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

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

December 31, 2012 at 10:20 am | Posted in Habakkuk, Luke, The Stones that Don't Cry Out | 9 Comments
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The Lord Jesus was moving toward Jerusalem. Those who had plotted to tempt Him, to cause Him to fall into sin, to argue against Him and to try to prove Him a to be a blasphemer, and those who had tried to kill Him, had all failed – because His time had not yet come.

The Lord Jesus, Who had never allowed His followers to engage in a public demonstration for Him, allowed it this one time, and they treated Him like a triumphant King. Garments were laid on the animals and on the road. Palm tree branches were waved and spread before Him (John 12:13). He rode a “colt” (a young donkey) which had not been broken or trained by men, but which submitted to Jesus because He, as the “second Adam” and as God incarnate, had dominion over all creation.

And they brought him to Jesus: and they cast their garments upon the colt, and they set Jesus thereon. And as he went, they spread their clothes in the way.

Luke 19:35-36

The crowd was excited. Many of them had seen this Man – Jesus of Nazareth – perform miracles, heal the blind, even raise a man from the dead. Possibly others – even some of the Disciples – believed Jesus was entering Jerusalem to overthrow the Roman government there. This is indicated by their use of the messianic Psalm 118 (118:26).

And when he was come nigh, even now at the descent of the mount of Olives, the whole multitude of the disciples began to rejoice and praise God with a loud voice for all the mighty works that they had seen; Saying, Blessed be the King that cometh in the name of the Lord: peace in heaven, and glory in the highest.

Luke 19:37-38

But there were also Pharisees in the crowd, and they were upset.

And some of the Pharisees from among the multitude said unto him, Master, rebuke thy disciples.

Luke 19:39

In the Lord’s response to them, you might recognize a very common modern church expression:

And he answered and said unto them, I tell you that, if these should hold their peace, the stones would immediately cry out.

Luke 19:40 (emphasis added)

This expression is used to encourage and exhort people to “liven up” – to get excited in worship – to “get free” – to “loosen up” – to sing louder and with greater emotional enthusiasm. This will be the plea of song leaders and worship ministers all across America this Sunday morning: “We don’t want the rocks to put us to shame – come on, please – if we don’t praise Him, the rocks will! You don’t want us to be outdone by a rock, do you?”

One of the things that happened often in Christ’s ministry on earth is that He would speak a great truth and people would put their own stamp of perception on it. Instead of hearing what He actually said, they heard what they wanted Him to say. When He said that the temple would be torn down, and in three days He would raise it again, they thought He meant the temple building. When He said that in order to see the Kingdom of God you must be born again, they asked Him how someone could get back into his mother’s womb. When He told people that those who eat of His flesh and drink of His blood would have eternal life they were offended at the thought of eating literal flesh. I wonder if Jesus’s followers knew the deeper spiritual meaning when He said, “If these should hold their peace, the stones would immediately cry out?”

I don’t know for sure, but I believe the Pharisees must have known. They were students of the Word. They knew the writings of the prophets. Surely they would have recognized the quote from Habakkuk:

Woe to him that coveteth an evil covetousness to his house, that he may set his nest on high, that he may be delivered from the power of evil! Thou hast consulted shame to thy house by cutting off many people, and hast sinned against thy soul. For the stone shall cry out of the wall, and the beam out of the timber shall answer it.

Habakkuk 2:9-11

See, the followers of Christ wanted Psalm 118 – “Blessed be the King that comes in the name of the Lord!” – but Christ’s point was, “What about Habakkuk 2:11? Thou hast brought shame to thy house! The very stones of the houses cry out!”

Is your house just a pile of stones (or bricks or wood or aluminum siding)? What is it about your house that cries out about the glory of God? About the salvation of Christ? I’m not talking about the materials out of which your home is made. I’m talking about what takes place in your home. If the praises of the Lord are not heard in our homes, we won’t have to worry about the paneling and the bricks crying out in praise. Oh, they’ll be crying out alright – but they’ll be crying, “Covetous! Covetous! I am a house full of furniture! Full of television sets! Full of computers! I am a house full of possessions – of material treasures – I am a monument to covetousness!”

Woe unto him that saith to the wood, Awake; to the dumb stone, Arise, it shall teach! Behold, it is laid over with gold and silver, and there is no breath at all in the midst of it. But the LORD is in his holy temple: let all the earth keep silence before him.

Habakkuk 2:19-20

Let’s make sure our homes are places where the Word of God is taught. Where the fear of God is evident. Where the love of God is shown. Let’s make sure our possessions “keep silence” before Him. The “stones of covetousness” which make up our homes don’t have to cry out, but if they are crying out already, how will we respond?

Next time, we will take a look another of The Stones that Don’t Cry Outthe Stones of Condemnation.

Calling Witnesses (Part 2)

March 30, 2011 at 10:16 am | Posted in Bible Studies, Salvation | 3 Comments
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The first witness that I called to take the stand against the unconverted sinner was the True Christian.

SECOND WITNESSES: PRAYING PEOPLE

I now call to the stand Christians who are serious about prayer. Sometimes we call them “prayer warriors.” These are people who pray often, who pray long, who pray sincerely, who pray passionately – people who pray without ceasing.

Their testimony will not take long. I really have only one simple question for them: “Aside from your loving conversation with your Heavenly Father… aside from the time spent simply adoring and speaking forth the majesty of God in worship… what do you spend most of your time praying about?”

Their answer: “Why, unconverted sinners, of course.”

Does this surprise you? Did you think true Christians spent all their time begging God for new cars, new houses, new clothes, big piles of money? Certainly they spend a great deal of time in prayer for the sick, and for the concerns and cares of their fellow Christians, but number one in the “request” portion of their prayer time is spent not in begging, but in volunteering: they are asking God to use them to reach you with the truth of the Gospel. Their zeal is exemplified in the statements of that master soul-hunter, the Apostle Paul:

For I could wish that myself were accursed from Christ for my brethren, my kinsmen according to the flesh:

Romans 9:3

For I am in a strait betwixt two, having a desire to depart, and to be with Christ; which is far better: Nevertheless to abide in the flesh is more needful for you.

Philippians 1:23-24

Paul was almost willing to go to hell himself if it meant his family could be saved. And he was willing to delay going to Heaven if he could reach more souls.

THIRD WITNESSES: GODLY MEN AND WOMEN OF THE BIBLE

Some of these witnesses are even the inspired writers of the Holy Book itself – God’s explicit revelation of Who He is, what He has done, and who you really are. Can I call each one? Well, I could… the pages of the Bible are filled with them. But for time’s sake, I’ll let the person who has not trusted Christ choose.

Would you call Job? He lost everything in this temporal world that was dear to him except his life… but here is his testimony:

And said, Naked came I out of my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return thither: the LORD gave, and the LORD hath taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD.

Job 1:21

Would you call Jeremiah? You may say that he would help your case, having devoted his life to serving God, but appearing from a worldly standpoint to be a failure. After all, he preached for years without a single convert. But here’s his testimony:

The LORD hath appeared of old unto me, saying, Yea, I have loved thee with an everlasting love: therefore with lovingkindness have I drawn thee.

Jeremiah 31:3

Would you call David? He was persecuted, hunted, abandoned by his friends. Surely he would not recommend that you give your heart to the Lord! Yet here is what he said:

It is better to trust in the LORD than to put confidence in man… O give thanks unto the LORD; for he is good: for his mercy endureth for ever.

Psalm 118:8, 29

Maybe you could find somebody more recent – ah, how about Stephen? In Acts Chapter 6 they made him a deacon, and in Chapter 7 they stoned him to death… talk about a witness against the Lord! But wait – here’s what Stephen had to say:

And said, Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of man standing on the right hand of God… Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.

Acts 7:56, 59

These men of the Bible have let you down… and they have hurt your case.

Next time, we will continue the parade of witnesses against the unconverted.

Quarterback Commandment No. 1

March 12, 2009 at 10:53 am | Posted in Quarterback Commandments | 6 Comments
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I never cared much for Bill Parcells as a football coach – except for the short period of time when he was the Head Coach of the Dallas Cowboys. While he wore the Star, I backed him 100%. The general consensus among fans and commentators these days is that he did a good job establishing a talent base for the team and positioning it for a Super Bowl run, and that, if he had stayed on to coach, my beloved Cowboys would have another Lombardi Trophy by now.

I am not sure if I agree with this, but one thing is hard to argue with: Tony Romo became one of the elite quarterbacks in the NFL while Bill Parcells was his head coach. Romo has only won one playoff game so far, but his statistics have been phenomenal. Only the biggest Cowboys-bashers or fair-weather fans would deny that Romo’s future is extremely bright if he stays healthy.

The year following Parcells’s departure from the Cowboys, Dallas defeated Buffalo in a Monday night game. During the broadcast, Parcells appeared on camera and read the list of “Eleven Quarterback Commandments” he had given to Romo to help him understand his job, and to further his development. Reportedly, Romo keeps this list taped to his locker. Since that time, one might wonder how seriously Romo takes all these commandments. Having followed most of Parcells’s press conferences, interviews, and many of the reports about him during his time in Dallas, I sometimes wonder if Parcells made up “11” commandments because his ego could not stand not having one more “commandment” than God.

Anyway, in typical Parcells fashion, the Quarterback Commandments are witty, concise, and sensible. They also reminded me of spiritual principles from the Bible. Not every Christian is a “quarterback,” I guess, but we all get to carry the ball from time to time, and we even have to “call a play,” every now and then. Among the players, the quarterback is the leader of the team, and all Christians, as they mature, should be assuming some type of “leadership” in ministry, even if it is just in their own family, or in the “leading” of someone to the Lord.

So, over the next few weeks (or months), I will post the 11 Quarterback Commandments, one at a time, and try to draw a spiritual, Biblical application for each one.

Commandment No. 1: Ignore other opinions – press or TV, agents or advisors, family or wives, friends or relatives, fans or hangers-on – on matters related to football. They don’t know what’s happening here.

This is a good principle to follow in our spiritual lives as well. I have heard it said that the middle verse in the whole Bible is Psalm 118:8: “It is better to trust in the LORD than to put confidence in man.” This does not mean that we should ignore everyone who might have some valuable advice for us, but it does mean that there will always be “experts,” spectators, and “know-it-alls” observing your life. (Warren Wiersbe says that an “expert” is a regular “spurt” under pressure.) Their opinions are pretty easy to discount. But there will also be close friends, family members, wives, and co-workers, who actually do have your best interest at heart. The time to disregard the advice and influence of those who mean well is the second that they deviate from the Word of God as revealed in Scripture.

The Word of God is not only where you should go FIRST to determine if what you are doing is right. It is also where you should go LAST. Wait upon the Lord to show you what to do, and then let Him be the one to give the final evaluation on whether you are doing it His way.

Other good verses that support Quarterback Commandment No. 1 in its spiritual application:

Cease ye from man, whose breath is in his nostrils: for wherein is he to be accounted of?

Isaiah 2:22

Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ;

II Corinthians 10:5


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