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John 11

When Jesus heard that, He said, “This sickness is not unto death, but for the glory of God, that the Son of God may be glorified through it.” John‬ ‭11:4‬ ‭NKJV‬‬

Jesus commented that Lazarus’ grave illness would bring glory to God.  This is an excellent reminder for us that every trial and difficult situation that we face can be used for God’s glory.  Take a look at your attitude the next time you are having a bad day or facing a tough time.  Although you are not expected to enjoy bad circumstances, you need to trust that God will some way, somehow and some day turn it into something positive for you or someone else.  Doing so will help you stay calm and keep a positive outlook regardless of your circumstances, and will be a wonderful way to shine God’s light in the midst of a dark situation.  It will also strengthen your relationship with God and will be an impressive example of God’s power to those around you.  Let’s use the story of Joseph as an example (Genesis 37-50).  Remember all of the terrible things that Joseph had to endure for so long?  His brothers sold him into slavery, he was wrongly accused of rape, and then was thrown into prison for many years.  Despite these severe trials in his life, Joseph stayed faithful and was able to trust that God had a good reason for him to suffer through it all.  He declared to his brothers: “You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives” (Genesis 50:20).  Just think about how Joseph’s brothers must have felt after hearing that.  They deserved punishment and wrath for what they did to their own flesh and blood.  What they received was forgiveness, love and mercy, which is so much more powerful than anger and revenge.   The Bible contains so many wonderful stories that are timeless and applicable to us today.  Joseph’s story gives us a model to follow when we are wronged by others and going through hard times.  As believers in Christ, we are His representatives on earth.  Other people need to see Him through our words and actions, which is the most powerful thing we can do to further God’s Kingdom.   

Jesus answered, “Are there not twelve hours in the day? If anyone walks in the day, he does not stumble, because he sees the light of this world. But if one walks in the night, he stumbles, because the light is not in him.” John‬ ‭11:9-10‬ ‭NKJV‬‬ In the spiritual realm, daylight represents wisdom and knowledge about God’s will and His ways.  Where can we learn these things to get more light into our lives?  From doing exactly what you are doing right now: studying the Bible! “Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path” (Psalms 119:105).  When we are walking in daylight, we are relying on God to guide us, and are staying on the path of righteousness.  In contrast, when we are distant from God, we are walking in darkness.  In the absence of God’s heavenly guidance we will be more likely to succumb to Satan’s influences and our fleshly desires.  It is so much harder to walk in darkness because you cannot see where you are going and have no idea where you will end up.  You will have a higher tendency to stumble and get hurt.  Given our sinful nature, it is impossible for us to stay on the right path all of the time.  There is a constant battle going on inside of us between the Holy Spirit and our flesh.  Some days it can be difficult to seek God, stay connected to Him, and be able to hear the promptings of the Holy Spirit.  But there is a promise for us written in Proverbs 4:18: “The path of the righteous is like the morning sun, shining ever brighter till the full light of day.”  God’s light is always there.  It doesn’t change.  So, even if you have recently stumbled in the darkness, you can turn on the light of God’s presence in an instant, and rely on His help to give you the wisdom that you need in whatever situation you are facing.  God promises each of us that “though he may stumble, he will not fall, for the LORD upholds him with His hand” (Psalms 37:24).

Therefore, when Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who came with her weeping, He groaned in the spirit and was troubled. And He said, “Where have you laid him?” They said to Him, “Lord, come and see.” Jesus wept. Then the Jews said, “See how He loved him!” And some of them said, “Could not this Man, who opened the eyes of the blind, also have kept this man from dying?” John‬ ‭11:33-37‬ ‭NKJV‬‬ There are only two recorded instances in the Bible where Jesus wept in public.  After all, He was fully human, so He experienced the same emotions that we feel.  In Luke 19:41-42, we read about Jesus weeping because of His love for a group of people that were going to be destroyed due to their failure to believe in Him: “As He approached Jerusalem and saw the city, He wept over it and said, ‘If you, even you, had only known on this day what would bring you peace–but now it is hidden from your eyes.’”  Because Jesus openly agonized over lost souls, we should be equally concerned.  We should feel this same sense of sadness as we look around at people who are rejecting the free gift of eternal life with Christ.  What can we do about it?  We can pray for unbelievers that we know and we can be a shining example of what life with Christ looks like.  In addition, we should “…Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have.  But do this with gentleness and respect” (1 Peter 3:15).  Although His mercy, love and compassion extend to entire groups of people, He is capable of loving every person individually.  In John 11:33-37, we see Jesus weeping for one specific person.  He loved His friend Lazarus, and openly showed how much He cared for him.  Similarly, God loves each and every person that He has created.  How do we know that this is true?  Firstly, He created us in His image.  He gave us certain attributes that reflect His character.  We are the only creatures He did this for, which sets us apart.  We are capable of a deep and special bond with Our Heavenly Father, which is unique amongst creation, and lets us know that He has an elevated level of care and concern for each one of us as individuals.  David wrote about this intimate relationship with God in Psalms 139:1-6: “You have searched me, Lord, and You know me. You know when I sit and when I rise; You perceive my thoughts from afar.  You discern my going out and my lying down; You are familiar with all my ways.  Before a word is on my tongue You, Lord, know it completely.  You hem me in behind and before, and You lay Your hand upon me.  Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too lofty for me to attain.”  The ultimate example of God’s love is the fact that He sent Jesus to suffer and die for our sins.  He loved us enough to endure this excruciating agony, in order to restore a personal relationship with Him.  He did not do this because we deserved it, but because He loves us and because we are infinitely important to Him!  “But because of His great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved” (Ephesians 2:4-5).  Another feature of God’s amazing love for each of us is that nothing in life can ever separate us from His love: “For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:38-39).  Amen!

And one of them, Caiaphas, being high priest that year, said to them, “You know nothing at all, nor do you consider that it is expedient for us that one man should die for the people, and not that the whole nation should perish.” Now this he did not say on his own authority; but being high priest that year he prophesied that Jesus would die for the nation, and not for that nation only, but also that He would gather together in one the children of God who were scattered abroad.” John‬ ‭11:49-52‬ ‭NKJV‬‬. How interesting that God used Caiaphas to prophesy about what Jesus’ death would accomplish!  Caiaphas was the high priest at this time, and was the one who was most directly responsible for having Jesus killed.  He carried out an illegal trial, and led the chief priests and elders to pressure Pilate to approve the crucifixion. (Matthew 26:57-65 and 27:1-2).  The chief priests also made sure Jesus’ tomb was guarded (Matthew 27:62-66), and bribed the guards to lie to cover up the resurrection (Matthew 28:11-15).  This is another example of how God can use anyone to fulfill His ultimate plan…even a dishonest, prideful, hypocrite like Caiaphas, who didn’t even believe that Jesus was the Son of God!  God used Caiaphas for this important prophecy because as high priest he was well respected among the Jewish people.  Although he did not understand the enormous breadth of his words, God used him to make quite a powerful statement about why Jesus had to die on the cross — One had to be sacrificed for the salvation of the world.  It is clearly evident that: “The LORD does whatever pleases Him, in the heavens and on the earth, in the seas and all their depths” (Psalms 135:6). 

Thankfully He is a God of love, and His plans include good things for all of us that love and trust in Him!

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