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.

Luke 16

Vs. 13, “No servant can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money.”  Luke now directs his attention in this chapter to Jesus’ teaching on the issue of money.  The Parable of the Shrewd Manager (vs. 1-15) is a difficult one to understand.  Jesus had just finished contrasting the prodigal son who wasted his wealth to the frugal son who saved his wealth (Luke 15).  Now, we see Jesus share a parable how to responsibly use money.  There are two main ways; the manager was dishonest, but shrewd or the manager was previously dishonest and now is cutting his own commission.  As believers, we are to use wealth (vs. 9) for the growing of His kingdom (tithe, offerings, etc.)  In the end, we must make a definitive choice to put God first over money (easier said than done).  Because the Pharisees were listening in, Jesus directs the next few comments directly to them (vs. 14-18) before sharing another example of the danger of money (vs. 19-31).  I say example with Lazarus and the rich man because nowhere are we explicitly told this is a parable.  This is a striking story of what happens when we make riches and the love of money our God.

Regarding application…Unbelief to Faith.  Vs. 31, “He said to him, ‘If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be convinced even if someone rises from the dead.”  No amount of evidence or miracles will ever turn an unbelieving heart to faith. Such a leap from the chasm of death to life can only be done by a leap of faith.  The rich man still foolishly thought that if someone would rise from the dead, this would turn his five brothers to faith.  Brothers and sisters, while taking the time to show the archeological proof of Jesus is beneficial, that will not turn a person to faith.  As great as apologetics can be to help defend the faith, again this will not turn a person to faith.  Our part is to pray and love people with the Jesus’ love.

John 11

Vs. 25, “Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies.”  Jesus is responding to Martha’s faith that one day Lazarus who had recently died will rise from the dead at the resurrection.  We have an interesting situation where a very close family to Jesus loses their brother, Lazarus.  We wonder why Jesus is not hurrying back to Bethany upon hearing of Lazarus’ death (vs. 6).  But, we see that Jesus has a purpose for in this miracle of bringing Lazarus back from the dead.  The longer they lingered finishing up what they were doing, the more people will be amazed (vs. 4).  For Jesus to return so near to Jerusalem (vs. 18), it was a very dangerous move for the enemy had started plotting to find a way to arrest and kill Jesus (vs. 45-57).  I can’t help but notice that God is in control of this situation.  For example, Lazarus’ death would bring Jesus near to the enemy.  The enemy would find ways to distort Jesus.  And all of this would lead to Jesus being obedient to death on a cross.  Jesus was not a victim, rather He conquered death and is literally the resurrection!

Regarding application…Emotions Are Good.  Vs. 35, “Jesus wept.”  Let’s face it…showing too much emotion is a sign of weakness.  Crying is for babies.  Being too happy is a bit unusual.  Do you remember Tom Cruise’s interview with Oprah back in 2006, where he stood up on a couch with joy professing his love to Katie Holmes?  That one incident of emotion almost derailed his career.  People frown upon any type of extreme emotion.  With an election year, if any of the Presidential candidates started weeping on live television, they probably wouldn’t stand a chance at the Presidency.  In the Gospels, we see Jesus display emotions of anger, joy, weeping, etc.  Emotions are good.  God created us with emotions, that’s what makes us so unique amongst God’s other creations.  Tomorrow is Sunday, many of you may be headed to church.  I challenge you to have a bit more emotion in your soul!  Sing unto the Lord with joy!

Luke 16

Vs. 1,Jesus told his disciples: “There was a rich man whose manager was accused of wasting his possessions.”  The rock band ACDC coined the phrase, “Money talks”.  Did you know that Jesus talked about money more than any other topic?  Scholars break it down to 1/6 of the time!  Having worked in the banking world for many years, I concur that money has been a very hot topic.  Having just finished the story of the prodigal son wasting away his father’s inheritance, we see Jesus give another parable on money (vs. 1-15).  Why would Jesus comment a dishonest money man?  Because this man realized the prospect of a bad future and acted shrewdly (wisely) to ensure he would be treated fairly later on.  If Christians would do likewise with our faith, we would be better of as well.  We then move on to the Rich man and Lazarus (notice how Luke did not address this as an actual parable).  When death came knocking at the rich man’s door, it was then that he realized the folly of his ways (vs. 19-31).

Regarding application…What Do You Value?  Vs. 15, “He said to them, “You are the ones who justify yourselves in the eyes of men, but God knows your hearts. What is highly valued among men is detestable in God’s sight.”  Question: What was it that is detestable in God’s sight?  The love of money.  We cannot love both God and money.  Yet, many foolishly think both can be achieved in this life.  I confess, there was a time that the allurement of financial success fell upon my heart.  I was working at a bank and moving up in the ranks.  I owned my own house and could see a very comfortable life.  I justified the success with the fact that I was still serving God in the local church in part-time ministry.  However, God knew my heart and by His grace he drew back to Him.  Perhaps my heart was a bit like Jonah’s who wanted to flee from obeying God’s will in my life.  It’s always a wise think to ask ourselves what do we value in this life?  Because as Jesus so aptly told us, “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” Matthew 6:21.