126. Jesus wept. -John 11:35 Context: John 11:32-34
Jesus wept. The Creator of life wept as He considered the death of His friend Lazarus. Think of it: The One who one day will wipe away our tears (Rev. 21:4) has Himself shed tears! In this study we have been considering both the explicit commands of Jesus and the implicit commands of Jesus. Explicit commands are direct commands like Matthew 6:20, “Lay up for yourselves treasures in Heaven.” Implicit commands include the things He modeled for us that we also want to live out in our lives. Jesus wept, and we are called to weep also. Behind Jesus’ tears was His great love and compassion. He wept because of the consequences sin has on individuals, families, neighborhoods, schools, cities, and nations. If Adam and Eve had never sinned, death would never have come into the world. There are days coming when there will be no tears, and the joy of the Lord is to be a present reality for those of us who are saved. But blessed are they who mourn, for they will be comforted (Matthew 5:24). Jesus wept is the shortest verse in the Bible, but has one of the largest meanings! Our God cares about each and every one of us. The very next verse shows that many saw Jesus tears and said, “See how He loved him!” Their hearts were open to what Jesus did and said next because of His tears. Maybe if we enter into the pain of a lost world more than we do, and take time to weep with those who weep, maybe people will listen to us more when we talk to them about Jesus!
127. “And shall God not avenge His own elect who cry out day and night to Him, though He bears long with them? I tell you that He will avenge them speedily. Nevertheless, when the Son of Man comes, will He really find faith on the earth?” -Luke 18:7-8 Context: Luke 18:1-8
Jesus spoke these words after telling the parable of the persistent widow. He speaks of a judge who doesn’t really care about the needs of a woman, but because she is wearing him out with her persistent pleas for justice, the judge gives in and grants her request! Many of us in authority can relate to having someone do this to us, like a child will do with their parents. What makes the story understandable is that we can relate to the irritation of the judge and his desire to get the woman out of his face. But the way Jesus tells the story and makes the above statements, He actually seems to be encouraging us to cry out to God day and night. Some people don’t pray because they don’t want to bother God with their problems. Jesus here says, “Bring it on! If an unjust, unloving judge will grant the request of an old woman to get her off his case, how much more will a just and loving God hear and grant the persistent prayers of those who love Him!” Don’t lose heart, brothers and sisters! The God who loves us and wants us to cry out to Him will answer our prayers ‘yes,’ ‘no,’ or ‘wait’ for His glory and our good! Whenever our loving Father says ‘no’ or ‘wait’ it is for a greater yes in His perfect timing. But He also has a challenge for us: When Jesus returns, will He find you expressing faith and trust in Him, or will He find you trying to solve all of your problems on your own, living as if you were really an Atheist with no belief in God?
128. Also He spoke this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and despised others: “Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, ‘God, I thank You that I am not like other men – extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this tax collector. I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all I possess.’ But the tax collector, standing afar off, would not so much as raise his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me, a sinner!’ I tell you this man went down to his house justified rather than the other; for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.” -Luke 18:1-8
God is not impressed at all with self-righteousness. He is impressed when sinners humbly acknowledge how much they need Him and turn to Him alone for salvation. As James said, “Humble yourselves in the sigh of the Lord, and He will lift you up!” Two men came to church that day who were lost sinners before a holy God. One of them did many religious things, the other did not. Unfortunately, the man made the same mistake many in churches make today. He was trusting in the religious things He did to make him right with God. Naturally, he felt entitled to judge the other guy who did not do those religious things. His faith was really in himself as a good person, a better person than others. Surely God was impressed with him! The tax collector had no such pretense. He knew he was a lost sinner before a holy God, and simply cried out in faith for God to save Him, and God did! Romans 5:1 says “Having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” Romans 4:5 says, “But to him who does not work but believes on Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is accounted for righteousness.” Justification comes through faith alone in Christ alone, not our works before or after salvation. A person who is thus saved will do good works for Jesus going forward, but they know forever that those good works are the fruit, not the root, of their justification! Those who truly understand that do not maintain a judgmental attitude toward other sinners. They know and understand that if God can save them, He can save anybody. The godliest people you ever meet are the most aware of their own sinfulness, and the Lord’s graciousness in saving them. They don’t compare themselves to others any longer, but to the Holy God who had them dead to rights as sinners, yet gave them eternal salvation in Christ!
129. Then Jesus, looking at him, loved him, and said to him, “One thing you lack: Go your way, sell whatever you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in Heaven; and come, take up the cross, and follow Me.” But he was sad at this word, and went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions. -Mark 10:21-22 Context: Mark 10:17-22
This encounter started with a wealthy young man running up to Jesus and saying “Good Teacher, what shall I do that I may inherit eternal life?” Later when a sinner under the conviction of the Holy Spirit asked Paul and Silas that question, they said, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved (Acts 16:31).” As a preacher I love it when a sinner has come to know their need for salvation and I get to help them turn to Jesus! But Jesus has an advantage on human evangelists: Jesus is God and knows all things. Jesus knew this particular man was looking for eternal life in the future without changing his earthly priorities now. Jesus knew the man was willing to give partial focus to religious things, such as obeying the second half of the Ten Commandments, the parts about doing right by your fellow man. But Jesus also knew the man was not willing to love God with his whole heart, an undivided heart, because of his love for his possessions. The first part of the Ten Commands call for loving God with your whole, undivided heart and saying no to the worship of other things. Simply stated, what we worship is what we ascribe worth to. Like the man that day, many of us love and worship our stuff instead of God, which is idolatry. For the man to be truly saved, he had to go from viewing himself as the owner of his stuff to viewing himself as a steward of God’s stuff. In other words, he had to turn to Jesus not only as Savior, but also as the Lord, or Boss, of his life. Many people reading this need to do the exact same thing. Romans 10:9 says “if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.” Saying “Jesus is Lord” means nothing if you don’t intend to follow Him in all areas of your life. What the man didn’t know that day is that Jesus often turns right around to the one who surrenders all to Him and places them back in charge of those things or even greater things. He did that for me and soccer. I had played soccer for my own glory instead of His, and He demanded I give it up. It was heart-wrenching, but I did. Later He gave it back to me, and playing and coaching for His glory brought more joy into my life than had ever come when it competed with Jesus for my worship. It’s hard to imagine the freedom we find, from the things that we leave behind!
130. Then Peter began to say to Him, “See, we have left all and followed You.” So Jesus answered and said, “Assuredly, I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or father or mother or wife or children or lands, for My sake and the gospel’s, who shall not receive a hundredfold now in this time -houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and lands, with persecutions – but in the age to come, eternal life. But many who are first will be last, and the last first.” -Mark 10:28-31
Notice the contrast with the passage before. The wealthy young man from the last passage will have treasure in this life but not in the next. Meanwhile, those who let Jesus be their Lord in this life and have used ‘their’ possessions for His glory will have treasures in Heaven. Even when their home life is hard because they believe and other family members don’t they are not alone - they have received hundreds of new spiritual family members in churches who will encourage them in their Christian walk. The leaving houses and families here does not mean a believing person can leave their unbelieving spouse or children (see I Corinthians 7:10-16). If we don’t fulfill our family responsibilities, we actually have denied the faith (I Timothy 5:8). What Jesus is referring to applies to many things, like when a believer is forced to leave their house by unbelieving relatives, which often happens around the world. It also refers to times a Christian answers a call to missions elsewhere, and is chastised for it by relatives, which unfortunately even happens from churchgoing relatives. This life is so short compared to eternity, and God will honor forever those decisions made with eternity in mind!