In John 10 we saw that Jesus is the Good Shepherd who cares for us. Jesus as the good Shepherd examines us and gives us all we need to live life to the fullest. Jesus is going to show us how he treats his friends. Jesus’ friend Lazarus gets sick and his sisters, Mary and Martha, send for Jesus. They tell Jesus if he had only been there they know their brother wouldn’t have died. People are grieving. Lazarus’ death is real to them. Jesus is grieving for his friend. Jesus demonstrates He is the resurrection and the life. Jesus has power over the grave. Jesus tells the people to open the tomb. Concern is expressed that the body will smell bad because it’s been in there a few days, but Jesus orders Lazarus to come out! Lazarus walks out of the tomb and demonstrates the power Jesus has against whatever comes against us. God has the power to act. People were overwhelmed at experiencing Lazarus being raised from the dead, overwhelmed at Jesus’ power.
There were two responses to Jesus: 1) Some people were enamored by what Jesus can do. 2) Some people did not trust Jesus. As we go through this passage think about where you are in these two categories.
We like what Jesus does for us.
We all like what Jesus does for us and that’s a good thing. It’s normal to think about what Jesus does for us. Most people, when they encountered Jesus, liked him. Jesus cared for people. People flocked to Jesus. Most people loved Jesus when they got to know him. Jesus can transform us.
Many of the Jews therefore, who had come with Mary and had seen what he did, believed in him,
John 11.45 (ESV)
The response is what we’d expect an immediate sense that God can do anything. God gives peace and hope. Lots of things cause fear and anxiety. We are seeing good things too. I see good in you. You are thinking about your neighbors. There’s a shortage of masks and Harbor Freight donated all their protective gear and equipment to workers in health care. We are seeing good in these times. We all have a desire to see a better world. When we see that in Jesus it resonates with us. Most people like what Jesus does for us.
We don’t like what Jesus threatens in us.
Jesus also challenges us at the very core of our being. You normally wouldn’t think of yourself as killing Jesus. What is your response to how Jesus threatens us?
46but some of them went to the Pharisees and told them what Jesus had done. 47So the chief priests and the Pharisees gathered the Council and said, “What are we to do? For this man performs many signs. 48If we let him go on like this, everyone will believe in him, and the Romans will come and take away both our place and our nation.”
John 11.46-48 (ESV)
In Exodus 16, God sets the Israelites free from being enslaved by the Egyptians. God does a miracle using Moses to set them free and lead them into the promised land. They look back and find themselves in between a large body of water and the Egyptian army. Here’s what they say,
“and the people of Israel said to them, "Would that we had died by the hand of the Lord in the land of Egypt, when we sat by the meat pots and ate bread to the full, for you have brought us out into this wilderness to kill this whole assembly with hunger." Exodus 16:3
They are thinking it would have been better for them to die in Egypt as slaves. This is a response we see many times in history and it’s even something that rises up in us. The religious leaders are offered what Jesus can do for them, but in verse 48 they are threatened by Jesus. Jesus is the son of God. Jesus is the miracle worker. Jesus is remarkable. We can trust Jesus with our lives. They felt threatened by Jesus for two reasons: they feared losing their nation/place and they feared losing their position/power. What happens when our income gets threatened?
Children find comfort in a stuffed animal or a blanket and if you cannot find that item it can be difficult and they can have a meltdown. All of us have comforts. Jesus challenges our comfort. Jesus challenges in them something that needs to be challenged. They’re worried and trying to hold on to what they have. Jesus already knows Jerusalem will fall. Jesus is trying to move them to a place where they can find real comfort in God. Real comfort and security comes from God. Jesus is doing the same things for us. There’s a future and a hope in Christ no matter what is happening.
Killing Jesus is easier than following Jesus.
We get a response from Caiaphas in verse 50:
You don’t realize that it’s better for you that one man should die for the people than for the whole nation to be destroyed.
John 11.50 (NLT)
We all come to this tension in life. Will we follow God or do what we’ve done before? Caiaphas came to his position by appointment. The Romans appointed leaders over conquered territories. Caiaphas was a political leader and cared little about spiritual things. Caiaphas was skilled in how to navigate political waters. Basically Caiaphas is saying something like, “You idiots! You don’t know how this works.” Some of these leaders in the Sanhedrin were genuine servants of God. Some later became followers of Jesus. Some deeply wanted to see God’s will be done. Caiaphas was who they needed to get rid of Jesus. The Romans had the Pax Romana and if you usurped the power of Rome they’d get rid of you. Caiaphas saw a need to get rid of Jesus. They admit that Jesus can raise the dead. There’s a tension between following Jesus and giving up power and position. There’s a cognitive dissonance that we all face this tension in our lives. If we’ve seen a child have a breakdown in the checkout line we know the child sees that once the cart passes the checkout line they’re not going to get that item they want. They meltdown at the discomfort of not getting what they wanted.
This crisis is like this. If we follow God it will cost us. We have to let go of our comfort. We’d rather hold onto our things and our comforts.
Getting rid of Jesus isn’t easy.
In Acts 5 Peter is with the apostles in Jerusalem on trial before the Sanhedrin. Jesus has risen and they are preaching about Jesus. The Sanhedrin wanted to stop these people from talking about Jesus. They were arrested and placed in jail. When it’s time for trial the prison guards find the cell locked, but empty. They don’t know what happened. The Holy Spirit released them and they’re preaching again. They’re arrested again and Peter, at trial says this to the Sanhedrin:
The God of our fathers raised Jesus, whom you killed by hanging him on a tree.
Acts 5.30 (ESV)
Wherever you are this morning, can you say, Amen? They’re thinking they’ll get rid of Jesus and Peter boldly says that the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob raised Jesus just like Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead! Jesus is alive and sits at the right hand of the Father. Jesus is the resurrection and the life! Whatever it may cost us we have a God who gives peace and hope. God calls us to worship Him. Can we let go of what we are holding onto and follow God? God, You are the God who gives life and who restores all things!
Sermon Notes are taken, transcribed and posted by Jeni Martin Johnson.