"We see, in many a land, the proudest dynasties and tyrannies still crushing, with their mountain weight, every free motion of the Consciences and hearts of men. We see, on the other hand, the truest heroism for the right and the greatest devotion to the Truth in hearts that God has touched. We have a work to do, as great as our forefathers and, perhaps, far greater. The enemies of Truth are more numerous and subtle than ever and the needs of the Church are greater than at any preceding time. If we are not debtors to the present, then men were never debtors to their age and their time. Brethren, we are debtors to the hour in which we live. Oh, that we might stamp it with Truth and that God might help us to impress upon its wings some proof that it has not flown by neglected and unheeded." -- C.H. Spurgeon . . . "If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free." John 8:31, 32 . . . . .


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Tuesday, June 25, 2024

TRIUMPHANT TRILOGIES – Examining JOHN 12,13 & 14

As we have seen already in ROMANS and in PSALMS, there exists trilogies of sorts in Scripture, three different parts that deals with specific themes of the Scripture.

For example, in ROMANS 6,7 & 8 we see the life of the disciple of Christ in three different aspects: justification and dying to self in Ch. 6, sanctification apart from the Law in Ch. 7 and glorification and our heirship in Ch. 8. Of course there is some overlap between them (Chapter breaks weren’t in the original, nor were verses).

And in PSALMS 22, 23 & 24 we see a trilogy focused on the Messiah: His sacrificial atonement in 22 accomplished in the past, His role as Shepherd over Israel and the church in 23, an ongoing role, and the future Messianic reign expressed in 24.

Now we have before us two sets of trilogies: JOHN 12,13 and 14 along with 15,16 and 17 – all centered around the Passion Week, the last days of Christ on Earth prior to His resurrection.

JOHN 12:1-2
1 Then, six days before the Passover, Jesus came to Bethany, where Lazarus was who had been dead, whom He had raised from the dead. 2 There they made Him a supper; and Martha served, but Lazarus was one of those who sat at the table with Him

In the previous chapter we saw this trio: Lazarus, Martha and Mary. The sisters witnessed the resurrection of their dead brother. Martha heard from the LORD’s own lips:
JOHN 11:25-26
25 “…I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live. 26 "And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die. Do you believe this?

And Martha responds wonderfully:

JOHN 11:27
"…Yes, Lord, I believe that You are the Christ, the Son of God, who is to come into the world."
She believed His words, that He is the embodiment and empowerment of resurrection life. All that the LORD touches, He changes. His friend Lazarus “slept” but with a spoken word, the LORD awoke him. Martha believed Jesus was the Messiah, as well as the Son of GOD. Ancient rabbinical writings prior to the captivity in Babylon recognized the Deity of the Messiah as exhibited in Scripture. Those with the eyes of faith could see this, as did Martha, as did Peter (MATT 16:16).

Check out the TTUF series “JESUS IS GOD”!

These would come to know the risen LORD in about one week’s time from this point!

We have here Lazarus in fellowship with the LORD, communing as they ate of the same food set before them on the table. Martha served – but notice she does so quietly, not whining this time that her sister Mary isn’t lifting a finger which was her complaint before (LUKE 10:40-42)! She learned the priority of sitting and learning of Jesus over service and labor for the LORD.

And where is Mary?

JOHN 12:3
3 Then Mary took a pound of very costly oil of spikenard, anointed the feet of Jesus, and wiped His feet with her hair. And the house was filled with the fragrance of the oil.

She is worshiping the LORD, pouring out her most expensive perfume on His beautiful feet that declared the Gospel (likely her dowry that young ladies would accumulate for their prospective marriage). Previously in JOHN 11 she was sitting at the feet of Jesus, learning of Him (which is always the better part to anything else!). Now she is worshiping, and the fragrance of that spikenard filled the house! When we are true worshipers of GOD we will influence our households! The scent of the Savior will be evident.

Mary heard the Word of the LORD, and she worshiped (just as the nation of Israel did in the days of Nehemiah in a revival of the Jewish people; NEH 9:3) – and the sister saints that followed the LORD all had such devoted hearts for Him: so much so, that during His crucifixion, while the men (the apostles) had hid themselves, these godly ladies stood with broken hearts under the shadow of His Cross.

JOHN 12:4-6
4 Then one of His disciples, Judas Iscariot, Simon's son, who would betray Him, said, 5 "Why was this fragrant oil not sold for three hundred denarii and given to the poor?" 6 This he said, not that he cared for the poor, but because he was a thief, and had the money box; and he used to take what was put in it.

While Mary was rightly ‘heavenly minded’ in her worship, Judas and some of the others had their minds “set on things of the Earth” (COL 3:1-2). In their neglect of proper worship of their LORD and Savior, they were focused on social issues, namely the poor!

As it states above, Judas had ulterior motives anyway, his own greedy pockets!

Everywhere in Scripture we see that the church is to minister to the needs of others, particularly those of the household of faith (GAL 6:10). Yet unlike the ideas and goals of mega-church pastors and Marxist groups thinly disguised as churches or parachurch ministries (Sojourners magazine anyone?) of doing away with poverty altogether, our LORD tells us something we need to understand:

JOHN 12:7-8
7 But Jesus said, "Let her alone; she has kept this for the day of My burial. 8 "For the poor you have with you always, but Me you do not have always."

We will always have the poor with us – because people aren’t being generous enough with their money? In part, but it’s mostly due to the greed of powerful people who are in control of central banks, fiat currencies and such like who strangle any economy with inflation and taxations. These actions over generations squeeze the middle class until some, then many, and then most of them fall into the lower economic classes. The uber-wealthy are untouched by such schemes and feel that they are entitled to subjugate their inferiors. This is an excellent example of how power corrupts! Money is a power that will (and does!) corrupt those who worship wealth.

When the LORD returns, such plans and plots will not be tolerated, and there will no longer be any poor, nor exclusively rich classes of people.

And consider, all the disciples of the LORD heard Him when He said He would die and three days later rise again, but who was the one that really listened and understood?

It was Mary – and the LORD knew this: “…she has kept this for the day of My burial…”

JOHN 12:9-11
9 Now a great many of the Jews knew that He was there; and they came, not for Jesus' sake only, but that they might also see Lazarus, whom He had raised from the dead. 10 But the chief priests plotted to put Lazarus to death also, 11 because on account of him many of the Jews went away and believed in Jesus.

Up to this point the LORD (and His disciples commissioned to go forth and preach the Gospel of “the Kingdom of heaven”) had raised many from the dead; we have two accounts where a ruler’s daughter was raised up (MATT 9:23-25) and a widow’s son (LUKE 7:11-17), but Lazarus was unique in that he wad dead for four days (longer than any of the others).

Word spread quickly about this man from Bethany, and “a great many” came around to see for themselves not only to hear the teachings of this itinerate preacher from Nazareth, but to behold this astounding miracle.

And yet, the religious leaders, corrupt as they were, didn’t seem to take into consideration this notable miracle, and the One that performed it – what demon could do such a work, or even the devil himself? By what power then could this Man raise Lazarus from the dead?

They never bothered asking such questions; they only conspired to kill Lazarus because of the powerful witness he was to the death-defying ministry of Jesus and to kill off this miracle worker as well!

I don’t know which is worse: their blindness or its cause – their pride!

We who are disciples of Christ are also risen from the dead spiritually speaking, and also testify of the miraculous power of the LORD Jesus Christ and His Gospel. And this world would like nothing better than to get rid of us, particularly the religious people. We know that persecution on the global scale is higher than ever before – not yet having reached our American shores to any appreciable degree – not yet!

It’s a theme that runs through the gamut of Scripture: the (false) religious ones always persecute the righteous! The false religious ways of Cain was contributory to his slaying righteous Abel, his brother in GENESIS. And in REVELATION it’s the Mother of Harlots that is drunk with the blood of the saints and the martyrs!

False religion is legalistic, and legalism doesn’t need GOD; it relies on its own sense of self-worth and morality to achieve what they believe is sufficient to be approved. These sort “[trust] in themselves that they [are] righteous” and they “[despise] others” (such is the case with the proud Pharisee vs. the penitent publican; LUKE 18:9). The publican went home after praying for mercy as a sinner and was heard and “justified”! The Pharisee stood apart and despised the publican, bragging on himself before the Holy GOD – and only “prayed to himself”! His prayer just bounced off the ceiling!

It’s the same story of the guest at the king’s wedding feast! He didn’t have the wedding garment on, made available to all the king’s guests. He felt his own garments were good enough, and when he was called on it by none other than the king himself, the guest “was speechless”. He was rejected, cast out and plunged into “outer darkness”. Of course garments by biblical type represents righteousness (either provided by GOD through Christ (ISA 61:10), or our own righteousness).

And how does GOD view the crème de la crème of the most moral, most upstanding human beings who ever lived with their own righteousness?
But we are all like an unclean thing, And all our righteousnesses are like filthy rags; We all fade as a leaf, And our iniquities, like the wind, Have taken us away.
Note the word “righteousnesses” which is in the plural form. All varieties, and degrees of righteousness in their quality (or decided lack thereof! See DAN 9:18 in KJV).

And if the best we got is “filthy rags” (in the Hebrew this is something putrefying and disgustingly filthy!) then how does GOD view all of our sins?! This verse alone tells us that we have absolutely ZERO chance of being approved of GOD, gain access to heaven, and be rewarded with eternal life on our own standing!

This is why salvation, eternal life, the indwelling of the Spirit of GOD are gifts, not earned, freely by GOD through the grace of the LORD Jesus Christ and His blood atonement that washes even the deepest stains of sin!

Our response to this grace and its gift should be True Religion! [check out Jason Bellard's song on this].
JAMES 1:27
Pure and undefiled religion before God and the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows
[any of the most helpless and often victimized members of society] in their trouble, and to keep oneself unspotted from the world.

For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
JOHN 12:12-13
12 The next day a great multitude that had come to the feast, when they heard that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem, 13 took branches of palm trees and went out to meet Him and cried out: Hosanna! 'Blessed is He who comes in the name of the LORD!' The King of Israel!

We can’t afford to miss what’s happening here: The LORD Jesus Christ was pressured before by the crowds (and his family) to lead Israel as the Messiah He professed to be (JOHN 6:15; 7:6-8).

Yet on this occasion He actually makes arrangements for the event we commemorate as Palm Sunday:
MATTHEW 21:1-9
1 Now when they drew near Jerusalem, and came to Bethphage, at the Mount of Olives, then Jesus sent two disciples, 2 saying to them, "Go into the village opposite you, and immediately you will find a donkey tied, and a colt with her. Loose them and bring them to Me. 3 "And if anyone says anything to you, you shall say, 'The Lord has need of them,' and immediately he will send them." 4 All this was done that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet, saying: 5 "Tell the daughter of Zion, 'Behold, your King is coming to you, Lowly, and sitting on a donkey, A colt, the foal of a donkey.'" 6 So the disciples went and did as Jesus commanded them. 7 They brought the donkey and the colt, laid their clothes on them, and set Him on them. 8 And a very great multitude spread their clothes on the road; others cut down branches from the trees and spread them on the road. 9 Then the multitudes who went before and those who followed cried out, saying: Hosanna to the Son of David! 'Blessed is He who comes in the name of the LORD!' Hosanna in the highest!
It wasn’t that the LORD objected to the people’s desire to receive Him as Messiah, because after His triumphal entry, He then weeps over the city, knowing that they would reject Him!

It was all about the timing: Zechariah foretold the manner of His entry: not on a warhorse as a conquering King, but on a donkey – meekly, coming in peace: a fitting entrance for the Prince of Peace (ZECH 9:9).

But Daniel foretold when the King would come!

Know therefore and understand, That from the going forth of the command To restore and build Jerusalem Until Messiah the Prince, There shall be seven weeks and sixty-two weeks; The street shall be built again, and the wall, Even in troublesome times.

When the edict was pronounced to go and restore the city of Jerusalem, that was the starting point of this Countdown to Christ’s Coming. When one examines all the necessary calendars and accounts for anomalies in records and make adjustments for leap years and what not, the prophecy of the coming of Messiah into Jerusalem would occur in 69 prophetic weeks, or 173,880 days once the edict was made. The exact day when Christ entered into Jerusalem, counting off all those days since the edict of Jerusalem’s rebuilding was fulfilled at predicted! Astounding!

Since the Messiah was “cut off” (DAN 9:26) not for Himself but for the sins of the people, this stopped the prophetic clock, leaving the final prophetic week remaining. Sixty nine of them were fulfilled once Christ was crucified. The seventieth has not yet happened.
We see this sort of prophetic interim in other Scripture where part of it is fulfilled at Christ’s First Advent, and other parts will be fulfilled at His Second Advent.

9 "Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! Shout, O daughter of Jerusalem! Behold, your King is coming to you; He is just and having salvation, Lowly and riding on a donkey, A colt, the foal of a donkey.
This part was fulfilled already at the time when Christ entered Jerusalem on the donkey.

10 I will cut off the chariot from Ephraim And the horse from Jerusalem; The battle bow shall be cut off. He shall speak peace to the nations; His dominion shall be 'from sea to sea, And from the River to the ends of the earth.' This part won’t be fulfilled by the Messiah until He comes again – His dominion shall be from sea to sea and there will be global peace!

ISAIAH 61:1-4
1 "The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon Me, Because the LORD has anointed Me To preach good tidings to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, To proclaim liberty to the captives, And the opening of the prison to those who are bound; 2 To proclaim the acceptable year of the LORD…
This part was fulfilled at His First Advent! When Christ quoted this Scripture, He only read up to this point: He didn’t continue reading. Instead He said, “This day is THIS Scripture fulfilled in your ears”! (See LUKE 4:16-21). He didn’t complete the reading of that passage because the rest won’t be fulfilled until much later!

2 cont’d: And the day of vengeance of our God; To comfort all who mourn, 3 To console those who mourn in Zion, To give them beauty for ashes, The oil of joy for mourning, The garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; That they may be called trees of righteousness, The planting of the LORD, that He may be glorified." 4 And they shall rebuild the old ruins, They shall raise up the former desolations, And they shall repair the ruined cities, The desolations of many generations. This won’t be fulfilled until He comes back again for His Millennial Reign!
So as with the prophetic 70 Years prophecy given to Daniel.

DANIEL 9:26-27
"And after the sixty-two weeks Messiah shall be cut off, but not for Himself;
Everything up to vs. 26 is complete. What follows in the next verses won’t be fulfilled until just prior to the Second Coming and will in their culmination immediately precede His arrival as King of kings and Lord of lords!

And the people of the prince who is to come Shall destroy the city and the sanctuary. The end of it shall be with a flood, And till the end of the war desolations are determined. 27 Then he [speaking of the Beast of Revelation; see DAN 11:31; 12:11; 2 THESS 2:3-4] shall confirm a covenant with many for one week; But in the middle of the week He shall bring an end to sacrifice and offering. And on the wing of abominations shall be one who makes desolate, Even until the consummation, which is determined, Is poured out on the desolate.

If Israel were to be led by such a power that could raise people from the dead, surely they could finally be rid of Roman oppression and reclaim the Kingdom of David aka the Kingdom of Israel.

And while Old Testament prophecy does reveal that the Messiah will vanquish all of Israel’s enemies, there was the greatest enemy that must first be dealt with: sin, and the subsequent Judgment on sin that would condemn all mankind, including Israel!

That wasn’t good enough for these short-sighted people who only saw the immediate problem they faced daily: their land overrun by Gentiles – “the times of the Gentiles” (LUKE 21:24) that began when Nebuchadnezzar destroyed Israel, Jerusalem and the Temple, and continues from then to other Gentile nations and empires, all the way up to and including the reign of antichrist.

Once Christ was crucified and buried all of the hopes of His followers were buried with Him. They had hoped that Jesus was indeed the Messiah and that He would restore the Kingdom with themselves in prominent position as promised (MATT 19:28).

When Christ resurrected, their hopes were revived and at that time, they asked Him:
ACTS 1:6-7
6 Therefore, when they had come together, they asked Him, saying, "Lord, will You at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?" 7 And He said to them, "It is not for you to know times or seasons which the Father has put in His own authority.
So the restoration of the Kingdom of Israel with the Messiah King reigning from Jerusalem has not been abolished or rescinded (because Israel rejected her King – as was prophesied), it was simply postponed and in the Father’s keeping. Meanwhile this opportunity has given us Gentiles a window to accept salvation through Christ (See ROMANS 9,10,11 – another trilogy for our consideration!).

JOHN 12:14-19
14 Then Jesus, when He had found a young donkey, sat on it; 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 were written about Him and that they had done these things to Him. 17 Therefore the people, who were with Him when He called Lazarus out of his tomb and raised him from the dead, bore witness. 18 For this reason the people also met Him, because they heard that He had done this sign. 19 The Pharisees therefore said among themselves, "You see that you are accomplishing nothing. Look, the world has gone after Him!"

Our understanding of the Word of the LORD is always dependent on the Holy Spirit, and where the disciples were confused at first about all of these things, once Christ was glorified – and the Holy Spirit sent forth to indwell all those of faith (JOHN 20:22), that’s when they remembered all that was written about Him.

The raising of Lazarus from the dead was just another proof that Jesus was and is exactly what He claimed to be! Out of frustration the Pharisees complained among themselves that “the world has gone after Him!” I love it! GO GOD!! Any who attempt to fight GOD will only succeed in hurting themselves:
PROVERBS 8:35-36
35 For whoever finds me finds life and obtains favor from the LORD; 36 But he who sins against me wrongs his own soul; all those who hate me love death.

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