15.5 John – There is always a “better” with God

In these verses in Chapter 11 we finally get to the heart of the Pharisees’ issue with Jesus.  They had been beaten down, forced into submission to the Roman government.  They had little control, little say and little hope.  In their eyes, things were either going to stay the same or get worse.  There was no third door.  If Jesus didn’t stop, wasn’t stopped, then things would only go from bad to worse.  It is a tale that had followed the people of God over and over again.  Remember the Hebrews after leaving bondage in Egypt.  Within days, they were grumbling and wanting to go back to the way things were before.  Restore the status quo.

This mindset can happen to us, too, today.  When we are beaten down by life’s events, by trials and tribulation and problems all around us, it is easy to begin to believe things either stay the same or get worse.  We lose hope in promises of improvement and we are not surprised when our leaders stand in the way of those who call for a different path.  With our head hanging low, we can only see a downward path.

But, with God, there is always a better.  Even when we can’t imagine what better looks like, God already knows and has it ready.  Even when we feel things are hopeless, God says, put your hope in me.  When all we see are attackers and battles, God says be not afraid.  When we cannot take another step, God sweeps us into His arms. When darkness closes in, His is the light of the world.

There is always a better.  That isn’t a wish or a dream, it is a fact.  When we can’t imagine what it might be, that is OK.  It isn’t our job to imagine it, it is our job to put our faith in Christ.  When we turn our eyes to the Lord, we look up.  Our focus is no longer on the valley, but on the mountaintop.  Our journey is not more of the same but a destination of holiness and purity and perfection and peace.

My Answers:

Many believed.  Others went and reported to the Pharisees who called a meeting of the Sanhedrin.

What are we accomplishing.  He is performing many signs. If let him go on, everyone will believe in him, then the Romans will come and take away both our temple and our nation.

The status quo.  The temple. Themselves and their position and role in the temple. They saw only a worse, not a better.

14.You do not realize that it is better for you that one man die for the people than that the whole nation perish.  As high priest he was, (probably) unknowingly to himself, prophesying of Jesus’ sacrificial death to take on the death of all to defeat sin and death that we may be redeemed.

15.4 John – Take off the grave clothes

Jesus gives three commands. 1. Take away the stone.  2. Lazarus, come out. 3. Take off the grave clothes and let him go.

There is a lot we could discuss about the fact that Jesus did not enter the tomb, he didn’t touch Lazarus, he didn’t give him medicine or a shock or anything else.  He simply commanded him to come out.

But the part that I think has an application to us are the grave clothes.  Lazarus was bound up.  His hands were bound, a cloth covered his face so he couldn’t see.  At this point, he was alive but he wasn’t free.  Jesus’ command to Lazarus and to us is not only to believe and live, but to be alive, free of the baggage of the tomb, and to go.

Our sins are forgiven when we turn them over to Christ, but many of us carry them around with us.  We are bound up by our past transgressions, by our sins, our failures, our faults.  The bind us and blind us.  But, when Jesus gives us new life, when we commit to Him, we are commanded to take off these grave clothes and go, to be let go.

Our grave clothes do not define us.  Lazarus death does not define him, Jesus’ love does.

Are you ready for some new clothes?  What binding is still holding you to the grave?

My Answers:

That people would see this was God and “that they may believe that you sent me.”

Lazarus, come out – Take off the grave clothes and let him go.

We are dead in sin, but Jesus has the power and authority to bring us out of that death into life.  The gift of spiritual life is greater than even the gift to Lazarus because Laz would physically die again, but his and our spiritual life is eternal.  We will be able to enter with God and the Spirit will move in us, we will be free and resurrected with Christ

j10: Thief comes only to steal and kill, come so they may have life to full – Jesus gives full life, filled w/spirit

j17: at cross – glorify son that may glorify you, authority over all people to give eternal life to all give Jesus

e2: We have all been dead in our transgressions, God in mercy made us alive in Christ even while dead

c3: raised in Christ, set eyes on the eternal.  Old life hidden in Christ.

1t4: For the Lord himself will come down and call the dead in Christ to rise first

15.3 John – X’s and O’s, a Foundation of Faith

Jesus comes on the scene to raise Lazarus from the dead.  So why is he doesn’t he get right to it?  Why is he engaging in these dialogues with Martha and Mary?  I think it shows a difference between our priorities and God’s priorities.  To us, the big thing is Lazarus’ life.  This is a big deal, a huge miracle, something that just doesn’t happen.  The guy has been dead for 4+ days.  It is one thing to resurrect someone who had a heart attack 30 seconds ago and another altogether for someone dead for over 4 days.  This isn’t a near death, this is dead dead.

But, to Jesus, Lazarus resurrection wasn’t the most important thing.  Jesus was going to raise Lazarus back to life, demonstrating His authority over life and death and His divinity.  But, later, Lazarus was going to die again.  The bigger thing, for Jesus, was faith, bringing it and building it in others. And the path of faith can be very different.

Martha is an X, straight line, connect the dots person.  Jesus meets her and asking questions, brings her along her path of increased faith.  Step by step, we see her grow.

Mary, on the other hand, is an O.  She is emotional.  She needs to wrap her arms around her faith, to feel it, to experience it.  She doesn’t walk her faith, she breathes it and wears it.  Jesus connects with her to build her faith where she is.  He is moved and compassionate and He moves to relieve and remove her distress.

When we think of God’s power and authority it is difficult to understand His desire to be compassionate and connect personally with each and every one of us.  As John says in 3:16, the reason Jesus came was because God loves the world.

Instead of prayers for God to take action, maybe we should pray for God to help us increase our faith.

My Answers:

1. “Lord if you had been here”, she had faith that Jesus could have healed Laz
2. “I know he will rise in resurrection” she had faith in everlasting life
3. “I believe you are the Messiah, Son of God” she knew and believed in Jesus’ diety
4. she went and called Mary to come to Jesus, too

These words explain the gift of eternal life.  Even though a believer experiences a physical death, they still will live and those who believe live even through death (i.e., they stay themselves in a new body, not just a metaphor that our elements rejoin the universe or that we are reincarnated into something/someone else).

He loves Mary, Martha and he felt for them and their grief.  He is a compassionate, loving and caring God.

15.2 John – Waiting = Following = Waiting

Waiting is hard.  We want things and we want them now.  We take on great amounts of dead so we can get things we want now and pay for them later.  We want desert first, payment in advance.

If we wait we might miss out.  What if it is all gone?  What if we can’t get ours?  Advertising hypes scarcity simply to feed on this fear that we have.  Quantities are limited, for a limited time only.  We go for it even when it isn’t something we really want.

But this is not God’s way.  Our God is not a God of scarcity; He is the creator of all.  Our God never runs out.

But waiting is still difficult.  We run ahead and pray for God to catch up with our plans.  We dart into danger and pray for protection.  Our definition of being a follower of Christ, too often, is that Christ is following up and cleaning up our messes.

But what Jesus demonstrated was different.  He demonstrated waiting for God’s timing.  He knew what was going to happen and how it was going to happen, but He didn’t know when and He waited.  We see this same aspect of Jesus in regard to His second coming.  Even He does not know the time, but the Father does.

Notice, though that waiting for God’s time did not leave Jesus to idleness.  He continued doing the work He had been doing every day.  He wasn’t stuck while waiting, He was working while waiting.

And, very importantly, He waited in peace.  One of our greatest challenges in being a witness to others is that we act, too often, like the rest of the world.  We are unsettled.  We rush about.  We are busy, busy, busy.  Over and over again, we are called to peace and joy.  We are to do our work diligently as for the Lord, but that does not mean to panic and rush around in a flurry.  Our focus should be on those around us and witnessing to them, not checking tasks off of our to do list.

Where in your life are you praying on the fly, because you have flown off the handle?  Where are you asking God to catch up, when you’ve rushed ahead?  Where do you have anxiety and stress because you are focused on doing, doing, doing, going, going, going?  Where have you decided the right path and timing before prayer, instead of after?  What would your life look like if you measured your day by the people you witnessed to rather than the tasks you checked off?  What would your life look like if you prayed peacefully instead of panicked prayer?

My Answers:

Because He knew that He would be performing a miracle to bring Lazarus back to life and demonstrate His authority over death.

Because it can open others eyes to the attributes of God and the joy and comfort of faith and trust

Because he loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus.  Because he waited for the correct time to go

Yes, with situations with our children.  In hindsight I see that God had something bigger and better in plan than my quick solution.

Those who walk in the light (stay in God’s will) do not stumble.  This does not mean it is an easy walk, but it does mean we are protected and secure.