Newsletter for Apr 2011
Not long ago after I had been praying for a period of time, the Lord brought to my attention a specific passage of scripture, John 11:1-45. In my mind, it was as though I could see my Bible open to that passage and began looking at the verses. He then started sharing with me something from that portion of His word that I had not previously considered.
John 11:1-45 is one of the most intriguing passages in the Bible. Other than Jesus, the three main characters are Martha, Mary and Lazarus, all siblings who lived in Bethany, a city in Judea. Scripture reveals that they held a very special place in Jesus’ heart and that He loved them dearly.
In verses 1-5, Martha and Mary sent word to Jesus that Lazarus was very sick. In verse four, Jesus replied, “This sickness is not unto death, but for the glory of God, that the Son of God might be glorified thereby.” The phrase “this sickness is not unto death” could have been also been rendered, “the final result of this sickness will not be death.”
Verses 6-16 tell how Jesus remained where He was for two more days. When He finally decided to go to Bethany, His disciples were greatly concerned because the last time He was there the Jews had tried to stone Him. He tried to explain to them about how He was the light of the world, but they didn’t comprehend. He then told them that Lazarus was dead and that it was actually better that He had not been there. But again, the disciples didn’t understand; in fact, they were so convinced that Jesus was walking to His death that Thomas, one of the disciples, said, “Let us also go, that we may die with Him.”
Then verse 17 begins revealing the events that took place after Jesus returned to Bethany. Lazarus had already been in the grave for four days. Many of Mary and Martha’s friends had come to offer comfort and support concerning the loss of their brother. They heard that Jesus had arrived near town and Martha went out to meet Him, but Mary stayed in their house.
Then said Martha unto Jesus, Lord, if thou hadst been here, my brother had not died. But I know, that even now, whatsoever thou wilt ask of God, God will give it thee.
Jesus saith unto her, Thy brother shall rise again.
Martha saith unto him, I know that he shall rise again in the resurrection at the last day.
Jesus said unto her, I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live: And whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die. Believest thou this?
She saith unto him, Yea, Lord: I believe that thou art the Christ, the Son of God, which should come into the world. (John 11:21-27)
Martha then returned to the house and told Mary that Jesus wanted to see her. She left the house and went to Jesus.
Then when Mary was come where Jesus was, and saw him, she fell down at his feet, saying unto him, Lord, if thou hadst been here, my brother had not died.
When Jesus therefore saw her weeping, and the Jews also weeping which came with her, he groaned in the spirit, and was troubled, and said, Where have ye laid him? They said unto him, Lord, come and see.
Then said the Jews, Behold how he loved him! And some of them said, Could not this man, which opened the eyes of the blind, have caused that even this man should not have died? (John 11:32-37)
Many people have implied that Jesus was troubled in His spirit and wept because He was saddened over Lazarus’ death. Others seem to believe that this troubling and the fact that He wept was because Jesus greatly sympathized with Mary and Martha as they grieved over the loss of their brother.
The truth is, Jesus was troubled and wept because He was surrounded by people who still did not accept the truth about who He was. In spite of every healing, every deliverance, every miracle, His constant revelation of the Father and all of His teaching about the Kingdom of God, people still did not truly accept that Jesus was the Messiah.
The disciples were convinced that Jesus had completely missed God by not going to Bethany as soon as He heard that Lazarus was sick. They were convinced that He and they were going to die when finally going to Bethany.
Mary and Martha both blamed Him, at least in part, because their brother had died (“Lord, if thou hadst been here, my brother had not died.”). Some of the “comfort” Mary and Martha received from their friends was actually nothing but doubt, unbelief and criticism about Jesus (“Could not this man, which opened the eyes of the blind, have caused that even this man should not have died?”).
At this, someone might say, “But Brother Martin, Mary and Martha did believe the truth about Jesus. After all, Martha said, “Yea, Lord: I believe that thou art the Christ, the Son of God, which should come into the world.” Yes, she had the words right; but she really did not believe what those words meant. Consider what happened next,
Jesus therefore again groaning in himself cometh to the grave. It was a cave, and a stone lay upon it. Jesus said, Take ye away the stone. Martha, the sister of him that was dead, saith unto him, Lord, by this time he stinketh: for he hath been dead four days. Jesus saith unto her, Said I not unto thee, that, if thou wouldest believe, thou shouldest see the glory of God? (John 11:38-40)
If Martha had truly believed in her heart who Jesus was and what the Christ, the Son of God could do, the last thing she would be concerned about was whether or not her dead brother “stinketh” after four days in the grave. Instead, she would have been overwhelmed with excitement when Jesus instructed them to take away the stone, for she would have realized that Jesus, the life and glory of God in the flesh, was going to raise Lazarus from the dead. The fact is, she honestly did not believe that Jesus could raise Lazarus!
As the Lord was pointing all this out to me, it was as though He asked, “Why do you (the Church) believe you are any different than Martha and Mary?” We talk about Jesus being the Christ, the Son of God, just as did Martha. We declare that He is the eternal Savior, raised from the dead after dying on the cross for our sins. We confess that we are born again because we have put our faith in Him. In other words, we say all the right things about Jesus, but what do we really believe about Jesus?
For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their iniquities will I remember no more. (Hebrews 8:12)
Knowing this, how in the world can any Christian justify living in condemnation over a sinful past? Why do so many Believers see themselves as unworthy to be used by God because of what they did “back when”? If God is not holding their past against them, why are they?
Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid. (John 14:27)
The word “troubled” in this verse comes from the Greek word “tarasso” and it means “agitated, distressed, in great turmoil.” It is a word that implies a type of mental disruption which can lead to impaired decision making. Jesus has given us a peace that is supernatural; a peace that cannot come from anything the world has to offer. This is a peace that will dominate every emotion which would try to “tarasso” our minds.
Despite this truth, I am constantly amazed at the number of Christians who struggle daily with feelings of fear, depression over circumstances, anxiety, worry and constant inner turmoil. If you do some research, you may be absolutely stunned concerning the number of Christians who turn to alcohol or drug therapy to try and “deal” with their troubled heart; and the whole time, Jesus has given them a peace that will totally conquer those abject emotions.
How God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Ghost and with power: who went about doing good, and healing all that were oppressed of the devil; for God was with him. (Acts 10:38)
If ye had known me, ye should have known my Father also: and from henceforth ye know him, and have seen him. Philip saith unto him, Lord, show us the Father, and it sufficeth us. Jesus saith unto him, Have I been so long time with you, and yet hast thou not known me, Philip? he that hath seen me hath seen the Father; and how sayest thou then, Show us the Father? (John 14:7-9)
For I came down from heaven, not to do mine own will, but the will of him that sent me. (John 6:38)
Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed. (1 Peter 2:24)
Briefly, what God is declaring in these verses is that, (1) Jesus only did the Father’s will, (2) it was the Father’s will for all who went to Jesus to be healed, and (3) by Jesus’ stripes, healing has been appropriated to Believers. How, then, can any Christian speak of the greatness of God, the love of the Father and the salvation afforded by Jesus, then turn around and teach that it is not God’s will to heal or that God makes people sick to teach them lessons? To do so is a complete contradiction.
Are you starting to see how that so many in the Body of Christ are just like Mary and Martha? Without hesitation and with full assurance, we acknowledge from our minds the magnitude of Jesus, the living Christ; but our words too often reveal how much our hearts really don’t believe about who He is and what He has done for us.
Think of it this way: Why would we believe that Jesus would treat us differently than how He treated people when He was on earth? If it was the Father’s will for them to be healed, delivered and set free, why would His will not be the same for us today?
Mary, Martha, the disciples and others did not believe the fullness of who Jesus was, even after all He had said and done. His heart was filled with sorrow over their unbelief to the point that He wept over them. Like Mary and Martha, we know the right words to say about Jesus, but does the unbelief in our hearts cause Him to weep over us as well?
I’m not teaching that Jesus is on His throne in Heaven literally crying because so many Christians do not accept the fullness of who they are in Him. But I do believe that it must break His heart as so many who have accepted Him for salvation actually teach against much of what salvation brings.
I encourage you not to allow religious traditions to rob you of what Jesus died to give His Church. Whatever the Bible says we can have – healing, deliverance, supernatural peace, the Gifts of the Spirit or anything else – accept it without reservation. Spend time in the word, asking the Holy Spirit to give you the full revelation of your salvation.
To borrow from what the Apostle Paul wrote, may the eyes of your understanding be enlightened so that you may fully comprehend the riches of the glory of the inheritance you received from Jesus the moment you were born again!
Your servant in Christ,