Last Things First: Three Ways Christ’s Birth Fulfills An End Times Prophecy

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The sun shall be no more your light by day, nor for brightness shall the moon give you light;
but the LORD will be your everlasting light, and your God will be your glory. 
20Your sun shall no more go down, nor your moon withdraw itself;
for the Lord will be your everlasting light, and your days of mourning shall be ended.
— Isaiah 60:19–20 —

In Revelation, one of the most intriguing and incredible promises in the book is the day that will have no end, when the Lord becomes the light of the world, and night is no more. You can find this in Revelation 21:22–27, or more concisely in Revelation 22:5,

And night will be no more. They will need no light of lamp or sun, for the Lord God will be their light, and they will reign forever and ever.

This culminating vision of a full and final union between God and his people is the goal of history and the purpose for which God created the world. Indeed, many are the connections between Genesis 1–2 and Revelation 21–22. Yet, Revelation is also picking up the promises of the Prophets, showing how God will unite Christ and the Church in a glorious end-times, cosmic temple. In particular, Isaiah 60:19–20 (quoted above) is in view when John records the fact that “the city has no need of sun or moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and its lamp is the Lamb” (Rev. 21:23).

This vision of the end times is speaking of the future and has no antecedent in history, right? Well, that’s what I want to consider. Clearly, every day still turns to night, there is much darkness in the world (both physical and moral), and the consummation of the kingdom has not come. At the same time, if we let Scripture interpret Scripture and we consider what Isaiah 60 means in its original and canonical contexts, we find that this enlightening chapter is not only fulfilled in Christ’s second coming. It is also fulfilled in his first.

Last Things First

In what follows, I want to show how Isaiah 60 is fulfilled in the birth of Christ. In other words, Isaiah 60 does not skip over the first coming of Christ in anticipation of his second, for in Isaiah’s day, there was only one coming of the messiah. Only after Christ came in humiliation to die for the sins of his people did it become apparent that there would be an inter-Advental period (i.e., a time between his first and second coming).

In theology, this “already-but-not-yet” structure to redemptive history is called “inaugurated eschatology.” It simply means that Christ has inaugurated his kingdom, but he has not consummated it. Revelation 21–22 speak of this consummation. Yet, we should not conclude that the application of Isaiah 60 to this end time event denies an earlier application or fulfillment.

In fact, as we read the birth stories of Christ, we discover at least seven ways that Isaiah 60 is fulfilled in the birth of Christ. And so, with hearts filled with joy in Christ’s birth, I want to show you how the last things promised in Isaiah 60 began when Christ first came to earth.

Three Ways the First Advent Fulfills Isaiah 60

To let the text lead, I will simply highlight a portion of Isaiah 60 and then show where it is fulfilled in the birth of Christ. Again, the goal is not to deny the later, greater fulfillment of Isaiah 60 in the new creation of Revelation 21–22, but it is to recognize the way that the new creation has already begun (cf. 2 Cor. 5:17). To that end, let’s consider three ways Isaiah 60 is fulfilled in the birth of Christ, and tomorrow I’ll add another four.

1. Light Has Come Into the World

In Isaiah 60:1–3, we find a testimony that God’s light has come into the world. Verse 1 announces, “Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord has risen upon you.” This is quickly followed in verse 2 by a contrast between the darkness of the world and the in-breaking light. Even more, verse 3 declares that “nations shall come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your rising.”

These verses promise a day when God will fulfill his purposes for Israel. In the Old Testament, the light of God was placed in Israel and the nations were supposed to come to that light. By means of Israel’s law and wisdom (Deut. 4:6), the kings of the nations would come to Zion like the Queen of the South came to Solomon (1 Kings 10). And here in Isaiah, the prophet promises a new light, a new Solomon, and new flood of nations.

Indeed, this idea has already been proclaimed in Isaiah 2, as the law would go out and the nations would come into Zion. At the same time, Isaiah 9:1–2 speak of Zebulun and Naphtali as tribes positioned in darkness who have seen a great light. In that context, there is the promise of a child from David’s line who will establish a righteous a kingdom (vv. 6–7). In the fullness of time, Isaiah 9:1–7 is fulfilled in the birth of Christ, and so is Isaiah 60:1–3. Jesus is the light of the world (John 8:12), and when he was born, his star shone in the heavens and the nations came to him (Matt. 2:2; cf. Num. 24:17).

In this way, Isaiah 60 does speak of the future arrival of God, his light, and his kingdom. But importantly, this arrival came in the birth of Christ and now continues to shine in the darkness, until this same Christ comes again.

2. Joy Has Erupted in the Darkness

If light has entered the darkness, then joy follows. And this is what Isaiah 60:4–5 indicate. Speaking to Zion, the city of God, who was previously barren and empty (Isa. 49:14), Isaiah reports a flood children coming home in verse 4 just as God promised in Isaiah 49:15–23 and 54:1–8. This homecoming is the source of joy, which is described in verse 5.

Then you shall see and be radiant; your heart shall thrill and exult, because the abundance of the sea shall be turned to you, the wealth of the nations shall come to you. (Isa. 60:5)

The idea of the “wealth of the nations” will be further developed in vv. 6–9, but let us not miss the value of the people themselves. Those who were in darkness, enslaved to idols, in bondage to wicked rulers, and those who were wicked themselves, these are the ones who are now coming to city of God, the place of their new birth. Because of the Servant’s sacrifice and the Spirit’s power, these children of God are coming and with them joy has come to Zion.

Such joy is repeated when we consider the joy of Christ’s first advent. Unlike Israel, we cannot say that our joy is only future. Rather, as Romans 14:17 tells us about the kingdom today, “It is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness and jpeace and joy in the Holy Spirit.” Indeed, Paul can command the people of God to rejoice in the Lord (Phil. 4:4), because the Lord is here. And he has been here in the flesh and now by the Spirit since that great day when Jesus was born in Bethlehem. As Matthew 2:10 reports, “When [the wise men] saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy.”

This exceeding joy is not a rhetorical flourish, it is a fulfillment of Isaiah 60. And we should not miss the connection. Jesus birth brought eschatological joy—a joy that death itself cannot steal, because the child born of Mary died and rose again to secure his people’s salvation and eternal joy.

3. Treasures Have Been Brought to the Temple

This truth is the one that launched this whole meditation—namely, the fact that wise men came bearing gifts of “gold and frankincense and myrrh” (Matt. 2:11). The first two elements are a direct connection to Isaiah 60:6. Listen to what it says.

A multitude of camels shall cover you, the young camels of Midian and Ephah; all those from Sheba shall come. They shall bring gold and frankincense, and shall bring good news, the praises of the Lord.

The third gift of myrrh is more enigmatic. Why is that included? As a perfume associated with burial, it could be a subtle indication that this king was born to die. Indeed, his work of salvation, which would include his sacrificial death, was already presented in Matthew 1:21. So that’s possible. But it’s also possible, and more fitting with the context of Isaiah 60, that the idea of frankincense is related to the temple.

As Craig Blomberg, following Davies and Allison, observes, there is in Matthew 2:11, “a possible Jesus/Solomon typology here . . . in part because gold and frankincense were firmly associated with the temple that Solomon built (1 Kings 10:2, 25; 1 Chron. 9:29; 2 Chron. 9:24; Neh. 13:5, 9)” (CNTUOT, 5). This seems to be going in the right direction, for not only does the temple theme reinforce a sacrificial reading of the gift, but it also fits Isaiah 60. As noted, the nations are flowing to a purified Zion, a place where God now dwells with his people. Even more, Isaiah 60 mentions the way their gifts will beautify the house of God and the sanctuary of the LORD (Isa. 60:7, 13).

In the New Testament, Jesus comes as the true temple (John 1:14), and he will replace the temple by bringing destruction on Jerusalem’s stone buildings (Matthew 24), and raising up a new temple in his body (John 2:19), in which he is the cornerstone (Eph. 2:19–22; cf. Matt. 16:18).

Restricting ourselves to Matthew 2, it is fitting to see the kings of the nations bypassing Herod and his temple (vv. 1–7), in order to bring gifts to Jesus (vv. 8–12). Indeed, if gold and myrrh were gifts given to Solomon and gold and frankincense were given to Zion, then their combination shows this truth: Jesus is the true temple. And true worshipers will seek God at his feet, not at the footstool in Jerusalem.

Such worship at God’s new creation temple does not need to wait until the second advent. Instead, this is a truth for us today. When the Son of God took on humanity, he became Immanuel, the place where God dwells with man and man with God. This was true for the wise men bringing gifts to Bethlehem instead of Jerusalem. And this is true today. We do not go to or look for a new temple to be built. Instead, when we gather with the living stones of Christ, we who are the Spirit-filled temple of God, are coming to Zion (see Heb. 12:22–24).

One day this temple, which is composed of new creation stones, will fill the earth. Until that day the light and the darkness will battle, joy will rise and fall, and earthly temples (i.e., churches) will live and die. Yet, the eternal hope remains—there is coming a day when the Christ who was born in Bethlehem, will bring Zion to earth. And we know this is true, not just because we have words that promise a future glory. We have the Word of God made fresh, as we see the glory dawning now. Jesus as the Word made flesh is raising dead flesh to life, and every place where the people of God gather to worship, they are bringing their gifts to God’s temple.

For today, these three points are enough. For together, they both show us how Isaiah 60 has been and is being fulfilled. Tomorrow, I’ll come back with four more as we wrap up this meditation. But for now, let us give thanks for the God who makes promises and keeps promises. At Christmas, it is good to remember that our hope for the future has already come. Jesus Christ is that hope. And what he has begun, he will complete until the final day.

Soli Deo Gloria, ds

Photo by Carlos Roberto Cu00f3rdova on Pexels.com

The Servant-King Who Brings Peace to Earth: An Advent Message on Isaiah 49–54

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But he was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities;
upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds we are healed.
­­– Isaiah 53:4–5 –

I heard the bells on Christmas Day / Their old, familiar carols play,
and wild and sweet / The words repeat / Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

And thought how, as the day had come, / The belfries of all Christendom
Had rolled along / The unbroken song / Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

Till ringing, singing on its way, The world revolved from night to day,
A voice, a chime, A chant sublime / Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

These are the opening words to Henry Wadsworth Longfellow famous Christmas song, “I Heard the Bells on Xmas Day.” You’ve probably heard it, but if not I’d recommend the version by Caroline Cobb + Sean Carter. At the same time, you may not know the story behind the song, but it’s worth the telling.

Continue reading

Faith, Hope, Love, and a True Savior: Four Questions of Life and Death (Isaiah 36–39)

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Faith, Hope, Love, and a True Savior: Four Questions of Life and Death (Isaiah 36–39)

In Isaiah, the middle of the book presents us with a series of questions: Will you trust God when you are under threat? Will you turn to God when your life is in peril? Will you see God’s discipline as an act of love? And who is the king that can save you?

Truly, the book of Isaiah is not only one that foretells the coming of the messiah. It is also one that calls us to trust in the God who promised to send his Son as our messiah. In the events of Hezekiah’s life, which take center stage in Isaiah 36–39, we find an example of how one man trusted God and then failed to trust God. Indeed, Isaiah 36–39 is both a living parable for believers and a series of historical events that moves the story along in Isaiah’s long book.

On Sunday I preached a sermon these four chapters, complete with a spiritual parable about squirrels. If you are looking to learn how to have faith, hope, and love in the midst of hard times, this sermon may serve you well. In looking at Hezekiah’s faith and folly, we learn how to trust God and how to look for the greater king to come, the son of David who is greater than Hezekiah, the greatest of Israel’s kings (2 Kgs. 18:5).

Indeed, during this advent season, we continue to walk through Isaiah’s Gospel in order to see God’s plan of salvation. And in God’s plan of salvation, we not only find the promise of a king who will save his people (Matt. 1:21). We also find instructions for how the people of God shall respond to this Savior-King. To that end, you can listen to this sermon on Isaiah 36–39 to see how God calls us to trust him even when it costs us. This handout on Isaiah 36–39 may also help you to see what is in the text.

Until next time, let us continue to proclaim Christ from all Scriptures in order to make disciples of all the nations.

Soli Deo Gloria, ds

Trust in the Lord, the Promises of God Incarnate (A Sermon on Isaiah 28–35)

Seed of the Woman 1024x1024With Thanksgiving behind us and Christmas Carols upon us, the holiday season is now here. And with the holidays comes the making of many lists.

Santa has his list. And I am sure many readers of this blog have theirs. Whether it is a list of things to get done for Christmas or a list of this to wrap up before the new year comes, lists are a part of life. And lists can be all sorts of things.

They can be harmful, if your list is filled with grudges. Or, they can be helpful, if they help you remember all that your need to do. And they can even be misunderstood, if they are intercepted and read out of context.

Recently, my daughter found a list of family names with corresponding items under each. Still learning how to read, she thought it was surely a list of Christmas presents. But actually, when examined, this list contained all the school work to be done before Christmas. Such are the ways of lists. They can help, but they can also mislead.

In fact, lists can have negative consequences when we read the Bible. If you haven’t noticed, Scripture is not written in list form. Oh, it has lists. The first eleven chapters of Genesis contain two of them; they are called genealogies. Likewise, throughout the Bible, you can find lists of names, places, treasures, and laws. In short, the Bible is not against lists; it’s just that, on the whole, the Bible is not a list.

Resultantly, when we grind the Bible into list form, as many sermon-makers are quick to do, we run the risk of missing its message. Even more, when we turn the Bible into lists, we often miss the Messiah!

That said, there are times when it is helpful to put the truths of Scripture in list form. Systematic theologies do that, as do many sermons. And though I think the listicle sermon often misses the shape of the text, there are times for it. And this Sunday was one of them.

After riding an airboat through Isaiah 1–12 and a helicopter over Isaiah 13–27, I offered a sermon with four encouraging truths from Isaiah 28–35. Without abandoning the literary structure of the text, I focused on the applications that came from these eight chapter. To find those applications of the gospel, you can listen to the sermon here. You can also find the literary structure of Isaiah 28-35 here.

So far, preaching Isaiah 1–35 has been a challenge, but it has been a happy challenge, as it has forced us to see how the whole book fits together and leads us to Christ. Truly, Isaiah is glorious book, so let’s keeping reading it. And as you do, I pray these sermons may help you as you read.

Soli Deo Gloria, ds

Salvation and Judgment From Zion to Zambia: An International Comedy (A Sermon on Isaiah 13–27)

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Salvation and Judgment From Zion to Zambia:
An International Comedy (Sermon Audio for Isaiah 13–27)

Sermon Handout: Isaiah 13-27 PDF Slides

Has the Bible ever made you mad? Have you ever stopped reading the Bible because you couldn’t understand it? Are there parts of the Bible that you have avoided because they are too difficult to comprehend? To each of these questions, I can offer an affirmative response, with illustrations to prove it.

For instance, a number of years ago Isaiah 13–27 was one of those places. Or rather, it was somewhere in Isaiah 13-19. Reading those chapters, with their endless judgments against ancient foreign powers, I got frustrated and put the Bible away. Looking for a word of encouragement, the endless oracles made no sense.  After all, what do Philistines and Moabites have to do with me? As it turns out, there are lots of ways that God’s judgment on these nations applies today (see Rom. 15:4; 2 Tim. 3:16-17), but it took some time to see it.

Fast forward two decades from the time I closed the book on Isaiah 13–19, and I can say that these chapters are some of the most exhilarating in the Bible. But such exhilaration requires learning how to read them on their own terms. And on Sunday, that’s what I attempted to do as I preached Isaiah 13–27.

Based on literary clues in the text, we find that Isaiah 13–27 is a single unit, broken into three main sections, maybe four (13-19 / 20 / 21-23 + 24-27). Accordingly, to hear the message of this section (1 of 7 in the book), requires listening to the whole thing. Just as understanding The Count of Monte Cristo requires reading beyond the imprisonment of Edmond Dantès, so too these chapters must be read from beginning to end—-just as the whole book of Isaiah must be read to understand its good news.

Indeed, while stretching for the preacher and the listener, I attempted on Sunday to show how this whole section hangs together and offers an international comedy. Moving from the bad news of God’s judgment on wicked nations to the good news of salvation offered to a remnant from all nations, I showed how these 15 chapters work together to bring us hope for a glorious future.

If you are interested in hearing how this all goes, I would encourage you to begin with last week’s sermon on Isaiah 1–12 here. (Don’t miss the Isaiah 1-12_Handout). And then with another set of Isaiah 13-27 notes in hand, you can listen to this week’s sermon on Isaiah 13–27 here. All told, it is my hope to preach Isaiah in 7 sermons. So stay tuned for an ongoing overview of this glorious book.

Soli Deo Gloria, ds

 Pressing Deeper into Isaiah 1–12: Seven Chiasms in Seven Sections

julia-kadel-YmULswIbc3I-unsplashIn so many ways, the book of Isaiah is like a set of Russian Stacking Dolls. You know, the ones pictured above that share the same shape but not the same size. Similarly, the book of Isaiah is composed of countless chiastic structures that fit within one another. Already, we have something of this in the way that the chiastic structure of Isaiah 1–12 anticipates the whole book.

Adding to this first post, I am going to focus in this post on the first twelve chapters themselves. And what we find in each section is a chiastic structure, which reveals the main point of each section. Again, what follows depends heavily on the exegetical work of David Dorsey (The Literary Structure of the Old Testament). In outline form, I will give a summary of each section, combined with a textual outline that is adapted is from Dorsey’s book (pp. 218–19). After putting forward this outline, I will draw our three interpretive conclusions that help us understand Isaiah and marvel at Isaiah’s God.

N.B. The following outlines should be understood as incomplete and written in pencil. In other words, you can find other plausible and helpful outlines from scholars like J. Alec Motyer. Exegetical outlines are always subordinate to the text of Scripture itself. But they are helpful, especially in larger books, because they help provide a grid for reading. To that end, I offer these seven chiastic structures. Continue reading

The Dramatic Arc of Isaiah 1–12: How Seeing Literary Structure Unveils the Glory of God

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“This is an unusual and fascinating book.”

One might think this commendation describes the Bible, or at least the book of Revelation. But in fact, these words come from Richard Averbeck’s endorsement of David Dorsey’s book about the Bible, The Literary Structure of the Old Testament (Baker, 1999). Indeed, his full endorsement reads as follows,

This is an unusual and fascinating book. It is the first comprehensive treatment of the inherent structure of the Old Testament books and its significance for understanding their meaning and message. Expositors will find it of inestimable value for looking at the books in a way that is true to the literary nature of the Old Testament itself and the theological significance of that structure. (From the back cover)

Dorsey’s book is unlike any other book I have read. For in 39 chapters—surely that was on purpose—he introduces his method (ch. 1–5), outlines every book in the Old Testament (ch. 6–38), and offers some final reflections (ch. 39). In all, his book provides students of Scripture with a comprehensive reading plan for seeing the literary structures of every book in the Old Testament. With careful attention to literary details, his book, though it came out in the year of Y2K fears, is not flight of fancy into Bible coding. Rather, it offers a well-argued case for reading Scripture on its own terms.

For readers of this blog, you know how much value this approach to Scripture. Following the persuasive argument of David Helm, I believe every inspired text has an inspired structure. Accordingly, the faithful reader (or preacher) must discern the “inherent structure” in the text, in order to uncover the meaning of the original author.

I have often shared the literary structures I have seen in the Scripture. And in our church, this care for literary structure is the starting place with our teachers. (For those with ears to hear, you know this is a shameless plug for Simeon Trust). Surely, getting the structure is not the end of our study, but it is a necessary step. Good exposition depends on rightly dividing the word of God, and discerning the biblical structures helps the disciple cut with and not against the grain of Scripture.

To that end, as I preach through Isaiah over the next few weeks, I will share some of Dorsey’s work. In doing so, I hope it will help those who are following our Advent Reading of Isaiah. And more, I hope it will persuade you to begin looking for these structures in Scripture. So, without any more prolegomena, let me offer an outline of Isaiah 1–12, which in turn prepares us for the whole book of Isaiah. Continue reading

The Story of Isaiah’s Immanuel: An Advent Reading Plan

pink pencil on open bible page and pink

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas. Or at least, the stores are beginning to roll out their Christmas wares. Merchants and suppliers are setting their sights on the holidays, and starting next week, we will too.

On Sunday, November 13, our church will begin a six week series on the book of Isaiah. You know, the one that is 66 chapters long and contains some of the most memorable verses in the Bible.

Isaiah 6:1–3. In the year that King Uzziah died I saw the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up; and the train of his robe filled the temple. Above him stood the seraphim. Each had six wings: with two he covered his face, and with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew. And one called to another and said: “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts; the whole earth is full of his glory!”

Isaiah 7:14.  Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign. Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.

Isaiah 9:6–7. For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and of peace there will be no end, on the throne of David and over his kingdom, to establish it and to uphold it with justice and with righteousness from this time forth and forevermore. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will do this.

If you are familiar with Isaiah, I suspect you are most familiar with parts and portions, famous passages and key persons—Uzziah dying (ch. 6), Hezekiah ailing (ch. 38), and the Suffering Servant saving (ch. 53). Until a few years ago, this is how I read Isaiah too. I knew the key theological passages and the Christmas verses. But I did not know the book of Isaiah or its overall message.

Accordingly, I didn’t understand why Isaiah has four birth narratives in Isaiah 7, 8, 9, 11 or  more than a dozen chapters dedicated to judging the nations (Isaiah 13–27). Moreover, I was aware of four servant songs in Isaiah 42, 49, 50, 53 which point to Christ (Acts 8), but I didn’t see how the four Spirit songs of Isaiah 60–62 also anticipated the Holy Spirit. Long story short, I had read Isaiah for years, but only in the last couple did the message begin to come together.

Seeing the message of Isaiah has been a glorious joy, as it tells the story of salvation and judgment, where God redeems a people immersed in sin, so that he can forever dwell with his redeemed on his holy mountain. That’s a simplified version of Isaiah’s message, and for the next six weeks, that’s what we are going to consider. Continue reading

The Ripple Effect of the Resurrection: How Resurrection Shockwaves Produce Unshakeable Faith (A Sermon on John 11:45–12:11)

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The Ripple Effect of the Resurrection: How Resurrection Shockwaves Produce Unshakeable Faith (A Sermon on John 11:45–12:11)

When Jesus died and rose again, rocks cracked open, tombs emptied, and creation shook. As Matthew reports it, there was an earthquake associated with Christ’s death and resurrection. And that earthquake not only shook creation, it also raised the dead. As Matthew 27:52 says,

The tombs also were opened. And many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised,  and coming out of the tombs after his resurrection they went into the holy city and appeared to many.

While this resurrection of the holy ones is mysterious, it shows the power of God to change the world  and to change a life. Death is not the final word to God, because God has the power to put death to death. And in Christ’s resurrection, this what he did and is still doing to those who he raises to life today (see Eph. 2:5)

Not surprisingly, when Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead, it also sent shockwaves into the world. First, it touched the lives of Mary, Martha, Lazarus, as well as those who saw Lazarus raised. Then quickly, news of Lazarus resurrection went viral. Just as God intended, Lazarus’s illness did not result in death  but in the glory of God (John 11:1–6).

Indeed, as God’s glory spread like a light over Jerusalem, it began shake the city. Jesus’s light began to give illumine believers and expose unbelievers. Just like the rest of Jesus’s ministry in John, news of this resurrection served to separate light from darkness and faith from unbelief. More exactly, Jesus’s seventh sign served as the climactic event that would lead to his death. Indeed, Lazarus’s resurrection had such a powerful effect  that everyone in Jerusalem was forced to take a side—Will you trust Jesus? Or will you reject him?

In fact, that’s the whole point of John’s Gospel and the point of the passage before us (John 11:45–12:11)—namely, to give us an unshakably faith by way of Christ’s resurrection shockwaves. Or to put it the other way round, the shockwaves of the resurrection produce unshakable faith.

Consider how this works: when we come to John 11:45 we are immediately confronted with the effects of Lazarus new life. In John 11:1–16 we have the set up for the resurrection of Lazarus. In John 11:17–44  we have the resurrection itself. And now in in John 11:45–12:11, we have the shockwaves of the resurrection.

As verses 45–46 indicate, these shockwaves do one of two things—they either produce faith or hostility. Notice the contrast here: “Many of the Jews therefore, 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.”

Already in John, we have seen this kind of separation. Jesus does something—e.g., he heals the sick or he feeds the 5,000—and people must make a decision. Will you believe on him, or not? And now, Jesus is at it again. Only now he has raised someone from the dead and has performed his seventh sign within ear shot of Jerusalem.

On Sunday this is what I preached, as I showed from John 11:45–12:11 how Christ’s power to raise the dead gives us a firm foundation on which to build our faith. You can listen to the sermon here. And you can see a bit more on the passage here.

As we remember the resurrection power of Christ, may we have confidence in him to secure us and save us even from all the deadly threats that surround us.

Soli Deo Gloria, ds