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.

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.

Metaphor?

John 11:11-15 WEB

He said these things, and after that, he said to them, “Our friend, Lazarus, has fallen asleep, but I am going so that I may awake him out of sleep.” [12] The disciples therefore said, “Lord, if he has fallen asleep, he will recover.” [13] Now Jesus had spoken of his death, but they thought that he spoke of taking rest in sleep. [14] So Jesus said to them plainly then, “Lazarus is dead. [15] I am glad for your sakes that I was not there, so that you may believe. Nevertheless, let’s go to him.”


Some Christians believe the Word of God is black and white with rigid borders and boundaries. Other Christians turn everything into a metaphor with a plethora of meanings. So, which is it? Is the Bible to be obeyed to the letter? Or, should the Bible be analyzed as a metaphor so that people can take a range of meanings from the Word? In the above passage, Jesus mixes metaphor with concrete action.

Jesus tells the disciples Lazarus has fallen asleep. Actually, Lazarus is not sleeping, he is dead. What do we do with a passage like this? Do we call Jesus a fool or a liar? No, of course not. Jesus is hinting at the coming resurrection. When he says “Lazarus, has fallen asleep,” it is a metaphor that expands the meaning to something greater than the words therein. Lazarus had died but was going to awake from death.

But the metaphor is only part of the passage. There is also a concrete, black and white, command. Jesus tells the disciples, “Neveretheless, let’s go to him.” It was time for Jesus’ entourage to make their way to Bethany. They were in danger of being arrested and killed. So, it was not an easy command to obey. Without the hope found in the metaphor, the command seemed pointless.


Lord, help me listen to your Holy Spirit so that I can understand your Word. Fill me with obedience and understanding. Let your Word be a lamp to my feet. In Jesus’ name, amen.

Walking in the Light with Jesus

John 11:7-11,16 WEB

Then after this he said to the disciples, “Let’s go into Judea again.” [8] The disciples told him, “Rabbi, the Jews were just trying to stone you, and are you going there again?” [9] Jesus answered, “Aren’t there twelve hours of daylight? If a man walks in the day, he doesn’t stumble, because he sees the light of this world. [10] But if a man walks in the night, he stumbles, because the light isn’t in him.” [11] He said these things, and after that, he said to them, “Our friend, Lazarus, has fallen asleep, but I am going so that I may awake him out of sleep.” [16] Thomas therefore, who is called Didymus, said to his fellow disciples, “Let’s go also, that we may die with him.”


Jesus was not afraid of dying at the hand of the Jews. He knew what the Father was going to do, so he knew where to place his feet. The Father showed Jesus that Lazarus was going to return from death and Jesus told the disciples. Jesus knew he was going to wake Lazarus from death because the Father showed him. Jesus did not fling his safety away thoughtlessly. Rather, he had confidence in God and in his purpose in God.

Jesus was walking in the light of God’s counsel. He only did what he saw and heard from the Father, so we know that the Father showed him what was about to happen. In this light, Jesus walks into danger with peace because he can see where he is going. But Jesus also reminds us the opposite is true. We can also walk in the dark.

It is amazing the disciples, who saw firsthand all the miracles, still doubted. The disciples were not convinced it was safe to go into Judea and began to murmur against the Lord. At least some of the disciples were walking in the dark. At least some of the disciples did not have enough relationship and time with the Father to know what he was doing. Therefore they walked in the dark.


Lord, help me trust the Father the way you trust the Father. Lead me into devotional practice that will reveal your plans and purposes. Enlighten my understanding and save me from trying to navigate life in the dark. 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.  

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.

True Victory

John 10:36-38 WEB

do you say of him whom the Father sanctified and sent into the world, ‘You blaspheme,’ because I said, ‘I am the Son of God?’ [37] 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.”


The fruit doesn’t fall far from the tree. Jesus told the Pharisees he and the Father were one, but the Pharisees did not believe him. So, he offered the miracles for proof. God validated Jesus through the works he did. Jesus opened blind eyes, healed leapers (Mat 8:3), and healed the sick. He miraculously increased food and fed multitudes (Mark 6:44). He offered these works up as proof of what he was saying about himself. He offered up scripture as proof (John 10:34-35). But no matter how much evidence he produced, the Pharisees could not get past him being a Nazarene from Galilee. They were looking for a Judite from Bethlehem (John 7:42).

Why didn’t Jesus just explain his situation to the leaders? He could have told them his mother and father were both from the tribe of Judah and due to the census, he was born in Bethlehem. So why didn’t he do that? Since Jesus only said what he saw and heard from the father (John 8:38), it must be the Father did not want Jesus to explain himself. The Father was not taking Jesus to the palace. His goal was not for the Pharisees to understand. The Pharisees claimed to understand and the Father held them accountable for that.

But he also held Jesus accountable for his destiny. If Jesus had disobeyed the Father by justifying himself to the Jews, he would have missed the cross. He would have missed the true victory. Jesus’ cross led to the greatest victory of all time, victory over death. We also have a cross we are called to. If the Father leads either to the left or the right, at junctures we are going to have to lay our will down for the Father’s will. Those small deaths of the self, lead to true victories in our everyday lives.


Lord Jesus, please give me the grace to lay my life down when you ask me to. Help me not engage in dead works but save me with your grace. Increase my spiritual hearing so I do not miss instruction from you. In Jesus’ name, amen.