20 May 2017 Bible Reading
In today’s reading from John 11, Jesus raises Lazarus from the dead. We also read the well known statement:
“I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die.”
As humans, we think that physical death is everything. People go to extraordinary lengths to avoid physical death. It is the thing we fear the most. Jesus teaches that physical death is not important. Believers may die and no longer live on Earth, but they do not die in the sense that matters most. Death is the gateway to further life and fellowship with God. The one who believes in Jesus has eternal life that transcends physical death. The challenging part is this:
“Do you believe this?”
Martha said she believed, but moments later did not believe Lazarus was alive as she resisted opening the tomb.
1 Samuel 26-28:25
26 The Ziphites came to Saul to Gibeah, saying, “Doesn’t David hide himself in the hill of Hachilah, which is before the desert?” 2 Then Saul arose, and went down to the wilderness of Ziph, having three thousand chosen men of Israel with him, to seek David in the wilderness of Ziph. 3 Saul encamped in the hill of Hachilah, which is before the desert, by the way. But David stayed in the wilderness, and he saw that Saul came after him into the wilderness. 4 David therefore sent out spies, and understood that Saul had certainly come. 5 Then David arose, and came to the place where Saul had encamped; and David saw the place where Saul lay, with Abner the son of Ner, the captain of his army. Saul lay within the place of the wagons, and the people were encamped around him.
6 Then David answered and said to Ahimelech the Hittite, and to Abishai the son of Zeruiah, brother of Joab, saying, “Who will go down with me to Saul to the camp?”
Abishai said, “I will go down with you.” 7 So David and Abishai came to the people by night: and, behold, Saul lay sleeping within the place of the wagons, with his spear stuck in the ground at his head; and Abner and the people lay around him. 8 Then Abishai said to David, “God has delivered up your enemy into your hand today. Now therefore please let me strike him with the spear to the earth at one stroke, and I will not strike him the second time.”
9 David said to Abishai, “Don’t destroy him; for who can stretch out his hand against Yahweh’s anointed, and be guiltless?” 10 David said, “As Yahweh lives, Yahweh will strike him; or his day shall come to die; or he shall go down into battle and perish. 11 Yahweh forbid that I should stretch out my hand against Yahweh’s anointed; but now please take the spear that is at his head, and the jar of water, and let us go.”
12 So David took the spear and the jar of water from Saul’s head; and they went away: and no man saw it, or knew it, nor did any awake; for they were all asleep, because a deep sleep from Yahweh was fallen on them. 13 Then David went over to the other side, and stood on the top of the mountain afar off; a great space being between them; 14 and David cried to the people, and to Abner the son of Ner, saying, “Don’t you answer, Abner?”
Then Abner answered, “Who are you who cries to the king?”
15 David said to Abner, “Aren’t you a man? Who is like you in Israel? Why then have you not kept watch over your lord, the king? For one of the people came in to destroy the king your lord. 16 This thing isn’t good that you have done. As Yahweh lives, you are worthy to die, because you have not kept watch over your lord, Yahweh’s anointed. Now see where the king’s spear is, and the jar of water that was at his head.”
17 Saul knew David’s voice, and said, “Is this your voice, my son David?”
David said, “It is my voice, my lord, O king.” 18 He said, “Why does my lord pursue his servant? For what have I done? What evil is in my hand? 19 Now therefore, please let my lord the king hear the words of his servant. If it is so that Yahweh has stirred you up against me, let him accept an offering. But if it is the children of men, they are cursed before Yahweh; for they have driven me out today that I shouldn’t cling to Yahweh’s inheritance, saying, ‘Go, serve other gods!’ 20 Now therefore, don’t let my blood fall to the earth away from the presence of Yahweh; for the king of Israel has come out to seek a flea, as when one hunts a partridge in the mountains.”
21 Then Saul said, “I have sinned. Return, my son David; for I will no more do you harm, because my life was precious in your eyes today. Behold, I have played the fool, and have erred exceedingly.”
22 David answered, “Behold the spear, O king! Then let one of the young men come over and get it. 23 Yahweh will render to every man his righteousness and his faithfulness; because Yahweh delivered you into my hand today, and I wouldn’t stretch out my hand against Yahweh’s anointed. 24 Behold, as your life was respected today in my eyes, so let my life be respected in Yahweh’s eyes, and let him deliver me out of all oppression.”
25 Then Saul said to David, “You are blessed, my son David. You will both do mightily, and will surely prevail.” So David went his way, and Saul returned to his place.
27 David said in his heart, “I will now perish one day by the hand of Saul. There is nothing better for me than that I should escape into the land of the Philistines; and Saul will despair of me, to seek me any more in all the borders of Israel. So shall I escape out of his hand.” 2 David arose, and passed over, he and the six hundred men who were with him, to Achish the son of Maoch, king of Gath. 3 David lived with Achish at Gath, he and his men, every man with his household, even David with his two wives, Ahinoam the Jezreelitess, and Abigail the Carmelitess, Nabal’s wife. 4 Saul was told that David had fled to Gath: and he sought no more again for him. 5 David said to Achish, “If now I have found favor in your eyes, let them give me a place in one of the cities in the country, that I may dwell there. For why should your servant dwell in the royal city with you?” 6 Then Achish gave him Ziklag that day: therefore Ziklag belongs to the kings of Judah to this day. 7 The number of the days that David lived in the country of the Philistines was a full year and four months. 8 David and his men went up and raided the Geshurites, the Girzites, and the Amalekites; for those were the inhabitants of the land, who were of old, on the way to Shur, even to the land of Egypt. 9 David struck the land, and saved no man or woman alive, and took away the sheep, the cattle, the donkeys, the camels, and the clothing. Then he returned, and came to Achish.
10 Achish said, “Against whom have you made a raid today?”
David said, “Against the South of Judah, against the South of the Jerahmeelites, and against the South of the Kenites.” 11 David saved neither man nor woman alive, to bring them to Gath, saying, “Lest they should tell about us, saying, ‘David did this, and this has been his way all the time he has lived in the country of the Philistines.’”
12 Achish believed David, saying, “He has made his people Israel utterly to abhor him. Therefore he will be my servant forever.”
28 In those days, the Philistines gathered their armies together for warfare, to fight with Israel. Achish said to David, “Know assuredly that you will go out with me in the army, you and your men.”
2 David said to Achish, “Therefore you will know what your servant can do.”
Achish said to David, “Therefore I will make you my bodyguard forever.”
3 Now Samuel was dead, and all Israel had mourned for him, and buried him in Ramah, even in his own city. Saul had put away those who had familiar spirits the wizards, out of the land. 4 The Philistines gathered themselves together, and came and encamped in Shunem; and Saul gathered all Israel together, and they encamped in Gilboa. 5 When Saul saw the army of the Philistines, he was afraid, and his heart trembled greatly. 6 When Saul inquired of Yahweh, Yahweh didn’t answer him by dreams, by Urim, or by prophets. 7 Then Saul said to his servants, “Seek for me a woman who has a familiar spirit, that I may go to her, and inquire of her.”
His servants said to him, “Behold, there is a woman who has a familiar spirit at Endor.”
8 Saul disguised himself and put on other clothing, and went, he and two men with him, and they came to the woman by night. Then he said, “Please consult for me by the familiar spirit, and bring me up whomever I shall name to you.”
9 The woman said to him, “Behold, you know what Saul has done, how he has cut off those who have familiar spirits, and the wizards, out of the land. Why then do you lay a snare for my life, to cause me to die?”
10 Saul swore to her by Yahweh, saying, “As Yahweh lives, no punishment will happen to you for this thing.”
11 Then the woman said, “Whom shall I bring up to you?”
He said, “Bring Samuel up for me.”
12 When the woman saw Samuel, she cried with a loud voice; and the woman spoke to Saul, saying, “Why have you deceived me? For you are Saul!”
13 The king said to her, “Don’t be afraid! What do you see?”
The woman said to Saul, “I see a god coming up out of the earth.”
14 He said to her, “What does he look like?”
She said, “An old man comes up. He is covered with a robe.” Saul perceived that it was Samuel, and he bowed with his face to the ground, and showed respect.
15 Samuel said to Saul, “Why have you disturbed me, to bring me up?”
Saul answered, “I am very distressed; for the Philistines make war against me, and God has departed from me, and answers me no more, by prophets, or by dreams. Therefore I have called you, that you may make known to me what I shall do.”
16 Samuel said, “Why then do you ask me, since Yahweh has departed from you and has become your adversary? 17 Yahweh has done to you as he spoke by me. Yahweh has torn the kingdom out of your hand, and given it to your neighbor, even to David. 18 Because you didn’t obey Yahweh’s voice, and didn’t execute his fierce wrath on Amalek, therefore Yahweh has done this thing to you today. 19 Moreover Yahweh will deliver Israel also with you into the hand of the Philistines; and tomorrow you and your sons will be with me. Yahweh will deliver the army of Israel also into the hand of the Philistines.”
20 Then Saul fell immediately his full length on the earth, and was terrified, because of Samuel’s words. There was no strength in him; for he had eaten no bread all the day or all the night.
21 The woman came to Saul, and saw that he was very troubled, and said to him, “Behold, your servant has listened to your voice, and I have put my life in my hand, and have listened to your words which you spoke to me. 22 Now therefore, please listen also to the voice of your servant, and let me set a morsel of bread before you. Eat, that you may have strength, when you go on your way.”
23 But he refused, and said, “I will not eat.” But his servants, together with the woman, constrained him; and he listened to their voice. So he arose from the earth and sat on the bed. 24 The woman had a fattened calf in the house. She hurried and killed it; and she took flour, and kneaded it, and baked unleavened bread of it. 25 She brought it before Saul, and before his servants; and they ate. Then they rose up, and went away that night.
11 Now a certain man was sick, Lazarus from Bethany, of the village of Mary and her sister, Martha. 2 It was that Mary who had anointed the Lord with ointment, and wiped his feet with her hair, whose brother, Lazarus, was sick. 3 The sisters therefore sent to him, saying, “Lord, behold, he for whom you have great affection is sick.” 4 But when Jesus heard it, he said, “This sickness is not to death, but for the glory of God, that God’s Son may be glorified by it.” 5 Now Jesus loved Martha, and her sister, and Lazarus. 6 When therefore he heard that he was sick, he stayed two days in the place where he was. 7 Then after this he said to the disciples, “Let’s go into Judea again.”
8 The disciples told him, “Rabbi, the Jews were just trying to stone you, and are you going there again?”
9 Jesus answered, “Aren’t there twelve hours of daylight? If a man walks in the day, he doesn’t stumble, because he sees the light of this world. 10 But if a man walks in the night, he stumbles, because the light isn’t in him.” 11 He said these things, and after that, he said to them, “Our friend, Lazarus, has fallen asleep, but I am going so that I may awake him out of sleep.”
12 The disciples therefore said, “Lord, if he has fallen asleep, he will recover.”
13 Now Jesus had spoken of his death, but they thought that he spoke of taking rest in sleep. 14 So Jesus said to them plainly then, “Lazarus is dead. 15 I am glad for your sakes that I was not there, so that you may believe. Nevertheless, let’s go to him.”
16 Thomas therefore, who is called Didymus, said to his fellow disciples, “Let’s go also, that we may die with him.”
17 So when Jesus came, he found that he had been in the tomb four days already. 18 Now Bethany was near Jerusalem, about fifteen stadia away. 19 Many of the Jews had joined the women around Martha and Mary, to console them concerning their brother. 20 Then when Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went and met him, but Mary stayed in the house. 21 Therefore Martha said to Jesus, “Lord, if you would have been here, my brother wouldn’t have died. 22 Even now I know that, whatever you ask of God, God will give you.” 23 Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise again.”
24 Martha said to him, “I know that he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day.”
25 Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will still live, even if he dies. 26 Whoever lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?”
27 She said to him, “Yes, Lord. I have come to believe that you are the Christ, God’s Son, he who comes into the world.”
28 When she had said this, she went away, and called Mary, her sister, secretly, saying, “The Teacher is here, and is calling you.”
29 When she heard this, she arose quickly, and went to him. 30 Now Jesus had not yet come into the village, but was in the place where Martha met him. 31 Then the Jews who were with her in the house, and were consoling her, when they saw Mary, that she rose up quickly and went out, followed her, saying, “She is going to the tomb to weep there.” 32 Therefore when Mary came to where Jesus was, and saw him, she fell down at his feet, saying to him, “Lord, if you would have been here, my brother wouldn’t have died.”
33 When Jesus therefore saw her weeping, and the Jews weeping who came with her, he groaned in the spirit, and was troubled, 34 and said, “Where have you laid him?”
They told him, “Lord, come and see.”
35 Jesus wept.
36 The Jews therefore said, “See how much affection he had for him!” 37 Some of them said, “Couldn’t this man, who opened the eyes of him who was blind, have also kept this man from dying?”
38 Jesus therefore, again groaning in himself, came to the tomb. Now it was a cave, and a stone lay against it. 39 Jesus said, “Take away the stone.”
Martha, the sister of him who was dead, said to him, “Lord, by this time there is a stench, for he has been dead four days.”
40 Jesus said to her, “Didn’t I tell you that if you believed, you would see God’s glory?”
41 So they took away the stone from the place where the dead man was lying.[c] Jesus lifted up his eyes, and said, “Father, I thank you that you listened to me. 42 I know that you always listen to me, but because of the multitude that stands around I said this, that they may believe that you sent me.” 43 When he had said this, he cried with a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out!”
44 He who was dead came out, bound hand and foot with wrappings, and his face was wrapped around with a cloth.
Jesus said to them, “Free him, and let him go.”
45 Therefore many of the Jews, who came to Mary and saw what Jesus did, believed in him. 46 But some of them went away to the Pharisees, and told them the things which Jesus had done. 47 The chief priests therefore and the Pharisees gathered a council, and said, “What are we doing? For this man does many signs. 48 If we leave him alone like this, everyone will believe in him, and the Romans will come and take away both our place and our nation.”
49 But a certain one of them, Caiaphas, being high priest that year, said to them, “You know nothing at all, 50 nor do you consider that it is advantageous for us that one man should die for the people, and that the whole nation not perish.” 51 Now he didn’t say this of himself, but being high priest that year, he prophesied that Jesus would die for the nation, 52 and not for the nation only, but that he might also gather together into one the children of God who are scattered abroad. 53 So from that day forward they took counsel that they might put him to death.
117 Praise Yahweh, all you nations!
Extol him, all you peoples!
2 For his loving kindness is great toward us.
Yahweh’s faithfulness endures forever.
22 Where there is no counsel, plans fail;
but in a multitude of counselors they are established.
23 Joy comes to a man with the reply of his mouth.
How good is a word at the right time!