Father, make us witnesses of Your character and power, and believers in everything You’ve taught. We want to know You and live fully with You. In Jesus’ name, amen.
Read John 11-12
John 11:1–44 When Jesus’ close friend, Lazarus, died unexpectedly, He told His disciples that He alone has control of both spiritual life and physical resurrection. Jesus explains that He contains and represents the secret of life through death (notice the “I AM” statement in 11:25). Many people blamed Jesus for Lazarus’ death because he failed to arrive before Lazarus died. But Jesus was able to call Lazarus back to life, raising him from the dead by the power of His words.
Notice that after raising the dead man back to life, Jesus ordered the Jewish family to ignore their religious laws by touching a formerly unclean person and helping him remove his grave clothes.
John 11:45–12:11 Religious leaders felt both religiously and politically threatened by Jesus and the number of His followers. They called for His public arrest and even planned to kill Him. Meanwhile, just before Passover, Jesus enjoyed a feast with the recently resurrected Lazarus and his family. As they feasted, Mary washed Jesus’ feet with perfume, which He then explained was a foreshadowing of His impending death and burial.
Notice the important detail about Judas mentioned here. Judas later sells Jesus’ trust and helps to kill Him. Why? Because he loved money (12:6). (See also 1 Tim. 6:10; Matt. 6:4; Heb. 13:5.)
THE KINGDOM OF GOD
Even as Jesus proclaimed the Kingdom of God, people still wanted the wrong kind of king.
John 12:12–26 A large crowd arrived in Jerusalem for Passover. They celebrated Jesus, even hailing Him as King. At this point, even non-Jews were interested in Jesus, and Jesus again predicts His death, explaining that without His death no one can experience true life and spiritual growth. Jesus also demands all true believers let go of their earthly lives in order to follow Him and enjoy true life with God. The crowds that have witnessed Jesus’ power traveled with Him and validated His claims along the way.
John 12:27–50 Feeling burdened by His imminent death and resurrection—a public and traumatic death—Jesus accepted His Father’s plan as His driving purpose (12:27; see also 6:38). Jesus rightly predicted His death would broadcast God’s redemptive message to the world. In fact, the Son’s obedience in death would honor the Father perfectly. Despite hearing a supernatural voice, many eyewitnesses of Jesus still couldn’t believe His claims. Even those religious leaders who believed were ashamed to admit it.
Notice that Jesus equates Himself and His message with God’s offer of reconciliation—there is no way to be reconciled to God without fully embracing Jesus.
24 Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.
- How can you better understand God’s perspective on difficult or dark moments in your life? Consider Jesus’ teaching about the necessity of “death” for renewal and the need for a seed to die before it brings forth fruit (12:24–26). How can this affect how we approach difficulty and spiritual growth?
- The spiritual life God offers is fully accessible through Jesus. But it cannot be received by someone unwilling to completely reject a life of rebellion against God. True life requires death to self, where one’s individual authority is totally submitted to the will and way of God.
- With a new perspective on difficult seasons of life, talk with a fellow Christian about meaningful ways to encourage each other during such times. Rather than offering the lie that “God never gives us more than we can handle,” how could you support and remind someone of the spiritual growth and increasing faith God gives during suffering and difficulty?
- Find out about the local places of worship for your ethnically and religiously different friends: mosques, temples, Catholic churches, etc. Are there any near you? [All Peoples]