Welcome to “Word from The Center” MONDAY, a devotional word from the Center of our faith, Jesus Christ, with reflections on His Word. I’m Gregory Seltz. Today’s verses are John 11:45-50. After Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead earlier in the chapter, the Bible says,   

Then the chief priests and the Pharisees called a meeting of the Sanhedrin. “What are we accomplishing?” they asked. “Here is this man performing many signs.  If we let him go on like this, everyone will believe in him, and then the Romans will come and take away both our temple and our nation.” Then one of them, named Caiaphas, who was high priest that year, spoke up, “You know nothing at all!  You do not realize that it is better for you that one man die for the people than that the whole nation perish.”



Jesus often got into trouble with people whom you think would have cherished Him. That’s what’s going on in our lesson for today. The religious leaders of the day, the ones waiting for a messiah, had conflated God’s eternal saving of the world with their own political desires and cultural dreams. Their hopes were for a messiah who was going to be the ultimate military general. He would defend the nation of Israel, empower them in seats of temporal power, and send the unbelieving pagan Romans packing. Wow! That was a powerful dream and a motivating message. It drove their response to God’s very Messiah in their midst. Unfortunately, in this case, it wasn’t a good thing. They confused their important earthly concerns with God’s ultimate concern for their lives.

There are temporal concerns and there are eternal concerns. One key, both for life here and for life eternal, is to know which ones are which, and then to give them both their proper place in our lives. Temporal things are never more important than eternal things. But eternal things are meant to be received and lived out in our temporal lives. When Caiaphas speaks the truth that “it is better for you that one man die for the people than that the whole nation perish,” he doesn’t know the prophetic irony of his words. It is truly better that Jesus die for us all not rather than “the whole nation perish,” but so that the whole nation, indeed, the whole world might not perish, but have everlasting life (see John 3:16). Because of Jesus’ life and death, the eternal destruction that inevitably comes as a result of sin is averted. And, even more wonderfully, an eternal, redeemed, restored relationship with God comes to all who believe because of Jesus’ work on our behalf. The eternal blessings of His work also change the temporal lives we live each day. His work empowers, orders, and directs our lives. It helps us put things in their proper perspective as we face each day by faith.

The wisdom of this text challenges me in my work in Washington, D.C. for the sake of our churches, schools, pre-schools, and universities. It helps me realize that this temporal work, as important as it is, must always serve the ultimate work of God in this world through Jesus Christ alone. The dreams of our nation, our politics, and our own personal life can never take the place of God’s eternal vision for all of us in Jesus. The things of Jesus should never be co-opted by the passing concerns of the day. His enduring, eternal work is rather the fuel and the fire for living our daily lives in the abundance that comes though faith in Him. When we realize that we are, in fact, His ultimate concern, then our life in Him becomes our ultimate concern which literally infuses purpose and power into our daily lives right now. Purpose, power, blessing, and more all happen when ultimate concerns are ultimate concerns, and temporal concerns are prayerfully put in their proper place. So, ask yourself, what does God say should be my “ultimate concern?” Why? Your temporal and eternal life depend on it.

PRAYER: Dear Lord Jesus, let Your ultimate concerns dominate my thoughts and dreams so that I might live a purposeful life in this world for others until we all see You face to face on the day of Your return.  AMEN.

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