Possible lessons from the lockdown
Only God knows how we will emerge from this year of the virus.
But in a short break from the story of Lazarus, John shows us that there are lessons we can learn when faced with a threat. Even if we see it through the Pharisees eyes and that threat is Jesus!
John 11: 45-57
- We will not be the same, v45-48
It is possible that the Church will emerge quite different post-virus. It needs to.
“Therefore many of the Jews who had come to visit Mary, and had seen what Jesus did, believed in him. 46 But some of them went to the Pharisees and told them what Jesus had done. 47 Then the chief priests and the Pharisees called a meeting of the Sanhedrin. “What are we accomplishing?” they asked. “Here is this man performing many signs. 48 If we let him go on like this, everyone will believe in him, and then the Romans will come and take away both our temple and our nation.”
The Council meeting was about keeping things the same way. Antagonise the Romans with a Messiah and see a rise of terrorist followers and we have lost everything for they will clamp down on us. We must keep our positions.
I am writing almost daily to my Pastors at the moment to encourage them and last night I wrote of the changes that could possible take place:
“I think the church may emerge stronger in areas we were weak in and weaker in things we boasted in before the virus.
I think pastoral care will get a new lease of life.
I think the gospel will cost us less in cash but more in terms of commitment.
I think what intimidated us will no longer be important.
I think some will leave in the lockdown and there will be a repositioning of ministries and positions and God will dispense of a wineskin that we struggled to get rid of.”
- God was in the bad day, v49-51
One of the most moving testimonies is when the sufferer says that God was with them through their trial and trauma. How is that possible? How can God be in it and not make it better.
We often cannot see the good or God until much later.
“Then one of them, named Caiaphas, who was high priest that year, spoke up, “You know nothing at all! 50 You do not realize that it is better for you that one man die for the people than that the whole nation perish.” 51 He did not say this on his own, but as high priest that year he prophesied that Jesus would die for the Jewish nation …”
“It is better”
It is better that Jesus dies. It is better that the most horrible thing that could happen to a man happens to Jesus.
Who said that? Caiaphas, the High Priest. We might have known!
“He did not say this on his own.” It was a prophecy previously.
It was God saying it is better that we have this bad day.
This was not Romans 8 v 28 God making good from bad. This was God saying, it’s my idea.
The death of Jesus, God’s idea.
The bad day? We could possibly say later, much later perhaps, God was in that bad moment.
- There has to be a substitute, v51-53
“…but as high priest that year he prophesied that Jesus would die for the Jewish nation, 52 and not only for that nation but also for the scattered children of God, to bring them together and make them one. 53 So from that day on they plotted to take his life.”
The thought of the Council was this: we are going to die under the Romans, so let’s kill Jesus.
The thought of God was the same except they would die at the hands of God!
God substituted His Son for us on that cross.
God still desires to substitute His Church, the body of Christ for the world, on that cross. Take up your cross.
The Church wants to live and God wants the Church to die.
We have to come through this virus on our knees.
We have to give our all for Him and the world.
If we knew lockdown would happen in 3 weeks-time and we would never re-emerge, what would we say to our neighbours?
- We need to regroup, v54
“Therefore Jesus no longer moved about publicly among the people of Judea. Instead he withdrew to a region near the wilderness, to a village called Ephraim, where he stayed with his disciples.”
Jesus took refuge 30 km northeast of Jerusalem. It is in the hill country overlooking the desert wilderness.
John doesn’t tell us what he did there nor what was said to his disciples. They just went there as a group. Overlooking the wilderness. The wilderness which spoke to every Jew of the presence of God in a place where you least expect Him. Which spoke to every Jew of the Word of God, the Torah, the revelation of God, being birthed in the desert.
In the regrouping they were encouraged. And we need to regroup more and more. In fact during this season it will be all about small groups. Let us not let go of the power of the small group post-virus.
- We will understand the time, v55-57
There is a time for everything Solomon says.
“When it was almost time for the Jewish Passover, many went up from the country to Jerusalem for their ceremonial cleansing before the Passover. 56 They kept looking for Jesus, and as they stood in the temple courts they asked one another, “What do you think? Isn’t he coming to the festival at all?” 57 But the chief priests and the Pharisees had given orders that anyone who found out where Jesus was should report it so that they might arrest him.”
Right now we are not free to do what we want to do. All our calendar plans have been deleted. We were in control of the time, when things would happen and when they wouldn’t. Now the time controls us. Coming out of this experience we must understand the times we are living in.