as always, I recommend buying this book and reading the full text. I summarize in many places, what I think are the most important points Dr Fountain wanted to make.

Reading this week: John 11:1-44

The raising of Lazarus from the dead. Why did Jesus weep? Why didn’t he have a bit of a grin on his face knowing that Mary and Martha would soon be rejoicing as their brother walked forth from the cave? The disciples had witnessed Jesus healing people of diseases and making them whole. But now He was going to show His power over death.

I (Dr Fountain) believe that here Jesus saw the frightful effects death has on the living. The fear of death is dreadful and can destroy people. The agony when death separates husband and wife, father or mother and child, close friends or relatives, is a terrible thing. When Jesus saw the agony reflected in the faces of the mourners whom He loved, He was overcome with anger – anger at death itself and how it destroys human relationships. He was also deeply moved with compassion for the mourners.

That’s why Jesus wept. He weeps for me and the countless host of brothers and sisters from whom someone dear has been torn away from them by physical death. (Dr Fountain had recently lost his beloved wife, Miriam, after a long battle with cancer) Knowing that Jesus knows my (our) pain in the depths of His spirit helps me/us to know that I am not alone – the Lord of glory has His arm around me and assures me that He has taken that pain into himself.

Jesus knew that in a short time death would shame Him and kill Him. Yet He would gain the ultimate victory over death when raised from the grave by His Father. But at this moment His emotions overwhelmed Him (for He was also fully human) as He saw His friends suffering, and He recognized the excruciating agony that the separation of death brings to us whom God has made in His image. Composing Himself, He strode toward the tomb and when Martha objected noting there would be a terrible odor, Jesus simply dismissed her fears by saying, in effect, “Trust me.” He commanded Lazarus to come out and out he came. Living evidence of the power of the King over death!

Question:

  1. What do those two brief words, “Jesus wept,” tell us about the character of Jesus?
  2. When a loved one dies and we face the agony of separation, where is Jesus and what is He doing?
  3. How can we share this hope of victory over death with the people around us who are grieving?

 

Readings for this lesson: Matthew 16:13-28, Mark 8:27-38, Luke 9:18-27

These 3 passages describe the same conversation between Jesus and His disciples though each is unique. Jesus knew the end of His earthly ministry was near and wanted to be sure His disciples were prepared and that they understood who He was. The location was important in that the major religions of the western world were represented there. Jesus announced the beginning of the Church here to make clear that it is the Church for the whole world. The Ecclesia – the gathering of God’s people – would include people of the whole world and replace the pantheons of the world with the foundational truth that Jesus the Messiah is King of kings and Lord of lords.

With His disciples He wanted to:

  1. affirm to them His messianic identity
  2. provide a community structure for His followers to carry on the work
  3. prepare them for the difficult events of the next weeks that were essential for the establishment of the Kingdom among people
  4. describe what would be required of them

The Community of Jesus: Identity and responsibilities

  1. the faith expressed by Peter would be the foundation of the Church
  2. the Church would prevail over all the forces of evil by the power of God operating through the faith of His people. Hell would not be able to withstand it. It is crucial to understand that we are to be on the offensive, fighting with the power of the spirit of Jesus against the evil in the world.
  3. keys are a symbol of the authority to enter new domains or to close and protect domains. Jesus says He is delegating His own authority to His followers.
  4. He tells us that the decisions we make in His name have eternal consequences, either for good or for ill. We have the awesome responsibility to determine His will and act on it.
  5. His death and resurrection would be central to the establishment of the Kingdom of God on earth. The life of the cross and the hope of resurrection are central to our life in His Kingdom.
  6. To live in relationship with Him we must release to Him all personal desires and aspirations. We follow wherever He leads. Even if this means suffering and death. Te cross is our decision to obey the specific marching orders He gives to us with no regard to circumstances, difficulties, or our own aspirations or comfort.

Questions:

  1. What awesome responsibilities has Jesus given us/you as His community on earth?
  2. How are we to obtain Jesus’ help in making decisions in the Kingdom of God?
  3. What does Jesus require of us to become His followers?