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.

The Spectacle of Miracles

John 12:9-11 WEB

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. [10] But the chief priests conspired to put Lazarus to death also, [11] 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.

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 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.

The First to See

John 8:13-14 WEB

The Pharisees therefore said to him, “You testify about yourself. Your testimony is not valid.” [14] Jesus answered them, “Even if I testify about myself, my testimony is true, for I know where I came from, and where I am going; but you don’t know where I came from, or where I am going.


Jesus came from the Father and was returning to the Father. It was simple for Jesus. He regularly cultivated his relationship with the Father, he knew how to hear his voice (Mark 1:35). Jesus knew scripture. Jesus knew who he was, and he knew what it meant (John 8:22).

The Pharisees could not even properly discern where Jesus was born, let alone anything else about him (John 7:52). Jesus rebuked the Pharisees because of their blindness (Mat 23:26). Jesus did not make excuses for their ignorance. They were the experts in scripture. The Pharisees should have been the first ones to realize Jesus was the Messiah.

Now, we are close to the end of the age. Jesus is coming back. Will we recognize him when he returns? With the modern-day push for all believers to know scripture, the church will be without excuse. However, with all believers educated in the Bible, we should be the first ones to recognize the Messiah.


Lord Jesus, please help me discern you in the world. If you return in my life, help me recognize you. Protect me from being deceived by the antichrist. In Jesus’ name, I pray, amen.

Missing the Mark

John 7:40-43 WEB

Many of the multitude therefore, when they heard these words, said, “This is truly the prophet.” [41] Others said, “This is the Christ.” But some said, “What, does the Christ come out of Galilee? [42] Hasn’t the Scripture said that the Christ comes of the offspring of David, and from Bethlehem, the village where David was?” [43] So there arose a division in the multitude because of him.


The Pharisees did not reject Jesus because of where he was born. The Pharisees rejected Jesus because of prejudice in their hearts. They rejected him because he was a Galilean. Practically all Pharisees came from Judea. The idea of being associated with a Galilean was revolting to Judeans. So, the Pharisees did not take the time to find out more. There were people right there with Jesus who knew where he was born.

If the Pharisees had honestly inquired, they would have learned Jesus was born in Bethlehem. But instead, they assumed their prejudice was true. For this reason, they did not even inquire. So profound was their hate they would not even consider Jesus might be the Messiah. The Pharisees knew so much about the word of God and so little about true godliness.

Godliness is not being perfect. It is having a heart that seeks God’s ways. Take meekness for example. Meekness is not strictly a New Testament addition to the faith. In Numbers 12:3 the bible says Moses was meek above all men. So, the value of meekness was revealed in the Old Testament. Yet the Pharisees, with their hundreds of rules for serving God, did not have enough meekness to consider the possibility that Jesus was the Messiah. They lost touch with the personal God and turned the living God into an idol.

The Pharisees saw riff-raff when they looked at Jesus. However, if the Pharisees curried meekness the way they curried wealth and influence, they may have realized the truth about Jesus. The truth was Jesus fulfilled all the prophecies of the Old Testament. Yet because of prejudice, the most devoted of God’s followers did not see the Messiah.


Lord Jesus, please open my understanding that I can discern the things of God. Remove any blinders from my spiritual eyes and lead me into repentance if prejudice lives in my heart. In Jesus’ name, I pray, amen.  

Unreliable Sources in the Bible

John 7:25-27 WEB

Therefore some of them of Jerusalem said, “Isn’t this he whom they seek to kill? [26] Behold, he speaks openly, and they say nothing to him. Can it be that the rulers indeed know that this is truly the Christ? [27] However we know where this man comes from, but when the Christ comes, no one will know where he comes from.”


The Gospel of John is full of literary structure. One literary device is the unreliable character. It is surprising to find unreliable sources in the Bible. Each of the above verses contains misinformation by the masses. The masses are a frequent “character” in the Bible. In these verses, the masses are deceived and share untruths through the vehicle of misinformation. In literature, a character that doesn’t always tell the truth is considered an unreliable source. An unreliable source repeats gossip, disobeys, lies, may not know the truth, makes unrighteous judgments, and sometimes knows less than the reader.

In verse 25 the masses are repeating gossip. Jesus just said the Jews were seeking to kill him (John 7:15-16, 19). In just a few verses, the masses are repeating Jesus’ statement to one another. We know from the epistles that gossip is one of the “big sins” (Rom 1:29). Since the masses are engaging in a behavior that is unbiblical, they may be unreliable.

However, one or two issues do not mean a character is consistently unreliable. There are a group of behaviors unreliable sources share. One is lying. In verse 26 the masses state the Jews are not speaking to Jesus. We know that is a lie and is not unintentional ignorance.

However, there is a great deal the masses do not know in verse 26. For example, they seem to believe the leaders are trying to kill Jesus (vv 25). Oddly, the masses also think the leaders believe Jesus is the Messiah (vv 26). As readers, we know what is going on. On the other hand, the masses do not seem to know as much as the reader.

A lack of information leads unreliable characters to misjudge people and circumstances. In verse 27 we find the masses passing judgments on the leaders. They reveal they are less informed than the reader. The masses probably believed Jesus was born in Nazareth. They make a logical leap to get to this conclusion. Jesus grew up in Nazareth, so the masses believe that is where he was born. Of course, they are wrong.

Recognizing there is deliberate structure to the gospels helps the reader have a richer experience reading the Bible. Someone trained in writing wrote the gospel of John. It is full of literary structures. The Gospel of John has structure and deliberate choices by the author which do not diminish the spiritual value of the book. This use of the author’s technical skill does not diminish the anointing of the Spirit in the writing. It does mean God will use our knowledge and understanding to accomplish his purposes.


Lord Jesus, please give light to my understanding so I can read the Bible accurately. Help me acquire skills that you can use. Help me prepare an offering for you Lord. In Jesus’ name, I pray, amen.

Watching for Jesus

John 7:11-12 WEB

The Jews therefore sought him at the feast, and said, “Where is he?” [12] There was much murmuring among the multitudes concerning him. Some said, “He is a good man.” Others said, “Not so, but he leads the multitude astray.”


Why did people say Jesus was leading others away from God? It’s because Jesus claimed to be related to God (John 10:30), come from Heaven (John 6:38), and be one with God (John 5:18). Essentially, he made himself one with the Father. What would happen if someone today started teaching they had come from heaven and were conjoined with God? People would probably start asking about their mental health (John 10:20). More, leaders would teach their flocks to avoid the danger (John 9:22).

Our leaders would do the same as the Pharisees. They would try to discredit Jesus (Mat 16:4). Because like the Pharisees, there is a chance Jesus would be hard to recognize. We all have messianic expectations. Just like the Pharisees. In John 7:27 WEB it says, “However we know where this man comes from, but when the Christ comes, no one will know where he comes from.”

The Pharisees thought they knew how to recognize the Messiah. More, the Pharisees had traditions, Godly counsel (John 12:42), the Word of God (John 5;45), and still, they could not recognize Jesus (John 7:52). We have all those same things today. Of course, we have one thing the Pharisees did not have. We have the Gospels. This gives us an advantage. God testifies about himself that he is unchanging (Heb 13:8).

This is an advantage because God has testified about himself that he is the same yesterday, today, and forever. Jesus is still the Son of Man (John 5:27). He may come back as a baby (Luke 2:11). He may have to win the battle by trusting and having faith in the Father (Mat 17:21). Regardless, we do not know. So, it seems pertinent to pray and keep watching for Jesus.


Lord Jesus, please help me know you and your voice. Bless me Lord as I watch for your return. In Jesus’ name, I pray, amen.


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Entitled to Blessing

John 6:41-42 WEB

The Jews therefore murmured concerning him, because he said, “I am the bread which came down out of heaven.” [42] They said, “Isn’t this Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? How then does he say, ‘I have come down out of heaven?’”


The religious leaders of Jesus’ day were legalistic people. When Jesus said he came down from heaven they took it literally. The Pharisees expected the Messiah to come galloping out of heaven, guns blazing, ready to conquer the Romans. Imagine their consternation when Jesus claimed to come down from heaven. They were expecting a magnificent hero that would lead them to victory. Instead, they got a baby in a manger who would grow up and teach to be a conquering hero, you must lay down your life.

Pharisees did not want to lay down their lives. They expected God to bless them because of their piety. However, instead of being blessed, they were castigated as reprobate by Jesus. The Pharisees were waiting for God to come and take responsibility for their problems. The Pharisees were waiting on God.

The Pharisees felt entitled towards God. They expected God to come and fix all their problems. They wanted a Messiah to fight their battles and protect them from harm. The Pharisees felt that because of their devotion to God they deserved to be saved. Worse, because God said in Scripture he was coming, they felt entitled.

Entitlement is the root of legalistic prayers in modern times. Have you ever heard someone tell God what he must do because of what he said in the Bible? I have. I’ve always wondered how God feels about that sort of praying. If I was in a relationship with someone who constantly reminded me of everything I said so they could get what they want, I would feel abused.


Lord Jesus, please help me grow in praying scripture. I do not want to use the Bible as a tool to force you into submission. Please forgive me for feeling entitled to your blessings. I am secure that you want to bless me. In the meantime help me trust you more. In Jesus’ name, I pray, amen.

Natural or Supernatural

John 4:30-33 WEB

They went out of the city, and were coming to him. [31] In the meanwhile, the disciples urged him, saying, “Rabbi, eat.” [32] But he said to them, “I have food to eat that you don’t know about.” [33] The disciples therefore said to one another, “Has anyone brought him something to eat?”


The people of the Samaritan village were coming to Jesus. They believed the Samaritan woman when she asked, “Could this be the Messiah?” (John 7-29) Meanwhile, the disciples are worried about earthly matters. As such they are coaxing Jesus to eat. They may even feel that if he eats, he will come back to his senses and leave Samaria.

But Jesus isn’t going anywhere. He chides the disciples telling them he has food they know nothing about. Jesus is talking about doing the will of his Father, but the disciples are stuck thinking about the carnal issue of food. Even with Jesus sitting at the well, waiting to share the good news with the people that are coming to him, the disciples are too dull to understand something spiritual is happening.

The disciples discuss with each other, “Has anyone brought him something to eat?” Likewise, while the Samaritan woman is calling Jesus the Messiah, the disciples are calling him Rabbi, or teacher. This woman whom Jesus as much as called a harlot in the preceding verses, understands that something important is happening. But the disciples just see another embarrassing situation with Jesus.


Lord Jesus, please forgive me for being too embarrassed to share the gospel with the lost. Please forgive my judgments against people who are different from me.  Please bless me with the grace to understand when something supernatural is happening so that I do not uproot what you are doing in others’ lives. In Jesus’ name, I pray, amen.