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That Escalated Quickly

Click here to read John 12 on BibleGateway.com

So the chief priests made plans to kill Lazarus as well,  for on account of him many of the Jews were going over to Jesus and believing in him. – John 12:10-11

Escalation picture

Everything grows over time. Seeds turn to plants, puppies turn to dogs, pizza turns to bellies, the garage sale down the street turns into the junk in your garage – they all start small, but soon push past their boundaries like milk boiling on a stove (seriously, what’s up with that?). Think about the last home-improvement project you started. You may have begun with the idea of replacing that shelf, but soon you had enough wood scattered around your house to build a deck. And not a small deck. A deck for the Titanic.

That’s how it goes. Things start small, but if you’re not careful, they quickly snowball out of control. That’s how it is with sin as well. Very rarely to people go from zero-to-mass-murderer in one moment. It’s little compromises and decisions along the way, and before you know it you’re driving a white Bronco in a slow-speed chase on national TV.


Once upon a time, the Jewish religious leaders in the first century just wanted to embarrass Jesus. He was drawing people away from their teachings, so obviously something had to be done. Ask this rube some tough questions about the law and people will see what a doofus he is; problem solved. Unfortunately, Jesus turned the tables and the religiousites came off looking like toddlers with their hands caught in a bag of Oreos.

Next step: kill Jesus. Caiaphas, the high priest in Jerusalem, argued that it was better for one person to die than for the whole nation to suffer. After all, in their minds, the Pharisees were acting in the best interests of the people. The logic was simple – if the people followed God’s law, good things happened. If they didn’t, another nation (Rome in this case) would come and take away their freedom (or what little of it they had). It happened repeatedly in the Old Testament, so they can perhaps be forgiven for not noticing that the New Testament had started a few weeks earlier.

But sin always escalates. Checking out Victoria’s Secret at the mall? If you don’t stop yourself, soon you’ll be visiting those sites, and perhaps eventually even acting on what you’ve dwelt on. Underestimate on your taxes? Won’t be long before you “forget” about those few thousand dollars you made on the side. Once you decide to kill Jesus, you have to kill those who support him. In this case – Lazarus.


Since people were lining up to listen to Lazarus talk about his trip to the afterlife, the opposition had to silence him, too. But it wouldn’t stop there either. After Jesus is dead, the disciples are next. Then the next generation of believers like Paul, Timothy, and Titus. Then the next generation, and the next, and the next. There is no end. Once you make a decision to sin, it’ll only get worse unless you turn around (“repent” in Bible-speak).

Fortunately, good can also be escalated. If you start out reading your Bible for 5 minutes a day, it’ll grown into 10. If you decide to give a few bucks to a missionary, you’ll give a little more the next time, and perhaps even end up going yourself. If you give a little in the offering this week, and a little the next, soon you’ll be surprised at how much you can give to God and still not starve. It all starts with a choice in the small things – which side of you do you want to grow? Wherever you start to put effort, the momentum will start to build.

What will you escalate today?

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