THURSDAY, JUNE 29
SCRIPTURE: 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.