First, we talk about Mary. She chose only the good part of necessary things, which is God’s words. We also mention the faith of Martha. We see the process of the resurrection of Lazarus. Although the Bible doesn’t mention one word he said, he was the living witness himself. We also see the effect due to this. Secondly, we discussed the Lord’s prayer in detail before. Here, we just emphasize the importance of forgiveness, and “our daily bread” refers to both the spiritual and the worldly food, not only worldly bread. Thirdly, the verses tell us that if we pray for the Holy Spirit, we can get it for sure. And it also teaches us the attitude of such praying. However, it doesn’t say when we’ll get it. God has absolute authority to decide when. Lastly, we see that Jesus performed a miracle which cast out a demon, and manifested the coming of the Kingdom of God. We can see the power of God is absolutely greater than that of Satan. Don’t think that everything is alright if demons are cast out. We need to always stay in Christ to get rid of demons permanently.
1. Martha and Mary and the resurrection of Lazarus
“Now as they were traveling along, He entered a village; and a woman named Martha welcomed Him into her home. She had a sister called Mary, who was seated at the Lord’s feet, listening to His word. But Martha was distracted with all her preparations; and she came up to Him and said, “Lord, do You not care that my sister has left me to do all the serving alone? Then tell her to help me.” But the Lord answered and said to her, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and bothered about so many things; but only one thing is necessary, for Mary has chosen the good part, which shall not be taken away from her.””(Luke 10:38-42)
We can see the choices that Martha and Mary made were really different. Indeed, Mary of Bethany chose only the good part of necessary things: God’s words. But there needs to be someone serving and Martha selected serving. However, she should also pay some attention to the good part and not solely worry about the things of the world. The Church needs people who do both. If there is no one who serves, the Church cannot exist. If there is only service without being doers of God’s words, it will be like the church in Laodicea, shutting doors for Jesus but without knowing.
If there is only one choice, life is more important than serving. But both are needed. It just like what “Samuel said, “Has the Lord as much delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices As in obeying the voice of the Lord? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, And to heed than the fat of rams.”(1 Samuel 15:22) We aren’t saying that the sacrifice from the heart isn’t important, but emphasize that we need to obey, because sin came due to the disobedience of Adam (Ref. Romana 5:12). Even in the era of the New Testament, we still need “…to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship.”(Romans 12:1) Having life first, we naturally want to serve. It is important that we first have faith, then we have actions corresponding to our faith. Don’t turn it upside down. Just like what is said in James, “But prove yourselves doers of the word, and not merely hearers who delude themselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks at his natural face in a mirror; for once he has looked at himself and gone away, he has immediately forgotten what kind of person he was.”(James 1:22-24)
The beginning of the event of the resurrection of Lazarus is his sickness. “Now a certain man was sick, Lazarus of Bethany, the village of Mary and her sister Martha. It was the Mary who anointed the Lord with ointment, and wiped His feet with her hair, whose brother Lazarus was sick.”(John 11:1-2) “Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. So when He heard that he was sick, He then stayed two days longer in the place where He was.”(John 11:5-6) He loved Lazarus, but His reaction was very different from an ordinary person. The ordinary people would try to reach Lazarus before he was dead. Jesus did the opposite thing; He stayed for two more days. Thus, Jesus wanted people to make sure that Lazarus was really dead all the way through before He performed the miracle.
Let us take a look at the faith of Martha. “Martha therefore, when she heard that Jesus was coming, went to meet Him, but Mary stayed at the house. Martha then said to Jesus, “Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died. Even now I know that whatever You ask of God, God will give You.” Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise again.” Martha said to Him, “I know that he will rise again in the resurrection on the last day.” Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in Me will live even if he dies, and everyone who lives and believes in Me will never die. Do you believe this?” She said to Him, “Yes, Lord; I have believed that You are the Christ, the Son of God, even He who comes into the world.””(John 11:20-27) We can see that the faith of Martha was great but regarding the future. She didn’t think that Jesus could give life for this world, and would see the resurrection of Lazarus at that day.
“When she had said this, she went away and called Mary her sister, saying secretly, “The Teacher is here and is calling for you.” And when she heard it, she got up quickly and was coming to Him. Now Jesus had not yet come into the village, but was still in the place where Martha met Him. Then the Jews who were with her in the house, and consoling her, when they saw that Mary got up quickly and went out, they followed her, supposing that she was going to the tomb to weep there. Therefore, when Mary came where Jesus was, she saw Him, and fell at His feet, saying to Him, “Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died.” When Jesus therefore saw her weeping, and the Jews who came with her also weeping, He was deeply moved in spirit and was troubled, and said, “Where have you laid him?” They said to Him, “Lord, come and see.””(John 11:28-34)
Let take a look at the process of the resurrection of Lazarus. “Jesus wept. So the Jews were saying, “See how He loved him!” But some of them said, “Could not this man, who opened the eyes of the blind man, have kept this man also from dying?” So Jesus, again being deeply moved within, came to the tomb. Now it was a cave, and a stone was lying against it. Jesus said, “Remove the stone.” Martha, the sister of the deceased, said to Him, “Lord, by this time there will be a stench, for he has been dead four days.” Jesus said to her, “Did I not say to you that if you believe, you will see the glory of God?” So they removed the stone. Then Jesus raised His eyes, and said, “Father, I thank You that You have heard Me. I knew that You always hear Me; but because of the people standing around I said it, so that they may believe that You sent Me.” When He had said these things, He cried out with a loud voice, “Lazarus, come forth.” The man who had died came forth, bound hand and foot with wrappings, and his face was wrapped around with a cloth. Jesus said to them, “Unbind him, and let him go.” Therefore many of the Jews who came to Mary, and saw what He had done, believed in Him.”(John 11:35-45)
We can see that Jesus said what He said because of the people standing around. This is consistent with what God sometimes did. For example, in John 12:28-30, it says, “…Then a voice came out of heaven: “I have both glorified it, and will glorify it again.” So the crowd of people who stood by and heard it were saying that it had thundered; others were saying, “An angel has spoken to Him.” Jesus answered and said, “This voice has not come for My sake, but for your sake.” Please notice that we cannot hear clearly if God doesn’t want us to hear, which is the same as the situation when Paul saw the big light. “And those who were with me saw the light, to be sure, but did not understand the voice of the One who was speaking to me.”(Acts 22:9) God has absolute authority.
We don’t know for sure why He was deeply moved in spirit and was troubled to the extent of weeping, because the Bible doesn’t say clearly. Someone thinks, “…just as through one man sin entered into the world, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men …”(Romans 5:12) As a result, the destiny of humans is death. Therefore, He behaved so. This is a reasonable guess. Other people may think that He is completely man since He took the form of human. Humans have emotions. He saw that the man He loved was dead. Therefore, He wept. But such thinking leads to a logical problem, since the verses say clearly, “…Father, I thank You that You have heard Me. I knew that You always hear Me; but because of the people standing around I said it, so that they may believe that You sent Me.”(John 11:41-42) So He knew in advance that Lazarus would not die for sure. The crowd indeed saw the glory of God since Lazarus was resurrected after dying for four days.
“Jesus, therefore, six days before the Passover, came to Bethany where Lazarus was, whom Jesus had raised from the dead. So they made Him a supper there, and Martha was serving; but Lazarus was one of those reclining at the table with Him. Mary then took a pound of very costly perfume of pure nard, and anointed the feet of Jesus and wiped His feet with her hair; and the house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume.”(John 12:1-3) “The large crowd of the Jews then learned that He was there; and they came, not for Jesus’ sake only, but that they might also see Lazarus, whom He raised from the dead. But the chief priests planned to put Lazarus to death also; because on account of him many of the Jews were going away and were believing in Jesus.”(John 12:9-11)
In the verses, we see that Lazarus was only there. In the Bible, Lazarus didn’t say one word, but there were many of the Jews who believed in Jesus. He didn’t need to say any words. What happened to him was a witness to such a miracle. So, his life is indeed the witness itself. We just said that both life and serving were necessary to a church. If we cannot live our own life according to what we say, no one would believe it. In churches, life is indispensable. Don’t let the world enter the church. Churches and the world are different. At least, the members in churches believe in the Lord Jesus Christ. And ‘once saved is forever saved’ is as said in 1 Corinthians 3:15, “If any man’s work is burned up, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire.” Non- Christian’s names aren’t in the book of life. “And if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.”(Revelation 20:15) If we see that the Book of Revelation is written chronologically at the beginning for sure, then we should believe that the whole book is written chronologically. Then, when the new heaven and new earth come, new Jerusalem is descended from heaven. Outside the city, there should be fallen Christians since the non-Christians are already in the lake of fire. This is why Peter said, “Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.”(Peter 5:8) Satan is doing what supposed to do. Therefore, “Outside are the dogs and the sorcerers and the immoral persons and the murderers and the idolaters, and everyone who loves and practices lying.”(Revelation 22:15) Thus, these are fallen Christians seduced by Satan. “Blessed are those who wash their robes, so that they may have the right to the tree of life, and may enter by the gates into the city.”(Revelation 22:14) Although outside the city is much better than going to the lake of fire, we really want to be the people who can enter the city.
2. Lord’s prayer
“It happened that while Jesus was praying in a certain place, after He had finished, one of His disciples said to Him, “Lord, teach us to pray just as John also taught his disciples.” And He said to them, “When you pray, say: ‘Father, hallowed be Your name. Your kingdom come. ‘Give us each day our daily bread. ‘And forgive us our sins, For we ourselves also forgive everyone who is indebted to us. And lead us not into temptation.’””(Luke 11:1-4)
In the Gospel of Matthew, the Lord’s prayer says in such a way. ““Pray, then, in this way: ‘Our Father who is in heaven, Hallowed be Your name. ‘Your kingdom come. Your will be done, On earth as it is in heaven. ‘Give us this day our daily bread. ‘And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. ‘And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from evil. [For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.’] For if you forgive others for their transgressions, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others, then your Father will not forgive your transgressions.”(Matthew 6:9-15)
We discussed before in detail on the Lord’s prayer , and we’ll not repeat such discussions. What we want to emphasize is the importance of forgiveness. As a matter of fact, if one can genuinely forgive someone else, it will release his own burden to himself. The daily bread refers to both the spiritual food and the worldly one, because Jesus said clearly, “…“It is written, ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God.’””(Matthew 4:4) We still need food since one will be hungry to death if without food, but we do need every word that proceeds out the mouth of God. We want to mention that we have to pray in the name of Lord Jesus Christ, since He said, “Whatever you ask in My name, that will I do, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask Me anything in My name, I will do it.”(John 14:13-14) This is not given to us as an empty check so we can fill it out arbitrarily. What does it really mean? Looking at nearby verses, when we are united with the Lord in a particular thing, what we pray for will be the same as what the Lord desires. He has absolute authority, how can it not be achieved?
3. Getting for sure if praying for being filled by the Holy Spirit
“Then He said to them, “Suppose one of you has a friend, and goes to him at midnight and says to him, ‘Friend, lend me three loaves; for a friend of mine has come to me from a journey, and I have nothing to set before him’; and from inside he answers and says, ‘Do not bother me; the door has already been shut and my children and I are in bed; I cannot get up and give you anything.’ I tell you, even though he will not get up and give him anything because he is his friend, yet because of his persistence (importunity G335, KJV) he will get up and give him as much as he needs. “So I say to you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks, receives; and he who seeks, finds; and to him who knocks, it will be opened. Now suppose one of you fathers is asked by his son for a fish; he will not give him a snake instead of a fish, will he? Or if he is asked for an egg, he will not give him a scorpion, will he? If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him?””(Luke 11:5-13) We can see clearly that we’ll get it for sure if we pray to be filled with the Holy Spirit. It also tells us the attitude we should have. Please notice that the promise is that we’ll get it for sure, but didn’t say when. In this point, God has absolute authority.
In the Gospel of Matthew, the record is similar but without saying clearly that the statement is for praying to be filled with the Holy Spirit. It added the statement regarding the Law and the Prophets, which is clearly said. Below is what was said, ““Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened. Or what man is there among you who, when his son asks for a loaf, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, he will not give him a snake, will he? If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give what is good to those who ask Him! “In everything, therefore, treat people the same way you want them to treat you, for this is the Law and the Prophets.”(Matthew 7:7-12)
4. The manifestation of the coming of the kingdom of God
“And He was casting out a demon, and it was mute; when the demon had gone out, the mute man spoke; and the crowds were amazed. But some of them said, “He casts out demons by Beelzebul, the ruler of the demons.” Others, to test Him, were demanding of Him a sign from heaven. But He knew their thoughts and said to them, “Any kingdom divided against itself is laid waste; and a house divided against itself falls. If Satan also is divided against himself, how will his kingdom stand? For you say that I cast out demons by Beelzebul. And if I by Beelzebul cast out demons, by whom do your sons cast them out? So they will be your judges. But if I cast out demons by the finger of God, then the kingdom of God has come upon you.”(Luke 11:14-20)
We also saw here that the Pharisees not only slandered Him for exorcising demons (cf. Matthew 9:32-34, 12:22-24), but it was the manifestation of the coming of the kingdom of God. As the Pharisees asked, the kingdom of God comes unseen. “Now having been questioned by the Pharisees as to when the kingdom of God was coming, He answered them and said, “The kingdom of God is not coming with signs to be observed; nor will they say, ‘Look, here it is!’ or, ‘There it is!’ For behold, the kingdom of God is in your midst.””(Luke 17:20-21) The Bible clearly says that if you are not in the kingdom of God, you are in the kingdom of Satan. The more we want to get closer to God, the more unwilling Satan will be, and the more attacks will occur. Without God’s protection, we will not be able to stand.
He went on to say, “When a strong man, fully armed, guards his own house, his possessions are undisturbed. But when someone stronger than he attacks him and overpowers him, he takes away from him all his armor on which he had relied and distributes his plunder. He who is not with Me is against Me; and he who does not gather with Me, scatters.”(Luke 11:21-23) The explanation of the former is very clear, and we also see that the power of God is absolutely greater than that of Satan. It is also recorded in Matthew 12:24-29 and Mark 3:22-27. We know, ““Truly I say to you, all sins shall be forgiven the sons of men, and whatever blasphemies they utter; but whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit never has forgiveness, but is guilty of an eternal sin”— because they were saying, “He has an unclean spirit.””(Mark 3:28-30) Obviously it was the work of the Holy Spirit , but was slandered by the scribes. The latter refers to what we have shared before, and it is to look at things in the aspect of God, “For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him. He who believes in Him is not judged; he who does not believe has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.”(John 3:17-18)
““When the unclean spirit goes out of a man, it passes through waterless places seeking rest, and not finding any, it says, ‘I will return to my house from which I came.’ And when it comes, it finds it swept and put in order. Then it goes and takes along seven other spirits more evil than itself, and they go in and live there; and the last state of that man becomes worse than the first.””(Luke 11:24-26) So don’t thinking about that everything will be fine after the demons are driven out, we not only need to clean up, but must stay in Christ, in order to drive out the evil spirits forever.
Finally, we look at what happened when Jesus said this to conclude this article, “While Jesus was saying these things, one of the women in the crowd raised her voice and said to Him, “Blessed is the womb that bore You and the breasts at which You nursed.” But He said, “On the contrary, blessed are those who hear the word of God and observe it.””(Luke 11:27-28) Just like the scriptures we shared before, “While He was still speaking to the crowds, behold, His mother and brothers were standing outside, seeking to speak to Him. Someone said to Him, “Behold, Your mother and Your brothers are standing outside seeking to speak to You.” But Jesus answered the one who was telling Him and said, “Who is My mother and who are My brothers?” And stretching out His hand toward His disciples, He said, “Behold My mother and My brothers! For whoever does the will of My Father who is in heaven, he is My brother and sister and mother.””(Matthew 12:46-50) Jesus did not deny His mother and brother, but see things from the perspective of the higher self.
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(Verses refer to those in NASB unless otherwise specified.)
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