Why Jesus Wept

John 11:35 is one of my favourite memory verses which happens to be the shortest verse in the Bible. Just two words, “Jesus wept”. So simple, yet so profound. Contained within these two words is the full expression of the humanity and deity of Jesus; fully God yet fully man.

Most commentaries explain this verse as Jesus identifying with the pain and loss of a loved one. Yet there’s this “holy dis-satisfaction” in me that says there’s something more which God wants to show us, perhaps an invitation to enter into something deeper than those who viewed things superficially (v 36) and those who doubted Jesus (v 37) would never enter in nor understand.

This chapter was punctuated twice (John 11:33, 38) with the phrase that Jesus “groaned in the spirit and was troubled”; in between the “Jesus wept” verse. It’s as if the Holy Spirit wanted to highlight something very important. I personally don’t think Jesus was troubled because He couldn’t do anything about Lazarus’ situation.

What I found interesting was that both Martha and Mary asked Jesus the same question; but each drew out different responses from Him. Martha said to Jesus, “Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died.” (John 11:21). Jesus replied her by teaching her about Him being the “Resurrection and the Life” (John 11:25). However, when Mary posed Jesus the same question, “Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died.” (John 11:32); instead of replying her like He did with Martha, Jesus wept.

The other interesting point to note was the progression of Mary’s worship unto Jesus. When Jesus first visited the three siblings, Martha was serving while Mary “sat at Jesus’ feet and heard His Word.” (Luke 10:39-40). When Lazarus died and Jesus had come to Bethany, Mary went out to meet Him and she “fell down at His feet.” (John 11:32). When Jesus visited them again after Lazarus was raised from the dead, Martha served, but this time Mary did more than just sit at the feet of Jesus. She took a pound of very costly perfume, worth one year’s salary, anointed the feet of Jesus, and wiped His feet with her hair (John 12:2-3).

Mary’s act of extravagant worship unto Jesus was perhaps an indication that she finally understood why Jesus wept – it was her lack of faith and trust in Him that grieved Him. I could imagine Jesus saying in His heart then, “It’s alright for others to doubt Me, but My people, especially those who “sat at My feet and received My teachings and revelations, should never doubt Me.”

Mary offered to Jesus a worship that cost her – as a way of expressing her love, faith and trust in Him, one that was worthy of Him. The way I see it is that Mary offered a worship that matched the faith level that God wanted her to be at. And to underscore that God loves this, Mary’s worship was mentioned twice, in John 11:2 and John 12:3.

The first mention of worship in the Bible was in Gen 22:5. No music was involved. Abraham instructed his servants, “Stay here… the lad (Isaac) and I will go yonder and worship…” as he was preparing to obey God and sacrifice his beloved son, Isaac, at the altar. True worship will cost you. In fact, I’ll be bold to say that “the moment your sacrifice stops, so does your worship!” Have you offered to God recently worship that costs you?

When we talk about “cost”, we tend to link it to money. But that’s not entirely true. In the story of the widow with two small coins (Luke 21:1-4), it wasn’t about money. She didn’t have much. But what moved the Lord was that she gave ALL she had; without reservation, without hesitation. That’s love, devotion, worship and faith packed into those two small coins!

When you pursue God unreservedly, it’ll cost you. That in the midst of your pain and perplexity, you choose to worship. When coming to full-time ministry is your worship to the Lord and people say to you like they said to Mary, “What a waste!”. When you choose to let go of a relationship that you know will not take you into the fullness of what God has for you. What about waking up early for your devotions when you love sleep? Or letting go of a hobby or a harmless habit as a worship unto God? The list goes on, but one truth remains – you can never out-give God (2 Cor 9:8).

All these sacrifices, painful as they may be, are very precious to the Lord because you can only offer them while on earth. Is 45:3 calls this the “treasures of darkness”. You’ll never be able to offer this kind of worship to Him in heaven and for the rest of eternity. There’s no pain or darkness in heaven. And here’s the beautiful part – like Mary, your worship will “fill the house with the fragrance of the oil” (John 12:3) and bless those around you. Isn’t this what we live for?

If you were to ask Mary, if she could turn back the clock, what would she have asked Jesus differently? I believe she’d have said to Him, “Do it again, Lord!” And I pray the same for you, whatever you’re crying out to God for, “Do it again, Lord!”

Pastor Kevin Koh

What Astonishes And What Transforms

In the Parable of the Sower found in Matt 13: 5-6, Jesus described the seed that fell on stony places this way. He said, “Some fell on stony places, where they did not have much earth; and they immediately sprang up because they had no depth of earth. But when the sun was up they were scorched, and because they had no root they withered away.”
 
Beware of ministries that spring up overnight without preparation. You’ve never heard of them and all of a sudden, like shooting stars, they’ve huge crowds flocking to their meetings. People are attracted to the razz-ma-tazz. They’re attracted to what glitters. But look at what the Scripture says. These seed fell on stony places, where there was not much earth, and they immediately sprang up, why? Because there was no depth. If read more…

The Feast of Booths

And it shall come to pass that everyone who is left of all the nations which came against Jerusalem shall go up from year to year to worship the King, the Lord of hosts, and to keep the Feast of Tabernacles.” Zechariah 14:16

The Feast of Booths, or Sukkot, provided the Jews a time to remember how God had delivered His people from bondage, in addition to making provision for them in the wilderness. This moment allowed them to reflect upon their deliverance, while looking forward to something new. 

Of all the Feasts, Sukkot is surely the one that speaks most powerfully to our time. As believers, we celebrate Sukkot due to the prophetic purpose hidden in this unique festival. Its significance is unfolding today which includes its link to the Second Coming of the Lord.  The Feast of Tabernacles points to read more…

The Price for His Presence

The account of Mary’s anointing of the Lord is found in John 12. This may seem like a beautiful account of Mary’s devotion to the Lord, but really, if you could be present at that moment, you’d have found it awkward and intense. Awkward, because she broke cultural norms in order to step into a moment reserved only for men, to anoint the Lord. Intense and perhaps hostile, because her actions were misunderstood and totally inappropriate in those days.

What though is important to note is that she was the one who changed the atmosphere in that place and brought a pervading fragrance. While the guest list included the apostles – Lazarus, who was raised from the dead, Martha, the one who was the epitome of service, and many others; it was Mary who brought the fragrance. She brought the read more…

Be Like The Wind

Once during my devotion time, I asked God an audacious question, “How do I defeat the evil one?” Now, I know that Jesus has won the victory for us on the Cross and furthermore, Rev 12:11 exhorts us that we’ve defeated the “accuser of the brethren” by the Blood of the Lamb and by our testimony, not loving our lives nor renouncing our faith even when faced with death.
‬ But I was looking more for some practical steps to apply in my life. I was led to John 3:8 which I’ve come across before and it’s one of those verses which baffles me. It says, “The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear the sound of it, but cannot tell where it comes from and where it goes. So is everyone who is born of the Spirit.”

Yup, I read more…

The Inner Chamber

A 25-hour day? In December of 2016, researchers at Durham University and UK’s Nautical Almanac Office discovered that we could spend an extra hour either in bed or at work. Scientists have claimed that the earth’s days will get an hour LONGER in the future due to the planet’s slowing orbit and clocks will become outdated.

However, earth’s citizens have been advised not to throw out the clock just yet, as the day is lengthening only by two milliseconds every 100 years and getting an extra minute in the day will take 6.7 million years. And the length of the day will not extend to 25 hours for around another 200 million years. 

It’s not uncommon to hear of someone saying, “I’ve so much to do and so little time to complete them and having one more hour in the day read more…

Success or Victory?

One of the key things in life is to distinguish the difference between success and victory. Oftentimes in life, we tend to focus on success rather victory. Success is a term that’s often used commonly in the business world. Victory is a term that’s used for combat. And which is the better picture of a church? A business or an army? Did Paul not exhort us to be good soldiers of Jesus Christ?

Here’s another way of looking at it. When Jesus died on the Cross, did He look like a success? Everyone thought He was a failure. All His disciples forsook Him. As far as they were concerned, Jesus failed. But what happened at the Cross? The victim became the greatest victor! He gained the victory and overcame the power of sin and death. He didn’t look successful, but read more…

Tests of Success

When the LORD your God brings you into the land He swore to your fathers, to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, to give you… then when you eat and are satisfied, be careful that you do not forget the LORD, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery.” Deut 6:10-12

This is a marvellous promise of the blessing of God to the Children of Israel. Now here’s the surprise. Moses reminded the people by stating the following, “When this happens… Be careful that you do not forget the Lord” (6:12). To forget the Lord doesn’t mean to forget that He exists. It simply means that you no longer have Him in mind as in times past.

The message to us is clear. Say for example you’re blessed with a new or upgraded home; does God come to mind? Is the Lord read more…

When Your Work Becomes Worship

I’ve been asked on several occasions this question, “How do you juggle between work and ministry, the secular and spiritual?” Well, I see work as an extension of ministry. They’re not competing for my time, but complementing. The key is that I don’t make a distinction between work and ministry because of the understanding of this one word, “Avodah”.

“Avodah” is a Hebrew word used in the Bible whose root has three distinct yet intertwined meanings – worship, work and service. For example, in Exodus 8:1, “This is what the Lord says, ‘Let my people go, so that they may worship (avodah) Me’.” In Exodus 34:21, “Six days you shall work (avodah), but on the seventh day you shall rest…” In Joshua 24:15, “But as for me and my household, we will serve (avodah) the Lord.” What Joshua meant was read more…

The Truth About Salt & Light

I believe there are some essential descriptions of Christians given by our Lord Jesus Christ that’s crucial for us in deciphering how we’re to respond in an ever-changing world. I’m certain that the Lord foresaw the days of every generation right up to the days of His Second Coming, and gave us keys to understanding how we’re to thrive in it.

Two of those descriptions given to His followers are that we’re the “salt of the earth” and the “light of the world” (Matt 5). These are two very interesting descriptions, because each functions quite differently. On one hand, salt functions by quiet influence. When added as a seasoning, only a small quantity is required. It buries itself in the dish that it’s being used to season, but its impact on the flavour of the dish is immense.

On the read more…

The Grace of Yielding

Last weekend, we wrapped up an exciting Cell Month campaign for the month of July. Here are some follow-up thoughts in line with the theme of Discipleship, taken from Derek Prince’s book entitled, “The Grace of Yielding.” We’re often taught concerning the price of discipleship; but there’s also grace and reward in responding to God’s call.

1. The Test of Yielding
The more willing we are in yielding our all to the Lord, the easier it becomes for Him to reveal His will and ways. It’s possible to maintain a firm grip on activities or position that results in having a work for God, rather than an all-consuming focus for God Himself. As Corrie Ten Boom puts it, “We must not grasp things too tightly, lest our fingers get hurt when He prises them from us.”

Sacrifice, surrender and read more…

The Gift of Home

This week, we hosted our pastors from 17 nations for the annual Cornerstone Global Network (CGN) Summit. We had fun and wonderful fellowship in the midst of serious Kingdom business. God did an amazing work in all our hearts – vision renewed and sharpened, the hungry were fed, those struggling were strengthened, the weary were refreshed. Such camaraderie was forged over the four days that we were reluctant to say goodbye. There was never a dull moment.

There was a notable shift in this year’s Summit – a greater intensity and resolve to advance the Kingdom of God, and a greater intention to align and extend the work of God in the nations through Cornerstone churches. The Summit’s atmosphere was one of like-mindedness and authenticity. One pastor who had just joined us for the first time said to me, “I read more…

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