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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
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.