John 12 L’Chaim!

There was a specific group of Greeks going to the Passover festival, and John chose to share this nugget with us. These Greeks had heard about Jesus and having no clue how to get near Him and find him,, they went to Philip and asked for help, for an introduction, for an audience. Sir, we wish to see Jesus. Philip passed it up the chain to Andrew and together they told Jesus. Jesus was already surrounded by a multitude of people. Had Jesus been waiting for this contingent to be among the crowd? Rather than any direct answer, John goes right into informing us of a response that does not seem to be a response to the surface question. We want to see Jesus. Jesus then speaks clearly to the crowd about who He is and whom He is glorifying and how He will glorify the Father.  He says this deliberately for all to hear, including the Greeks. This is what they saw:

IMG_1009Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains by itself alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. He who loves his life loses it; and he who hates his life in this world shall keep it to life eternal. If anyone serves Me, let him follow Me; and where I am, there shall My servant also be; if anyone serves Me, the Father will honor him. Now, My soul has become troubled; and what shall I say to this hour? But for this purpose I came to this hour.   Father, glorify Thy name. There came therefore a voice out of heaven; I have both glorified it, and will glorify it again.

These men were seeking. They had traveled far. Time was over for introductions and questions and answers. It was time to see. Now begins His passionate display of love, mercy and forgiveness. Jesus is to be glorified. It glorified the Father when Jesus obeyed unto death and submitted so completely. To allow His life to be spent like a seed, planted, broken, then sprouting to new life-bearing, fruit-bearing hope, this is what came with booming approval in a “voice out of heaven“.

  • KidsonBeach
    The joy of life- first waves experienced. May I live each day welcoming each wave of life in the joy of the Lord!

    What shall I do with my life?

  • Shall I keep it to myself not thinking it is for eternity?
  • Or shall I choose to surrender it to my Creator, to my Savior and spend it in the gritty earth with His loving, living ways often filled with brokenness, grief, sorrow and forgiveness; to sprout eternal life in the soil of my heart, thus glorifying Him?
  • I am saying I prefer eternal life to temporary life. Choose life. Deuteronomy 30:19 L’Chaim!

 

John 12 Mob Mentality

Without TV, radio or newspapers, without commentary and critics publishing and broadcasting their opinion, the word of witness has gone out and the people have responded. Crowds were in the city. The crowd who had been at the tomb and witnessed the raising of Lazarus had spread the word. Social media of the day was doing what it does. The world was aflame with the news. And they, just like today, had an opinion. Where no man could predict nor control a passionate, mob sized gathering of people, God had known all along and the ancient prophecy was unfolding before their eyes.

img_2958-e1496783944999Passion week. It is aptly named, as the levels of emotion were clearly passionate. With the reunion meal now over, the one He spent with Lazarus, Mary and Martha to fortify His body, Jesus enters the city for His last Passover. The Ultimate Passover, the Lamb of God ready to make His spotless sacrifice for humanity.

Recognized as King, Jesus enters the city to the cheering crowds. Laying palm branches at His feet, honoring Him as King., yet not knowing they too were fulfilling prophecy, they responded with heartfelt joy and anticipation. The world is about to change.

  • Jesus, how many convincing proofs do we need?
  • Are you coming back soon?
  • Is the world in false labor still or are these the beginning of the birth pangs?

The world had gone after you at Passover with welcome, then with vengeance. There is vengeance toward you in mighty ways these days also Lord. It’s in the world of media, preconceived notions, surface understandings, sound bites of information or gossip spreading like wildfire over the airwaves and social media outlets. It is inflaming the culture, expecting one thing and not understanding nor informing anyone of the context.

DSCN2537Lord, keep me alert to seek truth and context beneath the tidal floods of media. Help me to find the nuggets of truth and recognize what is of You.  Let me walk on the surface of those tidal waves, eyes focused on You. There is no human way possible to wade through these waters unscathed and find the truth. The gate is narrow. The tide is pushing away and past it. Lord, help me this day to keep my all my senses alert and aligned to your call, your voice, the voice of the true King and Creator who alone can still the storm and fish me out of the seas.

John 12 Grief as a Teacher

Here are Jesus’s best buds, the men he has walked with, taught with, healed with, eaten with, traveled and slept around the same campfire with for the last three years.

DSCN2643And who understands what Jesus is really facing? Not them. Not his fellow missionaries. Not even His home church. In fact they have an arrest warrants and death plans for Him. It’s only Lazarus, Mary and Martha. It’s His sending team.

Jesus accepted Mary’s anointing as His burial anointing. It seems crazy to the others. Jesus felt deeply loved and ministered to. Why did Mary do such an out of place thing? She knew, she understood, she had been listening, watching and taking to heart everything she had seen and heard. She knew the inevitable result of His presence in town the days prior to Passover. She knew the grief of death to come. She also knows the word is out for her brother – a death warrant. How intense the family’s emotions must have been.

When I let myself see, with my eyes, mind and perception, the loving, living and knowing Jesus gives me, then I know, by experiences, that I have been taught through the grit of living. Grief teaches reality in a way nothing else can. Take heed. Will I let it sink in-what Jesus means in regards to life and death?

John 12 He Went Where? Now?

Setting: Passover is coming up.  In the midst of the impending sacrifice, with all the temple guards and leaders seeking to seize Jesus, Jesus,  in full knowledge of the outcome,  comes to Bethany to dine and spend time with Lazarus, recently risen from the dead. With full understanding and power of a life that has seen death and resurrection, after four days dead. Not hours, days. What was Mary experiencing as she talked with her brother? What experience of death was there to share? Was that even the topic? What did his life mean to him now? How different did he live because he had been there and back again. He did not live much longer after this. His testimony was too big a threat for the authorities to tolerate. As the disciples ate along side this friendship, Lazarus with their master, what impact did it have on them? What hope did they draw from this in the next days to come? Did it also encourage Jesus as He dealt with His flesh and the knowledge of what was to come? There are so many things I wonder about as I ponder this scene.

JDSCN3139esus is anointed by Mary for his own upcoming burial. Clearly it is on His mind, He knows what the next week will bring, six days before Passover. He tells them He won’t always be with them. What a special dinner party that must have been! The mixed emotions of Lazarus returned life and the brewing trouble with the authorities. Here a great thing has come to the people and the reception is so mixed. Even among Jesus’ own followers we have Judas, a petty thief about to turn betrayer. Was this miraculous sign that they witnessed with their own eyes so great that it was hard to sink into their core beliefs?

What troubles may come to us we do not know. But can we face the future like Lazarus, with a confidence of resurrection, because we have the proof of the past to count on? Help me this day to trust confidently in all You have done.

John 11 Sign of Resurrection, a Precursor, a Threat to Pride

It’s not finished yet. The impact and message of this sign has greatly affected the culture. The threat is real. You sent a message to the world, through one born of the lowest class and to your own people. Is part of the problem that the status of the leaders puffed them up with importance so they felt all change should come through them, for their partial glory? I suffer from the sin of pride. It is a trying balance to do a job well and not be puffed up over it. Often a job title and company you work for will expect a level of authority to ooze out of one in your position. Yet that is not genuine. Many feel like imposters in their jobs in fear they will be found out. We may judge ourselves harshly and hold to a perfectionist standard. Now, in this case, the raising of Lazarus, in the eyes of Jewish authority, is perceived as if a gauntlet has been thrown down. They are challenged. Their authority is challenged. Their careers are at stake, and in their minds, so is the very existence of the Jewish people. If they cannot control their people, the Roman authority will squash them likes dirt under their sandals. Those are not sandals like ours today, but are marching war shoes and probably spiked!   They see this display of power in the resurrection of Lazarus as a complete challenge to the very safety of the nation.

2015-05-11 13.37.44“It is expedient for you that one man should die for the people, and that the whole nation should not perish, and not for the nation only, but that He might also gather together into one the children of God who are scattered abroad.”

These are words from the high priest. God used his position of highest earthly Jewish authority to prophesy exactly why Jesus must die. He doubtlessly said the word to placate the consciences of the others as they contemplated murder. God is at work for His good purpose in the midst of the evil devices of mans heart.

  • What evil has man done against me?
  • What has befallen me as a consequence of a loving action of mine?
  • Have I been sideswiped emotionally by unexpected threats?

God is at work. Rest assured, there is nothing man can do that God cannot upturn for His purpose, use for His good for us- not that we are His ultimate end but that in working through us we honor Him and bring Him His due glory.

  • Does Jesus understand when we suffer unjustly?

Most assuredly, we are not alone as we go through trials, conspiracies against us.

Jesus’s response was to leave the area- until it was time.

John 11 Grave or Garden?

My notes push forward but I am not yet ready to leave the graveyard. I’ve never been much for graveyards. My adult experience consisted of being asked by my dad to go and visit my moms grave, a lunch date. I had to help him search through the flat markers (done to keep it simple so they can mow.) My daughter takes her kids on a special trip down state to visit their dad’s grave to see his marker. It took me a year to get the marker for Dave, my husbands grave. Nice town cemetery and it was one I could walk to. In fact the town does just that every Memorial Day. Lots of speeches and music. I got a bench for a marker. Next time I am back in the state I will have to go visit.

2015-12-26 13.50.10Nothing much happens in a graveyard. You can listen to the birds – at least in my hometown. In Israel, the garden was not part of the graveyard. It’s different. More like stone rooms and stone beds and mummy style wrapped bones on cold slabs, openings closed by large stone doors that were rolled into place. We bury our dead differently here. In pretty wooden boxes inside concrete boxes dug into holes in the ground. Either way, they are all dead. It’s finished. It’s over. The only change left possible is for those who are living. Life is about change, but not death. Boring endless death. You can bring your guitar and play some music, sing a song, sit and talk to the dead, but they don’t talk back. They stay in the grave, unchanging, naturally dead.

Jesus.

Jesus spoke into the fact of death. The author of life called out to one dead remnant of a man, wrapped, placed on a stone slab laying, cold, with rotting body. Jesus, the good shepherd, creator of life, called across all that is possible, all of time, into the deep stillness, with a name. He called life back out of the past, reconnected it with the stinking flesh, recreated that flesh with new life and health. He did it in three words. A command that even in death, could not be disobeyed.

Credit.Ims.Kirsti.8.13.17.20799108_1869090786752787_2704916376784312513_n
Credit: Kirsti Ims

Thrill. Every molecule of creation must have felt the thrill of power calling to Lazarus. The simple command that had to be responded to: Lazarus, come out!   This same voice that created out of nothing with the command let. Now it spoke again. Today all creation waits to hear that voice.

Lazarus lived. Under the command of his shepherd, he rose. He left the graveyard. He returned with his sisters. With his neighbors and friends. Jesus’s love, Jesus’s power and authority changed everything. There is no more death! Not for His sheep.

Pharisees could not see. They were blind. They did not want it. They were not His sheep. They did not want Him. They had to eliminate Him. They could not comprehend Him.

It did not matter, as there was yet one more death to conquer, His own. Jesus had to personally travel the cold stone slab path that he had called Lazarus away from. Jesus had to enter the depths with His own mortal creation, the door of life enters death, mingles in the deep stillness defeating the spiritual powers of darkness to triumph over death with His own flesh renewed, restored and improved.

dsc_0416The graveyard is no longer a grave but a garden. What was buried is blooming. The door to life is a birth into a life that every cell of our body knows is true, yet we live in that promise by faith in what our good shepherd did for us once upon a time. A time He is author of and commander of. A time we can live in with confidence and hope.

  • Am I ready to leave the grave garden now?
  • To live this blooms’ moment for His glory and honor?
  • To join my shepherd when He calls me out of the grave to glory?

John 11 Jesus Walks Alone

The ultimate shepherd gathers His flock from afar. The catalyst is sacrificial death, the plan is to kill Him. Jesus knew ahead of time, that raising Lazarus would be the last straw for the fear based religious leaders. He left the area, heading north and staying in Ephraim.

It’s Passover time. The world and all the people know that Jesus was a wanted man and would be arrested on sight if He came this Passover to Jerusalem. Everyone is on edge. It’s just not the same this year. 2015-05-11 16.38.08

  • Now He is known.
  • His claim is known.
  • His power is known.

The gauntlet was laid down with the raising of Lazarus. The expectations were high. Politics was on everyone’s minds. Well, almost everyone’s. Jesus had greater things on His mind then the world understood at the time. How hard it must have been to contemplate His next move.

Every step into that town was a step closer to His ultimate sacrifice. In their minds, every step was a step closer to a new political day, a slap in the face against Rome, a throwing off of years of tyranny. Jesus understood all this. His followers did not. How alone Jesus must have felt. No one could walk His path for Him. Only He can walk it for us. It was a death march for eternal life. Jesus saw it all.

John 11 Love Leads

Many of those who ran after Mary out of care and concern and found themselves unexpectedly witnessing the greatest miracle of Jesus so far, believed.  It is striking to try to grasp how this revelation of Jesus was received. Many, but not all, believed. If the very love of Jesus, seen in His presence, His tears and His astounding gift of resurrected life could be rejected by some who witnessed the bodily resurrection of Lazarus, then who are we to ever take credit for anyone’s salvation or anyone’s rejection of Jesus. Even Jesus did not convert them all.

The significant verse is in the response of the Pharisees when the eyewitness reports came to them. What are we doing? For this man is performing many attesting miracles (signs). If we let Him go on like this, all men will believe in Him, and the Romans will come and take away both our place and our nation.”

Credit.Ims.Kirsti.8.13.17What do theses men know? That what Jesus has been doing is proof, and acceptable proof about who He is. That the evidence is so great that all will be believing. That is exactly what they said. Yet what about them? They who have studied the scriptures? What do they also believe? That the power of Jesus will not protect them from Rome. That therefore Rome is greater than their Messiah. That they love their position in life more than they love the people they are leading. Contrast human leadership to the Messiah, the great shepherd, who loves the people He is leading more than His position, more than even His life.

John 11 Gravestones

  • What stones are set in front of my disappointments about life?
  • What dreams are locked away in a cave of death, wrapped in clothes of tears and/ or resentments?2015-12-12 17.19.54
  • When The Lord of life asks me, will I obey?
  • Sure, I may make lots of excuses for the “burial” of my dreams, hopes, joys. But, will I obey?
  • Will I allow the stone to roll away and will I allow The Lord of life to call forth my dead hopes and dreams?
  • Will I obey Him further and unbind them and let my dreams prosper?

Is there someone in your life you have held wrapped in bondage-death to the relationship? Roll away the stone and let Him go unbound.

John 11 Remove the Stone!

He is at the tomb. He is deeply moved. He was moved the first time when Mary wept and she could not express the same confidence that Martha had expressed (v33). Now, hearing the crowd of Jews express a confidence that had first come from Martha, then later from Mary. And now the crowd also raises the question  “He could have kept him from dying.”

Yes, He could have.

DSCN4494How emotional was this? Of course, Jesus knew this- he could have come sooner; he could have prevented this, yet He chose not to so that God would be glorified. Yet, in this moment, no one understood this but Jesus.

Until…He took action.

Remove the stone!

That is a command not a suggestion. In the face of the death, lying on a cold stone bed, kept inside a cold stone tomb, locked up forever in sorrow and grief.

Remove the stone!

  • What stone of grief do I have locking away some dead sorrow?

‘What did I tell you Martha?  Believe and see God’s glory.’

Connie, (insert your own name), Believe Jesus and see God’s glory.

How could I have known when I first wrote this in 2014, and then, one year later, how different my life would be.

  • What stone do I yet have?
  • What do I still have locked away and hidden inside?

Yes Jesus, I shall trust you even with-that. Only You can deal with that. Only You can touch that heart that seems so dead to you, so cold, so lifeless. You can bring life where there is no life. You change hearts minds and actions. He is yours Lord.