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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 11:47-50, where 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 who you think would have cherished Him. That’s what’s going on in our lesson for today. Many religious people back then were waiting for a messiah, but they had conflated God’s eternal saving of the world with their own political desires and cultural dreams. They presumed the messiah was going to be the ultimate “spiritual” general who would grant them rich seats of temporal power, send the unbelieving pagan Romans packing, and defend the nation of Israel. Now all that provided a powerful dream and a motivational message. Unfortunately, in this case, it was not a good thing for it drove their negative response to God’s very Messiah in their midst.

To be sure, there are temporal concerns and then there are eternal concerns. The key for life here and for life eternal is to know which one is which and 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. Although Caiaphas doesn’t grasp the prophetic irony of his words, he unwittingly speaks this truth to his fellow religions leaders: “It is better for you that one man die for the people than that whole nation perish.” Yes, it is truly good that Jesus die for others. However, it is not rather than the whole nation perish; instead, it is so that the whole nation, indeed the whole world, might not perish but have everlasting life (John 3:16). Because of Jesus’ life and death, the eternal destruction that inevitably comes as a result of sin has been averted. And, even more wonderfully, an eternal, redeemed, restored relationship with God comes to all who believe because of His work on our behalf. The eternal blessings of His work also change the temporal lives we live in this world each day. His work empowers our lives; it orders our lives; it directs our lives. It also helps us put things in perspective as we face each day by faith.

The wisdom of this text challenges me in my new 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, the dreams of our politics, and the dreams of our own personal life can never take the place of God’s eternal plan for all of us in Jesus. The things of Jesus ought 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 through faith in Him. When we realize that we are His ultimate concern, then our faith and life in Him becomes our ultimate concern, something which literally infuses purpose and power into our daily lives now. Purpose, power, and blessing all come from Christ so that ultimate concerns remain ultimate concerns, and temporal concerns are prayerfully put into their proper place. So, ask yourself, “What’s my ultimate concern?” Why? Because 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 in eternity.  AMEN.

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