Impacting Cities & Communities thru Prayer
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The two men were walking home from the temple after their baptism. Much had changed in their lives after the resurrection of Jesus. Like many who had been afraid to come to Jesus while He taught in their cities, they both now believed wholeheartedly in the risen Christ.
Jonathan said, “Simon, I can’t understand how I could have been so blind to Jesus before His crucifixion. I should have understood from the miracles He performed that He was God’s Messiah. I was one of those who questioned the parents of the man Jesus healed who had been born blind. I remember Jesus saying to us, ‘If I do not do the works of God, do not believe in me. If I do them, even if you cannot believe me, believe in the works, that my Father may open your hearts.’ Believe me, I thought about that. But I was still too cowardly to admit that He had come to us from God.”
“I was worse,” Simon said. “I was there when Jesus called Lazarus out of the tomb after four days. I knew then that Jesus was God with us, as Isaiah wrote, but when I was with my Pharisee friends I was ashamed to confess Him. I don’t think we would have come to believe even now were God not working in us in spite of our hard hearts.”
Jonathan said, “The priests seemed so holy, and the Pharisees were so forceful, that it was hard to go against them. Confessing Jesus meant being put out of the synagogue. I felt that would mean ceasing to be Jewish. And yet our Lord used those things, and even the power of Rome, to bring His Father glory.”
Simon said, “I wonder how our priests, who seemed to be righteous, could have been so hard hearted. Bethany is my home. I was there when Lazarus died. I was with them when Jesus went to the tomb. I knew He had to have come from God. He had already healed me of leprosy. Chills went up my spine when Jesus stood before the tomb of Lazarus and thanked His Father that He always heard Him. Elijah prayed almost the same prayer before God sent fire down from heaven. Jesus then cried out for Lazarus to come out, and the man came still wrapped in his grave clothes. I suspect everyone standing there that day knew we were in the presence of God. Who else could raise the dead? But even though many confessed Him that day, some of them went and told the Pharisees what Jesus had done. They knew I was a Pharisee so they dragged me along.
“The Council was worried that the Romans were going to take away their position. Caiaphas, whom many considered the holiest man alive, stood up and spoke. ‘Have you not considered that it would be better for you if one man died for the people than that we should lose the entire nation?’ And get this—as High Priest that year, he prophesied that Jesus would die for the people. God had to be speaking through him even though his heart was absolutely against the Messiah.”
Jonathan said, “You mean he actually said Jesus was dying for the people? He could not have understood that Jesus was dying for our sins.”
“I suppose not,” Simon said, “but he still said those words”
“I tell you the truth, Simon. The power of God stuns me. God spoke through His fiercest enemy on this earth even as Caiaphas was plotting to turn Jesus over to the Romans to be crucified.
Simon said, “Our town held a feast for Jesus. We gathered in my house because it would hold the most people. Multitudes came from Jerusalem not just to see Jesus but to get a glimpse of Lazarus whom Jesus had raised. And so many of them went away believing that the council actually planned to put Lazarus to death so we would stop believing.”
This story was conceived from events recorded in John 11:45-53/
Father, You gave us many prophecies of Jesus, including one by the High Priest who condemned Him. Help us hear your voice as you continue to speak to us through Your Son, Jesus.
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