2780.) John 13:1-17

December 13, 2019

“The Washing of the Feet” by Corinne Vonaesch (Swiss, b. 1970)

John 13:1-17   (NRSV)

Jesus Washes the Disciples’ Feet

It was customary that the lowest servant of the house would wash the feet of the guests as they came into the house, especially for a formal meal like this. For some reason, this didn’t happen when Jesus and the disciples came into the room. So they ate their meal with dirty feet.

This was more awkward than we might think. First, because of the sandals they wore and the roads they walked on, the feet would be dirty. Second, the disciples would eat a formal meal like this at a table known as a triclinium. This was a low (coffee-table height), U-shaped table. The guests would sit, and their status at the meal was reflected by how close they were seated to the host or leader of the meal. Because the table was low, they didn’t sit on chairs. They leaned on pillows, with their feet behind them. This meant that dirty feet could be unpleasantly close to the table during the meal. So the unwashed feet were conspicuous.

So why didn’t any of the disciples do this first? Any of the disciples would have gladly washed Jesus’ feet. But they could not wash His without having to be available to wash the others’ feet, and that would have been an intolerable admission of inferiority among their fellow competitors for the top positions in the disciples’ hierarchy. So no one’s feet got washed!

–David Guzik

Now before the festival of the Passover, Jesus knew that his hour had come to depart from this world and go to the Father. Having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end.

Jesus had loved His own. But He hadn’t finished loving them. He would love them to the end. The idea behind the phrase to the end is “to the fullest extent, to the uttermost.”

To the end means to the end of Jesus’ earthly life. Though the disciples gave up on Him, He never gave up on them. Though they stopped thinking about Jesus, and were only thinking of themselves, He never stopped thinking of them. Whose problems were worse – Jesus’ or the disciples’? Who was concerned more for the other? He loved them to the end.

To the end means a love that will never end. Jesus will never stop loving His own. It isn’t a love that comes and goes, that is here today and gone tomorrow.

To the end means a love that reaches to the fullest extent. Some translations have “He loved them to the uttermost.” Jesus poured out the cup of His love to the bottom for us.

–David Guzik

2The devil had already put it into the heart of Judas son of Simon Iscariot to betray him. And during supper 3Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he had come from God and was going to God, 4got up from the table, took off his outer robe, and tied a towel around himself. 5Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet and to wipe them with the towel that was tied around him.

Few incidents in the gospel story so reveal the character of Jesus and so perfectly show his love. When we think of what Jesus might have been and of what he might have done, the supreme wonder of what he was and did comes home to us.

Jesus knew all things had been given into his hands. He knew that his hour of humiliation was near, but he knew that his hour of glory was also near. Such a consciousness might well have filled him with pride; and yet, with the knowledge of the power and the glory that were his, he washed his disciples’ feet. At that moment when he might have had supreme pride, he had supreme humility. Love is always like that. When, for example, someone falls ill, the person who loves him will perform the most menial services and delight to do them, because love is like that. Sometimes men feel that they are too distinguished to do the humble things, too important to do some menial task. Jesus was not so. He knew that he was Lord of all, and yet he washed his disciples’ feet.

Jesus knew that he had come from God and that he was going to God. He might well have had a certain contempt for men and for the things of this world. He might well have thought that he was finished with the world now, for he was on the way to God. It was just at that time when God was nearest to him that Jesus went to the depths and the limits of his service of men. To wash the feet of the guests at a feast was the office of a slave. The disciples of the Rabbis were supposed to render their masters personal service, but a service like this would never have been dreamed of. The wonderful thing about Jesus was that his nearness to God, so far from separating him from men, brought him nearer than ever to them.

–William Barclay

6He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, “Lord, are you going to wash my feet?”

7Jesus answered, “You do not know now what I am doing, but later you will understand.”

8Peter said to him, “You will never wash my feet.”

Jesus answered, “Unless I wash you, you have no share with me.”

9Simon Peter said to him, “Lord, not my feet only but also my hands and my head!”

10Jesus said to him, “One who has bathed does not need to wash, except for the feet, but is entirely clean.

“When I am clean, Lord, keep me too,
For that is more than I can do.”

And you are clean, though not all of you.” 11For he knew who was to betray him; for this reason he said, “Not all of you are clean.”

12After he had washed their feet, had put on his robe, and had returned to the table, he said to them, “Do you know what I have done to you? 13You call me Teacher and Lord—and you are right, for that is what I am. 14So if I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. 15For I have set you an example, that you also should do as I have done to you. 16Very truly, I tell you, servants are not greater than their master, nor are messengers greater than the one who sent them. 17If you know these things, you are blessed if you do them.

________________________

Music:

Scripture is full of references to washing and cleansing.  HERE  is a song that references Psalm 51: 7 — Wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.

_________________________

Reflections:

1)  Have you ever been part of a foot-washing ceremony? How did it feel? I have, and I find it a lesson in humility. (Many churches include this in their Maundy Thursday services.)

2)  What can we do daily to wash one another’s feet? Or in other words — How can we love one another with Christ-like humility and kindness? What specific thing could you do for someone today in obedience to these commands (see verse 14) from Christ?

_________________________

The New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Images courtesy of:
Vonaesch.    https://i.pinimg.com/474x/0c/12/4e/0c124e54fa936fe0cd67640f71679bad–christ.jpg
world without end.   https://www.bookstellyouwhy.com/pictures/22903.jpg
foot washing.   https://pulpitshenanigans.files.wordpress.com/2013/03/lavar-pies.jpg

2779.) John 12:37-50

December 12, 2019

John 12:37-50   (NRSV)

The Unbelief of the People

37Although he had performed so many signs in their presence, they did not believe in him. 38This was to fulfill the word spoken by the prophet Isaiah:

“Lord, who has believed our message,
and to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?”

39And so they could not believe, because Isaiah also said,

40“He has blinded their eyes
and hardened their heart,
so that they might not look with their eyes,
and understand with their heart and turn— and I would heal them.”

41Isaiah said this because he saw his glory and spoke about him.

42Nevertheless many, even of the authorities, believed in him. But because of the Pharisees they did not confess it, for fear that they would be put out of the synagogue; 43for they loved human glory more than the glory that comes from God.

The praise of men – The approval of human beings. It does not appear that they had a living, active faith, but that they were convinced in their understanding that he was the Messiah. They had that kind of faith which is so common among people – a speculative acknowledgment that religion is true, but an acknowledgment which leads to no self-denial, which shrinks from the active duties of piety, and fears man more than God. True faith is active. It overcomes the fear of man; it prompts to self-denying duties, Hebrews 11. Nevertheless, it was no unimportant proof that Jesus was the Messiah, that any part of the great council of the Jews were even speculatively convinced of it: and it shows that the evidence could not have been slight when it overcame their prejudices and pride, and constrained them to admit that the lowly and poor man of Nazareth was the long expected Messiah of their nation.

Albert Barnes’ Notes on the Whole Bible

Summary of Jesus’ Teaching

“The Light of the World” by William Holman Hunt, 1853 (Ashmolean Museum in England)

44Then Jesus cried aloud:

These are the last words in John’s gospel from Jesus to the public. In this last speech to the multitude, Jesus emphasized the themes of all His previous preaching in John.

He who sees Me sees Him who sent Me: Jesus stressed His unity with God the Father.

I have come as light into the world: Jesus stressed His own truthfulness, and the need man has to follow Jesus.

I do not judge Him: Jesus stressed His love and acceptance for the sinner; yet the word that I have spoken will judge Him — there are inescapable consequences for rejecting Jesus.

I have not spoken on My own authority: Jesus stressed His own submission to God the Father. His authority flowed from His submission to God the Father.

–David Guzik

“Whoever believes in me believes not in me but in him who sent me. 45And whoever sees me sees him who sent me. 46I have come as light into the world, so that everyone who believes in me should not remain in the darkness.

47I do not judge anyone who hears my words and does not keep them, for I came not to judge the world, but to save the world. 48The one who rejects me and does not receive my word has a judge; on the last day the word that I have spoken will serve as judge, 49for I have not spoken on my own, but the Father who sent me has himself given me a commandment about what to say and what to speak. 50And I know that his commandment is eternal life. What I speak, therefore, I speak just as the Father has told me.”

Jesus did not come into the world to condemn; he came to save. But Jesus said here that at the last day the words which these people had heard would be their judges. That is one of the great truths of life. A man cannot be blamed for not knowing. But if he knows the right and does the wrong, his condemnation is all the more serious. Therefore every wise thing that we have heard, and every opportunity we have had to know the truth, will in the end be a witness against us.

–William Barclay

_________________________

Music:

Yes, Lord, we do believe in you! You are the light of the world!

HERE  is “Jesus, the Light of the World,” featuring Margaret Rainey and Kami Woodard. I could listen to this all day.

_________________________

Reflections:

1)   In verses 42-43 we read of the leaders who were “secret followers” of Jesus because they were afraid they would lose their positions. Is it possible to be a secret follower of Jesus? One commentator wrote, “Only temporarily; either the secrecy will cancel out the belief, or the belief will cancel out the secrecy.” What do you think?

2)   What do we know, that we are not doing? Where is our practicing not matching our preaching? What truth have we not applied sincerely to our own hearts and minds? Let us ask Jesus to help us!

_________________________

The New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Images courtesy of:
John 12:46.   https://dwellingintheword.files.wordpress.com/2018/02/3366f-john-12-46.jpg
Hunt.   https://alchetron.com/The-Light-of-the-World-(painting)

2778.) John 12:12-36

December 11, 2019

stained glass window at First Presbyterian Church, Belmont, NC

John 12:12-36   (NRSV)

Jesus’ Triumphal Entry into Jerusalem

12The next day the great crowd that had come to the festival heard that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem. 13So they took branches of palm trees and went out to meet him, shouting,

“Hosanna!
Blessed is the one who comes
in the name of the Lord— the King of Israel!”

Hail to the Lord’s Anointed, Great David’s greater Son!
Hail, in the time appointed, His reign on Earth begun!
He comes to break oppression, to set the captive free,
To take away transgression, and rule in equity.

He comes with succour speedy, to those who suffer wrong;
To help the poor and needy, and bid the weak be strong;
To give them songs for sighing, their darkness turn to light,
Whose souls, condemned and dying, were precious in His sight.

He shall come down like showers upon the fruitful earth;
Love, joy, and hope like flowers, spring in His path to birth;
Before Him on the mountains shall peace the herald go;
And righteousness, in fountains, from hill to valley flow.

To Him shall prayer unceasing and daily vows ascend;
His kingdom still increasing, a kingdom without end;
The tide of time shall never His covenant remove;
His name shall stand forever, His name to us is Love.

–by James Montgomery, 1821

14Jesus found a young donkey and sat on it; as it is written:

15“Do not be afraid, daughter of Zion.
Look, your king is coming,
sitting on a donkey’s colt!”

“With us, the ass is lowly and despised; but in the East it was a noble creature. A king came riding upon a horse when he was bent on war; he came riding upon an ass when he was coming in peace.”

–William Barclay

16His disciples did not understand these things at first; but when Jesus was glorified, then they remembered that these things had been written of him and had been done to him.

17So the crowd that had been with him when he called Lazarus out of the tomb and raised him from the dead continued to testify. 18It was also because they heard that he had performed this sign that the crowd went to meet him. 19The Pharisees then said to one another, “You see, you can do nothing. Look, the world has gone after him!”

For God so loved THE WORLD . . .

Some Greeks Wish to See Jesus

“We would see Jesus.” What a wonderful thought for pastors as they step into their pulpits. And what a wonderful thought for each of us as we live our lives in front of our families, our neighbors, our co-workers, our friends.

20Now among those who went up to worship at the festival were some Greeks. 21They came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida in Galilee, and said to him, “Sir, we wish to see Jesus.” 22Philip went and told Andrew; then Andrew and Philip went and told Jesus.

23Jesus answered them, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified.

Do you remember? Jesus previously said that the time was not ready (John 2:4 and 7:6). And the fact that His hour had not yet come had delivered Him from violence before (John 7:30, 8:20). Now that the hour has come, it is time for Jesus to make the final sacrifice.

–David Guzik

24Very truly, I tell you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains just a single grain; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. 25Those who love their life lose it, and those who hate their life in this world will keep it for eternal life. 26Whoever serves me must follow me, and where I am, there will my servant be also. Whoever serves me, the Father will honor.

Jesus came to the Jews with a new view of life. They looked on glory as conquest, the acquisition of power, the right to rule. He looked on it as a cross. He taught men that only by death comes life; that only by spending life do we retain it; that only by service comes greatness. And when we come to think of it, Christ’s paradox is nothing other than truth.

–William Barclay

Jesus Speaks about His Death

27“Now my soul is troubled. And what should I say—‘Father, save me from this hour’? No, it is for this reason that I have come to this hour. 28Father, glorify your name.”

“Thy will be done.”  Sometimes those are hard words to say. Yet — if we believe that God is who he says he is, that he is infinitely loving and willing to sacrifice his own Son for our sakes — these words are the easiest words to say. Joyfully I tell you again, God is for you! He loves you! You can trust him!

Then a voice came from heaven, “I have glorified it, and I will glorify it again.” 29The crowd standing there heard it and said that it was thunder. Others said, “An angel has spoken to him.”

30Jesus answered, “This voice has come for your sake, not for mine. 31Now is the judgment of this world; now the ruler of this world will be driven out. 32And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.” 33He said this to indicate the kind of death he was to die.

34The crowd answered him, “We have heard from the law that the Messiah remains forever. How can you say that the Son of Man must be lifted up? Who is this Son of Man?”

The people had been taught the passages from “the law” (the Old Testament) which speak of the triumph of the Messiah. They were seemingly unaware of the passages that speak of His suffering (such as Psalm 22 and Isaiah 53). This crowd who waved palm branches with such enthusiasm thought they were welcoming a Messiah who would set up a political, earthly kingdom. They didn’t want to consider His sacrificial death. It didn’t fit in with their idea of what a Messiah should be.

35Jesus said to them, “The light is with you for a little longer. Walk while you have the light, so that the darkness may not overtake you. If you walk in the darkness, you do not know where you are going. 36While you have the light, believe in the light, so that you may become children of light.”  After Jesus had said this, he departed and hid from them.

“Today is the day of salvation,” Scripture says several times. Do not delay your faithfulness, your obedience, your service to the Lord!

_________________________

Music:

HERE  is “We Would See Jesus,” as a piano solo by Michael Gayle.

1. We would see Jesus; lo! his star is shining 
above the stable while the angels sing; 
There in a manger on the hay reclining; 
haste, let us lay our gifts before the King. 

2. We would see Jesus, Mary’s son most holy, 
light of the village life from day to day; 
shining revealed through every task most lowly, 
the Christ of God, the life, the truth, the way.

3. We would see Jesus, on the mountain teaching, 
with all the listening people gathered round; 
while birds and flowers and sky above are preaching 
the blessedness which simple trust has found.

4. We would see Jesus, in his work of healing, 
at eventide before the sun was set; 
divine and human, in his deep revealing 
of God made flesh, in loving service met.

5. We would see Jesus, in the early morning, 
still as of old he calleth, “Follow me!” 
Let us arise, all meaner service scorning; 
Lord, we are thine, we give ourselves to thee. 

_________________________

Reflections:

1)   “The world has gone after him!” the Pharisees complain (verse 19). Why do you think the common people responded so enthusiastically to Jesus? Why were the Jewish leaders so negative? And — What draws you to Jesus?

2)   As you are thinking about the world following after Jesus, consider this: 

The countries with the greatest rate of evangelical Christian growth are Iran and Afghanistan. Isn’t it amazing that we hear so much about the military conflicts in these two countries but rarely have insight into the victories being won on the spiritual battlefield?

Iran has a population in excess of 75 million with an annual growth rate of 1.19%. There are slightly fewer than 118,000 Evangelicals in Iran, representing 0.2% of the total population of the Islamic Republic. However, the openness of the people is evidenced by a growth rate of 19.6% for the Evangelical population. Iranian young people are particularly responsive to the Gospel. Two-thirds of the population is 30-years-old or younger, and much of the underground church is made up of this younger generation.

The Evangelical population in Afghanistan is growing at a rate of 16.7%, more than four times the overall annual population growth of 3.51%. Evangelicals number about 8,500 out of a total population of more than 29 million.

Nepal, with a population close to Afghanistan’s, is listed 27th among the Top 40 fastest growing Evangelical sectors. There are close to 801,000 Evangelicals in Nepal, nearly 10 times the number in Afghanistan. The rate of growth among Evangelicals in Nepal is 5.3%. Because Christians are not allowed to proselytize, pray for perseverance for believers to continue their courageous evangelism.

https://missionsbox.org/news/youll-be-surprised-where-christianity-is-growing-and-where-it-is-not/

3)   How can we do as Jesus says in verse 25 and “hate” our lives? See Hebrews 11:13-16 for one idea . . .

_________________________

The New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Images courtesy of:
Jesus entering Jerusalem stained glass window.   https://i.pinimg.com/474x/21/a6/eb/21a6ebe55369010bb631ddf8af16cc86–palm-sunday-nc.jpg
Jesus riding a donkey.   http://lisadelay.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2011/04/toJerusalem-218×300.jpg
Pulpit, “We would see Jesus.”   http://2007.johna.ca/imagesJohn/imagesDay18-Thru_the_Bible/28-Pulpit-Large_surface-400.jpg
Thy will be done.   http://ppt.fellowshipenglewood.com/images/ThyWillBeDone.jpg
Church sign.   https://dwellingintheword.files.wordpress.com/2012/03/today.jpg

2777.) Psalm 136

December 10, 2019

P136 God is love

Psalm 136   (NIV)

We just read of Mary’s act of love for her Lord, pouring out expensive perfume on his feet. Yes, he is worthy of that and more, so great is his love!

What makes this psalm unique is that the second member of each of the twenty-six verses is the same antiphonal response, “for His mercy endures forever.” “If one everlasting is not enough,” wrote Thomas Goodwin, “there are twenty-six everlastings in this one psalm.”

It is known as the Great Hallel, the singing of which was a regular part of the observance of both Pesach and Rosh Hashanah—the Jewish Passover and New Year celebrations. It was also used in their daily worship.

The repetition of the theme is not tiresome; it says to us that the steadfast love of the Lord needs to be constantly before us and that the subject can never be exhausted. His kindness, loyalty and fidelity never fail.

–William MacDonald

This psalm is an antiphonal liturgy with the memorable refrain, “his steadfast love endures forever.” A priest or soloist would chant the first part of a verse, and the congregation would respond with the refrain. Performances of the liturgy would have been powerful and moving, as the priest added example to example of God’s praise. (The Reformation Bible)

Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good.
His love endures forever.
Give thanks to the God of gods.
His love endures forever.
Give thanks to the Lord of lords:
His love endures forever.

P136 Earth
God is good as Creator:

to him who alone does great wonders,
His love endures forever.
who by his understanding made the heavens,
His love endures forever.
who spread out the earth upon the waters,
His love endures forever.
who made the great lights—
His love endures forever.
the sun to govern the day,
His love endures forever.
the moon and stars to govern the night;
His love endures forever.

P136 crossing-red-sea
God is good as Redeemer:

10 to him who struck down the firstborn of Egypt
His love endures forever.
11 and brought Israel out from among them
His love endures forever.
12 with a mighty hand and outstretched arm;
His love endures forever.

13 to him who divided the Red Sea asunder
His love endures forever.
14 and brought Israel through the midst of it,
His love endures forever.
15 but swept Pharaoh and his army into the Red Sea;
His love endures forever.

P136 Pillar Fire Cloud
God is good as Guide:

16 to him who led his people through the wilderness;
His love endures forever.

P136 King-of-Kings
God is good as Champion:

17 to him who struck down great kings,
His love endures forever.
18 and killed mighty kings—
His love endures forever.
19 Sihon king of the Amorites
His love endures forever.
20 and Og king of Bashan—
His love endures forever.
21 and gave their land as an inheritance,
His love endures forever.
22 an inheritance to his servant Israel.
His love endures forever.

God is good as Helper:

23 He remembered us in our low estate
His love endures forever.
24 and freed us from our enemies.
His love endures forever.
25 He gives food to every creature.
His love endures forever.

26 Give thanks to the God of heaven.
His love endures forever.

A friend said to me:  “I believe it would be a great exercise for our family to write our own Hallel — naming specifically the Lord’s faithfulness to us. It might help us to remember instead of worrying anew with each new crisis.”

Thank you, Sue! Let’s start today!

_________________________

Music:

Join in  HERE  — “His Love Endures Forever.”

_________________________

New International Version (NIV)   Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
Images courtesy of:
God is love.    https://viewoutsidethepew.files.wordpress.com/2013/04/godislove.jpg
Earth hanging in space.    http://www.cs.utexas.edu/users/mckinley/talks/vee-keynote-2016.pdf
crossing the Red Sea.    http://mudpreacher.files.wordpress.com/2012/09/moses-crossing-red-sea.jpg
pillar of fire and cloud.    http://dailyprayer.us/photos/Pillar_fire_cloud_david_ascalon.jpg
King of kings.    http://www.christianbanners.com/product_images/uploaded_images/King-of-Kings-Point-Burgund_md.jpg
God is my help.    https://holleygerth.com/best-for-stress/

2776.) John 12:1-11

December 9, 2019

“The Anointing” by Meer Gyan, 2006.

John 12:1-11   (NRSV)

Mary Anoints Jesus

Six days before the Passover

John gave a time marker, telling us that this was the last week before the death and burial of Jesus. Almost one-half of John’s Gospel is given to this last week. Matthew used more than 33% of his Gospel to cover that week, Mark nearly 40% and Luke over 25% – to seven days of Jesus’ entire life.

–David Guzik

Jesus came to Bethany, the home of Lazarus, whom he had raised from the dead. 2There they gave a dinner for him. Martha served, and Lazarus was one of those at the table with him. 3Mary took a pound of costly perfume made of pure nard, anointed Jesus’ feet, and wiped them with her hair.

Love’s extravagance!

Let’s look at each part:

“Costly perfume” — According to the Archaeological Study Bible, one pint of nard would have cost about a year’s wage for a day-laborer. Cheaper by far is one of the most expensive perfumes in the world today — Joy, by Jean Patou. Henri Alméras designed and brewed the perfume in 1929. He mixed jasmine odor and rose in the perfume. Each 30 ml perfume in the bottle includes the extraction of 10,000 jasmine flowers combined with 28 dozen roses. It sells for only (!) $800 per ounce.

“anointed Jesus’ feet” — This was unusual. Usually the head was anointed.

“wiped them with her hair” — This is almost scandalous. A proper woman would not show her hair in a public setting.

The house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume.

We may see a double meaning here. Not only the room in Martha’s house, but the whole Church is filled with the sweet memory of Mary’s action.

–William Barclay

4But Judas Iscariot, one of his disciples (the one who was about to betray him), said, 5“Why was this perfume not sold for three hundred denarii and the money given to the poor?” 6(He said this not because he cared about the poor, but because he was a thief; he kept the common purse and used to steal what was put into it.)

In the midst of this beautiful moment, this act of love and gratitude that Mary is giving to Jesus, Judas pipes up. “Why wasn’t this perfume sold and the money given to the poor?” The moment is ruined. Judas has re-interpreted this lovely scene to his own ends. Perhaps he was uncomfortable with the display of affection, or perhaps as John suggests, he has other intentions for the money. Whatever Judas’ reasons, he wants to disconnect from the intimate and personal moment. He tries to make it about how money should be used, about practicality. He almost steals away Mary’s extravagant love, diminishing her by rebuking her feelings. Judas tries to dismiss Mary’s love and gratefulness with his distant and impersonal righteous indignation.

–Erik Parker, The Millennial Pastor 

7Jesus said, “Leave her alone. She bought it so that she might keep it for the day of my burial. 8You always have the poor with you, but you do not always have me.”

Mary is a model for us in devotion to Christ. We see her three times in Scripture. 

1)  In Luke 10:38-42, her sister Martha complains to Jesus that Mary is shirking her household duties by sitting at Jesus’ feet; Jesus replies that Mary has chosen the better part. 

2)  In John 11, Mary drops to her knees in her grief at the death of her brother and tells Jesus she wishes he had been there earlier.

3)  Here in John 12, Mary understands something the disciples do not — that Jesus is soon going to die. She prepares his body for burial by anointing it with precious oil. 

Note that in all three stories, we find Mary at the feet of Jesus.

_________________________

Music:

In the parallel accounts of this event in Matthew 26 and Mark 14, the perfume is poured on Jesus’ head.

HERE  is “Broken and Spilled Out” sung by Steve Green.

_________________________

The Plot to Kill Lazarus

Put picture of Lazarus here.

9When the great crowd of the Jews learned that he was there, they came not only because of Jesus but also to see Lazarus, whom he had raised from the dead. 10So the chief priests planned to put Lazarus to death as well, 11since it was on account of him that many of the Jews were deserting and were believing in Jesus.

They are proposing to get rid of the evidence! Many of the “chief priests” were Sadducees, and they did not believe in the resurrection, or miracles. Lazarus was a living example that their theology was wrong!

_________________________

Reflections:

1)   Do you, like Mary, sit at Jesus’ feet, learning to know him? Do you wish you could do that more? Pray for his help; God has said, “Those who seek me, will find me.”

2)   Barclay says that Mary’s action teaches us three things about love: its extravagance, its humility, and its unself-consciousness. Consider how you love the Lord, how you love your family and friends. Are Mary’s signs of love visible in your actions, too?

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The New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Images courtesy of:
Gyan.   https://dwellingintheword.files.wordpress.com/2012/03/john-anointing1.jpg
Born to die.   https://dwellingintheword.files.wordpress.com/2019/12/77c76-born_to_die.jpg
Mary’s face and Jesus’ feet.   https://millennialpastor.files.wordpress.com/2016/03/anointing-his-feet-2.jpg
Wanted poster.   http://clipartlook.com/img-223321.html

2775.) John 11:38-57

December 6, 2019

In the Catacombs of Rome, more than 40 images of this event, the raising of Lazarus, have been found.

John 11:38-57   (NRSV)

John 20:30-31 (NIV)

Jesus performed many other signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not recorded in this book. But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.

Jesus Raises Lazarus to Life

Lazarus raised from the dead today — and in just a few days — JESUS!

38Then Jesus, again greatly disturbed, came to the tomb. It was a cave, and a stone was lying against it. 39Jesus said, “Take away the stone.”

Martha, the sister of the dead man, said to him, “Lord, already there is a stench because he has been dead four days.”

40Jesus said to her, “Did I not tell you that if you believed, you would see the glory of God?” 41So they took away the stone.

Look at the icon above, and see one man struggling to roll the stone away.

And Jesus looked upward and said, “Father, I thank you for having heard me. 42I knew that you always hear me, but I have said this for the sake of the crowd standing here, so that they may believe that you sent me.

Look at the icon above, and see Jesus, strong and sure, the resurrection and the life forever.

43When he had said this, he cried with a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out!” 44The dead man came out, his hands and feet bound with strips of cloth, and his face wrapped in a cloth. Jesus said to them, “Unbind him, and let him go.”

He speaks, – and, listening to his voice,
New life the dead receive;
The mournful, broken hearts rejoice;
The humble poor believe.

–Charles Wesley, “O for a thousand tongues to sing”

Look at the icon above, and see the man covering his nose at the stench of death, yet already beginning to take off Lazarus’ grave cloths.

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Music:

From the 80’s —  HERE  Carmen sings “Lazarus, Come Forth.”  What a great way to tell the story!!

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The Plot to Kill Jesus

45Many of the Jews therefore, who had come with Mary and had seen what Jesus did, believed in him. 46But some of them went to the Pharisees and told them what he had done. 47So the chief priests and the Pharisees called a meeting of the council, and said, “What are we to do? This man is performing many signs. 48If we let him go on like this, everyone will believe in him, and the Romans will come and destroy both our holy place and our nation.”

49But one of them, Caiaphas, who was high priest that year, said to them, “You know nothing at all! 50You do not understand that it is better for you to have one man die for the people than to have the whole nation destroyed.” 51He did not say this on his own, but being high priest that year he prophesied that Jesus was about to die for the nation, 52and not for the nation only, but to gather into one the dispersed children of God. 53So from that day on they planned to put him to death. 54Jesus therefore no longer walked about openly among the Jews, but went from there to a town called Ephraim in the region near the wilderness; and he remained there with the disciples.

The Jewish authorities are very vividly sketched before us. The wonderful happening at Bethany had forced their hand; it was impossible to allow Jesus to continue unchecked, otherwise the people would follow him in ever larger numbers. So the Sanhedrin was called to deal with the situation.

In the Sanhedrin there were both Pharisees and Sadducees. The Pharisees were not a political party at all; their sole interest was in living according to every detail of the law; and they cared not who governed them so long as they were allowed to continue in meticulous obedience to the law. On the other hand, the Sadducees were intensely political. They were the wealthy and aristocratic party. They were also the collaborationist party. So long as they were allowed to retain their wealth, comfort and position of authority, they were well content to collaborate with Rome. All the priests were Sadducees. 

With a few masterly strokes John delineates their characteristics. First, they were notoriously discourteous. “You know nothing at all,” said Caiaphas (John 11:49). “You are witless, brainless creatures.” Here we see the innate, domineering arrogance of the Sadducees in action. Their contemptuous arrogance is an implicit contrast to the accents of love of Jesus.

Second, the one thing at which the Sadducees always aimed was the retention of their political and social power and prestige. What they feared was that Jesus might gain a following and raise a disturbance against the government. Now, Rome was essentially tolerant, but, with such a vast empire to govern, it could never afford civil disorder, and always quelled it with a firm and merciless hand. If Jesus was the cause of civil disorder, Rome would descend in all her power, and, beyond a doubt the Sadducees would be dismissed from their positions of authority.  

Then comes the first tremendous example of dramatic irony. Sometimes in a play a character says something whose full significance he does not realize; that is dramatic irony. So the Sadducees insisted that Jesus must be eliminated or the Romans would come and take their authority away. In A.D. 70 that is exactly what happened. The Romans, weary of Jewish stubbornness, besieged Jerusalem, and left it a heap of ruins with a plough drawn across the Temple area. How different things might have been if the Jews had accepted Jesus! The very steps they took to save their nation destroyed it. This destruction happened in A.D. 70; John’s gospel was written about A.D. 100; and all who read it would see the dramatic irony in the words of the Sadducees.

Then Caiaphas, the High Priest, made his two-edged statement. “If you had any sense,” he said, “you would come to the conclusion that it is far better that one man should perish for the nation than that the whole nation should perish.” It was the Jewish belief that when the High Priest asked God’s counsel for the nation, God spoke through him. In the old story Moses chose Joshua to be his successor in the leadership of Israel, for example. The High Priest was to be the channel of God’s word to the leader and to the nation. That is what Caiaphas was that day.

Here is another tremendous example of dramatic irony. Caiaphas meant that it was better that Jesus should die than that there should be trouble with the Romans, that Jesus must die to save the nation. That was true–but not in the way that Caiaphas meant. It was true in a far greater and more wonderful way. God can speak through the most unlikely people; sometimes he sends his message through a man without the man being aware; he can use even the words of bad men. Jesus was to die for the nation and also for all God’s people throughout the world.

–William Barclay

55Now the Passover of the Jews was near, and many went up from the country to Jerusalem before the Passover to purify themselves. 56They were looking for Jesus and were asking one another as they stood in the temple, “What do you think? Surely he will not come to the festival, will he?” 57Now the chief priests and the Pharisees had given orders that anyone who knew where Jesus was should let them know, so that they might arrest him.

Imagine putting picture of Jesus here.

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Reflections:

1)    Imagine you are an ancient newspaper or TV reporter and could interview Lazarus after he was raised from the dead! What questions would you ask him?

2)   After reading this story again, put in words what it means to your everyday life that Jesus is the resurrection and the life. What difference does it make to you, really?

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The New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Images courtesy of:
raising of Lazarus icon.  https://i.pinimg.com/736x/d8/1c/ee/d81cee9e9fab5bca2c3bd7fcd30c4f10–byzantine-icons-byzantine-art.jpg
coming attraction.   http://www.rfms.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/11/coming-attraction.png
One to die for the people.   https://www.heartlight.org/wjd/john/0815-wjd.html
Wanted poster.    http://clipartlook.com/img-223321.html

2774.) John 11:1-37

December 5, 2019

In the Catacombs of Rome, more than 40 images of this event, the raising of Lazarus, have been found.

John 11:1-37   (NRSV)

The Death of Lazarus

It is one of the most precious things in the world to have a house and a home into which one can go at any time and find rest and understanding and peace and love. That was doubly true for Jesus, for he had no home of his own (In Luke 9:58 Jesus says, “Foxes have dens and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head.”). In the home at Bethany he had just such a place. There were three people who loved him; and there he could find rest from the tension of life.

–William Barclay

I think of the homes I have lived in and the homes I have visited — how each situation has brought experiences and lessons that are preparing me for my heavenly home!

Now a certain man was ill, Lazarus of Bethany, the village of Mary and her sister Martha. 2Mary was the one who anointed the Lord with perfume and wiped his feet with her hair; her brother Lazarus was ill. 3So the sisters sent a message to Jesus, “Lord, he whom you love is ill.”

4But when Jesus heard it, he said, “This illness does not lead to death; rather it is for God’s glory, so that the Son of God may be glorified through it.”

Which is to say — Jesus knows that to go to Bethany and to cure Lazarus would be a step that would lead inexorably to the cross.

5Accordingly, though Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus, 6after having heard that Lazarus was ill, he stayed two days longer in the place where he was. 7Then after this he said to the disciples, “Let us go to Judea again.”

8The disciples said to him, “Rabbi, the Jews were just now trying to stone you, and are you going there again?”

9Jesus answered, “Are there not twelve hours of daylight? Those who walk during the day do not stumble, because they see the light of this world. 10But those who walk at night stumble, because the light is not in them.”

This passage was meaningful to my mother. She took it to mean that while there are twelve hours of daylight, and plenty of time to get work done, there are only twelve hours, so time is not to be wasted, or the work may remain woefully undone. Mother wanted to hear her Master say, “Well done, good and faithful servant,” and so she was diligent in her duties. I have no doubt that she is now enjoying her eternal rest in heaven while at the same time joyfully serving her Savior there.

  1. Work, for the night is coming,
    Work through the morning hours;
    Work while the dew is sparkling,
    Work ’mid springing flow’rs.
    Work when the day grows brighter,
    Work in the glowing sun;
    Work, for the night is coming,
    When man’s work is done.

  2. Work, for the night is coming,
    Work through the sunny noon;
    Fill brightest hours with labor,
    Rest comes sure and soon.
    Give every flying minute
    Something to keep in store;
    Work, for the night is coming,
    When man works no more.

  3. Work, for the night is coming,
    Under the sunset skies;
    While their bright tints are glowing,
    Work, for daylight flies.
    Work till the last beam fadeth,
    Fadeth to shine no more;
    Work, while the night is dark’ning,
    When man’s work is o’er.

11After saying this, he told them, “Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep, but I am going there to awaken him.”

12The disciples said to him, “Lord, if he has fallen asleep, he will be all right.”

To be, or not to be–that is the question:
Whether ’tis nobler in the mind to suffer
The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune
Or to take arms against a sea of troubles
And by opposing end them. To die, to sleep–
No more–and by a sleep to say we end
The heartache, and the thousand natural shocks
That flesh is heir to. ‘Tis a consummation
Devoutly to be wished. To die, to sleep–
To sleep–perchance to dream: ay, there’s the rub,
For in that sleep of death what dreams may come
When we have shuffled off this mortal coil,
Must give us pause. 

–William Shakespeare, Hamlet, Act Three, scene 1

13Jesus, however, had been speaking about his death, but they thought that he was referring merely to sleep. 14Then Jesus told them plainly, “Lazarus is dead. 15For your sake I am glad I was not there, so that you may believe. But let us go to him.”

I remember years ago reading a sermon by Peter Marshall, when he was Chaplain to the United States Senate. He told of a boy of 12 who knew he was dying. The boy asked his father, “What is it like to die?” His father said to him, “Son, do you remember when you were little how you used to come and sit on my lap in the big chair in the living room? I would tell you a story, read you a book or sing you a song and you would go to sleep in my arms, and when you woke up you were in your own bed. That is the way death is.” When you wake you are not where you were. You are in a place of security and safety and beauty and rest. That, Jesus declares, is what death is. All through the account of the gospels we get this, so that even the apostles pick it up later and say, “Them that sleep in Jesus will Christ bring with him when he comes” (1 Thessalonians 4:14).

–Ray Stedman

16Thomas, who was called the Twin, said to his fellow disciples, “Let us also go, that we may die with him.”

“This was not expectant faith, but loyal despair.”

–R. H. Strachan

Jesus the Resurrection and the Life

17When Jesus arrived, he found that Lazarus had already been in the tomb four days. 18Now Bethany was near Jerusalem, some two miles away, 19and many of the Jews had come to Martha and Mary to console them about their brother. 20When Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went and met him, while Mary stayed at home. 21Martha said to Jesus, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died. 22But even now I know that God will give you whatever you ask of him.”

23Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise again.”

24Martha said to him, “I know that he will rise again in the resurrection on the last day.”

25Jesus said to her, “I AM THE RESURRECTION AND THE LIFE. Those who believe in me, even though they die, will live, 26and everyone who lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?”

27She said to him, “Yes, Lord, I believe that you are the Messiah, the Son of God, the one coming into the world.”

Jesus Weeps

28When she had said this, she went back and called her sister Mary, and told her privately, “The Teacher is here and is calling for you.” 29And when she heard it, she got up quickly and went to him. 30Now Jesus had not yet come to the village, but was still at the place where Martha had met him. 31The Jews who were with her in the house, consoling her, saw Mary get up quickly and go out. They followed her because they thought that she was going to the tomb to weep there. 32When Mary came where Jesus was and saw him, she knelt at his feet and said to him, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.”

Look at the icon above, and see Mary and Martha kneeling at Jesus’ feet.  Despite their profound sorrow at their brother’s death, they are worshiping the Lord.

33When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who came with her also weeping, he was greatly disturbed in spirit and deeply moved. 34He said, “Where have you laid him?”

They said to him, “Lord, come and see.”

35Jesus began to weep.

Jesus showed us a God whose heart is wrung with anguish for the anguish of his people. The greatest thing Jesus did was to bring us the news of a God who cares.

–William Barclay

Hebrews 4:15   (NLT)

This High Priest of ours understands our weaknesses, for he faced all of the same testings we do, yet he did not sin.

36So the Jews said, “See how he loved him!” 37But some of them said, “Could not he who opened the eyes of the blind man have kept this man from dying?”

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Music:

HERE  is Esther Mui and “I Am the Resurrection and the Life.” What a wonderful promise Jesus gives us!

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Reflections:

1)   Read John 11:1-16 again.  What clues foreshadowing Jesus’ own death do you see?

2)   How hard it is for us when God does not do what we want him to do, or what we think he should do!  What can Mary and Martha teach you about faith in Jesus through this story?

3)  How do the stories of death and life in the Gospels shape your own attitude towards your own death?

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The New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Images courtesy of:
raising of Lazarus icon.  https://i.pinimg.com/736x/d8/1c/ee/d81cee9e9fab5bca2c3bd7fcd30c4f10–byzantine-icons-byzantine-art.jpg
Hamlet.   https://smarkrick.files.wordpress.com/2014/03/soliq2.jpg
day and night.   https://www.englishclub.com/images/vocabulary/day-night.gif
son in his father’s lap.    https://dwellingintheword.files.wordpress.com/2012/03/son_on_his_fathers_lap.jpg
Jesus weeping.  https://dwellingintheword.files.wordpress.com/2012/03/jesuswept1.jpg