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Posts tagged ‘Gospel of John’

Not Persuaded.

Jesus‘ brothers said to him, “Leave here and go to Judea, where your followers can see your miracles! You can’t become famous if you hide like this! If you can do such wonderful things, show yourself to the world!” — John 7:3-4

The pressure was on. Michelle was really being pushed to launch the new product in the spring and get a jump on the competition. Everything was ready–almost, but not quite. It was the “not quite” that caused Michelle to hold back and reexamine the data. By the time the product was ready to be launched in the fall, the product had required critical changes. In the end, Michelle’s ability to stand firm against outside pressures ensured the viability of the product and preserved the integrity of the company.

Jesus faced similar pressures in John 7. His brothers were pushing him to go to the Feast of Tabernacles early and show off his miracle-performing abilities. Like many Jews, these brothers were looking for someone to “wow” the crowds and eventually lead the people in a rebellion against the Romans. The Feast would have been an ideal platform for launching Jesus’ political career.

But Jesus could not be persuaded to become a crowd (or brother) pleaser. Jesus knew that his mission on earth was not to win fans, but to redeem people from their sin. Keeping his ultimate purpose in mind, Jesus chose to go to the festival, but in secret. In his wisdom, Jesus could not be persuaded to veer from his purpose, not even for one day of earthly glory. His choice to enter the festival quietly, instead of with a fanfare, led to a day of heated debates with his enemies and intense discussions with the crowd but no flashy miracles. By the end of the day, “many among the crowds at the Temple believed in him” (v. 31).

Regardless of the agenda others have, a leader needs to stand firm and keep her goal in focus. Leaders with integrity know that they cannot allow themselves to be persuaded to cave in to people-pleasing or glory-grabbing decisions. Pursuing integrity may not always be the popular or easy path, but it usually proves to be the wiser path.

Source: Leadership Weekly

Ministry Today.

Finding Faith When God Doesn’t Make Sense.

sad woman

Even when there is no explanation for what you’re going through, God‘s love is more than enough for your need.

Mary and Martha, whose story is told in the Gospel of John, must have asked the same question as they struggled to understand why Jesus hadn’t intervened to heal their brother, Lazarus. They had sent for Jesus to come, and when He didn’t come quickly, they probably assumed He didn’t care.

And now, even though Jesus had finally come, it was too late. Lazarus had died.

Mary crumbled, sobbing, at the feet of Jesus. As she lay with her shoulders shaking and her chest heaving, wracked with pain that was too great to bear, the friends who had followed her voiced their own despair over her grief, and they wept too.

At the sight and sound of the poignant scene, Jesus “was deeply moved in spirit and troubled” (John 11:33, NIV). The text indicates He felt more than just grief; He felt anger.

Several years ago, I received an urgent call from a person who was at the local hospital, telling me that one of my dearest friends was dying. I couldn’t believe what I was hearing.

I had spoken with the friend only the day before, and she had been healthy and happy. What could have gone so terribly wrong? As I rushed to the hospital, I kept praying, “Lord, help! The one whom we love is sick—dying!”

When I made my way into the hospital waiting room, I found her extended family huddled in tears and shock. I was told my precious friend had somehow breathed in a virus that had acted like a hand grenade in her body, exploding and destroying her internal organs.

In grief and shock myself, I was urged to go into the chapel, where her husband and children had gathered to pray. As I slipped into the darkened sanctuary and virtually collapsed onto a pew, I heard the whispered prayers and sobs of her loved ones. Then the stifled grief erupted in a chilling, heart-wrenching cry as her son yelled out: “God, it’s not right. It’s not right! It’s just not right!”

Later, when her family made the decision to disconnect her from life support and my beloved friend went to her heavenly home, her son’s agonized, angry grief echoed in my ears, and I thought: He was right. This is wrong. Terribly wrong! This was never meant to be.

Death was not a part of God’s original plan. He created you and me for Himself. He intended for us to live with Him and enjoy Him forever in an uninterrupted, permanent, personal, love relationship.

But sin came into our lives and broke the very relationship with God for which we were created. All of us are affected by this broken relationship because all of us are infected with sin.

When your loved one dies and your grief is tinged with anger, don’t direct it toward God. He’s angry too. Direct it toward sin and its devastating consequences.

That day in Bethany, as Mary wept and her friends wept with her, a tumult of grief and anger and compassion and empathy welled up in the heart of Jesus. In a voice that must have been choking with emotion, He inquired, “Where have you laid him?”

Those around Him replied gently, “‘Come and see, Lord'” (John 11:34). And when Jesus was invited by the mourners in Bethany to “come and see,” He wept! (See vv. 34­-35.)

Jesus, the Creator of the universe, the eternal I Am, the Lord of life, knew He was going to raise Lazarus from the dead. Yet One so strong, so powerful, so wise, so human, stood there with tears running down His cheeks! Why? Because He loved those gathered at the tomb so much their grief was His.

When my youngest daughter, Rachel-Ruth, was small, she wore long braids as a means of controlling her naturally curly hair, which she hated. I will never forget an incident that followed the visit to our home of a beautiful young woman who had long, sleek, glossy brown hair. As soon as the door closed behind the young woman, Rachel-Ruth ran into the living room, jerking at her braids, tearing at her bangs, covering her face with her hands, and hysterically sobbing, “I hate my hair! My face is so ugly! I’m not pretty at all!”

Not knowing what had triggered this outburst, I just held her and wept with her. I looked up to see my other daughter, Morrow, standing in the doorway, weeping too. We wept because Rachel-Ruth was so distraught, and we loved her. Her torment was our own.

When was the last time you wept into your pillow at night, thinking no one cared? Is the pain so deep and your hurt so great that you cry night after night?.

In your misery and loneliness, do you think Jesus is emotionally detached? That He just doesn’t care? Or that He’s simply too busy to notice? Or that He is callous because He sees a lot of pain that’s worse than yours? Or that He couldn’t possibly understand how you feel?

Do you know that Jesus weeps with you? Do you know He puts all your tears in a bottle because they are precious to Him? He has said in all of your afflictions, He Himself is afflicted. Why? Because Jesus does understand! And He loves you!

Those who had gathered to support and comfort and help the family of Lazarus observed the famous young Rabbi weeping and concluded, “‘See how he loved him!'” (v. 36). Even though Jesus knew the glory to come and the demonstration of God’s power that was about to be displayed, He wept!

He wept because He loved this precious family and they were weeping. Jesus was entering into their suffering, just as many of us entered into His when we repented of our sin, died to ourselves and received Him by faith.

The story of Lazarus is the account of perhaps the most magnificent miracle Jesus performed while on Earth. But it is really the story of Martha‘s faith–and the necessity of placing our faith in Jesus alone if we are to live life triumphantly and experience the greatest miracle of all, that of passing from spiritual death to eternal life as we are born again into the family of God.

Surrounded by a crowd of friends, family and just curious onlookers, Jesus gazed at the scene before Him. I expect Mary and Martha followed His focus, which was fixed on the cave carved out of the hillside that served as Lazarus’ burial place. A large stone sealed off the entrance to the tomb.

Martha was jolted out of any grief-filled reverie that preoccupied her thoughts when she heard His familiar voice command quietly but with absolute authority, “Take away the stone” (v. 39). Nothing could have been more appalling to her!

It seemed as if reopening Lazarus’ tomb would serve no purpose except to reopen the fresh wound of her heart. How could Jesus say such a thing? How could He even think such a thing?

Martha, with what surely was a look of horrified indignation on her face, blurted out, “But Lord … by this time there is a bad odor, for he has been there four days” (v. 39).

Jesus turned His full gaze onto Martha with a look that melted her resistance and silenced her argument. With patient firmness, He challenged her not only to obedience but also to expectant faith: “Did I not tell you that if you believed, you would see the glory of God?” (v. 40).

Something in Martha must have quickened as she saw the intensity in the Lord’s eyes. She knew this was no longer the time to talk about it or pray about it or think about it.

The spark of faith was suddenly fanned into flame, and without further question or word, she just did it! She ordered the stone to be rolled away. Simply because He said so. Her obedience, her dependence and her expectance were in Him alone. He was all she had.

With every eye fastened on Him, Jesus boldly, loudly lifted His voice as He prayed: “Father, I thank You that You have heard me. I knew that You always hear me, but I said this for the benefit of the people standing here, that they may believe that You sent Me” (vv. 41-­42). Jesus was letting everyone know that if Lazarus was raised, the power to make it happen came from God.

Then…the same voice that had brought the world into being, the same voice that had called Abraham from Ur, the same voice that had reverberated from Mount Sinai, that same voice thundered, “Lazarus, come out!” (v. 43). The voice of the Creator was commanding into existence that which had no existence!

Every eye must have strained toward the cave, peering into the black hole where the stone had been. And then, out of the deep, shadowy recesses within, there appeared a mummy-like figure “wrapped with strips of linen, and [with] a cloth around his face” (v. 44).

Was there a collective gasp? Or was everyone frozen into place, temporarily paralyzed by the shock of seeing something that just couldn’t be?

Dead men don’t come back to life! But Lazarus did! At the command of the One who is the Resurrection and the Life, he appeared at the entrance of the tomb.

After all the pain and suffering and anguish and doubt and resentment and misunderstanding and tears, God had answered the sisters’ unspoken prayer. Although Jesus had not come when they thought He would, He had restored Lazarus to health.

In His own time and in His own way, God answered abundantly beyond what they could have thought to ask for—beyond their wildest dreams. Their brother was raised from the dead!



Is the Raising of Lazarus Fictional?.

Last Sunday in church, our pastor preached from John chapter 11, the Raising of Lazarus. It brought back memories of my old atheistic resistance to this story and reminded me of John Shelby Spong’s recent comment challenging the historicity of this event. Spong believes the Gospel writer (someone other than the apostle John, by the way) exaggerated the fictional narrative “to counter any attempt to read it literally.” Spong argues the author intentionally exaggerated the story so the reader would recognize it’s fictional status (“Jesus does not just raise a person from the dead, he raises one who has been dead and even buried for four days, one who is still bound in grave clothes and one who, according to the King James translation ‘already stinketh’ with the odor of decaying flesh!”) Like Spong, I also resisted the idea that Jesus performed this miracle, although for a different reason. The biggest problem for me was its absence from the other gospel accounts. Why is John the only person to mention something this dramatic and allegedly well-known? Doesn’t the absence of Lazarus’ story from all the other accounts cast doubt on its authenticity?

Why Is It Missing from The Other Accounts?
While the absence of this miracle in the synoptic gospels initially seemed to pose a problem, the more I investigated it, the smaller the problem became. Part of my suspicion rested in the extravagant nature of the miracle itself. Jesus raised someone from the dead, for crying out loud! How could the other gospel writers forget about that? This objection rests, however, on the presumption that a miracle of this nature was extravagant or exceedingly unusual in the ministry of Jesus, and I think this presumption is false. Lazarus wasn’t the only person Jesus raised from the dead. Jesus also brought Jairus’ daughter back to life (Matthew 9:23-26, Mark 5:35-43, and Luke 8:40-56), as well as the son of the widow of Nain (Luke 7:12-15). John doesn’t mention either of these miracles and Mathew and Mark fail to mention the widow’s son. There is good reason to believe Jesus raised even more people from the dead, given John’s clear statement, “There are many other things that Jesus did; if all were written down, the world itself, I suppose, would not hold all the books that would have to be written” (John 21: 25).

There may be a good reason Mark, Matthew and Luke failed to mention Lazarus’ resurrection, even though they described similar miracles. When Jesus arrived at the tomb of Lazarus, “many of the Jews had come to Martha and Mary, to console them concerning their brother” (John 11:18). Martha even went out to meet Jesus prior to his arrival, seemingly aware of the disciple’s concern that “these Jews were just now seeking to stone [Jesus]” (John 11:8). Jesus performed the miracle in the presence of these Jewish witnesses and “many of the Jews who came to Mary, and saw what He had done, believed in Him” (John 11:45). As a result, the chief priests and Pharisees convened a council and “from that day on they planned together to kill [Jesus]” (John 11:53). The raising of Lazarus had an impact on the Jewish opposition that was unique amongst those who had been raised by Jesus. Early chroniclers may simply have wanted to minimize Lazarus’ presence in the gospel accounts to protect him and his sisters earlier in the first century. By the time John penned his version of the ministry of Jesus (much later than Mark, Matthew or Luke), this concern may have rightfully waned.

Does It Include An Intentional Exaggeration?
But let’s return to the issue of hyperbolic exaggeration. John Shelby Spong interprets the inclusion of the four day delay as an intentional tactic used by John “to counter any attempt to read it literally.” But is that necessarily the case? Are there really no other good reasons why Jesus may have waited this long to perform the miracle? How about the reasons Jesus offered? Jesus told the disciples that he waited “so that [they] may believe” (John 11:15), and He told Martha that he waited so she could learn trust Him as “the resurrection and the life; he who believes in Me will live even if he dies, and everyone who lives and believes in Me will never die” (John 11:25-26). Jesus had a goal in mind and this goal required Him to delay His arrival. But why four days? Is this simply an effort on the author’s part to make it clear he was speaking allegorically (as Spong proposes)? No. It was more likely the presence of the Jews that caused Jesus to delay. Ancient Jewish texts reveal an important belief held by the Jews who were waiting at the tomb of Lazarus. The Jews of this time period believed, “until three days [after death] the soul keeps on returning to the grave, thinking that it will go back [into the body]; but when it sees that the facial features have become disfigured, it departs and abandons it [the body]” (refer to Genesis Rabbah 100:7, Leviticus Rabbah 18:1, and Ecclesiastes Rabbah 12:6). Jesus waited until all hope was lost for those waiting for death’s confirmation. Only then did Jesus raise Lazarus, and the result was stunning amongst those Jews who held these primary beliefs about death and the soul. They became believers.

One of the reasons we typically struggle with passages like the raising of Lazarus is our desire toread it through the lens of our modern understanding or our base desires. But when we take the time to examine the account from the perspective of the original events and the authors who recorded them, reasonable explanations emerge. It just takes some effort to think like a detective and investigate the past.

J. Warner Wallace is a Cold-Case Detective, a Christian Case Maker at Stand to Reason, and the author of Cold-Case Christianity

{ Day 189 }.

The watchman opens the gate for him, and the sheep listen to his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he has brought out all his own, he goes on ahead of them, and his sheep follow him because they know his voice. But they will never follow a stranger; in fact, they will run away from him because they do not recognize a stranger’s voice. John 10:3-5

As individual believers, we stand in two positions in regard to God‘s invitation to us. We first must feed our own spirits on the truths of this Bridegroom God’s heart and personality, and then we will arise as shepherds in the body of Christ to feed others. Therefore we must become people with a clear focus on personally discovering who Jesus is in all of these dimensions of His Bridegroom heart. At some point in this process we will be equipped to lead other believers who are entrenched in compromise. We’ll take them by the hand and show them into the freeing and empowering encounter of what our God is like. It’s not enough to tell people that God is a Bridegroom and we are His bride. It must come from our hearts. It is transformation by personal revelation. Shepherds will train people and feed them on specific parts of God’s emotions and personality, and then, little by little, like a flower in spring, the listeners’ spirits will open up and be transformed.


Feed my spirit, Father, that I may be counted worthy of feeding Your flock. Help me to bring Your message of transformation to the lost around me.

We can’t feed others if we don’t feed
ourselves first.


4 Questions to Consider in Response to the Gay Agenda.

gay marriage
How does Jesus deal with sexual sin? (Allegro Photography)

With the onslaught of information about same-sex marriage in the news, not to mention pressure from those supporting it to get on board, here’s the fundamental questions we must ask ourselves when it comes to taking our stand.

1. How Did Jesus Deal With Sexual Sin?
We find one example in Jesus’ discourse with the prostitute in the book of John:

“But Jesus went to the Mount of Olives.

“At dawn he appeared again in the temple courts, where all the people gathered around him, and he sat down to teach them. The teachers of the law and the Pharisees brought in a woman caught in adultery. They made her stand before the group and said to Jesus, ‘Teacher, this woman was caught in the act of adultery. In the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women. Now what do you say?’ They were using this question as a trap, in order to have a basis for accusing him.

“But Jesus bent down and started to write on the ground with his finger. When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, ‘Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.’ Again he stooped down and wrote on the ground.

“At this, those who heard began to go away one at a time, the older ones first, until only Jesus was left, with the woman still standing there. Jesus straightened up and asked her, ‘Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?’

“‘No one, sir,’ she said.

“‘Then neither do I condemn you,’ Jesus declared. ‘Go now and leave your life of sin’” (John 8:1-11, NIV).

Jesus doesn’t minimize the prostitute’s sin; He challenges her to move beyond her sinful lifestyle now that a second chance is given to her. Jesus’ unconditional love didn’t give people a free pass to continue in their sin. He gave them an out for their sin. 

2. In God We Trust?

We must as a nation acknowledge that our national motto, which is on every currency—“In God We Trust”—no longer represents the belief of the population or its leadership. Our beliefs are reflected in our elections, not our words. Our nation is living a lie. A nation cannot violate the values our Creator expressed in His instruction manual for living, the Bible, and expect God simply to turn His eye from evil. God said in His Word to beware of calling things that are evil good: “Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil; who put darkness for light, and light for darkness; who put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!” (Is. 5:20).

God doesn’t change with the times, nor should the church or Christianity. Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever (Heb. 13:8). His cultural bar does not move up or down with the moral condition of that culture.

The sad truth is that our nation has already become a secular nation. The values represented today among leadership, the media and the majority reveal that we are a nation headed the way of Europe, where God is no longer allowed in the public discourse of government. The idea that moral considerations should be part of the discussion is now taboo. As such, we can expect to see God remove His hand of protection if this trend continues. There is a remnant in the nation that still hold true to the absolutes of God’s Word, but this remnant is getting smaller in number.

3. How Does God Deal With the Sins of a Nation?

Israel’s sin was the worship of idols. God judged them by allowing their enemies to defeat them. Other times He allowed liberal and unholy leadership to rise in power. In other words, the spiritual condition of the greater majority led to them being given a leader who reflected their spiritual condition. The more ungodly the people became, the more they embraced leaders who reflected their values.

We can see this taking place today in America. We are the frog in the kettle in which the water is gradually getting hotter and hotter until it is too late.

The cultural idol of today is tolerance. Young people are reflecting more and more a belief system that is not based on any absolutes. Their god is the god of tolerance: “You do what you want as long as it doesn’t affect me.” We have made personal rights a national idol, regardless of the moral consequences. Israel made the same mistake regarding foreign idols.

Some liberals have gone so far as to state that being a Christian today is synonymous with being a bigot. Any opinion that reflects an absolute view that may not be the view of the public majority is often construed as being narrow-minded for a “progressive society.” This is especially true among the liberal media today.

4. Does a Nation Answer to God?

David Barton has written extensively on the Christian foundations of America and its accountability for its sins. He says:

“This was a question the American Founders dealt with on the floor of the Constitutional Convention. They concluded that a nation doesn’t have a spirit or a soul. Therefore when a nation dies, it is dead and won’t be resurrected later to answer for its failures, as a person will be who does have a spirit and soul. George Mason said, ‘As nations cannot be punished or rewarded in the next world, they must be in this. By an inevitable chain of causes and effects Providence punished national sins by national calamities.’ Providence was commonly used by the founders to refer to God.

“God’s judgment on a nation because of its ungodly leaders is evidenced many places in the Bible. A couple of them are:

“1. Because of the corruption of King Ahab and his wife Jezebel, the nation went without rain for three years. The righteous had to suffer too even though they had no part in it.

“2. King David was normally a good King, but because of his disobedience to God when he numbered his army, a plague came upon the nation and wiped out 70,000 people. The Nation suffered because of the leader.”

This is now the dilemma our government faces. Will it remove any moral component to the argument? It is clear this is the direction our government has taken. Just the mention of tying morality to the argument causes an uproar in the liberal media.

It all becomes a slippery slope when you remove the moral dimension. We will end up like Canada, where it is unlawful to preach against homosexuality, which could lead to the removal of a church’s nonprofit status if a pastor teaches what the Bible says, making it a hate crime for discrimination against a group of people. Government and businesses would now have to offer the same benefits to homosexual couples as it does to heterosexual couples.

Day of Reckoning

When God spoke to Abraham in Genesis 15, He described His plan for Abraham and the nation of Israel. He told Abraham that He would bring him into the Promised Land after 400 years of slavery.

God used interesting terminology when describing one of the catalysts for this work to begin. He said “the iniquity of the Amorites is not yet complete” (Gen. 15:16), which would be the catalyst for the people of Israel to go into the Promised Land. The Amorites were a very ungodly people. God saw their sin as so great that He was going to use the Israelites to wipe them out. There is a place in nations where God begins to judge unrighteousness.

America is not immune to the judgment of God. We can expect God to judge the sins of our nation as our sins get greater and greater. Pray that God has mercy on our nation and that He will raise up a generation of righteous leaders and change agents who believe leadership must include morally based governance. God can shift the culture back to Himself in one day if His people get in alignment with Him and His ways. However, it always starts with us.

As Christ-followers, we are called to stand in the gap for the culture: “So I sought for a man among them who would make a wall, and stand in the gap before Me on behalf of the land, that I should not destroy it; but I found no one” (Ezek. 22:30). Will we in the body of Christ be up for the task?

“If My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and will heal their land” (2 Chron. 7:14).



Os Hillman is president of Marketplace Leaders and author of Change Agent and TGIF Today God Is First.

Did Jesus Say He Existed from Eternity?.

Certain things Christ said of Himself, either in formal declaration, or incidentally, reveal His self-existence, as apart from His relationship, either to God or to man. In certain passages He spoke out of an eternal consciousness. Almost all the great declarations of Christ revealing His eternal consciousness, and concerning His relationship to God, are found in the Gospel according to John. Bishop Westcott said of this Gospel, “The Gospel of St. John from first to last is a record of the conflict between men’s thoughts of Christ, and Christ’s revelation of Himself.”

The first of these statements, “I came forth, and am come from God,” is a most remarkable word, not describing a fellowship of nearness with God, but one which is essential. The real suggestion of the declaration, “I came forth from God,” is not that He came from the side of God, from companionship with God, as an angel might; but that He came out of the essential mystery of the Being of God.

The declaration, “Before Abraham was, I am,” was introduced by that formula of which He occasionally made use when desiring to fasten attention upon a subject: “Verily, verily.” This moreover was a direct and intended contrast on His part between the temporal and the eternal. “Abraham was”; that is a term of the temporal; but before that, “I am,” which in that contrast becomes distinctly a term of the eternal.

In the last of these three passages we have a perfect summary of the whole mission of Christ as recorded in the Gospels, “I came out from the Father, and am come into the world; again, I leave the world, and go unto the Father.”

It is impossible, and unnecessary, for us to consider fully the value of these words separately. The fact to be observed is that our Lord referred to Himself in such a way that the implication of His references is that of an eternal existence. It is important that we notice the persistence of the Person, of the “I,” through these passages: “I came forth, and am come from God” ; “Before Abraham was, I am” ; “I came out … am come into . . . I leave . . . and go unto.”

Adapted from The Teaching of Christ, Himself, by G. Campbell Morgan.

G. Campbell Morgan

Interpreting the Logos – In the Presence of God.

In Greek philosophy, the logos remains an impersonal force, a lifeless and abstract philosophical concept that is a necessary postulate for the cause of order and purpose in the universe. In Hebrew thought, the Logos is personal. He indeed has the power of unity, coherence, and purpose, but the distinctive point is that the biblical Logos is a He, not an it.

All attempts to translate the word Logos have suffered from some degree of inadequacy. No English word is able to capture the fullness of John’s Logos when he declared that the Word became flesh and dwelt among us. Attempts have been made by philosophers to translate Logos as logic, act, or deed—all of which are inadequate definitions.

God‘s Logos does include action. The Logos is the eternal Word in action. But it is no irrational action or sheer expression of feeling. It is the divine Actor, acting in creation and redemption in a coherent way, who is announced in John’s Gospel.

That the Word became flesh and dwelt among us is the startling conclusion of John’s prologue  The cosmic Christ enters our humanity. It is the supreme moment of visitation of the eternal with the temporal, the infinite with the finite, the unconditioned with the conditioned.

Coram Deo: Living in the Presence of God

Reflect on this truth: God became flesh to accomplish your redemption. Have you accepted His gift of salvation?

For Further Study

John 1:1-2: In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God.

John 1:15: John bore witness of Him and cried out, saying, ‘This was He of whom I said, `He who comes after me is preferred before me, for He was before me.'”

The mission, passion and purpose of Ligonier Ministries and Dr. R.C. Sproul is to help people grow in their knowledge of God and His holiness. For more information, please visit www.ligonier.orgor call them at 800-435-4343.
© R.C. Sproul. All rights reserved.

Dead man walking…

“I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me, though he may die, he shall live. And whoever lives and believes in me shall never die.”
John 11:25-26

Jesus proclaimed the words of today’s scripture as he was standing at the tomb of Lazarus. Not long before he made this statement, Martha, one of the Lazarus’ sisters who had seen and heard of Jesus’ healings, said to Jesus, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died” (John 11:21).

Jesus replied, “Your brother will rise again” (verse 23).

Martha responds, “I know that he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day” (verse 24). In the Torah, it was prophesied that God would return to earth, abolish all evil, and all dead and buried believers would be resurrected and go to heaven.

Now comes Jesus’ statement, “I AM the resurrection and the life,” and the proclamation, “He who believes in me, though he may die, he shall live.” Then he caps it off with, “And whoever lives and believes in me shall never die.”

You think Martha got it yet? No, she went back to her sister Mary who went out to speak with Jesus. Mary cried as she told Jesus that, if only he had come when they first asked him, Lazarus would not have died.

Lazarus had been in the tomb four days and was already rotting. Now, this is where we find that famous short verse, John 11:35, “Jesus wept.” We don’t know if Jesus wept because Mary and her friends were weeping or because they still didn’t get it. He was God, he was the resurrection, he was life.

“Lazarus, come forth,” said Jesus, and his friend came out of the tomb. Now many believed. It took a dead man walking.

The Christian life is a resurrected life. You were dead, but now you live. You were blind, but now you see. You had no purpose, but now you do. Such a life can only be found in Jesus.

Prayer: Father, thank you for Jesus, my Lord. Apart from him, I am nothing. In and through what Jesus did, I have a new life, a purpose, a vision, a spiritual resurrection. Amen.

Devotion: How has your life been resurrected through your faith in Jesus?

By Fred Gillett, Crystal Cathedral Pastor

Palm Sunday–The Place, the People and the Purpose.

John 12:12-19


1. Today we celebrate Palm Sunday—the Sunday before Easter. Christians around the world recognize Palm Sunday as the day Jesus made His triumphal entry into the city of Jerusalem.

a. On this day prophecy was fulfilled, for the prophet Zechariah had recorded this event some 400 years earlier. In Zech 9:9, we read, “Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion; shout, O daughter of Jerusalem: behold, thy King cometh unto thee: he is just, and having salvation; lowly, and riding upon an ass, and upon a colt the foal of an ass.”

2. Chapter 12, of the Gospel of John, begins the account of Jesus’ final week, which culminates in His death at the end of the week and His resurrection on the first day of the week, Easter Sunday.

3. The events of this week actually begin on Saturday evening with a dinner in the town of Bethany, about 2 miles southeast of Jerusalem.

4. Following the dinner on Saturday, Jesus makes His way to the city of Jerusalem for His triumphal entry. This was a time when all Israel would be gathered at Jerusalem for the Passover.

a. It is said that there may have been as many as a half of million people present—every male within 25 miles of Jerusalem was required to be in attendance for the week of Passover.

ILLUS: During the nineteenth century it was Chancellor Bismarck of Prussia who entered into the City of Jerusalem riding a white horse. So great were the number of soldiers and officials that that an entire section of the city wall had to be removed. (TITLE: THE GRAND MARSHAL OF THE JERUSALEM PARADE AUTHOR: Rev. Steven A. Blankenship)

5. I can tell you about someone far great than Chancellor Bismark who rode into that city. During the first century it was Jesus Christ of Nazareth who entered into the City of Jerusalem, riding on a little donkey. As He entered through the Eastern Gate of the city, throngs of people shouted and cheered, casting Palm branches in His path. They cried, “Hosanna to the Son of David: Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord; Hosanna in the highest.” Matt 21:9

a. This was no ordinary day, for on this day, Palm Sunday, Jesus would initiate a week that would forever change the course of history.

5. Allow me to give you a brief outline this morning, as we consider the events of that special day, 2,000 years ago—Palm Sunday.


1. Jesus came to Jerusalem—the beloved city of David. In Psalm 87:3, Jerusalem it is mentioned as the “City of God.” In the book of Revelation we know it to be the City of Gold. In Zech. 8:3, it is called the “City of Truth.” In Psalm 42:8, the Psalmist wrote, “Beautiful for situation, the joy of the whole earth, is mount Zion, on the sides of the north, the city of the great King” There is no other city on earth that compares with the city of Jerusalem.

By Dan Rodgers

Featured Video Illustration

The Resurrection Of Dame Lazarina Patience Faka By Prince Charles Dickson.

By Prince Charles Dickson

A certain man had died
In the town of Bethany
And Lazarus was his name
The Bible says he was
A man that Jesus loved
And his sisters thought
It was a shame
Mary and Martha longed
For Jesus healing touch
To come and raise their brother
Cause they loved that boy so much

With the above lyrics of a song by Carmelo Domenic Licciardello known by his stage name, Carman. I start this week’s admonition…very quickly let me say that ‘Lazarina’ is the female version of the name Lazarus as coined by me. Lazarus is the subject of a miracle of resurrection in the Christian Holy Book the bible, for additional reading and understanding; you may want to see John 11 for the full story.

While the biblical Lazarus was dead for four days; our own Nigerian version, Lazarina took it full throttle–seven whole days. Well the truth however is that I am not concerned about whether my president’s wife died, whether she is dying or otherwise, I am however concerned how her story is a metaphor for all that is wrong, and though I have discussed similar issues and in the last one week there has been several commentaries on the matter, I won’t relent in repeating them.

I am told a lie is a type of deception in the form of an untruthful statement, especially with the intention to deceive others. To lie is to state something with disregard to the truth with the intention that people will accept the statement as truth.

A liar is a person who is lying, who has previously lied, or who tends by nature to lie repeatedly—even when not necessary.

The three definitions suit the current group we call leaders…particularly the third one. I really do not blame them so much because as a people we have become accustomed to accepting lies as statements of truth.

There are several types of lies…like the big lie, a lie which attempts to trick the victim into believing something major and likely be contradicted by some information the victim already possesses, or by their common sense. When the lie is of sufficient magnitude it may succeed due to the victim’s reluctance to believe that an untruth on such a grand scale would indeed be fabricated.

So why do our leaders and their ilk lie–they simply lie because they simply have no regard for those they govern, it is a reflection of their style of governance and the kind of value system that they have built.

El-Rufai, writes his book, for many it’s not just about the accidental public servant, it is about accidental lies told in the book. Obasanjo lies, Atiku lied, IBB lied, and Jonathan and his cassava bread empire are lying every day. They lie about who signed an accord and who did not accord it honour, almost the whole 36 governors lie, they are lying and continue to lie.

Lying has become a national pastime, they steal monies for development go abroad to cool off but they lie that they are seeking partnerships and foreign investors. A pen robber steals billions, lies about his innocence and goes to court seeking an injunction stopping his arrest/trial to prove the same innocence.

As parents we tell bared-faced lies to our kids, even the old age culture of explaining to our loved ones by truth that finances are poor has long deserted us. So we lie to the poor kids about school tuition by telling them tomorrow when indeed tomorrow never ends– some call it faith. You answer a mobile call while in Garki, Abuja and lie that you are in Yenogoa  Bayelsa.

We are lied to about Boko Haram, they hate education but never have attacked the University of Maidugiri, they are Islamic fundamentalists, yet the entire Koran nowhere supports suicide, or robbing of banks, or attacking an emir.

We are a generation of liars, that’s why ’their god” blesses them with private jets while the congregation treks and are disciples of unbearable hardship.

They lie about subsidy, about PIB; we are treated to all sorts of lies that deny pensioners their sweat at old age while higher beings with the ability to lie loot them blind.

The metaphor of Dame Lazarina is a reflection of our nation, many of us out of our religious sanctimonious behavior advocate thanking God for her life but forget the place of liars as advocated by the Holy Bible–“All liars would go to hell”.

As much as I am miffed about our leadership that lies, what about followers that are products of lies. Indeed Lazarus rose from the dead, and we can read the whole story and context, but how about the 9-Times-A-Month-Surgery resurrection story of Lazarina, and her friends who were already selling her properties?

And you tell the world how they loot, buy houses, cars, and jewelries, they call us opposition and see-no-good followers and noise making citizens. But while they are yet dead, their friends start to sell properties they initially claim they do not have.

This admonition is not just about lying, the lies and the liars, it is so much what the product of these lies have become…The implication of Dame Lazarina’s resurrection, are many but not limited to the few I will just mention.

When they resurrect from their mind-blowing death—they boast that 100 political parties put together can never defeat the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, come 2015 presidential election.

For those of us that have not died and resurrected you may not really understand the way of the dead, they not only see ghosts, they are used to illusions whether true or false, imagined or real. Bode George resurrected from Prison, we know where he is now.

Tony Anenih has resurrected and maybe PDP Board of Trustee chairman. Did you see how Bamanga Tukur resurrected, or is it the resurrection of Ahmadu Ali, Journalists call it the return, those who know better call it resurrection so are you surprised when billions disappear, it is simply the way of ghosts—the way of people that resurrect. Monies meant for development simply disappear, they lie, they die and again they resurrect, the circle continues. When a goat’s day “to die” arrives, it says there is nothing a butcher can do to it. Whether we keep listening to Dame Lazarina’s resurrection tales only time will tell.


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