Jesus says that if He had not come to earth to tell us His story then we might have a reason to continue in sin. But now we have no excuse to continue living a sinful lifestyle. If we hate our neighbors, we will also hate Jesus and our Father, God. Still, every day we hear about more violence and more persecution. Christians are being beaten, and they are being thrown out of their homes just because they won’t deny Jesus. In North Korea, when a person accepts Christ, the pastor always makes sure that the person accepting Christ understands that they are signing their own death warrant. Even though, Christians are bringing a message of life to a dying world, very few people want to hear about it. Why? Because satan roams the world looking for those he can destroy. Just as God is perfect, complete love, satan is total, complete hate. satan’s motivation and weapons are envy, deceit and hate. Why do others hate Christians? Jesus made it very simple, they do not need a reason, a hater is going to hate.
Sin always takes us further than we want to go. The leaders had planned to kill Jesus and now they would have to kill Lazarus as well. How many others would have to die before the movement was stopped? We don’t know because Christians are still being killed today for their faithfulness to Jesus. The persecuted church of today will tell you that it is much harder to live for Jesus than it is to die for Him. Would we suffer and die for Jesus? Jesus said that we must be willing to do that. 34 Then Jesus called the crowd to him, along with his followers. He said, “If people want to follow me, they must give up the things they want. They must be willing even to give up their lives to follow me. 35 Those who want to save their lives will give up true life. But those who give up their lives for me and for the Good News will have true life.–Mark 8:34-35 (NCV) Have we made that commitment? Can we say along with Paul: 10 I want to know Christ and the power that raised him from the dead. I want to share in his sufferings and become like him in his death.11 Then I have hope that I myself will be raised from the dead.–Philippians 3:10, 11 (NCV) The great thing is that for us, it is a win-win situation. Paul put it this way: 21 For to me, living means living for Christ, and dying is even better.–Philippians 1: 21 (NLT)
“The Gospel has come to you because it’s on its way to someone else.” -Anonymous
As Jesus traveled toward Bethany, He learned that Lazarus had been buried four days ago. Many had already come out to comfort Mary and Martha about the loss of their brother. Martha heard that Jesus was coming and ran out to meet Him, but Mary stayed home. Martha said to Jesus, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.” She had no idea that this death would be used for the glory of God. But Jesus assured her that Lazarus would live again. Martha, still not understanding, thought Jesus was referring to the final resurrection. But Jesus told her that those that believe in Him will never die. Jesus asked Martha if she believed this. She said, “Yes, Lord, I believe that You are the Christ…. “. But her answer did not acknowledge what Jesus had asked her. If she truly believed, would she have thought that Lazarus died just because Jesus wasn’t physically present?
The Holy Spirit had not yet been sent to remain on the earth and would not be here until Jesus ascended, so we can understand how Martha and the others might have thought that Jesus had to be physically present to heal Lazarus. But, thank God, we have His promise that Christ, in the form of the Holy Spirit, abides in us and that we are in Christ Jesus. We are never without Jesus. He will never leave us or forsake us. 20 And we know that the Son of God has come, and has given us understanding so that we may know Him who is true; and we are in Him who is true, in His Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God and eternal life.—1 John 5:20 (NASB) If we truly believe this, why do we worry and fret? Isn’t dying for and in Christ to be much more desired than living in this sinful world? As Paul said:
One day and possibly in the not too distant future, this earth will once again be destroyed. Only this time, it will be with fire, the heavens, the earth and everything in it will be burned with fire and melt away. There is only one Person to turn to, if we want to escape this terrible destruction. We must turn to Jesus. We should be practicing that every day of our lives. In the smallest of trials and frustrations, we should be turning to Jesus now. That is how we build our faith and know that we can trust Him to deliver us from the wrath to come. If we can’t trust Him with a hangnail, how do you suppose we can trust Him with the future of our souls? When the doctor says, “you only have a few days”, where do you turn? We should practice turning to the Great Physician in the small things. Regardless of who applies the bandage, He is the one who does the healing. He, and He alone, can direct the medical team if the end result is going to be healing. Above all, praise Him that the day is coming when we won’t need doctors of any kind. We will live an eternity where there is no sickness and no more dying.
19 Meanwhile, the high priest questioned Jesus about his disciples and his teaching. 20 “I have spoken openly to the world,” Jesus replied. “I always taught in synagogues or at the temple, where all the Jews come together. I said nothing in secret. 21 Why question me? Ask those who heard me. Surely they know what I said.” 22 When Jesus said this, one of the officials nearby slapped him in the face. “Is this the way you answer the high priest?” he demanded. 23 “If I said something wrong,” Jesus replied, “testify as to what is wrong. But if I spoke the truth, why did you strike me?” 24 Then Annas sent him bound to Caiaphas the high priest.–John 18:19-24 (NIV)
With His first answer to the high priest, Jesus receives a slap in the face from one of the temple officials. Thus begins the mockery that is called a trial. This type of questioning and cruel treatment would continue through the night. When the high priest Annas finished questioning Jesus, he bound Him and sent Him to Caiaphas the high priest.
(There were not really two high priests at this time. The Romans had removed Annas in AD 15, yet the Jews still respected him and considered him a high priest. Since his removal from office by the Romans, five of his sons had served as high priest and now, Caiaphas, his son-in-law was the actual high priest.)
Jesus never claimed to be anyone but who He was. He never wavered or changed His story. He understood and accepted the reason He was being mistreated. He is our example of how we should respond when we are mistreated for His name’s sake. No matter how we suffer, if we are called to suffer, Jesus has already been there and worse. He will be there to carry us through. We should remember what Paul wrote to Timothy: 11 And of this gospel I was appointed a herald and an apostle and a teacher.12 That is why I am suffering as I am. Yet this is no cause for shame, because I know whom I have believed, and am convinced that he is able to guard what I have entrusted to him until that day.–2 Timothy 1:11,12 (NIV)
We too are appointed as heralds and teachers of the gospel of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. 11 It is a faithful saying: For if we be dead with him, we shall also live with him:
12 If we suffer, we shall also reign with him: if we deny him, he also will deny us:
–2 Timothy 2:11,12 (NIV)
We must be ready to die for Him now, if we expect to reign with Him in heaven.
9 A large crowd of Jews heard that Jesus was in Bethany. So they went there to see not only Jesus but Lazarus, whom Jesus raised from the dead. 10 So the leading priests made plans to kill Lazarus, too. 11 Because of Lazarus many of the Jews were leaving them and believing in Jesus. —John 12:9-11 (NCV)
Sin always takes us further than we want to go. The leaders had planned to kill Jesus and now they would have to kill Lazarus as well. How many others would have to die before the movement was stopped? We don’t know because Christians are still being killed today for their faithfulness to Jesus. The persecuted church of today will tell you that it is much harder to live for Jesus than it is to die for Him. Would we suffer and die for Jesus? Jesus said that we must be willing to do that. 34 Then Jesus called the crowd to him, along with his followers. He said, “If people want to follow me, they must give up the things they want. They must be willing even to give up their lives to follow me. 35 Those who want to save their lives will give up true life. But those who give up their lives for me and for the Good News will have true life.–Mark 8:34-35 (NCV)
Have we made that commitment? Can we say along with Paul: 10 I want to know Christ and the power that raised him from the dead. I want to share in his sufferings and become like him in his death.11 Then I have hope that I myself will be raised from the dead.–Philippians 3:10, 11 (NCV)
The great thing is that for us, it is a win-win situation. Paul put it this way: 21 For to me, living means living for Christ, and dying is even better.–Philippians 1: 21 (NLT)
46 As he traveled through Galilee, he came to Cana, where he had turned the water into wine. There was a government official in nearby Capernaum whose son was very sick.47 When he heard that Jesus had come from Judea to Galilee, he went and begged Jesus to come to Capernaum to heal his son, who was about to die. 48 Jesus asked, “Will you never believe in me unless you see miraculous signs and wonders?” 49 The official pleaded, “Lord, please come now before my little boy dies.” 50 Then Jesus told him, “Go back home. Your son will live!” And the man believed what Jesus said and started home. 51 While the man was on his way, some of his servants met him with the news that his son was alive and well. 52 He asked them when the boy had begun to get better, and they replied, “Yesterday afternoon at one o’clock his fever suddenly disappeared!” 53 Then the father realized that that was the very time Jesus had told him, “Your son will live.” And he and his entire household believed in Jesus. 54 This was the second miraculous sign Jesus did in Galilee after coming from Judea.—John 4:46-54 (NLT)
Jesus went about doing good, healing all kinds of diseases and sickness and raising people from the dead. When the official heard that Jesus was in Galilee, he went to Him and begged Jesus to heal his dying son. Jesus said “Go back home, your son will live.” The man believed Jesus and started home. On the way home, he met some of his servants who confirmed that Jesus was indeed correct. When we hear the words of Jesus spoken to us either orally or by the Holy Spirit abiding in us, do we believe? If we can believe Jesus for our eternal salvation, why is it so hard for us to believe that He can and will heal us? Paul tells us there is no reason for us to ever doubt that God will give us everything we need. 31 What shall we say about such wonderful things as these? If God is for us, who can ever be against us? 32 Since he did not spare even his own Son but gave him up for us all, won’t he also give us everything else?—Romans 8:31, 32 (NLT)
14 Since all of these sons and daughters have flesh and blood, Jesus took on flesh and blood to be like them. He did this so that by dying he would destroy the one who had power over death (that is, the devil). 15 In this way he would free those who were slaves all their lives because they were afraid of dying. 16 So Jesus helps Abraham’s descendants rather than helping angels. 17 Therefore, he had to become like his brothers and sisters so that he could be merciful. He became like them so that he could serve as a faithful chief priest in God’s presence and make peace with God for their sins. 18 Because Jesus experienced temptation when he suffered, he is able to help others when they are tempted.–Hebrews 2:14-18 (GW)
Jesus took on flesh and blood and became human just as we are. He became like us so that He could experience the same things we experience. Because Jesus was willing to do that, He knows our feelings and our weaknesses. He understands the situations we go through and the temptations we face. The difference is that He went through these same things without sinning. Because He is perfect, He is more than qualified to serve as the sacrificial Lamb for our sins. His perfection also qualified Him to be our chief Priest. It also qualifies Him to judge us and correct us when we sin. God made Him a little lower than the angels and then restored Him to His glory in heaven, where He is, even now, interceding for us when we fall to temptations.
8 Remember Jesus Christ, who was raised from the dead, who is from the family of David. This is the Good News I preach, 9 and I am suffering because of it to the point of being bound with chains like a criminal. But God’s teaching is not in chains. 10 So I patiently accept all these troubles so that those whom God has chosen can have the salvation that is in Christ Jesus. With that salvation comes glory that never ends. 11 This teaching is true: If we died with him, we will also live with him. 12 If we accept suffering, we will also rule with him. If we say we don’t know him, he will say he doesn’t know us. 13 If we are not faithful, he will still be faithful, because he must be true to who he is.—2 Timothy 2:7-13 (NCV)
We are told in Isaiah 55:11 that God’s Word will not return to Him void but it will accomplish that which He has sent it out to do. Therefore, no matter in what situation we find ourselves, we should always be witnessing. If we listen to our Christian brothers and sisters in such places as Eritrea, China, Korea, and other countries where they are being persecuted, it seems that perhaps, the worse the situation, the more effective is God’s Word. These brothers and sisters consider it an honor to be chosen to bear the Cross of Jesus, even unto death. We need to reach that point in our spiritual walk that we would give our lives rather than deny Jesus. Paul said this: 21 To me the only important thing about living is Christ, and dying would be profit for me.–Philippians 1:21 (NCV)
We should understand that Jesus’s faithfulness brought Him to death on the cross. Should the created expected to be treated better than the Creator?