John 10:39 - 11:6

Sunday Morning Bible Study

March 17, 1996

 

Introduction

We have been looking at how clearly Jesus claimed to be God.

It's so very important that we get the facts straight about just who Jesus is.

Paul warns us that there are other "Jesuses" and other "gospels" out there, and make sure we are following the correct one.

I read this week just how important it is to have the correct teaching about Jesus

2John 1:9 Anyone who goes too far and does not abide in the teaching of Christ, does not have God; the one who abides in the teaching, he has both the Father and the Son.

:39-42 Jesus leaves, more believe

:39 they sought again to take him: but he escaped out of their hand

Jesus leaves all the commotion behind, and even more people believe.

It doesn't seem as if they're going to outright stone Him now, but they probably want to grab Him and take Him to the Sanhedrin, where the big guys can question Jesus.

Jesus escaped not because He was afraid, but because it wasn't yet time for Him to be captured.

We've seen this several places already

John 7:30 Then they sought to take him: but no man laid hands on him, because his hour was not yet come.

John 8:20 These words spake Jesus in the treasury, as he taught in the temple: and no man laid hands on him; for his hour was not yet come.

Just like us, there is a plan for Jesus' life, and the time is not yet right for Jesus to be arrested and crucified.

:40 beyond Jordan into the place where John at first baptized

John baptized in at least two places:

John 1:28 These things were done in Bethabara beyond Jordan, where John was baptizing.

John 3:23 And John also was baptizing in Aenon near to Salim, because there was much water there: and they came, and were baptized.

The first place then, was at at Bethabara.

Bethabara was about 60 miles to the north of Bethany, along the Jordan river.

This is the area known as "Perea", the land on the eastern side of the Jordan river.

Note: Some translations read "Bethany" in John 1:28 due to manuscript differences (ie - NIV). This would be the Bethany along the Jordan river, 6 miles north of the Dead Sea.

:41 many resorted

or, "many came to Him"

:42 many believed on him there

As a result of the things that John had spoken about Jesus, and then Jesus' own ministry of teaching and miracles.

:41 John did no miracle: but all things that John spake of this man were true.

Apparently these people were well acquainted with John the Baptist's ministry.

After all, we're in the area where he spent some time.

All John was, was a preacher.

He apparently did no miraculous things.

He simply told people to get ready for Jesus, and when Jesus came, John just pointed people at Jesus.

Lesson:

You may not be a miracle-worker, but you can still tell people about Jesus.

I like this!

Sometimes I feel woefully inadequate in my ability to minister to people.

On Wednesdays we have been looking at the great prophets like Elijah and Elisha.

And I'm not even close.

But even John the Baptist was not known as a miracle worker, only someone who spoke about Jesus.

God uses ordinary people

In 2Kings, there's a story about how God used a little servant girl (2Ki.5:3).

Her master, a very great man, had leprosy.

All she did was tell him about the prophet in Israel, and God did the rest.

Not only was a great man healed, but he also came to believe in the God of Israel.

Back in John 5, we saw how the multitudes had been with Jesus for awhile, and He felt that the ought to be fed.

But the disciples didn't know what to do to feed so many people.

But a little boy offered to give up his lunch of five little loaves, and two fish.

And after Jesus blessed it and broke it, He fed five thousand with what that little boy had to give Him.

God wants to use you.

You've got something to share with people.

They need to hear that God loves them, and wants them to know Him personally.

They need to hear that God offers complete forgiveness for their sins.

They need to know that all God wants is for the to turn to Him and ask Him to help.

John 11

:1-6 Jesus hears of Lazarus' illness

:1 Lazarus

This is not the same guy that's mentioned in Jesus' story in Luke 16, the story of the rich man and Lazarus, where both die, but one goes to paradise, and the other goes to hades.

At least, we don't think so.

Lazarus = "whom God helps" (a form of the Hebrew name Eleazar)

:1 of Bethany

Bethany is a small village about 1 3/4 miles southeast of Jerusalem.

It's located right there next to all the Jewish hubub going on in Jerusalem.

It's also about 17 miles from the Jordan river, way up in the hills above the Jordan valley. Jerusalem is 2500 feet above sea level, and the Jordan valley down by the Dead Sea is 1200 feet below sea level.

Even if Bethabara, the place where Jesus was, happened to be right on the Jordan, as close as possible, it's still a little bit of a walk to get from one to another.

Keep this in mind for next week!

:1 the town of Mary and her sister Martha

These three, Mary, Martha, and Lazarus, were very special people to Jesus.

Luke 10:38-42 Now it came to pass, as they went, that he entered into a certain village: and a certain woman named Martha received him into her house. 39 And she had a sister called Mary, which also sat at Jesus' feet, and heard his word. 40 But Martha was cumbered about much serving, and came to him, and said, Lord, dost thou not care that my sister hath left me to serve alone? bid her therefore that she help me. 41 And Jesus answered and said unto her, Martha, Martha, thou art careful and troubled about many things: 42 But one thing is needful: and Mary hath chosen that good part, which shall not be taken away from her.

Martha was doing a great, honorable thing, serving Jesus.

And she was bothered by the fact that Mary was just sitting there, listening to Jesus.

Yet Jesus said that Mary was doing the better thing.

Are you so busy serving and doing things for the Lord, that you have begun to neglect your time of just sitting and communing with Him?

Lesson:

Take time for what's needful.

It's all too often that the "good things" crowd out the necessary things.

It's a good thing to be doing things for the Lord.

It's a good thing to teach Sunday School.

It's a good thing to be witnessing to people.

It's a good thing to help the poor and needy.

But these good things can get in the way of the one things that's really important - nurturing your relationship with the Lord.

Illustration:

Relationships need time and togetherness.

Kids - If you give your kids lots of toys, all the latest video games, spend money to put them into fine soccer programs, pay to put them into good schools, that's great, but it's not enough.

The most important thing you can do for your kids is spend time with them.

Marriage - You can have a fine job, earning lots of money so you can afford a nice house and car for your wife, but if you're never home to spend time with her, your marriage is going to be worthless.

The same goes for our relationship with God.

We can spend time doing things for God, but if we never spend time with God, we're missing out on the most important part.

Spend time with Jesus.

What are you doing to get to know Jesus better and better?

Give Him some of your time each day to read and talk together.

Cultivate your relationship with Him.

:2 It was that Mary which anointed the Lord with ointment

John goes further to identify Mary specifically.

This is an event that hasn't yet happened, it will happen in chapter 12, but John, writing after all these things have happened, inserts this little note about Mary, apparently because it was the one thing she was most known for.

We'll look more in detail to this actual occurance when we get to chapter 12.

But it's interesting that Jesus said:

Matthew 26:13 Verily I say unto you, Wheresoever this gospel shall be preached in the whole world, there shall also this, that this woman hath done, be told for a memorial of her.

Mary's act of love would be what she was famous for, and here is John, writing His gospel, and identifying Mary for this very thing, her great act of love.

Lesson:

Only things done in love will last.

The only things that count are the ones done in love.

Of all the things that Mary could have been remembered for, of which we don't have a clue, it was this one great act of love that she was most famous for.

Paul wrote:

1Corinthians 13:1-3 If I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but do not have love, I have become a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. 2 And if I have the gift of prophecy, and know all mysteries and all knowledge; and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. 3 And if I give all my possessions to feed the poor, and if I deliver my body to be burned, but do not have love, it profits me nothing.

Why do you do the things for the Lord that you do?

Paul wrote:

2Corinthians 5:14 For the love of Christ controls us ...

What is your motivation?

Guilt? Fear? Obligation?

If you do things out of obligation, that's good, but it doesn't have the weight of those things done out of love.

:4 This sickness is not unto death, but for the glory of God

This kind of sounds familiar.

Remember when Jesus met the man who was born blind?

John 9:2-3 And his disciples asked him, saying, Master, who did sin, this man, or his parents, that he was born blind? 3 Jesus answered, Neither hath this man sinned, nor his parents: but that the works of God should be made manifest in him.

In that instance, just a few months back, Jesus went on to just outright heal the guy!

I imagine that Jesus' disciples are probably thinking, "Great! Jesus is going to heal our buddy Lazarus!"

Wrong!

Want to know a secret?

Lazarus is actually going to die.

Well, at least for a few days.

I kind of wonder what the disciples would be thinking when they hear that Lazarus actually died.

Do you think they would begin to wonder if Jesus was telling the truth?

Do you think they would wonder if Jesus could really be trusted?

After all, didn't Jesus say the sickness was "not unto death"?

Lesson:

Sometimes God isn't going to work the way you're expecting Him to.

I imagine that the last thing the disciples would be expecting is to hear that Lazarus has actually died.

And yet Jesus would allow that to happen to accomplish His purpose.

God may not always answer your prayers quite the way you want them answered.

But He'll certainly answer them the best way to be answered.

That's why the best way to pray is to pray "Thy will be done".

It's nice that we want to help God and figure out for Him how He's supposed to answer our prayers, but sometimes you really need to just put the situation in God's hands, then step back and let God do whatever is right.

I've met lots of people who get disillusioned because they expected God to work in a certain way, and when God didn't perform up to their expectations, they walked away.

But let's get real here.

Is God God or what?

Is He just your magic genie, to do whatever you tell Him to do?

Are you supposed to be the real one in control, or is He?

Be very careful about what you are expecting when you pray.

Be very careful about expecting God to answer your prayers according to your requirements.

Sometimes we say, "God, you can answer this prayer by either giving me door number 1, or door number 2."

But what if God wants to create a new door, and give you number 3?

Are you going to start thinking that God didn't answer your prayers?

God's ways are much higher than ours.

Isaiah 55:8-9 For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD. 9 For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.

And example of how God's ways aren't like ours is the context of this very passage:

Isaiah 55:7 Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return unto the LORD, and he will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon.

I think it's probably our way that a person "get it" for their sins, that they get what's coming to them, yet God's way, God's desire is for them to repent and be forgiven.

Example:

Jer 3:1 They say, If a man put away his wife, and she go from him, and become another man's, shall he return unto her again? shall not that land be greatly polluted? but thou hast played the harlot with many lovers; yet return again to me, saith the LORD.

Whereas the normal person would not want to have anything to do with their spouse once they commit adultery, God is different, and wants those who have gone astray to come back to Him.

Have eyes for God's answer.

Stop waiting for God to always do it your way.

If you do, you might miss His answer.

Sometimes God likes to surprise us, and try something new!

Isaiah 43:18-19 Remember ye not the former things, neither consider the things of old. 19 Behold, I will do a new thing; now it shall spring forth; shall ye not know it? I will even make a way in the wilderness, and rivers in the desert.

Learn to cultivate eyes to see how God is choosing to answer your prayer.

Illustration:

We like to play a little game with the boys, usually at doctors' offices and lines at Disneyland, just to pass the time.

It's called "I spy with my little eye".

The person who starts says "I spy with my little eye something that is ..."

The others have to guess what it is.

Last night I really stumped them.

We had picked several red things in a row, and had all been going through the same list of red things in the kitchen.

When it was my turn, I noticed the little red glowing lights on the wireless phone, and picked them.

Nobody could guess it.

They looked at all the red things, and I even had them right next to the phone, but they just couldn't see it.

Finally, I sat them down, turned out the lights, and all they saw was the red lights.

We need to cultivate our ability to see God's answer, sometimes even if it requires turning out the lights on all the other possibilities, just so God can show us His answer.

:5 Jesus loved Martha ...

I hate to even touch on this, but the modern media has taken this verse and made it perverse.

In reality, there is nothing more pure and wholesome than this statement.

The word "loved" is agapao, the word we have come to know and understand as God's kind of love.

This is not eros, a physical, sexual love.

This is the love that is characterized by giving:

John 3:16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

:6 When he had heard therefore that he was sick, he abode two days still

The sense of this verse, in context with verse 5 (Jesus loved Martha ...), is that because Jesus loved this family so much, when He was told of Lazarus' illness, instead of rushing right out and taking a midnight flight to Bethany, Jesus WAITED TWO MORE DAYS!

Lesson:

God's delays may be His way of saying "I love you".

Perhaps the situation needs more time than you realize.

But it's easy to get discouraged and quit when God doesn't meet your deadline.

Illustration:

A preacher quit the ministry after 20 years and became a funeral director. When asked why he changed, he said: "I spent 3 years trying to straighten out John and John's still an alcoholic, then I spent 6 months trying to straighten out Susan's marriage and she filed for divorce, then I spent 2 1/2 years trying to straighten out Bob's drug problem and he's still an addict. Now at the funeral home when I straighten them out -- they stay straight!"

Perhaps if you got your answer now, the situation wouldn't be able to turn out as good as if you got your answer later.

We need to learn that God's timing is always the best.

Illustration:

I heard of a missionary who did not receive her monthly check. She was seriously ill and because of no money had to live on oatmeal and canned milk. She received her check thirty days later. After mentioning this incident while on furlough a doctor asked the nature of her illness. She described the intestinal digestive trouble she had been having and the doctor said, "If your check had arrived on time and you had been eating your current diet you would now be dead, because the best treatment for your illness was a thirty-day oatmeal diet." You know, our problem is that we do not wait upon the Lord. We forget that it's through faith and patience that we obtain God's promises.

The Bible says:

Psalm 27:14 Wait on the LORD: be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thine heart: wait, I say, on the LORD.

May God give us more and more of His perspective on our lives.

Illustration:

The tapestry maker.

If you walked into the studio of a tapestry maker, and all you saw of his work was the backside, you'd see nothing but a mess of strings, tangles, and knots.

Yet when the work is finished, and you come around to the right side, you see the work from the artist's perspective, a work of beauty.

Your life is like the tapestry, and often all we see is just the backside, where all the work is being done, and all we see are the knots and tangles.

Ask God to show you His perspective on it.

That includes the why's, the how's, and the when's.