Day 35 (March 31), John 11:45-57

John 11:45-57

Context:  The epilogue to Lazarus’ encounter is filled with intrigue and delicate dancing among the Sanhedrin, which was the most powerful and official Jewish ruling body at the time.  They acknowledged Jesus performed many signs, but were not persuaded they were from God and, therefore, had to attribute them to demonic powers.  The high priest, Caiphas, states that it would be best for one man (Jesus) to die for the people so the whole nation would not perish under Roman rule.  From that day forward Jesus no longer walked openly among the Jews because he knew his arrest was imminent.  Instead, he returned back to the area of Perea until his last week, often called the Passion Week.

Observations:   The Sadducees, who were part of the Sanhedrin, denied that miracles could or did happen.  How did they navigate through the ‘attesting signs and miracles’ of Jesus?  Why was the resurrection of Lazarus a ‘tipping point’ in the conflict with Jewish leaders?  What were their motivations in arresting and, eventually, eradicating Jesus?  Consider the ‘buzz’ around the lead-in to the Passover festival … Jesus, his claims and his works have now taken center stage.

Application:  What things are prompting you to ‘doubt’ some aspect of Jesus’ ability to work in your life and within your circumstances right now?  If you were part of the Sanhedrin, what would you say in the Council (be honest)?  If you were part of the crowd that had witnessed Lazarus’ resurrection, what would you do?  We are called to ‘walk by faith, not by sight.’  Step out in faith today!

Prayer:  Lord, forgive us for putting Jesus on the back burner of our lives; ignoring him, distancing ourselves from him and making excuses as to why our relationship with him can be so shallow.  And Lord, let me give thanks that even within those realities you celebrate and are stirred when we move in faith toward you.  Help us see you work and live as if it’s real today.

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Day 34 (March 30), John 11:38-44

John 11:38-44

Context:  In these verses we move from the dig and set-up, using a volleyball analogy, to the spike!!  Jesus is ‘deeply moved’ again as he comes to Lazarus’ tomb.  John uses the same Greek word as he did earlier in v. 33 … it means agitated, sternly and earnestly provoked.  He orders the stone rolled away and Martha is still not tracking the resurrection of Lazarus’ body.  After a prayer to the heavenly Father, and a loud command, Lazarus comes forth still bound with his burial cloths!!

Observations:   Why was Jesus so ‘deeply moved’ and ‘agitated’ upon his arrival on the scene and at the tomb?  Perhaps because of the pain and suffering, or just that death is the ultimate consequence of sin and the devil’s temptations.  Or something else?  Note Jesus’ reliance on the heavenly Father through prayer before giving his verbal command for Lazarus to ‘come forth.’  He then tells some in the crowd (presumably) to unbind Lazarus and let him go.’ … why is there no further detail on what follows next?

Application:  What ‘stone’ is God directing you to move?  Is there something he wants you to do/change that is counter-intuitive for you?  In this story there could have been an excuse: ‘By this time (four days) there will be an odor’ … but note they did not cave to it.  Jesus did not roll the stone either … so rid yourself of any excuses and go to work in the way God is prompting you!

Prayer:  Take some time today to ‘lift up your eyes to the Father’ just as Jesus did.  As you do, think of something you can boldly ask God for.  I recommend ‘boldly’ because raising a man from the dead was no ordinary or regular occurrence.     

Don’t ‘force it’ or ‘conjure it up’ … let the Holy Spirit bring it to mind.  Pray Evergreen not only ‘survives’ the COVID-19 pandemic, but actually THRIVES through it and becomes stronger, healthier and more effective in the gospel and kingdom.

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