Monthly Archives: August 2021



“‘But Rabbi,’ they said, ‘a short while ago the Jews there tried to stone you, and yet you are going back?’ Jesus answered, ‘Are there not twelve hours of daylight? Anyone who walks in the daytime will not stumble, for they see by this world’s light. It is when a person walks at night that they stumble, for they have no light.'” John 11:8-10 NIV

Once again the disciples were mystified by Jesus’ behaviour. He was not acting like someone who had the power to heal His ailing friend. Knowing he was dying, He dawdled for another two days. Perhaps His disciples thought He was deliberately staying away because the Jews had tried to kill Him.

Then, after two days, He decided to go back to Bethany after all. It seems that He was at least two days journey on foot away from Lazarus and his sisters. Four days delay could mean anything. What was the point of returning if it was too late?

Jesus’ reply is also puzzling. He was going right into the lion’s den, yet He seemed unconcerned. Once again He showed His followers that His life was directed, not by His circumstances but by His Father’s timetable. If He was needed in Bethany, He would go there regardless of what His enemies were planning to do. His times were in His Father’s hands; it was up to Him, as a Son, to obey.

“After this, He went on to tell them, ‘Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep, but I am going to wake him up.’ His disciples replied, ‘Lord, if he sleeps, he will get better.’ Jesus had been speaking of his death, but His disciples thought He meant natural sleep. So, then He told them plainly, ‘Lazarus is dead, and for your sake I am glad I was not there, so that you may believe. But let us go to him.’

“Then Thomas (also known as Didymus) said to the rest of the disciples, ‘ Let us also go, that we may die with Him.'” John 11:11-16 NIV.

Jesus seemed fully aware and completely in control of what He was doing. His delay was deliberate, giving Lazarus time to go the full course of his illness right up to his death and beyond. Imagine what that did to the two sisters who trusted Jesus and were anxiously waiting for Him to come! Day after day they watched out for Him but He did not arrive. Lazarus was sinking and they were desperate. Did He not get the message? Did He not care? Why had He not come?

Lazarus finally died and He still did not arrive — not even for the funeral. Four days went by — Lazarus’ body had begun to decay and still no Jesus. The sisters were disillusioned and distraught. Had He finally failed; finally betrayed their trust in Him? What were they to think? They had no idea what was happening on the other side of the Jordan.

From Jesus’ point of view, it was all going to plan. He even hinted to His disciples that He knew exactly what was happening. Lazarus had died. It was now time to go back to Bethany. His disciples were mystified. Why go back if Lazarus was dead? Wasn’t it too dangerous to put in an appearance when the Jews were crying for His blood?

That was no concern of Jesus because He knew when it would be time to put Himself into their hands. They had no power to touch Him until the Father delivered Him up to them. Time and again, people had tried to harm Him – from the time He made Himself known to His own people in Nazareth to His altercations with the Jews in Jerusalem, He was the target for hatred and murder, yet every time He emerged unscathed. He went about freely among His enemies because He trusted the Father.

He had His eyes on a miracle bigger than He had ever performed and a sign no-one could deny – that He was resurrection life that promised life to those who believed in him far greater than they could ever imagine. Raising a decaying man to life four days after he died was an unimaginable “work” that not even His enemies could deny. They tried to deny the blind man’s restored sight but a dead and rotting corpse brought back to life! Never!

No wonder He seized the opportunity to do something beyond anything people could imagine and especially His avowed adversaries. This was the power of the Father whom He came to reveal, and the display of His own glory through the glory of the Father.


Scripture taken from THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide



“Now a man named Lazarus was sick. He was from Bethany, the village of Mary and her sister Martha. (This Mary, whose brother Lazarus now lay sick, was the same one who poured perfume on the Lord and wiped His feet with her hair). So the sisters sent word to Jesus, ‘Lord, the one you love is sick.’ When He heard this, Jesus said, ‘This sickness will not end in death. No, it is for God’s glory so that God’s Son may also be glorified through it.'” John 11:1-4 NIV.

Jesus was faced with something He had never experienced before. Lazarus was no stranger to Him. He was a member of a family whose home was like a second home to Him. In the past few weeks He had spent much time there, using it as a refuge from His adversaries as He moved in and out of Jerusalem before His final Passover.

There was a strong bond between this family and Jesus. Mary had expressed her faith and adoration by anointing His feet with her costliest treasure — her alabaster box of spikenard, worth an entire year’s wages in Jewish terms. Jesus must have felt comfortable in their home. He knew He was always welcome and He was always provided for when He stayed there with His disciples.

His miracles had always been done to strangers or casual acquaintances at the most, but now His beloved friend, Lazarus lay deathly sick. His illness must have been much more than a common cold since the sisters felt the need to send for Him. Jesus’ response shows us that Lazarus was dying. What was He to do? His natural response would have been to set off immediately so that He could get to him before he died.

Yet Jesus said and did something unusual. Instead of leaving for Bethany right then, He remarked to His disciples, ‘Lazarus won’t die. This is about God’s glory and mine as well.’ What did He mean? Once again, Jesus put this crisis into perspective. What appeared obvious in the circumstances was part of a much bigger picture – God’s glory – and it was Jesus’ role to act within what God was doing, not what would have been His natural inclination.

Every situation, even if it touched someone as dear to Him as Lazarus and his sisters, was no cause for panic. He had to see it from His Father’s point of view and act within the Father’s will. There was always one guiding principle that showed Jesus what to do – whatever brought the greatest glory to the Father.

When He and His disciples met a man born blind, He used it as an opportunity to reveal the Father’s mercy by restoring His sight as a sign, especially to His opponents, that it was the Father’s desire for people to have 20/20 spiritual vision by believing in Him. The miracle triggered a debate that exposed the blindness of the Jewish leaders who vehemently defended their claim that they could “see”.

Jesus was now faced with the greatest challenge and the greatest opportunity of His ministry. He had raised others from the dead, not recorded by John but by the other gospel writers, but never a person whose body had already been decaying for four days.

His disciples must have been puzzled by His attitude. He seemed quite casual about the sisters’ urgent message. First, He seemed confident that Lazarus would not die; then He made no effort to hurry to his bedside. What was going on?

“Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. So, when He heard that Lazarus was sick, He stayed where He was two more days, and then He said to His disciples, ‘Let us go back to Judea.'” John 11:5-7 NIV.

Isn’t that a strange way to show His love?  Are we not also faced with the same strange response from God? We cry out to Him in our crisis and He says nothing and He does nothing! It is almost as though He deliberately turns a deaf ear. What is He doing?

God is never deaf to the cries of His beloved but, like Jesus, He sees the bigger picture. There was a great lesson for the two sisters in Jesus’ action as well as revelation of who He was that impacted them and their brother far more powerfully than healing Lazarus would have done.

He is calling us to trust Him; to trust His love, His power and His intention which is much bigger than anything we can imagine.


Scripture taken from THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.



“Then Jesus went back across the Jordan to the place where John had been baptising in the early days. There He stayed, and many people came to Him. They said, ‘Though John never performed a sign, all that John said about this man was true.’ And in that place, many believed in Jesus.” John 10:40-42 NIV.

Thus concludes a dramatic and tempestuous encounter between Jesus and the Jewish leaders, and a temporary lull in the conflict between them. He retreated beyond the Jordan, not because He was afraid of them but to allow the dust to settle before the last and final battle that would end in His death.

The writer, John, assures his readers that, in spite of the opposition of the Jewish hierarchy, there were many of the ordinary people who were convinced that He was the Messiah and that John the Baptist’s testimony about Him was true. At this stage they were probably still wobbly believers, convinced of who Jesus was and yet wary of the Pharisees because the religious leaders had the power to do damage to these infant believers because of their position in their religion.

In a few short weeks, the faith of these baby believers would be sorely tested when Jesus was finally arrested and brought to trial before His adversaries. John’s purpose was to present Jesus as the Christ, the Son of God, so that his readers would be convinced of His identity and put their faith in Him. Throughout the gospel John assured his readers that this was happening in spite of the hatred of the Jewish leaders towards Jesus.

After the episode of the healing of the blind man, no doubt the common people were in on the hot debate that raged between the Pharisees and Jesus. They heard the accusations levelled against Him because that He had healed the man on the Sabbath. They had listened to Jesus’ defence: ‘Evaluate my works and see whether they don’t match the nature of the Father.’

These enquirers had done their own thinking and concluded that a demon-possessed man could never do the miracles Jesus was doing to bring health and comfort to suffering people. At least they had the good sense to be honest, to weigh up the evidence with an open mind and to reach the conclusion that the Pharisees refused to come to because the Pharisees were convinced they were right.

The Pharisees not only denounced Jesus; they also dismissed the common people as ignorant and stupid! What an indictment against them!

Where were all these so-called believers when the mob, led by the Jewish religious hierarchy, was baying for Jesus’ blood? Were they in the crowd, swayed by mob hysteria to demand His death? Were they too afraid to stand up for Him lest they suffer the same fate? Was their protest so feeble that they were shouted down when they tried to defend Him? We will never know.

However, there must have been many of those early shaky believers who joined the tide of people who repented and were baptised on the Day of Pentecost. Their failure to support Jesus for whatever reason was only a part of the process. They were not denounced or disqualified for their weakness. They were included in the ranks of those who became staunch followers of the risen Messiah.

Does this not encourage us to believe that where we are now, or where our loved ones are now, is not the end of the story? Where was Saul on the day when he stood watching the fanatical Pharisees hurling stones at Stephen and thoroughly supporting what they were doing? Where was he when he set out for Damascus to do as much damage to the church there as he could? He was only hours away from a life-transforming encounter with the Living Christ that would set his life in a new direction.

We must never give up on those for whom we are praying because they are also at some point in the process of becoming new in Christ. God has promised to complete what He has begun and we can count on His promise, not matter what!


Scripture taken from THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.



“‘If He called them “gods”, to whom the Word of God came — and Scripture cannot be set aside — what about the one whom the Father set apart as His very own and sent into the world? Why then do you accuse me of blasphemy because I said, ‘I am God’s Son?’ Do not believe me unless I do the works of my Father.’

“‘But if I do them, even though you do not believe me, believe the works, that you may know and understand that the Father is in me and I in the Father.’ Again, they tried to seize Him, but He escaped their grasp.” John 10:35-39 NIV.

There is only one way to recognise the nature of a tree — by its fruit. There is no doubt that an apple tree is an apple tree when it bears apples or an orange tree is an orange tree when it bears oranges, though it may look like a lemon tree or some other citrus tree. 

The Pharisees refused to accept Jesus’ claim to be the Son of God because they insisted that the works He did, although He did the things that reflected the nature of His Father, were evil because He did them on the Sabbath, as though it were the day, not the nature of the deed that made His miracles evil!

Unfortunately for them, their very accusation revealed the nature of their “tree”. Their fruit was so rotten that they called evil good and good evil. Jesus warned, “‘Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves. By their fruit you will recognise them.'” Matthew 7:15, 16a NIV.

If the fruit of Jesus’ life matched the nature of His Father, then He must surely be His Son, since a son contains the genes and perpetuates his father’s nature into the next generation. In Psalm 82:6, God called the Israelites ‘gods’ because they were to reveal the nature of their God to the world as His sons, His gracious, compassionate, slow-to-anger and abounding-in-love-and-faithfulness nature, yet the Pharisees were anything but like the God they claimed as their Father.

Jesus set great store on works because works reveal the nature of the person just as fruit reveals the nature of a tree. In his letter, James picks up on this theme, showing his readers that a true believer is identified by his works as Abraham was by his. To the Hebrew mind, there was no such thing as believing without acting on that belief. Believing in Jesus was meaningless unless it issued in obedience to Him.

The Apostle Paul, in his letters to the Romans and Galatians, contended for faith apart from works as a way of salvation. The Judaisers — a Jewish sect of believers in Jesus — insisted that Gentiles be circumcised first before they could become believers. To Paul, that meant that the death of Jesus was insufficient to reconcile a wayward son to the Father and, for him, that was unthinkable. Yes, the death of Jesus is sufficient to deal with our sin and to restore us to fellowship with the Father. There is nothing we can do to add to the sufficiency of His work on the cross.

James, on the other hand, recognised that good works — tsidaqah, which isfulfilling our duty to God by sharing our resources with people less fortunate than we are, caring for the alien, the widow and the orphan and helping the weak and oppressed — are a fruit of our confession of faith in Jesus. We reveal our oneness with Him when we do what He did just as He revealed His oneness with the Father by doing what the Father wanted Him to do.

For all their big talk, the Pharisees and religious leaders made it glaringly obvious that they were of their father, the devil, because they were doing his works, not the works of the Father. “‘You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies.'”  John 8:44 NIV.

That is quite an indictment!

How important it is to show our connection with Jesus by doing what He did and living like He lived, just as He lived out His connection with the Father by the way He treated people. It is not only what we say that reveals our connection to Jesus but also the way we live. Let’s make sure that our fruit is the fruit of the Spirit and not the deeds of the flesh.

We are known by our works more than by our words!


Scripture taken from THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide



“Again, His Jewish opponents picked up stones to stone Him, but Jesus said to them, ‘I have shown you many good works from the Father. For which of these do you stone me?’ ‘We are not stoning you for any good work,’ they replied, ‘but for blasphemy because you, a mere man, claim to be God.'” John 10:31-33 NIV.

How nonchalant could Jesus be? Almost with tongue in cheek He challenged them. ‘For which of the good works I did are you wanting to stone me?’

Slowly but steadily the case for blasphemy was building against Him — unless, of course, He was telling the truth. If the Jews had had their way, they would have stoned Him there and then, but for one thing — it was not His time.

As far as they were concerned, He was guilty and didn’t even need a trial. Unlike Nicodemus and the blind man He had recently healed, they refused to recognise the Father as the source of the miracles Jesus performed. He was evil because He “broke” their Sabbath rules by healing on the Sabbath and then compounded His guilt by claiming to do His good works through God. What more evidence did they need?

Unfortunately for them, their action only compounded their guilt and not the other way around. Jesus had already indicted them for being blind. It was their wilful blindness that exposed their guilt because they refused to recognise Him for who He was. They had the Scriptures; they knew the Scriptures, but they chose not to believe Him although it was clear that He was the one the Scriptures pointed to from Genesis 1.

For Jesus to be the perfect sacrifice for the sin of the world, He had to be innocent of all sin, and especially the sins of law-breaker and blasphemer of which He sworn enemies accused Him so that His death would be a perfect substitute for sinners. 

“Jesus answered them, ‘Is it not written in your law, ‘I have said you are “gods”?'” John 10:34 NIV.

What is the point of this quote from Psalm 82:6? In Hebrew rabbinic teaching, this is called a remez — a hint. It is a portion of a portion of Scripture that makes no sense outside the context of the whole portion. Psalm 82 is an indictment of God’s people for their idolatry. They followed the gods of the surrounding nations and became like them — cruel, unjust, and oppressors.

God’s law taught them to treat all people with dignity because they were all created in the His image. They were to reflect the nature of their God by the way they treated their fellow men.

“God presides in the great assembly; He renders judgment among the “gods”: ‘How long will you defend the unjust and show partiality to the wicked? Defend the weak and the fatherless; uphold the cause of the poor and the oppressed. Rescue the weak and the needy; deliver them from the hand of the wicked. The “gods” know nothing. They walk about in darkness: all the foundations of the earth are shaken. I said, ‘You are “gods”; you are all sons of the Most High,’ but you will die like mere mortals; you will fall like every other ruler.'” Psalm 82:1-7 NIV.

If the religious leaders knew their Scriptures, they would have understood that Jesus was turning their accusation back on them. They were accusing Him of blasphemy because He claimed to be the Son of God which He evidenced by doing what God required of a son.

They were supposed to be sons of the Most High by being generous and merciful, yet their very behaviour negated their claim. Like their ancestors, their lives displayed who their “god” was — their selfish and greedy selves. They were “gods” in the sense that they were being what their “god” was and doing what their “god” did. For all the vehemence of their accusations, their words did not stick because their behaviour spoke louder than their voices.

Instead of the case building against Jesus, it was building against His accusers. The day would come when they would put the final nail in their own coffins and the judgment of God would fall on them and their children. “His blood be on us and on our children.” Matthew 27:25 NIV.

Who is your God? Tell it with your life, as well as with your lips!


Scripture taken from THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.