1 Six days before the Passover, Jesus came to Bethany, where Lazarus lived, whom Jesus had raised from the dead. 2 Here a dinner was given in Jesus’ honor. Martha served, while Lazarus was among those reclining at the table with him. 3 Then Mary took about a pint of pure nard, an expensive perfume; she poured it on Jesus’ feet and wiped his feet with her hair. And the house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume.
4 But one of his disciples, Judas Iscariot, who was later to betray him, objected, 5 “Why wasn’t this perfume sold and the money given to the poor? It was worth a year’s wages.” 6 He did not say this because he cared about the poor but because he was a thief; as keeper of the money bag, he used to help himself to what was put into it.
7 “Leave her alone,” Jesus replied. “It was intended that she should save this perfume for the day of my burial. 8 You will always have the poor among you, but you will not always have me.”
9 Meanwhile a large crowd of Jews found out that Jesus was there and came, not only because of him but also to see Lazarus, whom he had raised from the dead. 10 So the chief priests made plans to kill Lazarus as well, 11 for on account of him many of the Jews were going over to Jesus and believing in him.
It was six days before Passover. Since the raising of Lazarus, Jesus had lived quietly at Ephraim with His disciples. But now it was time…
The crowds in Jerusalem were so great for the Passover it was impossible to accommodate Jesus, His friends and disciples in the city itself. Bethany was close enough to go back and forth. When they arrived, Lazarus’ family entertained them with a dinner.
Mary was the one who poured pure nard, an extremely expensive perfume on Jesus’ feet. Matthew and Mark say she poured it over His head first, breaking an alabaster jar to do it. Then Mary let down her long hair that, in Jewish custom, was always bound in pubic. John may have focused on the anointing of Jesus’ feet because of the great humility Mary showed. She poured on His feet the most precious ointment possible as a token of honor and worship and then lovingly dried His feet with her hair.
This touched Jesus deeply. The act came at a time of hostility toward Him was reaching a climax, and He didn’t hesitate to defend and praise her.
Judas criticized the act – and we’re told why. But what he said also implied that Jesus wasn’t worth it!
Jesus said Mary’s act would be remembered. And it has been. The Lord promises that when His people stand at the throne of God, He will reveal every act of generous devotion, of suffering for His sake, or self-sacrificing generosity. Although these acts often aren’t noticed at the time, He preserves them like jewels.
And while we can’t pour out perfume on His body – He lives in all His believers so every act of kindness, service, compassion and the comfort of the gospel on His people is like doing it to Him.
John 12:12-19 The next day the great crowd that had come for the festival heard that Jesus was on his way to Jerusalem. 13 They took palm branches and went out to meet him, shouting,
“Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!”
“Blessed is the king of Israel!”
14 Jesus found a young donkey and sat on it, as it is written:
15 “Do not be afraid, Daughter Zion;
see, your king is coming,
seated on a donkey’s colt.”
16 At first his disciples did not understand all this. Only after Jesus was glorified did they realize that these things had been written about him and that these things had been done to him.
17 Now the crowd that was with him when he called Lazarus from the tomb and raised him from the dead continued to spread the word.18 Many people, because they had heard that he had performed this sign, went out to meet him. 19 So the Pharisees said to one another, “See, this is getting us nowhere. Look how the whole world has gone after him!”
Jesus had never put Himself out there in public demonstrations and attempts to honor Himself. But now was the time to fulfill prophecy.
It was Zechariah 9:9
that said, Rejoice greatly, Daughter Zion!
Shout, Daughter Jerusalem!
See, your king comes to you,
righteous and victorious,
lowly and riding on a donkey,
on a colt, the foal of a donkey.
As pilgrims continued to enter the city for Passover, news that Jesus was leaving Bethany for Jerusalem spread from person to person. Excited men, women and children began to join with Jesus’ procession and walk alongside Him as he approached the city. Palm branches were used in the Feast of Tabernacles. Since the victory of the Maccabean Jews over the Syrians in 166 BC, palm branches had been a symbol of the nation.
People even threw their own cloaks to make a royal carpet for Him. Using the Messianic words from Psalm 118:26
, people shouted, Blessed is he who comes in the name of the LORD.
Hosanna probably means something like “save us now” and Jesus was on His way to complete His people’s salvation.
John 12:20 – 50 Now there were some Greeks among those who went up to worship at the festival. 21 They came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida in Galilee, with a request. “Sir,” they said, “we would like to see Jesus.” 22 Philip went to tell Andrew; Andrew and Philip in turn told Jesus.
23 Jesus replied, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified.24 Very truly I tell you, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds.25 Anyone who loves their life will lose it, while anyone who hates their life in this world will keep it for eternal life. 26 Whoever serves me must follow me; and where I am, my servant also will be. My Father will honor the one who serves me.
27 “Now my soul is troubled, and what shall I say? ‘Father, save me from this hour’? No, it was for this very reason I came to this hour. 28 Father, glorify your name!”
Then a voice came from heaven, “I have glorified it, and will glorify it again.” 29 The crowd that was there and heard it said it had thundered; others said an angel had spoken to him.
30 Jesus said, “This voice was for your benefit, not mine. 31 Now is the time for judgment on this world; now the prince of this world will be driven out. 32 And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.” 33 He said this to show the kind of death he was going to die.
34 The crowd spoke up, “We have heard from the Law that the Messiah will remain forever, so how can you say, ‘The Son of Man must be lifted up’? Who is this ‘Son of Man’?”
35 Then Jesus told them, “You are going to have the light just a little while longer. Walk while you have the light, before darkness overtakes you. Whoever walks in the dark does not know where they are going.36 Believe in the light while you have the light, so that you may become children of light.” When he had finished speaking, Jesus left and hid himself from them.
37 Even after Jesus had performed so many signs in their presence, they still would not believe in him. 38 This was to fulfill the word of Isaiah the prophet:
“Lord, who has believed our message
and to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?”
39 For this reason they could not believe, because, as Isaiah says elsewhere:
40 “He has blinded their eyes
and hardened their hearts,
so they can neither see with their eyes,
nor understand with their hearts,
nor turn—and I would heal them.”
41 Isaiah said this because he saw Jesus’ glory and spoke about him.
42 Yet at the same time many even among the leaders believed in him. But because of the Pharisees they would not openly acknowledge their faith for fear they would be put out of the synagogue; 43 for they loved human praise more than praise from God.
44 Then Jesus cried out, “Whoever believes in me does not believe in me only, but in the one who sent me. 45 The one who looks at me is seeing the one who sent me. 46 I have come into the world as a light, so that no one who believes in me should stay in darkness.
47 “If anyone hears my words but does not keep them, I do not judge that person. For I did not come to judge the world, but to save the world. 48 There is a judge for the one who rejects me and does not accept my words; the very words I have spoken will condemn them at the last day. 49 For I did not speak on my own, but the Father who sent me commanded me to say all that I have spoken. 50 I know that his command leads to eternal life. So whatever I say is just what the Father has told me to say.”
This is really something! Never had Jesus been so popular and yet it’s His condemnation that would save the world!
Not just Jews were coming to Him, but Greeks sought Him out through His disciples. They represented the Gentiles who would be coming to Him and saved through Him.
It seems like everything was working out for Him to lead His people. He even said, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified.” But His version of glorified didn’t match anyone else’s.
The ONLY way He could accomplish His glorification as Savior of the world was through His death on the cross. With no death there could be no reproduction of His life in men and women from all nations. He illustrated this great truth with a picture of “kernel of wheat” – seeds planted in the ground. Without “death” and burial of the kernels, there would be no fruit or productivity. But when each kernel dies, its life is reproduced over and over in new life.
In His illustration He is the first grain of wheat from which comes every other seed of His new humanity. Jesus is the Bread of Life by which each believer lives.
And each grain in the head of wheat is like the original kernel that died. God infuses Jesus’ life into their own. Christians are predestined to be conformed to the image of the Son. This is the ultimate glorification of God, of Jesus and of all those who receive eternal life.
Jesus calls His people to identify with Him in following God’s will, not our own. This means a death to yourself, setting aside your inclinations and submitting to His will. For Jesus, the cross meant denial of His natural human desires. It meant betrayal, accusation, loss of reputation and more. The death of self must be the experience of anyone who follows Jesus.
What does this dying to self look like? It may mean we accept our circumstances as God’s will, and we look for ways to serve Him in those moments rather than be resentful and complain. It may mean we speak to others about Jesus and His gospel even though we know we may be rejected and ridiculed, or even persecuted as He was. It WILL mean we live according to His Word, loving others, even if those same people misunderstand us or treat us badly. Putting others before ourselves.
In verse 27 Jesus said, “Now my soul is troubled, and what shall I say? ‘Father, save me from this hour’? No, it was for this very reason I came to this hour. 28 Father, glorify your name!”
John doesn’t record the events in the Garden of Gethsemane, but here he showed the Lord’s deep inner struggle. Jesus knew how He would die, but He knew God’s will for Him and He never strayed from doing His will.
Then God spoke out loud. As He did at Jesus’ baptism and at the Transfiguration. This time He said, “I have glorified it, and will glorify it again.”
Before the extreme humiliation of the cross, God publicly gave His Son His loving approval.
People standing by heard the voice of God. Some of the people thought it had thundered others thought an angel spoke. And this was done for the people’s benefit. So they would see the relationship between God and His Son.
But before the glory would come the cross. The cross represents God’s judgment on humanity because of sin. He took on all of our sins – all of BELIEVER’S sins.
Labels: Jesus, Mary anointing Jesus' feet, Palm Sunday, The Gospel of John