Persecution By Association? John 12:9-11

Text:  It is enough for the disciple that he be as his Master (Jesus Christ), and the servant as his Lord.  If they have called the Master of the house Beelzebub, how much more shall they call them of His household?
Matthew 10:25.

          Therefore I endure all things for the elects sakes, that they may also obtain the Salvation which is in Christ Jesus with Eternal glory.  It is a faithful saying; For if we be dead with Him, we shall also live with Him; if we suffer, we shall also reign with Him; if we deny Him, He also will deny us.  If we believe not (fail and falter), yet He abideth faithful; He cannot deny Himself.
2 Timothy 2:10-13.

Good morning, Heaven-bound Christian!  You and I are Heaven-bound because Christ Jesus has suffered for us on Calvarys Cross; made a full Atonement for our sins to our Holy Father God; and redeemed our never-dying souls for all Eternity.  Now, this is something that should excite us at the beginning of any new day.  Lets hear it?  Hallelujah!  Thanks be to God for such great Salvation!

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to His abundant mercy hath begotten us again (born again) unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in Heaven for YOU. (1 Peter 1:3-4)

Oh yes, beloved Christian.  You and I are, by Gods great grace, Heaven-bound - but there is much that we must first suffer for such an infinite privilege while we are yet here below.   As Jesus suffered, so must we suffer - if we are true believers who seek to diligently serve our risen Lord God.

Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution.  (2 Timothy 3:12)

Todays three verse portion of Johns Gospel, chapter twelve, reveals to us another vital concept: the worlds practice of persecution by association.

Persecution By Association:  Many of the Jewish people knew Jesus was among them due to the smell of the precious ointment that had been poured over Messiah Jesus by Mary, the sister of the resurrected Lazarus, .  Christs Presence can never be hidden, He is ‘…altogether lovely…’  Praise His Name.

Christ is ‘…the chiefest among ten thousand…’: His head, eyes, cheeks, lips, hands, belly, legs, countenance, mouth - are all described - in TYPE - in the Song of Solomon 5:9-16.  Read this account and worship Him, dear friend.

His cheeks are as a bed of spices, as sweet flowers; His lips like lilies, dropping sweet smelling myrrh.  (Solomons Song 5:13)

When we, as true Christians, seek to be like Christ (I.e. Christian), then we too shall manifest, to varying degrees, a similar presence among men.  We will prove to all and sundry the truth of the Gospel - that there is new Spiritual life in Christ Jesus; that we have been quickened from the dead.

And you hath He quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins.  (Ephesians 2:1)

We Christians cannot, or certainly should not, be able to hide Christs light under any ‘…bushel…’ of worldly compromise.  We must shine for Him.  (A bushel is a container holding a dry measure of 8 imperial gallons - I.e. for measuring grain, wheat, beans, etc.)

Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house.  Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in Heaven.  (Matthew 5:15-16)

Christs Presence could not be concealed from the multitude, nor could the presence of the now, Supernaturally, risen Lazarus be denied - the living man was ‘…sat at the table with Him.  (John 12:2)

However, the worldly response to Lazarus from the chief priests vividly reveals our concept of persecution by association .  They wanted to put Lazarus to death because - ‘…by reason of him (Lazarus) many of the Jews went away and believed on Jesus. (V.11)   Seeing was believing!

Lazarus was closely associated with Jesus, the Christ, Who had literally raised him from the dead.  Therefore, he too must be persecuted due to this close association with Jesus.  Nothing has changed today, Christian friend.

Thought: Jesus suffered infinitely to redeem us.  Are we closely enough associated with Jesus to suffer persecution for Him?  I hope so.  The Lord bless your day.

The Depth of Iscariot’s Unbelief! John 12:1-8

Text:  The heart is deceitful about all things, and desperately wicked; who can know it? I the Lord (Jehovah) search the heart, I try (test) the reins, even to give every man/woman according to his ways, and according to the fruit of his/her doings.
Jeremiah 17:9-10.

          Yea, Mine own familiar friend (Judas Iscariot), in whom I trusted, which did eat of My bread, hath lifted up his heel against Me.
Psalm 41:9.

Good morning, enlightened Christian!  The Lord God, in His mercy and matchless grace, has visited your sin-stained heart and mine; He has poured in His Eternal light; and dispelled the darkness of sin, Satan and self forever.  Hallelujah!  What a Saviour we serve!  What a Redeemer King we have in King Jesus Christ!  Glory to the Lamb!

Then shall thy light break forth as the morning, and thine health shall spring forth speedily; and thy righteousness shall go before thee; the glory of the Lord shall be thy rereward.  (Isaiah 58:8)

Arise, shine; for thy Light is come, and the glory of the Lord is risen upon thee.  For, behold (look!), the darkness shall cover the earth, and gross darkness the people; but the Lord shall arise upon thee, and His glory shall be seen upon thee.  (Isaiah 60:1-2)

The depths of your unbelief and mine were dark indeed, dear friend.  But how much darker was the heart of the son of perdition, Judas Iscariot, that he should see with his own eyes the promised Messiah; witness with his own eyes the Supernatural power of Christs ministry; taste, touch, and handle of the Holy One Himself - and yet still betray Him?  Oh the horror of such darkness!

While I (Christ Jesus) was with them (the disciples) in the world, I kept them in Thy Name (The Fathers Name); those that Thou gavest Me I have kept, and none of them is lost, but the son of perdition (Judas); that the Scriptures might be fulfilled.  (John 17:12)

The Scripture being fulfilled was the prophetic Scripture contained in our secondary text for today above: Yea, Mine own familiar friend (Judas Iscariot), in whom I trusted, which did eat of My bread, hath lifted up his heel against Me.  (Psalm 41:9)

In our Bible passage selected for todays study, we are brought to Bethany, to the house of Martha, Mary, and their now resurrected brother, Lazarus.  There we see, sat at a table with Jesus, the man Lazarus whom He had raised from the very dead - they and others were engaged in eating a meal!

There could be no iota of a doubt left in anyones mind that Jesus had performed a Supernatural act that only the promised Messiah Himself - God of very God - could perform!  This was an open celebration of the Presence of Messiah God Almighty in bodily form, sat at the table with one whom He had raised from the darkness of death!  Is it any wonder that Mary took her precious ointment and anointed Christs head?  Hallelujah!  What a Saviour!

“…And the house was filled with the odour of the ointment. (V.3)  All could even smell the Presence of the Living Lord God for themselves!

But what was the response of the traitor Judas to such Spiritual evidence?  Would the unregenerate man repent of his sins and ask Christ to save him? No!  His black heart was focused primarily on more selfish, earthly, matters.

Then said one of His disciples, Judas Iscariot, Simons son, which should betray Him, Why was not this ointment sold for three hundred pence, and given to the poor.?’”  (Vs.4-5)

The motive of Judas sounds very practical and Christian, does it not?  But the next verse of Scripture tells the real truth and the motivation of his heart.

This he said, not that he cared for the poor; but because he was a thief, and had the bag (common funds bag), and bare what was put therein.  (V.6)

Judas Iscariot, the treasurer of the twelve disciples ministry if you like, had his heart set on stealing for personal gain, while outwardly seeming to serve Christ Jesus and His earthly ministry. What a low life of a man! What darkness and depth of total unbelief!  He is well named the son of perdition.

The one thing that differentiated Judas from Christian believers was his complete absence of God-given faith.  He could not believe, because God, in His Sovereign will as God, had not seen fit to give faith to him.  His ordained lot in this life was to betray Christ Jesus.  (Ephesians 2:8-9) (Jude 4)

Thought:  Lets you and I learn from Iscariots example, and cease from betraying - in any lesser degree - our Saviour, Christ Jesus.

The Folly of Political Expediency! John 11:46-57

Text:  There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death.
Proverbs 14:12.

          And one of them, named Caiaphas, being the high priest that same year, said unto them, Ye know nothing at all, nor consider that it is EXPEDIENT for us, that one Man should die for the people, and that the whole nation (the Jewish Nation) perish not.
John 11:49-50.

Good morning, honourable Christian!  When you seek a course of action in any given matter, you prayerfully examine your inner motives for taking that action.  You do well, beloved Christian, you do very well.  For so-called political or religious expediency - as motivation for action - brings a sure curse indeed.  “…The curse causeless shall not come.  (Proverbs 26:2)

Dictionary Definition:  Expedient - (adjective) suitable or appropriate; profitable or convenient rather than fair or just; advisable; being a suitable means to a desired end; something which serves to promote personal interest; a contrivance for self-interest, or exclusive group-interest. (The Chambers Dictionary p. 568)

 Verse 46 in todays Journey In Johns Gospel informs us that ’…some of them went their ways to the Pharisees, and told them what things Jesus had done.  The phrase ’…went their ways…’ could perhaps be better interpreted as ’…returned to the Pharisees and told them what things Jesus had done.

The sense becomes much clearer to us.  These watchers were in fact spies for the Pharisees and, therefore, returned to their religious masters to report what Jesus was doing.  The Devil has his spies everywhere.  Child of God, beware!     (Ephesians 6:10-20)

For we wrestle not against flesh and blood (mere human foes), but against principalities, against powers (evil spiritual powers), against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.  (Ephesians 6:12)

Hear what the great Puritan, William Gurnall (1616-1679) says in his wonderful book The Christian In Complete Armour:  (1V.)  The Nature of Evil Spirits (spiritual wickedness)  The inherent nature of the devils themselves, as well as the character of their works, is included in the description, spiritual wickedness.  A literal rendering of the passage reads, against the spirituals of wickedness’…the passage also refers not only to the spiritual nature of devils but also - in fact, chiefly - to the nature and kind of sins they perpetrate.  These sins are the apples of temptation which they most often use to poison the saints.  Such sins are the spirituals of wickedness.  Not gross, fleshy sins which ignorant sinners, like swine, wallow in - but spiritual sins, which are much more subtle and perhaps even more despicable.  (The Christian In Complete Armour, Banner of Truth Trust, P.O. Box 621, Carlisle, Pennsylvania 17013, U.S.A. p.186-187)

The Pharisees and their spies were fervently engaged in such spiritual sins on that dark day in question.  Under Satans power and dominion, "from that day forth they took counsel together for to put Him (Christ Jesus) to death. (V.53)  What darker, or deadlier evil depths could mankind plumb?  They conspired, as willing servants of Satan, to put the Son of God to a cruel death.  There will, no doubt, be a special Hell reserved for such vile sinners.

See how subtle the evil Caiaphas weaved his web of death - under a guise of political, religious, and National expediency. Beware of expediency!

“…It is expedient for us, that one man should die for the people, and that the whole nation (the Jewish Nation) perish not.  (V.50)

Having established a spurious National need for their expediency, they then put their evil plan into full action:  Now both the chief priests and the Pharisees had given a commandment, that, if any man knew where He (Jesus) were, he should shew it, that they might take (arrest) Him.  (V.57)

How often do we Christian societies today - in this 21st Century - hear politicians and so-called religious leaders call for collective actions in the interests of National security; or ’…in the public interest…’?  Sound familiar?  I often wonder whose real interests are being served.

In the light of what Gurnall defines as ’…the spirituals of wickedness…’ perhaps we evangelical, Bible-believing, Christians should question what is being proposed daily ’…in the public interest…’ by such religious and political leaderships?  Much of it does not promote Godliness.  And, after all, we only get the religious and political leaders that we ourselves vote into office!

Thought:  It is one very foolish turkey that votes to bring about an early Thanksgiving or Christmas season.  Christian, get your armour on!

Up From the Grave! John 11:36-44

Text:  And when He (Christ Jesus) thus had spoken, He cried with a loud voice, Lazarus, come forth.  And he that was dead came forth, bound hand and foot with grave clothes; and his face was bound about with a napkin.  Jesus saith unto them (the onlookers), Loose him and let him go.
John 11:43-44.

Good morning, unshackled Christian!  Having been loosed from your heavy burden of black and God-detested sins - you and I are now totally FREE!  Hallelujah!  What a Saviour!  What Eternal grace!  Thanks be to God!

And ye shall know the Truth, and the Truth shall make you freeIf the Son (Christ Jesus) therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed.  (John 8:32-36)

As far as the east is from the west, so far hath He removed our transgressions from us.  Like as a Father pitieth His children, so the Lord pitieth them that fear Him.  For He knoweth our frame; He remembereth that we are dust.  (Psalm 103:12-14)

 Todays Bible reading in Johns Gospel clearly shows Christs power over death.  It also explains, in great detail, the method Christ used to raise the dead Lazarus from his grave.  Each detail holds a vital message of Christian encouragement for you and for me.  Let us look briefly at the raising of Lazarus, and gain necessary faith to help us fight in todays Spiritual battle.

Christs Love:  The great love that Jesus has for mere sinners is manifested clearly in verse 36 of our selected passage.  Even the unbelieving Jews clearly saw Christs love for the dead Lazarus.  Jesus loves us dearly.

Then said the Jews, Behold (look and see) how He loved him!  (V.36)

Christs Miraculous Powers:  Out of their own mouths these bystanders will be judged.  They publicly declared, "Could not this man (Jesus), which opened the eyes of the blind, have caused that even this man (Lazarus) should not have died?"  (V.37)

Such eye-witnesses of Christs miraculous powers are without excuse.  Today, in the 21st Century, many see the evidence in your Christian life and in mine - they too are now without excuse before Gods Throne.  Pray hard for them, that they might seek repentance and, by Gods free grace, be loosed from the grave-clothes of their sins.  There is miraculous power in Christian prayer.

The Grave of Lazarus:  I personally believe that the grave in which Lazarus lay was, in fact, a hole in the ground, rather than a hole in a rock face.

Jesus therefore again groaning in Himself cometh to the grave.  It was a cave, and a stone lay upon it.  (V.38)

Definition:  A cave - (noun) a hollow in a rock, a cliff, or underground…’  (Chambers Dictionary p. 260)

The fact that ‘…a stone lay upon it…’ differentiates the type of Lazarus grave from the tomb of the Crucified Christ Jesus - the latter of which had a large stone which rolled across the mouth of the tomb to seal it shut.

Mankinds Responsibilities:  (Vs. 39; 41)  Human responsibility is denoted in these two verses, as Jesus instructs the onlookers to "Take ye away the stone.  Then they took away the stone from the place where the dead was laid…"  The Lord God allows us, His servants, to have a part in His great work.  Jesus made the way of Salvation, it is our responsibility to seek it.

Seeing Was Believing:  In Old Testament days seeing was believing.  Today, we Christians believe and then see Gods hand at work in response to our faith in Him.  (For we walk by faith, not by sight.)"  (2 Corinthians 5:7)

Imparting of Faith:  The entire exercise of Lazarus death was that Christ might glorify our Father in Heaven by raising him from again from the dead - thus proving beyond all doubt that He was indeed the promised Messiah; and imparting vital faith to all those that publicly witnessed the miracle.

And I knew that Thou (God the Father) hearest Me always; but because of the people which stand by I said it, that they may believe that Thou hast sent Me.  (V. 42)

Christ Raised Lazarus:  Christ Jesus Supernatural power raised Lazarus up out of that hole-in-the-ground grave.  Lazarus could not use natural power to walk out of a cave; after all, he was in fact ‘…bound hand and foot with grave clothes; and his face was bound about with a napkin…’  (V.44)

I believe Lazarus came right up out of the ground under Christs power, before the Lord Jesus said, "Loose him, and let him go."  (V.44)

Thought:  Only Christ can loosen the grave clothes of our vile sin.  Will we let Him?

Why Did Jesus Weep? John 11:17-35

Text:  When Jesus heard that (that Lazarus was sick), He said, This sickness is NOT unto death, but for the glory of God, that the Son of God might be glorified thereby.
John 11:4.
Good morning, sometimes confused Christian!  You and I can sometimes arrive at a passage of Scripture, or a verse of Holy Writ, that causes us great confusion.  We know there are no true contradictions in Gods Word, for God is God and He makes no mistakes in His Spirit-inspired Word.  However, with our puny and finite minds, you and I do get a little confused from time to time when we read what looks like Divine contradictions in Gods Word.

Todays Bible Lesson examines one such apparent contradiction.  If the sickness of Lazarus was NOT ‘…unto death…’; why then did he actually die?  And if the Lord Jesus, knowing all things, knew that He was going to raise Lazarus from the dead - why did the Lord bother to weep?

Then we have Lazarus sisters, Martha and Mary, and the apparent contradiction in actions they made as a consequence of their brothers death.  Martha ‘…as soon as she heard that Jesus was coming, went and met Him; but Mary sat still in the house.! (V.20)

The explanation for the first apparent Bible contradiction lies in the context of our text for today.  Jesus plainly told His disciples that This sickness is NOT unto death, but for the glory of God, that the Son of God might be glorified thereby. (John 11:4)

What Christ obviously meant by this statement, given the context of what followed, was that Lazarus would indeed die, but that his death would not be permitted to endure, for Jesus would raise Lazarus from the dead, and thus be glorified as the Son of God by manifesting His power over death.  Jesus said unto her (Martha), Thy brother shall rise again. (V.23)

There never was, is, or ever shall be any real contradictions in the Word of God to mankind.  Gods Word is truth!  (John 17:17)

Then we have the second apparent contradiction in actions taken by the two sisters - Martha and Mary.  Which of these actions are we latter-day Christians encouraged to take in times of serious personal and family troubles?  Are we to emulate the actions of Martha, or the inaction of Mary?

Marthas Action:  As soon as Martha heard that the Lord Jesus was coming, she ‘…went and met Him…’  She swung into positive action and went swiftly into the Presence of the only One Who could help her in her time of deep bereavement and distress - King Jesus.

When deep distresses and troubles come to you and to me, my Christian friend, we do well to flee in haste to our Saviour, Christ Jesus, for our only real help is in Him.  Martha did well.

Come unto Me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you restand ye shall find rest unto your souls.  (Matthew 11:28)

Marys Inaction:  As sister Martha ran into the Presence of her Saviour, Jesus Christ - sister Mary ‘…sat still in the house.  (V.20)

Martha was the woman of direct action, Mary was the woman of patient waiting in the Presence of the Lord.  Mary ‘…sat still in the house.

So often we latter-day Christians need to follow the example of Mary when serious troubles assail us.  We too often fly hither and thither to work things out in our own strength, instead of waiting in the Lords Presence, ‘…sitting still in the house…’, and seeking Gods direction for our course.

Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the heathen, I will be exalted in the earth.  The Lord of Hosts is with us, the God of Jacob is our refuge.  (Psalm 46:10-11)

Mary did well to ’…sit still in the house…’, waiting on the Lord in prayer and faith to see His hand of deliverance.

Ye shall not need to fight in this battle; set yourselves, stand ye still, and see the Salvation of the Lord with you, O Judah and Jerusalem; fear not, nor be dismayed; tomorrow go out against them; for the Lord will be with you. (2 Chronicles 20:17)

The Jewish friends were weeping; Martha and Mary were weeping - but why was the Living Lord Jesus weeping too?  

I believe that Jesus wept when He saw the depth of His peoples unbelief and lack of faith.  Our unbelief and lack of trust in Him, must surely still cause our Saviour to weep today.  Let us seek to trust Him more, and wait with patience on His deliverance.

Thought:  Weep not, sweet Jesus - we fully trust in Your complete Salvation.