Nevertheless even of the rulers many believed in him, but because of the Pharisees they didn’t confess it, so that they wouldn’t be put out of the synagogue,  for they loved men’s praise more than God’s praise.
Self-protection. We often care more about people’s opinions than we care for God’s opinion. It’s a matter of self-protection. It’s easy to tell if we care more about men’s opinions than God’s. We know it because we do not open our mouths when we should be telling others about Jesus. When people at church have a group opinion, we say nothing if we see a problem with the opinion. We are more concerned with being liked and included so we say nothing.
Those who do open their mouths are subject to derision and rejection. It is not easy to open our mouths for Jesus. But it is important. It is with our mouths that we confess Jesus (Rom 10:9), it is with our mouths that we rebuke sin in other believers, and it is with our mouths that we give God praise. We should also open our mouths to testify of God’s goodness to unbelievers. However, we often keep our mouths closed because we are protecting ourselves.
We can trust God to protect us. In Psalms, there are many verses that talk about the justice of God. The Lord justifies his children. When we trust the Lord fully, we can be assured that his justice for us will prevail. If we open our mouths in love to confront sin in the church, we must be bold. If we open our mouths to witness to the lost, we must be bold. We can’t be like the religious leaders of Jesus’ time on earth. They quietly followed leaders full of sin and disbelief for the sake of inclusion and destroyed the faith of many.
Lord, please help me speak up when I have opportunities to share your love with the lost. Teach me to lovingly rebuke sin in other believers. I pray I will not be ashamed to open my mouth for you. I trust you to keep me safe and justify me when I speak for you. In Jesus’ name, amen.
The multitude therefore that was with him when he called Lazarus out of the tomb, and raised him from the dead, was testifying about it.  For this cause also the multitude went and met him, because they heard that he had done this sign.  The Pharisees therefore said among themselves, “See how you accomplish nothing. Behold, the world has gone after him.”
Jesus did a wonderful miracle, he raised Lazarus from the dead. Not only did he raise him, but Jesus did it after Lazarus was buried and dead for four days. The people that were there to grieve for Lazarus saw what Jesus did. And now, they were repeating the story and causing many to look for Jesus. The Lord, through his ministry commonly told people to keep their miracles a secret (Mat 9:29-30). But this sign was too big to keep silent. So, they testified, and many came to Christ.
How do we know when we are testifying and when we are bragging? That is a huge issue in modern society. We live in a time when self-promotion is rampant and often leads to success. Yet the word teaches us not to boast about our accomplishments (1 Sam 2:3). It can even be a boast to tell what God is doing in our lives. When we are right with God, we do not have to prove we are right with God. That comes from ego and self-promotion. We do not have to brag about our blessings. We should brag on God alone. He is our boast.
We can often tell when God has intervened in someone’s life. God will begin to fix what is broken and line up a believer with their destiny. But having healing or destiny is not something to brag about. Having a destiny in Christ should lead to our silence. We may at appropriate times share our calling with others. After all, we still need people even when we are solidly in Christ. But in general, it is not something we should be bragging about. Rather, we should treasure the miracles and share them when led by the Holy Spirit, so they lead others to Christ.
Lord, give me the wisdom to see when I am testifying and leading others to you, and when I am bragging and harming others. Take pride and ego away, Lord, and leave a tender heart prepared to receive from you. Help me receive the wisdom to keep silent. Lead me by your Holy Spirit and let my only boast be you, Lord. In Jesus’ name, amen.
A large crowd therefore of the Jews learned that he was there, and they came, not for Jesus’ sake only, but that they might see Lazarus also, whom he had raised from the dead.  But the chief priests conspired to put Lazarus to death also,  because on account of him many of the Jews went away and believed in Jesus.
People love a spectacle. When Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead, he created a spectacle. People were astonished. In modern language, we would say Jesus “blew their minds.” And once Jesus astonished people with the wonder of the miracles he performed, people started following to watch the spectacle. Many did not want to become more intimately acquainted with God. They wanted to be entertained.
Of course, not all people were there for entertainment. Lazarus being raised from the dead excited many of the followers. A large number began to believe Jesus was the Messiah. Because of this, the chief priests plotted to kill Lazarus. They were jealous of the attention Jesus and Lazarus were getting. It was a threat to their positions (John 11:48). Therefore, out of jealousy, they wanted to kill both Jesus and Lazarus.
For Jesus and Lazarus, being anointed carried a heavy price. Not everyone was there to serve the Lord. Some were there to see what Jesus would do next. They loved what Jesus could do for them, but they did not love Jesus. We know when Jesus died, he died alone. Only a few apostles came to the crucifixion. The crowd that loved the miracles was nowhere to be found when Jesus needed them the most. Jesus understood these things. The Word says that Jesus trusted no one (John 2:23-24). So, for the many who would believe, Jesus endured the many that wanted to be entertained.
Lord, please prepare my heart to be faithful to you. I don’t want to be a person who is in Christ for entertainment. Please give me the grace to do what you ask me to do in a godly manner. Help me love you and love the people you died to save. Help me recognize the self-seekers so I can focus on those who may be saved. In Jesus’ name, amen.
Then six days before the Passover, Jesus came to Bethany, where Lazarus was, who had been dead, whom he raised from the dead.  So they made him a supper there. Martha served, but Lazarus was one of those who sat at the table with him.
Six days before the Passover Jesus came out of hiding (John 11:54). He went to Bethany, to the household of Mary, Martha, and Lazarus. They were practically family and Jesus trusted them enough to stay with them. Jesus was not hiding anymore. He had a following of disciples and apostles that would have been in Bethany with him. So, it was only a matter of time before the religious leaders found out Jesus was back in Judea.
The Pharisees were plotting to kill Jesus (John 11:53). For this reason, he stayed in Ephraim on the edge of the wilderness. However, the Passover was just six days away and so Jesus went back to Bethany. He would not have gone at all except if the Father revealed it to him (John 5:19). So, in faith, Jesus goes. He goes to his favorite family, putting them in danger as well.
But it was good that Jesus had Mary, Martha, and Lazarus to stay with. Martha is serving, her normal behavior. Lazarus is relaxed at the table with Jesus. This family is not afraid of danger. Lazarus was raised from the dead and the man who raised him was sitting at the table. Jesus chose well in trusting this family. He had done great things for them and had inspired great faith in them.
Lord, help me stand steady in my walk with you. Give me the courage to serve you. I want to be a daughter you can trust. I want to be close to you. In Jesus’ name, amen.
The chief priests therefore and the Pharisees gathered a council, and said, “What are we doing? For this man does many signs.  If we leave him alone like this, everyone will believe in him, and the Romans will come and take away both our place and our nation.”  So from that day forward they took counsel that they might put him to death.  Jesus therefore walked no more openly among the Jews, but departed from there into the country near the wilderness, to a city called Ephraim. He stayed there with his disciples.
It is startling to think that Jesus had to hide from the authorities. Can you see Jesus and the disciples looking around corners, being careful of where they walked? It has a dramatic flair. But it also shines the light on Jesus’ humanity. Though he was God, he functioned entirely in his humanity and made himself subject to human authority.
Jesus was humble. He took his disciples and quickly departed to the edge of the wilderness to a city called Ephraim. He could have called angels to save him from the death plot (Mat 26:53). Instead, he removes himself and his followers from the danger. Jesus does not tempt God but rather takes a more difficult path (Mat 4:7). He is obedient to the Word even though he is fleeing.
Jesus was obedient to the Word and the Spirit. This caused him to receive condemnation from those in Judea. We also receive condemnation when we obey the Word of God or walk in the Spirit. For example, the Word says not to gossip. However, gossip is a very prominent sin. To refuse to engage in gossip is to put yourself at odds with people both in and out of the church. Likewise, Jesus ran the risk of heaping more reproach upon himself with every miracle he performed and every sermon he preached.
Lord, I thank you for humbling yourself to human authority on your journey to the cross. Thank you for receiving reproach just as we receive reproach today. You are honorable in all you do Jesus. Help me be more like you, Lord. In Jesus’ name, amen.
When he had said this, he cried with a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out!”  He who was dead came out, bound hand and foot with wrappings, and his face was wrapped around with a cloth. Jesus said to them, “Free him, and let him go.”  Therefore many of the Jews, who came to Mary and saw what Jesus did, believed in him.  But some of them went away to the Pharisees, and told them the things which Jesus had done.
Even after bringing the dead to life some of the Jews were offended. Thus, they went to the Pharisees to report on Jesus’ activities. It appears that all the Jews present were interested in the things of God. Some received Jesus as a savior while others reported him as an agent of evil to the religious leaders. It reminds me of the modern-day trouble we have between Conservative and Liberal Christians. Both parties have strengths and weaknesses. However, instead of loving one another, they appear to be at war.
From Conservatism, we get the Holy Spirit working actively. This is also where the miracles happen. Conservative missionaries seem prone to miracles. Conservatives also have a focus on saving the lost and getting the gospel to every people group. They have done a great deal to build the Church. However, there are some issues as well. First off is a deep suspicion of anyone who thinks differently or has different kingdom goals. The focus on God is great, but the narrowmindedness to all other groups is not great. Much love is abandoned in the demand for total agreement.
On the other hand, Liberal Christians focus on history and look for answers to today’s issues in ancient texts. They are more concerned with the knowledge of the Lord. Frequently liberals study the text to compare word usage and other markers which reveal much about the Bible. They are also focused on relieving poverty and meeting the needs of the poor. However, Liberals do not have as a primary concern the salvation of the Lost or the active building of the Church.
Lord, please help me discern what is good from what is evil. Fill me with love for all Christians. Inspire me to share the gospel and fill me with compassion for the poor. In Jesus’ name, amen.
do you say of him whom the Father sanctified and sent into the world, ‘You blaspheme,’ because I said, ‘I am the Son of God?’  If I don’t do the works of my Father, don’t believe me.  But if I do them, though you don’t believe me, believe the works; that you may know and believe that the Father is in me, and I in the Father.”
The fruit doesn’t fall far from the tree. Jesus told the Pharisees he and the Father were one, but the Pharisees did not believe him. So, he offered the miracles for proof. God validated Jesus through the works he did. Jesus opened blind eyes, healed leapers (Mat 8:3), and healed the sick. He miraculously increased food and fed multitudes (Mark 6:44). He offered these works up as proof of what he was saying about himself. He offered up scripture as proof (John 10:34-35). But no matter how much evidence he produced, the Pharisees could not get past him being a Nazarene from Galilee. They were looking for a Judite from Bethlehem (John 7:42).
Why didn’t Jesus just explain his situation to the leaders? He could have told them his mother and father were both from the tribe of Judah and due to the census, he was born in Bethlehem. So why didn’t he do that? Since Jesus only said what he saw and heard from the father (John 8:38), it must be the Father did not want Jesus to explain himself. The Father was not taking Jesus to the palace. His goal was not for the Pharisees to understand. The Pharisees claimed to understand and the Father held them accountable for that.
But he also held Jesus accountable for his destiny. If Jesus had disobeyed the Father by justifying himself to the Jews, he would have missed the cross. He would have missed the true victory. Jesus’ cross led to the greatest victory of all time, victory over death. We also have a cross we are called to. If the Father leads either to the left or the right, at junctures we are going to have to lay our will down for the Father’s will. Those small deaths of the self, lead to true victories in our everyday lives.
Lord Jesus, please give me the grace to lay my life down when you ask me to. Help me not engage in dead works but save me with your grace. Increase my spiritual hearing so I do not miss instruction from you. In Jesus’ name, amen.
Jesus answered them, “Isn’t it written in your law, ‘I said, you are gods?’  If he called them gods, to whom the word of God came (and the Scripture can’t be broken),  do you say of him whom the Father sanctified and sent into the world, ‘You blaspheme,’ because I said, ‘I am the Son of God?’
That phrase, “and scripture can’t be broken,” is intriguing. Why did Jesus include this? He is talking to Pharisees, men who are experts in Scripture. But Pharisees were also experts in the Talmud. The Talmud was a book of approximately 400 rules which, at times, contradicted the Scripture. This is the error Jesus is addressing in these verses.
Including “and scripture can’t be broken” Is also interesting because Jesus does not appear concerned about modernizing the Scripture. He is Conservative. He takes the Scripture as fully divine and to be obeyed in heart first. This was a radical idea but with a very conservative approach on Jesus’ part. Jesus is speaking to the conservatives of the times, and yet, he had many rebukes for their wrong heart issues.
And there is a heart issue here. The Pharisees have grown cold towards God. They have become orthodox instead of conservative. They have come up with a book to explain the scripture. That book, the Talmud, was given greater authority by the Pharisees than they gave the Scripture. The Talmud was a cruel taskmaster. Worse, any Jewish person caught breaking the Talmud would be kicked out of the sanctuary. So, a scripture obeying Jew could be barred from the temple because of a contradiction in the Talmud.
Lord, help me discern false teachings. Help me always place the authority of the Bible above and help me live its message of love and obedience. In Jesus’ name, amen.
Jesus said, “I came into this world for judgment, that those who don’t see may see; and that those who see may become blind.”  Those of the Pharisees who were with him heard these things, and said to him, “Are we also blind?”  Jesus said to them, “If you were blind, you would have no sin; but now you say, ‘We see.’ Therefore your sin remains.
The Pharisees were a religious group intent on obedience to God. In their intense desire to obey God, they wrote approximately 400 rules every Jewish person was meant to obey. The book of rules was called the Talmud. During Jesus’ day, the Talmud was the authoritative text of the Jewish religion, Judaism. Unfortunately, the Pharisees were about the only people that could properly obey the Talmud. This was because they studied the Scripture and Talmud daily. They did not have other employment. Instead, they spent all their time focused on obedience to God.
Because they knew the scriptures Jesus said their eyes were open. That meant they understood the scripture had authority over the Talmud. The Pharisees considered anyone a lawbreaker if they disobeyed the Talmud to obey scripture. In fact, the Pharisees were professionals at policing and enforcing the Talmud. Anyone caught breaking the rules of the Talmud were put out of the synagogue, an extremely traumatic life outcome.
The Pharisees had just thrown the man who had once been blind out of the synagogue. He went to them to have his healing confirmed. However, instead of rejoicing that the Father had healed him, they were more concerned that the healing was done on the Sabbath. Doing anything on the Sabbath, even healing someone, was outlawed in the Talmud. This upset Jesus. The scriptures testified of the Father’s kindness and goodness. Therefore, to outlaw kindness and love on the Sabbath was disobedient. Because they knew this Jesus hurls the truth at them and declares them fit to be judged.
Father, forgive me for caring more about rules than about people. I long to be righteous in my obedience to the Bible and I long to be holy in my love towards others. Help me repent, Lord. This is inner work and I need you to come and show me the best way. In Jesus’ name, amen.
Therefore they asked the blind man again, “What do you say about him, because he opened your eyes?” He said, “He is a prophet.”  The Jews therefore did not believe concerning him, that he had been blind, and had received his sight, until they called the parents of him who had received his sight,  and asked them, “Is this your son, whom you say was born blind? How then does he now see?”  His parents answered them, “We know that this is our son, and that he was born blind;  but how he now sees, we don’t know; or who opened his eyes, we don’t know. He is of age. Ask him. He will speak for himself.”  His parents said these things because they feared the Jews; for the Jews had already agreed that if any man would confess him as Christ, he would be put out of the synagogue.
Do you know what “being churched” means? It is modern-day teaching that if someone is stuck in sin they cannot overcome, they must be excommunicated from the body of Christ (I Cor 5:5). This is meant to lead people to repentance and it does, often. God knows how to save a sinner. The blind man was considered a sinner and he was afraid. He feared the repercussions from religious leaders if he said Jesus was God.
His parents were also afraid of the Pharisees. In Jesus’ day, the lives of Jewish people revolved around the synagogue. It would be traumatic for someone to be put out of the synagogue. To be put out of the synagogue was a tragedy. Of course, it was not really a tragedy. The Pharisees did it on purpose and with intent. The blind beggar and his parents were acutely aware their lives were going to be destroyed if they confessed Christ.
Did Jesus know the blind beggar was going to betray him soon? The Father certainly did. That is significant because Jesus was doing what he saw the Father doing. In other words, the Father knew the blind beggar was going to betray Jesus. And still, he healed him. Jesus did not push him away for his blindness. The Father did not push them away for their disbelief. The blind man and his parents were about to make a huge mistake and the Father knew how much they were going to need him.
Thank you, Father, for not rejecting me when I make mistakes. Thank you for accepting me and saving me. I trust you to keep me safe in your love. In Jesus’ name, amen.