John 11 (2)
Last week we studied the resurrection of Lazarus. What a fantastic miracle that was. Can you imagine? Can you imagine someone who has been dead for 4 days, being raised from the dead?
Can you imagine being one of the mourners at Mary and Martha’s house? Can you imagine being there, having brought a casserole to help feed friends and family? Sitting there with them?
And by the way, those at the house that day were good friends. Lazarus had already been buried. That would have taken place either the day he died or shortly thereafter, because they were not usually embalming folks then, so the burial would have been fairly rapid.
But, even though the funeral was passed, these friends were still there with Mary and Martha. Good friends.
folks, the pain and hurt doesn’t end the day after the funeral. Check in on folks. See how they are doing. . . .
But, on the 4th day after he had died, Jesus goes and raises Lazarus from the dead.
What an amazing miracle that was! Well, in light of that great miracle, how did the people respond?
- Read John 11:45-57
The Gospel of John is often called the Gospel of belief. Throughout its pages, there is a clear emphasis on genuine saving faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. As John himself stated his purpose for writing this was “so that his readers may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believingnay have life in His name (John 20:31).
In keeping with that purpose, John consistently presented the claim of Jesus Christ to be God in human flesh. The Lord’s 7 I AM statements, for instance, are nothing less than emphatic declarations of His deity and messiahship. The unbelieving Jews clearly understood that, that’s why they wanted to stone Him. They understood exactly Who He was claiming to be.
Such a radical assertion (Jesus is God) always compels people to make a decision - they can either acknowledge His claim as true, or reject it as false.
Look how these people reacted.
1. Many believed - Verse 45 says that many believed.
It is exciting and comfortable to be among the many. It is nice to sit in church, surrounded by people who think in many ways like you do. It is nice to see the Lord working in people’s lives, to see Him growing them, and changing them, and sanctifying them, transforming them more and more into His image.
I can remember going to hear Carmen, a Christian musician, in concert. To sit among the thousands and to worship together. I went to a Promise Keepers rally in Memphis one time. The whole stadium was filled with tens of thousands of men worshipping together. The men on one side of the stadium would shout, “I love Jesus, yes I do. I love Jesus, how ‘bout you?” And the men on the other side of the stadium would answer back, “I love Jesus, Yes I do. I love Jesus, how ‘bout you?” Good times, being among the many.
Many believed. The folks saw a miracle. They saw something that could not be explained away, so many believed.
But notice in the very next verse, there was another group of people.
2. But some of them, went and told the Pharisees.
Why? They saw the same miracle as the many. They were aware of what was going on. But some of them . . .
This response of unbelief in the face of the clearest proof is confirmation of what Jesus said in Luke 16:31, “If they hear not Moses and the Prophets, neither will they be persuaded though one rise from the dead.”
Do you remember that account? Jesus told the parable about the rich man a Lazarus, a different Lazarus, a beggar. The beggar died and went to Abraham’s bosom. The rich man died and went to Hades, to a place of torment. The rich man, in torment, asked for Lazarus to come a dip his finger in some water to cool his thirst. Abraham said he couldn’t. So the rich man begged Abraham to send Lazarus back from the dead to go and warn his brothers so they wouldn’t end up in the place he was at.
And Jesus said, “If they hear not Moses and the Prophets, neither will they be persuaded though one rise from the dead.”
The chief cause of unbelief is not inadequate information. We continue to witness and to share and to support missionaries around the world, so that lack of knowledge can be addressed.
You may remember, we had several National Honor Society members last year who helped with Christmas in the Country. 3 we sent down to act in the nativity, we asked to play Joseph, Mary, and a shepherd. The students didn’t know who Mary, Joseph, and Jesus were, and 1 explained, “My family’s not very religious.”
So we keep sharing and telling. The Bible says, “How can they believe except they hear?” We keep sharing and telling and witnessing, but the primary reason most people are not Christians is not a lack of knowledge; it is a heart in rebellion against God and His Word.
By going and telling the Pharisees about what Jesus had done, these folks were demonstrating their own stubborn hard-heartedness. Their response showed that no amount of evidence, even something as spectacular as the raising of a red man, can convince some sinners abandon their hypocrisy and sin and come to the Savior.
( Fred - saw him this week. Pray for my wife. Pray for my daughter - no time for church, I want to live).
6 months ago, or so, a man I know, the son of a friend, was diagnosed with a terrible, almost unbeatable form of cancer. He was devastated by the diagnosis. One night he prayed and asked the Lord to heal him and told the Lord that if He did, he would tell everyone what the Lord had done for him.
The next day, that man got a revision in his diagnosis. It went from being an almost unbeatable cancer, to a very treatable, and usually healable one.
That man kept his word and has told people what God did for him, but has not darkened the doorway of the church since. Yes Lord, you did this for me. Yes, Jesus. You answered my prayer, and did a miracle, but I don’t have time for you.
There are those who believe, and those who refuse, and then there are those who oppose.
3. Those who oppose -
- Read vvs 46-50
Pharisees. The people went and told the Pharisees, and the Pharisees gathered the Saducees. They gathered the whole Sanhedrin.
Ordinarily, the Pharisees and the Sadducees didn’t get along. They didn’t get along at all. The Pharisees were very religious. They were legalistically religious. Many of them didn’t really do the things they told other people they should do, and their hearts were not in it, but at least outwardly they were religious.
They believed and angels and life after death, and they believed in a resurrection. Most of them were middle class and were to a certain extent, liked and respected by the population.
The Sadducees, on the other hand, were upperclass. They were usually wealthy. Religion meant nothing to them. It was just a tool to control people. They were rude even to each other. You see it in this passage, where the chief priest says, “You know nothing.”
They didn’t believe in angels. They didn’t believe in an afterlife. They didn’t believe in a resurrection. For them, this life was all there was, so they lived like that.
They were very political, and they used politics to gain power, and authority, and wealth. But here, you have these 2 groups of people, who don’t normally get along, working together to get rid of Jesus.
- Read vvs 51-52
It will best for our nation if we get rid of this guy.
Notice, they didn’t ask if it was right or wrong. They didn’t ask if what Jesus was teaching was right. They didn’t ask if He was hurting anyone. They didn’t ask if He was healing people, and helping them with their lives. They didn’t ask if His teaching would help homes and families. They didn’t ask any of those moral questions. They asked, what’s in it for me and for our nation.
They didn’t want anything to change because they were quite comfortable with the way things were going.
The Pharisees - we’ll keep our dead and lifeless religion, as long as the people continue to respect us.
The Saducees - We’ll keep our wealth, and political favor. We don’t want to lose our positions. Let’s kill this guy.
My friends, there is nothing new under the sun. There have always been these groups of people.
Do you remember when Jesus was born? What groups of people where there then?
There were the wisemen, who came from afar to find and worship Jesus.
There were the shepherds who when they heard, left everything and went and worshipped Jesus.
There were the scribes who when Herod asked about the new king, said, “Oh yeah. The Bible says He will be born in Bethlehem. It’s right down the road, but we’re too busy and uninterested. We can’t be bothered by religion or this Jesus.
Then there was Herod, scared he’d lose his position and power so he did everything he could to destroy Him.
Do you remember when the Israelites were in Egypt? How many of the people in that land saw the miracles Moses performed? All of them did. When they couldn’t find any water in the land, do you think they noticed . . .
The Bible tells us that the night the death angel passed through the country that there was not a house who did not lose someone.
And what were the people’s response? Some joined the Israelites and went with them. Some just let them and their God go, and was happy to see them leave. Then Pharaoh and his army tried to kill them.
There is nothing new under the sun. People have to decide what they are going to believe and what is a priority for them.
Many of you, are like me. We are disappointed by the way things have turned out this past week. We ask ourselves how people can be so blind? How in the world can all of this corruption succeed?
There is nothing new under the sun. Christians have often mourned when they see the way the world is going.
Remember Elijah? Remember him on the top of Mount Carmel . . .fire fell from heaven. All of the false priests were killed.
Jesebelle, the wicked queen said she was going to kill him. He went and sat on the bank of a stream and asked God to kill him.
Isaiah, he saw great reforms happening under the reign of King Uziah. Scools improved, military increased, reformation across the country. And then, king Uziah died and Isaiah was inconsolable. What is going to happen to my country now? And God showed Him a vision of God on His throne, and His train filling the temple.
And God asked, “Whom shall we send?” Isaiah answered, “Here am I. Send me.”
I am disappointed like many of you. And we’ve had our little pity party. Now there’s stuff to do.
II. STUFF TO DO
1. Decide right now, which one of these groups you’re going to be in. Are you going to believe in Jesus and join His team, or are you going to ignore Him, or are you going to fight against Him?
That is a question you must answer and none of can do it for you.
. . . become a follower . . . salvation.
2. Pray - ask God to use you, and this church and to protect our nation. . . . Pray for each other.
3. Encourage one another -
> Hebrews 10:24-25 And let us consider how to spur one another on to love and good deeds. 25 Let us not neglect meeting together, as some have made a habit, but let us encourage one another, and all the more as you see the Day approaching.
What can we say to encourage one another?
We still live in a blessed nation . . .
We still have the freedom to worship
We still have our Bibles
God is still on the throne, just as He was when these people rejected Jesus. That has not changed.
Jesus is still saving sinful people.
Jesus still loves us.
4. Remember, God chose to place you here, in this country, at this time. He must have a reason for that.
“Then Mordecai told them to reply to Esther, ‘Do not imagine that you in the king’s palace can escape any more than all the Jews. For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance will arise for the Jews from another place and you and your father’s house will perish. And who knows whether you have not attained royalty for such a time as this?’” Esther 4:13-14 (NASB)
“For such a time as this.”
It’s a phrase tossed around frequently, often without much thought to the original meaning or context in which it was said. It can mean: special, chosen or royal. Many people even quote Mordecai’s rebuke to Esther as a life-verse representing power and favor. You’ll see shirts, hats, mugs and social media posts that proudly ring out, “for such a time as this.”
But what did this phrase really mean?
When we look at the life of Esther throughout the book titled in her name, this phrase actually refers to Esther being scolded for her self-indulgent, self-preserving mindset. In today’s language, we might call that being “shot down” for having narcissistic tendencies! Mordecai reproved Esther for living large and embracing royalty over righteousness — selfies over service. Through those telling words, he reminded her she had been chosen to set her own interests aside, let go of her own ambitions, and face an enemy full-on.
She was to risk her life and her legacy with no guarantees of a positive outcome. That’s the “for such a time as this” Mordecai challenged Esther to accept.
“Then Mordecai told them to reply to Esther, ‘Do not imagine that you in the king’s palace can escape any more than all the Jews. For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance will arise for the Jews from another place and you and your father’s house will perish. And who knows whether you have not attained royalty for such a time as this?’” (Esther 4:13-14)
And that’s the “for such a time as this” God also sets before you and me.
God has given each of us a job, position, resources, education and more. God has opened opportunities to optimize His kingdom purposes. He didn’t place you or me where we are so we could eat figs all day long or post pictures on social media. He’s placed us wherever we are because we are in the midst of a battle, a war. You and I are in the midst of a seismic conflict involving good versus evil.
To miss a kingdom assignment because we’ve become too caught up in our personal kingdom is one of the greatest tragedies we could ever face. An entire nation was grateful for how Esther responded to Mordecai’s rebuke. Their lives were spared. How many souls can be spared in the culture where we live today when we choose to step up to service, even if it involves sacrifice?
Lord, turn my heart and my mind toward You and toward the role You have chosen for me to live out. Help me to put Your will and Your purpose ahead of my own. I humbly bow before You and ask for Your direction and guidance, as well as Your courage to live out the calling I’ve been given for such a time as this. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Isaiah 33:6, “And He will be the stability of your times, a wealth of salvation, wisdom and knowledge; the fear of the LORD is his treasure.” (NASB)
Proverbs 16:4a, “The LORD has made everything for its own purpose.” (NASB)