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.  

Guilt that Remains

John 9:39-41 WEB

Jesus said, “I came into this world for judgment, that those who don’t see may see; and that those who see may become blind.” [40] Those of the Pharisees who were with him heard these things, and said to him, “Are we also blind?” [41] Jesus said to them, “If you were blind, you would have no sin; but now you say, ‘We see.’ Therefore your sin remains.


The Pharisees were a religious group intent on obedience to God. In their intense desire to obey God, they wrote approximately 400 rules every Jewish person was meant to obey. The book of rules was called the Talmud. During Jesus’ day, the Talmud was the authoritative text of the Jewish religion, Judaism. Unfortunately, the Pharisees were about the only people that could properly obey the Talmud. This was because they studied the Scripture and Talmud daily. They did not have other employment. Instead, they spent all their time focused on obedience to God.

Because they knew the scriptures Jesus said their eyes were open. That meant they understood the scripture had authority over the Talmud. The Pharisees considered anyone a lawbreaker if they disobeyed the Talmud to obey scripture.  In fact, the Pharisees were professionals at policing and enforcing the Talmud. Anyone caught breaking the rules of the Talmud were put out of the synagogue, an extremely traumatic life outcome.

The Pharisees had just thrown the man who had once been blind out of the synagogue. He went to them to have his healing confirmed. However, instead of rejoicing that the Father had healed him, they were more concerned that the healing was done on the Sabbath. Doing anything on the Sabbath, even healing someone, was outlawed in the Talmud. This upset Jesus. The scriptures testified of the Father’s kindness and goodness. Therefore, to outlaw kindness and love on the Sabbath was disobedient. Because they knew this Jesus hurls the truth at them and declares them fit to be judged.


Father, forgive me for caring more about rules than about people. I long to be righteous in my obedience to the Bible and I long to be holy in my love towards others. Help me repent, Lord. This is inner work and I need you to come and show me the best way. In Jesus’ name, amen.

The Depth of God’s Love

John 9:17-22 WEB

Therefore they asked the blind man again, “What do you say about him, because he opened your eyes?” He said, “He is a prophet.” [18] The Jews therefore did not believe concerning him, that he had been blind, and had received his sight, until they called the parents of him who had received his sight, [19] and asked them, “Is this your son, whom you say was born blind? How then does he now see?” [20] His parents answered them, “We know that this is our son, and that he was born blind; [21] but how he now sees, we don’t know; or who opened his eyes, we don’t know. He is of age. Ask him. He will speak for himself.” [22] His parents said these things because they feared the Jews; for the Jews had already agreed that if any man would confess him as Christ, he would be put out of the synagogue.


Do you know what “being churched” means? It is modern-day teaching that if someone is stuck in sin they cannot overcome, they must be excommunicated from the body of Christ (I Cor 5:5). This is meant to lead people to repentance and it does, often. God knows how to save a sinner. The blind man was considered a sinner and he was afraid. He feared the repercussions from religious leaders if he said Jesus was God.

His parents were also afraid of the Pharisees. In Jesus’ day, the lives of Jewish people revolved around the synagogue. It would be traumatic for someone to be put out of the synagogue. To be put out of the synagogue was a tragedy. Of course, it was not really a tragedy. The Pharisees did it on purpose and with intent. The blind beggar and his parents were acutely aware their lives were going to be destroyed if they confessed Christ.

Did Jesus know the blind beggar was going to betray him soon? The Father certainly did. That is significant because Jesus was doing what he saw the Father doing. In other words, the Father knew the blind beggar was going to betray Jesus. And still, he healed him. Jesus did not push him away for his blindness. The Father did not push them away for their disbelief. The blind man and his parents were about to make a huge mistake and the Father knew how much they were going to need him.


Thank you, Father, for not rejecting me when I make mistakes. Thank you for accepting me and saving me. I trust you to keep me safe in your love. In Jesus’ name, amen.

Religion or Love?

John 9:12-16 WEB

Then they asked him, “Where is he?” He said, “I don’t know.” [13] They brought him who had been blind to the Pharisees. [14] It was a Sabbath when Jesus made the mud and opened his eyes. [15] Again therefore the Pharisees also asked him how he received his sight. He said to them, “He put mud on my eyes, I washed, and I see.” [16] Some therefore of the Pharisees said, “This man is not from God, because he doesn’t keep the Sabbath.” Others said, “How can a man who is a sinner do such signs?” There was division among them.


It was a Sabbath on which Jesus did this miracle. That means it was a Sabbath when the blind man asked to be healed. The beggar who was blind did not care about decorum or rules. He cared about his need to see. So, regardless of the day, the blind man cried out to Jesus and was healed. Not only did the blind man ask for his miracle on the Sabbath, but Jesus also honored his heart’s desire and healed him on the Sabbath.

Before the cross, the old system was still intact. Healing on the sabbath was against the religion of Judaism. As a Bible and Torah believing Jew, Jesus should have been shocked at the bold request. Instead, the blind sinner was healed. Jesus cared more about the blind man than he cared about the rules. He knew the rules and honored them. But when a human need arose, the rules no longer mattered.

The human in the story is what matters most. The blind beggar was a poor and broken man, but God raised him up to eternal glory and honor by including his story in the Bible. He sinned his way to wholeness. Have you ever met a poor beggar? How about a homeless person? Their focus is on their need, not the rules. And God honors them as human beings. God does not withhold his comfort because of this man’s sin. The beggar asked God for help. So, regardless of his lifestyle, God reached out to him and healed him.


Lord, deliver me from a religious spirit so I can love others as you love me. Help me see people as you see them. Help me, love, as you love. In Jesus’ name, amen.

Seeing Miracles

John 9:8-11 WEB

The neighbors therefore, and those who saw that he was blind before, said, “Isn’t this he who sat and begged?” [9] Others were saying, “It is he.” Still others were saying, “He looks like him.” He said, “I am he.” [10] They therefore were asking him, “How were your eyes opened?” [11] He answered, “A man called Jesus made mud, anointed my eyes, and said to me, ‘Go to the pool of Siloam, and wash.’ So I went away and washed, and I received sight.”


Have you ever seen or experienced a miracle? If you have, one of the things you may have noticed is miracles tend to be obscured. In the above passage, people were already casting doubt on the miracle of healed vision. There were people telling others the man was not blind. Even as we read the Bible today, we can see skepticism in these Bible characters. Miracles are easy to doubt, even when we see them.

Yet, God does perform miracles in our lives. Some are profound, and others are simply sweet. It is a miracle to be healed of blindness but it’s also a miracle to have access to eye care, including the skills and talents to earn money to go to an optometrist. We are so busy waiting for an undeniable God event that we miss the sweetness in the abundance of what God does for us.

The blind man needed sight. He needed to see, so Jesus healed him. But there is a small tension in the story because Jesus sends the man to wash in the pool of Siloam. Why did he do that? Why did he give a command that truly has nothing to do with being healed? Because the enormous miracle of sight was the smaller miracle of God’s care. God was healing more than the man’s physical vision; he was also healing his heart.


Lord, help me to be faithful in recognizing miracles in the world and in my life. Heal me inside and out. Help me see. In Jesus’ name, amen.

Bringing Life

John 5:20-24 WEB

For the Father has affection for the Son, and shows him all things that he himself does. He will show him greater works than these, that you may marvel. [21] For as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, even so the Son also gives life to whom he desires. [22] For the Father judges no one, but he has given all judgment to the Son, [23] that all may honor the Son, even as they honor the Father. He who doesn’t honor the Son doesn’t honor the Father who sent him. [24] “Most certainly I tell you, he who hears my word, and believes him who sent me, has eternal life, and doesn’t come into judgment, but has passed out of death into life.


It’s interesting to read the Father has given all judgment to Jesus. In another place, Jesus declares he did not come to judge. (John 12:47) Rather, he came to bring life. (John 10:10) In the text scriptures above it says the Father put life in Jesus so people will honor Jesus in the way they honor the Father. (John 5:22-23)  

The Father is leading the world to honor Jesus. In fact, while the Father is seeking the Son’s glory, the Son is seeking the Father’s glory. Part of how Jesus brings glory to the Father is by remaining in the truth. He testified what he saw and heard, even when it would bring derision. Jesus was faithful to the mission God gave him.

It is impossible to know exactly when Jesus realized it was the Father’s will for him to sacrifice his life. Yet, in his perfection, Jesus was willing to die. That may be why he could say delusional-sounding things. He could say he was granted life to pass out by the Father. He could say the Father honored him. Jesus could say all these challenging things because he was willing to exchange his life for the life of others.  


Lord Jesus, thank you for qualifying me for eternal life through your own death. I trust you and believe you. I honor you and I honor the Father. Lord, please help me imitate you and give of myself for the good of others. In Jesus’ name, I pray, amen.

Resting While Working

John 5:17-19 WEB

But Jesus answered them, “My Father is still working, so I am working, too.” [18] For this cause therefore the Jews sought all the more to kill him, because he not only broke the Sabbath, but also called God his own Father, making himself equal with God. [19] Jesus therefore answered them, “Most certainly, I tell you, the Son can do nothing of himself, but what he sees the Father doing. For whatever things he does, these the Son also does likewise.


Hebrews chapters 3 and 4 talk about the rest of God. We are told to be diligent in our pursuit of rest. (Hebrews 4:11) Yet here is Jesus telling the Jewish leaders that he is working, and his Father is working. More, it says that Jesus could see what his Father was doing and chose to join him. Seeing is an activity that happens in the flesh. Notice the verses do not say Jesus envisioned what the Father was doing. Rather, it says he saw. So, he joined in the Father’s labor. In this alignment with the Father, miracles occurred.

How is it that Jesus had open eyes to recognize the work of the Father? The Bible says that Jesus prayed for a long time each morning in a secluded place. (Mark 1:35) The Bible also teaches that Jesus did not care what others thought. Instead, he consistently demonstrated placing God’s priorities first in his life. (John 4:27) But do these attributes account for Jesus having eyes that see and ears that hear?

Both of the above examples show us how to see and hear the Father. Before and after Jesus moved in signs and wonders he frequently prayed. (John 11:43, Mt 14:23) Also, Jesus considered doing the will of God more important than his own fleshly needs. (John 4:31-34) The Bible says in John 3:16 that the Father desires all people to come into a relationship with him. Since Jesus is the one who said John 3:16, we can be sure he believed the Father loved all people. Therefore, Jesus loved people more than himself. He did it because it is what he believed the Father wanted. So, prayer, desiring God’s will, and loving others more than himself seem to be the keys to Jesus’ supernatural success.

Jesus’ supernatural miracles proved that Jesus was aligned with the Father.  Nowhere in the Bible does it say that Jesus thought He was God or thought He was equal to God. The Jewish leaders, out of jealousy, interpreted Jesus’ motives as evil. However, Jesus did not step out in the flesh. He waited to see what the Father was doing and joined him. Even when he worked, he was fully resting in the Father.


Lord Jesus, please help me pray, desire your will, and rest in you. Give me eyes that see and ears that hear so that I can join you in what you are doing. In Jesus’ name, I pray, amen.

The Exchange

John 5:9-11 WEB

Immediately, the man was made well, and took up his mat and walked. Now it was the Sabbath on that day. [10] So the Jews said to him who was cured, “It is the Sabbath. It is not lawful for you to carry the mat.” [11] He answered them, “He who made me well, the same said to me, ‘Take up your mat, and walk.’ ”


A man with an infirmity for 38 years was miraculously healed and all the religious leaders could do was criticize. The leaders of Judaism, in their pursuit of obedience to God, had made up hundreds of rules for practical daily living. Now, with God working in their midst they could not see Him. Instead, all they could see was Jesus inciting rule-breaking.

It is probably difficult to overestimate how often we substitute the teachings of man for the teachings of God. Jesus had healed a man and the Jewish leaders did not approve. The rules they created to be zealous for God had become an idol. The rules are an idol because the religious leaders had become more loyal to the rules than to God.

How did the leaders of Judaism fall into idolatry? They forgot the lesson of Moses striking the rock when God told him to speak to it. (Num 20:7-12) They forgot that God does not do everything the same every time. The religious leaders also forgot the lesson of the Israelites at the Mountain of God. They did not want to talk to God, instead, they preferred a book of rules to follow. They rejected knowing God personally. (Exodus 20:19) In the same way, the religious leaders of Jesus’ time had created rules that eliminated the need to trust God directly. They substituted teachings about God for God.


Lord Jesus, please help me recognize idolatry in my life so that I may repent. Lord, please help me care more about our relationship than I care about people’s approval. Please help me, love, without compromise. In Jesus’ name, I pray, amen.

Fruit and Authority

John 5:9-17 WEB

Immediately, the man was made well, and took up his mat and walked. Now it was the Sabbath on that day. [10] So the Jews said to him who was cured, “It is the Sabbath. It is not lawful for you to carry the mat.” [11] He answered them, “He who made me well, the same said to me, ‘Take up your mat, and walk.’ ” [12] Then they asked him, “Who is the man who said to you, ‘Take up your mat, and walk’?” [13] But he who was healed didn’t know who it was, for Jesus had withdrawn, a crowd being in the place. [14] Afterward Jesus found him in the temple, and said to him, “Behold, you are made well. Sin no more, so that nothing worse happens to you.” [15] The man went away, and told the Jews that it was Jesus who had made him well. [16] For this cause the Jews persecuted Jesus, and sought to kill him, because he did these things on the Sabbath. [17] But Jesus answered them, “My Father is still working, so I am working, too.”


The works of Jesus are good fruit. As Christians, we are often told that we should evaluate the fruit of a person’s life. In the above passage, Jesus has just healed, delivered, and restored a man. Jesus’ works bore good fruit. It is understandable that the healed man felt gratitude and loyalty to Jesus. Still, the man was under Jewish law.

The healed man had honor for the authority of the religious leaders. So, in accordance with the law, he went to the leaders to be declared healed. Here is where something interesting happens, the man who was healed followed the fruit. That is, he judged the fruit and showed loyalty to Jesus. Also, just a few lines later the man is telling the Jewish leaders what they want to know. The man did not dishonor the legitimate authority of the religious leaders.

Jesus was a man under authority. He watched and prayed and did what the Father showed him. When the Father showed him healing on the Sabbath, he obeyed. It did not matter doing a healing on the Sabbath was the best way to get into trouble with the religious leaders. Accordingly, it was not long until Jesus was challenged by religious hypocrisy.

The Jewish leaders persecuted Jesus for working on the Sabbath. Jesus answers them boldly when he says he is under the authority of the Father. In the same way believers are to name Jesus, Jesus named the Father. He truly did suffer as we do today. He faced challenges on behalf of the Father to serve His glory. He trusted the Father enough to obey him. He trusted the Father enough to bear good fruit.


Lord Jesus, please help me trust you enough to obey your word. Help me see what you are doing so that I may join in the work. Please forgive my love for the approval of others. Help me trust, obey, and bear good fruit. In Jesus’ name, I pray, amen.