Letters to the Prison - Week 131

Hello, everyone!  We’re so glad for the opportunity to consider God’s word with you.  We’re studying John 11.  If you need a Bible, ask for one!
Last week, after Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead (so almost-casually… “Lazarus, come out!”), we began to see that there were two responses to what Jesus did:
Belief… DUH.  Seriously.  Right?  Who wouldn’t believe that Jesus is exactly who he says he is after seeing him do something like that?
And yet…
• …some of [the people who saw what happened] went to the Pharisees and told them what Jesus had done. -John 11:46
And what follows is a meeting during which “they made plans to put [Jesus] to death” (John 11:47-53).  There is a lot to observe in this meeting that we’ll get to, but what’s really important to see right now is that no one is denying what Jesus did…  even the Pharisees at the meeting who might not have been eyewitnesses to see Lazarus come back to life.  There’s no debate about whether it actually really happened.  In fact, the big question at the meeting seems to be:
•“What are we to do? For this man performs many signs. -John 11:47
So, the “committee to determine what to do about Jesus” isn’t debating that he has “performed many signs.”  They can’t deny the proof Jesus has offered for the claims he’s made.  No, the problem seems to be:
•If we let him go on like this, everyone will believe in him, and the Romans will come and take away both our place and our nation.”-John 11:48
So, Jesus, claiming to be the Messiah… the Anointed One… Immanuel… God with us –and backing that claim up by raising the dead (along with countless other acts) poses a serious problem to the Pharisees gathered at this meeting.  It’s a problem of belief.  More specifically, everyone else’s belief.  Their own lack of belief is already fully evident in the nature of the debate itself… they’re acting on their unbelief already by trying to decide what to do with Jesus –other than follow and obey him… they can’t deny what he’s done… so, now the problem is how to silence Jesus before he convinces everyone to follow him.  
And look at what they are assuming in their unbelief:  Jesus might be able to feed thousands, cure the blind, heal the lame…  even raise the dead.  But surely, he's no match for the Romans who will “come and take away both our place and our nation” if everyone believes in Jesus as the Messiah and follows him as their Lord and Savior.  So, the unbelief doesn’t deny what Jesus has done…  it denies who he is.  Their answer to the Main Question (is Jesus who he says he is?) is, “NO.”  Therefore, according to the unbelievers at this meeting, Jesus must be silenced.  He must be killed.  So, rather than spontaneously attempting to stone him to death or push him off a cliff (which was already attempted a few times), the Jewish religious leaders were now actively plotting and planning to murder Jesus.  There’s more to say about this meeting.  Until next week!

Dean A.

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