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.

Take Away the Stone

John 11:39-43 WEB

Jesus said, “Take away the stone.” Martha, the sister of him who was dead, said to him, “Lord, by this time there is a stench, for he has been dead four days.” [40] Jesus said to her, “Didn’t I tell you that if you believed, you would see God’s glory?” [41] So they took away the stone from the place where the dead man was lying. Jesus lifted up his eyes, and said, “Father, I thank you that you listened to me. [42] I know that you always listen to me, but because of the multitude that stands around I said this, that they may believe that you sent me.” [43] When he had said this, he cried with a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out!”


Jesus had high expectations. Martha’s brother had been in the tomb for four days. There was nothing left to hope for in this life, Lazarus was gone. Still, Jesus reproves Martha for her lack of belief. He expected her to believe in a hopeless situation. Not only that, but she was also in pain. With Lazarus dead, Martha had many things to worry about. Regardless, the Lord does not shield Martha from the truth but instead reproves her.

It’s stunning. Martha was arguing with the Lord. She had just confessed that Jesus was the Messiah (John 11:27). Martha exulted in the revelation that Jesus was divine. But at the first small test, she fell. Instead of focusing on Jesus, she had her eyes on the situation. This resulted in Martha openly contradicting the Lord. If her mind had been set on belief and trust, Martha would have kept her first awareness of Jesus. But she clearly doubted. And because she doubted, she questioned. Because of doubt she openly demonstrated disbelief.

But Jesus believed. And all those that rolled the stone away believed. In the face of Martha’s instability in her walk with Jesus, he remained stable. He was faithful to Martha, Mary, and all those who trusted him for leadership. Martha slipped in and out of faith but Jesus remained faithful (Rom 3:3-4). Jesus believed to the point of confidence, so he called out boldly, “Lazarus, come out!”


Lord, please help me trust you and believe your Word. When difficulties arise lend me your grace that I may stand stable in my faith. Help me keep my eyes on you, Lord. In Jesus’ name, amen.

Jesus Groans

John 11:33-40 WEB

When Jesus therefore saw her weeping, and the Jews weeping who came with her, he groaned in the spirit, and was troubled, [34] and said, “Where have you laid him?” They told him, “Lord, come and see.” [35] Jesus wept. [36] The Jews therefore said, “See how much affection he had for him!” [37] Some of them said, “Couldn’t this man, who opened the eyes of him who was blind, have also kept this man from dying?” [38] Jesus therefore, again groaning in himself, came to the tomb. Now it was a cave, and a stone lay against it. [39] Jesus said, “Take away the stone.” Martha, the sister of him who was dead, said to him, “Lord, by this time there is a stench, for he has been dead four days.” [40] Jesus said to her, “Didn’t I tell you that if you believed, you would see God’s glory?”


God hates disbelief. In this story, Jesus groans twice. The first time he groans he is with Mary crying in despair. The second time he groans the Jews were murmuring doubtful comments. In the first instance, Mary is at his feet and has just lamented Jesus could have saved Lazarus (John 11:32). In the second instance, the Jews were questioning why Lazarus died. Thus, Jesus had much to groan about. However, it is the disbelief that makes this situation so troubling. In other places in the scripture, it says that Jesus was limited in the miracles he could perform because of disbelief (Mat 13:58). When Jesus followed the Father’s direction and waited to come to Bethany to heal Lazarus, he took a risk.

It was a risk for Jesus to tell his disciples that he was going to raise Lazarus from the dead. It was a risk to the lives of the disciples to be in Bethany of Judea. There were many seeking to arrest the Lord and his companions (John 11:8, 16). So, to see the disbelief, and to have so much pressure on him, Jesus groans. We know from the scripture Jesus had times when the miracles would not flow. This created pressure on Jesus. This forced Jesus to walk in faith. He had to take a risk with every miracle. Now, he is going to do something he has never done.

Jesus is about to raise Lazarus from the dead. But he has a problem, there is a real lack of faith from everyone. The sisters are in despair, the Jews are murmuring, and the disciples are unhappy. Jesus needed to raise their faith. So, he gives them a task. Remove the stone. It took faith to move the stone. Lazarus had been in the grave for four days and his body should have been in a state of decay. To move the stone was an unclean act. Being unclean disqualifies one from going into the temple. Therefore, this was truly an act of faith. And that mustard seed of faith was enough. Lazarus was about to be called out of the grave.  


Lord give me a discerning ear to hear from the Holy Spirit. Lead me into obedience that can move mountains. Give me wisdom and cause me to mature in my faith. I trust you, Lord, with this process. In Jesus’ name, amen.

Hope or Doubt?

John 11:20-27 WEB

Then when Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went and met him, but Mary stayed in the house. [21] Therefore Martha said to Jesus, “Lord, if you would have been here, my brother wouldn’t have died. [22] Even now I know that, whatever you ask of God, God will give you.” [23] Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise again.” [24] Martha said to him, “I know that he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day.” [25] Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will still live, even if he dies. [26] Whoever lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?” [27] She said to him, “Yes, Lord. I have come to believe that you are the Christ, God’s Son, he who comes into the world.”


Jesus told Martha a secret. He told her he was, “the resurrection and the life.” Jesus had enough confidence in Martha to tell her something new, a revelation. Why didn’t he give this revelation to his disciples first? It’s probably because Jesus knows the heart of all people. He knew he could entrust the truth to Martha. She would not throw it away in doubt.

Martha did not doubt the Lord even after Lazarus died. She acknowledged anything was possible with the Lord. Even in her brother’s death, Martha had hope. So, she ran to the Lord. When she saw him Martha lamented that Jesus could have saved Lazarus. However, she quickly moves past sadness and goes straight to the victory. She said, “Even now I know that, whatever you ask of God, God will give you.” Martha had hope.

But Mary stayed behind because she did not have hope. She had given the Lord everything she had and still, he did not answer her call for help. She was immobilized by her grief. Lazarus was the provider of the home. Moreover, Mary had given up a sinful lifestyle that she probably profited from. That left her only one option, trust Lazarus. Then Lazarus died. And Jesus didn’t show up. Mary had just recently given him her most precious possession. And now, she was spiritually bankrupt. She came to a crisis of belief because things did not go how she expected. Her life was not going as she expected.


Lord, help me seek you so I may serve you. Help me remember I do not serve myself but I serve you. When things look different than I expect, help me stand steady in my faith, nothing wavering. 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.

Mary the Worshiper

John 11:1-4 WEB

Now a certain man was sick, Lazarus from Bethany, of the village of Mary and her sister, Martha. [2] It was that Mary who had anointed the Lord with ointment, and wiped his feet with her hair, whose brother, Lazarus, was sick. [3] The sisters therefore sent to him, saying, “Lord, behold, he for whom you have great affection is sick.” [4] But when Jesus heard it, he said, “This sickness is not to death, but for the glory of God, that God’s Son may be glorified by it.”


Mary is honored by the Lord for her extravagant act of worship. She had poured out a jar of perfume on the Lord’s feet and wiped it with her hair (Luke 7:37-38). This wasn’t an easy act of worship. The jar of perfume was worth a year’s wages. It probably represented all or most of Mary’s savings. But she did not save it. When presented with an opportunity to worship from the overflow of her heart she cracked that jar and poured out all she had.

It was right for her to pour out all she had. It is likely that Mary was a prostitute before her salvation. So, what she gave up, her entire means of support, and the fruit thereof, was a holy offering (Luke 7:50). And it was also a seed. Jesus commemorated her for all time in his Word and it seems the Father wanted to honor the family even more. From this family of extraordinary worshipers comes the most extraordinary miracle of Jesus’ ministry.

In a few more verses we are going to learn Lazarus both died and was restored back to life. He was dead and in his tomb four days before the Lord arrived (John 11:39). This is because the Lord knew what was going to happen. The Father revealed it to him, and he revealed it to his disciples. Jesus knew by revelation that God and his son Jesus were going to be glorified. However, the Father chose to pour this glory out on Mary the worshiper, and her family.


Lord, let my worship be worthy of praise. Let gratitude and love for you rise in my spirit. Lord, I hope the overflow of my heart is a genuine act of devotion that pleases you. You are worthy of praise Father. In Jesus’ name, amen.  

Jesus Demonstrates the Gospel

John 9:32-38 WEB

[32] Since the world began it has never been heard of that anyone opened the eyes of someone born blind. [33] If this man were not from God, he could do nothing.” [34] They answered him, “You were altogether born in sins, and do you teach us?” They threw him out. [35] Jesus heard that they had thrown him out, and finding him, he said, “Do you believe in the Son of God?” [36] He answered, “Who is he, Lord, that I may believe in him?” [37] Jesus said to him, “You have both seen him, and it is he who speaks with you.” [38] He said, “Lord, I believe!” and he worshiped him.


Jesus showed the blind man, great love, as he healed him and his life. When Jesus first encountered the man who was blind, he was begging to support himself. Also, he was considered a sinner. So, when the blind man asked Jesus to heal him, even though it was the Sabbath, Jesus healed him. When Jesus healed the blind man, he made spit paste, rubbed it on his eyes, and told him to go to the pool of Siloam and wash. At first glance, it looks like Jesus is humiliating the man.

But Jesus does not humiliate people, that is Satan’s method. Jesus sent the man to the pool of Siloam because it would lead to a greater healing, inner healing. Jesus did not rub spit on him to shame him. Jesus doesn’t hurt people, but Satan is intent on our destruction. So, it was with the man who was blind. It’s clear from the text scripture the man born blind had spent time at the synagogue because he has a doctrine; if you worship and obey God, you will be blessed.

Why did the beggar who was blind his entire life develop a doctrine? Because he loved God. Though he had fallen into an unhealthy lifestyle, Jesus knew what was in the man’s heart. Jesus knew this was a backslidden believer. So, he was careful to heal the man just the way the Father showed him. Then, when the priest threw the man out of the Synagogue, Jesus found him and led him to salvation. I do not think it felt great for Jesus to be told to wipe spit paste on the man. But Jesus was so convinced about the Father, he obeyed, perfectly. Jesus’ love and obedience worked salvation in the once blind man’s life.


Lord, please help me learn to hear from you so that I can lead the lost and backslidden to you. Show me how to love people as you love people. In Jesus’ name, amen.

The Promises

John 8:56-59 WEB

Your father Abraham rejoiced to see my day. He saw it, and was glad.” [57] The Jews therefore said to him, “You are not yet fifty years old, and have you seen Abraham?” [58] Jesus said to them, “Most certainly, I tell you, before Abraham came into existence, I AM. ” [59] Therefore they took up stones to throw at him, but Jesus was hidden, and went out of the temple, having gone through the middle of them, and so passed by.


Jesus is talking to a crowd who has been calling him a demon. Now, taking it a step further, the crowd attempted to stone Jesus. But Jesus knew he could trust God. And so, Jesus just walked right out of that situation. He took one step at a time. Step by step, with stones in their hands, he walked through the middle of the crowd.

How did Jesus walk out of a raging mob intent on stoning him to death? He believed God. He believed the things he heard and saw from the Lord. Based on that belief he knew he was safe. Based on that belief he knew to pivot and walk away.

What we believe about God’s Word matters. Jesus had the Word of God in his heart and he had the scriptures. We have those same things. The Holy Spirit gently speaks to us and leads us. The Bible also leads us. If it is in the Bible, you can trust it completely. If you encounter a promise in the Word, let it guide your decision-making process.


Lord Jesus, please help me know your Word, trust your Word, and act based on your Word. Help me receive the promises and walk in them. Give me the grace to trust You more. In Jesus’ name, amen.

What Jesus Heard

John 8:25-27 WEB

They said therefore to him, “Who are you?” Jesus said to them, “Just what I have been saying to you from the beginning. [26] I have many things to speak and to judge concerning you. However he who sent me is true; and the things which I heard from him, these I say to the world.” [27] They didn’t understand that he spoke to them about the Father.


Even Jesus had to hold his tongue. He was constrained by the voice of the Father. If Jesus heard it, he was faithful to say it. If he only had his own opinion, he remained silent.  However, the Jews wanted to know more about Jesus. They pressed him for an answer. The only answer Jesus had for the Jews was that he was who and what he said he was from the beginning. Jesus assumes they have heard him previously and he judges them based on what they should know.

But that judgment is implied at this point. Jesus tells them he is going to judge them and say things about them. Yet, it wasn’t the right time. In his humility, Jesus remains silent. He gives the Jews enough information they can intuit his meaning. But he did not say anything outright. Instead, he would wait to hear from his Father and then speak.

Jesus implies another judgment. He has judged the Father as trustworthy. Jesus clearly believed he could hear the Father’s voice, he believed the Father was trustworthy, and these two things together meant the Jews were responsible to accept his testimony. Jesus felt his testimony was valid because he only spoke what the Father said, and the Father always speaks the truth.  


Lord Jesus, train my ear to hear you. Protect me as I stretch out my faith and act upon your voice. Give me the wisdom to go slow. Teach me humility and discernment so I will be silent when all I have is my opinion. In Jesus’ name, amen.

Jesus Knew Who He Was

John 8:24 WEB

I said therefore to you that you will die in your sins; for unless you believe that I am he, you will die in your sins.”


Jesus knew who he was (John 8:58). He knew scripture and recognized his life fulfilled Bible prophecies about the Messiah (John 17:5). He knew what that meant. He understood unless people know God, they would not believe the message, Jesus was the Messiah. And believing in the Messiah as an action step towards salvation was a new concept. Only those who were intimate with the Father would know such things (John 17:2).

Only those the Father gave to Jesus would be saved. Jesus understood this was true. He understood people had to be born again (John 3:3). For the Jewish leaders to be saved the Father would have to inspire them to trust Jesus. However, the Pharisees and leaders were so confident in their righteousness they did not ask God for revelation (John 7:47-49). They did not ask God to protect them from deception. They believed in the law and thought Jesus was either deranged or deceived.

Jesus was neither (John 8:48). He was not mentally unstable. He did believe the Bible and for that, he was looked down upon. Nor was he deceived. He did not have false delusions about who he was and what his eternal role was. He was humble enough to be honest with himself and others. He understood the truth. He was the Messiah, he had to die, he would rise again, and God would reward him for his trust and faith.


Lord Jesus, bless me with the humility to tell other people the truth about you. Lead me into holiness and bless me to bring the lost into a saving belief in you. In Jesus’ name, amen.