Thursday, June 30, 2016

Relentless
A series of expositions on John the Apostle Pt.9

John 11:15 “so that you may believe”

As time passed and the ministry of Jesus continued young John witnessed the persecution being brought by the Pharisees change. They no longer asked his teacher questions trying to trap him but now they hurled accusations and insults saying he was of Beelzebub and out of his mind. They gnashed they’re teeth at him and made threats but the Master remained steadfast and unsurprised.
Young John had begun to realize that the execution his Rabbi had spoke of looked more and more likely and this made John cling to his Master’s side all the more. This prophesy still greatly confused John and the rest of the twelve, the most perplexing part was when he said he would rise again. “How can the dead do anything but be dead? Did the teacher mean he would rise in the spirit or at the last day in the resurrection?” John thought to himself as they walked along the road.
A young boy came running past John and stopped when he reached the Lord. He spoke quickly and the Lord held his shoulder as he gave him his ear, then he was gone again.
Lazarus was sick and if the Lord was to heal him that would mean returning to Judea where the Rabbi had just narrowly escaped before being stoned. “Was this the time Jesus had talked about, would John now watch as his precious Master was stoned to death?” John’s mind reeled. John looked at the dust of the ground as he thought these things so his Messiah might not see his fear. A hand gripped John’s shoulder and he lifted his head and looked into the peace filled face of his Master. Jesus said everything young John needed to hear without speaking a word; his expression alone told John that Jesus knew his fears but that all would be well. Jesus turned and spoke to the others. “This sickness is not unto death, but for the glory of God, that the Son of God may be glorified through it.”

They went nearby and stayed, resting and reminiscing of days past.
Young John loved to hear his great friend and Master laugh as they retold funny stories about one another they had gathered during their many journeys.
The Lord would guide them through times of prayer and worship so intense that John hated to have them end. Being in the Messiah’s presence was much like sitting close to a fire on a very cold night, only a fire for the spirit and not the flesh.
“Would this fire be snuffed out, would they’re Lord be taken from them?”
This became John’s only fear, it consumed his thoughts.
After two days time the Messiah said to the disciples “let us go to Judea again.”
Peter and John shot looks of concern to one another. “Rabbi, lately the Jews sought to stone you, and you are going there again?” One of the twelve asked. “Our friend Lazarus sleeps, but I go that I may wake him up.”
“Lord if he sleeps he will get well.” They said again.
“Lazarus is dead, and I am glad for your sakes that I was not there, that you may believe. Nevertheless let us go to him.” Jesus bluntly replied.
“Let us go that we may die with him.” Thomas said.

The journey they took back to Judea was an anxious one, filled with silent looks of dread. They had opposed the Lord all they could and to go any farther would invite rebuke from they’re beloved teacher. Many times young John and the other eleven had obeyed even when it went against all they knew and their faith each time was greatly increased; now it seemed they might be walking toward the execution of they’re Messiah and possibly even there own yet they denied all they felt and thought and placed their lives in his hands, they had come to follow him and follow him they would.

The sisters of Lazarus came falling at the feet of Jesus as he came to their home. Young John watched on as his teacher wept and grieved with them, John stood very confused as to why they hadn’t come before Lazarus had died, as the sister’s said. “Your brother will rise again” John overheard Jesus say. “I know that he will rise again in the resurrection in the last day.” Martha said in response. “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me, though he may die shall live. And whoever lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?” He asked “Yes Lord, I believe you are the Christ, the Son of God, who is to come into the world.”

Mary, Martha, and Jesus held onto one another as they made they’re way to the tomb where Lazarus lay. A great number of Jews followed him and the disciples as they went. They stopped at the front of the tomb.
“Take away the stone.” Jesus instructed.
Everything Jesus had said over the past several days suddenly became clear to John as he scrambled for a vantage point at which to view what he now knew his Master was about to do. Some men went to work preparing to roll the stone away. The crowd chattered wildly, some shouted loud complaints about defilement and uncleanness; others like John sensed what this healing Messiah might have in mind to do and uttered questions to one another. “How is this possible? Hasn’t his body begun to decay by now?”
“Lord by this time there is a stench, for he has been dead four days.” Martha insisted.
As the stone was removed the crowd gasped at the smell of decaying flesh. Some friends of the Pharisees stood at the back and shouted insults and accusations to the Lord.

Jesus looked to the sky “Father I thank you that you have heard me. And I know that you always hear me, but because of the people standing by I have said this that they may believe that you have sent me.”
Jesus set his eyes on the now open entrance of the tomb and shouted
                                        “Lazarus come forth!”

Young John watched as Lazarus stumbled to the entrance, grave cloth dangling from his renewed body and face. Some in the crowd fainted and fell to the ground, others shouted with fear and ran away, many more rejoiced and gave thanks to God and to Jesus.
“Loose him and let him go!” Jesus instructed



Rant
Throughout the Old Testament we read about God acting in our own human history, and when He does He does it in such a way that no other explanation can be given, no glory can be laid upon any human involved. He gives Sarah the ability to bear a child at the age of ninety.
He brings plagues to the Egyptians and He parts the sea as His people march out from Egypt. He tells Joshua to march around the city of Jericho seven times and blow a trumpet. He uses a small weak Shepard boy to defeat a giant philistine soldier. Each time He sets the scene with His all encompassing sovereign will in a way that no human power can be attributed to bringing these events about yet we still see much glory given to the humans God uses. We speak of Moses parting the sea, of Joshua’s great faith and leadership, and of David’s courage. Each of these servants were very flawed people yet God chose to use them and when He chooses to use someone we have the tendency as self-centered humans to then exalt the human when we shouldn’t really make much of the human but of how God was able to use this flawed human for His will. In every story of the Bible we should see only much being made of God.

Here Jesus leaves not even the slightest doubt about this mans death. He leaves him to lay and decay for four long days. He goes to the home of Mary and Martha not in the night or the wee hours of the morning but while many Jews are there from Jerusalem to console the sisters. This is believed to be one of the Lord’s final miracles before His execution. He is giving one last very clear sign as to His identity in an act that can only bring glory to Himself.
Is it any wonder that when we come to Christ and begin a relationship with Him we feel we have really then started to truly live? He is life and before we abided in Him we were as dead spiritually as Lazarus was here physically. Our spirit had become emaciated it had withered away from lack of spiritual nutrients and died from starvation. But then the Lord looked at us and called us forth, He woke us from spiritual death and placed in us a spring of living water that pours forth nourishing and growing our spirit. He placed the Spirit of Truth in us to guide, strengthen, and mature us in this life for preparation of the next.
This change, this rebirth is also something that could never have been brought about by anyone other than He who is Himself life and it is also not something we merited receiving. Are we to believe He chose us because of something we have done, because we were somehow more special than the millions of spiritually dead unbelievers that surround us? No, only God should be praised for this gift of His life we have received. If no human effort or significance can be attributed to this miraculous gift we have been given our great desire in life will be to tell others so that they might themselves be awakened, but if we, as many often do, start to see some worthy thing we think we’ve done or if deep down we think we were chosen because of the “Good” life we were living before we came to Christ we will feel entitled to it and will look on others at times as less entitled to the love and Life of Christ.
Yahweh is the only Hero in the Bible and He must be the only Hero in our life’s story also. He did not require the help of the servants we read about just like He does not require ours but He chooses to work through us, He chooses to act in us, and He chooses to bring to life what once was dead, not because we are entitled at all, not because he needs us at all, but only because of His sovereign will and His great Love for us His children. He acts through us for His own Glory and we, His children, should seek only to magnify that Glory to others and never want or attempt to use any of this glory for our exaltation.
We move and breathe because He has seen fit to will it, how dare we then use this Life He has bestowed to exalt ourselves or to be a stumbling block to the still blind with our great sense of entitlement.

We should beat our breast and cry out “God, have mercy on me, a sinner!”