Tag Archive | resurrection

The Lazarus Conspiracy

There was a buzz on the streets of Jerusalem as pilgrims flocked to the city for Passover. Rumors swirled that the Messiah could possibly be there. But those rumors were being fed by the fact that a man named Lazarus was there as well.

Yes… THAT Lazarus.

LazarusThe dead guy.

Word of the miraculous resurrection of this man from Bethany had already spread like wildfire. Just weeks before, Lazarus was lying dead in a tomb.

Stone. Cold. Dead.

When Jesus showed up, His presence did little to dissuade their sorrow. Even before He made it into the village proper, Lazarus’s sister Martha came out to meet Him.

“Lord, if You would have been here my brother would not have died”, Martha exclaimed, probably in mid-stride.

Mary, Lazarus’s other sister, waited until Jesus got to town before she fell at his feet, echoing the same exclamation of hopelessness. The display of genuine mourning moved Jesus, in spite of the fact that He knew what the outcome of the day would be. Although God, He was human as well, and subject to human emotions such as sorrow. Lazarus had been His friend, and although the irony of the moment was not lost on Him, He also was not immune to its emotion either.

“Remove the stone”, came the command from the Master upon arriving at the entrance to Lazarus’s tomb.

“But Lord… he’s been in there for four days! What about the stench???” inquired the always practical Martha.

Again with the doubting????

“Did I not say to you that if you believe, you will see the glory of God?” Jesus’ tone with His reply made them think better of asking any more questions. They rolled the stone away, and after lifting His eyes to the heavens in a brief prayer of thanksgiving to the Father, Jesus set His focus on the opening before Him.

“Lazarus! Come forth!” Jesus commanded into the darkness of the cave.

Moments later, a grave-linen-clad Lazarus appeared within sight of all who were gathered there.

Even in first-century Judea… news traveled fast.

Now Jesus is in Jerusalem, Lazarus is there, and the subsequent attention that both were attracting was not all positive. While the rumors of the Lazarus miracle had attracted the attention of certain Greek converts with a fired-up desire to see Jesus, the religious crowd had other plans.

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. But the chief priests plotted to put Lazarus to death also, because on account of him many of the Jews went away and believed in Jesus. ~ John 12:9-11

So… Lazarus has died, Jesus shows up four days later and raises him from the grave, the people are now flocking to Jesus in droves, and your big plan is to kill the guy Jesus just raised from the dead???

Really?!?!

Maybe if they had spent as much time studying the prophecies as they did in scheming and plotting, they would have realized what Jesus then revealed to these Greek converts — a traditionally scholarly bunch.

“The hour has come that the Son of Man should be glorified. ~ John 12:23

In this statement was a huge paradigm-shift. Up until this point, Jesus had — on multiple occasions — declared the opposite; “My time has not fully come” was the reason given on more than one occasion and for more than one reason. But now He was declaring that His hour HAD come!

But what hour?

Jesus understood that the hour had come for the season to be realized.

While the priests were busy plotting against the diversion of the Lazarus conspiracy, every prophecy about Jesus was falling into place. All of the prophetic chess pieces were falling into place, and the Pharisees and chief priests were mere pawns.

The prophecy about His death was about to be fulfilled.

All of the typology of His passion was about to be understood.

The stranglehold that Satan had on the human race was about to be broken.

Jesus understood that His entire life had led up to this moment; the whip, the garden, the betrayal, the mocking, the crown of thorns, and the cross. His entire life on this earth had been a road to the cross. Before time began, God knew of humanity’s fall, and had His kingdom planned (Matt. 25:34), His people chosen (Eph. 1:4), His salvation finished (Heb. 4:3), and the cross and the redemptive blood of Christ planned (1 Pet. 18-20). As the saying goes… “it was over before it started.”

Jesus understood that the hour had come for the seed to be sown.

Most assuredly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it produces much grain. ~ John 12:24

Jesus saw the giving of His life in harmony with the ancient principles of seed-time and harvest. He was not forfeiting His life. He was giving His life. It was not martyrdom but rather an investment. As Lord of Creation, He understood the Laws of the Harvest

You must sow to reap.
In order to get a harvest, you must first plant seed (John 3:14-15)

You reap what you sow.
Jesus sowed righteousness to release a resurrection life.

You reap after you sow.
Jesus knew what was coming, and knew what He had to do (Heb. 12:2).

You reap more than you sow.
Just as a single seed births an apple tree that produces thousands of apples, Jesus sowed His life, and reaped a new human race.

Jesus understood that the judgment being executed was not His execution.

Jesus knew going into His crucifixion that the real judgment was not the one handed down by Pontius Pilate, but was the two-fold judgment being sealed by His death on the cross.

Christ1Everything the human race was and is in Adam was judged on the cross. (Rom. 5:18)
Jesus knew that all of the history of mankind until that moment was being judged at that moment, and that, in three days, everything would be different.

Satan’s judgment was assured. (Col. 2:14-15)
Satan was “the prince of this world”. He was the cherubim over all the planet earth until his fall. In Eden, he tried to regain what he had forfeited. At the cross, his infernal plans were thwarted once and for all, and he was stripped of his authority.

Jesus understood the attraction of the cross.

And I, if I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all peoples to Myself.”
This He said, signifying by what death He would die. ~ John 12:32-33

The cross was an ugly thing. It was one of the most diabolical methods of torture and death ever devised by men. All along, Jesus knew it was coming. Yet, because of Jesus death, that very cross — repulsive to the Jews and a cause of scandal to the Greeks — had a drawing and saving power no one can explain.

They still can’t.

 The cross is more than two ugly wooden timbers fastened together, or a piece of beautiful jewelry to be worn. The cross is the crossroads of human history — the focal point that every moment before pointed to, and every moment since is dependent upon.

You see, the Cross is:

 “of all times the turning point;
   of all history the crucial point;
   of all love the highest point;
   of all salvation the starting point;
   of all worship the central point.”

The Cross and the Bystander

Chalk outline - personWe have now in America what is referred to as The Bystander Effect. This “psychological phenomenon” was brought to light on March 16, 1964 when a young woman named Catherine “Kitty” Genovese was brutally stabbed to death while walking to her apartment at Kew Gardens in Queens, New York City. A man named Winston Moseley had decided he was going to kill a woman that day, and it didn’t matter who it was. Driving around, Moseley spotted Genovese, and followed her to a parking lot. He got out of his car, and when she began to flee, he quickly caught up to her, and began stabbing her. As Genovese screamed, “Oh my God, he stabbed me! Help me!“, Moseley continued his attack. Amid her cries for help, a neighbor eventually yelled out of his window, “Let that girl alone!“, at which point Moseley fled the scene of the crime. Lying wounded and dying, not one of the estimated three dozen+ people who either heard her cries or saw the attack came to help Genovese. After ten minutes of lying there wounded, her attacker returned, and continued to stab, rape, and rob Genovese. By the time Moseley left, and help finally arrived, it was too late. Twenty-eight-year-old Kitty Genovese took her last breath en route to the hospital.

Was her life nothing to those that heard her cries
and did nothing in those early morning hours?

Wikipedia describes the Bystander Effect as…

“… a social psychological phenomenon that refers to cases in which individuals do not offer any means of help to a victim when other people are present. The probability of help is inversely related to the number of bystanders. In other words, the greater the number of bystanders, the less likely it is that any one of them will help.”

There once was a man who walked the dusty roads of the Middle East. He was kind, compassionate, and full of wisdom. Crowds large and small gathered to hear him speak, and his words brought life and hope to those who heard. However, regardless of the words he spoke, kindness he showed, and good deeds he did, the “Establishment” hated him. He rocked the boat of their belief system, upset the apple-cart of their status-quo, and for that — they deemed — he was worthy of death. Accusations were brought, false witnesses told lies, a friend betrayed him, he was given a mockery of a trial, and sentenced to die.

But death wasn’t good enough. The Establishment needed to make an example out of him, if for no other reason, to discourage copy-cat rabble-rousers.

They began by striking him and mocking him. They blindfolded him, hit him, and made sport of his captivity. Since this cruelty wasn’t enough to elicit a response, they ramped up the abuse. He was tied to a post and whipped 39 times with a device designed to tear the flesh from his body; nine strips of leather, embedded with broken pottery, bone, metal, and any other sharp edge that would help accomplish its goal. This “scourge” was raised by the muscled arm of a soldier who showed a knack for inflicting the most pain and damage, and 39 times it fell with the ferocity of a pack of wild dogs descending upon its victim.

When he survived that unimaginable beating, the rest of his sentence of death could be carried out. The “electric chair” of that day was called a cross — a heavy beam of lumber with a cross beam. The victim would be nailed to it, forced to hang naked before the world, dying from his wounds, exposure, and asphyxiation. To add insult to injury, the soldiers tasked with his execution forced him to carry his own instrument of death through the dusty streets, being mocked, spit upon, and humiliated along the way. At one point, when he finally collapsed for the last time under its weight, the soldiers accompanying him pulled a man from the crowd, forcing him to carry the load the rest of the way to the spot of execution.

Upon arrival at a place known by the locals as “The Place of the Skull“, his cross was dropped onto the ground, and he was forced on top of it. Spreading his arms out on the cross-beam, massive spikes were driven through each wrist, with one being driven through his overlapped feet. Once it was certain he was secure, they raised the cross and dropped it into a hole in the ground, the velocity of his body weight jerking hard against the spikes.

And for six hours, Jesus hung between Heaven and Earth… and died… for you.

Chalk outline - crossIs His sacrifice nothing to you?

If you could cure AIDS, wouldn’t you want everyone to know it? If you could stop cancer, would you keep quiet? If you had the method to put an end to Alheimer’s, would you keep silent?

If you are a believer in Christ, you have a testimony.

As one saved by Jesus’ precious blood, you have an amazing story to tell.

As a Christian, you have the incredible witness of a Gospel that
transforms lives… and it is criminal to keep it to yourself.

Are the lives of those around you who are dying — lost without Jesus — nothing to you?

In a YouTube video, illusionist, comedian, and renowned atheist Penn Jillette had this to say about Christians who share their faith…

And I’ve always said, you know, that I don’t respect people that don’t proselytize. I don’t respect that at all. If you believe that there’s a Heaven and Hell, and people could be going to Hell — or not getting eternal life, or whatever — and you think that, “Well, it’s not really worth tellin’ ’em this, because it would make it socially awkward”, and atheists who think that people shouldn’t proselytize, “Just leave me alone. Keep your religion to yourself”… How much do you have to hate somebody to not proselytize? How much do you have to hate somebody to believe that everlasting life is possible and not tell them that? I mean, if I believe, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that a truck was coming at you and you didn’t believe it —that truck was bearing down on you — there’s a certain point where I tackle you, and this is more important than that.

At Easter, we celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ, and His triumph over death, Hell, and the grave! What better time to introduce a friend to the risen Savior that can save their soul, and transform their life. Christian, it is time to get serious about our witness. It is not enough to be a bystander, watching the masses pass by — beating a path to Hell — and waiting for someone else to tell them of Jesus’ love. He has called YOU. You are the one to tell His story. You are the one they are waiting for.

Is it nothing to you?

Maybe not… but it is EVERYTHING to them.

 

Easter header

 

Risen

Recently, Paulette and I had the opportunity, along with pastors from around the nation, to share some thoughts regarding the upcoming movie Risen. Over the past several years, faith-based films have become more and more prevalent in the theaters, and lives are being introduced to the message of the love and hope we have in Jesus through the medium of film. We are seeing Christians come together, and through God-inspired creativity, begin take back the “mountain of media”. We are honored to be a part of this exciting featurette, and encourage you to invite your friends, and see Risen when it comes to theaters in February.

Watch the Risen featurette here…

Watch the Risen trailer here…

He’s Alive!

Vietnam Wall

Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live. And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die. Do you believe this?” She said to Him, “Yes, Lord, I believe that You are the Christ, the Son of God, who is to come into the world.” ~ John 11:25-27

It was the fall of 1965…

I was a Freshman at Clarke Memorial College in Newton, Mississippi, and was studying for the ministry at this junior college preparing to go the next year to Samford University. It was the height of the Vietnam War and I had just heard another high school classmate had been killed in that far-away place. This guy was more than just a classmate though… he was a friend. During my last 2 years in High School, there were daily postings of our young classmates that perished in Vietnam.

The next spring I was preaching on Easter Sunday at a church without a pastor. The auditorium was jammed with over 250 people, and I rose to bring a message of hope. As I preached on the text from John 11:25-27, I saw, in the back of the room, a young man in uniform. The more I looked at him, the more familiar he seemed. However, my vision was about as bad then as it is now, and without my glasses (trying to look cool), I could not quite make him out.

VietnamMemorialAt the invitation and altar call, he started down the aisle. As he drew closer, his face became more and more familiar. It was my friend that had been reported killed in action. Come to find out, he was actually MIA, made it out of the war alive, and made it home.

Before he got to me I cried out, “YOU’RE ALIVE — YOU’RE ALIVE!!!” The emotion I felt as this young man seemingly walked out of the grave overcame me. Joy overwhelmed the whole congregation!

I think we must have felt, in a small way, what that first week after Easter must have been like!

In a small way, I understand how the disciples must have felt. Having lost the One they loved — their Teacher, Master, and Friend — all hope seemed lost.

But on that first Easter morning, all creation must have resounded with joy at the news, when the words were first proclaimed…

He’s Alive!

On Easter, we celebrate our risen Lord. We remember the sacrifice He made, and the victory He won. We come together as believers, from every nation and tongue, to proclaim the Good News the angel told the disciples on that day… HE IS RISEN!

As we celebrate our risen Lord this coming Sunday, I hope that you will find a house of worship and join with brothers and sisters of faith in joyful adoration of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

If you are in the Chattanooga area, I’d like to personally invite you to join us at Abba’s House. Our service begins at 10:30.

Maybe you are shut-in, and can’t get to a church. At Abba’s House, we live-stream our services, so you can tune in and be a part. Visit abbashouse.com/live to join our worship service online.

From our house to yours… Happy Easter!

HE IS RISEN!!!