Series: Easter: This Changes Everything
Preacher: Dany Hernandez
Reflection: Sam Millen
Live Wonder: Bec Reid
Live Adventure: Jess Lee
Live Beyond: Art Preuss
Live Purpose: Don Pate
Editor: Becky De Oliveira
Refresh: Begin with prayer. Ask for the Holy Spirit to open your heart to new understanding and for God’s character to be revealed.
Read: John 12:1-19 in the New Testament for Everyone (NTE). Note 1–3 insights or questions.
Reflect: There are numerous motivations explored in the gospels for killing Jesus. In this passage, John concentrates on envy as a reason the chief priests wanted to murder an innocent man. Along with pride, or perhaps as its byproduct, envy has existed as long as evil itself. It started with Lucifer in heaven who became envious and desired to be like God (see Isaiah 14:12–14). Envy eventually found a place in human hearts. Adam and Eve also wanted to be like God (see Genesis 3:1–7). Envy was at work again when Cain murdered his brother Abel (see Genesis 4:1–15). I wonder how much bloodshed has been caused by envy. But even without shedding literal blood, envy causes us to “kill” the reputations or identities of others. To attack peoples’ characters and ruin lives. If we are truly honest with ourselves, we will recognize envy as no stranger to our hearts. It’s an open secret that pastors often struggle with envy. Many religious leaders still measure success by numbers (just like the chief priests did).
According to an online article by Richard Smith, Ph.D., in Psychology Today, there is an apparent difference between envy and jealousy. Most psychologists agree, “Envy occurs when we lack a desired attribute enjoyed by another.” The chief priests are envious because Jesus can literally raise someone from the dead. Smith states, “Jealousy occurs when something we already possess (usually a special relationship) is threatened by a third person. And so envy is a two-person situation whereas jealousy is a three-person situation. Envy is a reaction to lacking something. Jealousy is a reaction to the threat of losing something (usually someone).” It turns out the chief priests were jealous as well. Jesus was the third person (party) threatening their special relationship with the people. It was a powerful cocktail of emotions which included the combined ingredients of envy and jealousy stirring those chief priests into a frenzy!
I believe we receive freedom from envy (a hard taskmaster and impossible to satisfy) by finding our identity in relation to Christ. My identity is not based on how well I do my job (I have been told I’m the best pastor ever and have also been told I should never have become a pastor—that’s pretty bad). My value is not based on how I look in the mirror after a church potluck, what neighborhood I live in, how many “followers” I have on Twitter, which people invite me to their home for dinner, or how much money I have at the end of the month. It is certainly not based on how many good things I do or bad things I don’t do. (Many religions use this scale.) No matter how I score in these or any other categories, Christ views me exactly the same way. I am someone He loves more than life itself and He wants to spend eternity with me. This is who I am, and it is who you are. Which is why we can’t be envious of each other.
Recalibrate: What do you do when you feel envious? Is there a better response?
Respond: Whenever you catch yourself playing the “comparison game” (often a temptation on Facebook), pray for the other person’s success.
Research: Read the online article in Psychology Today regarding the difference between envy and jealousy.
Remember: “Because of Lazarus many Jews were leaving them and believing in Jesus” (John 12:11, ICB).
Sam Millen is the pastor at Anacortes Adventist Fellowship in Washington State. He his wife Angie is a schoolteacher on Orcas Island and their three children are really awesome!
Gather a number of different items from around your home that have a strong aroma—perfume, essential oils, flowers, herbs are a few ideas. Allow your little one to smell all the different aromas. Ask them what they like and what they don’t like, and why. Remind them that God created our sense of smell plus He created all the different types of aromas that can be found all around the world. Ask your little one what they think the room would have smelled like when Jesus was anointed by Mary.
Ask your mom to put some of her favorite perfume on your hand. What does it smell like? Do you like the smell? What do you think the room or house would smell like if we washed our feet in perfume, like Mary did with Jesus?
Now this is getting out of control! People from all over the place—Jews, Samaritans, and Greeks—have heard about how Lazarus is walking around as if nothing ever happened! Can you imagine being the person people are wanting to see because you were dead and are now alive again? Can you imagine the conversation?
“What did you feel when you were in the tomb?”
“Was it cold?”
“Couldn’t tell you.”
“Could you see anything?”
“All I remember is closing my eyes at home. I was in pain but then it all stopped. Then all I remember was opening my eyes. It was hard to see at first because of all the wrapping around my head. Then I was like, ‘I was dead!’ I could hear people talking as I was coming out of the tomb and then I heard a loud cheer. It was pretty cool! But the best part was seeing Jesus waiting for me.”
Let’s get real—have you ever wondered what happened to somebody when they died?
Jesus came riding into town on a donkey. The prophet Zechariah said He would. “Jerusalem, when your real King comes to you He won’t be riding in arrogance like the kings of the earth. He will come to you in humility, riding on a donkey” (9:9). Deuteronomy 17 said Jews weren’t even supposed to own horses. Every story about horses in the Bible is about arrogance (like Absalom or Pharaoh) or warfare. Every one. That Sunday Jesus wasn’t entering in arrogance and He wasn’t bringing war to Jerusalem. But there is one story where a horse will be ridden and God approves—Revelation 19. That chapter tells us the day will come when Jesus will ride a horse, but that Sunday in Jerusalem wasn’t the time for it. The humble King came to His people and they were going to turn on Him . . .
Bec Reid is a real estate agent within her family business. She lives in Sydney, Australia, and is a part of the Wahroonga Adventist Church community.
Jess Lee is an education consultant for the New South Wales Adventist education system. She lives in Sydney, Australia, and attends Kellyville Church.
Art Preuss pastors in Massachusetts at the Springfield, Florence, and Warren Adventist churches and serves in the U. S. Air Force Reserve as a chaplain.
Don Pate is “retired” in Tennessee after decades of teaching and pastoring but is still active in speaking and creating for the Kingdom.