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John 12


As this chapter opens, Jesus is on a relentless journey to Jerusalem and ultimately to the cross.  Much of this chapter is actually about Jesus being back in Jerusalem facing the increasing hostility that will eventually lead to His crucifixion.  Jesus knew exactly what lay ahead of Him and He headed that way anyway.
The first scene occurs back in Bethany at the home of Mary, Martha, and Lazarus.  During the meal they shared, Mary anoints Jesus.  There are actually two annointings that seem very similar if not identical but are in fact, very different.  The one we read about here is also recounted in Matthew 26 and Mark 14.  The one in Luke 27 is a very different one.  That one happened in the home of Simon which appears to be in Galilee and the woman who anointed Jesus was a prostitute.
In the one that is before us, Mary pours some very expensive perfume (It would cost a year’s wages for a common laborer.) on the feet of Jesus.  She then lets down her hair which Jewish women would not do in public and wiped His feet with her hair.  According to 1 Corinthians 11:15, she laid down her “glory” when she let down her hair in front of Jesus.
Judas Iscariot was incensed by this.  His excuse was the perfume could have been sold and the money given to the poor.  His reality was he wanted that money for himself.  There are a couple of “by the ways” here.  The first is, by the way, as far as I can determine, this is the first time Judas speaks in the Gospels.  The second is, by the way, Jesus said in verse 8 that we will always have the poor among us.  In other words, we will never eradicate poverty in this fallen world.
The story moves then to Lazarus.  It seems the Pharisees decided that not only did they need to kill Jesus but they also needed to kill Lazarus.  It was really hard to deny that Jesus had the power and authority to raise someone from the dead, when the evidence of that resurrection was right there alive and well.
From this dinner in Bethlehem, we are dropped into the middle of a noisy parade in Jerusalem.  This event is called the Triumphal Entry.  This was actually a fulfillment of the prophecy of Zechariah 9.  But from a Roman view, a triumphal entry was the honor bestowed upon military leaders who had accomplished a great victory for Rome.  They were honored with a Triumphal Entry into the city.
Jesus’ triumphal entry was not based upon a great military victory.  In fact, with the events that are about to unfold, it will look to many like an utter failure.  Nevertheless, the crowd is more than excited as Jesus heads into Jerusalem for Passover.  As we know, what is about to happen is anything but failure.  It is indeed the greatest victory of all time. 
Because I am out of space, I want to wrap up by calling your attention to the paradoxes that Jesus shares in verses 23-26.  He says that “fruit” or life comes only from death.  He says that the only way to have life is not to try to keep the life we have.  And He says that service is the pathway to being honored by God.
Here’s what I will leave you with.  The principles of the Kingdom of God are almost always different from the principles that we think govern our world.  Kingdom principles are actually almost always the opposite of the way the world operates.  But the benefit and blessing of operating by Kingdom principles always, always, always outweighs the cost.

Posted by Joe Ligon with

John 11


If you are familiar with the Bible, you are probably familiar with this story.  Although familiarity with the Scripture is certainly a good thing, we have to be careful that our familiarity does not lead to carelessness.  In other words, when we read the Bible we need to read carefully – not reading into it what we remember that it said but reading it to see what it actually said.  So, I hope you read this chapter closely.
As the chapter opens, we find that a man named Lazarus was sick.  His two sisters sent for Jesus to come and help.  Since Jesus was about one day’s journey from Bethany when the story started, we know that Lazarus actually died on the day the sisters sent the messenger to Jesus.  Here’s how we know this.  In verse 39, Martha told Jesus that Lazarus had been dead for four days.  So, a little quick math: it took one day for the messenger to get to Jesus; Jesus waited two days before He headed to Bethany; and, it would have taken one day for Him to get there.  There’s your four days.
Why is that important?  Here’s another question to consider.  Since Jesus had already proven He could heal from a distance, why didn’t He do that for Lazarus?  Verse 14 doesn’t say Jesus was glad that Lazarus died.  He said He was glad that this situation would allow Him to demonstrate His power over our biggest enemy: death.
I am going to skip ahead in the story a bit now to verse 35.  This two word verse is the shortest verse in the Bible but it has much significance.  So, why did Jesus cry?  If He knew He was going to raise Lazarus from the dead, why did He cry?
To begin with, the Greek word used for wept here is found only here in the Bible.  It refers to a “silent” weeping.  This was not an audible wailing which is what happens in verse 33.  This is a deeply personal, quiet weeping.  But why did He cry?
One reason is His weeping reveals His humanity.  Isaiah 53:3 says Jesus is a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief.  He knows what it is like for to weep and grieve.  That means He is more than able to comfort us in our sorrows.
A second reason is His weeping may have been the result of the undeniable effect sin has had on creation.  The wages of sin is death.  Death is the result of sin.  So, as Jesus stood by the tomb that day, He may have been overcome by the devastation that sin had caused in His creation.
A third reason is His weeping may have actually been for Lazarus.  Maybe Jesus was grieving because He knew He was going to raise Lazarus from the dead and Lazarus was going to have to live in this sin infected world for awhile longer. 
Whatever the reason way, Jesus was visibly and physically disturbed by this event.  Nevertheless, He called Lazarus from the tomb and Lazarus came forth.  Jesus proved He is the Resurrection and that He had complete authority and power over our greatest enemy: death. 
Our friends, the Pharisees knew that this miracle was going to be the beginning of the end.  They were either going to have kill Jesus or they were going to lose their place in their culture (verse 48).  Isn’t it interesting that even in light of such a miracle, they were still only concerned about themselves?

Posted by Joe Ligon with

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