“I am the LORD, I have called you in righteousness, I have taken you by the hand and kept you; I have given you as a covenant to the people, a light to the nations.” (Isaiah 42:6)
As Lent gradually draws to a close, we are presented with the very significant events of the last moments our Lord Jesus spent on earth. A few days ago, we read about the raising of Lazarus from the dead. Jesus, who loved Lazarus as well as his sisters, Mary and Martha stayed behind when he was told of Lazarus’ illness. Jesus allowed a dear friend to die because He had a plan; a plan that would eventually bring glory to God. Mary and Martha must have felt betrayed when Lazarus died and Jesus failed to show up but in the end, they realized that God is like a loving mother who sometimes gives us bitter medicine to heal us. Today, Jesus was again in Bethany to celebrate what we would call ‘Thanksgiving.’ A great miracle had just happened, Lazarus is back to life. People come from all over the place to eat and drink to the new life of Lazarus.
Amongst this crowd were those who heard but wanted to see for themselves if it is true that Lazarus is alive again. In any celebration or gathering, there would always be different kinds of people, some who are genuinely happy with you and some who are wishing things were bad for you. There would be some who come just to eat and drink and some who come to transact business. There would be some who come to make new friends and some who come with very evil intention; to kill and destroy.
As her thanksgiving and to express her love, Mary brought out a pound of costly ointment of pure nard and anointed the feet of Jesus wiping his feet with her hair and the house was filled with the fragrance of the ointment. Is anything too much to offer to God? In giving thanks, we should not forget that God owns everything in this world and He cares more about the content of our heart than the content of our offering. God loves a “cheerful” giver not necessarily an “expensive” giver. The business-minded Judas Iscariot felt Mary was wasting the oil. He protested the thanksgiving not because he cared for the poor but because as John puts it: “he was a thief.” We are not who we say we are, we are what we do. To those who heard him, Judas was a philanthropist, a lover of the poor but in reality, he was just a thief. Greed makes us place money above God and when money becomes more important to us than God, we are ready to disobey God (and even sell God) because of money.
The chief priests who were at the Thanksgiving party started plotting how to kill Lazarus because, on account of him, Jesus was gaining more followers. This is what hatred does to us; it prevents us from thinking straight. Once we hate, we are ready to do anything to bring people down. They were supposed to be priests (holy people) yet they were plotting to kill someone who had just been raised from the dead just to get at Jesus. The same thing happens in business, in academics, in politics, in all walks of life. When we see others doing better than ourselves, instead of us to look inwards and try to correct our faults, we start plotting how to bring that person down. It is such a sad world. Let us pray: Lord Jesus, teach me to be content, to love and to appreciate those I consider to be better than me. As Isaiah says, may I be a light to the nations, not a hypocrite. Amen.
Bible Study: Isaiah 42:1-7, Psalm 27 and John 12:1-11)
There is Always a Last Chance to Repent
“So, after receiving the morsel, he immediately went out; and it was night. When he had gone out, Jesus said, ‘Now is the Son of man glorified, and in him God is glorified.’” (John 13:30-31)
One thing that is so clear from today’s Gospel passage is that God sees our hearts. Jesus said, “One of you will betray me.” Judas ought to have asked himself: “How did he know?” He did not realize this was his last chance. He joined in the chorus of denials. “Is it I, Master?” John tells us that as soon as Judas ate the morsel of bread, Satan entered him, meaning that his mind was made up. He had chosen money over God. The moment Judas walked out, Jesus knew exactly what would happen next. Instead of crying over the lashes, blows and insults, he decided to focus on the brighter side: “Now, the Son of Man is glorified and in him, God is glorified.” Jesus remained positive, he considered the glory that was awaiting Him. Jesus told His disciples that He was going somewhere but they could not come immediately. Peter began to boast: “I will lay down my life for you.” It was only after the cock crowed that Peter remembered what Jesus predicted.
Judas and Peter had the same problem; they were more concerned about what others were thinking. Judas would not own up to his planned betrayal, and Peter made a promise so that others will think good of him. Am I more concerned with pleasing God than pleasing people? God sees our hearts. Perhaps, I am planning to do something which I know very well is bad? There is always a last chance to repent, to reconsider and retrace your steps. Judas had his last chance but given his love for money, he couldn’t resist. They say, great battles are won by very small victories. Today may just be your last chance. Repent Now. Let us pray: Lord Jesus, teach me to re-write my destiny by making the right choices. Amen. Bible Study: Isaiah 49:1-6, Psalm 71 and John 13:21-38).