Malankara World Journal - Christian Spirituality from an Orthodox Perspective
Malankara World Journal
40th Day of Lent/ Lazarus Saturday
Volume 6 No. 337 March 16, 2016
III. Articles On The Temptation of Christ

Forty Days: Reflection on the Temptation of Jesus Christ

by Dr. Scott Hahn

Scripture References:

Deuteronomy 26:4-10
Psalm 91:1-2,10-15
Romans 10:8-13
Luke 4:1-13

In today's epic Gospel scene, Jesus relives in His flesh the history of Israel.

We've already seen that like Israel, Jesus has passed through water, been called God's beloved Son (see Luke 3:22; Exodus 4:22). Now, as Israel was tested for forty years in the wilderness, Jesus is led into the desert to be tested for forty days and nights (see Exodus 15:25).

He faces the temptations put to Israel: Hungry, He's tempted to grumble against God for food (see Exodus 16:1-13). As Israel quarreled at Massah, He's tempted to doubt God's care (see Exodus 17:1-6). When the Devil asks His homage, He's tempted to do what Israel did in creating the golden calf (see Exodus 32).

Jesus fights the Devil with the Word of God, three times quoting from Moses' lecture about the lessons Israel was supposed to learn from its wilderness wanderings (see Deuteronomy 8:3; 6:16; 6:12-15).

Why do we read this story on the 40th day of Lent? Like Jesus, today, we have completed 40 days of Great Lent. Like the biblical sign of forty (see Genesis 7:12; Exodus 24:18; 34:28; 1 Kings 19:8; Jonah 3:4), the forty days of Lent was a time of trial and purification. Now we are ready to participate in the Passion of Jesus Christ.

Lent is to teach us what we hear over and over in today's readings. "Call upon me, and I will answer," the Lord promises in Psalm 91:15. Paul promises the same thing in Romans 10:8-13 (quoting Deuteronomy 30:14; Isaiah 28:16; Joel 2:32).

This was Israel's experience, as Moses reminds his people in Deuteronomy 26:7: "We cried to the Lord...and He heard." But each of us is tempted, as Israel was, to forget the great deeds He works in our lives, to neglect our birthright as His beloved sons and daughters.

Like the litany of remembrance Moses prescribes for Israel, we should see in the Holy Qurbano a memorial of our salvation, and "bow down in His presence," offering ourselves in thanksgiving for all He has given us. 

The Temptation of Jesus Is Not about Your Battle with Sin

by Byron Yawn

I was sitting on a ledge two hundred feet above the Judean wilderness. A lifeless and virtually unending sea of sand dunes was below me. It's one of those visuals you never quite get your head around. A network of sandy spines reaches out to the horizon and then disappears. This is where things in this region go to die. Ironically, it's a beautiful place. The scale alone is spectacular. And when the deep colors of the afternoon sky in Israel collide with trillions upon trillions of granules of sand it's a breathtaking masterpiece.

I was here reconnoitering for my local church. A trip to Israel was in the works. This was my first time in the Holy Land. By the time we arrived at this particular spot I'd been traveling for five days. Several of the places we stopped offered an opportunity for reflection and teaching. This qualified as one of those places. We were herded out of our bus and up a slight hill. Once we reached the crest the world fell out below us into the desert. The group found spots here and there and sat down in complete silence. It was a massive sort of natural amphitheater where the show was the deepest stillness nature has to offer.

"This is the approximate location of Jesus' temptation." Obviously, this fact made it all the more spectacular. Somewhere down there the Son of God battled for my soul. I kept thinking to myself, "My sin, oh the bliss of this glorious thought, my sin, not in part but the whole…" Somewhere in the midst of this devastation after forty days of fasting the Holy Son of God was led out to bear the burden of humanity and face down the same adversary who led the first Adam to cause such destruction in the first place (Hebrews 2:9).

Needless to say, my heart was tuned to worship. I was ready to see Jesus exalted. Just then the designated preacher stood to deliver the message, "Turn with me to Mathew chapter four. I would like to offer you five steps to resisting temptation in your life." Or, something to that effect. On the inside I was devastated. "Why would you do that? Jesus is right here! Give me Christ!" On the outside there was nothing but a sacerdotal smile. In light of where I was seated, the popular church's ability to miss the point (Jesus) was more obvious than ever. It was a very sad moment.

Normally, this would not have been so surprising, but we were standing on the spot. Typically, this is standard stuff. It's what the contemporary church does with scenes like this. (In fact, this was how I interpreted it the first time I encountered it in the Gospel of Matthew.) Basically, we take the epic of redemption laid out before us in events like the temptation and bury it under our narcissistic need for "relevance." We get in our own way of the glory of our own redemption. It's maddening how ubiquitous this tendency is within evangelicalism.

Seriously. What's the assumed application of Jesus' temptation in the wilderness? By assumed I mean - What have we been told (over years of preaching) this event is about? Is it not usually offered as a set of "principles" on how Christians can resist temptation? Or to put that another way, it's about us. But honestly, is this really what's happening at this moment? Is Jesus really offering an example how we can personally resist the temptation of the devil? Is this a tutorial for daily living? Of course not! A "how to" on resisting temptation is a secondary application at best if not tertiary. He's not telling us to do anything. He's actually doing it for us. There is something much greater under way in this moment. More importantly, do we need to be standing within view of the actual site to realize how misguided our take on it is?

What we are witnessing here has little to do with us except as it involves Jesus' willingness to take on the burden of humanity to save us. What we are beholding is our Lord - the second Adam - obeying where the first Adam failed to obey (Romans 5:17). We see him bowing his will to the Father's, taking the suffering of the cross upon himself and redeem us from our bondage. Jesus isn't offering a lesson on how to resist temptation. He is actually resisting temptation on a scale we can barely fathom.

Although Jesus' hunger was no doubt fierce, the first temptation isn't really about hunger per se. Nor is it about how you and I can use the Word of God to resist the devil (although we can and do.) It's about Jesus choosing the suffering and indignity of the cross over his rightful dignity as the Son of God. "Why would the Son of God suffer under the consequences of humanity's rebellion? Why not simply command stones to be bread and relieve the indignity? Why suffer such demeaning pain for such unworthy subjects?" It's a valid question. The only answer to this question is grace (Titus 2:4-7).

Additionally, the second temptation has little to do with Jesus proving his sonship to Satan. Nor, is it about how we can trust God in a trial (although we can and do.) It was about the necessary obscurity of the Son of God. In obedience to the Father, Jesus took on humanity and veiled his glory in order to take up the cross (Isaiah 53:2-3). Basically, "Why suffer the pain of the cross when you can reveal yourself as the Son of God in a (self-serving) display of your glory?" In this scene Jesus' humility is beyond compare. The Son of God refused his rightful status in order to save men whose determination to exalt themselves above God had condemned them in the first place.

The third temptation cuts to the chase. There's not much spin on this one. It is a blatant attempt to have Jesus avoid the anguish of the cross and, thereby, disobey the Father (Hebrews 12:2-3). He could be declared "Lord of Lords" without bearing God's wrath on behalf of sinners if he merely subjected himself to Satan. In response Jesus commits to do that which humanity had failed to do in the very beginning – worship God only.

It's a glorious scene. And one I've only begun to unpack here. The intent is for us to marvel at the grace of God in Christ. In a sense, we're called to sit on a theological and biblical ledge and peer into the awe inspiring landscape of God's grace. This is what he did for us. The point is be confident in what Christ has done for us and not to grow confident in what we can do for ourselves. In this present passage, the contradiction between the contemporary translation (us) and the actual point (Him) could not be sharper.

Why we constantly choose to focus on the former when the latter is screaming at us from the pages of the Bible is hard to explain.

About The Author:

Byron Yawn is the author of 'What Every Man Wishes His Father Had Told Him', and 'Suburbianity: Can We Find Our Way Back to Biblical Christianity?' (Harvest House).  

The Temptation of Jesus Christ

By Jason R. McConnell, Franklin, VT

Gospel: Matthew 4:1-11

The 19th century author and humorist Mark Twain has two famous quotes on the topic of temptation. The first is: "I never struggle with temptation; I just yield to it." And the second is: "There are several good protections against temptation, but the surest is cowardice. These two statements highlight the attitudes that many people have about temptation. On one hand, you could just have a flippant attitude toward sin and just give in to temptation, or on the other hand, you could hide from anything that even looks like sin and live your life in a box. As Christians, we know that neither one of these extremes is a viable option for dealing with temptation.

There are many places in the New Testament where we could go to learn about the best way to deal with temptation. James 1 is pretty good: "When tempted, no one should say, 'God is tempting me.' For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone; but each one is tempted when, by his own evil desire, he is dragged away and enticed. Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death." I Corinthians 10 is also helpful when Paul says: "No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it."

Or you could also glean insights from the Old Testament stories of Samson and Delilah, David and Bathsheba, and King Solomon and his 300 wives; where all of their lives were ruined by giving into temptation. And certainly, we must remember the very first temptation story where Adam and Eve yielded to the temptation of eating the forbidden fruit from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. This is what got us into this whole mess of sin in the first place.

But among all of the places in the Bible that teach us about temptation, there is one that stands out from all of the rest. The story of the temptation of Jesus Christ not only provides us with incredible look into the way the devil uses temptation to destroy people, but it also provides us with a model for how we can overcome the temptations that we face as we go through life. Let's take a look at how our Lord tackled temptation!

The Context of Temptation (1-3)

Matthew tells us that after Jesus was baptized by his cousin John in the Jordan River and received divine approval from his Father, he retreated to the wilderness to complete his preparation for his public ministry. The Holy Spirit personally led him up to the wilderness to fast and to be tempted by the devil. If Jesus could not rule over his own body and soul, how could he lead anybody else? This significant event took place to prove that Jesus was ready to begin his earthly ministry and fulfill his divine destiny.

In a rather ironic understatement, Matthew tells us that after fasting for 40 days and 40 nights, Jesus was hungry. It makes me want to say to Matthew, "No, really?" It is certainly possible to go 40 days without food, but it is extremely difficult. For most of us, 40 hours without food would be difficult. Let's be really honest - most of us start getting a little grumpy after about 4 hours without food. The longest I have ever fasted has been three days, and I felt like I was going to die. I cannot imagine going without food for 40 days.

Notice how Satan shows up at during Jesus' 40 day fast, when he was tired, hungry, alone, and weak. There was no food, no shelter from the desert sun, and no other human beings around to hold him accountable to his mission. Satan attacked Jesus at the time when and place where he was most vulnerable.

Have you ever noticed that Satan employs the same tactic with us? He is clever and crafty. He doesn't tempt us in times or areas where we are strong; he waits to attack us at the times and in the places where we are most vulnerable. He knows our individual weaknesses and waits for opportune times to capitalize on them.

A number of years ago now, Satan tempted a good friend of mine when and where he was most vulnerable. My friend loved his wife deeply and he was always faithful to her, but one day she confessed to him that she had been cheating on him with another man and now she wanted a divorce so that she could be with him. He was devastated! She moved out and he started going to bars to drink away the pain. One night when he was sitting at the bar, feeling particularly weak and vulnerable, a woman approached and propositioned him. Even though he knew that this woman had a promiscuous reputation, in a moment of weakness he succumbed to temptation and hooked up with her for the night. He justified his actions as a way of getting back at his wife.

A few weeks later when he began to notice some changes in his body, he knew that he had contracted a sexually transmitted disease. He was too embarrassed and stubborn to see a doctor and get treated. He kept his secret hidden for the next eight years until one morning when he simply hunched over and dropped dead at work. He was only 47 years old.

Do you have certain times and places when you are most vulnerable? Do you know your weaknesses? That is where Satan is most likely to attack us! We need to be prepared for Satan's temptations in the times and areas where we are most vulnerable!

The First Temptation- Relying on God's Provision (3-4)

Satan knew that Jesus was the true Son of God, but in this first temptation he tries to derail him from doing God's will by tempting him to rely on his own self-sufficiency rather than on the provisions of God. To do this, he challenged Jesus to turn the desert stones into loaves of bread, which is something that I am sure would have delighted Jesus in that moment. There was nothing inherently wrong or sinful about turning stones into bread to satisfy a hungry stomach, but this would have been a departure from God's will. If Jesus had done this, he would have misused his power and have exercised improper independence from God.

This is really the same trick that Satan used with Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. It worked with the first Adam but not the second Adam. Jesus outwitted him by quoting scripture, a verse from Deuteronomy 8:3 which asserts that man should not live by bread alone, but every word that comes from the mouth of God. God had fed the Israelites with manna from heaven when they were wandering in the wilderness for 40 years. Their hunger had been intended to show them that hearing and obeying God's word was the most important thing in life. Jesus had already learned this lesson. He knew the importance of relying on God rather than relying on his own power and abilities.

How many of us face the temptation to rely on ourselves rather than God? Sometimes it appears so much easier to do things ourselves, rather than to wait for God. But that is exactly what Satan wants us to do! He wants us to act independently from God.

It is just like little kids who want to do everything by themselves, rather than waiting for their parent's instructions. Little Miss Independent thinks she can figure it out all by herself. Little Mr. Independent thinks he knows what he is doing. Grown-ups do the same thing with God all the time!

Do you rely on your strength, abilities, intelligence, and experience, or do you rely on God? Are you ever been tempted to misuse your power to get what you want? Think about all of the people in our world who abuse their power to wrongly satisfy their desires! Do you really believe that hearing and obeying God's Word is the most important thing in life? When you do, then you will be able to resist temptation!

The Second Temptation- Trusting God's Protection (5-7)

In the second temptation, Satan tries to trick Jesus by twisting God's word. The devil takes Jesus to the top of the holy temple in Jerusalem which was about 450 feet high and challenges him to jump off so that God would send his loving angels to rescue him. Like the first temptation, Satan approaches Jesus with the words, "If you are the Son of God," but this time he uses (or rather misuses) Psalm 91:11-12, where the Psalmist asserts God's protection for the faithful in Israel. Satan twists this passage to trick Jesus into forcing God into a supernatural demonstration of his protection.

Jesus' hesitation came, not from wondering whether his Father could or would rescue him if he jumped, but because Scripture forbids putting God to the test (Deuteronomy 6:16). For both Israel and Jesus, demanding miraculous proof of God's protection is wrong; the appropriate attitude is trust and obedience.

Does Satan ever tempt you to put God to the test? Do you ever hear a little voice in your head saying, "If God really loved me, he would - if God really cared about me, he would - if God was really there, he would…" Do you ever demand miraculous signs and wonders? Do you ever try to bribe or manipulate God into doing what you want him to do? Again, this is exactly what Satan wants us to do! God simply wants us to trust him!

The Third Temptation- Following God's Plan (8-10)

The third temptation may have been the most appealing of the three, not because of the anticipation of the glory of ruling all the kingdoms of the earth - that was already part of God's plan - but because Satan's offer would allow Jesus to rule the earth without enduring the suffering and shame of the cross. God the Father already had a plan for Jesus to be the king of the world, but now Satan offers Jesus an even more appealing plan - a kingdom and all of its glory, minus the suffering. Satan promises Jesus that he can offer a better plan and way than God could. Had Jesus taken the easy way instead of the right way, he would not have gone to the cross and we would have no hope of salvation today.

Again, Jesus reaches into Scripture, interprets it accurately, and sends Satan on his way. Jesus goes back to Deuteronomy 6 and preaches a sermon to Satan about worshipping and serving God alone. Those words in particular must have stung Satan because this is exactly what Satan did not do when he rebelled against God. Satan must not have liked Jesus' sermon because he immediately got up and left.

Satan does this same thing to us all the time. He offers an easy way as an alternative to God's way. There is no doubt about it - God's way is hard! God's way is always marked with suffering and sacrifice! Satan offers us a bunch of empty shortcuts to glory and happiness, but they are all lies in the end. He tells us "go ahead and cheat on your income taxes; you deserve that money." He says "if you divorce your spouse you will be much happier." He says "it doesn't matter who you hurt; all that matters is that you are number one." He promises more money, power, popularity, success, and happiness if we take his easy way. But the only way to true happiness is through worshiping and serving the Lord!

And if there was any doubt about God's love or compassion, look at how the story ends! Angels came and ministered to him. God was completely sufficient! He provided everything that Jesus needed! And he does the same for us today.

Like Jesus, if we if we rely on God's provision…trust in God's protection…if follow God's plan…we will be able to resist the devil's temptations too!

IV. Articles On The Raising of Lazarus

Death Is Not the End!

by Greg Laurie

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?"
- John 11:25–26

Jesus was saying to His grieving friend, "Martha, listen to Me. Death is not the end! You're acting as though it is over with. It is not over with." And at this point, I think He was speaking of something greater and more profound than the resurrection of Lazarus, which He would accomplish within that very hour. After all, raising Lazarus from the dead - exciting and joyful as that may have been - was only a temporary proposition. Lazarus would just have to die again in a few years.

I think the bigger message was this: "Death is not the end. This is temporary. One day I will get rid of death altogether, and whoever believes in Me will live forever."

Jesus wept at the death of His friend and at the sorrow of Lazarus's two grieving sisters. But the death of His friend also brought Him anger.

John 11:33 tells us, "Therefore, when Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who came with her weeping, He groaned in the spirit and was troubled."

The Greek word used for troubled here could be translated "angry." Why was Jesus angry? Was He angry with Mary and Martha for not believing? I don't think so. I think Jesus was angry at death itself because this was never God's plan. God's plan was to have us live forever. God's plan was that these bodies would never age or wear out or experience sickness or limitations.

So He was angry over that, and He wept. But these weren't tears of frustration. God is never frustrated. Jesus was angry and then did something about it that had been planned from eternity past. He gave up His life on a Roman cross, dying for the sins of the world, and then He rose again from the dead. The Bible says He has become the "firstfruits" of those who sleep, which means that He went before us.

And because He went before us into death and came out victorious on the other side, those of us who now live and will face death someday can be confident and unafraid.

Excerpted from 'Every Day with Jesus' by Greg Laurie, 2013

The Resurrection of Lazarus (Part 1)

by Martin G. Collins

About a month before His own death and resurrection, Jesus visited Bethany and performed His third miracle of resurrection, raising Lazarus from the dead (John 11:1-46). No one knows how often Jesus visited the home of the sisters, Mary and Martha, and their brother Lazarus, but Scripture records some of His visits to their friendly, peaceful, and loving home (Matthew 21:17; Mark 11:11, 19; Luke 10:41-42).

This resurrection is the most extraordinary of all His great works while in the flesh. It foreshadowed His own resurrection, made a profound impression in Jerusalem, and in contrast, brought the wrath of the Sanhedrin to a head, stirring them to decide to murder Jesus. After performing this miracle, He withdrew to the wilderness of Ephraim for some private time with His disciples before the Passover and His final hours.

1. Does God always shield His friends from sorrow? John 11:1-16.


With Lazarus' death imminent, they were to learn that the wisdom of godly love does not always shield its recipients from suffering, sorrow, and death (John 16:20-22; II Corinthians 7:9-10). Even the personal affection that His friends enjoyed with Him did not persuade Jesus to stray from His responsibility to glorify God in all that He did. So the family had to experience illness and grief. The gospels do not record the nature of Lazarus' illness, but it was serious enough for his sisters to request Christ's intervention, expecting Him to immediately heal the disease. The ease and simplicity of their message, "Lord, behold, he whom You love is sick" (John 11:3), shows the faith they had in His ability to heal.

2. Does Jesus desire His friends to have the same personality? John 11:20.


Jesus loved Martha, Mary, and Lazarus (Luke 11:5), choosing to love them in a more personal way than others, which shows that He loves different personalities. He loved Martha, a resilient and energetic woman, who was the keeper of their home, intent on looking after the physical comfort of her guests. Mary was different: contemplative and gifted with intuitive grace and kindhearted sympathy. Mary and Martha were devoted to Jesus and appreciated Him in their own ways (Luke 11:21-22, 32). Likewise, in His own kind and caring way, Jesus enjoyed dealing with each of them according to their temperaments. Lazarus' name is not mentioned nor is his voice heard in Scripture until his sickness, death, and resurrection. A man of few words, he was a quiet and unassuming friend.

3. Why does Jesus, delaying His arrival, permit Lazarus' sickness and death? John 11:6-7, 11-15.


Jesus already knew that Lazarus needed healing when the news reached Him. He assures His disciples that the sickness would not have death as its final result, however, God was permitting it for two reasons: the furtherance and accomplishment of the Father's purpose and His glorification, as well as the glorification of Jesus Himself.

His delay in going to Bethany must have puzzled His friends, especially when He allowed it to end in death. Yet, the distressed sisters were to learn that God's delays are not denials. Unrelieved suffering is sometimes necessary to perfect character - Jesus Himself "learned obedience by the things that He suffered" (Hebrews 5:8).

Mary and Martha were sure Jesus would come because He loved them. They had to learn that He was not neglecting them, but that His purpose in delaying was one of godly love. It was probably emotionally painful for Jesus to cause Mary and Martha grief, but He wanted to reveal to them - and to us - that despite our inclination to help our friends, even if we have power to do so, we must be guided by God's Spirit to prioritize His glory and our spiritual welfare, rather than gratify our feelings.

4. How does Jesus express death to show that it is temporary? John 11:11.


As Jesus leaves for Bethany, He gives those around Him a softened description of death, saying, "Our friend Lazarus sleeps, but I go that I may wake him up" (John 11:11), to indicate that it is temporary. His disciples think He refers to natural sleep and that Lazarus would recover from his sickness. Then Jesus tells them plainly, "Lazarus is dead."

We must learn to see death from God's perspective. Christ has power over life and death. In this case, He was willing to resurrect Lazarus from death to physical life. He used Lazarus' death to perform a miracle that would glorify God and identify Himself as the Messiah, the Savior of mankind.

Job shows that he knew the answer to his own rhetorical question: "If a man dies, shall he live again? All the days of my hard service I will wait, till my change comes" (Job 14:14). When a person dies, he will be resurrected at the appropriate time. Jesus prophesies in John 5:28-29: "[T]he hour is coming in which all who are in the graves will hear His voice and come forth - those who have done good, to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil, to the resurrection of condemnation."

The lesson of this breathtaking miracle is that Christ is the regenerator of the dead, spiritually and physically. He is able to regenerate the hearts and minds of those who are spiritually dead in their trespasses and sins. He brought the body of Lazarus back from corruption, and so He is able and willing to deliver people from their abominable sins. His life-giving miracle of grace is as truly remarkable as His powerful and miraculous ability to resurrect.

Source: Forerunner, "Bible Study," Jul-Aug 2014, © 2014 CGG

The Resurrection of Lazarus (Part 2)

by Martin G. Collins

Christ's conduct just prior to raising Lazarus from the dead is instructive and inspiring: "When Jesus saw [Mary] weeping, and the Jews who came with her weeping, He groaned in the spirit and was troubled" (John 11:33). This scene of death and despair deeply moved and upset Him, even to the point of indignation. Lazarus was dead because sin had entered the world and brought death and the sorrows that follow. Sin does not bring life; it always results in death. Our Savior's weeping shows the pain of sin.

Today, we laugh and joke about things that caused even God Himself to weep. When we are tempted to sin, we must remember verse 35, "Jesus wept." It succinctly emphasizes the curse of sin.

1. What does Jesus' weeping reveal about Him? John 11:35.


The Greek verb translated "wept" is found only here in the Bible. Its root means "tears." His were not the tears of a sentimentalist, but those of a pure, righteous, sympathizing High Priest (Hebrews 4:15). The word twice translated "weeping" in verse 33 is not the same word, meaning "to lament loudly, to wail." Unlike these others, Jesus did not wail but wept quietly with tears flowing.

It is often supposed that Jesus wept only because He had lost a friend to death and because of the deep mourning of Mary and Martha. However, even before Lazarus had died, He knew that He would resurrect Lazarus to glorify His Father and as a sign of His Messiahship (John 11:4, 15). He was in complete control of the situation.

His weeping does show Him as a compassionate friend, and from this we learn that it is right and natural for us to sympathize with others in their afflictions. "Rejoice with them that do rejoice, and weep with them that weep" (Romans 12:15). Sorrow at the death of friends is not improper, yet we should not belabor it but help others who grieve to find peace in the God of all consolation.

We see in this miracle an instance of the tenderness of the character of Jesus, the same Savior who wept over Jerusalem and felt deeply for others even in their sins. To the same tender and compassionate Savior we may now come, knowing that He will not cast us away. His example shows that heartfelt mourning in the face of death does not indicate lack of faith but honest sorrow at the reality of suffering and death.

2. Why did Christ have others do the physical work? Did He need help?


This miracle was one of His Father's works, so Jesus prayed and thanked God for the answer He knew would follow. It did not require the disciples' help, yet Jesus commanded them: "Take away the stone" and "Loose him, and let him go" (Luke 11:39, 44). Jesus always used His power wisely, never wastefully, frivolously, or unnecessarily. By involving His disciples in the event, He shows that we participate in God's way of life with Him.

3. What was the intended result of this miracle?


After His prayer, Jesus, in whom is life (John 1:4) and who is the Life (John 14:6), shouts to Lazarus with a strong, confident voice, and he walks from his grave alive. It is an almost incredible thing to read. Can we imagine the effect it had on those who witnessed it?

As the conclusion of the chapter shows, this miracle had diverse results. Many Jews believed in Him, but it only angered His enemies, making them more determined to rid themselves of Him. The high priest, Caiaphas, a dupe of Rome and a Sadducee, who did not believe in resurrection, suggests to the Council that they must kill Jesus rather than lose their positions. The words and works of Jesus divided light from darkness, the believing from the unbelieving. There is still division because of Him (Luke 12:51).

The word John uses thirteen times for "miracles" in his gospel and in Revelation suggests "wonders," "foreshadows," or "signs," and not "mighty works." E.W. Bullinger explains it as a signal and ensign, a standard, a sign by which any thing is designated, distinguished or known; hence, used of the miracles of Christ, as being the signs by which it might be known that He was the Christ of God, a sign authenticating Christ's mission; a sign with reference to what it demonstrates. (A Critical Lexicon and Concordance to the English and Greek New Testament, p. 503)

As John sees them, Jesus' miracles are symbols, proofs, messages, and object lessons of spiritual truth embodied in the wonders themselves. They are living parables of Christ's action, embodiments of the truth in works. They are not merely signs of supernatural power, but dramatic indications of the goal of His ministry and of His own all-loving character. His visible works of power and mercy foreshadow the spiritual restoration of all things. Because of these elements, a lesson, discussion, or sermon usually follows them.

John recorded only eight of Jesus' miracles, choosing typical ones to elucidate while recognizing their greater extent: "And truly Jesus did many other signs in the presence of His disciples, which are not written in this book" (John 20:30). In the next chapter, he provides a glimpse of the fullness of His ministry: "And there are also many other things that Jesus did, which if they were written one by one, I suppose that even the world itself could not contain the books that would be written. Amen" (John 21:25).

Source: Forerunner, "Bible Study," Nov-Dec 2014 © 2014 CGG

When You're Stuck in the Middle

by Alicia Bruxvoort

"Then Jesus became explicit, 'Lazarus died. And I am glad for your sakes that I wasn't there. You're about to be given new grounds for believing. Now let's go to him.'"
John 11:14-15 (MSG)

The poor teacher couldn't figure out what had gone wrong. One minute, my daughter's face had been decorated with her signature smile; the next, her cheeks were streaked with silent tears.

My third-born is sensitive. As a baby, she cried around the clock. As a preschooler, she cried when her big brother pulled her ponytail.

And in first grade, she cried in Sunday school when she heard the tale of Lazarus bursting forth from the tomb.

Befuddled, the teacher pulled me aside after church that day and apologized for "whatever upset Hannah during story time." I'd assured her we knew about our little girl's tender heart.

However, later I asked Hannah about the unexplained tears. Like her teacher, I had no idea what might have prompted her sadness. After all, the resurrection recorded in the eleventh chapter of John seems more like a celebration-sparker than a tear-jerker.

"I wasn't planning to cry, Mommy," Hannah explained. "But that story just made me feel so sad."

I squatted low to look my daughter in the eye. "Honey, the story of Lazarus is one of Jesus' greatest miracles."

"I know," Hannah conceded. "I just felt so bad for those sisters. I kept thinking about how I'd feel if Jesus had let me down like that."

"But, Hannah" I said, "You already know the ending to the story. Jesus shows up and makes everything right. Those sisters get their brother back, and they all have a graveside party!"

My girl exhaled an exasperated sigh, whispering, "Even if you know the ending, the middle can still hurt."

My stomach lurched at the huge truth that hung between us, and suddenly, I understood the tears.

My little girl had gotten stuck in "the middle."

She'd stood at the edge of the tomb where a beloved brother lay lifeless, crying right alongside those sisters.

I've been there. And if you've been traveling this world's broken road for a while, you probably have, too.

The middle is where we call on God and wonder if He hears our cries.

The middle is where doubts rage loud, and our Savior grows quiet.

The middle is where life doesn't make sense, faith seems foolish and hope seems lost.

When sickness strikes, when a friend betrays, when a spouse disappoints or a child rebels, we can find ourselves hoping for a better ending to our story.

Maybe you're there now, feet planted shakily at the edge of the tomb where your hopes and dreams are buried. If you are, I'm sorry.

But listen to what Jesus told the disciples before raising Lazarus from the dead: "You're about to be given new grounds for believing" (John 11:15).

You see, the middle isn't just a place of pain. It's a place of possibility. That middle ground is fertile soil for flourishing faith.

The middle is where we decide what we believe about Jesus — regardless of our circumstances. Before Jesus performed a miracle, Martha made her decision: "I have always believed you are the Messiah, the Son of God, the one who has come into the world from God" (John 11:27b, NLT).

And Jesus replied with a promise we can claim for ourselves: "Didn't I tell you that if you believed, you would see the glory of God?" (John 11:40b, MSG)

Do you see it now? We don't survive the middle by rewriting the story; we survive it by anchoring our hope to the One who has already scripted the perfect ending.

There will come a day when no one will be stuck in the middle, with no more tears and no more pain (Revelation 21:3-5).

So, plant your feet firmly on the promises of Christ, dear friend. Because life on this side of Heaven is just the scene before the miracle. And if we believe in Jesus, we already know there's a happy ending.

Dear Jesus, I'm stuck in the middle and it hurts. But I believe You are the resurrection and the life. Help me choose faith instead of fear. Renew my hope in Your glorious ending. In Jesus' Name, Amen.


Revelation 21:6a, "It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end." (The Voice)

1 Corinthians 1:7b-8, "All God's gifts are right in front of you as you wait expectantly for our Master Jesus to arrive on the scene for the Finale. And not only that, but God himself is right alongside to keep you steady and on track until things are all wrapped up by Jesus." (MSG)


Consider what you believe about Jesus. Make a list of what you know to be true of Him.

Reach out to someone who is stuck in the middle. Send an encouraging note or text or make time to offer a listening ear.

© 2015 by Alicia Bruxvoort. All rights reserved.
Source: Encouragement for Today


Malankara World Journal is published by
Copyright © 2011-2019 Malankara World. All Rights Reserved.