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Posted By Nan

Genesis 12:1-3
In my early theology studies, this verse was one of the most important verses I learned. This is the point where God told Abram to leave everything. To leave his country, his people, his family and go to some far off land. God promised Abram He would make him into a great nation and would bless him. God promised He would make his name great and he would be a blessing. God promised He would bless those who blessed Abram and curse those who cursed Him. Wow having God on your team is great! Then God promised that all people on earth would be blessed through Abram.
This is the foundational promise on which we pin our belief. It is the first time since Genesis 3:15 that we get a glimpse of how God is going to fulfil His promise for Eve’s offspring to “crush the serpents head”. This is God’s great plan for the salvation of all mankind.
I have not been asked to break from my Gospel of John series for some time, but today, as I prepared to write the next blog entry, I was prompted by God to talk about these verses. Actually, I was directed to talk mainly about verse 1.
In Verse 1 Abram is told to leave everything comfortable and familiar. A few thousand years ago that would have been more daunting than it would be today, and it is certainly very daunting today. The obvious interpretation of this verse is to think of God asking you to move to another city or country, or to enter the mission field. However for most of us this will not happen, yet God can still ask us to leave our comfort zones.
If this verse was to be applied to us in our lives it might involve God asking us to talk to someone with whom we have an unresolved conflict. It may involve God asking a church attending Christian to talk to a newcomer and befriend them when all they want to do is enjoy their little social club. It may involve God directing a church attending Christian to leave the church they have worshipped in for years, maybe even all their life, and move to another church or step out into the community and not attend a church at all. There are a myriad of ways that God applies this verse to our lives.
I am sure you have heard the oft repeated joke about the man who falls off a cliff and manages to find a small branch to cling on to. As he dangles precariously he calls for help. Suddenly he hears a voice from heaven saying “I will help you. Will you trust me?” The man promises that of course he trusts God. So God directs him to let go off the branch. The man is silent for a moment then calls out “Is there anyone else up there?”
Of course we all laugh at that but it is chillingly accurate of how most of us live our lives. Trusting God is extremely difficult and there are times when we do not want to do that. If Abram had taken that stance when God directed him to leave everything safe and familiar, everything that supported him to survive in a harsh world, then we would not be saved today. None of the events that led to Jesus dying on the cross for our sins and rising again would have happened. When God asks you to do something that requires letting go of that branch you don’t know what that will lead to, just as Abram did not understand what would happen because of his obedience. You also do not know what will happen if you fail to let go of that branch.
So when God calls today, will you trust Him and let go of the branch?

 

 
Posted By Nan

John 12:20-36
There is a lot in these verses but they need to be looked at in context as well as individual parts, so I will look at it today as a whole then discuss individual parts.
In verse 20-22 it is recorded that some Greeks, in other words gentiles, came to Philip to ask if they could see Jesus. Philip told Andrew and together they told Jesus. Jesus reply seemed a little strange. He replied that the hour had come for the Son of Man to be glorified. Jesus then spoke of a kernel of what needing to fall to the ground and die so that it may produce many seeds. He then said that if a man loves his life, he will lose it, whereas the man who hates his life in the world will keep it for eternal life. He did not stop there. He continued that whoever serves Him must follow Him, that where He is there His servant will also be and His Father will honour that person. Jesus then confessed that His heart was troubled but what should he say. Should he say “save me from this hour”. No. He said it was for this reason He was here. Instead he said “Father glorify your name” (v28). In response a voice came from heaven saying “I have glorified it and will glorify it again. (v28). It is interesting that at this point that some of the people listening reported hearing an angel speaking to Jesus while others said they had heard thunder. This is an example of Jesus’ words that we hear Jesus and acknowledge Him because God has enabled us. There are those in this world who are given so much evidence of Jesus’ existence yet still refuse to see, whereas others will hear and respond.
Jesus then told the crowd that the voice was for their benefit. It was now time for judgement on the world, when the prince of the world (referring to satan) would be driven out. Of course for those watching Jesus die on the cross it would seem like a victory for satan. But Jesus would be lifted up on the cross and draw all men to Himself. At the time that would have seemed weird to the listeners, but many would have remembered His words when he was lifted on the cross a few days later.
People in the crowd responded to Jesus’ words. Many believed or hoped that He was the Christ.  But what he said suggested that He was going to do something they did not believe the Christ would do. They believed the Christ would remain forever yet Jesus was suggesting the “Son of Man” would not remain. So they wanted to know who the “Son of Man” was.
Jesus did not directly answer them. He had used this term often enough and made it clear that He was the Son of Man. So He responded by challenging them. He told them they would have the light for just a short while and challenged them to walk while the light was still there because darkness would overtake them. The person walking in the dark does not know where they are going so they needed to put their trust in the light so that they could become children of that light. Having said that Jesus left them and hid Himself. It is not clear exactly what this meant but the same phrase is used in John 8:59 when the people tried to stone him.
These verses are describing events that occurred at an important time in Jesus’ final week. Now His time is fast approaching and He is speaking more plainly about what is to come. Yet even this late there are still people who do not believe. That must have been disappointing, especially as Jesus was so close to giving His life for these people.
In the next blog I will look at verse 20-26. I will also be looking at verse 27-34 and verse 35-37 in subsequent blogs.

 
Posted By Nan

John 12:12-19
We now come to the glorious entry into Jerusalem of Jesus. The crowds of devout country believers were in Jerusalem for the Passover. It is probable these people had heard Jesus before speak and were keen to see Him. He entered Jerusalem this last time not on foot, as he usually did, but on a donkey. This is a fulfilment of the prophesy in Zechariah 9:9. People did not realise this at the time, although it is recorded in these verses that the disciples remembered later once they had received the full power of the Holy Spirit.
The people were excited to see Jesus. They took palm branches and waved them in joy. Some lay them on the ground as well. They loudly proclaimed Jesus as Lord and King of Israel. It is recorded in these verses that they believed because of the sign He had given in raising Lazarus from the dead. The palm branches they waved are the same ones used to signify victory. Whether the people were aware of this or not, they waved victory, and Jesus entry was a victory.
For the Pharisees this event was troubling. They felt everything they have done to discredit Jesus had come to nothing. It seemed to them that the whole world was chasing after Jesus and all their efforts had been futile. This would have strengthened their resolve to kill Jesus. The irony of this is that they were only able to harm Jesus because it was His time. Any attempt to stop Him at any other time was futile.
When we set out to do God’s will we often encounter difficulties. It is worth remembering that just as Jesus was able to achieve what God had set for Him and was only able to be arrested when it was His time, so we will be able to achieve what God has set for us because it is our time. If you are finding it hard to complete the tasks God has given you to do, don’t despair. For all Jesus’ ministry He was threatened and efforts were made to kill Him. Yet none of them succeeded until the time appointed by God. If it is God’s will for you to complete a task, He will enable you to complete it despite the opposition. Just remember that Jesus spent a lot of time in prayer and we should follow His example. Then we will be able to step out confidently in faith to serve God.

 
Posted By Nan

John 12:1-11

This blog is a day late, I was finishing off a case study yesterday so decided to wait until this morning to write the blog.
In my last blog I spoke about the events following the raising of Lazarus including Caiaphas’s prophecy and the plan by the Pharisees to kill Jesus. I also talked about the need to seek Jesus and that it is better to stop, listen to Jesus and wait before acting. There is a lot more I could say about those verses, in particular the prophesy, but I will leave those aspects to you to consider and will move on into chapter 12.
It is now six days before the Passover. By the time of the Passover Jesus will have surrendered His life for us. On the other side of the Passover He will have risen again. God has instructed Him to move from Ephraim and He has done so. It is late and He has arrived in Bethany at the home of Lazarus and his sisters. Not surprisingly, He is a welcome guest in their household and they hold a dinner in Jesus’ honour. Martha as always is serving. Mary, the one who loves to sit at Jesus’ feet appears with a pint of pure nard. Nard is an aromatic oil and extremely expensive, especially in its pure form. Frequently people would save up for nard to be used to anoint their bodies in preparation for burial. Due to its cost, it was a once in a lifetime purchase for most people. Mary, ever the spiritual one, is led by God to anoint Jesus’ feet liberally with this beautiful perfume. She then unbound her hair and wiped Jesus’ feet with her hair. Unbinding hair in public was something that was not done by respectable women. In doing this Mary humbled herself, making herself as a servant, as well as sacrificing the perfume purchased at great cost for her own funeral. This is a great parallel to Jesus’ actions in washing his disciples feet, to be discussed when I reach Chapter 13.
It is noted in verse 4 that one of Jesus’ disciples objected to Mary’s actions. It is noted here that he is the one who betrayed Jesus. This is the second hint of trouble. In 6:71 Judas is mentioned as the one who would later betray Jesus. We have not heard much about him except Jesus’ statement in 6:71 that he is a devil. Here we are told that he was the one who kept the money bag. This suggests he was trusted to keep the money safe and use it honestly. But now we are being told that Judas is a thief. He saw the perfume being poured out and objected. His excuse was that the perfume could have been sold and the proceeds go to the poor. In reality, Judas was only interested in getting the money for himself. Money was obviously Judas’s weakness and was no doubt the weakness exploited by the Pharisees when he finally betrayed Jesus.
Jesus would have been aware of all this. I wonder how he was able to relate to Judas, knowing that he was a thief and that he would betray Jesus? It is a good indication of Jesus’ divinity that He did not respond to Judas as we would have. Jesus is allowing events to unfold. He does not challenge Judas, recognising that his betrayal is essential and will happen when His time has come. What Jesus does in response is defend Mary by telling Judas to leave her alone. He acknowledges that the perfume Mary bought was intended for His burial. Mary has unwittingly prepared His body for burial. It may be that the purchase of the oil was as spirit led as her anointing of Jesus’ feet. She would not have been aware of why she did it, just that she needed to. This is another indication of why Jesus loved Lazarus, Mary and Martha so much. Here were three people with a deep faith in Him.
When the Jews found out that Jesus was there, they came to see Him and Lazarus who was raised from the dead. Having plotted Jesus’ death, the chief priests now plot to kill Lazarus as well because his resurrection has drawn people to faith in Jesus. Sin once unleashed is hard to restrain and soon a multitude of sins are required to cover the initial sin.

 
Posted By Nan

John 11:45-57
The story of Jesus is drawing to a close. Having brought Lazarus back from the dead, Jesus is now a marked man. Many of the Jews who had been with Mary and Martha when Jesus arrived and saw Lazarus walk out of the tomb, now believed in Jesus. Some however went and told the Pharisees. The Pharisees and chief priests called a meeting of the Sanhedrin to discuss the problem of Jesus. These men of little faith, instead of seeing the mighty work of God in what Jesus did, instead saw a threat to Israel. Such was their lack of faith, they did not trust God to protect Israel. Instead they feared that if too many people believed in Jesus the Romans would come and take away the temple and the nation. I will talk more about this later.
Then Caiaphas, the high priest that year, spoke out. He was concerned about political expediency. He didn’t care what Jesus was revealing, all that concerned him was that this man should die rather than put the nation in jeopardy. His concern was that one life, no matter how blameless that life was, was worth less than the safety of the nation. Of course he unwittingly prophesied about Jesus’ true calling that it was better for one man to die than all. If he had just realised that Jesus was coming to die for all of us, maybe his story would have been different. The irony in his words is that the Romans did eventually destroy Israel in AD70.
So Jesus remained in Ephraim until His time should come. As the Passover approached the pilgrims started arriving in Jerusalem. As the arrived they looked for Jesus. They did not know that the chief priests and Pharisees had issued orders for people to tell them where Jesus was so that they could arrest Him.
I used to think the Pharisees and Chief Priests were extraordinarily evil, plotting against Jesus. Life however has shown me that they behaved the way so many people behave. It is easy to get caught up in the running of an organisation and forget the original aims of that organisation. Just as the Jews had become caught up in the ways of the world and forgotten about God, so many in today’s churches do the same. Frequently the leaders of these churches are people very intent on what they are doing and sincere in what they believe. However, there is one thing missing in their world, Jesus. The world is a very seductive place, and we are taught to be people of action. So often it is easy to resolve a problem by action rather prayer and patience. We frequently tell ourselves that we know what God’s will is. But do we? Do we ever stop to listen?
Here is a challenge. Stop, listen to Jesus and do not act. In the days between the resurrection of Lazarus and the Passover, Jesus stayed in Ephraim and did nothing. By our modern definitions He should have been busying Himself with activities. But by His Godly wisdom, He was in exactly the right place, doing exactly what His Father wanted. The next time you feel the need for action, stop and ask Jesus first.

 


 
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Nan
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