John 11:55-12:2, 9-11
Only Evil Continually
A very sad indictment on the children of men is written early in the Bible: “The Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually” (Genesis 6:5). We read this line just before God chooses to send the flood. Even after the flood when God determines never to send such a catastrophe upon the earth again for man’s sin, it reads, “for the intention of man’s heart is evil from his youth” (Genesis 8:21). This is the Bible’s summation of man, and we see it proven throughout not only Scripture but human history as well, and also within our own wicked hearts.
And it is this judgment of God upon man that Scripture shows us so clearly as we enter this last week of Jesus’ earthly ministry. Jesus has one more visit to make to Jerusalem – which will be his last – until he returns. This is because the Jewish leaders have already made up their minds: Jesus must die for the sake of the Jewish nation (John 11:49-50). We say this not out of any malice for God’s ancient people. As Jesus died for all, all had a hand in his crucifixion, including us (Romans 5:6-8).
And so the chief priests and the Pharisees gave orders before the feast of the Passover that people should tell them if they had any knowledge of Jesus’ whereabouts that they might arrest him; we might call it their “Wanted: Dead or Alive” poster. And not only so, but we read the shocking line that the chief priests decided to put Lazarus to death as well for the simple reason that many people believed on Jesus because of latter’s raising of the former from the dead. We do a double-take when we read this line: “Seriously?” Yes, seriously.
And this is this manifest wickedness of man that the Scriptures tell us lies at the bottom of each one of us, a portrait of ourselves that makes us shudder: “Is this really me? Is this really what I am?” Yes, it is. This is us in all of our ugliness. But it is also the very reason why the Triune God determined to send the Son to redeem a people from this ugliness. Yes, our sin abounds, but God’s grace abounds all the more (Romans 5:20). And so Jesus cried out from the cross, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do” (Luke 23:34). Such is our Lord’s compassion, such is his desire to remold and reshape us, that we who bear the image of the man of dust, may bear the image of the man of heaven (1 Corinthians 15:49). And through the washing of His Son, we are ugly no more, but made beautiful.