The Gathering Storm

Note from JesusDear Disciple,

If you have been following along with My story in the gospels, you know that I am headed for Jerusalem. You also know that I am on a collision course with the Jewish and Roman leaders there. When I raised My friend Lazarus from the dead, all the attention I received intensified the whole situation.

Lazarus’ resurrection occurred very close to Jerusalem. The news of My miraculous sign spread quickly. As you read the verses below, notice all the different reactions to Me and My work. Before you pass judgment on any of the people who fit the following descriptions, try to place yourself in their situations and think through what you would do.You believe in Me and see Me raise Lazarus from the dead.You doubt Me, but can’t quite get Me and what I’m doing out of your head.You don’t believe in Me, so what are you going to do about the Lazarus incident?You are a Jewish religious leader trying to preserve Jerusalem, the Temple, and your role of importance in the whole political, social, and religious environment.You are a Roman leader expected by Caesar to keep the peace, and you keep hearing rumors about Me and My growing following.You are a gawker always looking for the next big thing to come along, and so you find yourself fascinated by all the rumors and crowds who gather around Me.After the resurrection of Lazarus, something was going to happen. My presence would no longer be something that could be overlooked. Lightning had just struck with the resurrection of Lazarus. The gathering storm would only intensify a few days later when I entered Jerusalem to the cries of “Hosanna”!

Yet in all the speculation, rancor, scheming, and questioning, Caiaphas spoke the Father’s truth. He uttered a statement in panic with murderous determination that on another level was God’s inspired truth:…it’s better for you that one man should die for the people so the whole nation won’t perish.And in case you missed the truth, John comments on it with these words:As high priest that year, Caiaphas prophesied (without knowing it) that Jesus would die on behalf of the entire nation, and not just for the children of Israel — He would die so all God’s children could be gathered from the four corners of the world into one people. In that moment, they [the Jewish leaders] cemented their intentions to have Jesus executed.So there you have it. Lazarus’ resurrection was the final straw that made the Jewish leaders determined to carry out their long-held desire to execute Me. My journey to the cross becomes even more definite because I raised a dead man back to life. My time had come according to the Father’s plan. My death was necessary from the viewpoint of the religious leaders who feared and hated Me. Those who hold Me as their enemy will have to work out the details, but My future, My purpose, and My trip to the cross are now in motion.

As we continue to share My journey to the cross over the next few days, notice:how I conduct Myself,what I say,with whom I spend my time,how I handle
– those who are determined to kill Me,
– those who cannot decide about Me,
– those who have put their faith in Me.Trials don’t develop character; they reveal it. Notice My character as I journey to the cross and give My life to redeem the world — and you — from the grip of sin and death.Verses to LiveI’m sure Martha and Mary had no idea how big a storm would follow the death of their brother Lazarus. They were grief-stricken. When I raised Lazarus from the dead, they were overjoyed. Little did they know how big a threat that their resurrected brother could be to the leaders of Jerusalem. These leaders weren’t content with killing Me; they felt they must kill Lazarus, too!Then, the man who was dead [Lazarus] walked out of his tomb bound from head to toe in a burial shroud.

Jesus:Untie him, and let him go.As a result, many of the Jews who had come with Mary saw what happened and believed in Him [Jesus]. But some went to the Pharisees to report what they witnessed Jesus doing. As a result of these reports — and on short notice — the chief priests and Pharisees called a meeting of the high council.

Pharisees:What are we going to do about this man? He is performing many miracles. If we don’t stop this now, every man, woman, and child will believe in Him. You know what will happen next? The Romans will think He’s mounting a revolution and will destroy our temple. It will be the end of our nation.Caiaphas, the High Priest That Year:You have no idea what you are talking about; what you don’t understand is that it’s better for you that one man should die for the people so the whole nation won’t perish.His speech was more than it seemed. As high priest that year, Caiaphas prophesied (without knowing it) that Jesus would die on behalf of the entire nation, and not just for the children of Israel — He would die so all God’s children could be gathered from the four corners of the world into one people. In that moment, they cemented their intentions to have Jesus executed.

From that day forward, Jesus refrained from walking publicly among the people in Judea. He withdrew to a small town known as Ephraim, a rural area near the wilderness, where He set up camp with His disciples.

The Passover was approaching, and Jews everywhere traveled to Jerusalem early so they could purify themselves and prepare for Passover. People were looking for Jesus, hoping to catch a glimpse of Him in the city. All the while, some Jews were discussing Him in the temple.

Some Jews:Do you think He will decide not to come to Jerusalem this year for the feast?In the midst of this confusion, the Pharisees and the chief priests ordered that if anyone knew the whereabouts of Jesus of Nazareth, it must be reported immediately so they could arrest Him.
(John 11:44-57)

The chief priests were secretly plotting Lazarus’s murder since, because of him, many Jews were leaving their teachings and believing in Jesus.
(John 12:10-11)Response in PrayerO Father, because I know the story of Jesus’ crucifixion, my heart is heavy with His impending rejection, ridicule, and crucifixion. Still I find it powerful that the Holy Spirit can use words said by Caiaphas out of a self-preserving hatred to speak about the powerful, worldwide implications of the death that Jesus is about to face and the resurrection that will prove that He is Lord of all. Speak to my heart in fresh and convicting ways as I journey with Jesus through His crucifixion and on to His resurrection, always knowing that He did what He did for every person in the world. In His name, I pray. Amen.’A Year with Jesus’ is written by Phil Ware. © 1998-2022, Heartlight, Inc. ‘A Year with Jesus’ is part of the Heartlight Network.All scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from The Voice™. © 2008 by Ecclesia Bible Society. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

The Gathering Storm
Source: Passion for Praise