The story of Lazarus was the final straw in the accumulation of stories that revealed Jesus as the Son of God. In our new sermon series, No Turning Back, we see Jesus' ministry move from cultural curiosity to one rooted in irrefutable power. This shift in the story made those who were in political power very nervous. John 11:45-53 details how those who were in opposition to Jesus were going to deal with his identity—murder him. This week, we are presented with a choice that must be made. We can not remove the cross from our Christianity and remain followers of Christ. This week we were challenged to pick a side: one that lines up at the foot of the cross or one that lines up to eliminate it.
Read this from the Bible together:
48 If we let him go on like this, everyone will believe in him, and the Romans will come and take away both our place and our nation.” 49 But one of them, Caiaphas, who was high priest that year, said to them, “You know nothing at all. 50 Nor do you understand that it is better for you that one man should die for the people, not that the whole nation should perish.” 51 He did not say this of his own accord, but being high priest that year he prophesied that Jesus would die for the nation, 52 and not for the nation only, but also to gather into one the children of God who are scattered abroad. 53 So from that day on they made plans to put him to death.
54 Jesus therefore no longer walked openly among the Jews, but went from there to the region near the wilderness, to a town called Ephraim, and there he stayed with the disciples.
Some key statements and questions put forward that are important for us to talk about…
If we let him go on like this, everyone will believe in him. Judas wasn't alone in selling Jesus out. People who have an agenda to wield power or are motivated by self-preservation often go after Jesus' authenticity to protect their position. Have you experienced this? If so, how? If not, have you personally struggled with the idea of Jesus as God?
It is better for you that one man should die for the people, not that the whole nation should perish. God can simultaneously speak through someone's self-serving words to speak truth to you. This unbelieving person preached the gospel unbeknownst to him. What does that reveal to you about truth's power over lies?
...to gather into one the children of God who are scattered abroad. The substitutionary death of One was to unite many. Unbelievers call the cross "child abuse", "unnecessary" or "outdated"—why do you think some consider the crucifixion of Jesus a threat to society if the Bible suggests that unity is the goal of it?
“Jesus Christ dying in your place because he loves you is the most important theological truth.” Why do you think it's tempting to remove the cross from one's theology? What type of belief system do you get when there is no need for Jesus' substitutionary death?
"The most dangerous schemes are the ones that are based on fact and rational thought.” When humans attempt to become God by reinventing the story of the human experience without the fact that we need a Savior, we are left with polytheism. Do you think belief in multiple gods is dangerous? Why or why not?
“The cross is our anchor point, there is nothing else.” In what ways have you tried to skirt the need for the cross this week? What confession can you bring to the table the reminds your soul how desperate you are for a God who would die for that sin?