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young man praying October 26 Chronological Bible Study

Timeline. Map. Go to today’s Bible reading (NIV) or alternate versions (use your browser arrow to return): John 10:22-11:45

Believe

In order for us to believe in people, they have to prove themselves in some way. Their character has to be consistent with their words–they have to be able to do what they say or promise. Does this always lead to belief? No. Impossible situations make it hard to believe a person can do what he says he can do. Jealousy can also keep us from believing in a person, even if that person deserves our trust and has done nothing to violate it. We can believe who Jesus says he is because of his works and who he is.

In today's Bible reading many Jews, despite the miracles, still do not believe in Jesus. Once, late in his earthly ministry,

Jesus was in the temple area walking in Solomon's Colonnade. The Jews gathered around him, saying, “How long will you keep us in suspense? If you are the Christ, tell us plainly.”

Jesus answered, “I did tell you, but you do not believe. The miracles I do in my Father's name speak for me, but you do not believe because you are not my sheep [my followers]. My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one can snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father's hand. I and the Father are one,” (John10:22-30, NIV).

At this declaration the Jews take up stones to stone him, for to claim to have God as your father is a claim to be God’s Son and therefore to have the same nature as the one and only Almighty God. This is considered a blasphemous statement worthy of death by stoning. Even though his words and deeds are consistent with the Scripture prophecies made about the coming Messiah (the chosen one of God), they do not believe. They try to seize him, but somehow Jesus escapes their grasp. (more information about the triune nature of God can be found in this topical study)

Lazarus, Mary, and Martha are friends of Jesus. They believe in him. Lazarus, however, becomes deathly ill. Jesus assures them that this sickness will not end in death. This message sent back to Mary and Martha is probably a great comfort to them. Yet Jesus delays coming. Why?

Jesus is a marked man–the Jews and Pharisees are plotting to kill him. If he is avoiding persecution, this is a good enough reason for him and his disciples to avoid Jerusalem. Imagine the shock, therefore, when four days after sending the message to Mary and Martha, he tells them he wants to return to Jerusalem. Why would he want to do that? Why walk right into a trap? At last, Jesus explains himself, saying Lazarus is dead and he is going to wake him up; i.e., he is going to resurrect him. “And I am glad for your sakes that I was not there, to the intent ye may believe; nevertheless let us go unto him,” (John 11:15, NIV). Bethany, where Lazarus lies, is just a short distance from Jerusalem. God’s ways are not our ways–his ways are much better.

To Mary and Martha it seems Jesus does not care and he lied to them. While Jesus delays coming to them, Lazarus dies, and Jesus does not even make it to the funeral. This is very hurtful. Now they hear Jesus is coming. Mary and Martha likely think, “Why couldn’t he be here before? Now it is too late to do anything.” Jesus’ reputation as a caring friend is certainly in question. When Martha sees the Lord, she expresses her disappointment, but she is still willing to believe in her friend.

“Lord,” Martha said to Jesus, “if you had been here, my brother would not have died. But I know that even now God will give you whatever you ask.”

Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise again.”

Martha answered, “I know he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day.”

Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?”

“Yes, Lord,” she told him, “I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, who was to come into the world.” (John 11:21-27, NIV).

Do you believe Jesus is the unique, chosen one of God, who came into this world to save sinners? He offers forgiveness, peace, and spiritual life (more...). It gives pleasure and glory to God to answer even impossible prayers of those who believe in him and seek his will.

Jesus then proves himself worthy of their trust. He tells them that if they believe they will see the glory of God. After removing the stone, he calls out to God and raises Lazarus to the joy and amazement of everyone watching, even the religious leaders who oppose him. Many Jews who see the miracle believe in Jesus.

Do you need to see Jesus do a miracle to believe? We have many eyewitnesses recorded in the Word of God, the Bible. Jesus tells one of his disciples after his resurrection, who has the dubious distinction of being called “doubting Thomas”,

“Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” Jesus did many other miraculous signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not recorded in this book. But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name. (John 20:29-31NIV).

In addition to God's Word, we can see the power of God's saving grace when we see him change lives, and we can witness answers to prayer. Jesus may seem to show up late, but he proves himself worthy of our trust.

Lessons to Live By

  • Jesus’ words and deeds are consistent with the prophecies made about him, so we can believe him.
  • God’s ways are not our ways; we might even experience pain and loss, but God's ways are best.
  • God offers us forgiveness, peace, and spiritual life (more...).
  • It gives pleasure and glory to God to answer even impossible prayers of those who believe in him and seek his will.

Today’s Bible Memory Verses

John 11:25-26 “Jesus said to her, ‘I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?’" (NIV)

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