that those who think they have spiritual insight may be shown to be blind, and those who do not suppose they have this spiritual insight may see. ​​ His whole argument centered around a person’s sense of need. ​​ If someone felt no need, he would not see; but those who knew they were blind were the ones who could be made to see (Hughes, p. 164).” ​​ [Hughes cited by Gangel, 186]

          • Jesus was obviously speaking to the man born blind in a public setting, because some Pharisees overheard what He said

        • The Pharisees reaction (v. 40)

          • Who were these Pharisees?

            • We can’t be certain, but there are three possibilities

            • They could have been the Pharisees who believed Jesus was not from God, because He healed the blind man on the Sabbath (John 9:16a)

            • They could also be the Pharisees who questioned how a sinner could do such miraculous signs (John 9:16b) – they were not convinced, like the other Pharisees, that Jesus was not from God

            • It may have been some other group of Pharisees that were not connected in any way with the two groups of Pharisees mentioned above

            • Who they are is less important than their question

          • Are we blind too?

            • Since the Pharisees are not physically blind, it stands to reason that they are asking Jesus if He considers them to be spiritually blind

            • It’s not clear if they believe themselves, to be the blind who will see, or if they are those who see, that will become blind

          • I remember taking my youngest son to one of the national art galleries in Washington, D.C. As we made our approach, I was so excited about what we were going to see. He was decidedly unexcited. But I just knew that, once inside, he would have his mind blown and would thank me for what I had done for him that day. As it turned out, his mind wasn't blown; it wasn't even activated. I saw things of such stunning beauty that brought me to the edge of tears. He yawned, moaned, and complained his way through gallery after gallery. With every new gallery, I was enthralled, but each time we walked into a new art space, he begged me to leave. He was surrounded by glory but saw none of it. He stood in the middle of wonders but was bored out of his mind. His eyes worked well, but his heart was stone blind. He saw everything, but he saw nothing.”

            Paul David Tripp, Awe: Why it Matters for Everything we Think, Say, and Do (Crossway, 2015), pp. 65-66; submitted by Van Morris, Mt. Washington, Kentucky

            [
            https://www.preachingtoday.com/illustrations/2015/december/6120715.html]

          • The perspective of the Pharisees was the same as the boy in the art gallery, they had physical sight, but their hearts were completely set against believing in Jesus

          • Jesus’ presence clarifies our spiritual sight.

          • Jesus explains their condition

        • Jesus’ explanation (v. 41)

          • The explanation can seem like a riddle to us

          • What is Jesus really trying to say?

          • If you were blind, you would not be guilty of sin

            • Jesus returns to the beginning of the episode about the blind man when His disciples asked Him the question about who had sinned, the blind man or his parents

            • Jesus’ response was that neither the man nor his parents had sinned

            • For the Pharisees, if they recognized their spiritual blindness they would not be guilty of sin, because they would then believe in Jesus and have eternal life – they would see their need to be saved

          • But now that you claim you can see, your guilt remains

            • “To ‘see’ is to recognize who Jesus is and worship him, as the blind man finally did. ​​ In saying, ‘We see,’ therefore, they are lying, for they have not believed in Jesus. ​​ The likely point is that everyone is ‘born blind’ in the sense of being unable to ‘see the kingdom of God’ or enter it without a second birth (see 3:3, 5). ​​ This in itself is not sin. ​​ Nicodemus, for example, was never accused of sin. ​​ The sin comes in the lie that ‘We see,’ and that consequently no new birth is needed or wanted.” ​​ [Michaels, 575]

            • “As Jesus makes clear, it is not the Pharisees’ sin, but their repudiation of grace, that renders them lost (Ridderbos 1997: 351). ​​ There is no cure for people who reject the only cure there is (Barrett 1978: 366; cf. Bultmann 1971: 341-42) and no hope for those who are wise in their own eyes (Prov. 26:12; Kruse 2003: 231).” ​​ [Köstenberger, Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament, John, 295-96]

          • John 3:19-21, “This is the verdict: ​​ Light has come into the world, but men loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. ​​ Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that his deeds will be exposed. ​​ But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what he has done has been done through God.”

 

  • YOU

    • Every one of us has a choice to make

        • Will you recognize your spiritual blindness and seek spiritual sight, by believing in Jesus?

        • Will you continue to think you have spiritual sight and refuse to believe in Jesus?

 

  • WE

    • As followers of Jesus Christ we have a responsibility to share with others how to receive spiritual sight through Jesus Christ

 

CONCLUSION

“Jesus is clear that it is dangerous for a person to close one's ears, eyes, and heart to the leadings of the Holy Spirit. In The Magician's Nephew, a novel from C. S. Lewis' Chronicles of Narnia series, Narnia is created when Aslan—the Lion who represents Jesus—sings it into being. The creation song reveals Aslan's majesty and glory. It is a grand ‘call to worship!’ But there is one, Uncle Andrew, who refuses to hear it, and the consequences are staggering.

 

When the great moment came and the Beast spoke, he missed the whole point for a rather interesting reason. When the Lion had first begun singing, long ago when it was still quite dark, he had realized that the noise was a song. And he had disliked the song very much. It made him think and feel things he did not want to think and feel.

 

Then, when the sun rose and he saw that the singer was a lion (‘only a lion,’ as he said to himself) he tried his hardest to make himself believe that it wasn't singing and never had been singing—only roaring as any lion might in a zoo in our own world. ‘Of course it can't really have been singing,’ he thought, ‘I must have imagined it. I've been letting my nerves get out of order. Who ever heard of a lion singing?’ And the longer and more beautifully the Lion sang, the harder Uncle Andrew tried to make himself believe that he could hear nothing but roaring.

 

Now the trouble about trying to make yourself stupider than you really are is that you very often succeed. Uncle Andrew did. He soon did hear nothing but roaring in Aslan's song. Soon he couldn't have heard anything else even if he had wanted to. And when at last the Lion spoke and said, ‘Narnia awake,’ he didn't hear any words: he heard only a snarl. And when the Beasts spoke in answer, he heard only barkings, growlings, bayings and howlings.”

 

C. S. Lewis, The Magician's Nephew (Collier Books), pp.125-26; submitted by Eugene A Maddox, Interlachen, Florida.


[
https://www.preachingtoday.com/illustrations/2001/september/13268.html]

10

 

Believe

Deaf, Dumb, and Blind

(John 9:24-34)

 

INTRODUCTION

“When Pierre-Paul Thomas was growing up in Montreal, Canada in the 1940s he couldn't play hockey with his brothers and it broke his heart. Thomas was born blind—long before a cure was available. So for most of his life he could only imagine the world that people often described to him. For years he walked with a white cane to avoid obstacles in front of him. But at the age of sixty-six, Thomas fell down the stairs in an apartment building and fractured the bones of his face. He was rushed to the hospital with severe swelling around his eyes. A team of doctors went to work to repair the bones. Months later he went to be examined by a plastic surgeon for a consultation about repairing his scalp.

 

The surgeon casually asked Thomas, ‘Oh, while we're at it, do you want us to fix your eyes too?’ Thomas did not understand. Nor did he know how to respond. Not long after that, Thomas had surgery and could truly see for the first time.

 

Suddenly his world consisted of bright colors he had never fathomed before. He spoke of being awestruck by flowers blossoming and trees blooming. As beautiful as this story of a sixty-year-old man who was able to see for the first time is, there is a sad reality. He could have had the same surgery at a younger age and been able to see earlier. Thomas had assumed such a possibility was impossible and had resigned himself to a life of blindness when, in reality, he could have experienced the gift of sight decades earlier.”

 

Adapted from Kyle Idleman, AHA: The God Moment That Changes Everything (David Cook, 2014), page 76; original source: Aaron Derfel, "Blind No More," Montreal Gazette (7-27-13).

 

[https://www.preachingtoday.com/illustrations/2014/october/2101314.html].

 

BODY

  • ME

    • Wearing contacts

        • Most of you know that I wear contact lenses

        • My glasses are really thick, so I only use them to get from the bathroom to the bed

        • I have to see the eye doctor every year in order to get a new prescription for contacts

        • They always have me take my contact out and then ask me to read the smallest line on the eye chart

        • I can’t even read to largest line on the eye chart without glasses or contacts

        • Then they put the apparatus in front of my face and begin to flip lenses and turn dials, asking me which one is clearer (1 or 2)

        • Eventually, we get to a point where I can read almost every letter on the smallest line of the eye chart

    • Lasik eye surgery

        • At this point, they are not recommending Lasik eye surgery for me, but perhaps down the road I’ll have that surgery

        • Those who go through Lasik eye surgery eventually don’t have to where corrective lenses or perhaps only reading glasses

    • Dangers of not wearing corrective lenses

        • I need to wear some kind of corrective lenses, especially when driving

        • I could be really prideful and say that I can drive just fine without my contacts in or glasses on

        • It could be very dangerous for me and others if I don’t wear my contacts or a pair of glasses

          • I may not see someone at a distance trying to cross the road and so I wouldn’t slowdown in time to avoid hitting them

          • I may not see a stop sign in time to stop

          • Any number of things could happen that would cause me or other people serious injury and potentially death

        • That’s why my driver’s license has the restriction code of #1 – Corrective Lenses

        • If I allow my pride to go unchecked, it could kill me or someone else

 

  • WE

    • Corrective lenses

        • How many of us wear some kind of corrective lenses?

    • No corrective lenses

        • Is there anyone here this morning that has never had to wear corrective lenses or has never had any kind of corrective eye surgery?

 

Spiritual pride can do the same thing. ​​ It can cause serious damage to us and to others. ​​ The Pharisees are not content with the testimony of the formerly blind man’s parents. ​​ They’ve been challenged by the parents to ask the formerly blind man, since he is of age. ​​ While they have already done that, they don’t know what else to do, so they call him again to question him. ​​ Their spiritual pride makes them blind and deaf to the truth of who Jesus is and what He came to do. ​​ Their spiritual pride will keep them out of heaven, because Jesus is God’s plan to redeem the world, so they can live in heaven with Him someday. ​​ As we will see, . . .

 

BIG IDEA – ​​ Spiritual pride kills.

 

This did not need to be the case with the Pharisees. ​​ Had they believed in Jesus when He was on earth, they could have been healed from spiritual blindness, deafness, and dumbness. ​​ Unfortunately, they continued in their spiritual pride, which meant eternal separation from God when they died.

 

Let’s pray

 

  • GOD (John 9:24-34)

    • Bold witness (vv. 24-25)

        • The Pharisees summon the formerly blind man to interrogate him and question him again

          • Tell us the truth

            • When they tell him to “Give glory to God” they are not meaning to worship or praise God for the miraculous healing that took place (although that is what he does, as we’ll see in moment)

            • Rather, they are asking him to tell the truth about what really happened to him

            • “The statement “Give glory to God” is not a praise statement but the equivalent of a Jewish oath, which the authorities employed to call the man to give an honest witness and confess any sinfulness in his testimony.” [Borchert, The New American Commentary, John 1-11, 321]

              • Joshua 7:19, Then Joshua said to Achan, “My son, give glory to the Lord the God of Israel, and give him the praise. ​​ Tell me what you have done; do not hide it from me.”

              • Jeremiah 13:15-16, Hear and pay attention, do not be arrogant, for the Lord has spoken. ​​ Give glory to the Lord your God before he brings the darkness, before your feet stumble on the darkening hills. ​​ You hope for light, but he will turn it to thick darkness and change it to deep gloom.

            • They are basically saying to the man, “We know that this healing didn’t really happen, that perhaps you weren’t really blind from birth, so just tell us exactly what happened.”

            • They had made up their minds about the man, the healing, and Jesus

            • As a way of helping the man “tell the truth” (the truth they had already accepted) they primed the pump for him

          • Putting words in his mouth

            • “We know this man is a sinner.”

            • The expected response would have been the man breaking down and admitting that Jesus hadn’t actually healed him, but that he had been playing the part of a blind man, since birth, so he wouldn’t have to work

            • True life crime stories and even fictional crime stories inevitably have a scene where the police have a suspect in custody and they are questioning him/her

              • The best evidence for the police is a signed confession from the suspect

              • They’ll use all kinds of tactics in order to get the person to confess

              • Sometimes they’ll make statements that begin with these words, “We know that . . .” (then they lay out what they know or suspect)

              • The hope is that the suspect will finally break and tell them what they want to hear

              • In some cases, this process takes many hours and the mental and physical duress cause the suspect to give a false confession or testimony, because they just want the interrogation to stop

              • It’s similar to what the Pharisees are doing here

            • They want the formerly blind man to recant his previous testimony about what Jesus did and how he is now able to see

            • If the man who was blind will agree with them, that Jesus is a sinner, then that will go a long way in proving that Jesus is not from God

              • The Pharisees are unwilling to see and hear anything that contradicts their beliefs about who the Messiah would be and what He would do when He arrived

              • Spiritual pride kills

                • It kills our ability to hear truth

                • It kills our ability to see truth clearly

                • It even kills our ability to speak kindly and act godly when confronted about it

                • Ultimately, it kills us physically and spiritually (eternal separation from God)

            • The Pharisees were desperately trying everything to marginalize and discount God’s plan of salvation and redemption through Jesus Christ

          • But the man doesn’t take the bait

        • The man’s response

          • He doesn’t agree with the Pharisees and he doesn’t argue with them

          • He simply states the facts, what he knows (“I was blind but now I see!”)

          • PRINCIPLE #1 – God’s desire is that we faithfully share what He has done in our lives.

            • “. . . decisive faith is characterized by the testimony of personal witness.” ​​ [Carson, The Pillar New Testament Commentary, The Gospel According to John, 373]

            • Our responsibility is not to convince or to save people

            • Our responsibility is to faithfully share how Jesus has transformed us by the power of the Holy Spirit, how God has healed us (physically, spiritually, emotionally)

            • We are to plant and water the seeds of faith and trust God to give the increase (1 Cor. 3:6-9)

            • My Next Step Today Is To: ​​ Share at least one thing that God has done for me (physically, spiritually, emotionally) with a family member, neighbor, or coworker.

              • Take time right now to write down a couple of things that God has done in your life

              • Testimony time (allow individuals to share what God has done for them)

          • While the man doesn’t mention Jesus’ name here, we know from the greater context that, he is talking about Jesus healing his eyes and giving him sight

            • The Pharisees want him to tell the truth (“Give glory to God”)

            • He does tell the truth and in the process gives glory and praise to God (“I was blind but now I see!”)

        • When we are bold for Jesus Christ and tell the truth about what He has done for us, we should expect spiritual attacks

    • Spiritual attacks (vv. 26-34)

        • Looking for inconsistencies (vv. 26-27)

          • Perhaps the reason the Pharisees asked the man to repeat what Jesus did to him and how He opened his eyes was in hope that he would make a mistake and contradict his earlier testimony

          • Maybe they were looking for inconsistencies that would render his testimony void

          • Instead of repeating his story of healing, he challenges them and then asks them a question

            • Challenge – “I already told you, but you didn’t listen”

              • PRINCIPLE #2 – Self-righteousness and pride causes spiritual deficits.

                • The Pharisees had already heard his testimony, but they did not listen

                • They were spiritually deaf to the truth of Jesus

                • Spiritual pride kills (it kills our ability to hear truth)

                • Application

                  • The same is true of us today

                  • Self-righteousness and pride causes spiritual deficits in our lives too

                  • Trying to justify our own sin (gossip, lying, adultery, hatred, pornography, addictions, bitterness, etc.) causes us to be spiritually deaf to the truths of God’s Word

                  • God wants us to be healed and whole, but that means letting go of our self-righteousness and pride

                  • It means listening to His voice through His Word and the wisdom and counsel of other believers

              • It’s probably at this point that the man realizes the Pharisees only what to hear their truth

              • They’re not concerned about fairness, but about pushing their own agenda and “truth”

            • Question – “Do you want to become his disciples, too?”

              • The man’s question reveals that he is perhaps already a disciple of Jesus, but not yet saved (that’s coming next week)

              • This man is not afraid of the Pharisees and will not be bullied into believing the way they do about Jesus

              • He has to know that his question will garner an emotionally charged response

          • That’s exactly what happens

        • Attack #1 (vv. 28-29)

          • They begin to insult him

            • John doesn’t tell us what insults they use, but in verse 34 they accuse him of being steeped in sin at birth

            • We can also imagine that they were probably questioning his intellectual abilities and knowledge of the law (“How dare you lecture us!”)

            • PRINCIPLE #2 – Self-righteousness and pride causes spiritual deficits.

              • The Pharisees are unable to treat this man with dignity and kindness

              • They’re unable and unwilling to express the fruit of the Spirit toward this man

              • The sin of self-righteousness and spiritual pride will do that in our lives – we will act unkind and ungodly toward others

              • That happens simply because we want to be right and are unwilling and unable to hear the truth

          • They try to create a difference between being a disciple of Moses and a disciple of Jesus

            • Disciples of Jesus

              • They refuse to use Jesus’ name, perhaps because they believe that by using His name they are somehow validating Him

              • Instead, they just say, “this fellow”

            • Disciples of Moses

              • ​​ “The Pharisees knew that God had revealed his will through Moses. ​​ This law of God embraced not only the written word (which we refer to as the Pentateuch), but also a mass of oral tradition handed on from generation to generation.” ​​ [Carson, 374]

              • John agrees with their statement that the law was given through Moses, but the total fulfillment of the law comes through Jesus Christ (John 1:17)

              • As disciples of Moses, they should have understood that he was writing about Jesus in the Pentateuch

              • John 5:39-40, 45-47, You diligently study the Scriptures because you think that by them you possess eternal life. ​​ These are the Scriptures that testify about me, yet you refuse to come to me to have life . . . “But do not think I will accuse you before the Father. ​​ Your accuser is Moses, on whom your hopes are set. ​​ If you believed Moses, you would believe me, for he wrote about me. ​​ But since you do not believe what he wrote, how are you going to believe what I say?”

              • “The Pharisees were cautious men who would consider themselves conservatives, when in reality they were ‘preservatives.’ ​​ A true conservative takes the best of the past and uses it, but he is also aware of the new things that God is doing. ​​ The new grows out of the old (Matt. 13:52). ​​ A ‘preservative’ simply embalms the past and preserves it. ​​ He is against change and resists the new things that God is doing.” ​​ [Wiersbe, The Bible Exposition Commentary, New Testament, Volume 1, 326]

            • The Pharisees claim that they don’t even know where Jesus comes from

              • They are not referring to Jesus’ earthly hometown at this point

                • They knew that He was from Nazareth in Galilee

                • They knew He was the son of a carpenter (Matt. 13:55)

                • John 7:27, “But we know where this man is from; when the Christ comes, no one will know where he is from.”

                • “There was a popular tradition that the Messiah would simply appear.” ​​ [NIV Life Application Bible, footnote for John 7:27]

              • Instead, they are referring to where Jesus’ authority comes from

                • Even though they weren’t there to see Moses come out of the Tent of Meeting with his face shining like the sun, they believed the tradition that had been handed down from generation to generation

                • Moses had spoken with God, and they believed it!

                • John 8:14, Jesus answered, “Even if I testify on my own behalf, my testimony is valid, for I know where I came from and where I am going. ​​ But you have no idea where I come from or where I am going.

                • They didn’t believe that Jesus had come from God and that He would be returning to God after completing His mission on earth

                • If the Pharisees had believed that, their entire belief system and teachings would have to change

          • This simple man who had been born blind did not have all of the self-righteousness and spiritual pride to wade through in order to see that Jesus was from God

          • We see in his response that the experiential wins over the theological again

        • The man’s response (vv. 30-33)

          • The man is shocked that the Pharisees can’t see or understand something so simple

            • “What was incredulous to him was that the officials who supposedly represented the perspective of God actually failed to recognize the work of God.” ​​ [Borchert, 322]

            • “He healed me from the blindness I had since birth, so isn’t it obvious that He’s from God!”

            • If He wasn’t from God, He could do nothing

          • God does not listen to sinners. ​​ He listens to the godly man who does his will

            • This was a general belief for Jews and early Christians

            • We know that God does hear sinners, especially when they pray, seeking salvation

            • We also know that sin can hinder the lines of communication between us and God

              • Psalm 66:18-19, If I had cherished sin in my heart, the Lord would not have listened; but God has surely listened and heard my voice in prayer.

              • The Psalmist is saying that if he had refused to repent of his sin or when he holds on to certain sins, that a wall is erected between him and God

              • Fortunately, the Psalmist was not holding on to unconfessed sin – he had kept a short list with the Lord and knew that his prayers were heard

            • “His comment reveals something the reader would otherwise not have known, that Jesus accomplished this miracle (and by extension all of his miracles) by prayer . . . the man born blind is not so much excluding sinners from praying and being heard as simply insisting that the prayer itself must be an act of ‘doing the will of God’ (see Mt 6:10; 1 Jn 5:14).” [Michaels, The New International Commentary on the New Testament, The Gospel of John, 562]

              • Remember what Jesus said to His disciples in John 9:3, “Neither this man nor his parents sinned,” said Jesus, “but this happened so that the work of God might be displayed in his life.”

              • This was an act of doing the will of God, so God answered Jesus’ prayer and healed the blind man

              • So, if God answered Jesus’ prayer, then Jesus is from God

          • Healing the blind

            • “Healing the blind is extremely rare in the Old Testament, and connected with extraordinary circumstances (e.g. 2 Ki. 6:8-23). ​​ Jewish tradition reports one or two instances of the blind being healed (Tobit 2:10; 11:10-13). ​​ But nowhere is there a report of a healing of a man born blind (v. 32).” ​​ [Carson, 374]

            • What Jesus did for this man was perhaps unprecedented – it had never happened before

              • That’s why this man says that Jesus was from God – He had done something that no one else had ever done

              • It was probably also why the Pharisees doubted that it actually happened (the reason why they summoned his parents to verify that this was their son and that he had been born blind)

          • The Pharisees don’t appreciate the man’s response

        • Attack #2 (v. 34)

          • Feeling defensive

            • First, they didn’t like being characterized as sinners and ungodly

            • Secondly, they probably didn’t like the history lesson about this kind of miracle never happening before

            • “So convinced are they that Jesus is at best a charlatan, at worst a dangerous sinner, that they do not remember the ancient promises that one of the signs of the dawning of the messianic age is the restoration of sight to the blind (Is. 29:18; 35:5; 42:7).” ​​ [Carson, 375]

          • They basically admit that the man was born blind

            • “You were steeped in sin at birth.”

            • The Pharisees return to their traditional belief, which Jesus’ disciples had referenced in John 9:2, that physical ailments were a result of sin in a person’s life

            • They’re trapped in their own argument and don’t see a way out, so they throw the man out of the synagogue

 

  • YOU

    • PRINCIPLE #2 – Self-righteousness and pride causes spiritual deficits.

        • Spiritual pride kills

          • It kills our ability to hear truth

          • It kills our ability to see truth clearly

          • It kills out ability to speak kindly and act godly when confronted about it

        • Perhaps you’re struggling with spiritual pride today

          • God has spoken to you through His Word and through the counsel of others, but you’re refusing to listen – you have stopped up your ears to the truth

          • Maybe spiritual pride is causing you to not see God’s plan and purpose clearly, because you believe you know better

          • When you refuse to hear and see God’s truth, then you very quickly lose your ability to speak kindly and act godly towards those who confront you

        • My Next Step Today Is To: ​​ Confess my spiritual pride to the Lord, so I can hear Him, see His plan clearly, and speak and act in a way that is pleasing to Him.

 

  • WE

    • This should especially be evident within the church

    • Seeing 20/20 in Unity – Unity in Relationships

        • “I am committed to speaking positively about people, ministries, leadership, and the mission of Idaville Church.”

        • “I am committed to patience, forgiveness, and non-judgment toward others.”

        • “I am committed to following biblical principles of reconciliation in all circumstances where I feel hurt or division. ​​ These principles are:

          • Forgive and overlook when possible

          • Do not gossip about the offender

          • Approach in humility and with a goal of reconciliation

          • Take responsibility for your part in the conflict

          • Take a trusted brother or sister with you if necessary

          • Take the issue to the church leadership if necessary

 

CONCLUSION

“Whenever we find ourselves valuing the letter of God’s law above its spirit; whenever we find ourselves unable to rejoice in the saving and renewing of lives simply because the instrument used was not someone who dots all the i’s and crosses all the t’s of our theological group; whenever we lose the daily, hourly sense of joy in the grace of God by which alone we know him and live before him, then we need to beware. ​​ ‘Lord, is it I?’ ​​ The only security against Pharisaism is grace, which is perhaps the reason the Lord may from time to time permit us to stumble in our Christian walk so that we may have opportunity to rediscover it.” ​​ [Milne, The Bible Speaks Today, The Message of John, 142].

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