From the series Jesus Unfiltered - Love
Let’s be very honest for a moment. Are you disappointed with God? Do you feel like He's let you down? Didn’t come through when you needed Him most? If you feel that way, you’re not alone. When bad things happen to you, when life comes undone, have you ever wondered whether or not God really loves you? Join Chip as he explores this very important question.
This broadcast is currently not available online. It is available to purchase on our store.
Helping you grow closer to God
Download the Chip Ingram App
Jesus Unfiltered – Love Resources on sale now.
About this series
Jesus Unfiltered - Love
When we get past the poetic, ideal of love and dig down to the practical, day-to-day details, “love” begs some questions: What does it really mean? How does it think? How does it behave? In this third volume of his series Jesus Unfiltered, Chip Ingram explains, through John chapters 11-15, what love really looks like for those who call Jesus, Lord.More from this series
As we return to our study of the gospel of John, I want to address at least for me the most difficult question in the Christian life.
If God really loves me, how could He let this happen? Can you fill it in? If God really loves me, if Jesus is really for me, I cried out, I prayed, I asked Him, I was sincere, I may have fasted, Oh, God, please! And…?
I have had times – nothing. Nothing. In fact, if God really loves me, I have had times where God didn’t allow it to go from bad to worse, He allowed it to go from bad to impossible.
And the only thing I could hang on to was the promises of God and the character of God, that somehow, someway He is working in all of this.
I would like you to think about where that is in your life right now. When you’re honest, we push it down and we try and forget some of that and not deal with it, but if God really loves you, if Jesus is committed to you, if He is for you, if His promises are true, then…
What is the biggest thing that really doesn’t make sense?
If you’ll open your notes, we are going to walk through a new journey.
But I want to remind you, this was written by a certain man at a certain time, who really lived. And what I want you to know is that the apostle John was the apostle who had this very special relationship. He wrote also the book of Revelation and three short letters: 1, 2, and 3 John.
And as you look at your notes, here’s what the challenge is. I want you to go on a journey, especially in our day, where you don’t hear someone else, you don’t take someone else’s word, but you ask these questions: Who is Jesus? Where did He come from? Why did He come? What does He want for us? And what does He want from us?
We looked at the first five chapters, and I called that, “Volume One,” and it was about believing. And in chapter 1, Jesus said that He created the world and He came to reveal the Father, full of truth and grace.
In chapter 2, He, in this first miracle, said, “I came to transform the world and people from the inside out,” as He turned the water into wine.
In chapter 3, we learned together that it’s not being religious, it requires a spiritual birth, and we learned about Nicodemus.
And in chapter 4, we learned that He is for everyone. And a woman who had five husbands and was living with someone and who was far, far from God, experienced His grace.
And in chapter 5, we learned that when we get hurt and in an impossible situation, He healed a man and demonstrated His power as the Messiah and God. And so, the question was: Will you believe? There is all this evidence. Will you believe in this historical Jesus?
The next we looked at Volume Two and that was around the theme of “Follow.” And so, as the young disciples were following Him and in chapter 6, He says, “I am the bread of life. I will sustain you.” And He fed five thousand.
In chapter 7, He, at the great Feast of Tabernacles, He would cry out, in the midst of it, fulfilling Old Testament history. “If any man thirsts, let him come! I will satisfy your soul.”
In chapter 8, He said, “I am the light of the world,” and He would forgive a woman caught in the very act of adultery.
In chapter 9, He opened the eyes of the blind and said, “If you’re blind, follow Me,” and in chapter 10, “I will be your Good Shepherd. I will lead you, I will guide you, I will help you.”
And now in chapter 11, the next five chapters are going to talk about the love of God. And it’s going to be the door that swings both ways. We are going to learn what it looks like for Him to love us, and then He is going to answer this question: What does it really look like to love Him? What does it look like to have a personal relationship with the living God and love Him?
So are you ready to go? Are you ready to examine the question: How can we really believe that God loves us when sometimes He doesn’t just let it go from bad to worse, He lets your life or your family or your health or your relationships go from bad to impossible?
Let’s pick up the text. It opens up in chapter 11 with a problem, “And now a man named Lazarus was sick and he was from Bethany, the village of Mary and Martha, his sister. And this is the Mary whose brother Lazarus now lay sick. This is the one who poured out perfume on the Lord’s feet and wiped it with her hair. So the sisters sent word to Jesus, ‘Lord, the one you love is sick.’”
All I want you to get is that the text is going to be very clear in the next five chapters, it will be sprinkled here, then sprinkled here, and sprinkled there. This love, everything that is going to happen in this chapter is because Jesus loves Lazarus, Jesus loves Mary, Jesus loves Martha, and everything that happens in your life and mine is because He loves you. But sometimes it doesn’t feel that way.
Here’s the application. The application is: Love trusts Jesus in difficult times. See, it tells your heart and my heart, when you go through a separation or a divorce or you find out you have cancer, or you lose someone that you love, or as I have had a close friend whose son in high school, the end of his junior year, one of his friends was killed in an auto accident.
What they are modeling is, We have a big problem. We know You love us, our brother Lazarus was one of your closest friends, we are going to bring our problem to You. Love says, “I am going to trust You when it’s really hard.”
But that young man, after his friend was killed in the auto accident, he answered the question like this, “If God really loves me, and allows one of my best friends to die in a car accident, that’s not a God I can follow.” And he turned away from God, never to return.
See, how we respond to adversity and what we do with the pain in our lives tells us a lot about: What do we really love? Who do we really love? Do we really trust?
The story goes on, because after the problem is brought to Jesus, He responds to it. And this is one of those times where you read through this and you think, This doesn’t feel very loving.
“When He heard this,” closest friend, Lazarus is sick, “He says, ‘This sickness will not end in death. No, it is for the glory of God, that God’s Son may be glorified through it.’” And then just because it doesn’t make sense, notice He emphasizes, “Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus.”
And then read the next line, “So, when He heard that Lazarus was sick, He stayed where He was two more days.” I don’t know about you, but if I was Mary and Martha, and Jesus had been in our home, He hung out with us; Mary, I sat at His feet, Martha, I cooked all the meals. He would go on these ministry tours and He needed a little R&R and Lazarus and Jesus would be in the back room hanging out, put their feet up, they were bros!
You could tell they had this really close relationship. Oh, right! We know He really loves our brother! You sent the message. “Lord, will You please help?” The messenger comes back, “So, what did He say? Is He going to do one of those long distance miracles? Like speak it and it happens like with the Centurion’s slave? Is He coming back?” And I’m reading into the text here, but the messenger basically had to come back and go, “Ummm, He decided to stay where He was a couple more days.”
And what we will learn from the text is Lazarus must have shortly died. I don’t know about you, but that doesn’t feel very loving. It just said He loved Mary and Martha and Lazarus, and His response is that He stays two more days.
Now, at the end of this story, a lot of it will make sense. But I just want to remind you, it didn’t make any sense to Mary. It didn’t make any sense to Martha. And I will just tell you, personally, there are times in my life when it didn’t make any sense to me.
The application is: Love trusts God’s timing, even when it doesn’t make sense.
In 2005, that goes back a little bit, I uh, I made, like, a decision that really changed the course of my life. Actually, it changed the course of this church’s life. And in 2005, what I, I realized was, uhm Wowie, I’m not teaching the Bible anymore. But I’m just going to keep pressing ahead. And by 2007,
I was leading an organization that was doing stuff all around the world. And I had become a CEO, but not a Bible teacher. I was traveling all around the world all the time. And if I was awake, my job was mostly raising money and going to budget meetings with seven vice presidents with separate P&Ls that didn’t match up.
And I’m not a CEO, I didn’t go to Harvard Business School, anything I have learned about business or leadership I read books and got with smart people. The Peter Principle had finally come to fruition, and I had been promoted right out of what I was good at. And I was miserable.
And so in 2007, clearly led by God, I took one of the biggest steps ever and I said to the board, “You need a president that is a good business person. I’m not teaching the Bible anymore. I need to go back. God, I mean, it wasn’t a gentle nudge. God has reproved me, I need to be in a local church and teach God’s Word, and He can decide where He wants to take the message.”
And all that sounded really, really good and I have had a number of friends who say, “Wow, if you ever get free from what you’re doing and I know you love the local church, come and be our teaching pastor or do this or do that.”
And so I just thought, It would be two, three, four, or five months, and I’m taking this big step of faith, I’m afraid, I don’t have a job, what is going to happen to Living on the Edge, how is this going to work? Right?
But when you obey God, great things happen, right? Yeah! Well they do. Eventually. And all I can tell you is, have you ever had a time in your life with the Lord that you’re in limbo? From 2007 to 2009, God miraculously launched Living on the Edge, Well, thank you, Lord, because we didn’t have any money and I didn’t have a salary and I didn’t know what was going to happen.
And then I’m driving around on Sunday mornings for two years church shopping. I have to go to church! I don’t know how to look for a church. I have been a pastor most of my life.
And then I realized what most of you experience, like, there are some really wonderful churches; there are some not good ones at all. Okay? And then we would come home and, “How are you doing, honey?” “Ah, okay.” And I would teach here or there and can I tell you something? God’s timing isn’t my timing.
There are certain things that needed to happen in my character and my life, there are certain things that need to happen that I didn’t know that He was going to develop Living on the Edge into a small group ministry – could have never happened.
And I don’t know if you remember, but in 2007, the exact same month, September, a couple of churches merged. And those two churches merged and from 2007 to 2009, they needed to figure out how they were going to work together. And so I was over in Atlanta with God, going, Mmmm! Here’s what we need to work out and here’s what we are going to work through! And over here there was this church.
And you know what? I wasn’t ready to be the pastor, and the church wasn’t ready to have one. Can I tell you that no matter what it feels or looks like, God’s timing, He loves you, He is for you, but it just doesn’t feel that way.
In the third section, Jesus announces there is a plan to solve the problem. And so, in verse 7 it says, “Then He said to His disciples, ‘Let us go back to Judea.’ ‘But Rabbi,’ they said, ‘a short while ago, the Jews there tried to stone you, and yet You’re going back?’” And then Jesus does, I call them a “Jesus-ism,” right?
Here’s the deal, the last time they were there, they tried to kill Him. This is going back to Chicago and there’s a contract out on you. And you go, “Oh, we’re going to go back to Chicago.” And you’re a follower. And Jesus answers these fears like, Let’s see now. We followed You, we left our homes, we left our businesses, we are totally committed, we’re in, we believe You’re the Messiah, we almost got killed last time. We’re going to go back? Everything in you is going, This is not a good idea. This is not a good plan. I know You’re God.
Notice, “Rabbi, You’re the teacher.” You’re the authority, we are followers of You, but…
And then Jesus answers that deep, emotional fear with something that I think was really helpful, initially. I’m joking. “Are there not twelve hours of daylight?” And you’re thinking, Well, of course. “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.”
And I’m thinking right about now, Peter privately is looking at John and going, Is that helping you, man? We are going to get killed and He is talking about daylight? Right?
And, of course, they would understand Jesus just told them earlier He is the light of the world. And what He wants to tell them, what He wants to tell us is there are a lot of circumstances, there are a lot of issues, and a lot of logical ways where you think, I got, or got or should do this or that. And you know what? When you’re in the will of God and when you’re walking with Jesus, you’re in the light. That’s the safest place in the world, and the wisest place.
And so then He explains what they are going to do and why. It says, “After He 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 replied, ‘Lord, if he sleeps, he’ll get better.’” Translation: We don’t have to go!
“Jesus had been speaking of his death, but His disciples thought He meant natural sleep, so He told them plainly, ‘Lazarus is dead. And for your sake, I am glad I was not there.’” You might underline that in your notes. “For your sake.”
Jesus’ motive in not going is love. Jesus’ motive in taking His disciples into a scary, scary dangerous situation is love, so that you may believe.
He wants you to believe, He wants you to trust, He wants you to believe His character not on circumstances and what you can see. He wants you to believe and trust Him all the time. And so, He is going to do something to help them and to help us.
“‘But let us go then,’ Thomas said, known later as Didymus, to the rest of the disciples, ‘let us also go that we may die with Him.’” And I think you could read this as false bravado, but I don’t think so. Later on, he is going to realize that he needs more proof than the average person. But we have been following Him, we said we are loyal, He is going to go back, we are going to go with Him, if we die we die because that’s what we signed up for. If He is the Savior of the world, if He is the Messiah, if He is the only hope, then we have to follow no matter what.
And here’s the application: Love trusts Jesus’ plan even when our security is threatened. You follow regardless of the cost. The laws change, you follow. Finances change, you follow. Your health changes, you follow. People betray you, they let you down, you follow. When the price tag goes up of being a follower, it’s hard and you’re afraid and you follow.
I think of one of my favorite characters is a very, very courageous woman in the Old Testament. And it was a time in Israel’s history where there was an edict for all of God’s people to be annihilated, literally.
The Persian government at the time had whispered some false stuff, and there was a day coming when every Jew would be killed. And there was a very beautiful, beautiful, good looking gal named Esther, who no one knew she was a Jew and she ends up, through a set of circumstances, being the queen.
And her uncle Mordechai says, this is the Chip Ingram translation, Sweetheart, I think God put you in the palace for a time like this. Go tell the king that you’re a Jew and that we are all Jews, and this is a really bad idea, and we are all going to be massacred unless you step up.
And, of course, like us, she was very afraid and basically said, Don’t you understand? If I go in without being invited, if he’s having a bad day, I get killed. And I think he said, You know what? We are all going to get killed and maybe God, maybe God has you here at this time. And she began to process that and realize her own personal fears, but following was something she had to do. And she got, “For such a time as this, I am God’s woman in world history.”
And I have thought about our country and I’m just thinking, you where you live, me where I live, for such a time as this is the time when God’s plan seems like it might be dangerous to your promotions and jobs, it might be dangerous to some family relationships, it might cause even some persecution and rejection.
I think this is the time where we, like her, say, “For such a time as this, I believe. I love God so I trust His timing. I love God, I don’t get His plan, but I am going to be like Thomas. I’m going with Him regardless of the circumstance.”
If I was a director of a movie, I would have a camera located that just when what is about to happen, there would be a close-up of Martha’s face so I could see her eyes. And there would be another camera, a close-up, so that we could see the expression and the compassion and the concern in Jesus’ face as He says to Martha, “I know he will rise again.” I get the facts. I know someday, some way. I get it, right? There’s heaven. You’re going to work everything out someday, some way. But her emotions are crying out, That doesn’t feel very good right now, right?
And Jesus looks into her eyes and He says, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in Me will live, even though he die. And whoever lives by believing in Me will never die.” And then I think, just with a tear in His eye, “Do you believe this?” This is the gift. This is why I let it happen. My purposes are bigger than your purposes. I don’t want to give you a theological lesson. I don’t want to just tell you it’s going to be okay. I want you to look into My eyes and kings and prophets and people and religious leaders have longed to know who I really am.
And unabashed, with no metaphor, no parables, Martha, the answer is not fixing a problem. The answer to your life is a person and you’re in His presence. The living God loves you. I am the resurrection. My purposes are bigger than your issues and problems and I want to do something in you and through you and for you that is this big, not just taking care of what you think will make you happy.
And I love it. She goes, “I believe. I do trust. I do believe that You are the Son, the Messiah of the living God.” And I think out of excitement then she goes back to find her sister.
“And she went back and called Mary and said, ‘The Teacher is here.’” And notice He is asking, He wants us to come in our times of confusion. “‘He is asking for you.’ And when Mary heard this, she got up quickly and she went to Him. Now Jesus had not yet entered the village, but was still at the place where Martha had met Him. And when the Jews had been with Mary in the house, comforting her, noticed how quickly she got up and went out, they followed her, supposing that she was going to the tomb to mourn.
“And when Mary reached the place where Jesus was and saw Him, she fell at His feet, ‘Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died.’” She has fixated on the same thing as her sister. They have been talking together. And I’m thinking they had some private conversations like, “I thought He really loved us.” “I did too.” “I sat at His feet. Think of all the times. I thought He cared. Why didn’t He come? Why didn’t He come? Why didn’t He fix it? Why didn’t He answer? What’s going on?”
And because Jesus’ purposes are bigger than our specific issues in our lives and He wants to do things that are beyond what we can imagine, we get to see a side of the heart of God that we would have never seen if He would have healed him long distance or walked back and touched him and healed him.
Imagine the picture, here is this woman violating almost every cultural code. She has been weeping, these are her closest friends, she walks out, she falls at Jesus’ feet, and I imagine she is clinging to them, and looking up and saying, “Lord, if You would have been here! If You would have been here!”
And what she is really saying is, “If You cared, if You really loved me You would have come through.” And Jesus’ response to her is the one that I am so glad He has to me and to you. “When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come along with her also weeping, He was deeply moved in spirit and troubled.”
And those are very interesting words. There was a knot in His stomach. There was hurt in His heart. There was this sense of the fallenness of man and what sin has done and what death does and the pain of people. He loved her deeply, and being fully human and fully God, something down inside was just aching and hurting, even to the point that some translate this word, there was anger. There was anger toward this messed up world that was never God’s original plan.
And He responds, “‘Where have you laid him?’ ‘Come and see, Lord,’ they replied. And then Jesus wept.”
You may not feel like God really cares, and He may not do what you want Him to do, when you want Him to do it. And He may not have the plan that’s in your mind played out. But I want you to know, regardless of what you’re in or through right now, He cares and He is weeping with you and for you.
But His purposes are bigger. They are bigger than fixing our problems or making our lives work out. Contrary to the American, evangelical gospel that sort of, somehow has filtered everywhere, He is not your self-help genie or mine, so that someday, some way you can find the right person, have wonderful kids, they all get into Stanford or MIT, and live a wonderful life, and then have grandkids and sing Kumbaya around the Thanksgiving table.
And no one ever gets cancer, no one ever dies, no one ever has any problems, no one ever has bumps in their marriage, no drunk drivers ever hit any of us. If we just believe somehow and love Jesus everything will be great. And when it’s not, we are deeply disappointed, because that gospel is not the gospel of the Jesus of the New Testament. That’s an American filtered, self-promotion, prosperity gospel, where what we want to do is use God, not worship Him.
Notice the observation, “The Jews said, ‘See how He loved him!’” But no matter what you do, no matter what Jesus did, there are people who can twist what you do. “Some of them said, ‘Well, He might love him, but could not this person who opened the eyes of the blind man have kept this man from dying?’”
The application is: Love trusts God’s purposes, even when it disappoints us. Mary and Martha were deeply, deeply disappointed. Some of you here today are deeply disappointed with God. You did it God’s way, you kept yourself sexually pure, and your marriage is not going well. By now, you thought, I have loved God, He knows my heart, and my clock is running out and I’m single or I’m single again and whoever this wonderful woman or man that I have been asking God about for years now to come into my life, I don’t see it happening.
For others, it’s, You know what? I have done it God’s way and my career, I tell the truth, I shoot it straight, I follow Him. Or, I have been really faithful in my finances and I believe being generous really honors God and I give Him the first portion of My income, and I went bankrupt. And you’re disappointed with God.
And what it does is it leaves some residue and some wounds and you can go through the process and you can come to church, but something has happened in your heart. It’s hard to trust Him now.
It doesn’t mean you’re going to bail out of the whole faith, but the passionate follower you once were is dulled. God wants you to know His purposes are bigger and they are different, and His timing is different and His plans are different, but He loves you.
For me, I have had times, nothing.
It was like limbo, God, if You care then…And it’s not too, like, I was going through that, like some of you, I’m not like a young chicken now. I’m in my fifties. Right? Right? Jobs in your fifties? Yo! So I remember praying in King James, actually, I don’t know why. I was really mad. Is this how Thou treat Thy servants when they obey You? I thought maybe a little King James would help. But it was. I was totally confused. Last night, I wasn’t totally confused.
When I get here I always reach back and I say, Oh, God, I’m not the first person who has felt like this, who wanted to bail out, who wanted to question Your love. And for me, I go back to Joseph.
And I think of a young guy, about seventeen who gets a clear word from God. And here’s the picture and it’s going to be and, I have given you a leadership gift and someday, some way, even your family is going to bow down to you! And I’ve got this great plan for your life! Followed by your brothers betraying you and selling you, followed by a false accusation of rape, followed by going into prison, followed by being forgotten when you’re in prison. Thirteen years of, God really loves me! He’s got a great plan! But bigger purposes.
And I think we could have done one of those pull up the news truck:
– “Joseph, how’s it going? You’re nineteen years old!”
– “Well, I’m working in Potiphar’s house and his wife is really coming on to me and I’m trying to avoid temptation.”
– “Hey, how’s it going?”
– “Well, I’m in prison now.”
– “Well, how’s it going now?”
– “Well, I did some good things for the baker and the wine tester. I told them a dream. And I’m running a prison and God has forgotten me completely.”
Except He hadn’t. He just had a different time, a different plan, a bigger purpose. And he ended up being the second most powerful person in the world in all of Egypt. And by the time he got near the end of his life, after forgiving his brothers, he would say to them, “You meant this for evil when you sold me into slavery, but God meant it for good.”
In fact, he would say, “You didn’t even send me here. God sent me here through your willful, wicked sin. But God meant it for good to preserve a whole nation alive.”
If you will hang on, if you will trust. Loving is trusting, especially when you don’t understand and when it doesn’t make sense and when it’s scary and when it’s dangerous and when it costs a lot.
And that’s what it looks like to love God, especially when the culture is counter to our faith. Love trusts God’s purposes.
Jesus then solves the problem. This is the part that is the crescendo. This is where the movie gets really good. “Jesus, once more deeply moved, came to the tomb.” He has compassion, He has a plan, there is timing, there are purposes, and He will act. And He is going to do it here and He is going to do it in your life and He is going to do it in mine. “‘Take away the stone,’ He said. ‘But Lord,’” ever the pragmatist, Martha, “the sister of the dead man said, ‘By this time the odor is bad, for he has been there four days.’ Jesus said, ‘Did I not tell you that if you,’” circle this word, “‘believe you will see the glory of God?’ So they took away the stone. And Jesus said, ‘Father, I thank You that You have heard Me. I know that You always heard Me, but I said this for the benefit of the people standing here that they may,’” circle the word again, “‘believe that You sent Me.’ When He said this, Jesus called in a loud voice, ‘Lazarus, come out.’ The dead man came out, his hands and feet wrapped with strips of linen, cloth around his face. Jesus said, ‘Take off the grave clothes and let him go.’”
How did He raise Him from the dead? What did He do? He spoke. He spoke. What does the Scripture say? How did God create the universe? It says, “Out of nothing He spoke the Word, and things came into being.”
Here’s the application: Love trusts God’s Word, even when it seems impossible. God promised, I’ve got a plan for you, Chip. Don’t bail out. God promises, You know what? I’m going to use your life someday, some way. Maybe not the way you think, maybe not when or how. But someday, some way. I’ve got a plan.
Love trusts God’s Word. A quick side application: Are you in it? Are you in it? God takes the written Word, He makes it the living Word by the power of His Spirit, and as you read it, faith is birthed and gives you hope and strength.
You can’t obey God without God’s people, but you can’t obey God without being in His Word.
And what is going to happen is you will hear and see and God will speak to you in ways, but it won’t be because I became a lot better teacher. It’ll be like God has been preparing and speaking to you. Trusting God’s Word when it seems impossible.
It seems impossible to be a young person and be sexually pure. Trust God’s Word. It seems impossible to take a bold, loving, winsome stand and do radical things for our LGBT neighbors and friends. For some of you, it seems impossible because you’re so uncomfortable. For others, you are so fearful of what might happen to your career. Trust God’s Word. Do what He says.
It seems impossible in this current economic environment to give the very first and best of your finances to God. I just can’t see my way clear.
We got an email from a person who is taking the ninety-day challenge. And this person sent an email and said, “I know God wants my priorities aligned and I know that begins with my finances and so I am taking the ninety-day challenge. I am giving the first ten percent of my income. I have done that for the last couple, three weeks. And I just learned that by the time the ninety-day challenge is over, I lose my job.
And I just thought I would tell you all, I think the issue isn’t money. I think it’s trust and it’s going to be a little harder, but I am going to fulfill all that God wants me to and continue to trust Him,” – are you ready? “even though it doesn’t make sense.” I will project this story will have an amazing ending at some time.
See, it’s not emotionally agreeing with God, it’s trusting His timing, His purposes, His plan, and His Word. And as you do, God changes you and as you do, then He uses you.
Don’t you believe, like Esther, there are windows of time where you say, Ahhh! Could it be? – and I think she was scared – that God has placed us here at this time in history, for such a time as this. Trust His Word.
The epilogue is an interesting ending. There are always two responses when God does something great. “Therefore many of the Jews who had come to visit Mary and had seen what Jesus did,” notice this, “believed in Him.”
Dead? He wasn’t just unconscious, it wasn’t just a little bit of sleep, it wasn’t that he was in a coma. Four days, he stinketh, he was dead, dead. Whoo. God can do the impossible. Jesus is God.
“But some of them went to the Pharisees and told them what Jesus had done. And then the chief priests and the Pharisees called a meeting of the Sanhedrin.” This is the leadership of the Jewish community. “What are we accomplishing?” We’ve got a big problem here. “This man is performing many signs. If we keep letting Him go on like this, everyone will believe in Him.” Boy, that would be terrible, wouldn’t it? Someone who loves people, raises people from the dead, feeds the poor. We’ve got a really big problem here, as religious leaders.
“And then the Romans will come and take away both our temple and our nation.” The word temple here has the idea of their position in the nation, their power.
What this text tells me and you and them is there are two reasons why we refuse to believe and trust God’s timing and plans and purposes and feel like He is abandoning us. And those two reasons are our position and our power.
What threatened them was this miracle-working Messiah was going to usurp their position and their control of the outcomes and what they wanted their life to look like, and remove them from power. People would believe in this Jesus Messiah, and they would lose their authority and their power and their position.
And it looked that way for them, but in our day, your position and your power, it can be played out socially, economically, your work, your family, what it’s got to look like, where your kids have to go to school, what team they’re on, did they make the traveling team? All of your priorities and my priorities revolve around, So what is the position? And what power or control or outcomes do we unconsciously or very consciously demand?
And when they come in conflict with God’s plan and God’s timing and God’s purposes, then you come to, Am I going to humble myself and trust that He loves me, even when part of it seems so difficult?
The final application is: Love trusts Jesus with life’s outcomes, even when they result in conflict. When you do what God wants you to do out of a heart that trusts Him, there are times that everything doesn’t turn out all right.
There are times where it results in conflict in a relationship or potential conflict at work or conflict in some of the people that are closest to you. Jesus did everything right, He loved people, and His reward for raising someone from the dead was they doubled down on the opportunity to kill Him.
Lord, You know the world that we live in. You know what is going on in the minds and the hearts of every person in this room.
Give us the grace to trust and not bail out. Give us the grace to trust Your timing, Your plan, and Your purposes, regardless of the outcome. In Jesus’ name. Amen.