Read John 11:45-57.
I Want My Life To Count
I just finished watching a video of a David Platt teaching called Don’t Waste Your Life. At the beginning of this teaching Platt makes the statement: “I want my life to count.”
As I watched him say that, I thought to myself: “I want that. I want my life to count too.” If you’re reading this blog then you probably feel the same. Like me, when it’s all over, you long to hear the words from our Father in heaven: “Well done good and faithful servant.” That moment when you stand before your Maker, nothing in the universe will be more important to you than the look on His face and the words that He speaks.
While preparing for today’s blog post on the book of John I realized something. My life will count, and so will yours, no matter what we do, no matter how we live. If you want to know why, keep reading until the end. Because before we look at how your life will count, we’ll examine two reactions to Jesus, and the stubborn power of the status quo.
Two Reactions To Jesus
In our last post from the book of John we saw how Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead. Many of the Jews who had come with Mary and had seen what he did believed in him. But some of them went to the Pharisees and told them what Jesus had done.
Upon hearing the news, the chief priests and the Pharisees held a meeting of the Sanhedrin. Some of the religious leaders at this meeting said, “What are we going to do? This man performs many signs. If we let him continue like this everyone will believe in him, and the Romans will come and take away both our place and our nation.”
As an aside, I can’t help but comment here on something that stands out to me. We see it–or maybe I should say, we don’t see it–all through the gospel accounts. Jesus’ enemies never disputed that he performed miracles. Here we see, that in their meeting they talk about the many signs of Jesus openly. They acknowledge that he performs miracles. And they’re upset about it. I would hope their reaction would be one of humility and contrition: “Jesus raised a man from the dead. A man who was dead and in the tomb for four days. He must be who he says he is. We were wrong about him. God have mercy on us. We repent.”
But that wasn’t their reaction at all. Instead they were concerned that if everyone accepted Jesus as Messiah, then the Romans, who demanded there be no king but Caesar, would come down on Israel. And, they were concerned that they would lose their place. Some commentaries say this speaks of their holy place, the temple in Jerusalem. But others say it speaks of their place in society as the leaders of the Jewish religion. One thing is for sure, Jesus was a threat to the status quo. And these religious leaders had a stake in maintaining the status quo.
Then Caiaphas, who was the high priest at the time, speaks up in this meeting. He starts by saying, “You know nothing at all.” Not a great way to engender the good will of those around him, but then, the high priest position wasn’t given to the person with the greatest leadership potential At this time, it was assigned to the Pharisee or Sadducee who would pay the greatest amount of money to the Roman government. (Caiaphas happened to be a Sadducee.)
“You know nothing at all,” Caiaphas begins. Then he says, “You don’t understand that it’s better for you that one man should die for the people, not that the whole nation should perish.”
After this statement, we read in our passage that he didn’t say this of his own accord, but being the high priest, God used him to prophesy that Jesus would die for the nation, and not for the nation only, but also to gather into one, the children of God who are scattered abroad. I’m sure that at the time, Caiaphas had no idea he was uttering a prophesy.
From that day on, they made plans to kill him.
So Jesus no longer walked openly but stayed in a town near the wilderness with his disciples.
The Passover was about to begin and the Jews who were traveling into Jerusalem were looking for Jesus, wondering if he would come.
The chief priests and the Pharisees gave orders that if anyone knew Jesus’ whereabouts, they should report him so the Pharisees could apprehend him.
The Status Quo
A couple of thoughts. The first is about the power of the status quo. Even though the Pharisees recognized that Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead, they didn’t recognize Jesus as God’s Son the Messiah. They didn’t recognize his authority because of the power of the status quo. They wanted their lives to remain the same. They wanted control, to keep their circumstances familiar. But Jesus threatened all that.
Can I just ask you to be careful about the status quo in your own life? Stay in prayer. Stay in the Bible. Stay in church. Stay in close communication with your Father and be sensitive and open to changes he might make in your life. Don’t let the desire to maintain the status quo (a desire that’s in all of us) influence your decision making. Recognize Jesus as God’s Son the Messiah and as the Lord of the universe and as the Lord of your life. Strive to embrace what he brings your way. If you do, it will always work out better in the end anyway. In our text we see an example of this.
Do you remember when Jesus wept over Jerusalem? Do you remember why Jesus wept over Jerusalem? He wept for the people of Jerusalem because he was grieving over what they would endure–because they didn’t recognize who Jesus was. Would that you had known the things that make for peace, Jesus said as he wept. For the days will come upon you, when your enemies will surround you and tear you down to the ground. They will not leave one stone upon another, because you did not know the time of your visitation. (Luke 19:41-44)
The high priest thought that by killing Jesus, he could maintain the status quo. But his actions had the opposite effect. The Romans destroyed the nation of Israel in A.D. 70. Would that they had known the things that make for peace: recognizing and receiving their Messiah.
Your Life Will Count (One Way Or The Other)
A second thought is about how your life (and mine) will count, regardless of how we live. Caiaphas was not a good guy. He was more concerned with doing whatever it took to keep his position than he was about pleasing God, even if it meant killing Jesus. But I’m sure you noticed, God used him anyway.
That’s how God operates. He uses everything. God used Balaam the son of Beor, who was also not one of the good guys, to utter prophesies on his behalf–and he even used Balaam’s donkey. God used king Saul, who was not a good king, to utter prophecy.
God used Caiaphas to carry out his purpose.
God even used Judas.
So as C. S. Lewis once said,
“You will certainly carry out God’s purpose, however you act, but it makes a difference to you whether you serve like Judas or like John.”
Threat to the Status Quo image via -Curly- / Creative Commons