Sunday, January 27, 2013

John 12, Part One

Mary anoints Jesus (vs. 1-8)--This appears to be the same event as recorded in Matthew 26 and Mark 14. There are some differences in John's account, but not contradictions. Jesus came to Bethany "six days before the Passover" (John 12:1), but doesn't say exactly when this supper was held; Mark tells us it was two days before the Passover actually began (Mark 14:1). Matthew and Mark both indicate that Mary poured the ointment on Jesus' head; John says on His feet. Obviously, she did both, and then wiped His feet with her hair. John emphasizes that Judas complained about the waste (John 12:4); this apparently started a murmuring among other disciples (Mark 14:4). The cost of the ointment was almost an entire year's wage at that time (300 Roman denarii), so it wasn't cheap.  Jesus praises her actions, though, obviously because it came from her heart; to Mary, doing something for Christ was more valuable than the money it cost her.  “The poor you have with you always”, Jesus tells us in verse 7, and it is a Christian’s duty to take care of those who are less fortunate, financially.  We have largely abdicated that role to government nowadays, of course, which is why people look to government, not to the church, for financial assistance.  That’s partly the church’s fault; we spend so much money entertaining our youth, building our elaborate cathedrals, and hiring our “staff” to do our work for us that we have little money left over to help those who truly need our help.  I suspect that over half the budgets of most churches are spent on things—church buildings, “youth ministers,” “involvement ministers”, etc. that are nowhere mentioned in the Bible and did not exist in the first century Christianity we reputedly are trying to restore.

Kill Lazarus, too (vs. 9-11)—Lazarus was a walking embarrassment to Christ’s enemies—and proof of His true identity to the open-minded (he still is).  So, rather than accept the implications of his resurrection, the chief priests plotted to put Lazarus to death also” (v. 10).  These people saw the resurrected Lazarus and still rejected Jesus.  Denial of Christ is not a matter of evidence, folks; it is purely a matter of the heart.  Of course, acceptance of Jesus has consequences, mainly, denial of self and sin, and submission to Him as Lord.  That is a price too high for many to pay.

Jesus' triumphant entry into Jerusalem (vs. 12-19)—Here we have another indisputable proof of the deity of Christ—the fulfillment of prophecy.  Zechariah has specifically mentioned this event almost 500 years previous (Zechariah 9:9); humans do not have a capacity to know detailed, precise events that far into the future.  We can make general prognostications for the near future, based upon historical trends and principles; but to know actual occurrences, 500 years in advance, is far beyond our abilities.  God reserved that for Himself, and indeed mocks other “gods” for their inability to predict the future (Isaiah 41:23).  To put Zechariah’s prophesy into perspective, let the reader remember that 500 years ago, Columbus had barely discovered the New World.  Could anyone, in the year 1513, have predicted Barack Obama or even the current United States of America?  Of course not.  The Old Testament, in effect, writes the entire life of Christ hundreds of years before He was born.  Only God could do that.  Jesus’ obtuse disciples did not understand all of this at first (John 12:16), and the occasion further riled the Pharisees:  “Look, the world has gone after Him!” (v. 19).   It is important to remember that Jesus always had a large following among the common people; such is why the religious leaders had to kill him at night, illegally, before the people knew what was happening.  Of course, the people did not truly understand Jesus, either, but they did sense His love and concern for them.  Envy killed the Jewish Messiah.

“The hour has come” (vs. 20-26)—Being the Passover, there were Jews from many places in Jerusalem, including, apparently, from Greece.  There is some difference of opinion as to who these people were—Jews who lived in Greece?  Grecian converts to Judaism?  Or, were they actual Gentiles who, having heard about Jesus, wanted to meet with Him?  The first idea seems to be the best to me, given John’s statement about people “who came to worship at the feast” (v. 20).  Gentiles wouldn’t be doing that.  Regardless of their identity, they had the right idea—they wanted to see Jesus (v. 21).  They spoke this request to Philip who, for reasons unknown, took it to Andrew, who then brought the matter before the Lord.  Jesus, as He usually did, turned it into a spiritual lesson not (always) easy to follow:  “The hour has come that the Son of Man should be gloried” (v. 23).  What, exactly, that had to do with some Greeks wanting to see Him is not immediately obvious, but then, we are dealing with the mind of God here.  Jesus speaks of His death, comparing it to a seed that must “die,” be planted in the ground, and then “live” again.  Jesus isn’t discussing horticulture here, He is describing His coming crucifixion, burial, and resurrection.  He once again, though, tells us, in effect, why so many will reject Him:  the cost is too high.  “He who loves his life will lose it, and he who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life” (v. 25).  This is simply a statement that we must love Jesus more than we love this world, or even ourselves.  Most people don’t want to do that.  But those who serve Christ will one day be honored by the Father (v. 26).

No comments:

Post a Comment