It was getting late, and cars on the Interstate were beginning to turn on their lights. No one would be able to see the guy pretty soon–he was dressed in dark clothing made to keep warm, having expected to get a ride before now! Still, he figured he could change to a white tee shirt pulled over his jacket if no one picked him up soon.
Hours wore on. This was a little more than a week ago, and nights near the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia were still dipping into the low 40’s or upper 30’s. He was so cold! Car after car passed, but no one seemed to see him. It was time for that white shirt. Pulling it out of his backpack–which was a chore with all his personal belongings packed on his back–he finally got it out and pulled over his clothes, hoping it would reflect in someone’s headlights, and they might pull over. Zip… zip…. they flew by.
He walked backwards, slightly wary that the ground on the shoulder would throw a curve ball in the form of a hole or large stone. He was getting so tired, so cold, and so hungry, but knew he had to walk to keep his blood flowing as the temperature dropped.
Several hours later he came to an exit that looked promising. There seemed to be all types of fast food places, gas stations, and general humanity. Perhaps there would be somewhere he could take a quick nap before trying to get on over toward the southwest section of Virginia, where there was transportation west.
Light was breaking. He slowed his pace, and walked, not quite sure of the itinerary in this area where there were so many roads going different directions. For a few minutes he got tangled up in his directions, and veered slightly south, when he should have gone west. A sidewalk made walking easier, and he passed down the building in front of some type of church. He kept his eyes ahead, trying to focus on the next step.
The pastor and some staff were inside during these early morning hours, getting coffee started, bulletins stuffed, and the inside of the building ready for the morning’s first service; two more would follow. As the pastor was setting the coffee maker to “brew,” he saw–out of the corner of his eye–a man walk by. The guy was carrying a large cluster of items with his backpack on his back, and looked unkempt as if he’d been traveling for awhile. For a split second the pastor thought, “I have so much to do, I’ll just keep on with my routine.” In the next split second he bolted for the door, knowing his “mission” was to share Christ. “Good morning!” he called. The man turned, saw the friendly face of the man, and responded. “How about a cup of hot coffee on this cold morning? Maybe some doughnuts?” The man’s mouth watered. It sounded soooo good! “I’d love that,” he replied. He entered the foyer, and as the coffee wasn’t quite ready asked if he could use the bathroom. “Certainly! And there’s hot water in there, and soap–use whatever you need!” The pastor was a man–he knew the man probably needed many things at the moment.
Later, as they talked about the service, the man offered to help the ones stuffing the bulletins to help pay for his use of their facilities and generous handouts. There was much camaraderie going on between the workers; they invited him to stay for the worship service. He placed his pack where it would be safe, and settled in, letting his bones soak in the relaxation that a comfortable seat afforded. And then, feeling slightly out of place, he began to hear the service. The praise team sang their songs, and the pastor began his message. With the man in mind, he clearly presented the gospel of Jesus Christ coming to this earth to redeem fallen man, being crucified, resurrected, and living again to provide salvation to anyone who asks in faith.
He wasn’t able to see the man before the next service was rolling. Another busy Sunday, come and gone. But he couldn’t get the man off his mind.
Later he asked the ones who had worked with him if they had found out anything about the man. “He was on his way to southwest Virginia, then getting a ride out to the Midwest,” they replied. But they had found out nothing.
Monday came. A typical Monday, busy and full of jobs that had to be done. Later in the day one of the ladies of the church came by. Everyone greeted her. “I had the most interesting day yesterday!” she exclaimed. “In the afternoon, I saw someone walking, and I had seen him come out of the church. Later, I saw him hitchhiking and felt comfortable–since he had been in church–in offering him a ride. Actually, I took him all the way to where he needed to go!” She had gotten some personal information, and now the church could continue to be in touch with him.
After all, God had sent him there to hear the good news that Jesus Christ, the Son of God, died just for him. Seeds have been planted, and now someone else needs to water!
Yesterday at Thomas Road Baptist Church, the congregation heard of another person who had not only heard about Jesus, but heard from Jesus’ own lips that He is the Son of God. As soon as the man heard, he could have made a choice to go into another room, where they could talk, and he could hear Jesus tell His story But his choice wasn’t based on searching for the truth, it was on the sickening thought of losing the position he held that brought him power, prestige, money, and much more. He made his decision.
Now is a great time to get your notebook, something to drink, a comfortable chair, and turn to http://www.trbc.org/service-archive, and select the sermon for Sunday, April 2, called “Outsiders: One for All.” Click on it, and worship with the praise team if you have time. It’s always great to have a friend with you, and you can watch the sermon and then do the sermon study below–looking into the deep parts of the Scripture to learn what happened next! So grab you stuff, click and enjoy!
Outsiders: One for All
Going into “survival mode” in order to keep a job, one’s family, or even one’s position of influence or way of life can result in actions that are sometimes ruthless, illegal or wrong! Can you think of an example (it can even be from the Scripture)?
This week we look at the second of four characters who were affected by the crucifixion, and their reaction to the life of Jesus. Caiaphas, the high priest, was so fearful at his possible loss of position that he plotted the murder of Jesus, finding people willing to lie under oath. If you’re by yourself, jot your ideas down in a notebook.
Focal Passage: John 11:45-57. Further Passages: Matt. 26:57-68; John 2:19-22.
Think About or Discuss:
The world is always looking for another way
- Read Matt. 26:59. How far were the Jewish religious leaders willing to go to bring about the death of Jesus? What was more important to Caiaphas, learning the truth about Jesus or stopping Him before he lost the power of his position as High Priest?
- Read John 11:48. What were the religious leaders afraid of? How is that like today, when people we know, or work with, tell false accusations against you or someone you know, to keep or advance in their situation? What is the difference—or is there any?
Jesus claimed to be able to do what no one could imagine
- Read verse 60b, 61. What was Jesus referring to? (John 2:19-22)
- Read Isa. 29:13. How does this verse illustrate the blindness of the religious leaders?
Sometimes in the most difficult moments of life, He remains silent
- Read verses 62-64. What did Jesus tell Caiaphas? Was he now at a crossroads, able to choose to believe Jesus, or annihilate Him to retain his own position? Would he be responsible on Judgment Day for his choice?
- Can you share a time when you thought Jesus was being silent, when He was actually working on your behalf?
- Jesus was not powerless while silent! Why is He willing to test your faith when He knows His timing is perfect? Read James 1:3,4. How does He want us to react?
Jesus’ plan was the one so desperately needed
- Read verses 49,50. What was significant about Caiaphas’ statement?
- What did it provide?
- Read Romans 5:15, 18. What did the death of this One Man accomplish?
Would you be willing to be “all in” for Christ?
We can probably not comprehend the group of religious leaders gathered to take down the Creator of the universe. Caiaphas is a great example of God using many different types of people for His work (as He did with Pharaoh.) Don’t ever assume because someone is using “religion” as their trade, that they are in a close relationship with Jesus Christ! And we all have heard the story of the crucifixion so many times that we must concentrate as we read, begging God to give us a fresh perspective. Caiaphas had been ruling as High Priest for about 17 years (it is ironic that he lost his position soon thereafter), and enjoyed power and prestige; now it was threatened because of the popularity of One Man, and the entire group was afraid of losing control. Is that why we falter in our faith? Have you considered something so insignificant as “worry” being because you lack control of a situation? Taking Jesus at His word, having faith that His silence is working to bring about His timing for your good, is critical in your walk with Him, and your growing in faith. Let the evidence of His own testimony (“I am He” John 4:26, “It is as you said” Matt. 26:64) cause you to examine the depth of your trust in His perfect work on the cross, and His perfect timing for your plans. You will not regret it when you get through the trial!
Memory Verse: John 11:50: “…nor do you consider that it is expedient for us that one man should die for the people, and not that the whole nation should perish?”