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John – part XXXI

Have you ever been in the wrong place @ the wrong time with the wrong people & you got into trouble?
      You weren’t even doing anything wrong…
but you were just there & you got in trouble…
OR you were with some people & you were spotted with them & after you left them, they did some stuff, but you were implicated in what they did wrong…
We call that… Guilt by… association.
Today, we’re going to talk about guilt by association with Jesus.
I’ll confess, preachers like me don’t talk about this enough.
So, if you’re here today & you’re just checking things out…
& you aren’t actively following Jesus…
or maybe don’t want to follow Jesus yet…
I’m sorry, but this isn’t necessarily going to be for you today.
Preachers like me, don’t talk about guilt by association with Jesus because I think we fear that people won’t want to follow Jesus if we show them what Andy Stanley calls “the fine print”.
So, we talk about all the great stuff that comes with following Jesus…
We talk about how Jesus can help us with all the difficulties we face in life…
But, inevitably, at some point along the way, we realize…
it is going to cost us something to follow Jesus…
It’s uncomfortable…
We don’t want to talk about it…
Now, don’t get me wrong…
there are huge benefits to following Jesus…
Following Jesus can make you a better Father or Mother, a better friend, a better co-worker, a better teammate…
You will be more willing to forgive, more generous, have better relationships & you will experience more joy in life…
But, there is a price to pay for following Jesus…
And, the closer you are to Jesus, the more likely you will experience guilt by association with Jesus.
And very few people were as close to Jesus as Lazarus was.
So, I’ve read John, chapter 12, tons of times, but when I got to verses 10-11, it was as if I had never read those words before…
They just jumped off the page @ me…
I’m reading along & chapter 12 starts out with the story of Mary pouring the expensive perfume on Jesus & wiping His feet with her hair & Judas complaining about it… check!
And then we get to v.10…
John 12:10 “Then the leading priests decided to kill Lazarus, too.”
Whoa! Let’s stop there for a moment…
We’ve talked recently in this series how the Jewish religious leaders wanted to kill Jesus because He claimed to be God… & eventually they did kill Him.
But, the religious leaders wanted to kill Lazarus too?
Can you imagine them looking on the black market to for a hitman to take Lazarus out?
That just jumped off the page at me!
Let’s continue…
John 12:11 “…for it was because of him (Lazarus) that many of the people had deserted them (the religious leaders) and believed in… Jesus.” (NLT)
Hmmm…
It’s interesting to me that these 2 verses are sandwiched here…
in between the story of Mary worshipping @ the feet of Jesus…
and the triumphal entry of Jesus into Jerusalem…*
Lazarus was guilty by his association with Jesus…
Are we guilty by our association with Jesus?
         Does our conduct give us away?
Are we guilty by our association with Jesus because of what we do?
Are we guilty by our association with Jesus because of what we say?
I Timothy 4:12 “Be an example to all believers in what you say, in the way you live, in your love, your faith, and your purity.” (NLT)
         Notice what is listed 1st… be an example in what you say
I don’t think it is an accident that the Apostle Paul listed this one 1st
How can people tell what is most important to you?
How about by what comes out of our mouth?
Or maybe just as importantly…
what does not come out of our mouth…
Here’s a barometer for you…
Does anyone ever say this around you?
“Hey, don’t say that in front of Kevin, it might offend him” as they roll their eyes…
What is the best way to keep people from taking pot shots @ you?
What is the best way to keep the arrows from flying your way?
What is the best way to fit in?
         You just talk like everyone else talks…
After all, it’s really not a big deal what comes out of your mouth, is it?
I’m not sure there is an easier way to fit in…
than how you use your mouth…
Can we just be honest about that?
         I remember the 1st time I ever remember swearing…
My friend had picked me up in his black 1977 Cutlass Supreme on our way to Andy’s for a #14 pizza, a coney & some breaded mushrooms.
It was the summer before our Senior year…
And we not even out of the driveway, when he swore about something & then apologized for swearing.
I was tired of hearing him apologizing for swearing…
As much as he tried not to swear around me, it was such a part of the fabric of his life that he really couldn’t help himself.
And even though I wasn’t targeted by my close friends for not cussing, I wanted to fit in… And so I made a conscious decision to let it fly…
So, if we want to fit in…
OR if we don’t want to take the heat…
If we don’t want to take on the shrapnel that comes with following Jesus closely…
The easiest way to distance yourself from Jesus…
& the best way to fit in with the crowd…
is with your mouth…
Or just don’t open your mouth…
Keep your head down…
Hope no one sees you…
Hope no one pays attention to you long enough to put a target on your back…
or pile on you… or put you in the crosshairs…
This is where the rubber meets the road when the Apostle Paul told us…
Romans 12:2 “Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new creation by changing the way you think.” (NLT)
         There is no middle ground here…
There is no going along to get along and following Jesus…
You might think you can “ride the fence”, but that is not an option…
You are either in or you are out…
You are hot or you are cold…
And those aren’t just my words, they are the words of Jesus.
So, here’s the thing…
we don’t want to hear…
& preachers nowadays don’t like to preach…
If you follow Jesus closely enough, you’re going to experience some shrapnel in your life because Jesus is a divisive figure.
Jesus was a divisive figure when He walked the earth…
And Jesus is divisive today because you have to choose Him or reject Him…
Here are some of His greatest hits:
In Luke 9, Jesus invites a man to follow Him & the man says his father just died & he needs to go to the funeral 1st & Jesus responds with…
Luke 9:62 “Anyone who puts a hand to the plow and then looks back is not fit for the Kingdom of God.” (NLT)
In the sermon on the mount…
Jesus said you will be persecuted for righteousness sake…
In that same sermon, He said you are blessed if people insult you and persecute you because of Jesus… rejoice and be glad, for your reward in heaven is great… Matt 5
Jesus made no bones about it…
He didn’t soft sell it…
He was pretty clear…
If you are serious about following Him…
& you try to walk closely to Him…
There will be shrapnel that comes when we hang out with Jesus and…
when we talk about Jesus…
Now, it is possible that the religious leaders wanted Lazarus dead simply because he had been dead & there were lots of people who witnessed that…
Lazarus was dead…
He was buried…
He started rotting after 4 days…
And then Jesus brought him back to life…
And word spread like wildfire…
And people deserted the religious leaders and started following Jesus…
And that is why they wanted Lazarus dead…
Just the fact that he was dead & was now alive…
was exhibit A in the case for Christ…
But, I think it is also possible that Lazarus didn’t just have guilt by association because of what happened to him…
I think he also had guilt by association because I’m pretty sure he told everyone & anyone what had happened to him…
And I think that is part of what made him a marked man…
It made the Jewish religious leaders want to have him murdered…
Think about that for a moment… murder…
Seems like ‘You shall not murder’ is one of the top 10 in the Old Testament…
So, the very people who were supposed to be preaching the 10 commandments are ready to throw it out the window…
just to snuff out Lazarus & keep people from following Jesus…
Now think about this…
Jesus is headed to Jerusalem & He is on His way to be crucified…
And in Marks account, he records Jesus saying this:
Mark 8:34 “Then, calling the crowd to join His disciples, He said, ‘If any of you wants to be My follower, you must give up your own way, take up your cross, and follow Me.’” (NLT)
         Now, most of us aren’t going to have to take up our cross in the sense that we’re going to be crucified.
But, the disciples who were listening to Jesus would eventually have to lay down their life in order to follow Jesus.
So, what Jesus was saying to them would have been very real to them.
And here’s why…
The Romans would sometimes crucify people & then leave the body on the cross in order to make an example of whatever the crime was that had been committed.
It was a slow, painful, gruesome, humiliating, public & excruciating way to die…
& it was a heinous thing to leave the body on the cross.
So, you can just imagine what the crowd was thinking when Jesus said that if they wanted to follow Him, they would have to pick up their cross.
Jesus wanted them to know… & He wanted us to know…
That it will cost us something to follow Him.And there are a lot of people who look @ that & say, that’s not for me.
I want all the good stuff… but I don’t want that.
So, are you in… or are you out?
Because there is no middle ground…
Jesus doesn’t stop there…
Mark 8:38 “If anyone is ashamed of Me and My message in these adulterous and sinful days, the Son of man (that’s Jesus) will be ashamed of that person when he returns in the glory of his Father with the holy angels.”
         What is Jesus saying?
He is saying if you are not willing to pick up your cross and follow Him…
If you are not willing to be associated with Him…
like Lazarus was willing to be…
If you are ashamed of Jesus…
He will be ashamed of you…
when you stand in front of God to be judged at the end of your life…
The good news is there was someone who heard this & told Jesus that he would never be ashamed of Him…
Not long after this, a middle school intimidated Peter to where Peter said he didn’t even know who Jesus was.
And Peter eventually died for his guilt by association with Jesus.
Salvation is free… it cost us nothing…
Jesus paid the price for all of us…
But following Christ in this life will eventually cost us something…
There will be guilt by association…
And when it costs us something, we’re going to have to make a choice…
If I am really going to follow Jesus, I think I need to stay…
I think I need to leave…
I need to not take that job…
I need to not call that girl back… or that guy back…
To follow Jesus is going to cost us something…
For Lazarus, it almost cost him his life…
after he had already lost his life & got it back…
What is it going to cost you?
What has it cost you?
What has it almost cost you?
Salvation is free: it costs you nothing.
Following Jesus will eventually cost you something.
I think Peter would have given anything to have gone back & made a different decision when he denied that he knew Jesus…Salvation is free… it costs you nothing.
Following Jesus will eventually cost you something…
But, if you refuse to follow Jesus, I think it will cost you a lot more.

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