The Dangerous King

April 9, 2017 – Sunday
The Dangerous King - Logo
Read: John 12:1-16
Focus: 9-11, 13

Meanwhile a large crowd of Jews found out that Jesus was there and came, not only because of him but also to see Lazarus, whom he had raised from the dead. 10 So the chief priests made plans to kill Lazarus as well, 11 for on account of him many of the Jews were going over to Jesus and believing in him.

12 The next day the great crowd that had come for the festival heard that Jesus was on his way to Jerusalem. 13 They took palm branches and went out to meet him, shouting, “Hosanna!” “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!” “Blessed is the king of Israel!”

Why is it that so many of our leaders, throughout history, are assassinated? Surely there are many reasons but often it’s simply because they have become too dangerous to those who don’t want to lose their power. More recent examples in American history might include such leaders as Martin Luther King, Jr. and John F. Kennedy. Go back a whole lot further and add Jesus to your list of those who became too dangerous to the powers that be.

In John 12:12-16 we have the curious event of Jesus entering Jerusalem to the waving of palm branches and shouts of “Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Blessed is the king of Israel!” Taken alone these verses lack the context necessary to understand what is going on. If we open it up to the Old Testament prophecies about Jesus we learn that this event was foretold in such places as Zecharaiah 9:9 where it says, Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! Shout aloud, O daughter of Jerusalem! Behold, your king is coming to you; righteous and having salvation is he, humble and mounted on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey.” This was also the time of the Festival of Booths (Feast of Tabernacles) in Jerusalem where Israel remembered their exodus from Egypt and God’s provision in the wilderness. It was also at the Feast of Ingathering that recognized the end of the harvest that happened sometime in September or October. This was a time when many Jews made a pilgrimage to the temple so the city was filled with a lot of people. On the seventh day of the festival the people would wave palm branches and quote Psalm 118:25-26 saying, “Lord, save us! Lord, grant us success! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord. From the house of the Lord we bless you.” In verse 27 it says, “With boughs in hand, join in the festal procession up to the horns of the altar.”  By the way, check out verses 22-24 in that Psalm where David talks about how “the stone the builders rejected has become the cornerstone.”  There’s a lot going on here!

Oh, and the Jewish leaders were watching and they were getting worried about this dangerous man known as Jesus.  To better understand the context of our passage you really need to back up a bit. In John 12: 1-7 we see Jesus in Bethany at the house of Lazarus. This is the place were Mary takes a pint of expensive perfume and pours it on Jesus feet before wiping it with her hair. We talked about a similar event a few weeks ago when we looked at the story in Luke 7:36-50 (the woman who was forgiven much, just like us) that happens much earlier in Jesus ministry. Mary understands she was forgiven of much as well and this special act of devotion has a different meaning here as Jesus claims this perfume was for the day of his burial which, he knows, will be soon. He’s a dangerous man.

Now we need to back up a little bit more. Back in John 11 we see why Jesus came to Bethany. It was where Mary and Martha lived along with their brother Lazarus, a friend of Jesus. By the way, John 11:2 tells us that it was this same Mary we read about in Luke 7 who cried at the feet of Jesus and wiped those tears off with her hair. Here we learn that Lazarus is sick. Jesus receives this word but waits two more days before coming. The disciples don’t want him to go because the leadership is hostile to him there. But they must go and, in John 11:11 he tells them, “Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep; but I’m going there to wake him up.”  The disciples don’t realize that Jesus is saying the man is dead and he’s going there to reverse the unreversable; to revoke the irrevocable. He says to them, “Lazarus is dead, and for your sake I am glad I was not there, so that you may believe. (vss. 14-15)” This would be the straw that breaks the proverbial camel’s back.

You know the story. When Jesus finally arrives in Bethany he finds a funeral and Lazarus has been in a tomb for four days already. Martha comes out to meet him but Mary stays home, fixed in her grief. How many times had she seen Jesus heal another? Surely, if he had been there on time, Lazarus would still be alive. Jesus says, “Your brother will rise again (vs. 23.” Yeah, sure, on the last day – at the final resurrection. “No,” Jesus says. “I am the resurrection and the life.” Mary comes and they take him to the tomb where we find the shortest verse (John 11:35) in all the bible: “Jesus wept.” The stone is removed at his command people are starting to worry about what it might smell like. Then he utters the command that rocks the world: “Lazarus, come out!” You know what happened. Lazarus comes walking out all wrapped in the strips and linen he was embalmed and buried in. What else can Jesus say? He says, “Take off the grave clothes and let him go.” Wow.

Now is when things get crazy as the Jewish leaders hear about what happened. What would you do if you heard about an event such as this? Might you believe this man was who he said he was? Or would you see him as too dangerous to keep around? Oh the hardened heart that chooses the second option and sees Jesus as too dangerous. Yet so many still see him that way today. Witness all those who attempt to stamp out our Christian faith and deny it. They will do anything to get rid of it because it still stands in the way of their designs today.

Fast forward again to John 12:12-16. This is the Palm Sunday event. This is Jesus entering Jerusalem just a few days after he raises Lazarus from the dead and the people are buzzing. Everyone knows what he has done and they give him a triumphal entry into the city, just as foretold in prophecy. The people had decided he was a king but the day before it was the chief priests who decided he was too dangerous. They plotted to kill him. The made the decision in their minds and hearts and that was the only option they were willing to accept. It had to be done and, if they waited much longer, he would be too popular to do the deed safely.

This is the beginning of Holy Week and it comes in triumphantly with the dangerous king named Jesus. By the end of the week he will be crowned – but not with gold – this crown will be made of thorns. And the Cross, something that is so often nothing more than a symbol worn around your neck, will be the instrument of his death.

I want you to think about this dangerous man throughout the week. When next Sunday dawns we will see Jesus crowned with the crown only worn by the King of kings and ruler of all there is. Our greatest enemy, death, will be defeated with a resurrection even more amazing than that of Lazarus. But, to get there, we have to go through Good Friday. This is the Way of the Cross and we’re almost at the starting point. The Way of the Cross follows this Dangerous King and we must die with him. This is the total sacrifice and He has paid the penalty of our sins on our behalf.

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Day 22 – You Will Not Always Have Me

Wednesday – March 2, 2016

Day 22 – John 12:1-11 annointing

Focus: vs. 8

 8 “For the poor you always have with you, but you do not always have me.”

The apparent basis for this portion of scripture was to highlight the gratitude Mary showed to Jesus for Him bringing Lazarus literally back from the dead.  There are at least four things that can be taken from the passage: 1. Mary’s gratitude; 2. Judas’ upcoming betrayal; 3. Jesus’ impending death; 4. Lazarus’ testimony. We will look at only two of these today.

Our key verse indicates that Jesus does not expect to live a long life on this earth: You will always have the poor among you, but you will not always have me” (verse 8). The point is that there is a time and place for everything. Jesus might well have quoted from the Ecclesiastes about this.  Notice that Jesus did not say we are to do nothing for the poor.  He is speaking about this particular moment in time when Mary, without knowing it, anointed Him for burial.

I take it that Jesus was actually honored by Mary’s act. Has anyone ever done something special for you that left you feeling honored by them? This has happened many times over the years for me and my family. Various individuals and churches have gone out of their way to help us with something we were unable to handle by ourselves. I could give you several instances but there’s just not enough room in this devotional to do so. The point is that we are to remember the poor among us and help them all we can but also that our Lord is important and in our own way we can show how we feel about Him. What have you done for Jesus lately?

The second thing I would like to remark on is found down in verse 11, 11 for on account of him many of the Jews were going over to Jesus and believing in him.” The very fact of Lazarus standing among those around Jesus, Martha and Mary was a testimony of the power of the Christ to act on behalf of others. Many had believed in Jesus because of the presence of Lazarus. I’m sure you have never been resurrected from the dead but you have been spiritually resurrected because of Jesus Christ. How does your presence testify to that fact to those around you? What is your testimony? We have heard several testimonies in the past few weeks during the morning worship times. These have been very uplifting and proof of the impact our Savior has had on each of us. What is your testimony? Have you ever tried to write it out? Why not do that as an exercise today?

Prayer Focus: Lord Jesus, please show me how I can show my love and appreciation for the things you have done for me and those I love. Mary did it by anointing Your feet. Help me to anoint You through my actions and the love I show for others. May these things be expressions of my love for You. AMEN.

Day 20 – The Resurrection and the Life

Monday – February 29, 2016

Day 20 – John 11:1-44 lazarus

Focus: vss. 25-26

25 Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; 26 and whoever lives by believing in me will never die. Do you believe this?”

This is one of my favorite stories from the Bible. Not many people in this world or in all of time have ever been a part of this kind of an event. I have officiated at many funerals over my years of service as a pastor and have used this passage several times as the basis for my message to those who are grieving. Even if I did not use it every time I preached a funeral sermon, somewhere along the way I have at least mentioned it. Many are the times when I would have liked to have Jesus step in and raise someone’s loved one from the dead. Can you imagine the reactions of those looking on? Well, it was not all that different in Jesus’ day when He raised Lazarus from the dead. Some, especially the family, were extremely joyful over having their loved one return from the dead. Others looking on were glad for the family’s sake and likely amazed over this miraculous thing that happened. Still others were dismayed about this turn of events. They were not fans of Jesus and wanted to see Him fail.

Our key verses contain Jesus’ great statement, “I am the resurrection and the life” (v. 25). Jesus, just before this, had stated to Martha that her brother will rise again. She apparently believed in the resurrection and replied quite rightly in verse 24, “I know he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day.” Jesus then clarifies His earlier statement with the words we now rejoice in, I am the resurrection and the life.  Jesus then goes on to say to Martha concerning Himself as The Resurrection that belief in Him as the resurrection and the life will live (see verse 25b). We need to remember that The Resurrection and The Life were not just titles for Jesus. They were and are Him in fact. He IS The Resurrection and He IS The Life. Martha’s response was in regard to Who Jesus was by giving voice to Him as “the Christ, the Son of God, who was to come into the world” verse 27b). The reality that Jesus was delivering to Martha was that the power to resurrect and to give life were within Him. Then He proved it.

Is Jesus truly The Resurrection and The Life to you? Do you believe this implicitly with no reservations?

Prayer Focus: Lord Jesus, I come to you today with a needy and hurting heart. I confess that I have not completely understood how truly powerful and loving You are. Warm my heart by Your Holy Spirit so that I may truly believe in Your power over life and death. Resurrect my soul into greater believing faith to see Your ability to resurrect whom You will when You will. Thank You for the resurrection of my spirit unto eternal life.  AMEN.