The call to Lazarus

The call to Lazarus

John 11 v43-44 “Jesus called in a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out!” The dead man came out, his hands and feet wrapped with strips of linen, and a cloth around his face. Jesus said to them, “Take off the grave clothes and let him go.”

Last night we heard the news about further containment that is needed to help stop the spread of this virus.

A few hours previously I was discussing with one of my Pastors how many people would be permitted at a wedding that was being held this Saturday. The difficulty of having to reduce a wedding party from 50 to a handful was painful but not as much as knowing that it will now not be able to take place at all.

During this season we are buoyed by the funny jokes and pictures posting on social media. I saw a picture of 2 people wrapped head to toe in toilet roll the other day. Not sure what the caption was but as I think of Lazarus this morning that picture comes to mind!

We are in lockdown and Churches are rapidly adjusting to a new way of life. But thankfully we are not underground and even during this season God will continue to do great things. One of our Pastors from a small church wrote, “So we did livestream yesterday like everyone else and a young lady that has been to the church a few times with her boyfriend gave her life to Jesus afterwards when she was chatting with one of the people who comes to church online via messenger!”

Even in lockdown people can be set free!

We know we will at some point hear the wonderful call to come out of our homes and gather together again. To socially get near and not be distant. Those gatherings whether with friends, groups or larger gatherings will be special. Can you imagine taking communion together again?

How the Church emerges from this will be interesting to see. I’ve privately speculated, some are prophesying, but I wouldn’t want to call it just yet. It all depends what happens to us in lockdown.

But the call will come, “Come out!”

A call that has been stolen from the Church to announce someone’s secret but now new public identity. We need that phrase back. We need to use it more without worrying of any connotations.

Lazarus was not carried out. He had to take responsibility. He somehow got up still tightly wrapped in the grave clothes and came out of the grave and was standing there at the edge of the tomb.

You can be contained for so long that you have learnt a certain behaviour and moving forward becomes very difficult indeed.

At some point you have to take a risk and leave that what held you.

Lazarus was in the present but he was hindered by what had happened in the past.

The real Lazarus could not be seen.

Ever since Adam hid in the garden, God has been calling “where are you?”

God knew where Adam and Ever were but He wanted them to acknowledge where they were and why.

Come out!

Where are the next mighty men and women of God? Where are the next generation of believers?

They are not in the pews.

They are trapped behind the pain of unresolved issues, bitter break-ups and rubbish decisions.

They are trapped behind the empty symbols of worldly success.

They are trapped in dungeons of unforgiveness and can find no release.

They are in lockdown. In prisons of despair. They need to hear a call from a friend, “Come out!”

The Lord has anointed us to go to the broken-hearted and heal their wounds freeing them from their pain, to proclaim freedom for those within the prisons of life. To call out those in the grip of darkness and to comfort all that mourn.

That’s our call. To go. It won’t change this side of heaven.

Let’s get calling even now and get prepared for when lockdown is over to go and call like never before. This virus has contained us but Jesus will free us from a greater containment.

 

Frontline workers risk contamination

Frontline workers risk contamination

John 11 v43-44 “When he had said this, Jesus called in a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out!” 44 The dead man came out, his hands and feet wrapped with strips of linen, and a cloth around his face. Jesus said to them, “Take off the grave clothes and let him go.”

Recently I met a few people who have been trapped behind grave clothes for many years. I only had a short time with them and I wasn’t able to do a great deal but before we said goodbye one of them thanked me for helping them deal with some past issues.

The love of Jesus is still drawing men and women from their graves of pain every single day.

Today our brilliant frontline workers are going to work risking themselves being contaminated. We all know so many of these workers who simply keep going because it is the right thing to do.

Lazarus is a risk to the Church from the grave clothes, death, decay and contamination.

I pray the Church will learn from what the frontline workers are demonstrating and take up the responsibility to help those who have been in dungeons of despair.

Yesterday for the first time church buildings were locked down because of the contamination. I was in one building getting ready for a live stream service and I looked out at the empty chairs and wondered who would normally sit in that row, in that chair. We will come back to a gathered worship service and when we do we will be really grateful for them. We won’t mind the technical glitches, we won’t mind if the band was too loud or whether they played our favourite song, just being together will be worth everything.

However, the frontline workers teach us that we are not in our buildings to warm seats and fill pews. We are there to be equipped to then selflessly lay our hands on death clothing and say, “We are going to unravel your nightmares. We are going to stand with you and untie the bondages of hurt and anger, lust and abuse, pain and bitterness. You are not going back into that grave!”

There is a greater contamination than the corona virus and God has a frontline army, the Church and the call is still the same and that is to take off the grave clothes.

We need to risk being contaminated more.

Dave, the stone and Jesus.

Dave, the stone and Jesus.

John 11 v 38-42 “Jesus, once more deeply moved, came to the tomb. It was a cave with a stone laid across the entrance. “Take away the stone,” he said.”

Nobody had ever said such a thing.

It was unacceptable.

The power in Jesus to command it was the same power that would roll the stone away when he was behind it.

That stone says: You will never do anything again. You will never recover. You will always remember what you once had is gone.

Jesus said, ‘Take it away’.

“But, Lord,” said Martha, the sister of the dead man, “by this time there is a bad odour, for he has been there four days.” 40 Then Jesus said, “Did I not tell you that if you believe, you will see the glory of God?” 41 So they took away the stone. Then Jesus looked up and said, “Father, I thank you that you have heard me. 42 I knew that you always hear me, but I said this for the benefit of the people standing here, that they may believe that you sent me.”

Removing the stone was for the purpose that the people may believe in who he is, the Messiah, the sent One.

This of course furthered the desire of his opponents wanting rid of him.

It’s amazing how your belief in another’s resurrection can lead to the attack on your own life.

It’s not unusual for people to hold to some sort of life after death.

But the offence comes when Jesus is involved.

To think that it is Jesus who commands the stone to be taken away; that it is Jesus who brings people from their death into eternal life; to think that Jesus rose again, well this is just offensive to some.

When the Apostle Paul said, ““It is concerning the resurrection of the dead that I am on trial before you today.”’ (Acts 24:21) it was because of his belief in Jesus.

It is what unites and divides. It isn’t the stone, it is Jesus.

This one thing, the resurrection of Jesus, is not only the foundation of our faith but the true essence and meaning for our faith.

Why so?

If Jesus Christ was not raised then he lied about his own resurrection (Mark 9:31).

If Jesus Christ was not raised then the cross has no power to save (1 Corinthians 15:3).

If Jesus Christ was not raised then God who raises the dead has not vindicated him (1 Corinthians 15:20).

If Jesus Christ was not raised then sin and death cannot be defeated (1 Corinthians 15:55-57).

If Jesus Christ was not raised then there is no new life in God now (Romans 6:4).

And even more importantly as we face a new chapter of life without our loved one:

If Jesus Christ was not raised then there is no hope that anyone be raised (1 Corinthians 15:18-19).

“Take away the stone” and “that they may believe that you sent me” are linked.

Take away the stone and roll away the stone are linked.

The resurrection of Lazarus and the resurrection of Jesus are linked.

Dave Ayling is resurrected and alive and in his eternal home today only because Jesus raised him to new life and brought him to that place.

Dave the stone and Jesus.

I was buried beneath my shame; Who could carry that kind of weight?

It was my tomb; ‘Til I met You

I was breathing, but not alive; All my failures I tried to hide

It was my tomb; ‘Til I met You

You called my name; Then I ran out of that grave; Out of the darkness

Into Your glorious day; You called my name; And I ran out of that grave;

Out of the darkness; Into Your glorious day.

 

A few days ago, Jesus commanded the stone of death to be removed and Dave went running to Jesus. It will happen to us too. We all go the same way. But whether that stone is removed is dependent on whether you believe on Jesus being the One who was sent to make all this possible.

The tears of God drove Him to tear the sting out of death!!

The tears of God drove Him to tear the sting out of death!!

John 11 v33-37

When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come along with her also weeping, he was deeply moved in spirit and troubled. 34 “Where have you laid him?” he asked. “Come and see, Lord,” they replied. 35 Jesus wept. 36 Then the Jews said, “See how he loved him!” 37 But some of them said, “Could not he who opened the eyes of the blind man have kept this man from dying?”

 

Jesus wasn’t deeply moved in spirit and troubled when he heard that Lazarus had got sick.

When he arrived into Bethany and found out that Lazarus had already died, Jesus didn’t weep.

When Martha expressed her desire that Jesus would have got there sooner he didn’t seem phased by that.

Jesus wasn’t weeping because he loved Lazarus as the onlookers thought. Nor was he weeping because he had failed to keep him alive as the critics (who are never far away) claimed.

Here is his friend, Mary, at his feet in total surrender to the situation, weeping.

Surrounding her are her friends, supporting her, weeping with her.

Their cry move him deeply and he becomes troubled which can also be translated as angry.

He weeps and is angry.

Why?

It is because he realises the power death has over people’s lives. The power of death that he would take on and overcome and which this miracle would definitely lead him to. The cross!

A Man of sorrows and acquainted with grief (Isaiah 53:3)

He weeps, he doesn’t say anything, he just stands and tears fall moved by their grief. He teaches us that there are times such as this when not to speak is paramount and entering the pain of another everything.

His anger at the power of death drives him forward to the greatest battle in heaven and earth of which he will ride victorious. Which is clearly seen when someone dies in Christ there is huge hope realising that the loved one is actually not dead at all.

We have hope because our Saviour stood in a village just outside Jerusalem and amidst the pain of family and friends became so moved and angry at the situation that he also wept.

The tears of God drove Him to tear the sting out of death!!

What happened when the loved one died?

What happened when the loved one died?

John 11 v17-32 “On his arrival, Jesus found that Lazarus had already been in the tomb for four days. 18 Now Bethany was less than two miles from Jerusalem, 19 and many Jews had come to Martha and Mary to comfort them in the loss of their brother. 20 When Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went out to meet him, but Mary stayed at home. 21 “Lord,” Martha said to Jesus, “if you had been here, my brother would not have died. 22 But I know that even now God will give you whatever you ask.” 23 Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise again.” 24 Martha answered, “I know he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day.” 25 Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; 26 and whoever lives by believing in me will never die. Do you believe this?” 27 “Yes, Lord,” she replied, “I believe that you are the Messiah, the Son of God, who is to come into the world.” 28 After she had said this, she went back and called her sister Mary aside. “The Teacher is here,” she said, “and is asking for you.” 29 When Mary heard this, she got up quickly and went to him. 30 Now Jesus had not yet entered the village, but was still at the place where Martha had met him. 31 When the Jews who had been with Mary in the house, comforting her, noticed how quickly she got up and went out, they followed her, supposing she was going to the tomb to mourn there. 32 When Mary reached the place where Jesus was and saw him, she fell at his feet and said, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.”

 

(Every morning for well over 10 years now I have published my devotional writing from the Bible. I haven’t written about my favourite themes just the systematic reading of the Bible. I obviously have accumulated thousands of blogs from chapters and with a few of the books of the Bible most of the verses. They are not written to engage Bible students and theologians into debate. They are just an ordinary guy writing what is in his heart as he reads the amazing Bible. Others have written far better on certain subjects. I don’t have the time to think too long or research the books and the internet, the grammar isn’t brilliant I just throw it down on the paper and then type it up and post it once my devotional time is over. I don’t know how many read it but If it helps anyone, even just one person then I am encouraged. Why am I telling you this?

At times the blogs have been very cathartic for my soul as I have journeyed through a particular season. These are days where it is a great example of this. Yesterday a dear friend, a colleague, someone who had helped me develop Elim globally, a member of my apostolic team in the Midlands, the mentor to my son who served him as his assistant minister and more importantly than all that a wonderful husband to Julia and father to great sons, Ben and Tom went home to the Lord Jesus. No one saw it coming except God but the family and friends have seen touches of God from last Sunday morning through to yesterday. For me, it was the fact that as I am reading through John’s gospel having started prior to Christmas we reach chapter 11, the story of Lazarus the day after Dave collapsed. Is it a coincidence? I would rather believe it is one of the many touches God brings to us at difficult times.)

What happened when the loved one died?

  1. People came to the door to comfort Martha and Mary.

Over the last few days as our friend laid dying and then yesterday when he eventually left us I have seen again first-hand the amazing comfort people can bring to those who are grieving.

Emotions are raw and unpredictable, tears are constant from either weeping or laughing at the most bizarre things, there is no definitive in mourning, it is unpredictable, wild, but it definitely hurts.

Family and friends draw near, despite corona virus they hug it out, they hold on as if to say ‘don’t you go too!’ People around us become even more important. We find ourselves expressing our love and appreciation of each other. We are thankful for what is left.

Comfort is a beautiful word. It walks into the pain and plays a part of however the hurting chooses.

Martha and Mary had people knocking on the door wanting to play a part.

 

  1. Martha runs with belief, v20 and v27

Will you believe?

Martha believed that Jesus could have healed Lazarus and also believed it was never too late even after 4 days, v21  “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died. 22 But I know that even now God will give you whatever you ask.”

Martha believed that Lazarus was not finished that he would rise again, v24, “I know he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day.”

Martha believed who Jesus was, v27 “I believe that you are the Messiah, the Son of God, who is to come into the world.”

Will you believe even when things die or people die that God will bring them into eternity?

Death is no threat to Jesus or to my friend Dave Ayling.

  1. Mary runs and bows down before Jesus, v28-32

At a time when it just isn’t fair.

When all you feel is pain and loss.

When anger rises at the injustice of it all.

When you cannot move, think, eat or breathe because death has weakened you.

I have been present at so many deaths. I have seen the tears of a deserted wife as the husband of many years rejects them. I have seen the tears of a mourning wife when their plans have been ripped up. The pain rises from within the depths of their soul. There is no pain quite like it. There is joy at the pain of birth. But not here at this moment. It is raw. What can the person do?

They can fall.

Fall down at the feet of Jesus.

Fall down in their pain.

Fall down in their confusion.

And most importantly fall down in their submission to Jesus who knows more than we do.

 

The crowds comforting, Martha believing and Mary falling down but of course there is someone else.

Jesus. What is he doing when the loved one dies?

He was waiting for things to get worse, a further 2 days, 4 in total, v17-18. The only dark day for Jesus was the cross. Everything is about that day. For Jesus, there is no dark days outside of that. He is resurrection and life. If he waits it is not because he doesn’t know what to do nor that he is not interested. It is because of a bigger plan, a better plan than Lazarus dying. (Lazarus was raised to life we know the story, but he died eventually, his resurrection to life on earth was not about him but a help to taking Jesus to his darkest day, the cross). There is a plan in the waiting.

He is instilling hope to Martha, v25-26 “The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; and whoever lives by believing in me will never die.” Lazarus wasn’t dead, he was alive. Those who love Jesus never die, never. They always are living. They just go into another space, a better place than earth, to live again.

He is calling Mary, v28-30. He is near to the broken-hearted. Psalm 3 v 2 reminds us of the many voices that are plaguing us in times of difficulty, “God will not, has not, never will.” But there is one voice that matters. The sweetest voice in all the earth. The voice that calls you to him now, in your grief, in the pain, ‘come to me’ and where is Jesus? He is always at the place of belief (v30)? That’s where he is waiting for you and for me today.

 

Kingdom Perspective

Kingdom Perspective

John 11 v17 “On his arrival, Jesus found that Lazarus had already been in the tomb for four days.”

V3 “So the sisters sent word to Jesus, “Lord, the one you love is sick.”

v14 “So then he told them plainly, “Lazarus is dead, 15 and for your sake I am glad I was not there, so that you may believe. But let us go to him.”

 

From our earth’s perspective all we know is sickness, death and the grave.

That’s all we can see and understand.

From heaven’s perspective it is so very different.

This story of Lazarus reveals hidden kingdom principles. It is not solely about the fact that Jesus heals and raises a man from the dead. If that’s what it was about then it didn’t last because Lazarus did die eventually, we all do.

It is so much more than that.

  1. It is about God’s Glory and God’s Son, v4 “it is for God’s gloryso that God’s Son may be glorified.”

In the context it was definitely about proving that Jesus is the Messiah and the cross on which he would glorify God the Father on. It was this miracle which meant that Jesus had to go into hiding and it increased the desire of the Pharisees to arrest him. This miracle took Jesus to the cross. Though difficult perhaps to understand the cross of Christ is the Glory of God. For those who belong to God earth’s pain is heaven’s glory.

 

  1. It is knowing we are loved and a friend of God, v5 “Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus.” V11 “Our friendLazarus”

One of the earliest songs we remember in church is ‘Jesus loves me this I know for the Bible tells me so.’ Some battle all their life to find love and friendship. Doing life knowing you are loved and a friend of God is another dimension to those who search for it in many disappointing desires. Knowing whatever happens this never changes even in the most difficult of times is what helps many to get through the darkness.

 

  1. It is understanding the language of heaven, v11 After he had said this, he went on to tell them, “Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep; but I am going there to wake him up.”

The psalmist said in 3 v 5 “I lie down and sleep; I wake again, because the Lord sustains me.” The apostle Paul understands this in 1 Thessalonians 4 v14 “For we believe that Jesus died and rose again, and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him.”

For those in Christ the language is asleep not death. Death is final and it never happens for those in Christ, it is a kingdom principle.

The friends of Jesus are always alive

The friends of Jesus are always alive

John 11 v11-16 “After he had said this, he went on to tell them, “Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep; but I am going there to wake him up.” 12 His disciples replied, “Lord, if he sleeps, he will get better.” 13 Jesus had been speaking of his death, but his disciples thought he meant natural sleep. 14 So then he told them plainly, “Lazarus is dead, 15 and for your sake I am glad I was not there, so that you may believe. But let us go to him.” 16 Then Thomas (also known as Didymus) said to the rest of the disciples, “Let us also go, that we may die with him.”

There are times as a disciple of Jesus that bad things happen to you. It is not necessarily your fault, you just got sick. Your marriage is in trouble, you have been laid off from work, your finances are threatened and your hope for the future is bleak.

You didn’t do anything wrong but disease hit you and something within you became sick.

It can also feel that Jesus is no longer near. You may have Martha and Mary but Jesus is far from you.

Lazarus was sick in v1 but by the time v11 comes he has died, though Jesus refers to this not as death but as falling asleep illustrating His power being so easy to wake Him. So Jesus tells them plainly that he has died.

Some of the disciples wanted to leave Lazarus alone because they feared Jerusalem. Thomas the fatalist was already sharpening his sword.

And yet!

Lazarus is a friend of Jesus and ‘our’ friend. He has a community of friendship.

Jesus never leaves his friends alone. He always goes to them. He never speaks of them in the past tense. They are never too dead to him. With Jesus his friends are always alive though it may look differently to us.

Some people only call you friend as long as everything is going okay. Lazarus looked finished but Jesus called him friend. Their relationship was stronger than that what was trying to divide them.

Who am I that You are mindful of me
That You hear me when I call
Is it true that You are thinking of me
How You love me it’s amazing
I am a friend of God
I am a friend of God
I am a friend of God
He calls me friend

There is no fear!

There is no fear!

John 11 v 7-10

Then he said to his disciples, “Let us go back to Judea.” “But Rabbi,” they said, “a short while ago the Jews there tried to stone you, and yet you are going back?” Jesus answered, “Are there not twelve hours of daylight? Anyone who walks in the daytime will not stumble, for they see by this world’s light. 10 It is when a person walks at night that they stumble, for they have no light.”

 

So Jesus who had escaped a stoning in Jerusalem and escaped to the other side of the Jordan River is now heading back there.

To say the disciples are somewhat concerned is an understatement.

But it wasn’t for Jesus though that is what they said. Not everything people say is what they mean!

They were afraid for their own association with Jesus. If he is going back there so are they and they would prefer the banks of the Jordan River than Jerusalem.

Here’s what Jesus says:

Walk in the day with the sun then there is no fear.

Walk during the night without the sun then there is fear.

Here’s the truth for those who are with Christ, there is no need to fear.

Whether that be corona virus or financial difficulties or fighting for your life in a hospital bed, there is no fear!

If they go to Jerusalem with Jesus (the sun) then there is nothing to fear.

If they go to Jerusalem without Jesus there is every reason to fear.

What is your Jerusalem?

There is so much fear for many reasons. This could be the gospel’s greatest opportunity.

Let’s take it!!

 

Incredibly loved yet fighting for his life.

Incredibly loved yet fighting for his life.

John 11 v 1-7

Now a man named Lazarus was sick. He was from Bethany, the village of Mary and her sister Martha. (This Mary, whose brother Lazarus now lay sick, was the same one who poured perfume on the Lord and wiped his feet with her hair.) So the sisters sent word to Jesus, “Lord, the one you love is sick.” When he heard this, Jesus said, “This sickness will not end in death. No, it is for God’s glory so that God’s Son may be glorified through it.” Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. So when he heard that Lazarus was sick, he stayed where he was two more days, and then he said to his disciples, “Let us go back to Judea.”

 

Lazarus was the brother of Mary and Martha. Their home was where Jesus would stay on regular occasions. They would provide for his needs; bed, food, money. Martha would have everything just right. Mary would sit at Jesus’ feet and learn. She was the one who wept tears onto his feet and wiped them with her hair, displaying wonderful intimacy.

It is this context of hospitality, intimacy, discipleship, worship and friendship that we read these words:

V1 Lazarus was sick.

Almost as if to stress the point that bad things do happen to good people John writes,

V2 This Mary, whose brother Lazarus now lay sick, was the same one who poured perfume on the Lord and wiped his feet with her hair.

How do we respond when life is not kind to you?

When bad things happen?

When life is not fair or just?

When things break down, fall apart, get sick?

How will you respond when Jesus does not respond as quickly as you want him to?

There was no apparent reason for the 2 day delay. In fact it looked like Jesus purposely delayed because Lazarus was sick.

When God doesn’t jump to attention to do what is blatantly obvious, how do you respond?

Then when things get worse and then completely end what then?

Lazarus died presumably from his sickness but there was a plan.

It involved not just Lazarus.

If this life is all about you then you are going to be very let down and miserable.

It is about God.

V4 Jesus said, “This sickness will not end in death. No, it is for God’s glory so that God’s Son may be glorified through it.”

And though we may not realise it straight away it is about other people and specifically about them believing in God, v14-15 “So then he told them plainly, “Lazarus is dead, 15 and for your sake I am glad I was not there, so that you may believe. But let us go to him.”

Finally and crucially it is about God who loves you:

V3 Lord, the one you love is sick.”

Actually it is the only thing that matters.

To know you are loved and that this is not just perception based on your love for Him, but this is fact and confirmed in the many times He has demonstrated this.
Mary, Martha and Lazarus knew it.

Today is the 3rd anniversary of David Tinnion being taken to heaven. He knew he was loved by God.

Today my friend, colleague and member of my team, Dave Ayling is fighting for his life. He also knows he is loved by God.

It is the only thing.

Whatever you are going through, whatever you are facing, let your life be changed and turned around by the simple truth of the love of God. He loves you and His love draws near to you.

Let the world see you are a son and daughter of God

Let the world see you are a son and daughter of God

John 10: 31-41

 Again his Jewish opponents picked up stones to stone him, 32 but Jesus said to them, “I have shown you many good works from the Father. For which of these do you stone me?” 33 “We are not stoning you for any good work,” they replied, “but for blasphemy, because you, a mere man, claim to be God.” 34 Jesus answered them, “Is it not written in your Law, ‘I have said you are “gods”’? 35 If he called them ‘gods,’ to whom the word of God came—and Scripture cannot be set aside— 36 what about the one whom the Father set apart as his very own and sent into the world? Why then do you accuse me of blasphemy because I said, ‘I am God’s Son’? 37 Do not believe me unless I do the works of my Father. 38 But if I do them, even though you do not believe me, believe the works, that you may know and understand that the Father is in me, and I in the Father.” 39 Again they tried to seize him, but he escaped their grasp. 40 Then Jesus went back across the Jordan to the place where John had been baptizing in the early days. There he stayed, 41 and many people came to him. They said, “Though John never performed a sign, all that John said about this man was true.” 42 And in that place many believed in Jesus.

 

It is important to grasp an understanding of Psalm 82 prior to reading this simply because Jesus quotes from it.

In verse 6-7of the Psalm it says, ““I said, ‘You are “gods”; you are all sons of the Most High.’ But you will die like mere mortals; you will fall like every other ruler.” It could well be referring to when God gave the law to His people they all tried but failed to keep it. They were given special status, ‘gods’ and ‘sons of the Most High’ but they failed to live up to their name. They broke the law time and again and it resulted in them being exiled. Every generation would try and then fail again. They could not complete what they were called for.

Jesus’ enemies are standing with stones in their hands because he takes the title that was never lived up to, ‘God’s Son’. Jesus reminds them that He is only being what they are also called to be. Of course it is all so different. Jesus fulfils the title. He shows the law is not impossible to keep because he and the Father are one. Where we failed he succeeded and he did so because of the unity he has with the Father, because He is one with God. It falls on deaf ears and they try to seize him but fail. They fail at being sons of God and they fail at seizing the Son of God.

John then beautifully writes of how Jesus escapes back to the place it all began with John the Baptist “and in that place many people believed.” What a contrast!

The same offer is here for us.

Our ability to be who we were created to be is found in a relationship and it is with Jesus.

As you pursue that some will pick up stones but others will believe. But it is time for the world to see the sons of God (and daughters!).