RENOVATE: Week 48

Life is full of mysteries. One of the most perplexing is an understanding of God’s complete rule and authority over everything that exists; especially when considering the elements of evil and suffering. On August 25th, the Old Testament reading from the devotional Bible reveals a strange connection of these two elements (God’s sovereignty and the existence of evil) from the mouth of the evil one himself.

“But put forth Your hand now and touch all that he has; he will surely curse You to Your face.” Then the LORD said to Satan, “Behold, all that he has is in your power, only do not put forth your hand on him.” So Satan departed from the presence of the LORD. (Job 1:11-12, NASB)

These verses are incredibly instructive. They record a dialogue between God and one of his creatures (Make no mistake, Lucifer was created by God and is by no means even closely on par with His status, power, and position). The creature in the spotlight is Satan, the accuser. This begs the question, “Did God create evil?” To point of fact, God created Lucifer; Lucifer “created” Satan as pride entered his heart and he attempted to elevate himself above the throne of God (Isaiah 14:12-15, Ezekiel 28:13-17). The intention of his heart was displayed through the action of his life. Some may think I’m “splitting hairs” in this distinction; yet to make it is very important. Satan is responsible for his behavior, as are a third of the angels that joined in his hellish rebellion. He and his minions will ultimately be held accountable in the judgment; actually, they have already been held accountable by the cross of Christ and the power of His resurrection! This truth will be revealed at the judgment. Nevertheless, it must be surmised that somehow, within the wisdom of God, He allowed evil for a greater purpose. In this is mystery but not contradiction. While we may not have the ability to discern God’s purpose in the immediate, the verses in question today give us a foundation of hope that He controls evil for a greater good (Genesis 50:20, Romans 8:28).

Notice that Satan acknowledges God’s control over Job (and himself) with the reference to the “putting forth of Your hand” in order to bring calamity upon Job’s life. He wrongly assumes Job will curse God when God “puts forth His hand”. This is a bad gamble on Satan’s part as the end of the book reveals a Job who is much closer in relationship to his Creator and has a much deeper understanding and confidence in the ways of God forged in the fires of trial; a Job who has reflected the glories of God to suffering saints throughout the generations.

How does God “put forth His hand”? By allowing the evil intention of Satan’s heart to manifest itself through the action of “Satan’s hand” upon Job; with restrictions, of course! Satan is responsible, God is vindicated, and Job is drawn closer to his Redeemer through the ordeal; amazing correlation uncovering a greater mystery. This far exceeds the “fleshly” religious concept of a simple explanation for suffering; do good and one is blessed, do bad and one will suffer. In their condemnation of Job, his friends stand condemned being a tool of Satan to use religion to prod Job to reveal his hidden sinful actions. In this, Job did not conform to a false man-made interpretation of God’s dealings with His creatures. Job’s understanding of his sin was exponentially illuminated by the much brighter light of God’s character rather than a dimly lit interpretation of God’s code.

Could the universe in which we live, with evil and suffering, be the means whereby we arrive at the best possible ultimate existence in eternity? One thing I do know. When faced with pain, we can either run away from God in anger and disillusionment or run to Him as there is nowhere else to go. You must decide.

In Christ,

Pastor Rob

RENOVATE: Week 47

Because of our sinful nature, we continuously can fall into the trap of believing that we can live in deception. In other words, we believe that the perception of others reflecting upon us; or even a deluded view of ourselves is within our power to control.

When scripture admonishes the believer to walk in the light, it means for us to walk in the Truth; the truth of who God is and the truth of who we are. We are broken beyond human repair completely dependent on the holy grace and righteousness of Him who is the Truth… the Way, and the Life.

To exist with any other view is a “fool’s errand.” The scripture I have chosen to highlight today from our August 16th Bible reading will bear out this legitimacy. Solomon states, “The hearing ear and the seeing eye, The LORD has made both of them.” (Proverbs 20:12, NASB)

The very instruments we see and hear the world with do not come from us. In fact, they are an unearned gift from someone else. The LORD has made them. Perhaps the psalmist renders the point even more clearly by asking the questions, “He who planted the ear, does He not hear? He who formed the eye, does He not see?” (Psalm 94:9, NASB)

May this be a reminder to all of us when we seek to live in deception and attempt to twist the truth to our own making. The God who provided the very tools to perceive His universe “sees and hears” the same things we do.

In Christ,

Pastor Rob

RENOVATE: Weeks 44, 45, and 46

These past couple of weeks have been amazing as First Baptist has accomplished a very fruitful mission endeavor in the country of Cuba. I am extremely blessed to have taken part.

That being said, as a devotional focus, I want to encourage each of our Renovate participants to take on a very important challenge. During our recent readings from the Everyday With Jesus Bible, the New Testament reflections have come from Paul’s letter to the Romans. I have often contemplated that if the Bible were taken away from me, a book that I would most certainly want to be most familiar with and “hide in my heart” would be the Book of Romans. Paul, through the Holy Spirit’s inspiration, brilliantly and succinctly summarizes and applies the Gospel of Jesus Christ from the context of the whole of scripture to our everyday life. He describes its necessity, how it is received, and the tangible difference it makes in all who are given it.

Take extra time to reread Romans this week. Familiarize yourself with its concepts and digest its truths into every fiber of your being. The ability to grasp the contents of this most important letter is a foundation for comprehending scripture in its entirety!

Next week we will be back on track for a strong finish to the Renovate Movement. Just a few weeks left before we completely read all of God’s word in a year!

In Christ,

Pastor Rob

RENOVATE: Week 43

On July 21st we read of a perplexing event in the life of King David from 1 Chronicles (which actually corresponds to 2 Samuel 24 that we read over a month ago). The first verse of chapter 21 reads, “Then Satan stood up against Israel and moved David to number Israel.” (1 Chronicles 21:1, NASB)

Following this, against the objection of Joab his chief commander (which should have been recognized as a warning from God by David), David moves ahead with taking a census of the Israelites; he has Joab and the commanders of the troops count the people. God is in no way pleased by this action and His punishment is harsh. Through Gad, God’s spokesman to the king, David is given the choice of three devastating options of judgment upon his disobedience. The end result was the death through plague of 70,000 men from Israel and the near destruction of Jerusalem itself by an angel of the LORD.

If you are like me, your first reaction to this passage might have been one of confusion. What is the harm in counting the number of people? Why would God exercise what seems to be such an extreme edict on an action which, on the surface, appears to be so harmless? To understand, requires us to reflect on the foundational promise given to the father of faith, the core patriarch of the people, Abraham. Note as well that the deed undertaken by David is motivated by the evil one. This is one of those places in scripture where we are given a glimpse into the spiritual realm as we see God sovereignly allow satan (meaning the adversary) to incite David toward the census. Obviously if the devil was desirous of engaging in a count, it must have been rooted in evil. Nonetheless, the “why” question remains.

The initial thought in undertaking a census of any people would be considered very useful, not evil. However, in numbering Israel; that people who were to become as numerous as the stars in the heavens, the sand on the seashore, implied a distrust of the divine promise given to Abraham many years prior; faith that was tested through the act of offering Isaac on the alter, halted by the Angel of the LORD (a pre-incarnate Jesus), Who supplied a substitute of the ram caught in a thicket, a symbol of what He would ultimately be for His people. This was a sin; and though it had been done with permission in the time of Moses, the people had contributed half a shekel towards the building of the tabernacle, so “that there may be no plague among them when you number them” (Ex 30:12). Therefore, the numbering of that people was in itself regarded as an undertaking by which the anger of God could be easily aroused; but when the arrangements were made by Moses for the taking of a census, God was not angry because the people were numbered for the express purpose of the tax for the sanctuary, and the money which was collected (“the atonement (kippur in Hebrew- meaning ‘covering’ or ‘ransom’) money,” Ex 30:16) satisfied Him. In essence, a sacrifice was made to cover their sin; which exemplifies sin must be atoned for and ultimately God, exclusively, must be that refuge.

The sin of David numbering the people consisted in its being either to gratify his pride to ascertain the number of warriors he could assemble for some pondered plan of conquest; or, perhaps, to institute a regular and permanent system of taxation, which he deemed necessary to provide an adequate establishment for the monarchy, but which was regarded as a breach of the freedom of the people, inappropriate for a king of Israel. Whatever the reason, self was at the root of the action; David taking the seat reserved for God and God alone over His people.

The lesson for us today is comprised of two very important aspects. First, those who know and follow the Creator of all things must live by faith alone in His words and promises given to them regardless of circumstances and appearances. Trust is the expression of belief in the origin of Truth, which itself is embodied in Jesus; and truth is vehemently opposed by the devil, the ‘father of lies,’ who trusts no one and nothing. Secondly, our temptation to be the lord of our lives, the masters of our destiny, must be relentlessly crushed by the realization that there is only one LORD and He must occupy the throne of our lives in every way. We must think twice before marinating in our self-assurance.

To Him be glory and honor and praise!

In Christ,

Pastor Rob

RENOVATE: Week 42

The Bible is so real and relevant. It does not seek to “hide” the ugliness of human relationships and coat with a glossy veneer its main characters. Such is the case in today’s reflection taken from the July 16th reading of our devotional Bible.

And after some days Paul said to Barnabas, “Let us return and visit the brethren in every city in which we proclaimed the word of the Lord, and see how they are.”

And Barnabas was desirous of taking John, called Mark, along with them also. But Paul kept insisting that they should not take him along who had deserted them in Pamphylia and had not gone with them to the work. And there arose such a sharp disagreement that they separated from one another, and Barnabas took Mark with him and sailed away to Cyprus. But Paul chose Silas and departed, being committed by the brethren to the grace of the Lord. And he was traveling through Syria and Cilicia, strengthening the churches. (Acts 15:36-41, NASB77)

These men were actually human and had disagreements to the point of separation! Paul and Barnabas were close friends and a powerful team. God used their companionship in astounding ways. Yet in our text for today, it would seem all would be thrown away; lost on the proverbial trash heap of broken relationships. Paul, the strong and outspoken leader, and Barnabas, the supportive and uplifting encourager, giants of the faith, appear as if they have an irreconcilable conflict. John Mark, the author of the Gospel of Mark, was their point of contention. Paul was focused on the mission at hand and he needed “all hands on deck” so to speak. Time was short and the mission great. Therefore, based on John Mark’s previous behavior of what Paul considered a desertion because of the difficulty of a previous undertaking; Mark had become a liability to the task at hand. In Paul’s mind, John Mark was not fit for what lay ahead.

Barnabas, seeming to place a greater concern on the development of John Mark as a person over the potential success of the mission, desired to bring him along. John Mark was the cousin of Barnabas (Colossians 4:10) and it is probable that Barnabas’ affection for him was a major incentive for wanting to include him on the journey. To study scripture’s reflection of Barnabas reveals a man who was a gifted mentor with a drive for people development.

Hence, we are left to wrestle with the question: Who is right? As a good leader, Paul seemed to be correct. The stakes were high and the souls of lost individuals were on the line. In Paul’s mind, there could be no room for the loss of time, energy, and production should John Mark desert them again. Barnabas is focused more on the character progression and maturation of his cousin. As such, Barnabas was not only dedicated to the initial conversion of the lost, but also on the discipleship of a brother in Christ; thus, Barnabas would appear to be justified.

I submit that God is right. Regardless of the side we might be inclined to line up with between the two men, God’s kingdom wins and the gospel is actually furthered in a more significant way. This is because Barnabas takes Mark toward Cyprus and Paul acquires Silas to go through Syria and Cilicia. More individuals were exposed to the gospel as a result!

The message for us centers on the difficulties we may have faced or are facing in our affiliations with others. As difficult as interpersonal relationships might become, a life given toward the goal of God’s Kingdom purposes will always win; God using the bad toward the ultimate good.

By the way, the difference was obviously reconciled, as Paul and Barnabas again became traveling companions (1 Corinthians 9:6, Galatians 2:9). There is also evidence that Paul became reconciled to John Mark (Colossians 4:10, Philemon 1:24, 2 Timothy 4:11). How long this separation continued is unknown; but perhaps in his journey with Barnabas, Mark exemplified his courage and zeal, which caused Paul once again to place his confidence in him as a fellow traveler; even more, for Mark to become a profitable co-laborer in the spread of the gospel. In Paul’s own words, “Only Luke is with me. Pick up Mark and bring him with you, for he is useful to me for service.” (2 Timothy 4:11, NASB77)

What an amazing testimony and lesson for us today!

In Christ,

Pastor Rob

RENOVATE: Week 41

He removed the high places and broke down the sacred pillars and cut down the Asherah. He also broke in pieces the bronze serpent that Moses had made, for until those days the sons of Israel burned incense to it; and it was called Nehushtan. (2 Kings 18:4, NASB)

This verse is in reference to King Hezekiah, who was one of the few kings in Judah and Israel of which scripture tells us he did “what was right in the LORD’S sight.” From the July 5th reading in the devotional Bible, I am especially interested in Hezekiah’s boldness to destroy what would have been considered an invaluable religious relic made by Moses himself; the bronze serpent on the pole used to heal those in the time of the wilderness wandering following the exodus from Egypt! As judgment for the unbelieving, self-centered, complaining Israelites; God had sent deadly serpents upon them and the only remedy for the vicious venom was to look upon this curative object.

Interestingly, the most often quoted verse of scripture, John 3:16, is preceded by what seems strange and very seldom mentioned. Jesus declared, “And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up; that whoever believes may in Him have eternal life.” (John 3:14-15, NASB)

What did Jesus mean? He became sin, who knew no sin. The very object of destruction for the entire human race; namely sin, Jesus took upon Himself. Those who look to Him as God’s substitute for their own sin will be spiritually healed in the deepest possible way. They trade death for life. As Jesus was lifted up on the cross, so the serpent in the wilderness was a symbolic foreshadowing of this ultimate healing. The key term being “symbolic.”

Somewhere along the way, the people of God had forgotten the principle that they were to worship God and abstain from idols; even if the “idol” was of such great significance. Hezekiah calls the artifact what it actually was, Nehushtan (meaning loosely “a piece of bronze”). What is the lesson for us today?

Every symbol loses its significance and value if it is converted into an idol. The bronze serpent was a material token of God’s mercy, a symbol of His power, and a reminder of His holiness. But when the people began to worship it, its worth departed.

Take, for instance, creeds and confessions of our faith, which are symbolic expressions of devotion from the heart; an attempt to articulate the truth of God in the words of man. Such words are valuable only as they point to that which is more valuable than themselves. Baptism and the Lord’s Supper are also symbols. Whenever they begin to be idolized and seen as the means of redemption, they lose their significance and value. The Cross is the finest symbol in all history. But it is not intended that we should rest in the outward circumstances of the Crucifixion. The looking to the Cross which brings salvation is a looking through the Cross to that which it reveals.

May we all follow the example set by King Hezekiah, no matter how challenging it may be to break the idol; may we look to and worship God alone in the Person of Jesus Christ!

In Him,

Pastor Rob

RENOVATE: Week 40

The lot is cast into the lap, But its every decision is from the LORD. (Proverbs 16:33, NASB)

Solomon’s words, taken from the July 2nd reading in our devotional Bible, are unbelievably insightful and are part of an overall thread making up an important truth about reality contained within scripture. We are finite creatures; unable to completely know the future outcome of events based on our choices and that of others. This is a continuous source of anxiety for human kind. Even the most educated decision contains an element of risk. Thus, we go on; stumbling in the dark doing the best we can with the knowledge we’re afforded.

However, for one who belongs to Christ Jesus, redeemed by the blood of the Lamb; the verse under examination carries with it much hope! When the child of God makes a resolution, he or she can move forward in confidence knowing whatever the outcome, it is ultimately rooted in the decree of God.

The older I get, the more I appreciate this fact. Usually the concept of casting lots, “rolling the dice” if you will, is equated with chance. As Sinatra might say, “Luck be a lady, tonight.” In reality, lady luck is an illusion. Life is driven by an exponentially greater purpose and every roll of the dice is connected to another roll of the dice comprising an ultimate grand cosmic plan. The plan does not depend on a blind, merciless fate; but a loving, Heavenly Father. I can reflect on my own life and see some pretty bad rolls of life’s dice. Some rolls have been rather good ones. Regardless, God is over all of them and while I cannot put trust in my own ability to roll effectively, I can trust the intention of the Perfect Creator regarding the definitive end of all that He has made.

I don’t need luck when I have the LORD!

In Christ,

Pastor Rob

RENOVATE: Week 39

…the one who trusts in the LORD will be happy. (Proverbs 16:20, HCSB)

This statement comes from the June 26th reading of Proverbs in our devotional Bible. It is simple, yet completely lost to the majority of people. Due to life’s difficulty, human beings continually strive for some concept of perceived happiness. Everyone falls into this category. Circumstances usually dictate the level to which someone “feels” happy. Why does the entire race “need” to have the demand for happiness met?

With the majority of humanity, when an established object or station in life is acquired; an individual is left wanting because the imagined euphoria is fleeting and does not bring the sense of peace, security, and satisfaction hoped for. I am amazed at how prevalent this need exists even within the church, a people group who should know better; additionally more alarming, for me, how unbridled the objective in my own life!

In the fleshly fallen nature of man is left an insatiable vacuum. An empty void that can never be filled by anything external. The human being is born into the world slavishly reaching for the elusive prize which forever remains just out of reach. Truly, a large part of hell will be the eternal grasping for a personal mirage one imagines will provide ultimate fulfillment that seems so real and attainable but never realized; the insane quest going on forever and ever never to be apprehended.

Consider Eve’s temptation in the garden: Now the serpent was more crafty than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made. And he said to the woman, “Indeed, has God said, ‘You shall not eat from any tree of the garden’?”

And the woman said to the serpent, “From the fruit of the trees of the garden we may eat; but from the fruit of the tree which is in the middle of the garden, God has said, ‘You shall not eat from it or touch it, lest you die.’”

And the serpent said to the woman, “You surely shall not die! For God knows that in the day you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” (Genesis 3:1-5, NASB)

Humanities’ problem begins with the assumption that fulfillment and contentment come from a source beyond the Creator. He is not enough to complete a person in every way. Furthermore, He is the enemy because He is keeping things hidden that ought to be exposed; knowledge one has a right to manage; specifically, what is considered good and evil for each individual.

True happiness is actually attained internally. It resides first in the understanding that an empty void does exist due to a total separation of man from his Creator because of the aforementioned temptation and subsequent action of Adam and Eve passed down from generation to generation (everyone sins). Then an acknowledgement that God and God alone is the only One Who can define what is good and what is evil for His creatures. And finally, as the only resolution, a perceiving and receiving of Jesus’ (God in the flesh; the substitute and sacrifice for this dreadful depravity) life, death, burial, and resurrection as the only means by which the emptiness of eternal death can be restored with everlasting life. Upon the acquisition of these truths, God, the Holy Spirit, literally indwells the empty void within the individual. He is the ultimate source of life, satisfaction, contentment, and fulfillment. From Him flows “happiness.”

Why must I continually wrestle with this in my own life? Why is my tendency, one who has actually discovered the above certainty, to revert to seeking external happiness through worldly means? I say with the Apostle Paul, “Wretched man that I am! Who will set me free from the body of this death (Romans 7:24, NASB)?” I suppose it helps to read a bit further, “For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death (Romans 8:2, NASB).”

I am no longer chained to the insanity of an endless, fruitless pursuit of happiness rooted in my dead sinful nature inherited at birth. It was borne by Jesus on the cross and left in the tomb of His death. I now walk in the power of His resurrection! Do you? May this be a reminder to both of us.

In Christ,

Pastor Rob

RENOVATE: Week 38

“And He, when He comes, will convict the world concerning sin, and righteousness, and judgment; concerning sin, because they do not believe in Me; and concerning righteousness, because I go to the Father, and you no longer behold Me; and concerning judgment, because the ruler of this world has been judged.” (John 16:8-11, NASB)

These verses, from the New Testament reading on June 14th, are words of Jesus in reference to some of the major responsibilities of the third Person of the Trinity, the Holy Spirit. Notice the progression of the three specific elements contained herein and make application to your personal life.

First, in order to come into the rest and peace afforded the believer through the plan of God, one must be keenly aware of personal responsibility in sin. The Bible clearly teaches that all humanity is born with a sinful nature; “THERE IS NONE RIGHTEOUS, NOT EVEN ONE… (Romans 3:10, NASB).” To convey the seriousness of this plight the Apostle Paul states, “And you were dead in your trespasses and sins… (Ephesians 2:1, NASB).” Most individuals generally see themselves as good. Yet good is a relative term. “Good” compared to what. There is an ultimate standard of good; God’s “good,” or complete and utter holy perfection. It is to this standard we will all be held accountable and only by the supernatural, sovereign intervention of the Holy Spirit can an individual genuinely comprehend the depth of their sinful nature. This, of course, leaves a person in total helplessness and despair. If you and I are truly dead in our sin, we need resurrection from Someone who has the power of life; which certainly is not us!

The second aspect mentioned by our Lord is righteousness. Yet again, when reflecting upon the inherited sinful nature within every individual, one’s natural bent is to construct a righteousness of their own based on their own ability to be “good” and do “good.” Once more opening up the issue as mentioned previously; good based on what standard. God’s standard of righteousness is absolute perfection in thought, word, and deed. It is here that the unique work of the Holy Spirit is tangibly realized in the Jesus follower as He applies the perfectly righteous life of Christ to all who come to the Father by faith. The believer is perfect because he or she is “in Christ.” This new life and power is actually lived out by faith. As Paul encourages, “But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who indwells you (Romans 8:11, NASB).” Who raised Jesus from the dead? The Holy Spirit!

The last facet from our focal passage is judgment. Take note that Jesus connects to this the assertion “because the ruler of this world has been judged.” Who is the ruler of this world? None other than Lucifer, the fallen archangel himself. While Satan would vehemently try to convince the Christ follower otherwise, he and sin have no power over them. Think about how he works to assure the unbeliever how “good” they are and that they have no need for Jesus and His “religion.” Then he completely changes the approach regarding one who makes a profession of faith in Christ as to how “bad” they are; that they could never achieve the standard expected of them. The perpetual work of the Comforter, the “One Who comes alongside to help” (paraklētos in Greek, a title given to the Holy Spirit in the New Testament), is to remind children of God through God’s Word that the chains of sin are broken. “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus (Romans 8:1, NASB).” Yet not only remind, but empower them to live in a way that exemplifies that truth. In other words, as individuals called out of darkness into light, we are no longer slaves to our sinful natures. We have been set free toward a new life with the real possibility through the Holy Spirit who resides within us to live from a Godly nature, His nature inside us! Our thoughts, words, and deeds can reflect our Creator; yes even imitate Him! The actuality that we were created in His image becomes more than a statement over our lives; it begins to be revealed in our conduct.

In Christ,

Pastor Rob

RENOVATE: Week 37

What God has brought into the light cannot be hidden. The Bible makes very clear that the human heart is desperately wicked (Jeremiah 17:9). In that desperate state, human beings are capable of anything when attempting to suppress the truth about God in personal unrighteousness (Romans 1:18). Hence our scripture for reflection today taken from the New Testament reading on June 7th.

The great multitude therefore of the Jews learned that He was there; and they came, not for Jesus’ sake only, but that they might also see Lazarus, whom He raised from the dead. But the chief priests took counsel that they might put Lazarus to death also; because on account of him many of the Jews were going away, and were believing in Jesus. (John 12:9-11, NASB)

Before I make application to everyday life, just a brief historical note. The raising of Lazarus from the dead is arguably one of the most significant miracles that Jesus performed while on earth. Critics often cite that it is very unusual that only John records it and not Matthew, Mark, and Luke; questioning its validity since it would have been so extremely notable. I believe an answer to this lies in our chosen passage today. The synoptic gospels (Matthew, Mark, and Luke) were recorded much earlier than John. They would have omitted the miracle because most probably Lazarus and his two sisters (Mary and Martha) were still living when they wrote. To record the event, based on what John shares here, would have put Lazarus in grave danger following the ascension of Jesus. John writes his gospel at a later date when Lazarus was most likely deceased; or at least the threat had diminished.

I find the disposition of the chief priests astounding. For one thing, how blind were these men not to perceive that He who had raised Lazarus, after he had been dead four days, could do it again though they successfully murder him a thousand times? While it is true that they want rid of Jesus and they have a live man who used to be dead roaming around whose very existence was gathering crowds to Him; yet their behavior insinuates pure insanity. What could motivate such irrational behavior? I submit the impetus underlying such dastardly reasoning is absolute godless self-worship.

This is reflected first in the premise that they were threatened politically. They feared all those gathered around Jesus might start an insurrection and then the Romans would be forced to come and squash it. Consider verse 48 of chapter 11 in John’s gospel; these religious leaders state, “If we let Him go on like this, all men will believe in Him, and the Romans will come and take away both our place and our nation.” (NASB)

Yet even beyond the aforementioned incentive, they were really threatened theologically. Many commentators suggest that the majority of the chief priests were Sadducees (notice that the Pharisees are not mentioned in regard to this particular decision and the most wealthy ruling class of Jewish society at the time were Sadducees; which would be individuals who most likely held such influential posts as chief priests). Sadducees had taught that there was no such thing as resurrection; and here they must contend with Lazarus who resurrected. To “save face” their only choice, destroy the evidence; God’s truth suppressed in their own unrighteous desire. What stunning indifference and blind self-ambition! John Calvin, when remarking on this event, stated, “For this wicked consultation is thus described, for the purpose of informing us that the enemies of Christ were led to so great obstinacy, not by mistake or folly, but by furious wickedness, so that they did not even shrink from making war against God; and also for the purpose of informing us that the power of God was not dimly seen in the resurrection of Lazarus, since ungodliness could contrive no other method of banishing it from remembrance than by perpetrating a base and shocking murder on an innocent man.”

What lesson can we take from this? We must seriously examine our aspirations and motivations for life. To assume that personal ambition can diminish Godly truth (we the creatures and He the Creator) is undeniable insanity. A human life lived with any objective other than glorifying the Eternal God revealed in Jesus Christ is a fool’s errand and will lead only to ultimate disillusionment and destruction. Without a clear understanding of who we are and our place in this universe, behavior similar to these chief priests will also characterize our lives. God’s light shines regardless of any effort to suppress it!

In Christ,

Pastor Rob