In today’s Bible reading, Jesus’ friends sent word that his friend Lazarus has died. Jesus knows that He will raise his friend from the dead. And yet, when He approaches His friend’s grave, He weeps. (John 11:35)
The Jewish bystanders correctly observe that Jesus could have kept Lazarus from dying in the first place. I’m sure that His Disciples wondered why He didn’t go straight to Bethany when He heard that Lazarus was sick. In John 11:4, Jesus says that Lazarus’ sickness wouldn’t end in death, but would lead to glory being given to God. Obviously, Jesus’ understanding of the situation was far better than ours. And yet, He weeps.
Jesus tells the Disciples that He’s glad that Lazarus has died so that they might believe (John 11:15). And yet, He weeps.
Jesus tells Martha that Lazarus will rise from the dead. (John 11:23) Martha acknowledges that Jesus is the Messiah. (John 11:27) Yet, he weeps.
Regardless of how hopeless the situation looked, Jesus knew that God would work everything out to His glory. And yet Jesus wept.
Believer, regardless of how hopeless your life situation may look, even in your darkest days, God promises to work out everything that He would be glorified, and that you will be more like Jesus. (Romans 8:28-29)
God, the Sovereign Lord, is on His throne. He is never caught off guard. He is never surprized by anything that happens. But even with all of this being true, when it He approached His friend’s grave, Jesus wept.
It’s ok to express emotions. God created you in His image. God has emotions. God expresses His emotions in healthy ways. And you can, too. You should, too.
Jesus didn’t just weep for Himself. He wept with His friends. Friends rejoice with friends who rejoice. And friends weep when friends weep. (Romans 12:15)
And when your friends go through dark days, God, the Sovereign Lord, is still on His throne. He is never caught off guard. He is never surprized by anything that happens. As your friends weep, be like Jesus and weep with them.
In today’s Bible reading, Jesus highlight the importance of knowing and being known by Jesus. (John 10:14-16; John 10:25-29) In fact, in light of eternity, knowing Him is the most important thing for you to do.
I’m not talking about going to church. I’m not talking about praying a prayer. I’m not talking about being baptized. I’m not talking about any of those things. I’m simply asking if you know Jesus.
And when I ask the question, the first response is probably, “Which Jesus?” The religions and cults have their opinions of Jesus. And all of them distort the Jesus as the Bible presents Him. So they don’t know Jesus. Many Church-goers don’t even know Jesus as the Bible presents Him.
Perhaps you believe in Jesus. But how do you know if you have the right one? Johanna Michaelson said she believed in Jesus; he was her occult spirit guide. But obviously, her Jesus wasn’t the Jesus of the Bible.
As I pointed out a couple of days ago, the Jesus of the Bible isn’t a “feel-good” Jesus, a peaceful Jesus, a grace-only Jesus. No, those pictures of Jesus are incomplete distortions of the Jesus as presented in the Bible. The Bible also presents a divisive Jesus, a righteous Jesus, a Jesus Who doesn’t want you to stay the same way as you are when you first come to Him. He is a transforming Jesus.
When you think of Jesus, are all of your thoughts positive, feel-good thoughts? Or does He make you feel a little uncomfortable?
When you cross over to the other side of eternity, the only question you’ll be asked is, “What did you do with Jesus?” Did you ignore Him? Did you give all of who you are to Him and His work? (Matthew 6:33) Did you think you knew Him? Or did you really know Him?
Having the right Jesus is paramount! Don’t settle for substitutes!
In today’s Bible reading, John tells us about Jesus’ encounter with a man who was born blind. The Jewish leaders asked Jesus about the source of his blindness. Was it his sin or his parents’ sin?
Evidently, these First Century Jewish leaders believed there was a connection between sin and physical ailments. They were partially right. The fact than anyone has any type of physical or mental ailment is ultimately due to the Fall of mankind. One decision in Genesis 3 affected not only the spiritual condition, but also the physical and mental condition of every descendent of Adam and Eve. But the Jewish leaders went too far in believing there was a direct link between this man’s blindness and someone’s sin. Jesus said neither was the source. Instead, He says this man was blind to show the works of God. (John 9:3)
The First Century Jewish leaders aren’t the only ones who try to draw a direct link between sin and illness. Can there be a link between sin and illness? Absolutely! Is there always a direct link? No. And Scripture does not state or imply otherwise. But James tells us that if someone is not well, he/she should pray for healing and deal with whatever sin(s) that may be related to the illness. (James 5:16) And when Paul and Dr. Luke were shipwrecked on the island of Malta, people brought their sick to these two men. Dr. Luke points out (very clearly in Greek) that at least one of the people was healed and others were cured. (Acts 28:8-9)
So why are some people born with physical or mental disabilities? Again, ultimately, this goes back to the decision made by Adam and Eve in the Garden. How could God cause/allow sickness and disease? If God is all-good, all-powerful, and all-loving, why doesn’t He prevent sickness and disease?
That’s a great question! And to answer it, we must define “all-good”, “all-powerful” and “all-loving” to include “not-always-understandable”. I don’t know why. And the Bible doesn’t tell me why. Nor does it need to. Some things about God are just beyond my comprehension. And God doesn’t owe me explanations for whatever He does. He’s God and I’m not! Sometimes, I just have to trust that He knows what He’s doing and that at some point — on this side, or on the other side of eternity — every Believer will be completely healed.
That trust is called “Faith”. And sometimes, I just have to say, “I believe. Help my unbelief.” (Acts 28:7)
Today’s Bible reading includes a familiar passage where a woman is brought to Jesus who was caught in the act of adultery. (John 8:4) Jesus tells the Jewish leaders to go ahead and stone her, with the condition that the first one to throw the first rock must be completely innocent. The accusers walk away, and Jesus tells her that He doesn’t condemn her. End of story. Right?
There are several things I need to highlight here. Yes, the Jewish Law prescribed death by stoning for those guilty of adultery. (Leviticus 20:10) Note that the death penalty was for both of the partners committing adultery. Where was her partner? Did they let the man go? And what were these Jewish leaders doing when the act was being committed? Where were they? How did they know?
Second, her accusers left her alone with Jesus Who tells her that He didn’t condemn her. But He didn’t just leave it there. He says, “Neither do I condemn you. Go, and from now on do not sin anymore.” John 8:11 (CSB)
In telling her He doesn’t condemn her and letting her go, Jesus never condones the woman’s sin. Never. Instead, He uses the situation as a teachable moment for the woman. And for us. Instead of sentencing the woman to death and participating in her execution (as He was obligated to do under the Law), Jesus extends grace and mercy, demonstrating that there is more to dealing with sin than serving as judge, jury, and executioner. God offers a clean slate and an opportunity to start over.
None of us is the judge, jury, and executioner. As Believers and representers of Jesus Christ, we are to help bring about restoration to the brokenhearted. Restoration and rehabilitation is a big deal in the Kingdom of God. But a big problem with bringing restoration and rehabilitation is that as long as the person hasn’t dealt with their sin, there can be no restoration. There can be no rehabilitation.
Look at how Jesus dealt with the self-righteous religious leaders. Look at how Paul dealt with self-righteousness individuals in the early chapters of Romans. Neither Jesus nor Paul swept sin under the rug. Both men dealt with sin head-on. And when the people recognized their sin, both men were there with an extended hand to help the repentant sinner to “go and sin no more.”
All of us are guilty of sin. I don’t know what sins you are guilty of. The reason we sin is because we’re sinners. But have you dealt with your sin condition? Have you taken the First Step (admit that you have a problem)?
God offers peace with Himself, forgiveness, and restoration as we deal with our sin, and not a moment sooner. That’s the very purpose of the Law: to expose our sin and our hopeless condition. But we don’t get to experience the Good News until we’ve dealt with the Bad News.
Don’t cheapen grace! Deal with sin as soon as God reveals it to you. Then, repent of your sin and trust Him to empower you to “go and sin no more.”
In today’s Bible reading, John makes a stunning observation. “So the crowd was divided because of him.” John 7:43 (CSB) John wins the title, “Captain Obvious” for this one!
Many today will say that Christians need to be more like Jesus: more peaceful, more inclusive, less judgmental, and less divisive.
“Don’t assume that I came to bring peace on the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I came to turn a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law; and a man’s enemies will be the members of his household.” Matthew 10:34–36 (CSB)
It’s as if the ones telling Christians to “be more like Jesus” don’t know Who Jesus really is. Sometimes I just have to scratch my head and wonder if these people have ever read the Bible!
If you read the “Fruit of the Spirit” in Galatians 5:22-23, you’ll see character qualities that everyone can admire. Yes, Jesus was the embodiment of all of these things. And He was more. So much more!
We don’t get to take a trip down the Bible Buffet Line, picking and choosing what we like and disregarding what we dislike. No, we can either take the Jesus presented in the Bible, or reject Him outright.
By His very nature, Jesus is divisive. He is God. And God is divisive! God is very divisive.
And we must choose. We must choose, not which parts of Jesus we want, or which version of Jesus we want, but whether or not we really want the Jesus Who’s is revealed in the Bible. The whole Bible.