A Worker, a Worshiper, a Wrongdoer, and a Witness

January 10, 2020 at 10:48 am | Posted in John | 1 Comment
Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

At the end of John Chapter 11 the Sanhedrin had issued an APB for Jesus. They wanted to put Him to death, but if they could get it done before the Passover, they believed that a great crisis could be averted and they could return to the status quo: hireling business as usual. Six days before the Passover, Jesus was celebrating the resurrection of His friend Lazarus with the rest of Lazarus’s family, his sisters, Mary and Martha.

There they made him a supper; and Martha served: but Lazarus was one of them that sat at the table with him. Then took Mary a pound of ointment of spikenard, very costly, and anointed the feet of Jesus, and wiped his feet with her hair: and the house was filled with the odour of the ointment. Then saith one of his disciples, Judas Iscariot, Simon’s son, which should betray him,

John 12:2-4

Here are three key people at this supper: Martha, who was characteristically busy; Mary, who – also characteristically – was in a position of shameless worship; and Judas, who is mentioned – again characteristically – with an editorial comment about his treachery. These are Judas’s first recorded words in Scripture:

Why was not this ointment sold for three hundred pence, and given to the poor?

John 12:5

This puts a figure on the description of “very costly” in Verse 3. One hundred “pence” (denarii in the Greek) was a year’s wages for a typical hired worker! It’s hard to miss the idea that Judas was very interested in money. His first recorded words are mentioned above. His last recorded words were:

Then Judas, which had betrayed him, when he saw that he was condemned, repented himself, and brought again the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and elders, Saying, I have sinned in that I have betrayed the innocent blood. And they said, What is that to us? see thou to that. And he cast down the pieces of silver in the temple, and departed, and went and hanged himself.

Matthew 27:3-5

So, at the supper in John 12, we see a worker (Martha), a worshiper (Mary), a wrongdoer (Judas), and a witness (Lazarus):

Much people of the Jews therefore knew that he was there: and they came not for Jesus’ sake only, but that they might see Lazarus also, whom he had raised from the dead.

John 12:9

We sometimes admonish people who beg off when it comes to vocal evangelism, chiding them that the witnessing method known as “lifestyle evangelism” is not enough, but here it does appear as if Lazarus was more of a “lifestyle” witness… as opposed to a “deathstyle” witness which he had been the day before! As Christians, we are called to witness verbally (primarily) and nonverbally (secondarily), but Lazarus can be excused for not being more vocal since Jesus Himself was there in person!

Ruling out Judas, the wrongdoer, and looking at the other three highlighted characters, which one are you? Are you a worker: somebody who stays busy doing practical and needful tasks for the sake of Christ and His people? Are you a worshiper: someone who expresses your love for Jesus openly, and longs to have a sense of being in His presence? Are you a witness: somebody whose words and actions show that Jesus brought you out of spiritual death into spiritual life? Hopefully, we would be a combination of all three.

The purpose of this supper was to celebrate Lazarus’s resurrection, but:

But the chief priests consulted that they might put Lazarus also to death; Because that by reason of him many of the Jews went away, and believed on Jesus. On the next day much people that were come to the feast, when they heard that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem, Took branches of palm trees, and went forth to meet him, and cried, Hosanna: Blessed is the King of Israel that cometh in the name of the Lord.

John 12:10-13

This was very unusual, and was the first time Jesus had allowed a public ceremony or proclamation about His mission, purpose, and true identity. He did it in order to fulfill prophecy. “Hosanna” meant “save now.”

The stone which the builders refused is become the head stone of the corner. This is the LORD’s doing; it is marvellous in our eyes. This is the day which the LORD hath made; we will rejoice and be glad in it. Save now, I beseech thee, O LORD: O LORD, I beseech thee, send now prosperity. Blessed be he that cometh in the name of the LORD: we have blessed you out of the house of the LORD.

Psalm 118:22-26

Jesus allowed everyone – His followers, the patriotic and excited bystanders, the Jewish religious leaders, and even the Romans – to believe that He was on the verge of being crowned King and challenging Roman authority in Jerusalem, because this would bring about His sacrifice as the Passover Lamb at the perfect time.

And Jesus, when he had found a young ass, sat thereon; as it is written, Fear not, daughter of Sion: behold, thy King cometh, sitting on an ass’s colt.

John 12:14-15 (“As it is written” refers to Zechariah 9:9.)

The Stones of Complacency

March 18, 2013 at 12:59 pm | Posted in John, The Stones that Don't Cry Out | 7 Comments
Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

During Jesus’s earthly ministry He developed very close relationships with a number of His followers. He seems to have been especially fond of a family of three adult siblings: Mary, Martha, and Lazarus.

Now Jesus loved Martha, and her sister, and Lazarus.

John 11:5

The next verse seems a little illogical to our human, finite way of thinking.

When he had heard therefore that he was sick, he abode two days still in the same place where he was.

John 11:6

If I had a close friend or loved one who was dying, and I had the cure, I like to think I wouldn’t hang around two days before getting on the road. Of course, Jesus’s ways are always superior to our ways, His timing, unlike ours, is always perfect, and His power goes far beyond what we think of as a “cure.” His power goes all the way beyond the grave.

Then when Mary was come where Jesus was, and saw him, she fell down at his feet, saying unto him, Lord, if thou hadst been here, my brother had not died.

John 11:32

Lazarus had been dead for several days by the time Jesus arrived. His body had been buried in a cave, and a stone sealed the entrance. You probably know what happened next. If you don’t, I encourage you to read John Chapter 11 in its entirety. Jesus called Lazarus forth from the grave, and Lazarus’s body came back to life. This was a miracle beyond any human or material agency. It was completely supernatural. No physician played a part, no medication was administered, no sleight of hand or optical illusions were employed.

However, here is one of the many truths which we may take from this true historical account of Jesus’s miraculous power: God needs no man to accomplish His will, but He does deign to work through human agency.

Jesus said, Take ye away the stone. Martha, the sister of him that was dead, saith unto him, Lord, by this time he stinketh: for he hath been [dead] four days.

John 11:39 (emphasis added)

Why didn’t the Son of God – who could call the dead back to life with a simple shout – also command the stone to roll itself away, or – Samson-style – pick it up and hurl it away Himself? I believe it He did it the way He did so that Martha – whom He loved – could have the joy of getting her own hands involved in the work of the Lord. In fact, Jesus is nothing if not generous when it comes to sharing the joy of His miraculous wonders.

And he that was dead came forth, bound hand and foot with graveclothes: and his face was bound about with a napkin. Jesus saith unto them, Loose him, and let him go.

John 11:44 (emphasis added)

What is Jesus getting done through your hands-on agency in your life today? I am afraid that sometimes we recognize that only God can deliver a person from the darkness of damnation (or the anguish of addiction; or the perils of poverty; or the ignorance of ingratitude), and we use our theological assurance of God’s omnipotence as an excuse to sit complacently with our hands folded, waiting for God to show up and speak forth the solution. God’s gracious empowering of human mouths, hands, feet, brains, and even hearts is a great kindness. Let us not miss out on the opportunities which God grants us to be a part of what He could easily do on His Own. God is not only sovereign over the ends. He is sovereign over the means. This is motivation for action, not an excuse for complacency.


Entries and comments feeds.