Weekly Reflections and John 9-13 The Healer
This week I traveled to Mexico City on business and missed updating the blog daily, so today I am catching up with the 5 chapters from 9-13 in the book of John.
The first chapter of this week's study continues the theme of Jesus quietly demonstrating His power by healing a blind man. Again, the Pharisees attacked Jesus, this time for healing on a Sunday.
In verse 39 of chapter 9 Jesus says "I came into the world to bring everything into the clear light of day, making all the distinctions clear, so that those who have never seen will see, and those who have made a great pretense of seeing will be exposed as blind." 40 Some Pharisees overheard him and said, "Does that mean you're calling us blind?" 41 Jesus said, "If you were really blind, you would be blameless, but since you claim to see everything so well, you're accountable for every fault and failure."
Jesus had a way of plain speaking that cut right to the heart of the matter. This angered the Pharisees, because they knew that he was right. Amongst the Pharisees were some who knew instinctively that the good things that Jesus were doing had to be of God.
In John 10 Jesus continues his plain way of communicating - first beginning with an allegory about sheep and a gate and the role of the shepherd in protecting the sheep from those who would come to steal and harm. The people didn't understand what He was trying to say, so He spoke even more plainly about the fact that He was the gate and the good shepherd. The Pharisees were angry and even tried to stone Him. In this chapter Jesus also talks about laying himself down for the sheep, which was another allegory about being nailed to the cross. At this point, it wasn't time for this to happen, so the end of the chapter says that Jesus slipped away back across the Jordan river.
John 11 is the story of Lazarus being raised from the dead. It is interesting that first upon being told that he was sick by his sisters Mary and Martha, Jesus elected to wait a few days before coming to the town where they lived. By the time He arrived, Lazarus was dead. Jesus knew that this was the chance to reach Jews who previously just would not believe. After all, who could deny that someone who was dead was now alive?
Here I was struck by the fact that something bad had to happen to allow God to be glorified. How many times have you heard people say "Why would God allow this to happen?". Whether cancer or a tragic accident, each thing that creates deep need is an opportunity for God to show His power.
Even though Jesus knew that His own life would be in danger by performing such a stark miracle, he called to Lazarus, dead for 4 days, and he came back alive. The word spread and Jesus went to a place where He would be safe with the disciples until it was time.
He knew the "script" and the perfect timing of God's plan, so He was at peace.
John 11 begins with the story of Mary annointing Jesus' feet with precious oils. She came under criticism for that move, with Judas who would betray him saying "why didn't you sell the oil and give the money to the poor?". Again, knowing the script, Jesus said that Mary was honoring Him and that the poor would always be there, but He was not going to be with them much longer.
Meanwhile, the Pharisees were plotting to kill Lazarus, as he was drawing much attention to Jesus - the last thing that they wanted!
When it was time, Jesus returned to Jerusalem. He was greeted by people who had heard the first hand account from Lazarus. This angered the Pharisees even more, as if they needed igniting. Yet some of them did believe, but "were afraid of getting kicked out of the meeting place. When push came to shove they cared more for human approval than for God's glory."
In Chapter 12, verses 44-46 Jesus summed it all up when he cried out, "Whoever believes in me, believes not just in me but in the One who sent me. Whoever looks at me is looking, in fact, at the One who sent me. I am Light that has come into the world so that all who believe in me won't have to stay any longer in the dark. 47-50"If anyone hears what I am saying and doesn't take it seriously, I don't reject him. I didn't come to reject the world; I came to save the world. But you need to know that whoever puts me off, refusing to take in what I'm saying, is willfully choosing rejection."
Chapter 13 takes us to the upper room where the infamous Last Supper would be served. Jesus begins by washing the feet of the disciples. In verse 10 Jesus said, "If you've had a bath in the morning, you only need your feet washed now and you're clean from head to toe. My concern, you understand, is holiness, not hygiene."
The chapter continues with the recognition of Judas as his betrayer, in fulfillment of the prophesy in the Scriptures. Then he lays down his instructions to them - a New Commandment:34-35 "Let me give you a new command: Love one another. In the same way I loved you, you love one another. This is how everyone will recognize that you are my disciples—when they see the love you have for each other."
The final verse in this chapter is about how Peter will deny Jesus before morning. We know what is coming and so did Jesus.
On Friday I had lunch with my friend Thristene who just returned from 2 1/2 months in Mozambique. As I've written before, she was part of an amazing missions community there where people were regularly being healed miraculously. She herself prayed for people in Africa whose eyes were opened after being blind. This is Chapter 9 in action - TODAY, not 2000 years ago. Someone sitting across from me eating Mexican food in a restaurant in Tampa, not Jesus.
In Chapter 13, verse 19 Jesus said "I'm telling you all this ahead of time so that when it happens you will believe that I am who I say I am. Make sure you get this right: Receiving someone I send is the same as receiving me, just as receiving me is the same as receiving the One who sent me."
Thristene was one of many in Africa who were sent to minister to the local people. Their ministry reached literally hundreds for the Lord. It isn't about the miracles, although as shown in these few chapters in John, Jesus clearly saw the value of miracles in making people believe.
It is about love - Jesus loving people enough to stop, listen, touch, pray, heal. Healing not only their bodies, but their lives - cleansing their hearts and filling them with life - removing the effects of death. We can be the man who had been blind, we can be Lazarus.
Jesus is here today. Let Him touch you and be your healer.