John 11

Vs. 1, “Now a man named Lazarus was sick. He was from Bethany, the village of Mary and her sister Martha.”  We now come to undoubtedly the most powerful miracle recorded as Jesus shows He has power over death and life in an indisputable resurrection of life in Lazarus (vs. 1-44).  Upon receiving the message that Lazarus was sick, Jesus surprises us by not going to Bethany right away (vs. 4-6).  It was a dangerous thing to go to Bethany (vs. 8, 16) for it was only a couple of miles away from Jerusalem.  The disciples knew by this time how polarizing Jesus’ ministry was and how dangerous it would be to be so close the capital city where the opponents held the strongest influence.  Upon arriving to Bethany (vs. 17-37), Jesus comforts the grieving sisters; Martha and Mary.  John shares with us the fifth I AM statement as Jesus states, “I am the resurrection and the life…” (vs. 25).  We are given quite a personal perspective on the emotions of our Lord (vs. 35).  For the benefit of all of us, Jesus raises Lazarus (vs. 38-44); I wonder what kind of testimony Lazarus would have on what he might have remembered.  However, all of these miracles culminated to the point that the enemies of the cross conspired to stop Jesus’ influence (vs. 45-57).

Regarding application…Man of Sorrow.  Vs. 35, “Jesus wept.”  Question: Why did Jesus weep?  Certainly, He knew that Lazarus was going to be raised up to life again.  However, this was a unique miracle and one that is certainly not going to be repeated until the resurrection of the dead when Jesus returns again (I Thess. 4:13-18).  There could have been many reasons Jesus wept.  Perhaps he wept because He saw the pain of those he loved in sorrow, perhaps he wept because he knew that death was never something He intended for his creation.  One of the members of my church recently lost a loved one.  There was a beautiful service and as the eulogy was being shared, I couldn’t help but weep with the grieving.  Fortunately, life is a vapor in the wind and death is but a entryway into eternal life for those who are saved.  In the midst of all of our busyness, let’s take time to have our hearts reach out to others.

Mark 11

Vs. 7, “When they brought the colt to Jesus and threw their cloaks over it, he sat on it.”  Jesus’ ministry is now coming to an end.  In our opening scene, Jesus is getting ready for the triumphal entry in Jerusalem (vs. 1-11).  We see another example of Jesus’ omniscience as he directs the disciples to go and retrieve a colt.  In the Gospel of Matthew, he records a colt and a donkey (Matthew 21).   Jesus rode in on a donkey as prophesied by the prophet Zechariah (Zechariah 9:9).  It’s important to note that the donkey was in fact an animal that was very appropriate for a king to ride on (I Kings 1:33).  The people initially welcomed and praised Jesus as many thought He was coming to help overthrow the current Roman regime.  However, this triumph of Jesus would not be with pageantry and festivities, but it would be shown on the cross.  The next morning, Jesus would reenter Jerusalem (He was staying in Bethany during the night) and come to clear the temple (vs. 12-19).  There are many factors involved in understanding this, but it’s important to note that the temple and OT practices would soon be obsolete after the Roman destruction in 70 A.D.  There was much corruption in the temple sacrifices and selling of the animals.  There was also the impediment of preventing Gentiles from being able to worship because of all the commotion (vs. 17).  The cursing of the fig tree (vs. 12-14; 20-25) illustrates not only the nation Israel, but the lack of spiritual fruit from the temple worship.  And lastly, we se another scene of the chief priests approaching Jesus to corner Him into blasphemy (vs. 27-33).  Jesus masterfully turns their question with His own question that dumbfounds them.

Regarding application…Faith in God?  Vs. 22, “Have faith in God,” Jesus answered.”  It’s important to see the context of Jesus’ example of having faith in God: prayer (vs. 23-25).  The Jews epitome of prayer was a location: the temple.  That would soon be destroyed.  But, faith in God is not in a tangible object.  Having faith in God is shown in our dependence upon Him through our prayers.  For many Christians, we eagerly claim that we have faith in God.  But a good litmus test for faith in God is the heart for prayer and doing it.  The more we pray, the more we will be able to confidently do the seemingly impossible.  The more we pray, we will be able to love and forgive others (vs. 25).  The more we pray, our faith in God will be a positive example for the world that needs to know Jesus!  Question: Do you have faith in God?

Matthew 26

Vs. 2, “As you know, the Passover is two days away—and the Son of Man will be handed over to be crucified.”  Jesus points to Thursday evening at sundown where they will celebrate the Passover supper; this would also become known as the Lord’s Supper.  However, at that same time the enemies were plotting ways to kill Jesus (vs. 3-5).  Matthew also records the anointing of Jesus by Mary in Bethany (vs. 6-13).  Bear in mind, Matthew does not place this chronologically for this happened the day before Jesus entered Jerusalem.  I preached on this a few weeks ago and it is a wonderful reminder of the sacrificial love she gave Jesus.  This nard (perfume) was the equivalent of about $60,000 in our present day (at least in LA county where I live).  Sadly, Judas Iscariot goes to the chief priests (vs. 14-16) and unknowingly fulfills prophesied scripture (Zechariah 11:12).  The thirty pieces of silver were about four months wages (a price of a slave) which would be the equivalent of $20,000.  As the disciples gather for the Passover supper, Jesus informs that He not only will be betrayed, but that the betrayer is one of them (vs. 20-25).  It is here that Jesus calls out Judas, but the disciples were probably confused with what was going on.  The Gospel of John (John 13:30) further sheds light and tells us that Judas left the supper that night to go prepare for the arrest.  Jesus than instructs the disciples that the bread would signify His body (vs. 26).  You may recall the Passover was commemorated when God delivered the Israelites from Egypt.  Every home that had the lamb’s blood on the door, the Spirit of God would Passover that house and not kill the newborns.  Jesus was the Passover lamb (I Corinthians 5:7).  The cup (vs. 27-29) would signify the blood of Christ that would bring redemption to all.  Upon leaving the upper room, they travel over to Gethsemane a garden near the Mount of Olives to pray.  Sadly, Jesus predicts that not only was Judas a betrayer, but all of the other disciples will fall away and scatter (vs. 31-35).  Led by Peter protests, Jesus informs Peter he will deny Him three times.  It’s important also to note the others stated they too would not scatter.  The prayers at the Gethsemane (vs. 36-46) are incredibly intense as we get insight to the struggle Jesus was having.  He knew what He was about to face and it was going to be excruciating.  Being beaten and dying by crucifixion was intense, but nothing compared to bearing the sins of all and having the Father turn His face from His son.  The enemies temptation was strong for Satan early had tried to offer Jesus an easy way out (Matthew 4:8-9).  Judas now comes to the garden knowing the Jesus and the disciples would have been there.  He brings an angry mob ready to arrest Jesus (vs. 47-56).  Jesus accepts, Peter overreacts and all disciples scatter.  Caiaphas, the High Priest, broke even the Jewish laws by assembling a disgraceful trial at night and in his own home.  They even concoct bringing false witnesses to contrive lies.  They charge Jesus was blasphemy (speak contemptuously about God) and proceed to seek Jesus’ death.  It’s important to note that capital punishment was only delivered by the Romans (they gave the Jews some power, but not on this).  Additionally, blasphemy to the Romans was a not a legit reason for death.  And lastly, upon Peter witnessing the trial and seeing Jesus beaten, proceeds to deny he knows Jesus.

Regarding application…Overcoming Temptation.  Vs. 41, “Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the body is weak.” Question:  Since our body is weak, how then do we overcome temptation?  Watch and pray.  For believers, certainly our spirit is willing to do the will of God.  But our body/flesh lives by a different code.  Jesus gave us the ultimate example of surrender and trust in the Father.  We see His prayer to the Father if there was any other way, make it so, but if not…He was willing to go through with it.  Isn’t it amazing that the solution is simply prayer?  For in prayer, we surrender our will.  Not my will but yours be done (vs. 39).  We are one day before Easter and I’m so thankful for the resurrection and defeat of sin on the cross!  Last night, we had so many souls turn to the Lord in trust to Jesus at our Good Friday service!  Thank you Lord!

John 12

Vs. 23, “Jesus replied, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified.”  It’s always difficult to come upon these passages of the last week before Jesus was crucified.  Yet, in these accounts, we are reminded of beautiful faith.  Mary’s anointing of Jesus is an incredible picture of understanding what it means to sacrifice (vs. 1-8).  But the enemy was on the move and with Passover week just around the corner, the Jews were looking for Jesus coming to their trap in Jerusalem (vs. 10).  After the Triumphant Entry (vs. 12-19), we see Jesus continue to minister to the lost.  Yet, the lost sheep of Israel were hardening their hearts as prophesied by Isaiah (vs. 37-50).  What’s striking to me is that some of the leaders believed, but would not put their faith into action due to fear of men (vs. 42-43).  I wonder how often this transpires in our own lives.

Regarding application…Following Jesus.  Vs. 26, “Whoever serves me must follow me; and where I am, my servant also will be. My Father will honor the one who serves me.”  Question: What does this look like?  Does it mean sell everything and live a transient lifestyle proclaiming Jesus with nothing but the clothes on your back?  God has called each of us to a unique life and way that is specially made for us.  The prophet Daniel at a young age was deported to Babylon, but following God meant he must acclimate to a new culture.  In the last prophet before Jesus, John the Baptist, following Jesus was shown by living out in the desert.  Following Jesus is going to look different for each person.  I believe that prayer, bible and the church are wonderful tools and road signs to guide us down the path less traveled.  Let the peace of God work in your heart to determine the path in which you follow Jesus.  Have a blessed start of your week as you take the step of faith and dine at the table of our King each day!