Jesus cried out and said, “Whoever believes in me, believes not in me, but in him who sent me.  He who sees me sees him who sent me.
When we reflect God, we obey the Bible. We care about the 10 commandments and the commandments of the New Testament. It is natural to bind the Word to our hearts, it reflects the Father. Additionally, we put away anger. Instead, we respond to people gently, even when they are rude. We do not try to get even or to justify ourselves. Instead, we are patient, caring more about the things of God than our egos. Finally, when we reflect God, we walk in love. We put away jealousy and bitterness in exchange for mercy, kindness, and grace. In our daily walk, we testify of God through our words and actions.
When we practice these basic principles, God is reflected to the people around us. We must separate ourselves from sin and come into obedience to the Bible. More, we must submit our goals to God. Are our goals truly Biblical reflecting the whole counsel of the Bible? Or do all our choices hang on one or two scriptures that speak of blessings? When we are purposed to reflect God to the world, we bring all these areas of “flesh” into obedience to the Scripture.
When we separate ourselves from fleshly indulgences we begin to look like Jesus. We both reflect God, and we reflect Jesus’ motivations. Like Jesus, we love to the point of laying down our lives. We are powerful to confront sin in other believers. We are passionate about getting people into a relationship with God. We also believe the Bible when we reflect God. We believe in heaven and hell and an eternal destiny so we realize the worthiest thing we can do to reflect God and imitate Jesus is to share the gospel with the lost.
Lord, please help me have the same motivations as Jesus. I long for those around me to see your love and goodness. Please help me witness to the lost. Help me focus on your priorities. Teach me to love others more than myself. Please help me bring my flesh into subjection to you. In Jesus’ name, amen.
Nevertheless even of the rulers many believed in him, but because of the Pharisees they didn’t confess it, so that they wouldn’t be put out of the synagogue,  for they loved men’s praise more than God’s praise.
Self-protection. We often care more about people’s opinions than we care for God’s opinion. It’s a matter of self-protection. It’s easy to tell if we care more about men’s opinions than God’s. We know it because we do not open our mouths when we should be telling others about Jesus. When people at church have a group opinion, we say nothing if we see a problem with the opinion. We are more concerned with being liked and included so we say nothing.
Those who do open their mouths are subject to derision and rejection. It is not easy to open our mouths for Jesus. But it is important. It is with our mouths that we confess Jesus (Rom 10:9), it is with our mouths that we rebuke sin in other believers, and it is with our mouths that we give God praise. We should also open our mouths to testify of God’s goodness to unbelievers. However, we often keep our mouths closed because we are protecting ourselves.
We can trust God to protect us. In Psalms, there are many verses that talk about the justice of God. The Lord justifies his children. When we trust the Lord fully, we can be assured that his justice for us will prevail. If we open our mouths in love to confront sin in the church, we must be bold. If we open our mouths to witness to the lost, we must be bold. We can’t be like the religious leaders of Jesus’ time on earth. They quietly followed leaders full of sin and disbelief for the sake of inclusion and destroyed the faith of many.
Lord, please help me speak up when I have opportunities to share your love with the lost. Teach me to lovingly rebuke sin in other believers. I pray I will not be ashamed to open my mouth for you. I trust you to keep me safe and justify me when I speak for you. In Jesus’ name, amen.
But though he had done so many signs before them, yet they didn’t believe in him,  that the word of Isaiah the prophet might be fulfilled, which he spoke, “Lord, who has believed our report? To whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?”  For this cause they couldn’t believe, for Isaiah said again,  “He has blinded their eyes and he hardened their heart, lest they should see with their eyes, and perceive with their heart, and would turn, and I would heal them.”
How can we be responsible for God blinding our eyes and hardening our hearts? This is the very thing Paul addressed in chapter 7 of Romans. It brings new meaning to the idea of being saved by grace. We are saved by grace but are rewarded for our choices. Those who seek the Lord with humility will find him. The Word says that the one who has some will be given more and the one who has little will lose even what they have (Mat 25:15-28). This gives us insight into how to respond to this passage.
If we seek God, he will soften our hearts and open our eyes to be able to see him. Seeking God is easy. It is reading the Bible, praying, and attending public worship. We can also seek God with our behavior. On the other hand, we can also push God away with our behaviors. If we deliberately sin God will harden our hearts so that we continue to sin. Of course, if we deliberately walk in righteousness the Lord will soften our hearts so we walk in more righteousness.
The Lord is righteous. He does not cast anyone away from himself who walks in righteousness and holiness. The Word says those he foreknew he predestined to be sons of God (Rom 8:29). It is not that God is fickle. It is that God knows the future. God knows who will choose him and who will not. Of those that choose him, he creates opportunities for success. For those who are never going to choose him, he gives over to sin and unrighteousness. The primary thing we can do to ensure that God continues to open our eyes is to seek God and walk in righteousness.
Lord, please open my eyes so I can see you and understand your will. Soften my heart so I recognize sin in myself and give me the chance to repent. I long to be both saved and to have a vibrant relationship with you, Father. In Jesus’ name, amen.
Jesus therefore said to them, “Yet a little while the light is with you. Walk while you have the light, that darkness doesn’t overtake you. He who walks in the darkness doesn’t know where he is going.  While you have the light, believe in the light, that you may become children of light.” Jesus said these things, and he departed and hid himself from them.  But though he had done so many signs before them, yet they didn’t believe in him,
What does it mean to walk in the light? It means a person who believes in Jesus and walks according to his teachings. The deeds of the light are mercy, justice, and humility (Micah 6:8). That is what walking in the light meant 2000 years ago and it still means the same thing today. Believers today must still walk in the light. When a person is walking in the light, they are obedient to the Bible. People walking in the light are convinced that all sin is darkness.
There are several sin lists in the New Testament. Romans 1:29-30 is one of those lists. Some of the things on this list might be a surprise. For example, gossip is grouped with murder. Also, from the same verses boasting and arrogance are also compared to murder. When we walk in these sins and have no urgent desire to stop sinning, we are walking in the dark. When we walk in the light, our sin is a great burden. When we walk in the dark it sounds foolish to repent of sin and walk in the light (Cor 1:18).
An urgent desire to stop sinning is apparent in the life of a person walking in the light. The deeds of walking in the light are different than the deeds of darkness. In the light people visit orphans and widows (James 1:27). They guard their hearts and mouths turning away from evil speaking and evil deeds (John 17:15). People in the light are healed and delivered from sin (Romans 12:2). And righteousness is their heart’s desire (John 2:29).
Lord, give me the grace to recognize and turn away from sin. Please help me read the Bible and give me an understanding of the Bible. I long to walk in your commandments, Lord. Please help me to embrace righteousness and walk in the light.
 Now is the judgment of this world. Now the prince of this world will be cast out.  And I, if I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.”  But he said this, signifying by what kind of death he should die.  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.
“Now my soul is troubled. What shall I say? ‘Father, save me from this time?’ But for this cause I came to this time.  Father, glorify your name!” Then there came a voice out of the sky, saying, “I have both glorified it, and will glorify it again.”  The multitude therefore, who stood by and heard it, said that it had thundered. Others said, “An angel has spoken to him.”  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.
Jesus answered them, “The time has come for the Son of Man to be glorified.  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.  He who loves his life will lose it. He who hates his life in this world will keep it to eternal life.  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.
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.  For this cause also the multitude went and met him, because they heard that he had done this sign.  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.
On the next day a great multitude had come to the feast. When they heard that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem,  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!”  Jesus, having found a young donkey, sat on it. As it is written,  “Don’t be afraid, daughter of Zion. Behold, your King comes, sitting on a donkey’s colt.”  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.
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.  But the chief priests conspired to put Lazarus to death also,  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.