Why Jesus Sometimes Delays- John 11

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When we hear about a loved one being taken to the emergency room or being in the hospital our first impulse is to rush over. We want to be there for them and show our support.

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Jesus received word that his dear friend Lazarus was sick. Lazarus and his two sisters Mary and Martha were friends of Jesus. They sent word to Jesus:

“Lord, the one you love is sick.”

At this point any of us would have immediately gone to them, but Jesus did not.

So when he heard that Lazarus was sick, he stayed where he was two more days

Jesus had told his disciples

“This sickness will not end in death. No, it is for God’s glory so that God’s Son may be glorified through it.”

Jesus waited two days until he started out to Judea where Lazarus and his sisters were. His disciples were concerned saying:

“a short while ago the Jews there tried to stone you, and yet you are going back?”

Jesus replied with an analogy.

“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.”

Jesus was there to show the light of God, to show what God is like. Waiting two days to leave after hearing Lazarus was sick and returning to Judea were part of that. Things were being set up for the greatest miracle of Jesus before his resurrection.

Jesus had a teaching moment with his disciples.

After he had said this, he went on to tell them, “Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep; but I am going there to wake him up.”

His disciples did not get it.

“Lord, if he sleeps, he will get better.” Jesus had been speaking of his death, but his disciples thought he meant natural sleep.

Jesus then told them

“Lazarus is dead”

As we will see later in this chapter, if Jesus had left when he first received word, he might have made it there before Lazarus died. Also Jesus could have simply just said the word and Lazarus could have been healed without Jesus coming there. So why did Jesus delay?

“for your sake I am glad I was not there, so that you may believe. But let us go to him.”

Jesus delayed because he knew he was about to perform his greatest miracle up to that point. The reason in doing so was for his disciples and others to believe.

When we suffer, Jesus might move right away, he might delay, he might let it get worse. Any way that Jesus responds is for others around us not only for ourselves. We do not see the big picture. Jesus does. It is for us to trust him while we suffer.

If God answering seems to be delayed, we need to be careful not to assume God is not with us and does not care. We need to trust God.

Thank you for reading. God Bless.

Jesus Healed Someone Who Didn’t Know Jesus- John Chapter 9

Many years ago I was involved with a prayer group that was praying for a pastor’s wife to be healed of cancer. I will never forget some of that things I heard that seemed ridiculous and at times crazy. One example was a person praying to cut to cords of psychological dependence on the pastor’s wife by people who need counseling because the cords were blocking the healing miracle being prayed for, I did not gain popularity after that prayer meeting by sharing that nothing can block the power of Jesus.

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One day Jesus was walking with his disciples and they saw a man who was blind from birth. The disciples asked a question that shows some of the odd beliefs people can tend to have. They asked in John 9:

 “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?

Let’s think through that one. The disciples asked if the man who was born blind had sinned resulting in him being blind. The question is, did the man sin before he was born. Apart from original sin which we all have, how can a baby sin before it is born? Perhaps they thought a baby could sin while in its mother’s womb or that the punishment for a sing God knew he would commit was retroactive to before the man was born. Seem crazy?

After telling them the man did not sin nor his parents, Jesus said:

“but this happened so that the works of God might be displayed in him”

Then Jesus did something unusual. He spit on the ground and made mud patches to put on the man’s eyes.

Jesus told the man to go wash in the pool of Siloam. The result?

 So the man went and washed, and came home seeing.

The man only knew it was the man called Jesus who healed him, but the man had no idea who Jesus really was.

Jesus heard that they had thrown him out, and when he found him, he said, “Do you believe in the Son of Man?”

“Who is he, sir?” the man asked. “Tell me so that I may believe in him.”

Jesus said, “You have now seen him; in fact, he is the one speaking with you.”

Then the man said, “Lord, I believe,” and he worshiped him.

The man had no faith other than to do what Jesus told to do which was to go wash in the pool. He did not know Jesus was the Messiah, the Savior until after his healing.

I believe in praying for those who are sick. However, we need to keep a balanced bible based approach. I love this account because it shows that someone who did not know who Jesus was ended up being healed.

Thank you for reading. God Bless.

One Word from Jesus Can Do So Much- John Chapter 4

After Jesus’ time in Samaria, he returned to Galilee. The people were all a buzz because they had seen the miracles Jesus did in Jerusalem and of course Cana in Galilee is where Jesus turned water into wine. The buzz about Jesus was stirring.

Jesus was in Cana when a royal official from Capernaum came to him. Capernaum would have been a little over 16 miles, 26km, from Cana. Imagine walking that far. It would have taken most of the day.

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The royal official came to Jesus because his son was sick and near death.

When this man heard that Jesus had arrived in Galilee from Judea, he went to him and begged him to come and heal his son, who was close to death.

After the man begged Jesus, Jesus’ response seemed to be a disconnect.

“Unless you people see signs and wonders,” Jesus told him, “you will never believe.”

The man persisted.

“Sir, come down before my child dies.”

Jesus did not come but he did do something. He healed the man’s son without being there by merely saying the words:

“Go,” Jesus replied, “your son will live.”

The believed what Jesus said and returned to Capernaum. On his way, his servants met him and told him his son was healed. The royal official asked when it happened.

When he inquired as to the time when his son got better, they said to him, “Yesterday, at one in the afternoon, the fever left him.”

The royal official realized it was the exact time Jesus had said, “Your son will live.”

Jesus may seem distant to us at times. He is on his throne in heaven after all and we are, well, stuck here in this mess of a world until he either takes home to heaven or he returns for us.

But all it takes is one word from Jesus. His decree cannot be stopped. When we pray to Jesus, we are praying to the one who has all power. We can approach his throne as Hebrews 4:16 says:

Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.

Jesus is always with us. He will never leave us. He has all power. We can pray in faith and trust him to decide what is best in the situation. We need to be careful to not lose heart. Some answers come quickly and we call them miracles. Some answers come slowly in this life to fulfill his purpose. Some come in our next life in heaven.

Let’s remember just one word from Jesus changes everything.

Thank you for reading. God bless.

Whatever Jesus Does for Us Is Better Than Our Best- John Chapter 2

Here in the USA a big part of the celebration after the wedding ceremony is the wedding cake. Can you imagine how distraught the bride would be if the cake was all gone after only half the guests had some?

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Wine was a big part of celebrations when Jesus was on earth including wedding feasts. One day Jesus was at a wedding feast in Cana. A problem arose. They were out of wine.

Jesus’s mother Mary was there and brought it to Jesus’s attention. His response was:

Woman, why do you involve me?” Jesus replied. “My hour has not yet come.”

When he called her woman, it was not a sign of disrespect. It can be understood as dear woman. The rest of his response is telling.

By asking Mary-why do you involve me- Jesus acknowledges a change has taken place. He has moved into his public ministry now.

The rest of his response is the first we see of a theme thread through John of- my time has not yet come or the hour has not yet come. Jesus knows he is on a mission to be our Savior. John uses the theme thread many times in his writing.

Mary did not give up. She told the servants to do whatever Jesus told them to do. Jesus told them to fill the empty jars with water, Jars that were large enough to hold twenty to thirty gallons of water.

Then Jesus told them to take some out and give it to the master of the banquet. They did so and the reaction of the master of the banquet shows an important lesson for us to remember.

The reaction of the master of the banquet was:

“Everyone brings out the choice wine first and then the cheaper wine after the guests have had too much to drink; but you have saved the best till now.”

The custom was the serve the good stuff first and the cheap stuff after people’s senses were dulled. The master of the banquet thought a mistake had been made because the wine Jesus made from water was better the the good stuff.

The lesson I see here is:

Whatever Jesus does for us is better than our best.

The result of this miracle is the second theme thread we see in John 2.

What Jesus did here in Cana of Galilee was the first of the signs through which he revealed his glory; and his disciples believed in him.

The disciples believed in him. Their infant faith began to grow.

We will see the two theme threads of; my time has not yet come and people believe in Jesus because of miracles as we go through John.

For now, remember:

Whatever Jesus does for you is better than your best or anyone else’s best. 🙂

Story Time- Miracle Brownies

When I was 11 years old, I inherited my first “job’ from my older brother. He had gotten his first part-time job, so he could not cut the grass for an older couple who were our neighbors. They were a nice couple in their 60s.

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Once a week I went to their house to cut their grass or as we say in the USA-mow their lawn. The husband would come outside after I finished the back yard and we would sit down to drink a can of Squirt. Then I would do the front yard. After I finished mowing their lawn, they would have me come inside. We would sit down and to my surprise there were chocolate fudge brownies. I would eat three or four brownies and drink another can of Squirt.

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The first several weeks I thought, “Wow I am so lucky that she makes brownies on Wednesdays.” I thought it was like some kind of miracle. It took a about six or seven weeks for it to dawn on me that she planned to make the brownies on the days I came. I was only 11 after all. 🙂

This true life scenario of an older couple and an 11 year old boy causes me to think about God and us.

The 11 year old boy-me- at first thought the brownies were a lucky day that could not be explained.

The 65 year old woman knew I was coming and planned for it by making what she knew was my favorite-chocolate fudge brownies. She would also let me take some home.She knew because she had asked my older brother. She planned ahead of time for what seemed like a miracle to 11 year old me.

God is always at work in our lives. When the “miracle” happens, we feel blessed, happy, joyful, and on top of the world. We do not expect the miracle. It is a blessed surprise for us, but no surprise for God.

The 11 year old-me- had no ability to bake brownies, but it was something the 65 year old woman knew well.

Miracles are things that happen that we have no explanation for other than it was God. We don’t understand it. God knows all about it. He created the universe after all.

As we pray, let’s try to remember that God is not surprised by anything. He is all knowing and has all power. He is prepared and ready before we ask.

Now if I could just convince Dawn of drawingclosertochrist.com to try a peanut butter bacon burger. That might be a miracle 🙂

Thank you for reading. God Bless.

Better Than My Best?

I can’t count the number of times I have been given the advice- You tried your best, that is all anyone can ask of you. As I write this, I sadly realize I have spoken those same words to others. Is doing our best all we can really ask for?

The first miracle of Jesus that was written about was changing water into wine in John chapter 2. There are some important aspects to ponder that get a lot of attention such as the interaction between Jesus and his mother Mary and that his disciples believed in him after witnessing the miracle.

group of people holding wine glasses
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There is something else that really catches my attention in this account. That is what the master of the banquet said, who did not know Jesus had changed water into wine, when called the bridegroom over aside to chat.

The custom was to serve the best wine first and then bring out the cheap stuff after people drank the good stuff thus they wouldn’t notice the cheap stuff. Kind of like if at a wedding today they served imported wine from France first and then served the cheap box wine after everyone had a few glasses of the good stuff.

So the master of the banquet said of the wine Jesus made from water- “you have saved the best till now” after the people had consumed all of the wine they had before Jesus turned water into wine. In other words- What Jesus did was better than their best.

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This causes me to think about my life of trying to follow Jesus. Reading this account and intellectually understanding that what Jesus does is better than my best is one thing, but do I really count on that. Do I trust him to come through for me? Am I willing to wait on Jesus or do I try to rush things along?

I have to admit there have been too many times in my life that the answer to those questions have been no. The results have been okay at times, disastrous a few times, and who knows what could have happened at other times. The comforting thing is that in Romans 8 it says that God cause all things to work together for the good for those who love God and are called according to his purposes. Even my times of impatiently trying to rush things God can cause to work for the good.

So perhaps the encouragement I should give is a question-have you asked Jesus? Yes, we need to put forth the effort such as study for that exam, or prepare for that presentation, or spend quality time with our loved ones. We should strive to do our best. But let’s remember to ask Jesus and invite him into the process. 🙂

 

Visits by Jesus After His Resurrection- What About Mary His Mother?

One of the mysteries in the bible for me is what happened when Jesus came to visit His mother Mary. She is not listed in the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John as being present during his visits after His resurrection. Surely He must have appeared to Mary His mother. She was there when He was crucified. She was there when He was buried. She had been with Him throughout His life as we see various times after His birth that she was with Him such as at the wedding in Cana. I wonder what happened when He came to her.

Think about her life for a moment. She was a young virgin when an angel appeared to her and said, “Hail Highly Favored One…..” and told her she had been chosen by God to give birth to the Savior of the world. She said yes to God’s plan. She gave birth to Him in a stable of animals and then had to flee to Egypt because Herod wanted to kill the baby Jesus. She raised Him and cared for Him like no one else ever will. She saw His miracles and was even there for His first public miracle of turning water into wine. In fact she kind of instigated it. Then she is there during His passion and watches Him die on the cross before her eyes. She helped to prepare His body for burial. So why is there no mention of Mary the mother of Jesus during His visits after the resurrection.

While I would not make a claim to know for sure or teach this as a doctrine, it is my thought that Jesus’ first visit with His mother Mary was so highly personal and emotional for Mary that the Holy Spirit did not have it recorded. I have often heard it expressed that God is a gentleman meaning He is polite and considerate. While God does record the failings of Peter and the other disciples, there are certain things left unwritten such as the exact nature of Mary Magdaline’s life before Jesus healed her of demon possession. I believe that the moment Jesus first came to see His mother after His resurrection was so personal and emotional for her and out of respect for that moment it was kept private.

Let’s imagine how she must have felt though. She knew better than anyone why He had come into the world. She knew it from the start when the angel Gabriel told her. She saw Him die on the cross and heard Him give her care over to John. She saw Him buried and then she sees Him after His resurrection. She must have been so full of joy that she could not contain her emotions. Tears of joy that must have flowed from her eyes. Surely she embraced Him with a wonderful motherly hug and didn’t want to let go.

There is something in the bible that convinces me that Jesus must have visited Mary after His resurrection. Mary was with the disciples in the upper room when the promise of the Father came upon them. When the Holy Spirit was sent to those who were waiting, Mary was there with them.  In the bible she may fade from the scene as the focus of the story shifts to what the apostles did as they started the church, but she was there when the Holy Spirit came signaling that she still has a role. She is one person I look forward to meeting one day when Jesus calls me home. I would love to hear the story from her 🙂

Mary’s advice at Cana- “Do whatever He tells you”

I was reflecting today on the advice Mary gave to the servants at the Wedding in Cana. Jesus was there with His disciples and a problem arose. They ran out of wine. Mary informed Jesus of the problem and He said “woman why do you involve me, my time has not yet come”. Mary spoke to the servants and instructed them to “Do whatever He tells you”. Jesus told them to fill the water jars with water. They could hold gallons of water. He told them to take some out and take it to the Master of the Ceremony who was surprised when He drank it because it was better than what was served first. In that culture they served the best first and brought out the cheap stuff afterward when no one would notice. The wine Jesus made was better than their best.

Jesus was once asked what works God requires. He said “The work of God is to believe in the One He sent”. In other words the work of God s to believe in and trust Jesus. When the disciples saw what happened with the water turned into wine, they put their faith in Him.They believed in the One God sent.

Wonderful things can happen when we “do whatever He tells us”. He can do far better than our best. No matter what our situation is, we can trust Him to do better for us than what our best effort can bring about for us. We may need to take a step of faith or we may need to take a step of obedience such as the servants did by filling the jars with water. The step of faith might be to give our problem to Him in prayer. It might be to forgive a person. It might be to apply for that job even though we think we can’t get it. Taking that step of faith is what puts our faith into action. With all of the problems we face today. Mary’s advice seems more relevant than ever- “Do whatever He tells you”

For Nothing is Impossible with God

I love that quote from the bible. It is what the angel Gabriel said to Mary when she did not understand how she could conceive a child when she was a virgin. Gabriel told her it would by the Holy Spirit and “Nothing is Impossible with God”. When I think about the meaning of this truth in my own life I am astounded as I look back over my life.

15 years ago I had been written off as someone who would not make it in this life. I had been sick for a few years and had difficulty following a basic conversation. In fact when I signed up to go on my first trip to Romania, the missionaries who had met me when I was sick, had the response of “isn’t he the guy who talks slow?” My situation looked hopeless, but with God nothing is impossible.

God helped me to recover and rebuild my life. Step by step He helped me every step of the way. It was not always easy. It required me to take some steps of faith, but over time my life was rebuilt and what I am doing now is far more fulfilling than anything I had done before I was sick. Whatever situation we find ourselves in, it can be not just comforting but also empowering to know that with God nothing is impossible.

God does special work through impossible births

The birth of any child is a special occasion because a new life has come into the world. Birth is a miracle of God. There a few births that really stand out in the bible that only happened because of the miracle working power of God.

Abraham and Sarah had their son Isaac when Sarah was over 90 years old. She had not had any children yet and God blessed her with a son when she was too old to have a child. They named him Isaac which means laughter because they understood the humor involved. The birth of Isaac happened in a way that showed that it could only happen because of God. Isaac carried on the line of Abraham that led to the birth of Jesus over 2,000 years later.

Moses was born when the Pharaoh of Egypt wanted all the first born Jewish boys killed to prevent a deliverer from rising up. Moses’s mother placed him in a basket and Moses ended up being raised by Pharaoh’s household. Even better was the fact that they needed someone to nurse him and that ended up being Moses’s birth mother. Moses went on to be used of God to deliver the Jews from slavery in Egypt.

John the Baptist was born to a couple, Zechariah and Elizabeth, when they were old. Elizabeth had not had any children yet and was past the childbearing age. God caused Elizabeth to be able to become pregnant with John the Baptist who went on to prepare the people for Jesus to come.

The most special birth of all was the birth of Jesus. It was spoken about over 700 years before Jesus came by a man named Isaiah. He wrote- “a sign will be given to you, a virgin will be with child…” A virgin will be with child. That could happen today with modern medicine assisting, but back then there was one way to get pregnant and that was to have sex. A virgin with child would be a great miracle indeed. Jesus was born of the Virgin Mary. The Holy Spirit caused it to happen. Jesus went on to die for our sins and defeat death by coming back to life on the third day.