Last week, we saw Jesus raise Lazarus from the dead in front of a large crowd. As we pick up the narrative this morning, we see the reaction of that crowd to this incredible miracle.
Obviously, after seeing something so incredible, many people believed in Christ. But some did not! Amazing! But it does explain why the common prayer, "God, if you do a miracle, I'll believe in you" is rarely answered. Jesus doesn't do miracles to cure unbelief. On the contrary, we read that where there is great unbelief, not many miracles happen. Remember when Jesus went to His hometown of Nazareth? Mark tells us,
Matt. 13:58 ...He did not do many miracles there because of their unbelief.
God's not in the business of proving Himself with parlor tricks. And we can certainly see why: A guy has been dead, rotting in the grave, for four days, and now he's alive after Jesus says three words. And people still do not believe!
As we've talked about so many times before, if you want someone you love to come to faith, quote them the Word of God, tell them what Jesus said, speak the Scriptures to them, for...
Rom. 10:17 ...Faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ.
It is the Word that will burrow into their hearts and produce fruit if fruit is possible.
So the unbelievers went and told the Jewish leaders what Jesus had done. Instead of saying, "Praise the Lord! What a mighty God we serve," they got together and said, "We've got to stop this guy! If the Romans get nervous about His popularity with the people, they'll come in and oppress us even more. We won't be allowed to lord our authority over the people anymore."
That's what this all came down to - their own authority, their own little kingdoms that they were building. Their own popularity, the respect the people had for them, the fear the people had of them.
This is so contrary to what Jesus taught. Remember what He told the disciples...
Mark 10:42-45 ..."You know that those who are recognized as rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them; and their great men exercise authority over them. But it is not so among you, but whoever wishes to become great among you shall be your servant; and whoever wishes to be first among you shall be slave of all. For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many."
There's always been too many people in religion building their own little kingdoms. Drawing disciples to themselves rather than to Christ.
Twice John says that Caiaphas "was high priest that year." That year? As we've gone through the Old Testament, we don't see a yearly change of high priest. As a matter of fact, the high priest held the office until he died, and then his son would be his successor. The first time this happened is in Numbers 20, when Aaron dies and his son El-aw-ZAHR becomes the second high priest.
But as you read the New Testament, you actually find mention of Caiaphas' father-in-law Annas also being the high priest. But Annas is still around when Caiaphas is the high priest... As a matter of fact, Luke says that John the Baptist ministered...
Luke 3:2 in the high priesthood of Annas and Caiaphas
So what exactly is going on? The historian Josephus tells us that in 14 A.D., after Annas had been the high priest for seven years, the Roman Valerius Gratus basically fired him. In the next 11 years, there were three high priests, appointed and fired at the whim of the Roman Government. Finally, in 25 A.D., Caiaphus became the high priest. Throughout these years, many of the Jews continued to recognize Annas as their true high priest. This is why when Jesus is arrested...
John 18:12-13 ...the officers of the Jews, arrested Jesus and bound Him, and led Him to Annas first; for he was father-in-law of Caiaphas, who was high priest that year.
So with all the changing of high priests during that generation, John saw the need to say, "Caiaphas, who was high priest that year."
Now Caiaphas stands up and belittles everyone in the room. "You guys are bozos. You don't know anything." That's the kind of spiritual leadership we get when the government is the one appointing it!
Be that as it may, Caiaphas prophecied when he spoke. Remember, prophecy is God using a person to speak for Him. It is a forth-telling of the Word of God. And God has used all sorts of people - men and women, believers and unbelievers, the righteous and the carnal, to speak prophecy.
And I think it is important for us to understand this - that God can speak through anybody anytime He desires to. Twice I have seen, just this week, God make His will known through unbelieving, unrighteous people. How can you know what is garbage and what is prophecy? Paul told the Thessalonians,
1Ths. 5:20-21 Do not despise prophetic utterances. But examine everything carefully; hold fast to that which is good;
What I'm saying is don't automatically throw out what is said because a carnal or unbelieving person has said it. I'm guilty of this far too often. What we need to do is weigh it against the Word of God - you just might find that this person is the vehicle that God is using to speak to your heart.
So what Caiaphas said was from God - one man would indeed die for all the people.
Although we've only finished 11 chapters of John's 21-chapter book, we're already up to the last week of Jesus' earthly ministry. The heat has been turned up to boiling - the rabid leaders are actively seeking to kill Him, and they will certainly succeed soon enough.
The Council knows that Jesus has to be in Jerusalem for the Passover. They have decided that this is when they are going to take the opportunity to sieze Him.
Remember that Bethany is less than 2 miles from Jerusalem. He is getting dreadfully close to to the shark tank now. Knowing His time is drawing to an end, Jesus chooses to spend it with His friends, Mary, Martha, and Lazarus.
The three of them have come a long way in their walk with Christ - each at their own stage of maturity. Lazarus, who had been dead, is now alive and well, at the table with Jesus. Martha is still serving, but no longer complaining - she's growing in maturity. Mary, who has always been a worshipper, has a new intensity about her worship, about which we're about to read.
We read of Mary anointing Jesus in Matt 26:6-13; Mark 14:3-9; and John 12:1-8. What exactly is going on here?
Putting all the details together, we find that Jesus was in Bethany, specifically at Simon the leper's house. His friends Mary, Martha, and Lazarus are there, along with the disciples. Mary brings an alabaster vial of very costly perfume and pours it upon Jesus' head and feet, wiping His feet with her hair. The disciples, especially Judas, get bent out of shape, calling it a waste, but Jesus says that Mary was preparing His body beforehand for burial.
This is very revealing. You see, all the time that Jesus had been speaking of His death very plainly, nobody was understanding it. Remember after the incident on the Mount of Transfiguration,
Mark 9:9-10 ...As they were coming down from the mountain, He gave them orders not to relate to anyone what they had seen, until the Son of Man should rise from the dead. And they seized upon that statement, discussing with one another what rising from the dead might mean.
They just didn't get it. But Mary got it. Mary understood that Jesus was on His way to His death. Why did she get it when no one else did? Because Mary was a worshipper of Christ. She spent every minute she could at His feet - soaking in the teaching, basking in His glory. It is the worshipper who has true insight.
Judas Iscariot. The apostle everyone loves to hate. He was the accountant of the group - he held the money box, and helped himself to what was in it. This perfume was worth over 300 denarii - about a years pay! When he sees how much money has just, in his mind, been completely wasted, he snaps.
Although Judas was always planning on betraying Jesus, this loss of that perfume money was the final straw for him. His "commission" on something that cost nearly a year's wages would have padded his pockets quite well for quite a while. It is certainly true what the Scriptures say, that...
1Tim. 6:9-10 ...those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a snare and many foolish and harmful desires which plunge men into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all sorts of evil, and some by longing for it have wandered away from the faith, and pierced themselves with many a pang.
Judas' greed ultimately led to his destruction - and Jesus' death.
The reaction of the chief priests is enough to turn your stomach - they take counsel on how to put Lazarus to death as well! Just by being resurrected from the dead, Lazarus was a powerful witness. Just by your transformation from death into life, you are a powerful witness.
I want you to see this clearly, to understand it fully. When you are a living, breathing, resurrected from the dead, witness for Jesus Christ, there are people that want you dead. Now, I'm not just talking about satanists that want you cursed, homosexual lobbyists that want you silenced, liberal leaders that want your influence squelched - I'm talking about a very real enemy that wants you dead. His name is satan, and Peter warned us...
1Pet. 5:8-9 Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls about like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. But resist him, firm in your faith...
Too many of us walk the fence. One side in the world, one side in the church. You might think that you're pulling off this balancing act fairly well. But there is a lion crouched to pounce - to knock you off of that fence, to drag you completely into the world, and then kill you.
Dear saints, please don't play the middle field anymore. Make a decision as to which side of the fence you're going to live on, and then get down. As Joshua said,
Josh. 24:15 "...If it is disagreeable in your sight to serve the LORD, choose for yourselves today whom you will serve... but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD."