This Week's Focus Passage

‘The chief priests took counsel that they might put Lazarus also to death.’

Focus Passage: John 12:10

‘The chief priests took counsel that they might put Lazarus also to death.’

The common people therefore of the Jews learned that he was there: and they came, not for Jesus’ sake only, but that they might see Lazarus also, whom he had raised from the dead. But the chief priests took counsel that they might put Lazarus also to death; because that by reason of him many of the Jews went away, and believed on Jesus.—John 12:9-11.

The fact that the chief priests took counsel that they might put Lazarus also to death demonstrates that they had already, at this point in time, made up their minds and determined to do all in their influence and power to see to it that Jesus Himself was put to death. Lazarus was an additional also now in their plotting against Christ. But why would they be so adamant now about taking the life of this citizen of Jewry, this Lazarus? How would such an action advance their cause? We are apprised of this joint counsel among the priests immediately following the raising of Lazarus from the dead. This is the very reason, of course, that many of the Jews coming to see Jesus, came, not for Jesus’ sake only, but that they might see Lazarus also, whom he had raised from the dead. And it was because that by reason of him many of the Jews went away, and believed on Jesus. When someone is brought back from death unto life, it attracts attention. It certainly did in the matter of Lazarus’ resurrection. But how about those that are brought unto newness of life through the preaching of the Gospel of Jesus Christ? How about those that are born again; those who were once dead in trespasses and sins? What effect do such ‘resurrections’ have upon those around them? Do they have the effect, the impact, upon those who know them? Should this not be the result of these ‘resurrections’? In other words, should there not usually be seen a difference in one having been regenerated; born again through the wind blowing where it listeth. Was this not demonstrable in the case of the disciples of Jesus Christ two thousand years ago? What was it that the leaders of the Jews observed about Peter and John? We read in the book of Acts, the thirteenth verse of the fourth chapter,

Now when they beheld the boldness of Peter and John, and had perceived that they were unlearned and ignorant men, they marveled; and they took knowledge of them, that they had been with Jesus.

This is what we should hope for from every born again person, that they cause people to marvel at them for their boldness and how they differ from what they had formerly been. This Peter was a simple fisherman, yet after Pentecost he preached boldly, and very intelligently, through the power of God the Holy Spirit. This caused the leaders of the Jews to take notice of them to the point of marveling at them.

Peter and John had been gifted to perform a miracle of healing upon a man that was impotent. This amazing work could hardly be denied, for we are told that a man lame from his mother’s womb was seen by multitudes of the people, of whom Luke informs us that;

Leaping up, he stood, and began to walk; and he entered with them into the temple, walking, and leaping, and praising God. And all the people saw him walking and praising God: and they took knowledge of him, that it was he that sat for alms at the Beautiful Gate of the temple; and they were filled with wonder and amazement at that which had happened unto him.

There was empirical evidence that could not be denied that a notable thing had taken place in the experience of this man born lame. And it was not visible evidence alone. Coupled with the visible demonstrations of a work of God, was the audible report from the man’s own lips as he praised God in the temple. This was indeed a Lazarus like effect: one who had indisputably been lame now seen walking by the power of God. And Lazarus had been one that was indisputably dead for four days—by this time, said his sister, he decayeth—now walking among them by the power of God. These enemies of Christ are no longer satisfied to destroy Him who claims deity, but they also would destroy, if they could, any testimony to His deity. Lazarus must die.

Would to God that our witness, silent or vocal, would be such that the enemies of the Truth felt an urgency to silence us. This, of course, is the design of God making us to be both salt and light, that we would be such witnesses for the glory of God and His Christ through the in-dwelling Holy Spirit. We are not only called to be light; we are light. We are not only called to be salt; we are salt. The question is; how salty are we? How bright are we? Do we walk with Christ in such a way as to retard wickedness as salt retards putrifaction? Do we strive to be holy as God is holy; our light to be so bright as to shine in dark places, not only exposing those things that love the darkness, but also reflecting Him who is the Light of the World, Jesus Christ?

If we our such salt and light, we are virtually certain of finding that those who hate both salt and light will seek to vitiate our saltiness, and dim the brightness of our light. We will face great opposition. We are not told specifically that Lazarus faced such opposition apart from this text, yet they wished to add him to their list of martyrs for Jesus Christ. It is only reasonable to presume that he did, in fact, face opposition from those who wished to overthrow the works of God, if they might. We need to be very careful about being at peace with the world. While it is true that the apostle has said, in Romans 12:18, If it be possible, as much as in you lieth, be at peace with all men, we have the example of Peter and John in the context of our focus verse. These disciples of Christ, speaking under the influence of God the Holy Spirit, said, We must obey God rather than men. May God give us the wisdom and the grace to discern when to speak and when to be silent. May He give us an increase of faith and boldness then to speak when He would have it so, and according to His promise, to put the words into our mouths that He would have us to speak. May our desire be to attract attention to Jesus Christ, and not to ourselves.

David Farmer, elder

Fellowship Bible Church

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