Life from Death

John 12:24. “Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone: but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit.”

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Just one verse today, because it is so profound. Not complicated, especially if you are a gardener or a farmer; just profound.

If you keep a seed in your hand, or a jar, or your pocket, it never becomes anything but a seed. It does not reproduce. Eventually, you will lose it, or its potential will dry up. It is worthless until. . . .

Until it dies. When you put a seed in the ground and cover it with dirt, it dies in order to reproduce itself many times over.

One good example would be a potato. We used to cut the eyes out of older potatoes, until we had a bunch of little pieces all with sprouts connected. Each little piece, left to itself, would soon shrivel and become useless. But when we planted two or three of these eyes, hilled them up, watered them, and picked off the potato bugs, they would soon yield many, many potatoes—new, healthy, delicious little spuds that would continue to grow until we dug them up in the fall.

Planting the eyes resulted in their dying in order to reproduce themselves.

Jesus knew that He was the Seed that would die, and that from His death would come a bountiful harvest to the glory of God.

Do you remember planting something, probably the seed of a bean, in water, when you were very young? Remember the excitement of being able to watch that seed crack, and a tiny sprout break through the seed? Roots would begin to form, and before long leaves would reach and stretch for the light, and voila! You had a new plant that, if you planted it outdoors in the ground, would deliver many, many beans.

It’s not surprising that Jesus often used examples of farming to teach His followers about Himself. They were farmers, shepherds, agrarian in their outlook. They understood the process of of planting and harvesting, preserving seed for the next planting season.

Jesus’ death would result in abundance of life for all who would believe in Him, because He would conquer sin and death on the behalf of all mankind.

We Would See Jesus

John 12:20-23.

And there were certain Greeks among them that came up to worship at the feast:

The same came therefore to Philip, which was of Bethsaida of Galilee, and desired him, saying, Sir, we would see Jesus.

Philip cometh and telleth Andrew: and again Andrew and Philip tell Jesus.

And Jesus answered them, saying, The hour is come, that the Son of man should be glorified.

Sir, We Would Like To See Jesus - Mystery of AscensionMystery of Ascension

We are not given any information about these Greeks who were interested in seeing Jesus. They could have heard of His miracles; they could have been studying the Hebrew scriptures. Perhaps they were traders and often had business in Israel, and were aware of the teachings of Jesus.

The only thing we know for sure is that they were Greek. They approached the only disciple (Phillip) who had a Greek name, and asked where they could see Him.

Phillip told Andrew about the Greeks, and they both went to tell Jesus that some Greek men were asking to see Him.

Jesus’ answer seems not to address the Greeks. He says that “the hour is come.” In the Greek verb tense, the translation could be “the time is come, and will continue to come. There is no going back.” Twice before in this gospel, Jesus had escaped harm because “the hour is not yet come” (John 2:4 and 7:6). Now, He knew, His time on earth was coming to an end and there could be no escape.

Could we assume that the interest of these Gentiles was a signal that salvation was going to be offered to all mankind, not just the Jews? Perhaps. But I think we need to be careful not to assign more weight to this inquiry than is intended. After all, the magi from the east had come to worship Him when they heard of His birth. There had, all down through the record of the Bible, been Gentiles who had believed God and even became a part of His lineage.

Whether the Gentiles had inquired after Him or not, Jesus knew the time had come. And even as He spoke of His death, He spoke of being glorified.

The World is Gone after Him!

John 12:17-19.

The people therefore that was with Him when He called Lazarus out of his grave, and raised him from the dead, bare record.

For this cause the people also met Him, for that they heard that He had done this miracle.

The Pharisees therefore said among themselves, Perceive ye how ye prevail nothing? behold, the world is gone after Him.

John 12 - Holy Bible English - BibleWordings.com

This passage reminds me of the way the British army felt when they realized they had lost to the upstart colonists in America. The song their musicians played was The World Turned Upside Down. That song goes way back in British history, which I looked up and found too long to relate here. But I did find this quote, which seems appropriate for today:

TOP 25 WORLD UPSIDE DOWN QUOTES | A-Z Quotes

Anyway, The Pharisees were upset. So many people who saw and heard Jesus raise Lazarus from the tomb had testified to others about what they saw. So many people were thronging Jerusalem, hoping to get a glimpse of Jesus. So many Jews were, for all practical purposes, ignoring their religious leaders and trying to follow Jesus.

“Look!” the Pharisees said to each other. “Look at how ineffective our efforts are to disparage this Jesus. The whole WORLD is following after Him!”

They really couldn’t understand the fascination the people had with Jesus. They certainly, as a body, didn’t share it. There were a few–a very few–who silently pondered these things and wondered. The evidence of His power was hard to deny. The power of His teaching was drawing crowds wherever He went, crowds that never gathered to hear the pompous religious leaders bloviate about their own superiority.

It never occurred to them that Jesus truly was sent from God. They were dealing with Jehovah, Himself. What would seem like a win in just a few more days would end in turning their world upside down.

They Didn’t Get It

John 12:16. These things understood not His disciples at the first: but when Jesus was glorified, then remembered they that these things were written of Him, and that they had done these things unto Him.

John 12:16 | The Name of the LORD is a Strong Tower

Sometimes it seemed the disciples were a bit slow, doesn’t it? After all, they had walked with Jesus for nearly three years. They had the benefit of His teaching, both public and private, as He explained the scripture to them and told of His coming death and resurrection. Still, they just couldn’t wrap their minds around all of it.

How could anyone slay the Master? How could it be possible? He was the Son of God!

We need to consider, though, that today we have the entire Word of God, and still we tend not to believe what is right in front of us. We prefer to just pretend that everything is going to be fine. Nothing bad can happen! This is America, after all, where we believe in law and order!

The disciples knew Who Jesus was. What they hadn’t quite grasped yet was the reason He came to earth. They simply couldn’t wrap their minds around His dying. They couldn’t imagine being without Him. Their world was crumbling under their feet, and they just didn’t get it.

It wasn’t until after the awful events of His arrest, trials, crucifixion, resurrection and return to heaven that the penny finally dropped.

Sunday Morning Coffee: A Beautiful Day

(Written at 9 p.m. on Saturday)

We’ve had our doors and windows open all day. Right now the frogs and the crickets are serenading us. The house feels fresh. I love a late summer day that starts with a clear, fresh sky, cool air that is NOT saturated with humidity, and no air conditioning necessary 🙂 Yesterday was not like this. You’d think we lived in two different hemispheres.

Yesterday it was heavy, hot like a sauna that surrounds you even inside an air conditioned house. Clothes sticking to you all day. Felt like you were swimming through the air. Some kids I work with were out playing soccer for about an hour, and they all came back inside with red faces, sweat-soaked clothes, and needing a lot of water. I was glad I don’t have to do stuff like that any more.

7 Causes Of Excessive Sweating (Hyperhidrosis) In Toddlers

I always used to feel sorry for babies whose well-meaning mommies bundled them up even when it was 90 degrees and humid. Poor little things sweated and fussed, and I always wanted to grab them, unwrap them, and put them in some lukewarm water before they melted away into a puddle of goo.

Today is much better.

Sunny, cool and breezy Wednesday with highs near 60 degrees

Delicious weather is forecast for my corner of the world this coming week.

We all seem to love to talk about weather. Not much we can do about it, so I guess talking about it is the normal thing.

Have you thought much about how the weather affects our moods and our bodies? My body hurts when it’s either hot and humid or cold and humid, and in PA we get plenty of both.

My mood? Well, I try not to let the weather affect my mood, but I have to admit that a hot, muggy day saps my energy and my desire to do anything at all.

I’ll rest better tonight, too. I like blankets, but it’s just been too hot for them. Maybe tonight I’ll be able to enjoy the comfort of my weighted blanket.

I’m rambling, I know. I don’t really have anything profound I need to say tonight. It’s still Saturday, by the way. This post will publish at 7 a.m. on Sunday.

I hope you all get to enjoy a pleasant change in the weather. May you rest peacefully in the knowledge that the God Who created weather knows all about it, and I think He’s given us, here in my corner of PA, a break that we all needed.

Prophecy Fulfilled

John 12: 14-15.

And Jesus, when He had found a young ass, sat thereon; as it is written,

Fear not, daughter of Sion: behold, thy King cometh, sitting on an ass’s colt.

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Many prophecies were fulfilled during the week before and including the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus. This was one of them.

In these two verses, Jesus fulfills Zech 9:9  –  “Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion; shout, O daughter of Jerusalem: behold, thy King cometh unto thee: He is just, and having salvation; lowly, and riding upon an ass, and upon a colt the foal of an ass.”

Why would Jesus choose to ride on such a lowly animal? It was because He came not in war, but in peace. The donkey was an animal used perhaps by a priest or a merchant, someone who came for peaceable reasons. He did not enter Jerusalem on a war horse, but on a donkey. His kingdom was spiritual, not military.

“Daughter of Zion” is a personification of Jerusalem, used often in the Old Testament. And as I mentioned yesterday, the people’s cry of “Hosanna!” or “save now!” indicated their hope that Jesus would rescue them from the grip of Roman domination.

There is some controversy over how many animals Jesus used. The passage in Zechariah mentions a donkey and its colt. The only gospel rendition that mentions both the dam and the foal is Matthew 21:1-11. Always keep in mind that the human writers of the gospels were writing, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, from their own perspectives. Failure to mention both animals is not a contradiction. It simply didn’t figure in to their narratives and was not the major issue.

But the fulfillment of Zech. 9:9 was of special importance to the Jews, and Matthew’s gospel was written to the Jews to present Jesus as Messiah.

It was common practice to not separate a dam from her newborn colt. It would have been cruel to both animals to do so. I believe they were brought together to Jesus, just as He had asked. I believe he rode on the colt, with the mother close by, either behind or beside.

I also believe that there’s been a lot of fuss and feathers over this issue in attempts to prove contradictions in the Bible. There is no contradiction. Again, it is simply a matter of perspective, and always under the guidance of the Holy Spirit. Matthew’s gospel is the one that mentions both animals because it fulfills Zech. 9:9, important to the Jews, who were the main target of Matthew’s gospel.

Hosanna!

John 12:12-13.

On the next day much people that were come to the feast, when they heard that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem,

Took branches of palm trees, and went forth to meet Him, and cried, Hosanna: Blessed is the King of Israel that cometh in the Name of the Lord.

Verse of the Day - John 12:13 KJV - Highland Park Baptist Church - Lenoir  City, Tennessee

There were throngs of people in Jerusalem for this most important feast day of the year, the Passover. And with the people, there were sheep. Jewish law demanded that the sacrificial lamb live with the family for at least three days before the feast. That’s partly why so many people came early. They had to purchase a lamb, and stay in Jerusalem or nearby before the day of the Passover. The historian Josephus tells us that someone counted, at some point, over 265,000 lambs coming into the city. All those lambs, and the Lamb of God among them.

I’ve never been to Jerusalem. Friends who have been there tell me it’s not as big as they expected (not the older part) and that it’s typically crowded on a normal day. Think of thousands coming from all over Israel, especially from Galilee, and filling every available spot in the city. Noise, confusion, children running here and there, people hawking food, lambs, and many other items for sale; even in the Temple, lambs were being sold. Add to all that the occasional clatter of hooves when Roman soldiers rode through, sending people running to get out of the way.

It couldn’t have smelled very good, either. Horses, sheep, donkeys–all leaving smelly reminders behind them.

And what about the palm branches? Why were they used?

Palm leaves and branches had been a symbol of Jewish nationalism since the days of the Maccabees. You can read about them here. The people saw Jesus more as a political figure, a king, than as the perfect Lamb of God Who was sent to give His life for their salvation.

So they welcomed Him with great joy and celebration as He entered the city on a donkey selected for just that purpose. Hosanna means save us now. It is clear that the people were hoping for freedom from Rome, and that such freedom would be claimed under the leadership of Jesus. He was immensely popular with the common people who, even after seeing His miracles and hearing Him teach, still didn’t get it. They wanted a king to set them free from Rome, and they thought Jesus was the one who would do that for them.

Lazarus, Also

John 12:9-11

Much people of the Jews therefore knew that He was there: and they came not for Jesus’ sake only, but that they might see Lazarus also, whom He had raised from the dead.

But the chief priests consulted that they might put Lazarus also to death;

Because that by reason of him many of the Jews went away, and believed on Jesus.

The Story of Lazarus Bible Study Guide

When Jesus restored Lazarus back to life, I don’t believe he came out of the tomb looking horrible. He had been restored! He was whole, healthy, and just needed a little help in removing the binding of the grave clothes. He didn’t stink 🙂

The people who learned that Jesus was in Bethany certainly came to see Him, but they also came to see Lazarus. Who wouldn’t want to see a man who had been dead four days, and was now alive and enjoying his dinner?

But when word reached the Pharisees that Jesus was in Bethany, and that many people saw Lazarus alive and well, and believed in Jesus, they were outraged. “Well, we’ll just have to kill Lazarus, too,” they said to each other.

And so the plot was formed not only to execute Jesus, but to find a way to kill Lazarus. This whole movement must be stopped, at any cost.

Leave her Alone

John 12: 7-8.

Then said Jesus, Let her alone: against the day of My burying hath she kept this.

For the poor always ye have with you; but Me ye have not always.

JESUS' FINAL JOURNEY. JESUS DEPARTS FROM THE GALILEE MATTHEW 19/MARK  10:1/LUKE 9:51 BIG PORTION OF CHRIST MINISTRY WAS FROM THIS AREA ISAIAH  9:1-2 Nevertheless. - ppt download

Mary of Bethany had just shown her overwhelming love for Jesus, offering Him her most valuable gift. She poured it over his feet, and then wiped his feet with her hair.

As usual, someone was offended. At least, he pretended to be offended.

“Why didn’t she sell this ointment for 300 pence, and distribute it among the poor?” In other words, Judas thought her gift was wasted on Jesus. He was the treasurer, and he held the money bag. He would have been more than happy to take care of the sale and the money!

But Jesus rebuked Judas. “Leave her alone. She has kept this ointment to honor Me, and to use after My death, to anoint My body. You will always have the poor all around you, but you will not always have Me to walk with you and talk with you.”

Jesus was not demeaning the ministry to the poor and needy in His day. There was much poverty, partly due to Roman domination. When there is no means of making a living, there will be poverty. Poverty can also come through illness, or some catastrophic event. Whatever the case, Jesus knew Judas’ heart, and He knew that Judas was a thief and a liar who would not have distributed the money to the poor, but would have used it for his own selfish purposes.

Jesus also knew that His time on earth was coming to an end, and that Judas would betray Him to the Pharisees–for money. Always, financial gain was the motive for Judas’ behavior.

In Luke 8: 2-3 we learn that several wealthy women in the area contributed to the financial needs of Jesus and His group of disciples, so there was already an amount of money that could well have been used to help the poor. None of those funds were sacrificial giving on the part of the women who contributed, but Mary’s gift was indeed sacrificial. Even the act of unbinding her hair was risky, because decent women kept their long hair covered and contained.

There is so much to consider in what could be seen as a simple act of devotion. Did Mary know that Jesus’ time was coming to an end? Did she. understand how He would suffer; that He would give Himself as the perfect sacrifice for the sin of mankind?

The feet of a guest were usually washed in water by one of the lower servants when the guest entered the home. A drop or two of sweet-smelling oil would be placed upon the head of a guest, an aroma to enjoy during his visit. But Mary knelt at His feet, putting herself as a lowly servant, and poured her oil over His feet. She further humbled herself by uncovering and unbinding her hair to use as a towel.

She gave Him her best, honored Him and revered Him in her act of devotion.

She is an example for all of us.

Sunday Morning Coffee: What do we Really Believe about God?

So I’ve been thinking a lot today about something President Trump has said: “Nothing is more powerful than God!”

Seriously, do we believe that? It’s true. It’s absolutely true.

The book of Revelation tells us that God will defeat all the forces of Satan. The victory will be His.

Do we really believe that? Or are we so fearful of the loud attacks of Satan that we’ve forgotten Who is actually in charge?

Isaiah says that Jesus is the Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace, King of Kings, Lord of Lords.

Do we really believe that? Are those truths foremost in our minds as we read all the news, the political stuff, the financial predictions of worse-than-ever-before losses? If we listen to the world, we’ll want to run for cover and never poke our heads above ground again.

Are we intimidated by the loud rhetoric from those who deny the existence of God? By those who disagree with our politics? Who say that Christians are evil heretics who are responsible for all the problems of the world?

Do we really believe in God and His power enough to take a stand, speak up, refuse to bow to anyone or any other movement? Do we have the courage to stand firm if some radical group gets up in our faces to demand we comply with their symbols, their mottoes? Do we trust God enough?

Fear is an awful master.

II Timothy 1:7. “For God has not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.”

Do we really even believe that verse? Fear is not from God! FEAR is NOT from God! It as a tool Satan uses to discourage us, defeat us, and keep us quiet.

I’m not advocating we riot and protest. There’s nothing godly about that. I am asking that we look inside our own hearts and try to figure out how much we really believe in God; in His power, in His plan; in His purpose.

When is the last time your faith was truly tested? When did you have to take a stand even though you were afraid? Have you just kept quiet when you could have taken a stand, when you knew you really should?

Why didn’t you?