Tag Archives: resurrection

Today’s Scripture – October 11, 2018

John 12:23-26 (NIV)
Jesus replied, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. I tell you the truth, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds. The man who loves his life will lose it, while the man who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. Whoever serves me must follow me; and where I am, my servant also will be. My Father will honor the one who serves me.

Jesus was very aware that, despite the wave of popularity that He was riding, despite the kudos He had received, and even despite the rapt attention that was being paid to Him by this crowd that was currently hanging on His every word, this was not a public relations tour that He was on. Even the word that the Greek-speaking Jews who had come from so far away wanted to meet with Him could not sway Him from the reality of what He was there to do.

The glorification that many of His followers were looking for would come, but it was on the far side of a dark, pain-filled chasm, and could not be accessed without descending into that chasm and ascending on the far side. Jesus had come to Jerusalem this time specifically to be arrested, beaten, killed and buried. Yes, he would rise again as He knew very well, but not until after He had willingly gone through the other things first.

The words that Jesus spoke here would have struck the people who were listening to Him as odd, inscrutable. And they would have struck His disicples the same way, because they could not hear them in the context in which Jesus spoke them.

Jesus knew that new and expanded life could only come through death and transformation. If a person tries to keep a kernel of wheat, it will ultimately rot away. The things of the earth are not built to last forever. It is only as the kernel is buried in the ground and transformed that it will sprout and grow new kernels, many times more than what was planted.

Jesus knew that for God’s plan to go forward, He had to lay His life down, be willing to die, to be buried and, in the process, allow His body to be transformed into one that would be able to ascend into heaven and last forever. By grasping life and the fame He was experiencing right then, He could continue to gather a crowd, maybe even rise to temporary power in the hierarchy of the world, a rise that would ultimately be snuffed out by His eventual death. But if He followed God’s plan, laying His life down deliberately so that He could take it up later, His influence and the reach of the kingdom would extend to the ends of the earth and last forever.

The same was true of those who intend to follow Jesus. Those who play it safe in order to hold on to their earthly lives will ultimately lose their lives anyway, and will also lose any chance of powerfully impacting the world for the kingdom of God. But those who follow Jesus, who walk boldly forward in obedience to God’s commands and leading, even into the very jaws of death, will find abundant life on the other side of the chasm, and will have an influence for the kingdom beyond anything they could ever imagine.

Father, this is an amazing promise that we, as Your people, really need to understand and take hold of. But, at the same time, we must realize that the way to receiving the fulfillment of this promise is the way of the cross, the way of total surrender, the way of death. Ye it is also the way of glory, the way of victory, and the way to transformation and eternal life. I choose that way! Amen.

Advertisements

Leave a comment

Filed under Scripture Meditations

Today’s Scripture – September 14, 2018

John 11:38-44 (NIV)
Jesus, once more deeply moved, came to the tomb. It was a cave with a stone laid across the entrance. “Take away the stone,” he said.
“But, Lord,” said Martha, the sister of the dead man, “by this time there is a bad odor, for he has been there four days.”
Then Jesus said, “Did I not tell you that if you believed, you would see the glory of God?” So they took away the stone. Then Jesus looked up and said, “Father, I thank you that you have heard me. I knew that you always hear me, but I said this for the benefit of the people standing here, that they may believe that you sent me.”
When he had said this, Jesus called in a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out!” The dead man came out, his hands and feet wrapped with strips of linen, and a cloth around his face.
Jesus said to them, “Take off the grave clothes and let him go.”

The moment had come for Jesus to demonstrate His complete mastery over death. He knew exactly what the Father had in mind for Him to do, so there was no hesitation, no second-guessing, and no fear that “it might not work.” He came to the tomb, and immediately commanded that the stone be rolled away from the entrance.

Jesus had not directly told anyone what He intended to do, so his command initially sparked controversy. If His intent was to go into the tomb to see Lazarus’ body, that was a really bad idea. Lazarus had been dead for four days, so decay would definitely have set in by then; the smell would be terrible.

But rather than back off, Jesus simply looked Martha in the eyes and confronted her lack of faith in Him to do what He claimed the authority to do. In Martha’s defense, Jesus was taking them all into uncharted waters. The greatest miracle workers in history had never raised someone from the dead after four days. And up to that point, even the people Jesus Himself had raised had died earlier on the same day.

But Martha wavered only a moment. She really did trust Jesus. She even trusted Him enough to follow Him into a place no one had ever gone before. She nodded her head to a few young men, and they pushed and pulled until the stone was clear of the mouth of the tomb.

Jesu’s prayer is a perfect model for those who follow God’s will on a day-to-day basis. Raising Lazarus was not Jesus’ idea, one that He had to persuade the Father to do for Him. So, there was no begging or pleading for the miracle to take place; the Father had already told Jesus that that was what He intended to do. The prayer simply glorifies God for what He was at that moment in the process of accomplishing. And it glorifies Jesus. The only reason that Jesus prayed, and prayed aloud, was to show the crowd that He was working in God’s name to do this amazing sign.

Then Jesus called out words that shocked everyone who was standing there: “Lazarus, come out!” The people looked at each other in stunned disbelief. What was going on here? What was Jesus trying to do? But then, a flash of white at the mouth of the tomb attracted their attention, and they gasped in amazement as they realized that it was Lazarus, wrapped in a linen shroud, shuffling to the door of the tomb.

For a moment, everything seemed frozen in time. Nobody moved. After the initial collective gasp, nobody was even breathing. Then Jesus broke the silence with His command to unwrap the formerly dead man, which was immediately obeyed. In that moment, all the grief was completely forgotten, entirely swallowed up in rejoicing.

Father, this clearly illustrates the point that, when Jesus shows up, everything changes. Nothing is impossible, nothing out of bounds. And those who, in faith, work with Him will never be the same as they see Your full glory revealed through life-changing, life-restoring miracles. Thank You for the miracles You have done in my life, and that You have let me be a part of. I praise You, Lord! Amen.

Leave a comment

Filed under Scripture Meditations

Today’s Scripture – September 10, 2018

John 11:23-27 (NIV)
Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise again.”
Martha answered, “I know he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day.”
Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?”
“Yes, Lord,” she told him, “I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, who was to come into the world.”

Initially, Martha’s belief in what was possible for Jesus to do was limited by the teaching she had received, and by her mere humanness. Jesus’ word that her brother would rise again shifted the discussion in her mind to the end of time when all would rise. On that day, somewhere in the misty future, she would see Lazarus again.

But Jesus was not talking about the last day. He was talking about that day. Even though He was into His fourth year of public ministry among the people of Israel, they still had no idea who He really was, just glimpses and brief insights around the edges of what He could accomplish.

So far Jesus had done amazing miracles, incredible things that far surpassed Elisha, the previous record holder for doing amazing miracles. He had healed thousands, cast out multiplied thousands of demons, cleansed lepers, raised two dead people, and even healed a man who had been born blind. But to believe that anyone, even Jesus Himself, could raise someone who had been in the tomb for four days was beyond anyone’s faith. No one had done anything even close to that, ever.

But Jesus had not come that day to commiserate with the sisters. He had come to breathe life into a situation where death lay heavy. He had come, in advance of His own death and resurrection, to show that He was, in fact, the Lord of life.

Note that Jesus did NOT say that He had come to enable resurrection and life. His claim was that He Himself was the resurrection and the life. Just as Jesus embodied the kingdom of God in His very being, Jesus also embodied real life, genuine rebirth and life from the dead. Where He walked, life existed in all its fullness, and death’s power was completely stripped away.

The life that is in Jesus is actuated in our lives through faith in Him, the heart-deep understanding that, since Jesus is life itself, to be in intimate relationship with Him by faith is to be in a living relationship with that life. Thus, for those who live in relationship with Jesus, death has no power or authority. Even though one’s physical body might die, and even decay, the life lived in Jesus will continue without a break, all the way to eternity.

As noted above, it was understood that Jesus could raise the dead, as He already had done with Jairus’ daughter (Mark 5:22-43) and the widow of Nain’s only son (Luke 7:11-17). But every time He raised the dead, it was a demonstration of something even more incredibly profound: the fact that Jesus was, in fact, life itself.

Father, thank You for this reality. In relationship with You, death has no power over me, because, with You I live in the very midst of life, just as darkness has no power over someone who lives in a room filled perpetually with light. Help me, every moment, to live in the true life that is found only in You, life to the full that goes on forever in every dimension, starting right now. Amen.

Leave a comment

Filed under Scripture Meditations

Today’s Scriptures – September 9, 2018

John 11:17-22 (NIV)
On his arrival, Jesus found that Lazarus had already been in the tomb for four days. Bethany was less than two miles from Jerusalem, and many Jews had come to Martha and Mary to comfort them in the loss of their brother. When Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went out to meet him, but Mary stayed at home.
“Lord,” Martha said to Jesus, “if you had been here, my brother would not have died. But I know that even now God will give you whatever you ask.”

Jesus entered a very sad scene. Lazarus had been dead and buried for four days, and his family, surrounded by sympathizers from Jerusalem and the surrounding area, were still in the depths of their seven-day intense grieving period. The four days that had passed since Lazarus had died were very significant. Some rabbis taught that after three days in the cool grave, visible decay would begin to occur, and after that point the soul would depart the area, and resurrection was no longer possible.

So, when Jesus send a messenger ahead of Him to announce His arrival to Lazarus’ sisters, their first thought was simply that He had come too late. Mary was so consumed by grief that she wouldn’t even go to meet Jesus. But Martha, ever the practical one, got up at once and went to the edge of the village where Jesus had paused with His disciples.

Martha’s first words to Jesus were tinged with accusation: “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.” She knew beyond any doubt that Jesus could heal any disease; she had heard the testimony of many witnesses to that fact.

Her next words, however, were loaded with hope: “But I know that even now God will give you whatever you ask.” Martha knew the teachings of the rabbis that, on this fourth day, Lazarus was beyond all hope of a cure, or even of resurrection. But she held onto the hope that there was still something that Jesus could do in this situation, something that might restore what had been lost in this great tragedy.

Martha’s faith was far from complete. When Jesus later commanded that the stone be rolled away from the mouth of the tomb, she was the one who warned that there would be a bad odor due to the decay (verses 38-39). But her faith in Jesus reached far enough at this moment to spark a dim light in the inky blackness of the current events. And Jesus honored that faint light of faith and pulled off one of the greatest miracles in history.

Father, it is easy, when things are at their darkest, to simply give ourselves over to the grief, to turn away from seeking Your will in a situation, and just start to move through the process of dealing with the realities. And this goes far beyond just death. It includes things like loss of a job, receiving divorce papers, or a diagnosis of a terminal illness. But, Lord, we need to remember that You have no limitations; it’s not over until YOU say that it’s over. It is clearly not Your will to fix every problem we face, or to stop every tragedy in its tracks. But we need to not decide ourselves when, where, and how You will choose to move, or even IF you will choose to act. Help us, Lord, to keep our eyes and our hearts focused on You, no matter what we’re facing, until we hear positively from You what Your will is. And then, once we know, help us to move forward in faith. Amen.

Leave a comment

Filed under Scripture Meditations

Today’s Scripture – September 7, 2018

John 11:11-16 (NIV)
After he had said this, he went on to tell them, “Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep; but I am going there to wake him up.”
His disciples replied, “Lord, if he sleeps, he will get better.”
Jesus had been speaking of his death, but his disciples thought he meant natural sleep. So then he told them plainly, “Lazarus is dead, and for your sake I am glad I was not there, so that you may believe. But let us go to him.”
Then Thomas (called Didymus) said to the rest of the disciples, “Let us also go, that we may die with him.”

It had been two days since the message came from Mary and Martha that Lazarus was very ill. But Jesus knew two things: Lazarus had already died, and God had a plan to fix the problem and a timetable on which He was working.

After the two days were over, God’s call came to Jesus to go to Bethany. But His disciples resisted the idea, since the religious leaders had nearly stoned Jesus twice in the last few months, the second time just a few weeks earlier. That was when Jesus told them that Lazarus had died.

In His first attempt to communicate that compelling fact, Jesus used a euphemism, saying that Lazarus had fallen asleep, and that he needed to go and wake him up. But the problem with euphemisms is that they can be taken literally, as the disicples did here. They figured that Jesus had somehow heard that Lazarus had finally fallen into a deep and restorative sleep. So, they misread Jesus’ news as good news, and in doing so completely missed the implication of Jesus “waking him up” as raising him from the dead.

Since Jesus’ first attempt had failed, He was much more direct the second time, clearly stating that Lazarus had died, and that they needed to go to him. That statement sobered the mood of the group considerably. This time Jesus wasn’t as clear about His intentions to raise Lazarus from the dead. He merely alluded to the fact that this turn of events would provide one more opportunity for His followers to believe in Him.

In view of Lazarus’ death and their friendship with the family, the disciples conceded that they really should go, even though they knew it had potential to be extremely dangerous. It was Thomas who put words to the feelings of the group: “We might as well go with Him, so we can all die together.”\

Father, how often do we receive Your instructions, and then second-guess them because the circumstances seem wrong, or even dangerous? It is so easy for us to forget that You are always working Your plan, and that anytime You command us to do something, it is something that will move Your plan forward, even if it is unlikely, dangerous, or whatever, and that YOU will see it to its success. Jesus walked in that assurance every moment of every day. Help me to walk in it every day as well. Amen.

Leave a comment

Filed under Scripture Meditations

Today’s Scripture – August 26, 2018

John 10:14-18 (NIV)
“I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me–just as the Father knows me and I know the Father–and I lay down my life for the sheep. I have other sheep that are not of this sheep pen. I must bring them also. They too will listen to my voice, and there shall be one flock and one shepherd. The reason my Father loves me is that I lay down my life–only to take it up again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again. This command I received from my Father.”

There are three signs that Jesus gave as testimony to His identity as the Good Shepherd.

First is the fact that Jesus knows exactly who the sheep who belong to His flock are, and who are not. At this point, the vast majority of the Jewish leaders were NOT part of His flock; they did not believe in Him, they would not believe His testimony about who He was, and they would not commit to following Him as disciples. Jesus’ knowledge of His flock members is at an extremely high level, the same level of knowledge as He had of the Father, with whom He was eternally one (John 1:1, a key contextual verse for the whole gospel).

The second sign was that Jesus would soon lay down His life for His sheep. When danger from the enemy approached, He would not run to try to save Himself, as the false shepherds would. Instead, He would boldly march forward, even though it would cost Him His own life. And this laying down of His life for the sake of the sheep would be neither out of His control, nor permanent. Because of His eternal relationship with the Father, Jesus had been given authority to purposefully lay down His life for the sake of the sheep, as well as authority to take His life back up again, to raise Himself from the dead as an act of His own power.

The third sign was that Jesus would not only lay down His life to bring the Jews into the fold, but to bring the gentiles in as well, the “other sheep” that He talked about. In all of their interpretations of the Messiah that these Bible scholars had come up with, their conceptions were all far too small, centered on a narrow nationalism that allowed no room for God’s love to reach beyond the people that He had originally called. But now that the Messiah had indeed come, the gate to life in the kingdom would be thrown open to everyone who would believe in Him for salvation (John 3:14-17). People from every nation, tribe, people, and language would all flow into the kingdom (Revelation 7:9-10), forming one flock under the leadership of Jesus Himself.

Father, Jesus truly is the Good Shepherd of all who want to come to You for salvation, and has proven Himself to be over a span of two thousand years. All who have tasted of eternal life agree! Thank You for Your saving grace that Has worked eternity into my own life in undeniable ways through faith in Jesus! Amen.

Leave a comment

Filed under Scripture Meditations

Today’s Scripture – July 3, 2018

Luke 24:44-49 (NIV)

He said to them, “This is what I told you while I was still with you: Everything must be fulfilled that is written about me in the Law of Moses, the Prophets and the Psalms.”
Then he opened their minds so they could understand the Scriptures. He told them, “This is what is written: The Christ will suffer and rise from the dead on the third day, and repentance and forgiveness of sins will be preached in his name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things. I am going to send you what my Father has promised; but stay in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high.”

The disciples had calmed down enough that Jesus was able to help them start to understand some of what was going on. They shock of seeing Him alive was starting to fade, and in its place was a sense of awe at what they were experiencing.

But Jesus wasn’t going to waste a lot of time on niceties and chitchat. Luke actually compresses the teachings that Jesus gave to His followers over the 40-day span between His resurrection and His ascension into heaven (Acts 11:3) into the last ten verses of his gospel, hitting all of the high points, and leaving the details to be illustrated by the lives and the sermons of the post-Pentecost apostles as shown in the book of Acts.

The first point Jesus made is that the events of the past several days were not happenstance. Instead, they were all part of the divine plan progressively revealed clear back in Genesis (beginning with verse 3:15), extending through the prophets, and even laced throughout the poetry of the Psalms. And the plan was still working itself out; it wasn’t completed by Jesus’ death and resurrection.

Over every encounter that Jesus had with the disicples during the 40-day span before His departure, He retaught them what the Scriptures revealed of God’s plan. The sacrifice of the Messiah for sins and His resurrection were the central points to which everything prior pointed, and from which everything after derived its direction and meaning. The outflow of this plan would come when the walls of the Israelite people of God would be kicked out, making room for an expansion of God’s kingdom into all people groups (Revelation 7:9). This expansion of the kingdom through the message of repentance and forgiveness would start in Jerusalem, and then expand throughout Judea and Samaria, and from there to the ends of the world (Acts 1:8), becoming a mighty mountain that would grow to fill the whole earth (Daniel 2:34-35, 44-45a).

The disciples would be the ones through whom the message would go out and spread; they would be the initiators, the spark that would catch and spread far beyond the places that they themselves could go. But before they could accomplish that, they would have to be set on fire themselves. Excitement and joy would not be enough to see them through the challenges that they would face. So, God would be providing them divine power to move them forward. It would come to them in Jerusalem, and it would come soon.

Father, sometimes it is hard for us “New Testament Christians” to remember that there is no change of direction, no break in theology or philosophy between the Old Testament and the New. It is one story straight through. The New Testament is merely the ultimate revelation of who you are, the ultimate accomplishment of Your plan to redeem rebellious mankind that was set in motion during the first days of humanity’s existence. Every sermon that the disciples preached, and every letter that they wrote was chock-full of Scripture, Old Testament Scripture, and indeed, those are the Scriptures that Jesus opened the minds of the His followers to understand. Help us, as your people, to receive ALL that You have revealed to us of Your person and Your plan, so that we can help others to know about You as well. Amen.

Leave a comment

Filed under Scripture Meditations