Monday, July 14, 2014

John 11:45-57 Learning from the Pharisees

Are you wondering about that title? The Pharisees are not usually the good guys, ay? What should we learn from them? Let's dive in!
The glory of God is seen most clearly in the gospels, and especially in the gospel that John wrote for us. He has noted that the reason he wrote was so that we would see that glory, and understand more fully why Jesus came.

In the remainder of the eleventh chapter of John, we will see the response of certain people when His glory is clearly revealed. We'll see what the everyday folks thought. And we'll see what the religious leaders thought. For the most part, these will be negative responses. We may be surprised to find that the clearest demonstration of Jesus' glory thus far in John's gospel will result in the most intense (and the most organized) opposition to Him that we've yet seen.
Keep in mind, though, that even when we see the sinfulness of men in the Bible, it is still useful and instructive to us!
So far in John's gospel, we have seen approximately three years of Jesus revealing facets of His glory (it's amazing, but the whole rest of the book covers about one week more!):  His first "sign" was the turning of water into wine. Next, He cleansed the temple. After that, He healed a child with His words -- long distance, we would say. Then He amazed the people by healing the man who'd been lame for thirty-eight years.
You might say, "Wow, who needs more proof?"
But He blessed the world with a fifth sign -- feeding the multitudes with five loaves and two fishes. And after that, He healed a man who was born blind.
His seventh sign was His raising Lazarus from the dead, after four days, revealing that He is truly the Resurrection and the Life.
John prepared us for this when he wrote in his first chapter:
               "And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen
                His glory, glory as of the only begotten Son from the Father, full
                of grace and truth." (John 1:14)

John also prepared us for the fierce opposition and unbelief that Jesus would face, also in John 1:
              "The true light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world. 
               He was in the world, and the world was made through him, yet the world
               did not know him. He came to his own, and his own people did not receive
               him. But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the
               right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood nor of the will
               of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God." (John 1:9-13)

We know now that as Jesus shines His glory into the world that He created, the world will not know Him. And as He continues to reveal His glory to His own people, the Jews, they will push back, and not receive Him. But (and we can rejoice in this) those who do receive Him, will be born of God and become the children of God!
After the resurrection of Lazarus from the dead, we read this: “Many of the Jews therefore, who had come with Mary and had see what he did, believed in him.”
Hmmmm. Here is some success.
But we've seen some sort of faith in other people before, right?
Through these past 11 chapters, we have seen some (but very little) genuine belief in Jesus. His disciples believed in him after he turned water into wine. After he cleansed the temple, many believed in his name, but with a false belief so that Jesus "would not entrust himself to them." A Samaritan woman and her entire village believe that he is the Savior of the world. The man born blind whom Jesus heals believes in him. Mary and Martha believe in him. Now, witnesses to Lazarus’ resurrection believe in him.

But the very next thing that John says is that "some of them went to the Pharisees and told them what Jesus had done."  You can bet your boots that this was not the witnesses to the miracle trying to evangelize the Pharisees!  The witnesses knew that it would agitate the religious leaders. They simply wanted to give the Pharisees more "ammunition" in their opposition to Jesus. This is, pure and simple, acting on their unbelief.

We shouldn't be surprised -- in the chapters preceding this one, the Jews have "sought to kill Him," tried to arrest Him, and even attempted to stone Him. Now these folks are scampering off to tell the authorities, who immediately call a special meeting to plot His death.  The biggest revelation of His glory is bringing out the largest effort to snuff out the light of that glory.

I think this best application of today's study is to be determined, to be consistent, but to be humble in our evangelism. What do I mean?
Well, with all of these signs that Jesus provided, the response of some of the witnesses was this: "Jesus has to go. He must die."
As Christians, and as churches, we can have hugely impressive buildings; we can throw parties and coordinate concerts; we can sing in awesome choirs, play in accomplished instrumental groups, and prepare stirring lessons.
There is an excellent chance that we can do this and more, and only see results of increased opposition to the Word and the Gospel.
Even though Jesus' signs were clear (and very impressive, right?) He said Himself that "unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God."
Impressive events and wonderful words cannot convince the person whose mind is made up, and whose heart is hardened.

Salvation requires the working of the Holy Spirit. So we should labor to do what Christ has commanded us -- to tell others of His glory and His mercy. But we need to make certain that we do it with humility, and depend of God to work in the hearts of those who hear.


Belinda said...

I've also learned that even personal testimony, or Christian behavior and reaching out sometimes hits a brick wall. There are those who are just convinced they know the truth, but they are blinded by the devil. Does that mean we give up? NO!

We must continue to pray for the Holy Spirit to convict. Sometimes it seems hopeless, but it's never really hopeless until the very end.

Katie Isabella said...

Yes, Belinda. That is right.