WHAT TO DO WHEN YOU KNOW YOU ARE GOING TO DIE
Dr. Chuck DeVane, Pastor
Lake Hamilton Baptist Church
Hot Springs, Arkansas
December 27, 2020
1 Now before the Feast of the Passover, when Jesus knew that his hour had come to depart out of this world to the Father, having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end. 2 During supper, when the devil had already put it into the heart of Judas Iscariot, Simon's son, to betray him, 3 Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he had come from God and was going back to God, 4 rose from supper.
He laid aside his outer garments, and taking a towel, tied it around his waist. 5 Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples' feet and to wipe them with the towel that was wrapped around him. 6 He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, “Lord, do you wash my feet?” 7 Jesus answered him, “What I am doing you do not understand now, but afterward you will understand.” 8 Peter said to him, “You shall never wash my feet.” Jesus answered him, “If I do not wash you, you have no share with me.” 9 Simon Peter said to him, “Lord, not my feet only but also my hands and my head!” 10 Jesus said to him, “The one who has bathed does not need to wash, except for his feet, but is completely clean. And you are clean, but not every one of you.” 11 For he knew who was to betray him; that was why he said, “Not all of you are clean.”
12 When he had washed their feet and put on his outer garments and resumed his place, he said to them, “Do you understand what I have done to you? 13 You call me Teacher and Lord, and you are right, for so I am. 14 If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another's feet. 15 For I have given you an example, that you also should do just as I have done to you. 16 Truly, truly, I say to you, a servant is not greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. 17 If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them. 18 I am not speaking of all of you; I know whom I have chosen. But the Scripture will be fulfilled, He who ate my bread has lifted his heel against me.’ 19 I am telling you this now, before it takes place, that when it does take place you may believe that I am he. 20 Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever receives the one I send receives me, and whoever receives me receives the one who sent me.”
— John 13:1-20, ESV
Death has long taken all of my grandparents and both of my parents, much too soon in almost every case. This makes my generation of the family up next, but death has yet to come knocking on my or any of my siblings’ door. However, it has recently reached out to a dear old friend.
Raymond and I attended the same high school and college, played baseball together, were roommates, and graduated together. He had a bout with cancer a few years ago and was successfully cured. Sadly, it has now returned, and this time there is no operation or treatment that can stop it. His doctors have told him he has mere months to live.
I’ve been trying to get inside his shoes, but I do not think you can walk in them unless you are actually wearing them. Perhaps you’ve had friends or family members who had to take this walk, too. What must it be like, to be told you have months to live? What if it were weeks, days, or the final hours? What would you do if you know you were going to die?
The answer to all questions in the Christian life, and Christian death, is to follow the Lord Jesus Christ. Since the Lord is omniscient, He had the luxury, or the agony, of knowing exactly when He was going to die. As John’s Gospel turns to its second half, we see how Jesus faced His final “hour.”
Get together with your true friends.
The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette features a “High Profile” in every Sunday edition of some good person who has done some good work in our state. One of the questions they are asked is who would they invite to a fantasy dinner. The answers are very revealing of someone’s personality and priorities.
When Jesus faced His final hour, being the Creator of the world, He could have summoned anyone to dinner. He could have compelled Tiberius Caesar to come, or his spineless governor Pontius Pilate. He could have commanded Caiaphas the High Priest to sit before Him, or assembled the whole Sanhedrin. He could have made it a family dinner, with mother Mary and His earthly half-brothers and half-sisters, whose faith was very much in question at this point. He could have made it an evangelistic event and sat with unaffiliated Jews or curious Greeks.
But Christ chose to meet with those He had chosen. His final fellowship was with the first Christians. This was a church dinner, with Jesus at the head of the table, circled by eleven imperfect members and one perfect traitor, whom we shall discuss more fully in the next sermon. With every option at His disposal, this is who Jesus invited to the last supper.
The most important person in the world to you should be the Lord Jesus Christ, and the most important people on the planet should be your fellow Christians, your likeminded brothers and sisters in Christ. You will find them in your local church. Get together with all of them every Sunday, get together in small groups of them for prayer and Bible study, get together with a few of them over food and fellowship, get together with them two by two and go into the highways and the hedges to reach out to others.
Christians should prioritize gathering together with the local church. That’s what Jesus did, even in His final hour. If you don’t do so regularly, either something is wrong with you or something is wrong with your church.
Wash their feet.
This old fashioned foot washing has a literal interpretation, rooted in history, and a spiritual meaning, grounded in theology.
Literally, this is what people of the first century did when they hosted a dinner party. Roads were dusty. Footwear consisted of sandals at best and bare feet at worst. If the family owned slaves (about a third of the Roman Empire were slaves at that time), a lowly servant would wash the guests’ feet. If no slave was available, a family member would have to volunteer. Otherwise, the house would become filthy fast. In the East, it is still a common courtesy to remove one’s shoes when entering a home. In the West, we have doormats. I suppose these are the modern ways of washing feet.
At Jesus’ foot washing, His fledgling church had come to a prepared upper room that evening for the Passover meal. Everything was in its place. There was bread, wine, food, utensils, plus a basin and a towel. Peter thought James would do it, James thought John would do it, John though one of the other disciples would do it. I think they were all ashamed when Jesus got up and did it. But the Lord was glad to do it, for the heart of Christ and the heart of Christianity is serving others, beginning with the household of faith.
This is the literal lesson here. It is not that we should have ritual foot washings added to the sacraments and ordinances of the church, although on occasions I have ceremonially washed others’ feet to make a point. It is not that the low man on the totem pool should do the most laborious task. It is that all Christians should be on the constant lookout for ways and means to serve the church.
May I preach you a sermon? May I keep your child in the nursery? May I pray for you? May I bring you some food? May I offer a smile or a kind word? May I, may I, may I, should be the constant question of the Christian.
There is also a deep spiritual meaning in what Jesus did, too, inadvertently pointed out by Simon Peter, who put his foot in his mouth when it should have been in the basin. But the faux pas allowed Jesus to explain that we all need one spiritual bath, but many a spiritual cleansing. We become Christians in one born again experience, one baptism of the Holy Spirit, one bath, and we are forever clean before God. But we still sin, need constant confrontation with the word of God, constant prayers for forgiveness, constant spiritual foot washing to make our walk with God right and rewarding.
Once again Christ highlights the hallmarks of His church. We come together regularly for spiritual food and spiritual cleansing. We come to hear God speak to us in word, sacrament, and Spirit; and, we come to speak to God with prayers, praise, and worship. Every time we gather God is washing our feet.
Leave the basin and the towel behind.
We all should think about what we will do when faced with our final hour. It may not confront us with a cancer diagnosis, or as in Jesus’ case, a cruel cross. But it will come, and one day we will be gone. We are all predestined to leave this world at a particular moment, but what will we leave behind?
If I could write the script for my death, it could come on a Sunday. I want to spend it with the church. I want to preach the gospel. Then, I want to go eat some fried chicken, take a nap, and wake up in the arms of Jesus.
I will leave behind a nice library of books, which Andrea can give away or sell. I hope to leave behind a strong church body and a nice church campus, beautiful and functional and inviting in every way. But none of that matters if I have not picked up the basin and the towel from Jesus, used them well, then left them for others to serve after I am gone.
A life without Jesus Christ is a wasted life. But confessing Christians can waste their lives, too. If they neglect the church, if they don’t find ways to serve one another, if all they leave behind is money or stuff, it could be that they will have wasted their lives, too.
Do not miss Heaven by neglecting Christ and His cross. Do not miss the joys and rewards of Heaven by neglecting the church, and the basin and the towel. Cling to Christ, cling to Christ’s church, and give a life of service to God, God’s people, and others. This is what you do when you know you are going to die.
A CHILD CHANGES EVERYTHING
Dr. Chuck DeVane, Pastor
Lake Hamilton Baptist Church
Hot Springs, Arkansas
December 20, 2020
1 But there will be no gloom for her who was in anguish. In the former time he brought into contempt the land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, but in the latter time he has made glorious the way of the sea, the land beyond the Jordan, Galilee of the nations. 2 The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who dwelt in a land of deep darkness, on them has light shone. 3 You have multiplied the nation; you have increased its joy; they rejoice before you as with joy at the harvest, as they are glad when they divide the spoil. 4 For the yoke of his burden, and the staff for his shoulder, the rod of his oppressor, you have broken as on the day of Midian. 5 For every boot of the tramping warrior in battle tumult and every garment rolled in blood will be burned as fuel for the fire. 6 For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. 7 Of the increase of his government and of peace there will be no end, on the throne of David and over his kingdom, to establish it and to uphold it with justice and with righteousness from this time forth and forevermore. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will do this.
— Isaiah 9:1-7, ESV
Isaiah was the pessimistic prophet with the messianic hope. His sermons were dark clouds of gloom and doom, but they contained a silver lining and a golden promise. One day, he prophesied, a child would change everything.
The prophet was gloomy because he lived to see the fall of Israel to the Assyrians and predicted the fall of Judah to the Babylonians. Because of the twin sins of unfaithfulness and idolatry, God allowed His chosen people to become conquered vassals. They were made to chafe under pagan rulers for centuries, under the Assyrians and Babylonians, Medes and Persians, Greeks and Romans. But one day, Isaiah promised with glee, a child born during the Roman occupation would change everything.
Such hopes and dreams are captured in this particular prophecy, Isaiah’s second concerning the birth of a special son. This virgin-born child (ref. Isaiah 7:14) would somehow be a descendent of King David and at the same time the incarnation of Almighty God. This only begotten son would come to set God’s people free and eventually rule and reign over the entire world. This child, in ways and means Isaiah predicted but few have really understood, would change everything.
So it was that seven hundred years after Isaiah, and two thousand years ago, and at a still undetermined time in the future — this child, a son, the Lord Jesus Christ, has changed, does change, and will change everything.
Jesus Changes Contempt into Glory
When the Assyrians came to conquer the ten tribes of Israel in 722 BC, they entered from the north, the land of Zebulon and Naphtali. The Babylonians took a similar route to destroy Judah and Jerusalem in 586 BC. This land was “brought into contempt” until Jesus came and made it “glorious.”
There is a little city in Zebulon named Nazareth. And in Naphtali, on the coast of the Sea of Galilee, there is a little fishing village called Capernaum. Nazareth, of course, is where Mary and Joseph are from, and where Jesus grew from a child into a man. Capernaum is the place Jesus made the base of His three years of public ministry. Today people flock to these places to catch a glimpse of where Christ grew up and exercised most of His ministry. No place where, and in no person whom, Jesus is present and worshiped can be called contemptible, only glorious. Jesus changes everything.
Jesus Changes Darkness into Light
“Post Tenebras Lux” is the great theme of The Great Reformation. It means, out of “darkness,” “light.” But the Reformers did not bring us new news, they simply restored the primacy of the old, old story, the good news, the gospel of Jesus Christ.
Good king Hezekiah notwithstanding, Isaiah lived in dark days, and would eventually be martyred by the good king’s bad son, Manasseh. But his writings lived on, and so did the light. The early church’s prospects were darkened by terrible persecution. Almost all of the Apostles and many of the early leaders were martyred, too. But they kept preaching the light of the gospel, and that light still shines in the darkness.
The faithful who have gone on before us have passed the torch to us. We would not know God had not the light of the gospel appeared to us, by grace. We cannot see the light and share the light except by faith. The light is Jesus Christ, who changes everything.
Jesus Changes a Nation into a Kingdom
Isaiah’s promise was made to Israel, or technically Judah, but it was not only for Israel. “You have multiplied the nation,” the prophet said to God. The child changes everything, which must include people from every nation.
Jesus changed the Old Covenant into the New Covenant. Jesus changed a small, theocratic republic into a worldwide, spiritual kingdom. Jesus has claimed souls for Himself from every continent, country, and corner of the world. Jesus welcomes all souls from all soils. To those who are called and come to Him, Jesus changes everything.
Jesus Changes War into Peace
The promised child born seven hundred years after the prophet did not complete this change with His first coming, but will fulfill it with His return. There will be a day when every tool of every “oppressor” and every weapon of every “warrior” who sheds “blood” “will be burned as fuel for the fire.”
Of course, peace can be had today, when the war in your heart against God ceases the moment you trust and obey the “Prince of Peace.” This is the most important change in anyone’s life, made by the child who lived and died to grant us a never-ending peace with God. Jesus changes everything.
Jesus Changes God into the Son of Man
Isaiah caught a glimpse of God in a vision (ref. ch. 6) but the Almighty maintained invisibile to His Old Covenant people, Israel. But the child would change that. “For to us a son is born, a child is given.” Jesus changes the invisible to the visible. I use the word change here paradoxically, for one of the attributes of God is His immutability. And, “Jesus is the same yesterday and today and forever” (ref. Hebrews 13:8).
But, Jesus did not enter the world as a 33-year-old man. His body changed, from fetus to baby to little boy to adolescent to adult male. And the biggest change is that He was begotten, took on flesh, and became God with us (ref. Isaiah 7:14; John 1:1,14). God became a man so that man could know, love, and live with God. Jesus changes everything.
Jesus Changes Man into Sons of God
Jesus changes you, when you accept Him, as “Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.”
God’s word, spoken through the prophets, penned in Holy Scripture, are the most wonderful counsel a man, woman, boy, or girl could ever receive. No change can come to the soul unless it hears and heeds the word of God and the gospel of Jesus Christ.
No change can come to a soul who rejects the absolute deity of the man Christ Jesus. He was, is, and always will be God, one with the Father and the Holy Spirit.
Yet He remains a son, Prince, and grants peace, one soul at a time, by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone. With Him, you will never be alone. Jesus changes everything, even time.
Jesus Changes Time into Eternity
Jesus changes people with what He accomplished during His first advent. His virgin birth, perfect life, sacrificial death, and bodily resurrection paves the way for believers to follow. Those who do will be changed forever.
Christ is coming again, to change the place we call heaven and earth, with a new heaven and a new earth. This change will be perfect and permanent. This change will have “no end” and last “forevermore.” Lord Jesus Christ, from beginning to never end, changes everything.
In the first light, of the new day,
No one knew He had arrived.
Things continued, as they had been,
While the newborn softly cried.
But the heavens, wrapped in wonder,
Knew the meaning of His birth.
In the weakness, of a baby,
They knew God had come to earth.
As His mother, held Him closely,
It was hard to understand,
That this baby, not yet speaking,
Was the word of God to man.
He would tell them, of His kingdom,
But their hearts would not believe.
They would hate Him, and in anger,
They would nail Him to a tree.
But the sadness, would be broken,
As the song of life arose.
And the firstborn, of creation,
Would ascend to take His throne.
He had left it, to redeem us,
But before His life began,
He knew He’d come back, not as a baby,
But as the Lord of every man.
Here the angels, as they’re singing,
On the morning of His birth
How much greater, will our song be,
When He comes again to earth!
— Robert John Kauflin
THE WORST SIN IN THE WORLD
Dr. Chuck DeVane, Pastor
Lake Hamilton Baptist Church
Hot Springs, Arkansas
December 13, 2020
36 While you have the light, believe in the light, that you may become sons of light.”
When Jesus had said these things, he departed and hid himself from them. 37 Though he had done so many signs before them, they still did not believe in him, 38 so that the word spoken by the prophet Isaiah might be fulfilled:
“Lord, who has believed what he heard from us, and to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?” 39 Therefore they could not believe. For again Isaiah said, 40 “He has blinded their eyes and hardened their heart, lest they see with their eyes, and understand with their heart, and turn, and I would heal them.”
41 Isaiah said these things because he saw his glory and spoke of him. 42 Nevertheless, many even of the authorities believed in him, but for fear of the Pharisees they did not confess it, so that they would not be put out of the synagogue; 43 for they loved the glory that comes from man more than the glory that comes from God.
44 And Jesus cried out and said, “Whoever believes in me, believes not in me but in him who sent me. 45 And whoever sees me sees him who sent me. 46 I have come into the world as light, so that whoever believes in me may not remain in darkness. 47 If anyone hears my words and does not keep them, I do not judge him; for I did not come to judge the world but to save the world. 48 The one who rejects me and does not receive my words has a judge; the word that I have spoken will judge him on the last day. 49 For I have not spoken on my own authority, but the Father who sent me has himself given me a commandment—what to say and what to speak. 50 And I know that his commandment is eternal life. What I say, therefore, I say as the Father has told me.”
— John 12:36-50, ESV
John’s Gospel is full of light, but shadows linger. For every disciple there are more Pharisees. For every miracle, there are multitudes who remain unmoved. For every offer of free grace, there is an unyielding majority who remain steadfastly in slavery to sin. It is sad but true; the most common response to the gospel of belief, is unbelief.
Unbelief is the world’s worst sin. The kingdom of God is full of adulterers, murderers, liars, and thieves who repented and believed. But there will not be one unrepentant nor unbelieving person found in Heaven. Unbelief is so dangerous and damning that it needs to be identified, understood, and avoided at all costs. Therefore, John closes the public ministry of Jesus with words of warning as he exposes the many ugly faces of unbelief.
After three years of public ministry, full of miracles and parables and other revelations of the gospel, here is what can be said of the average Joe: “They still did not believe in Him.” This was the common, ordinary response to Jesus then, and now.
The theological term for ordinary unbelief is total depravity. It is passed to us at conception and indicative of all human beings, since none of us are seeking to believe (ref. Romans 3:10ff) because all of us are spiritually dead (ref. Ephesians 2:1ff). This does not mean we are all bad all the time, for we also bear the image of God and have the capacity for love, kindness, honesty, even sacrifice. But none of those attributes will be a substitute for belief when we come face to face with God, “For without faith it is impossible to please Him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe” (ref. Hebrews 11:6).
But this is the problem, John explains with the help of Isaiah, “they did not believe” because “they could not believe.” The latter phrase literally means they lacked the power to believe. There is nothing in the ordinary man to empower or enable him to repent of his sin and believe in the gospel of Jesus Christ. He is absolutely unable, totally depraved, and soon becomes reprobate. Every time an ordinary unbeliever rejects a miracle of Jesus, rejects the word of God, rejects the gospel of Christ, Jesus hides and the heart becomes harder.
The only remedy for ordinary unbelief is the great miracle of saving grace, which produces the gift of faith, which comes through the light of the word of God and the gospel of Jesus Christ. Which is why Jesus’ last words include, “While you have the light, believe in the light, that you may become sons of light.” Or else, you will find yourself among them from whom “He departed and hid Himself from them.” Ordinary unbelievers can beg for grace and cry out for mercy. God is sovereign; but, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved” (ref. Romans 10:13).
Unbelief has yet another sordid side, a face that masks belief but in reality is every bit as unbelieving as the ordinary. This is cowardly unbelief. It is a mind convinced that the facts of the gospel of Jesus Christ are true. It is a heart conflicted over the presence of pride and the desperate need for grace. But, it lacks the will to take a stand for the Lord Jesus Christ and truly follow Him.
Remember, of the hundred times John uses “believe” in his Gospel, sometimes the context is false, superficial faith. Millions and millions through the years have been like “the authorities” mentioned here who were convinced of the facts but were too fearful to follow through.
How many of us in our youth, wanting to profess faith in God, have been too fearful of missing out on sex or popularity or otherwise seeking glory for ourselves, so we failed to give glory to God by forsaking all to follow Jesus Christ? How many of us in our adulthood, wanting to make God a priority in our lives, did so, only He became the last priority behind career and money and the pursuit of pleasure? How many of us throughout life have been faced with the choice to trust and obey the Lord Jesus Christ, only to believe in ourselves instead, in whatever makes us happy, glibly choosing self over the Savior? This is not belief, but cowardly unbelief, and again there is no remedy except God’s grace.
Jesus appealed even to the cowards. “While you have the light, believe in the light, that you may become sons of light.” Or else, you will find yourself among them from whom “He departed and hid Himself from them.” Cowards can beg for grace and cry out for mercy and gain courage and faith. God is sovereign; but, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved” (ref. Romans 10:13).
The last paragraph of Jesus’ farewell address (vs. 44-50) is harder to interpret than the first (vs. 36-43). The context and the crowd must be our guide. Jesus is preaching about unbelief. Jesus is preaching to a crowd under the control of Pharisees, who believed in God but did not believe in Jesus Christ. So here, ironically, the Lord calls out what I call godly unbelief.
You are guilty of godly unbelief if you believe in God (like 80-90% of people in the world), but do not trust and obey the Lord Jesus Christ (like less than 10% of the people in the world). The Pharisees and their followers were guilty of godly unbelief. Adherents of religions other than Christianity, and Christians in name only are guilty of godly unbelief. Yet it is not godly, it is only unbelief.
Jesus makes the argument once again that He and the Heavenly Father are one, and you cannot have one without the other. Any so-called faith without Christ at the center, without allegiance to the commandments of Christ, without affection for the church of Christ, without total faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, is no faith at all. It is not godly at all. It is only unbelief.
Yet the wonderful, matchless grace of Jesus reaches out even to those caught in ungodly, godly unbelief. “While you have the light, believe in the light, that you may become sons of light.” Or else, you will find yourself among them from whom “He departed and hid Himself from them.” Do not be too religious to beg for grace and cry out for mercy. God is sovereign; but, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord [Jesus Christ]will be saved” (ref. Romans 10:13).
There are many ills in our present world. Covid-19 plagues the planet. Crime rates are have hit record levels in many American cities. We cannot even seem to pull off an uncontroversial election. But there is a much bigger problem in the world, with much more serious and lasting effects. It is the worst sin in the world, unbelief. It is everywhere and comes in various the styles of the ordinary, cowardly, even godly. No vaccine can cure it, no policeman can stop it, no politician can promise it away. The only cure is grace, alone, through faith, alone, in the Lord Jesus Christ, alone.
MY THREE SONS
Dr. Chuck DeVane, Pastor
Lake Hamilton Baptist Church
Hot Springs, Arkansas
December 6, 2020
27 “Now is my soul troubled. And what shall I say? ‘Father, save me from this hour’? But for this purpose I have come to this hour. 28 Father, glorify your name.” Then a voice came from heaven: “I have glorified it, and I will glorify it again.” 29 The crowd that stood there and heard it said that it had thundered. Others said, “An angel has spoken to him.” 30 Jesus answered, “This voice has come for your sake, not mine. 31 Now is the judgment of this world; now will the ruler of this world be cast out. 32 And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.” 33 He said this to show by what kind of death he was going to die. 34 So the crowd answered him, “We have heard from the Law that the Christ remains forever. How can you say that the Son of Man must be lifted up? Who is this Son of Man?” 35 So Jesus said to them, “The light is among you for a little while longer. Walk while you have the light, lest darkness overtake you. The one who walks in the darkness does not know where he is going. 36 While you have the light, believe in the light, that you may become sons of light.”
— John 12:27-36, ESV
When I was a kid there were triplets who lived next door: Harold, Derrell, and Jerald. I am not making up the names. The really odd thing about them was that Harold and Darrell were identical, but Jerold looked completely different. As a matter of fact, he looked exactly, I mean exactly, like the character Ernie on the long-running sitcom My Three Sons.
I had not thought about them for a long time until I started examining this text for a sermon thread. Then, there it was, my, three sons. The first is the Son of God. The second, same as the first, is the Son of Man. The third is many, sons of light. If you accept the first two as one, you can be one of the many thirds.
Remember John writes in recurring themes. Jesus the Son of God, God incarnate, Lord. Jesus is the Son of Man, the promised Messiah, Savior. Saving faith is the goal of the Gospel (ref. 20:21). All three themes roll over into this narrative of Jesus’ final public address recorded by John, before His retreat to the upper room, the garden, and the tomb.
The Son of God
To point to the fact that Jesus is the Son of God, God the Son simply speaks to God the Father. God the Father promptly speaks back. This is the third and final such public demonstration, the first at the beginning of Christ’s ministry at His baptism, the second in the middle of the ministry at the transfiguration, and this near the end. The holy dialogue is an open conversation meant to be overheard by the overflow crowd. It reveals the mysterious truth of the Trinity, displays the doctrine of the deity of Christ, and proves Jesus is the Son of God.
When the supreme Son speaks to the supreme Father, He is supremely honest. “Now is my soul troubled.” This is John’s Gethsemane, that moment of anguish and pain when the perfect, honest, and perfectly honest Son says to the Father that He does not want to do it. Who would? Would you like to be bitten on the hand by those you fed, betrayed by your best friend, wrongly arrested, falsely charged, corruptly convicted, and brutally executed?
When the supreme Son speaks to the supreme Father, He is supremely sacrificial. Though He would rather avoid the “hour” altogether, Jesus plunges headlong because this “hour” is the reason He became “the only begotten Son,” and the “glory” of God is at stake.
“Glory” is an extremely important matter to God the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. We remind ourselves of this each Lord’s Day when we sing “The Doxology,” entitled by the Greek word for glory. All blessings indeed flow from God, especially the supreme blessing of salvation. But for salvation to come from God the Father, whereby we may know, love, follow, and glorify the Lord, it has to be accomplished by the Son.
So says God’s word through Isaiah the prophet. God’s Son had to come to earth through the miracle of virgin birth (ref. Isaiah 7:14). God’s Son had to be God (ref. Isaiah 9:6). God’s Son had to suffer for sinners, die as an atonement for sin, and rise again to vindicated His deity (ref. Isaiah 52:13-53:12).
Jesus is the Son of God! Jesus is Lord!
The Son of Man
Jesus is the Son of Man. Jesus is Savior!
For the divine Son of God to glorify God by accomplishing salvation, He had to take on human flesh and become the Son of Man, a messianic title Jesus liked to use in order to identify Himself. It had obviously caught on by the end of His ministry, even among skeptics. As the Son of Man, God in human flesh, the Messiah, Jesus carried out the word of God and accomplished the will of God, which is news both good and bad.
The bad news is that the world stands under the judgement of God. Human beings are not neutral, we are sinful. We all have joined in the cosmic rebellion against God because “the ruler of this world,” has set up systems to tempt us into sin and turn us away from God. We are all guilty of valuing money, sex, power, and pride more than God. God has sent the Savior because each one of us is a sinner. Because of the holiness of God, judgment looms.
Because of the love of God, salvation comes. The bad news is the world is under the judgment go God; but, the good news is that the world can be saved by God, through the person and work of Jesus Christ, who came to us in the flesh. This is why the Son of God became the Son of Man, and why He must be “lifted up from the earth,” on the cross, to be punished and put to “death,” to draw God’s people from all over the world.
Are you one of God’s people? Yes, if you have “lifted up” Jesus literally and spiritually. But lifting up the Lord requires “light.”
Sons (and Daughters) of Light
Jesus is Lord, He is the Son of God. Jesus is Savior, He is the Son of Man, the Messiah. And, Jesus is the “Light of the World” (ref. 8:12), “God from God, light from light, true God from true God” (Nicene Creed). He has promised we, too, can be light (ref. Matthew 5:14), or “sons [and daughters] of light” (vs. 36), if we come to the light of the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ.
Light also refers to revelation, the specific revelation of salvation God gives to the people He has chosen for Himself. God’s Spirit and God’s word light the path to God’s Son and Savior, Jesus Christ. Have you seen the light? Let’s go back to Jesus’ profound statement about being “lifted up.” Have you been enlightened to know what this means, literally and spiritually?
Literally, Jesus was executed upon a cross, planted in the ground on a hill outside Jerusalem, “lifted up” for all the world to see. This was necessary to satisfy the justice of God, to impute the sins of the elect upon the Son of God and Son of Man on the cross. If you admit your sins put Him there, if you desire to have those sins forgiven, and if you repent of your sins and believe in the “light” of the gospel, you will be among the “sons [and daughters] of light.” Jesus is Savior. And your new life, spiritually, will prove it.
Spiritually, “lifted up” means “exalted.” The light of the gospel shines on Jesus as Savior, and Jesus as Lord. He must be exalted, given preeminence, first place, in the lives and loves of those who truly believe. There is no such thing as a second class Christian, and there is no such thing as a Christian who puts Christ in second place. People for whom Christ was lifted up life Him up in their lives.
People, then and now, just don’t get it. They profess Jesus Christ with their lips, but walk in darkness with their lives. Some see Him as Lord, but deny the need for personal forgiveness and salvation. Some claim Him as Savior, but do not submit to His Lordship over their lives. That is not light, that is lostness.
By the way, the character Ernie, who had a doppelgänger in my next-door-neighbor Jerald, was adopted. He was not naturally one of the three sons. He was chosen by the father and adopted into the family as a son. Would you like to be adopted into God’s family? Come to Jesus as the Son of God, Lord. Come to Jesus as the Son of Man, Savior. Come to the light of the gospel in full repentance and faith, and you will be one of the many sons, or daughters, of God.
BE CAREFUL WHAT YOU WISH FOR
Dr. Chuck DeVane, Pastor
Lake Hamilton Baptist Church
Hot Springs, Arkansas
November 22, 2020
20 Now among those who went up to worship at the feast were some Greeks. 21 So these came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida in Galilee, and asked him, “Sir, we wish to see Jesus.” 22 Philip went and told Andrew; Andrew and Philip went and told Jesus. 23 And Jesus answered them, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. 24 Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. 25 Whoever loves his life loses it, and whoever hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. 26 If anyone serves me, he must follow me; and where I am, there will my servant be also. If anyone serves me, the Father will honor him.
— John 12:20-26, ESV
Americans come to Christ casually. Getting baptized, confirmed, or otherwise joining one of the churches on every corner is virtually a birthright. Even Tom Petty’s main squeeze in Free Falling “Loves Jesus, and America, too.”
We Americans do love Jesus. But do we really know Jesus? Do we really understand Jesus? Do we accept the claims Jesus makes on the lives of those who claim to believe in Him?
In this first passage past the Triumphal Entry into the last Passover, some obscure characters come to Jesus’ disciples to request an audience with the Messiah. “We wish to see Jesus,” they said. Don’t we all? But let us be careful what we wish for.
A Closer Look
Almost nothing is known for certain about these “Greeks” who approached Philip and Andrew. Remember, a million or so people crammed into Jerusalem for the festival, the devout and the demure and the deranged. They could have been committed Hellenistic Jews, curiosity seekers from Alexandria or the Mediterranean, or just a bag of nuts. But I think they should get credit for coming to the Lord in a serious way.
These Greeks obviously knew the two Greek words for “see,” one that refers to sight (ref. 9:25) and the other insight (vs. 21). One can see the light, by looking at sun, moon, or stars; or, one can see the light by gaining an understanding of a complex problem or person, like Jesus.
They chose the latter word. They wanted a lengthy, personal interview. They wanted a deeper dive, a better understanding, some satisfying answers to the four diagnostic questions suggested by the late James M. Boice: Who is Jesus? What did He do? Why did He do it? What does it require of me?
The typical American Christian has not taken the time to seriously ask and seek answers to these questions. Don’t be typical. Do be Christian. But make sure you’ve taken a long second look into what Christ and Christianity is all about. Jesus is about to tell us.
A Critical Hour
As far as we know, Jesus did not meet personally with the Greeks. There was just not enough time. Christ had arrived at the final, desperate “hour” of His earthly life and ministry. Of course He is not speaking of a literal sixty minutes, but of the last few days spent in His incarnate body, which was predestined for a long, slow walk to the cross.
Jesus addresses His farewell address to His current addressees, Philip and Andrew. He was equipping them for the Great Commission, for the taking of the gospel to Jews, Greeks, and all the nations. It is short, precise, and powerful, containing tips for all earth travelers who want to understand Christ and the Christian life.
Christ is fully committed to God’s glory. Everything Jesus ever did was calculated to give God the most glory. This includes being silent for most of His life. Did you ever think about how not saying something can give God the most glory? When Jesus finally spoke up, however, He did so in full allegiance to God, not man. He spoke of the sinfulness of man and the necessity of sovereign grace. This, of course, got Him killed. This was that desperate hour.
Christ’s death results in life. Jesus explained, pre-cross, that He had to die in order for others to live. This is true, as any good doctrine of the atonement or a discussion of double-imputation can prove. Jesus sowed seeds of blood that have yielded a crop of believers going on two thousand years now. And the first full resurrection was His own.
Christ’s life now exists on a higher plane than this present world. Jesus left the earth but is still with us, in Spirit. Therefore, His concerns are overwhelmingly spiritual, not earthly. This is not to say He does not care about Covid, or your electric bill, or your final exam in math class. He does, He is a loving God. But He is mainly concerned about matters of holiness and righteousness. He wants to see those who see Him partaking in worship, discipling the nations, and loving one another.
Christ is rewarded in Heaven. We cannot see Him now, but one day we will crown Him with many crowns. His trophy case will be full, and it is doubtful there will be any golden hammers there for winning “Carpenter of the Year.” Such prizes give a temporary high, but one that does not last higher up.
Do you “wish to see Jesus” in this way, not as some Santa Claus in the sky, but as a real man who really died to prove He really is God, the God who demands complete worship and comprehensive discipleship? See Jesus, then take a second look at the Son of God. Now take an honest look at yourself.
A Call to Discipleship
To understand Christ, you have to absorb the things He said about Himself. To understand Christianity, you have to apply them to yourself. Here is a clarion call to Christian discipleship.
The Christian must be fully committed to God’s glory. Lot’s wife turned back, and she died. Achan took back, and he died. Ananias and Sapphire held back, and they died. God will not settle for half of you, and you cannot know and enjoy God until you are fully committed to His glory. As Westminster informs us, “The chief end of man is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever.” Christian faith is sacrifice, trust, obedience, and the joy of pleasing God.
The Christian's death results in life. Jesus repeatedly admonished those who would be His disciples to take up their own crosses and follow Him. Paul taught we must die to ourselves to have life in Christ. And it is our many crosses, our many deaths, our many sacrifices, that bear the fruit of other souls coming to Christ as well. Do those closest to you know you are so close to Christ than they can see your cross?
The Christian’s life now exists on a higher plane than this present world. Jesus, James, and John taught us to love God and His kingdom far above any earthly loves. Some of these sayings are cloaked in hyperbole and contrast, but the meaning is clear. If you love anything more than the Lord Jesus Christ, then you don’t love the Lord Jesus Christ.
The Christian is rewarded in Heaven. God has not come to us to give us glory, and He will not accept our works for salvation. But if you are saved by grace through faith in Jesus Christ, you will get an astounding reward: honor. Do you know what it feels like to be honored by your spouse, your children, some school or organization? Imagine what it will be like to be honored by God, when you see Him face to face.
You can wish for an understanding of economics and investments, make a lot of money, and leave it all behind when you die. You can wish for fame, notoriety, and practically nobody will remember you two days after you are gone. Or, you can say, “We wish to see Jesus,” come to Him on His terms based on His word and live for Him in this life, and this flicker of a life will give way to an amazing, unimaginable place of glory and honor. The glory is all God’s, but the honor can be all yours.
Do be careful what you wish for.
A TALE OF TWO TOMBS
Dr. Chuck DeVane, Pastor
Lake Hamilton Baptist Church
Hot Springs, Arkansas
November 8, 2020
12 The next day the large crowd that had come to the feast heard that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem. 13 So they took branches of palm trees and went out to meet him, crying out, “Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord, even the King of Israel!” 14 And Jesus found a young donkey and sat on it, just as it is written, 15 “Fear not, daughter of Zion; behold, your king is coming, sitting on a donkey's colt!” 16 His disciples did not understand these things at first, but when Jesus was glorified, then they remembered that these things had been written about him and had been done to him. 17 The crowd that had been with him when he called Lazarus out of the tomb and raised him from the dead continued to bear witness. 18 The reason why the crowd went to meet him was that they heard he had done this sign. 19 So the Pharisees said to one another, “You see that you are gaining nothing. Look, the world has gone after him.”
— John 12:12-19, ESV
All four Gospels record Jesus Christ’s triumphal entry into Jerusalem for the holiest week in human history. John’s account stands out by letting the resurrection of Lazarus linger over the proceedings. This is because this Gospel is essentially a tale of two tombs.
The first half of John’s Gospel ends at an empty tomb. So will the second. But to get from one empty tomb to the other, Jesus had to enter a certain place, as a certain person, for a certain purpose. Such certainties will become crystal clear in this triumphal text.
The Place: Jerusalem
Jerusalem is the most significant city in all of human history. The name is derived from Yeru or Jeru, which is best translated as foundation or place. Salem, or Shalom, definitively means peace. Jeru-Shalom, then, is the foundation or place of peace. And it is there where Jesus Christ paid the price for our peace with God.
Jerusalem is the most significant city in biblical history, too. It is the capitol city of Israel, the Old Testament people of God; and, it is the birthplace of the Church, the New Testament people of God, born out of the death and resurrection of Jesus at Passover and the ascension of Christ and the descent of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost. These things happened in that certain place, the city of Jerusalem, to consummate the Old Covenant and inaugurate the New Covenant.
The event described in the text took place at Passover, the setting for Christ’s most important work in this most important place. The historian Josephus wrote that over two million people packed into Jerusalem during Passover week, though most of his critics say he exaggerates two fold. Still, a million people is a lot of people.
Most of the citizens piling into the city on the Sunday before Passover Friday were pilgrims from Galilee. They were much more familiar with Jesus than the Judeans, since most of Jesus’ words and works were offered in Galilee (as covered by the synoptic Gospels, while John’s focus is Jesus in Jerusalem). I doubt the Judeans would have welcomed Jesus with such a “triumphal entry,” but the mostly Galilean crowd was glad to do it.
Their messianic expectations were very high. They shouted “Hosanna,” which means “save us.” They looked to Jesus as Savior. They quoted the messianic 118th Psalm, and they knew the difference between blessing someone in the name of the Lord and blessing the One who comes in the name of the Lord. They looked to Jesus as Lord. They waved palm branches, which were plentiful in and around Jerusalem, as symbols of praise and peace. It is if they were saying, praise the Lord for peace with God through the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ!
This was a God moment. This was a gospel moment. But what the people could not fathom at the time was the price God would pay for the gospel. They did not expect on this first day of the week that by the last day of the week Jesus would be buried in a tomb, just like Lazarus, and that He would rise again, just like Lazarus. So begins the tale of two tombs.
Of course, Jesus knew what He was doing, which is why He rode in to the exact place where He needed to be, Jerusalem, the city of prophets, priests, and kings.
The Person: Jesus
Jesus came to Jerusalem to present Himself as three persons in one: Prophet, Priest, and King.
Jesus was a proven prophet, and He would prove to be the prophet, the messianic fulfillment of Deuteronomy 18. Prophets speak truth to power. Prophets often rub people the wrong way. Prophets are seldom popular. And, prophets tend to get themselves killed, especially in Jerusalem.
Jesus knew this exactly and had said earlier, “It cannot be that a prophet should perish away from Jerusalem.” So in this certain place, Jerusalem, Jesus came as a certain person, the Messiah the Prophet, the Prophet who would fulfill prophecies, like Zechariah 9:9 and Isaiah 53.
Jesus came to Jerusalem as a priest, too, the most high priest. Unlike prophets, priests were particularly popular in Israel, for they offered sacrifices according to the word of God that symbolized the forgiveness of sins. Who does not want their sins forgiven? Priests were valuable people.
Jesus is unique, however, insomuch that He came to the city on that fateful Passover to be both the high priest to offer the sacrifice; and, the sacrifice offered by the high priest. The Lord and the lamb are the same, hearkening back to the words of Jesus’ forerunner, John the Baptist, “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world” (ref. John 1:29).
Jesus came to Jerusalem as prophet, priest, and king. The crowd acknowledged it, calling Him “the King of Israel.” They just did not understand, at the time, what kind of king He was when He came the first time to earth.
Jesus was a servant king, riding a donkey instead of a white horse. Just wait until He comes again, however. In the first advent He was a suffering servant king, lifted up before the people on that Palm Sunday, lifted up on the cross on Good Friday.
Know with certainty that this is the person of Christ. He is the Prophet, He is our High Priest, and He is King of kings and Lord of lords. He came to a certain city, Jerusalem, as this certain person, for this certain purpose: to save God’s people.
The Purpose: Salvation
The people cried, “Hosanna,” save us, we pray. The Pharisees seethed, and repeated their jealous mantra that Jesus needed to be killed. It is a great gospel irony that one could only be accomplished by the other.
Jesus rode into Jerusalem to die, as He prophetically preached throughout His ministry, especially in the final year. Prophets preach about the holiness of God, the sinfulness of man, and the need for forgiveness and reconciliation through atoning sacrifice. Prophecy preaches salvation.
Sacrifice accomplishes salvation. Those of the Old Covenant were symbolic and ritualistic. Holy Communion in the New Covenant is symbolic and ritualistic. The tragedy and beauty of bread and blood is about salvation, accomplished by the sacrifice of our High Priest, Jesus Christ, on the cross in Jerusalem.
Death, however, as Jesus foreshadowed at the death of Lazarus, is not final for Christ and Christ’s followers. For Christ is risen today, and He is King and Lord over all. You just cannot see it, yet, except with eyes of faith.
The salvation celebrated on the original Palm Sunday led to Good Friday and Resurrection Sunday. There is salvation in no other prophecies or prophetic texts, other than Jesus Christ and the word of God. There is salvation in no other priests or religions, other than Jesus Christ and Christianity. There is no other king and kingdom above the Lord Jesus Christ and the kingdom of God.
So walk with the Lord Jesus Christ, from Lazarus’ tomb to His own. Believe in the miracle, believe in the Messiah. Lay down your life for what happened in Jerusalem, where Jesus died and rose again, and enjoy the salvation of the Lord forever.
DISCIPLESHIP ON DISPLAY
Dr. Chuck DeVane, Pastor
Lake Hamilton Baptist Church
Hot Springs, Arkansas
November 1, 2020
1 Six days before the Passover, Jesus therefore came to Bethany, where Lazarus was, whom Jesus had raised from the dead. 2 So they gave a dinner for him there. Martha served, and Lazarus was one of those reclining with him at table. 3 Mary therefore took a pound of expensive ointment made from pure nard, and anointed the feet of Jesus and wiped his feet with her hair. The house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume.
4 But Judas Iscariot, one of his disciples (he who was about to betray him), said, 5 “Why was this ointment not sold for three hundred denarii and given to the poor?” 6 He said this, not because he cared about the poor, but because he was a thief, and having charge of the moneybag he used to help himself to what was put into it. 7 Jesus said, “Leave her alone, so that she may keep it for the day of my burial. 8 For the poor you always have with you, but you do not always have me.”
9 When the large crowd of the Jews learned that Jesus was there, they came, not only on account of him but also to see Lazarus, whom he had raised from the dead. 10 So the chief priests made plans to put Lazarus to death as well, 11 because on account of him many of the Jews were going away and believing in Jesus.
— John 12:1-11, ESV
The Gospel of John was written to promote faith in Jesus Christ and for use in making disciples for Him. Nowhere does it ask you to ask Jesus into your heart and become a member of the church. Rather, it calls you to totally repent and fully believe in order to become a true follower, or disciple, of Jesus. Just like the verb “believe,” John handles the noun “disciple” frequently and mostly positive. Of over eighty mentions of disciple or disciples in the Gospel, almost all of them sing in high fidelity, with the exception of a few bad notes (ref. 6:66, 11:4).
All sorts of disciples are on display in this story, which depicts a delightful dinner party in Bethany. The occasion is a celebration of Jesus in view of the recent raising of Lazarus from the dead. It had to be delayed for a few days while the Lord laid low in Ephraim (ref. 11:54) to escape momentarily from the Pharisees and Sadducees, who were laying a trap to arrest and kill Him. Jesus needed to compose Himself before willingly walking right into it.
The text now takes us to the beginning of the last Passover. The family is all together. Friends have gathered around the table. Jesus is the guest of honor, as He should be, and He is surrounded by His disciples: real ones, fake ones, and potential ones.
Martha, Mary, and Lazarus are three of the most real and robust disciples of Jesus Christ mentioned in the Gospels, even though the sisters only appear twice (ref. Luke 10:38-42; John 11:1-12:11), and Lazarus once (ref. John 11:1-12:11). Despite their scant mention, we feel like we know them. They each have their own individual traits, but they share a common love for the Lord, a sincere faith in the Lord, and a willingness to sacrifice for the Lord Jesus Christ.
Like Emmylou Harris was “Born to Run,” Martha was born to cook, and serve. That is what she is doing in both of her biblical appearances, and by the second time she’s learned not to complain about it. Serving is what God made her and called her to do. She is like most Christians are supposed to be, serving Christ by serving others. It is the mark of a true Christian, for if you ain’t serving, you probably ain’t saved.
Mary is the most glamorous of the three, given Jesus’ compliment of her sitting at His feet in the Gospel of Luke. She tops that in the Gospel of John with her extraordinary act of sacrifice and worship. By the way, she should not be confused with the sinful woman of Luke 7:36-50, who invented perfume anointing near the beginning of Christ’s ministry. Mary simply repeats it, perhaps sensing the Lord’s ministry is now near its end. In doing so, she shows the primary purpose of Christianity, to publicly worship Jesus Christ.
Lazarus doesn’t say much. No biblical quotes are attributed to him. As we said about his older sister, not every disciple is on display for speaking or singing. Lazarus simply shows the evidence of a changed life, of one brought back from the dead to walk in newness of life, following Christ, listening to His word, bearing witness to the grace of God through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.
Though there were distinctly different, they shared one important thing in common. They all paid what the late, great Dietrich Bonhoeffer titled, “The Cost of Discipleship.” Real discipleship is just that, costly. God’s grace is free, faith is a gift, but following Jesus costs you everything you have.
For Martha, it was her time and her culinary resources, a great sacrifice in her day.
For Mary, it was a year’s salary spent on a special perfume for her yet to be realized wedding day. Perhaps she became the first Nun, married to Christ, so to speak, as she gave her life and her life’s greatest treasure away, broken and spilled out upon the Lord.
For Lazarus, living for Jesus raised the specter of dying for Jesus, as many heroic missionaries and martyrs have done over the past two thousand years.
Martha, Mary, and Lazarus are poster children of real disciples. Your need to be on the poster, too. But remember, it will cost you.
Honest John always gives us the good, the bad, and the ugly. We boo when the Pharisees appear on the screen. Now it is time to hiss, as Judas Iscariot, one of the first and foremost fake disciples of all time comes to the forefront.
The irony of the Pharisees and Judas is that they were among the most respected men in Israel in Jesus’ day. Judas may have been the most admired of the twelve Apostles. He is suspected to have been a Zealot, renowned for their faith and courage. He had been appointed the treasurer of the Jesus of Nazareth Evangelistic Association, which implies a great deal of trust. And in this scene, he is an outspoken advocate for social justice and helping the poor.
But the Word of God, sharper than any two-edged sword, cuts him open and exposes his sin, his selfishness, his spurious discipleship. Judas, like most phonies, was hyper-critical and hypocritical. He wasn’t following the Lord for what he could give, his soul, his life, his all. He was getting close to Jesus for what he could get, monetary gain, power and prestige, much like the infamous televangelists of our day.
They say that Benedict Arnold looked like the quintessential U.S. soldier. He had even received high praise from General George Washington before he sold out his fellow Americans. Now his name is synonymous with traitor.
Even more so is Judas Iscariot. The character Pete, when betrayed by his first cousin in the film O Brother Where Art Thou, lashed out and called him “Judas Iscariot Hogwallop.” Traitors, however, can find forgiveness. Thieves can make restitution. But there is no remedy for the false disciple, their guile is too great and their hearts are too hard. They go through their lives pretending to be Christians, fooling their fellow church members, deceiving members of the community, but you cannot lie to the Lord. He knows who His real disciple are, and who they are not, the faithful, and the fake.
At the end of this story, which concludes the first half of John’s Gospel (the second half will be devoted to the final week of Jesus’ life), a “large crowd” gathers. Jesus was not particularly fond of crowds during His ministry, but He keenly looks into this one. I suppose they are a good group of potential disciples, some who will follow, some who will fake it. What would you do, if you were in the crowd.
You would have to make up your mind about Jesus. There He is, eating, talking, laughing, celebrating. Is he a mere man, a mad man, or is He the Messiah, God and Savior?
You would have to make up your mind about Lazarus. Was he really dead? Did Jesus really, miraculously bring him back to life? Can the messages and miracles of Jesus really be trusted?
You would have to make up your mind about the chief priests’ plans. They were going to kill Jesus, the most dastardly deed ever done in this old world. But Jesus came to die, the most wonderful thing ever done for this whole world. Why did He do it, and what does it require of you?
You would have to make up you mind about “believing in Jesus.” It is something to be embraced, totally, heart and soul and mind and strength. Would you trade everything you own to receive Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior? Would you really follow, or would you fake it?
My son-in-law is a United States Marine and we love him. He is one of the few and the proud being trained to run into the storm, rather than away from it. That’s love for your country, that’s faith in your fellow Marines, that’s saving lives.
Jesus is about to run right to the cross, not away from it. That’s love for the world, that’s the basis of true faith, that’s saving souls.
Souls that are saved show it by being real disciples. Disciples believe, sincerely. Disciples follow, fully. Disciples pay the cost, entirely, for grace and glory that money cannot buy. Be a disciple, and let it be displayed for Jesus and the whole world to see.
ENEMIES OF THE GOSPEL
Dr. Chuck DeVane, Pastor
Lake Hamilton Baptist Church
Hot Springs, Arkansas
October 25, 2020
45 Many of the Jews therefore, who had come with Mary and had seen what he did, believed in him, 46 but some of them went to the Pharisees and told them what Jesus had done. 47 So the chief priests and the Pharisees gathered the council and said, “What are we to do? For this man performs many signs. 48 If 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.” 49 But one of them, Caiaphas, who was high priest that year, said to them, “You know nothing at all. 50 Nor do you understand that it is better for you that one man should die for the people, not that the whole nation should perish.” 51 He did not say this of his own accord, but being high priest that year he prophesied that Jesus would die for the nation, 52 and not for the nation only, but also to gather into one the children of God who are scattered abroad. 53 So from that day on they made plans to put him to death. 54 Jesus therefore no longer walked openly among the Jews, but went from there to the region near the wilderness, to a town called Ephraim, and there he stayed with the disciples. 55 Now the Passover of the Jews was at hand, and many went up from the country to Jerusalem before the Passover to purify themselves. 56 They were looking for Jesus and saying to one another as they stood in the temple, “What do you think? That he will not come to the feast at all?” 57 Now the chief priests and the Pharisees had given orders that if anyone knew where he was, he should let them know, so that they might arrest him.
— John 11:45-57, ESV
The resurrection of Lazarus from the dead is the perfect vindication of the word of God and the gospel of Jesus Christ. The miracle emanates from the power of Jesus’ short sermon, “Lazarus, come forth.” Furthermore, the episode aptly illustrates the irresistible grace of God in salvation when one is called from spiritual death unto everlasting life.
How could one have witnessed this seventh of seven signs in the Gospel of John and not become a believer in Jesus Christ? “Many ... did believe in Him” (vs. 45). Praise the Lord! But most did not, and still do not believe in the Lord Jesus Christ.
Unbelief is not neutrality. Jesus said, “He who is not with me is against me” (ref. Matthew 12:30). Unbelief is enmity (ref. Romans 8:7). Unbelief is the natural condition of an unsaved human being (ref. 1 Corinthians 2:14; Ephesians 2:1). Unbelief, often cloaked in garments of faith, eventually exposes itself in obvious ways. We see some of these enemies of the gospel in the aftermath of the resurrection of Lazarus.
Legalism Without Grace
Ungodly unbelief, masking itself in godliness, often reveals itself is in a legalistic view of salvation that pledges no allegiance to the grace of God. It is any sort of salvation by works, or salvation by superiority, that mistakenly thinks it merits favor with God. It is actually unbelief, and its poster child, once again, is the Pharisees. Boo!
After the resurrection of Lazarus, after a few more people professed faith in Jesus, the unfaithful made a fast track to the Pharisees. The Pharisees had already set themselves up as superior to Jesus, adversaries of Jesus, and therefore enemies of God and the gospel. Christ’s message, announced in the seven “I Am” statements and illustrated in the seven signs (most notably Lazarus’ resurrection), offered the gospel of grace alone through faith alone in Him, in Christ, alone. The Pharisees begged to differ, and poor beggars they were.
Works righteousness is a false gospel touted by religious legalists that seeks to legislate a person into Heaven. Whether it be keeping the Pharisees’ meticulous Sabbath rules, or keeping off of alcohol and caffeine, or even keeping actual Scriptural commandments, any attempt to treat salvation like a prize for keeping rules is an enemy of Jesus and the gospel. As is moral superiority, which the Pharisee played to the hilt when he prayed with the tax collector (ref. Luke 18:9ff). Just because you are morally superior to others does not make you acceptable to God, and feeling morally superior to others usually indicates a total absence of grace.
Jesus’ true gospel of salvation is for sinners, for those who know they are sinners, and for those who are sick and tired of their sin. It is grace, God’s grace, that makes us aware of sin’s estrangement and enmity, and grace gives us the desire for making a place for Jesus, first place, in our lives.
Legalism runs and tells the Pharisees. Grace runs as fast as it can to God. Which way are you running?
Religion Without Faith
Though the Pharisees were the populists in Jesus’ day, they did not sit on the top of religious power in Jerusalem. The high priest’s office was held by Sadducees, Annas and his son-in-law and successor, Caiaphas. Unbelief ran to legalism, and legalism ran to religion, religion without faith, which is another arch enemy of the gospel.
The Sadducees liked the pomp and circumstance of religion, but without the dogma. They did not want to be bogged down in beliefs, doctrines, truths. They did not believe in the supernatural, in persons and powers you cannot see, so they really did not believe in God, at all. So when Jesus came, claiming to be God, the Sadducees teamed up with the Pharisees to ensure the deluded Jesus would be destroyed.
There are beautiful religious edifices, Christian church buildings, that I have seen all over America, eastern and western Europe, and both sides of Russia. Their steeples are gold, their architecture is ornate wood, their facades are beautiful brick and stone, their chancels or altars draw your eyes to astounding crosses. But inside there is no faith. There is ritual, moral instruction without biblical standards, and therapy for the parishioners. But there is no belief in the authority of Scripture nor the exclusive claims of Jesus Christ.
Likewise, there are trendy megachurch warehouses franchising themselves all over the world now, offering rock music, amusement park amenities for kids, social justice coffees for millennials, smooth marketing, and state of the art technology. What they don’t have, however, are orthodox statements of faith, pastors who’ve taken a class in systematic theology, verse by verse Bible study, and reverent prayers and hymns that honor God.
Today’s world is long on religion and short on faith. It sells out Jesus for thirty pieces of silver, or political prestige, or merely a big crowd. It makes even spiritually dead people feel good about themselves, and the pomp or pop music is so loud, they cannot even hear if Jesus should come calling.
It is tempting to give lip service to the gospel. It is easy and personally beneficial to join most churches, where the perks and programs are many and the demands of discipleship are null and void. Christianity is more of a passing culture today than a primary faith.
But gospel faith holds the whole counsel of the word of God to be true, and preaches the Lord Jesus Christ as the only one who can take away our sin and impute His saving righteousness, by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone. Therefore, all false-hearted or half-hearted attempts to follow Christ are enemies of the gospel.
Politics without God
So what did the legalistic Pharisees and faithless Sadducees do when they got together to get rid of the Lord Jesus Christ? They turned to the greatest worldly power and enemy of the gospel. They played politics.
Politics is the governing of a people. When informed by God and God’s word, like the experiment that became the United States of America, it can make a nation a city on a hill, a bright beacon of hope, an arbiter of justice. Without God, like atheistic communism or secular socialism, it becomes immoral, tyrannical, unjust.
The death and resurrection of Lazarus led directly to the death and resurrection of Jesus. The miracle performed at Lazarus’ tomb was the last straw for the unbelievers, the Pharisees, and the Sadducees. It was at this moment that the high priest, with ironic credit from John, decided to mix the politics of Jerusalem with the power of Rome and hatch the plot that would punish the Lord Jesus Christ with crucifixion.
Jesus would duck it for a few days by leaving Bethany and taking cover in nearby Ephraim. But as this central chapter turns to the second half of John’s Gospel, Jesus will go from Ephraim, to Bethany, to Jerusalem, to the Passover, and to the cross.
At the cross, Jesus faced the enemies of the gospel: legalism without grace, religion without faith, and politics without God. We must face them today.
Face them squarely by asking a few questions:
Are you saved because of what you’ve done for God, or because of what God has done for you? Are you trusting in your own goodness (ref. Romans 3:10), or the atoning death and imputed righteousness that comes by grace through faith in Jesus Christ (ref. 2 Corinthians 5:21; Ephesians 2:8-10)?
Do you abide by the external etiquette of a religion you’ve mostly made up for yourself, or is your conscience held captive by the word of God? Is faith simply your personal interpretation of select Bible verses (ref. Deuteronomy 12:8; 2 Peter 1:20), or is the faith the cardinal and systematic doctrines presented in the inspired pages of the word of God (ref. Psalm 119:105; 2 Timothy 3:16ff)?
If you could only devote yourself to one cause, the success of your particular political party, candidate, or cause; or, the cause of Christ expressed by regular worship, responsible church membership, and world missions, which would you choose? Is politics your god, or does the true and living God reign over your politics and every other area of your life?
These questions, and the answers you give, will determine whether you are a friend of God or one of the many enemies of the gospel.
I AM LAZARUS
Dr. Chuck DeVane, Pastor
Lake Hamilton Baptist Church
Hot Springs, Arkansas
October 18, 2020
38 Then Jesus, deeply moved again, came to the tomb. It was a cave, and a stone lay against it. 39 Jesus said, “Take away the stone.” Martha, the sister of the dead man, said to him, “Lord, by this time there will be an odor, for he has been dead four days.” 40 Jesus said to her, “Did I not tell you that if you believed you would see the glory of God?” 41 So they took away the stone. And Jesus lifted up his eyes and said, “Father, I thank you that you have heard me. 42 I knew that you always hear me, but I said this on account of the people standing around, that they may believe that you sent me.” 43 When he had said these things, he cried out with a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out.” 44 The man who had died came out, his hands and feet bound with linen strips, and his face wrapped with a cloth. Jesus said to them, “Unbind him, and let him go.”
— John 11:38-44, ESV
In the seven signs recorded in the Gospel of John, Jesus turned water to wine (ch. 2), healed an official’s son from a distance (ch. 4), healed a crippled man at the pool of Bethesda (ch. 5), fed the five thousand (ch. 6), walked on water (ch. 6), made a blind man see at the pool of Siloam (ch. 9), and raised Lazarus from the dead (ch. 11). Each miracle is also a parable that points to the gospel of Jesus Christ. He is the Lord and He is the Savior.
The same can be said for the seven “I Am” sayings. Jesus is the bread of life (ch. 6), the living water (ch. 8), the door (ch. 10), the good shepherd (ch. 10), the resurrections and the life (ch. 11), the way, the truth, and the life (ch. 14), and the true vine (ch. 15). Each metaphor bears witness to the miracle of God coming to us in the person of Jesus Christ in order to save us. He is the Lord and He is the Savior.
Only one scene in the Gospel powerfully couples both a saying and a sign in one capsule. It is the funeral of Lazarus, where Jesus tells Martha, “I am the resurrection and the life,” then proceeds to resurrect and give life to her previously deceased brother. This event caps the first half of the book, and provides the impetus for the drama played out in the second half, the final week of Jesus’ life, which ends in His own death and resurrection.
Please pay close attention to what we are about to see in this scene in Scripture. It is supremely important. It is central to the gospel story and it is central to the gospel itself. It is a miracle and it is a parable. It is a physical (and temporal) resurrection of a body being raised that points to the spiritual (and eternal) resurrection of a soul being saved. He was Lazarus, He is Lazarus, and in the end, you will want to say, “I am Lazarus.”
He Was Lazarus
He was Lazarus. He was the brother of Martha and Mary, a good friend to all, and a very close confidant of the Lord Jesus Christ. He was devout in his faith, diligent in his work, delightful to be around. Now he was dead, gone, buried in the tomb, his body decaying for four days. Many had gathered around the grave. Many tears were shed. The mood was extreme sorrow, which was about to turn to shock and awe.
Because Lazarus was, Jesus was. Because Lazarus was dead, Jesus was there, right by the family’s side, bunkered in the safety of Bethany for a moment before making the Passover trip to hostile Jerusalem. Because Lazarus was dead, Jesus was grieving, even unto His own tears. Jesus love him, this we know. Because Jesus loved the man so, He hated his death. John writes that the Lord was “deeply moved” (vs. 38).
This is an unusual and very descriptive New Testament term, used only five times, three of which occur in the Lazarus narrative. It speaks of someone who is upset, agitated, tinged with anger. Jesus is well known for His righteous indignation. He called unbelievers dogs, He called the Pharisees a bunch of snakes, and He literally whipped the tar out of money changers and others who were profaning the place and time of holy worship.
This time, the Lord was angry at the corruption of the world by sin, the fallenness and frailty of human flesh, and that old slewfoot the devil, too. He was angry that Satan had lured all mankind into sin, that sin had made man selfish and separated him from God, and the curses of infirmity and mortality had finally tagged someone Jesus particularly loved, the man named Lazarus. At least, he was Lazarus.
Lazarus was, so Jesus was about to do something astounding to reverse Lazarus’ curse, and give gospel hope to sinful people everywhere.
He is Lazarus
No one expected what happened next, except Jesus, who was about to change Lazarus from a “was” to an “is.”
It is important to understand and believe that Lazarus was stone cold graveyard dead. He was not asleep. He had not fainted. He was dead, and long enough so that his sister Martha knew “an odor” would be released if they rolled back the gravestone.
I was once told, “All you preachers know how to do is just preach.” Well, all dead people know how to do is be dead. They cannot see, hear, walk, or talk. They cannot take the first step and let God take the rest.
When Jesus raised the Nain widow’s only son from the dead (ref. Luke 7), He touched the casket and spoke to the dead, and he arose. When Jesus raised Jairus’ daughter from her deathbed (ref. Mark 5; Luke 8), He touched her hand and spoke to her, and she arose. To raise Lazarus from the dead, Jesus did not touch a thing, but once again He used words, “Lazarus, come out.”
These are three different people, in three different places, with three different means of handling, but one consistent thing. Jesus spoke and the word of God, literally, was heard by the dead and the power in those words raised the dead to life. It was the word of God that quickened Lazarus’ heart and lungs, jumpstarted his brain, reversed his rigor mortis, enabled him to rise and walk, and out of the grave he came.
Lazarus was, now Lazarus is. He was dead, now he is alive. And Jesus did not charge him a penny. “Mercy there was great and grace was free.”
Jesus’ resurrection of Lazarus was a miracle that overcame Lazarus inability to raise himself, unconditionally preferred Lazarus to other dead people in the world, was limited to raising Lazarus from the dead, irresistibly enticed Lazarus to come out of the grave, and kept Lazarus alive until God was ready to call him to his permanent home.
The miracle of Lazarus is also a parable of saving grace. I know. Because, I am Lazarus.
I Am Lazarus
There is a captivating scene in the movie “Spartacus,” near the end, when the hero played by Kirk Douglas and his fellow freed slaves have failed in their final revolt against Rome. The survivors of the battle faced the penalty for rebellion, which was death by crucifixion. However, the Romans promised to let the survivors live, albeit in slavery, if they would simply identify and turn over the leader of their army, Spartacus.
One by one the men stood and spoke. “I am Spartacus!” “I am Spartacus!” “I am Spartacus!” They loved Spartacus, they experienced life with Spartacus, they identified with Spartacus, and did not want to live without Spartacus and the freedom they enjoyed together. In the end Spartacus was crucified, then symbolically resurrected, as his only son was smuggled out of Rome to freedom. I am Spartacus, no I’m not. But let me tell you who I am.
I am Lazarus! I was dead spiritually because of my sinful nature, choices, and acts before Jesus came to me and gave me eternal life (ref. Ephesians 2:1ff). Being dead, I could not seek Him or reach for Him (ref. Romans 3:10ff), but He sought me and bought me.
I am Lazarus! I do not know why, but He chose to save me before I was born again, before I was even born, before He created the world (ref. Ephesians 1:4). He did not choose me because of anything He saw in me (ref. Romans 9:10-18), but because He sovereignly chose to love me and save me.
I am Lazarus! I am a member of a short list of the world’s population to receive the benefit of Christ’s perfect life and atoning death on the cross (ref. Romans 5:8). Not a drop of Jesus’ blood will every be wasted, and one of those drops hit me.
I am Lazarus! When I heard the word of God effectually (ref. Romans 10:17), I irresistibly repented (ref. Acts 11:18) and believed (ref. Ephesians 2:8) and followed the Lord. I could not have remain lost and unfaithful any more than Lazarus could have remained dead and camped out in the tomb.
I am Lazarus! I stand here now, spiritually and eternally alive, and will still be standing for the Lord until the day I die, by the Spirit and the word of God (ref. John 10:28; Philippians 1:6).
I am just one example of how this great miracle, the seventh sign in John, the raising of Lazarus from the dead, is also the greatest parable of salvation by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone. And Scripture reveals God saves by sovereign grace so that He alone with get the glory. Remember that “Jesus said to her, ‘Did I not tell you that if you believed you would see the glory of God?’”
So “come out” and experience the glory of God in the grace of salvation. Hear the word of God and the gospel of Jesus Christ. Climb out of the tomb you have built with your own sin and rebellion against God. Breathe the spiritual air of the Christian life. Follow the Lord in this life until in the next you see Him, face to face. When you do, just tell Him, “I am Lazarus!”
THE RESURRECTION AND THE LIFE
Dr. Chuck DeVane, Pastor
Lake Hamilton Baptist Church
Hot Springs, Arkansas
October 11, 2020
23 Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise again.” 24 Martha said to him, “I know that he will rise again in the resurrection on the last day.” 25 Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, 26 and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?” 27 She said to him, “Yes, Lord; I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, who is coming into the world.”
— John 11:23-27, ESV
Central to the Gospel of John is the story of Lazarus. Central to the story of Lazarus is the fifth of seven “I Am” statements given by the Lord Jesus Christ. Like all seven, this “I Am” decree proves and preaches. It proves Christ’s claim of being essentially equal with Almighty God. It preaches the gospel, extolling the benefits of bodily resurrection and eternal life to the one who believes.
Furthermore, this particular proclamation provides us with perhaps the finest funeral sermon ever preached, given as it was at the graveside service of Jesus’ dear friend, Lazarus. It was brief (no amens, please), God-centered, and brimming with hope. On day, all funerals for followers of Jesus will end up like this one.
Life and Death
As far as we can tell throughout human history, everyone who has ever lived has died. Exceptions should be made for a couple of Old Testament dudes named Enoch and Elijah, and maybe a few folks out west who were allegedly abducted by aliens. Those of us who are living now have to face the fact that we too are likely to die, which brings us to the age old question. Is there life after death? The answer coming from every corner seems to be yes, according to people of all faiths and even those with no faith.
That is why the Egyptians buried their pharaohs in pyramids of great treasure, for they thought they would somehow take it with them or come back and get it. That’s why radical elements of Islam blow themselves up, for the sexcapades and extra-planetary pleasures promised in the next life. Mormons follow a dreamer named Joseph Smith who schemed a similar heavenly scenario. Even secularists who practice no religion at all speak of death as a passage to a so-called better place to meet the anonymous man upstairs. It seems everybody is working for a never ending weekend to enjoy after our workaday lives are through.
Why is this, that everyone seems to have some belief in life after death? It is because the eternal God has made all of us, faithful and faithless and even those of false faiths, in His own image (ref. Genesis 1:26). God is eternal, and “He has put eternity into man’s heart, yet so that he cannot find out” (ref. Ecclesiastes 3:11). In other words, the human race strongly suspects there is life after death, we just can’t see past the finish line. The great prophet Jackson Browne sums it up:
“I don’t know what happens when people die,
Can’t seem to grasp it as hard as I try,
It’s like a song I can hear playing right in my ear, that I can’t sing,
But I can’t help listening.”
Lazarus’ family and friends, including Jesus, were all devout Jews. They had a bedrock belief in life after death. The Psalmists (ref. Psalm 49:15, 71:20), the author of Job (ref. Job 19:26), the prophets Isaiah (ref. Isaiah 26:19) and Daniel (ref. Daniel 12:2), and others taught the grave is not the end.
Martha reflected this belief in her first exchange with the Lord on this matter: “Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise again.” Martha said to him, “I know that he will rise again in the resurrection on the last day.” Jesus said, “Your brother will rise.” Martha said, “I know.”
Jesus did not say anything new to Martha, yet. After all, she was Jewish, and the majority of the Jews of her day did not follow the Sadducees on this subject, the sect who did not believe in resurrection or life after death (which is why they were sad, you see?). The Pharisees laid out the majority Jewish position of an afterlife (so don’t boo them in this case).
Most Jews believe. Most Christians believe. Most Muslims believe. Most everyone believes in some kind of life after death. This time the majority is right.
Resurrection and Life
Long before Lazarus’ funeral, Jesus had promised a resurrection for everyone. This Gospel of John recorded it: “An hour is coming when all who are in the tombs will hear his voice and come out, those who have done good to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil to the resurrection of judgment (ref. John 5:28-29).”
Based on Christ’s prior teachings, everyone will experience one of two types of resurrection. One of them results in life, eternal life. The other is for judgement, resulting in an eternal death sentence and permanent separation from God. Jesus now makes a bold claim which guarantees a good resurrection.
Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life.”
Jesus says seven times in John, including here, “I Am,” ego eimi, YHWY, the name of Almighty God. This means Jesus is speaking for God, as God’s Son and essential equal with God. We believe the God of the Scriptures is almighty, sovereign, eternal, powerful, and truthful. What He promises He provides, on His terms.
Jesus is not promising a resurrection, but the resurrection, one of the two. His declaration should be interpreted as the one for the good and godly that leads to life with Him, forever. He had already proven His power to resurrect, with Jairus’ daughter and the widow’s only son, and He was about to prove it again with Lazarus. Christ's soon coming death would liberate five hundred more from the tombs, and His own bodily resurrection on the third day would crown the promise.
But who can claim this gospel promise? Who gets in on the good resurrection and life, and who gets the evil resurrection and judgment? It is a matter of good works verses a lack thereof? Sort of, but remember something else Jesus had said well before the funeral: “This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent.” (ref. John 6:29).
Belief and Unbelief
“Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?”
Life after death is not dependent upon race, whether you are Jewish or Gentile. Life after death is not guaranteed by baptism or church membership, either. You have to “believe,” and you have to “believe this,” and this is the gospel.
The Gospel of John is the Gospel of faith, but not just any faith. It has to be a faith in God as God has revealed Himself in the person and work, the resurrection and the life, of Jesus Christ. And it cannot be a simple faith, as in simply believing the facts about Jesus. Yet it is not overly complex, either.
To teach on true faith, The Apostle John consistently prefers the verb “believe.” Almost always it is in the present tense. So what Jesus and John taught is that simple, saving faith in the gospel must have some complex layers. It must be a deep, abiding, active, and ongoing faith conjoined with faithfulness. The faith God requires and the faith God gives must first convince the mind of the historical facts in question about Jesus Christ. Faith must move the heart with the anguish of of sin and love for the One who forgives. Faith must temper the will to be conformed with God’s will, forged by the Spirit and the word. Only then can a person really say they “believe” in the Lord Jesus Christ.
Take Martha, for example.
Present and Perfect
She said to him, “Yes, Lord; I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, who is coming into the world.”
Jesus demanded faith in the present tense. Martha’s response was literally and literarily perfect. She called upon the name of the “Lord” and said, “I believe.” She professed her belief in the perfect tense, which speaks of a past action with present evidence and future consequences.
Martha had been justified by faith, as indicated by her great confession, a conclusion she had come to even before Lazarus’ death and resurrection. She was being sanctified by faith during the dramatic events at the tomb, for she was leaning on the Lord and being led by the Lord Jesus Christ in the present moment. Therefore, she was assured of being glorified by faith, of her own future experience of resurrection and eternal life in Heaven.
This is a picture of perfect faith. You do not have to be perfect to obtain faith. You will not be perfect when you have faith, until its final stage. But you have to have a perfect faith, a complete faith, a valid past profession, a present proof of a spiritual life, and a future hope of resurrection and life with the One who is “the resurrection and the life.”
The Bible has much more to say on this subject, and Jesus did not address the resurrection of the evil and faithless here. It is true that all of mankind will experience a resurrection before God, be judged by God, and consigned to an eternity with God, or without Him. The difference will be faith, its object, and its genuineness. Please believe Him, presently and perfectly.
The stage has been set by Lazarus’ death. Crying time is about to be over. Jesus has seized the day by preaching the gospel of who He is and what He offers to those who truly believe. Now He is about to show off, and show us, in the most dramatic illustration of faith and its rewards found anywhere in Scripture.
Dr. Charles F. "Chuck" DeVane, Jr., is the Pastor of Lake Hamilton Baptist Church in Hot Springs, Arkansas. His weekly sermon article, "The Gospel Truth," has been published in newspapers in Arkansas and Georgia. Dr. DeVane is a graduate of Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary and has served in the pastorate for over 20 years. Contact Pastor Chuck at PastorChuck@lakehamiltonbaptistchurch.org