Encouraging Jesus

John 12:27-30 WEB

“Now my soul is troubled. What shall I say? ‘Father, save me from this time?’ But for this cause I came to this time. [28] Father, glorify your name!” Then there came a voice out of the sky, saying, “I have both glorified it, and will glorify it again.” [29] The multitude therefore, who stood by and heard it, said that it had thundered. Others said, “An angel has spoken to him.” [30] Jesus answered, “This voice hasn’t come for my sake, but for your sakes.


Jesus had just finished telling the crowd that a grain of wheat must die to be fruitful (John 12:24). Afterward, he was troubled in his Spirit. It seems clear at this point Jesus realized he was going to die. He was stressed because of this coming trouble. Yet, he did not turn away from the purposes of God. And as his growing understanding came to full fruit, the Father reached out and said that glory is coming. And Jesus believed.

He always believed. From the time he was a child Jesus believed in God and believed in his destiny in God. He did not always know how hard it was going to be. He didn’t pick the Apostles and joyfully declare they were on a death march. No, he gave the disciples hope that they would see God if they followed him. And in fact, the Apostles and the disciples all saw the miracles. They all ate the bread that Jesus multiplied (Mat 14:18). They saw the blind eyes open (Mat 12:22), and they saw men white with leprosy healed before their eyes (Mat 8:1-3). They had experienced God’s glory.

Now it was time for God to glorify his name. In fact, the voice from heaven said that God’s name had already been glorified. Moreover, the Jewish people refrained from speaking the name of God. Instead of calling him Yahweh, they called him Lord. So, God’s name was glorified in the Jewish people. But now he was going to glorify it again. This time the glory was going to be in the name of Jesus. When God said he would glorify his name again it was a promise to Jesus. It was a promise made after Jesus realized he was going to die and decided to continue with God.


Lord, when difficult things are expected of me, please help me say yes to you with full confidence. Help me recognize when you are asking me to do something for your glory and not for my glory. Let me be joyful in the offering. In Jesus’ name, amen.

Planted by God

John 12:23-26 WEB

Jesus answered them, “The time has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. [24] Most certainly I tell you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains by itself alone. But if it dies, it bears much fruit. [25] He who loves his life will lose it. He who hates his life in this world will keep it to eternal life. [26] If anyone serves me, let him follow me. Where I am, there will my servant also be. If anyone serves me, the Father will honor him.


Jesus taught a mentality that modern science may have called suicidal. He calls for us to abhor our own lives in preference for a life in God. The Lord goes so far as to say, “unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains by itself alone. But if it dies, it bears much fruit (John 12:25). Everything we know about having a successful life is nothing in the light of the gospel. According to this passage we are to die. But if we are faithful to serve Jesus, the Father will honor us.

How does the Father honor a person he has told to lay down their life? Once we lay our lives down, he often gives us our lives back. Jesus is the only one who needed to die for the salvation of the world. However, working out our salvation some will be called to martyrdom. Most will not. Most people who commit their whole life to Jesus will prosper. It is impossible to stop wanting goodness and the fullness of life. But with God it is possible.

There are so many ways to lay down our lives. A stable, committed prayer life is a small death to self. Reading the Bible daily is another way to lay our lives down. The same can be said for tithing. It can also be said for going to church every week. Laying down our life could be following the Spirit to a new job. It may be when we humble ourselves to the ungodly for the sake of their salvation. We show others the way to salvation through our righteous behavior and our holy mindset. If we lay our lives down for the sake of obedience, it proves we serve and love Jesus.


Lord, teach me how to lay my life down for you. Teach me how to humble myself to you in obedience and righteousness. And teach me to lead others to you through love and holiness. I want to love you and others more than I love myself. All things are possible in you, Jesus. I trust you to teach me how to lay my life down. In Jesus’ name, amen.

Testifying or Bragging?

John 12:17-19 WEB

The multitude therefore that was with him when he called Lazarus out of the tomb, and raised him from the dead, was testifying about it. [18] For this cause also the multitude went and met him, because they heard that he had done this sign. [19] The Pharisees therefore said among themselves, “See how you accomplish nothing. Behold, the world has gone after him.”


Jesus did a wonderful miracle, he raised Lazarus from the dead. Not only did he raise him, but Jesus did it after Lazarus was buried and dead for four days. The people that were there to grieve for Lazarus saw what Jesus did. And now, they were repeating the story and causing many to look for Jesus. The Lord, through his ministry commonly told people to keep their miracles a secret (Mat 9:29-30). But this sign was too big to keep silent. So, they testified, and many came to Christ.

How do we know when we are testifying and when we are bragging? That is a huge issue in modern society. We live in a time when self-promotion is rampant and often leads to success. Yet the word teaches us not to boast about our accomplishments (1 Sam 2:3). It can even be a boast to tell what God is doing in our lives. When we are right with God, we do not have to prove we are right with God. That comes from ego and self-promotion. We do not have to brag about our blessings. We should brag on God alone. He is our boast.

We can often tell when God has intervened in someone’s life. God will begin to fix what is broken and line up a believer with their destiny. But having healing or destiny is not something to brag about. Having a destiny in Christ should lead to our silence. We may at appropriate times share our calling with others. After all, we still need people even when we are solidly in Christ. But in general, it is not something we should be bragging about. Rather, we should treasure the miracles and share them when led by the Holy Spirit, so they lead others to Christ.


Lord, give me the wisdom to see when I am testifying and leading others to you, and when I am bragging and harming others. Take pride and ego away, Lord, and leave a tender heart prepared to receive from you.  Help me receive the wisdom to keep silent. Lead me by your Holy Spirit and let my only boast be you, Lord. In Jesus’ name, amen.   

How much Scripture did Jesus Know?

John 12:12-16 WEB

On the next day a great multitude had come to the feast. When they heard that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem, [13] they took the branches of the palm trees, and went out to meet him, and cried out, “Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord, the King of Israel!” [14] Jesus, having found a young donkey, sat on it. As it is written, [15] “Don’t be afraid, daughter of Zion. Behold, your King comes, sitting on a donkey’s colt.” [16] His disciples didn’t understand these things at first, but when Jesus was glorified, then they remembered that these things were written about him, and that they had done these things to him.


I have always wondered how much of the Word Jesus knew. Did he know the minor prophets well enough to quote them? The scripture quoted in the above passage was from Zechariah 9:9. Or, was he merely flowing in the Spirit during his life? It was when Jesus rose from the dead that he began to teach the Word to his disciples (Luke 24:27) In verse 32 of Luke 24 the disciples are in wonder that their hearts were burning as Jesus taught them. It is clear in his resurrected state Jesus had a huge knowledge of the Word of God.

But that still doesn’t answer the question; how much of the Bible did Jesus know before he rose from the dead? To understand Jesus, it is essential to look at his family history. Jesus was born into a middle-class family. That means his family would have had the means to help Jesus pursue his knowledge of the Scripture. It was common for young men from prosperous families to seek to study with a Rabbi. Jesus’ family was most likely prosperous. Furthermore, there was a major building project going on during Jesus’ lifetime. Sepphoris was the capital of Galilee and was under ongoing construction during Jesus’ life. It is also a city in which Rabbinical families settled. It is very likely Jesus spent many years walking the 3.5 miles from Nazareth to Sepphoris to work with his father Joseph.

So what does it all mean? It means that growing up, Jesus was located near the capital of Galilee. He was from a family of financial means. He also had access to rabbinical teaching because of his family’s status. It is likely that Jesus was formally trained by a Rabbi and did indeed know the scripture. Moreover, his knowledge of the scripture seems to be greater than someone who had only gone to the synagogue to learn all they knew. It is almost certain that Jesus studied the Scripture formally.


Lord, please instill in me a desire to learn more about the Bible. I want to be a worker who knows how to handle the Word responsibly. Bless my study, Lord, and help me arrive at the truth. Please fulfill my heart’s desire to know more about you, Jesus. In Jesus’ name, amen.

The Spectacle of Miracles

John 12:9-11 WEB

A large crowd therefore of the Jews learned that he was there, and they came, not for Jesus’ sake only, but that they might see Lazarus also, whom he had raised from the dead. [10] But the chief priests conspired to put Lazarus to death also, [11] because on account of him many of the Jews went away and believed in Jesus.


People love a spectacle. When Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead, he created a spectacle. People were astonished. In modern language, we would say Jesus “blew their minds.” And once Jesus astonished people with the wonder of the miracles he performed, people started following to watch the spectacle. Many did not want to become more intimately acquainted with God. They wanted to be entertained.

Of course, not all people were there for entertainment. Lazarus being raised from the dead excited many of the followers. A large number began to believe Jesus was the Messiah. Because of this, the chief priests plotted to kill Lazarus. They were jealous of the attention Jesus and Lazarus were getting. It was a threat to their positions (John 11:48). Therefore, out of jealousy, they wanted to kill both Jesus and Lazarus.

For Jesus and Lazarus, being anointed carried a heavy price. Not everyone was there to serve the Lord. Some were there to see what Jesus would do next. They loved what Jesus could do for them, but they did not love Jesus. We know when Jesus died, he died alone. Only a few apostles came to the crucifixion. The crowd that loved the miracles was nowhere to be found when Jesus needed them the most. Jesus understood these things. The Word says that Jesus trusted no one (John 2:23-24). So, for the many who would believe, Jesus endured the many that wanted to be entertained.


Lord, please prepare my heart to be faithful to you. I don’t want to be a person who is in Christ for entertainment. Please give me the grace to do what you ask me to do in a godly manner. Help me love you and love the people you died to save. Help me recognize the self-seekers so I can focus on those who may be saved. In Jesus’ name, amen.

Jesus Rebukes Judas

John 12:3-8 WEB

Mary, therefore, took a pound of ointment of pure nard, very precious, and anointed the feet of Jesus, and wiped his feet with her hair. The house was filled with the fragrance of the ointment. [4] Then Judas Iscariot, Simon’s son, one of his disciples, who would betray him, said, [5] “Why wasn’t this ointment sold for three hundred denarii, and given to the poor?” [6] Now he said this, not because he cared for the poor, but because he was a thief, and having the money box, used to steal what was put into it. [7] But Jesus said, “Leave her alone. She has kept this for the day of my burial. [8] For you always have the poor with you, but you don’t always have me.”


Jesus lived a life full of contradictions. He had 12 apostles and he knew one was going to betray him. Judas of all the people present had the vulgarity to despise openly the ministry of Mary to the Lord.  While Jesus was having a moment, Judas was having a fit. He was a thief of an abundant money bag. So abundant he could steal from the money bag and the others did not realize he was stealing. But then he opened his mouth and everyone in the room could see his foul character.

He did not feel the awe and wonder others in the room surely felt. They watched as Mary pour out the valuable perfume. So precious it was worth a year’s wages. The gift is even more precious when you realize it probably represented her life savings. Mary and her brother Lazarus and sister Martha were most likely wealthy. They had a beautiful home that was suitable for large gatherings. The perfume Mary poured out was not something every woman had. They may have had a perfume box they wore around their necks, but they would not have that amount of perfume.

It is strange to think that Mary could have used a little of the ointment to minister to Jesus’ feet. What was astonishing is that she poured out the entire contents of the box. She held nothing back. And Judas could not stand it. From the abundance of his heart comes the accusation that the money should have gone to the poor. But Judas did not care about the poor, or Jesus, or his fellow apostles. Judas cared about Judas.


Lord, please give me the wisdom to pour out my prayer and worship to you. Help me balance giving to various ministries and outreaches. Show me how to lavish love on you without being foolish. Be with me to guide me in the offering. Help me love you more than I love myself. In Jesus’ name, amen.

Willing Servants

John 12:1-3 WEB

Then six days before the Passover, Jesus came to Bethany, where Lazarus was, who had been dead, whom he raised from the dead. [2] So they made him a supper there. Martha served, but Lazarus was one of those who sat at the table with him. [3] Mary, therefore, took a pound of ointment of pure nard, very precious, and anointed the feet of Jesus, and wiped his feet with her hair. The house was filled with the fragrance of the ointment.


Mary had been angry with Jesus because he tarried at Lazarus’ death (John 11). Her anger did not stop Jesus’ obedience to the Father. Nor did it make Jesus love her less. Mary did not recognize the work of God happening around her. But she would soon see the greatest of Jesus’ miracles, the raising of Lazarus. Now, after a bit of time passed, we find this same Mary anointing the feet of Jesus. She probably washed Jesus’ feet, dried them, anointed them (gave Jesus a foot massage), and finally wiped the excess ointment off with her hair.

Mary was capable of great emotional responses. Though she is quiet, she is mighty. Her sacrifice ministered to Jesus, but it also impacted everyone in the house. Jesus’ feet and Mary’s hair were filled with the ointment which perfumed the environment. Also, Martha cooked a large meal and the good smells from the dinner were filling the air. The house smelled wonderful.

The house was full. We learn in John 12:4 that the apostles are also at the dinner. The people in the house were impacted by the faith of Mary and Martha. Everyone could enjoy the fragrances in the house. Mary and Martha’s faith had a positive impact on all those around them. They sacrificed and served, willingly. They shared what they had and ministered to Jesus and the apostles. Because of the willingness of the sisters to sacrifice and serve, Jesus comes to their home.


Lord, please help me be a willing servant. Help me give sacrifices of worship and help me serve with a glad heart. I want you to draw near to me and for my heart to be a place you gladly dwell. In Jesus’ name, amen.

Jesus’ Family

John 12:1-2 WEB

Then six days before the Passover, Jesus came to Bethany, where Lazarus was, who had been dead, whom he raised from the dead. [2] So they made him a supper there. Martha served, but Lazarus was one of those who sat at the table with him.


Six days before the Passover Jesus came out of hiding (John 11:54). He went to Bethany, to the household of Mary, Martha, and Lazarus. They were practically family and Jesus trusted them enough to stay with them. Jesus was not hiding anymore. He had a following of disciples and apostles that would have been in Bethany with him. So, it was only a matter of time before the religious leaders found out Jesus was back in Judea.

The Pharisees were plotting to kill Jesus (John 11:53). For this reason, he stayed in Ephraim on the edge of the wilderness. However, the Passover was just six days away and so Jesus went back to Bethany. He would not have gone at all except if the Father revealed it to him (John 5:19). So, in faith, Jesus goes. He goes to his favorite family, putting them in danger as well.

But it was good that Jesus had Mary, Martha, and Lazarus to stay with. Martha is serving, her normal behavior. Lazarus is relaxed at the table with Jesus. This family is not afraid of danger. Lazarus was raised from the dead and the man who raised him was sitting at the table. Jesus chose well in trusting this family. He had done great things for them and had inspired great faith in them.


Lord, help me stand steady in my walk with you. Give me the courage to serve you. I want to be a daughter you can trust. I want to be close to you. In Jesus’ name, amen.

The Reproach of Jesus

John 11:47-48,53-54 WEB

The chief priests therefore and the Pharisees gathered a council, and said, “What are we doing? For this man does many signs. [48] If we leave him alone like this, everyone will believe in him, and the Romans will come and take away both our place and our nation.” [53] So from that day forward they took counsel that they might put him to death. [54] Jesus therefore walked no more openly among the Jews, but departed from there into the country near the wilderness, to a city called Ephraim. He stayed there with his disciples.


It is startling to think that Jesus had to hide from the authorities. Can you see Jesus and the disciples looking around corners, being careful of where they walked? It has a dramatic flair. But it also shines the light on Jesus’ humanity. Though he was God, he functioned entirely in his humanity and made himself subject to human authority.

Jesus was humble. He took his disciples and quickly departed to the edge of the wilderness to a city called Ephraim. He could have called angels to save him from the death plot (Mat 26:53). Instead, he removes himself and his followers from the danger. Jesus does not tempt God but rather takes a more difficult path (Mat 4:7). He is obedient to the Word even though he is fleeing.

Jesus was obedient to the Word and the Spirit. This caused him to receive condemnation from those in Judea. We also receive condemnation when we obey the Word of God or walk in the Spirit. For example, the Word says not to gossip. However, gossip is a very prominent sin. To refuse to engage in gossip is to put yourself at odds with people both in and out of the church. Likewise, Jesus ran the risk of heaping more reproach upon himself with every miracle he performed and every sermon he preached.


Lord, I thank you for humbling yourself to human authority on your journey to the cross. Thank you for receiving reproach just as we receive reproach today. You are honorable in all you do Jesus. Help me be more like you, Lord. In Jesus’ name, amen.

Bridled Tongues

John 11:46-48 WEB

But some of them went away to the Pharisees, and told them the things which Jesus had done. [47] The chief priests therefore and the Pharisees gathered a council, and said, “What are we doing? For this man does many signs. [48] If we leave him alone like this, everyone will believe in him, and the Romans will come and take away both our place and our nation.”


Talebearers are deadly. Even Jesus was the subject of malicious gossip. And in Jesus’ case, it led to his death. That is what the Bible is talking about in Romans 1:29 where it joins gossip with the sin of murder. This is an insidious problem for all people and groups. The tongue is a destroying flame (Jas 3:5).

Despite the damage gossip causes, it seems to flourish. This is one of those sins that give us insight into our own hearts. If we engage in gossip, we are counted with murderers by God (Rom 1:29). So why do God’s people engage so freely in gossip? Something like this usually starts at the top. If the pastors and leadership are violating people’s trust and gossiping, it is going to be hard for that same group to purge gossip from the congregation.

Gossip in the congregation reveals the condition of the church to the leadership. Gossip is not a sin that will be overlooked at the judgment. It is clear in the Bible that gossip is a deadly sin. It is easy to see in ourselves, in others, and in groups. Therefore, it is something that needs to be addressed. Pastors and clergy are responsible for the wellness of their flock. It is a betrayal when leaders overlook so great a sin infecting their people.  


Lord, forgive me for gossiping. Help me learn to talk with others without gossiping. I ask for a holy conviction to come upon me for the things I say. Help me bridle my tongue, Lord. In Jesus’ name, amen.