September 2017


Introduction

“And truly Jesus did many other signs
  in the presence of His disciples, which
  are not written in this book; but these
  are written that you may believe that
  Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and
  that believing you may have life
  in His name.”- John (Jn 20:30-31)

John tells us that there are many miracles performed by Jesus which were not recorded in the gospel. He had specially chosen 7 for us to read. He did that so that we can believe that Jesus is indeed the Christ and we can have life through his name.

So far we have taken a look at these miracles

1. Jesus turning water into wine (Part 1, Part 2)
2. Jesus Healing The Nobleman’s son (Part 3, Part 4)
3. Jesus Healing By The Pool Of Bethesda (Part 5, Part 6)
4. Jesus feeding 5000 with 5 loaves and 2 Fishes (Part 7 , Part 8)
5. Jesus Walking on Water (Part 9, Part 10)
6. Jesus Healing A Blind Man (Part 11, Part 12)
7. Raising Lazarus (Part 13)

This is the last blog post of this series in the previous blog post, we learnt that Jesus intentionally came late to Lazarus. So that he will die  and Jesus will be able to resurrect him.

Now let us look at the other lessons that we can learn from this miracle.

Lord, behold, he whom You love is sick.

“Lord, behold, he whom
  You love is sick.”- Mary and Marta (Jn 11:3)

Jesus love Lazarus and he is sick. Sometimes we think that people who are loved by God will receive special grace. Most Christians will define this special grace as “"No disasters and no trouble”

To many in the world, grace means having no problems, no sickness and no pain. This is something we desire. That is why when we see people in trouble our first reaction is “Why the grace of God is not given to him? Why would God allow the ones he love to suffer?”

But that is the thinking of man and not what the bible tells us. The bible records that those who are loved by God will still fall sick. Elisha was a great prophet, full of great miracles and he healed many sick. He is loved by God and God used him mightily. Yet the bible records that Elisha died of illness.

Those who are loved by God will still fall sick and will still die. The only difference is that they pass away with a heart full of joy and peace of the Lord. For they know that God loved them and had brought them back to heaven for an eternal rest.

That is the difference between a someone whom the Lord loves and an unbeliever.

Those who are loved by the Lord understands that he is cleanse from sin, he will receive the Holy Spirit as a guarantee of his inheritance. He is assured that God had prepared a place for them and he will take him there some day.  That is why they can remain peaceful and joyful always.

But those who do not believe will despair. He may be able to think positively for a while, but if the sickness and pain is prolong, he may despair and give up hope. Even the strongest man may despair at times in the midst of suffering.

That is why Paul remind us

But I do not want you to be ignorant,
  brethren, concerning those who have
  fallen asleep, lest you sorrow as others
  who have no hope. For if we believe that
  Jesus died and rose again, even so God
  will bring with Him those who sleep in
  Jesus.”- Paul (1 Thess 4:13-14)

“Then we who are alive and remain shall
   be caught up together with them in the
   clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And
   thus we shall always be with the Lord.
  
Therefore comfort one another with
  these words.”- Paul (1 thess 4:17-18)

As Christians, will we choose to despair in face of death and difficulties? Or will we choose to believe in the words of Jesus and be filled with peace and joy?

That is something we need to consider and we need to comfort each other often with these words

Jesus Delayed Coming To Lazarus

“So, when He heard that he was 
  sick, He stayed two more days
  in the place where He was. “- John (Jn 11:6)

“Lord, if You had been here, my 
brother would not have died.”- Martha and Mary (Jn 11:21,32)

Jesus heard that Lazarus was sick, he remained 2 more days, he did it so that Lazarus will die, and then he can perform this miracle. But Mary and Martha did not know this, so they murmured against Jesus. They questioned why Jesus chose to delay for 2 more days while they are worried for Lazarus.

As Lazarus’s condition got poorer and poorer still Jesus did not come. When Jesus finally arrived, they were unhappy and they blamed him for Lazarus death. They must be thinking within themselves “What is the point of coming since he is now dead?”

We face similar situations before, even more so when we are in extreme difficulty and danger. We call out to God again and again and it appears as though Jesus did not hear us, nor did he grant us our request.  Finally, our patience is exhausted and we start to murmur against God and blame him for the consequences that happens.

But the story of Lazarus tells us, that while we are entitled to our will, we need to understand that God has his own will as well. If Jesus were to come early, Lazarus will be healed, he will not need to die and it is good. But Jesus had another will, one which he delay in his arrival so that Lazarus will die. Jesus wanted Lazarus to be buried for at least 4 days.

There was a common Jewish superstition that after a person is dead, his spirit will remain in the tomb for 3 days. Only when the body starts to smell, that is when the spirit leaves. Therefore Jesus choose to come late not just for the sake of Mary, Martha and Lazarus. It is also for the multitude as well as the many Christians who will read of this miracles. He came late so tat everyone will know that he is the Lord of Life. Only though Jesus one can be saved.

That is the better will of God, and Christians who have faith will have a different attitude. Yes we may have our own will, our own wishes  and our own timing. But God will have a better will and a better time. Even though God did not answer according to our timing and our desires. But we will not despair nor murmur. Even though we may not understand why God did not grant our wishes, but we believe that God had a will that is far better. We will thank God and trust that God will have a better will and a better time.

Jesus Wept

“Jesus wept.”- John (Jn 11:35)

This is the shortest verse of the bible, and it is also the most touching. For Jesus wept, he wept after seeing the sorrow of the bereaved. He could see their despair and helplessness in face of death. As the result, Jesus is sad and sorrowful.

“Therefore, when Jesus saw her weeping,
   and the Jews who came with her weeping,
   He groaned in the spirit and was troubled.”" – John (Jn 11:33)

Here it records that when Jesus saw everyone weeping, he started to groan in Spirit. Some translation indicated that this groaning had a kind of anger and indignation. On one hand, Jesus was weeping, and on the other hand he was anger.

Have we wonder why Jesus is agitated? Jesus wept because he saw their sorrow and agony over death.  He understood our tears, and he can understand our weakness. Jesus had tasted the experience of being human. He is able to understand us. Whenever we encounter suffering and pain, he will weep together with us. He will weep with us even when everyone else is mocking us.

Perhaps others may think that the suffering we have encounter is small and insignificant, but Jesus will weep with us .For he knows our weakness and our suffering.

Jesus is sad because of the people and their unwilling to believe in his words. For those who do not believe in his words, will despair even more  and be in deeper agony, this is true especially when they are facing difficulty or death.

But if one believes in the words of Jesus.”Eve n though he may die, but he will live” Then he will not feel despair and helpless before death.

A Christian feels only sadness during funerals, for we know that it is a temporary separation. This separation is similar to us sending our children off to study. We are sad because we will not be able to see them, but we will never despair and be sorrowful. For we know that those who believe in the words of Christ will meet again. That meeting will be eternal in the kingdom of God. That is why we will not be despair, be helpless and sorrowful.

If one do not believe in the words of Jesus, he will feel the despair and agony of death. That is the reason why Jesus s troubled before the tomb of Lazarus.  He was sad at the hard heartedness of the people and their unbelief.

That is why we need to remember that Jesus wept.  We need to constantly ask ourselves, in all that we do, are we bringing trouble and distress to Jesus? The author of Hebrews reminds us that without faith it is impossible to please God. Those who come before God must believe that he exist. He must believe that all that Jesus promised are true.

 Jesus said, “Take away the stone.”

John 11:39

Jesus : “Take away the stone.”
Martha : “Lord, by this time there
                  is a stench, for he has
                  been dead four days.”

Jesus told the people to roll the stone way. Does Jesus really need people to do this work?  If he were to command angels to do it, they will roll the stone away.  But Jesus chose to ask man to do it, even though people find excuses not to follow the instructions of Jesus.

But Jesus wanted man to do the work.  when Jesus gives us an instruction, it is within the ability of man. He did not want man to command the dead to come forth, he only wanted us to move the stones ourselves.

We need to understand that even when God perform miracles, he expects man to do what they could do, while God will accomplish the things that man cannot do.

“Commit your works to the Lord,
  And your thoughts will be established.”- Solomon (Prov 16:3)

This is a proverb that many knew, but yet the fact is, there are times when we commit our works to the Lord, and God did not establish it. It makes us wonder why.

“he preparations of the heart belong to man,
But the answer of the tongue is from the Lord.”- Solomon (Prov 16:1)

Here it tell us that man can make as much plans as they like, but it is God’s who can decide whether to establish a plan or not. So do we know when God accepts a plan and when he rejects it? When you ask your Christians friends, some may say that if everything goes smoothly, that means that it is the will of God, but if you face opposition it is not. But is this a good way to judge ?

Let us consider Prov 16:2

“All the ways of a man are pure in his own eyes,
  But the Lord weighs the spirits.”- Solomon (Prov 16:2)

Here it reminds us, that man will always think that their plans are good. But God does not look at the surface, he looks deeper into our hearts. God wanted to know our true intention, our true motivation behind our actions. If they are aligned to the will of God, God will grant it.

“Did I not say to you that if 
  you would believe you would
  see the glory of God?”- Jesus (Jn 11:40)

Today there are many who claim that they will believe only when they see something. For as humans we have a tendency to trust our eyes for facts. But Jesus reminds us that only by believing can we see the glory of God.  Today if we want to see the glory of God, if we want to see something that is impossible made possible, then we need to follow the word of Jesus.

We need to remove the stones within our hearts, we need to be willing to believe and follow the words of Jesus, then we can see the glory of God. That is the faith we ought to have. We need to first roll away the stone. That is something within our ability, then we need to believe that Jesus can do what we cannot do.

If we roll away the stone with no faith, then we will doubt if Jesus can raise Lazarus. Those who rolled away the stones must have smell the stench of the dead body in the tomb. But sometimes we need to smell the stench in order to see the dead being raised. The smell from the tomb must have made many around doubtful. But if we choose to stop believing after removing the stones, then we will never see the glory of God. Then we will not see Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead. Then all our work will be in vain and it will come to nothing.

But if we believe that Jesus can raise a man from the dead, and yet we choose not to roll the stone away, then our faith will be in vain for it lack action. That is why faith must be accompanied by actions. Then we can see the glory of God

 Jesus said, “Loose him, and let him go.”

“Loose him, and let him go.”- Jesus (Jn 11:44)

When Lazarus was raised and he walk out of the tomb, he must be wrapped up in his grave clothes. If he remains like this what sort of resurrection is this? That is why Jesus told them to loose him and let him go. If they did not loose him, he will continue to look like a dead man. Only by removing the grave clothes can he be a true living person and be able to move freely.

Today all of us is like Lazarus, we have received the blood of Jesus and we are reborn. But sometimes we still look like our old person. It looks as if we are still dressed in grave clothes.

That is why Paul remind us

“But you have not so learned Christ,
  if indeed you have heard Him and
  have been taught by Him, as the truth
  is in Jesus: 
   that you put off, concerning your
  former conduct, the old man which
  grows corrupt according to the deceitful
   lusts,  and be renewed in the spirit of your
  mind, and that you put on the new man
  which was created according to God, in
  true righteousness and holiness.” Paul (Eph 4:20-24)

If we have truly learnt from Christ and become his disciples, we need to let go of our former conduct. That is just like Jesus calling the people to take the grave clothes of Lazarus. For we have all received a new life through the precious blood of Jesus.

That is why we need to listen to the words of Jesus, to put off our old man. For when God create the new heaven and new earth. Our old sinful self will not be allowed to enter. Only those who are reborn built according to the image of God can enter this kingdom.

We need to follow the words of Jesus, put off our old self and put on the new man. We need to be a real person that is raised by Jesus.

WE have finish this series concerning the 7 miracles of Jesus. May we all learn the lessons from this even miracles and believe that Jesus is Lord.

 

4. May God help all of us to apply this to our lives

Introduction

In our previous discussion we talking about this verse

“However, when He, the Spirit of truth,
  has come, He will guide you into all truth;
  for He will not speak on His own authority,
  but whatever He hears He will speak; and
  He will tell you things to come.

We shared that there are 2 aspects about guiding us into all truth.

In the first aspect, we have explored that the Holy Spirit is here to help individuals create a relationship with the truth. That relationship can allow us to enter into the truth of Christ, to change ourselves to take on his image. Then we will be truly connected to Christ, and we will not depart of Christ. Then the Holy Spirit will continue to guide, leading us into salvation.

Before we look at the second aspect. Let us consider the notion, “Entering into the Truth

What Does It Means To Enter Into Truth?

Entering into truth is not about achieving academic knowledge. One can always study the bible academically and build an understanding regarding it. But that will only remain as a basic understanding, a superficial relationship with the text.

The Holy Spirit wants to lead us into all truth, which surpasses a superficial understanding. It is here to lead us to create a practical and a deep relationship with the truth. For Truth is more than just an intellectual understanding of Gods word.

Differentiating The Word Of God From The Words Of Man

The word of God is different from the word of man . The word of man is derived from the thinking of man. It is from philosophy. Great man like Confucius and Socrates all have different understandings and they wrote books about what is in their mind. Therefore their perspective differs. The Truth they talk about is different from the truth of the bible.

What is the difference? Their words are a result of their thinking. But the word of God is not just a concept or a thinking. The Word Of God is God and it is living. 

“In the beginning was the Word,
  and the Word was with God, and
  the Word was God.
  And the Word became flesh and
  dwelt among us, and we beheld His
  glory, the glory as of the only
  begotten of the Father, full of grace
  and truth.”- John (Jn 1:1& 14)

This word is not a mere thought or a concept. He is something we can experience and see for ourselves. That is why John said “we beheld his glory”. This truth is a person, and it is someone we can build a relationship with. This word is Jesus, and he tell us that he is the way the truth and the light.

None on earth can dare claim to be the truth. Man can only seek the truth. He can discover and understand the truth but he is not the truth. He is a mere seeker. But those who found the truth cannot become the truth. But Jesus said that he is the truth. Those who believe in him have everlasting life, and his truth is life.

Those who entered into the truth, have an intimate relationship with God, the truth will allow them to have a deep communion and connection to God.

A Practical Illustration By Jesus

I am the vine, you are the branches.
  He who abides in Me, and I in him,
  bears much fruit; for without Me you
  can do nothing.
  
If anyone does not abide in Me, he is
  cast out as a branch and is withered;
  and they gather them and throw them
  into the fire, and they are burned.” –Jesus (Jn 15:5-6)

Branches need to be connected to the tree to have life. If it was cut off from the tree, it may be able to live for a while, but it’s life will eventually wither way. It may be able to bloom and to bear fruit. But it will de because branches are not the source of life. Its source of life come from the tree. branches that not joined to the tree, will die eventually.

But how can we be joined to Christ and receive this spiritual life?     

 
“If you abide in Me, and My words
  abide in you, you will ask what you
  desire, and it shall be done for you.”- Jesus (Jn 15:7)

We tend to focus only on the latter portion of the verse about asking. When we believe in Christ, we have a faith that is joined to Christ. When we pray, we experience God listening to us.  Many of us experience the grace of God as far as prayer is concern.

Experiencing Grace Is Different From Entering Into Truth

But the main purpose of Christ coming to earth is not to perform miracles or to grant worldly blessing. But many came to him seek for such grace. Initially they appeared to be full of faith and wanted to be joined to Christ. But they failed to enter into the truth, for they do not have the truth in them. That is why soon after they receive what they ask for, they leave Jesus.

These people are slightly better than unbelievers as they indeed had a relationship with God. But sadly that relationship only lasted for the duration where they came before him to ask for help. Their faith remain at that superficial level. When they received what they ask for and there is no more need for Jesus. They stop praying, they no longer wanted Jesus.

The Holy Spirit is always there, he is willing to lead us into all truth so that we can have a relationship with God. The word of God is spirit and it life, he is able to give us eternal life.

An Example In The Bible : Lydia

Let us examine an example of how the Holy Spirit can lead one into the truth.

“And on the Sabbath day we went
  out of the city to the riverside,
  where prayer was customarily
  made; and we sat down and spoke
  to the women who met there. 
  Now a certain woman named Lydia
   heard us. She was a seller of purple
  from the city of Thyatira, who 
  worshiped God. The Lord opened her
  heart to heed the things spoken by Paul.”- Luke ((Acts 15:13-14)

Here is the record of the first believer in Philippi which is Lydia. Lydia was lead into the truth. Verse 14 told us that God opened her heart to pay attention to the words of Paul. She understood and entered into the truth. She had a relationship with Christ. She was willing to be baptised. That resulted to her salvation.

Misconception 2 : It Is the Holy Spirit Fault If One Does Not Believe

While we examined the story of Lydia, some  may think , “Today if we are unable to receive the truth, that is because the Holy Spirit did not open our heart. That is also the reason why we are uninterested in the truth. Therefore it is the Holy Spirits fault”

But that is a misconception, for the Holy Spirit is willing to lead everyone to the truth. But the question is are we willing to be lead by the Holy Spirit? The Holy Spirit will not force himself on us. If one is unwilling to open his heart, the Holy Spirit will not pry his heart open and control him.

This is seen clearly in the conversation of Lydia. how did we know that she opened her heart?

Lydia is a business woman, her clients are likely nobles. For she is a seller of purple cloth. In those days purples are reserved for the nobles. She must be busy working for the higher echelons of society in her days. But in the midst of her job she did not lose her direction in life. Instead she saw the vanity of life, which makes her realise what is the true value of life. That is why she seek what is eternal and valuable. That is also the reason why she will go to the riverside on the Sabbath.

Learning From Lydia

Lydia did not go to the riverside at the spur of the moment, she was doing that on a regular basis. This is something we ought to learn.

Today we see some Christians choosing to go to church only when their favourite speakers are speaking. But Lydia was different, she had the heart to worship God. She was one of the women who will gather at the riverside to worship God. (Verse 14). It is her habit to come on the regular basis. She willingly seek God, that is why the Holy Spirit was able to lead her to the truth.

Conclusion Of Entering Into The Truth

In Revelations, Jesus is knocking on the door of our hearts. He is asking us to open our hearts. He wanted to come in and live in our hearts. That message is not written for unbelievers. He is talking to believers, and that vision is telling us something.

Today there are many believers who had closed their hearts to Jesus, they no longer seek Christ. If one does not desire and thirst for Christ, how can one seek Christ?  How can we experience the Joy of the Holy Spirit leading us into truth? How can we develop this personal relationship with Jesus?

We need to pray for the Holy Spirit to open our hearts so we can receive the words of God. But firstly we need to esteem the word of God. So are we willing to find time for God in the midst of our busy schedule? The Word of God is no ordinary word, he is God himself.  

With this understanding, let us proceed to study the second aspect of being lead into the truth. In the next post we will study how does the Holy Spirit  lead the church into the truth