Lifted Up

John 12:31-34 WEB

[31] Now is the judgment of this world. Now the prince of this world will be cast out. [32] And I, if I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.” [33] But he said this, signifying by what kind of death he should die. [34] The multitude answered him, “We have heard out of the law that the Christ remains forever. How do you say, ‘The Son of Man must be lifted up?’ Who is this Son of Man?”


Jesus’ impending death was heavy on his mind. Jesus was addressing the crowd that was drawn through the mighty miracle of Lazarus’ resurrection. Ironically, the Father revealed that Jesus would die through the resurrection of Lazarus. God even went so far as to reveal how Jesus would die. He would be lifted up on a cross so that all people could receive eternal life.

With all they had seen, the crowd still could not understand a Messiah that died on a cross. That was because in Isaiah 9:7 the Bible says that there is no ending to the Lord’s rule. Also, the crowd believed Daniel 2:44 which says God’s kingdom shall never end. They had Jesus before them and yet could not see him. So, although Jesus was dealing with his own heartache, he continues to explain the kingdom and the Son of Man. With all the heightened experiences Jesus and the disciples had experienced they were almost surely ready for rest. Instead, Jesus keeps trying to make use of the current opportunity. His feet were prepared with the gospel of peace.

Jesus was the gospel of peace. His life story teaches us what peace looks like, strangely enough, Jesus’ story is full of chaotic moments. The water to wine in Cana, the scourging of the vendors in the temple complex, the feeding of the multitude, and the resurrection of Lazarus. Those situations were chaotic, and that chaos affected the disciples. However, Jesus remained unchanged. The chaos of the circumstances did not take Jesus’ peace. Jesus was fully confident in God’s goodness. So much that he obediently went to the cross to be lifted up.


Lord, please release a quality of peace that will allow me to stand steady amid chaos. Help me make use of opportunities to share the gospel. Please, Lord, take away the fear of rejection so I boldly and respectfully share the message of Jesus Christ. 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.

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.

Love Abandoned

John 11:43-46 WEB

When he had said this, he cried with a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out!” [44] He who was dead came out, bound hand and foot with wrappings, and his face was wrapped around with a cloth. Jesus said to them, “Free him, and let him go.” [45] Therefore many of the Jews, who came to Mary and saw what Jesus did, believed in him. [46] But some of them went away to the Pharisees, and told them the things which Jesus had done.


Even after bringing the dead to life some of the Jews were offended. Thus, they went to the Pharisees to report on Jesus’ activities. It appears that all the Jews present were interested in the things of God. Some received Jesus as a savior while others reported him as an agent of evil to the religious leaders. It reminds me of the modern-day trouble we have between Conservative and Liberal Christians. Both parties have strengths and weaknesses. However, instead of loving one another, they appear to be at war.

From Conservatism, we get the Holy Spirit working actively. This is also where the miracles happen. Conservative missionaries seem prone to miracles. Conservatives also have a focus on saving the lost and getting the gospel to every people group. They have done a great deal to build the Church. However, there are some issues as well. First off is a deep suspicion of anyone who thinks differently or has different kingdom goals. The focus on God is great, but the narrowmindedness to all other groups is not great. Much love is abandoned in the demand for total agreement.

On the other hand, Liberal Christians focus on history and look for answers to today’s issues in ancient texts. They are more concerned with the knowledge of the Lord. Frequently liberals study the text to compare word usage and other markers which reveal much about the Bible. They are also focused on relieving poverty and meeting the needs of the poor. However, Liberals do not have as a primary concern the salvation of the Lost or the active building of the Church.


Lord, please help me discern what is good from what is evil. Fill me with love for all Christians. Inspire me to share the gospel and fill me with compassion for the poor. In Jesus’ name, amen.

Obedient Jesus and Frustrated Believers

John 11:5-7 WEB

Now Jesus loved Martha, and her sister, and Lazarus. [6] When therefore he heard that he was sick, he stayed two days in the place where he was. [7] Then after this he said to the disciples, “Let’s go into Judea again.”


Jesus loved Martha, Mary, and Lazarus so much that he decided to let Lazarus die. It was tough love. He knew the outcome was good, for the Father had shown him. So, for the sake of the blessing that was coming, he waited two days before going to Bethany. For two sisters saved from prostitution and dependent on their male relative to care for them, this was a scary situation. They were on the verge of losing their beloved brother and the life they knew. They lived in a time when women were treated as less valuable than men. There were approximately 100 rules in Judaism that constrained woman’s behavior. Losing Lazarus was going to destroy their lives.

But Jesus knew what he was going to do. Jesus always listened to his Father and did what he saw the Father doing. Thus, when he either heard or had a vision of Lazarus rising from the dead, he knew he needed to wait. The waiting was probably uncomfortable for Jesus. His love for this family is highlighted in Scripture. However, Jesus was so convinced of the Father’s good intentions that despite his great love for Martha, Mary, and Lazarus, Jesus waited. And in the waiting, the problem became more difficult to remedy.

Mary was upset with the Lord’s choice. When he finally arrives in Bethany, she does not go to meet him. Martha must coax Mary to come to see the Lord. It is then that Mary goes to Jesus. She wails her frustration in her small voice, “Lord, if you would have been here, my brother wouldn’t have died (John 11:32).” That was Jesus’ limit. He asked where Lazarus had been laid to rest because Jesus was about to call Lazarus out of the grave.


Lord, increase my trust in you. I do not want to become afraid when trouble arises. Help me, Lord, to have real faith that inspires Godly patience and complete trust. Lead me into a full conviction of your goodness. In Jesus’ name, amen.

Judging Fruitfulness

John 10:37-42 WEB

If I don’t do the works of my Father, don’t believe me. [38] But if I do them, though you don’t believe me, believe the works; that you may know and believe that the Father is in me, and I in the Father.” [39] They sought again to seize him, and he went out of their hand. [40] He went away again beyond the Jordan into the place where John was baptizing at first, and there he stayed. [41] Many came to him. They said, “John indeed did no sign, but everything that John said about this man is true.” [42] Many believed in him there.


Jealousy is surely the ugliest emotion. Not the loving jealousy which produces a willingness to care for and protect another. No, I am referring to the ugly, vicious jealousy towards someone who is more successful than another. In the church, we talk about people’s anointing as an object of jealousy. This is exactly what is being described in the above passage. The Pharisees refused to believe in Jesus even though he performed signs or miracles.

John did no miracles. John did not go to the temple to preach as Jesus did. John was less anointed than Jesus and therefore less of a threat to the leaders of the Jewish people. John prophesied and his prophetic voice was acknowledged by the people, so much the Pharisees did not speak against him. Yet they did not believe his message. More important, they did not feel threatened by John.

How many anointed preachers get passed over for someone less threatening in the modern church? Many Christians love worldly success. Even ministers of the Gospel get caught in this trap. Once their ministry starts to grow, they begin protecting the ministry. Which is good until it causes a minister to thwart God’s plan. Jesus wants willing vessels. It’s easy to believe God is all-powerful and can put anyone anywhere he wants them. And, while this is true, most often God works through willing people. As Jesus said in the above passage, look at their works. Check the fruit of a ministry before you whole-heartedly start trusting what they are preaching. That was Jesus’ advice.


Lord, give me insight and wisdom to understand the motivation and intent of those who lead me in the church. Help me both honor and righteously judge those who ascend to leadership positions. Save me from a cult-like following that can lead to deception. In Jesus’ name, amen.

I and the Father are One

John 10:30-33 WEB

I and the Father are one.” [31] Therefore Jews took up stones again to stone him. [32] Jesus answered them, “I have shown you many good works from my Father. For which of those works do you stone me?” [33] The Jews answered him, “We don’t stone you for a good work, but for blasphemy: because you, being a man, make yourself God.”


This is one of Jesus’ most bold statements. He claimed to be equal to God. The Jews were outraged by Jesus’ statement that he was one with God. They became so upset they took up stones to kill Jesus. Jesus asked them, “for which work do you stone me?” Regardless of the miracles and wisdom Jesus demonstrated to the Jews, they would not believe he was from God. Instead, they were determined to destroy the works of God wrought through Jesus.

Why did the Jews want Jesus dead? In our day and age, many mentally ill people say they are God. We don’t persecute them, instead, we pity and dismiss them. It was likely the same in Jesus’ time. There were probably many people who thought they were from God or had a revelation from God. So, why did the Jewish leaders reject Jesus instead of just ignoring him? They rejected him because people were listening to him.

Not only were people listening to Jesus, but people were believing in his message. This was perceived to be a threat to the positions and status of the Jewish leaders. The leaders had their positions at the will of the Romans. They feared the Romans more than they feared God. More, Jesus was perceived to be a threat to their positions. In short, they were jealous. In their jealousy and self-preservation, they despised the goodness of God and rejected Jesus.  


Lord, please forgive me for harming others because of jealousy. Reveal to me any jealousy that I do not recognize and lead me into repentance. Please give me a genuine love for all people so that I celebrate their successes instead of feeling threatened. In Jesus’ name, amen.

Seek Ye First

John 10:16-18 WEB

I have other sheep, which are not of this fold. I must bring them also, and they will hear my voice. They will become one flock with one shepherd. [17] Therefore the Father loves me, because I lay down my life, that I may take it again. [18] No one takes it away from me, but I lay it down by myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. I received this commandment from my Father.”


Did you know, like Jesus, we have the power to lay our lives down and the power to pick our lives back up? On the cross, Jesus paid the full penalty for humanity’s sin. When the payment was complete, he gave up life and died. Ironically, Jesus had control over his journey to the cross. Jesus went to the cross fully capable of avoiding the horrific experience.

But he did not avoid the shame and suffering. He embraced it as God’s will. He gave his life up willingly (Heb 12:2). After his death, he took his life back up by the power of resurrection that dwelt in Him (John 11:25). The word says the spirit of resurrection that was in Christ raised him from the dead. Jesus laid his life down and he took his life back up. It was good for us that Jesus was able to take his life back, it meant victory for the whole world (John 19:30).

When we choose to lay our lives down, we are emulating Christ. We do not lay our lives down in vain, we lay our lives down for the good of those being saved (1 John 3:16). Likewise, after we have been humbled by the Lord, we can take our lives back up. The word says that if we seek after righteousness, we will have abundant blessings (Mat 6:33). We lay our lives down for and allow the Father to purify us. After this process has done its work, the Father lets us pick our lives back up. We are meant to love others more than ourselves and we are also meant to walk in victory (1 Cor 15:54-57).


Lord, I want to walk in holiness and righteousness so that I can be used by you. And after a season of being humbled, I know I will have the desires of my heart. Please do your work and take away my worldly appetites. Then, when the time is right, lead me into victory. In Jesus’ name, amen.