Sunday, March 8, 2020
John 11-12 (NLT)
Last week we contemplated the wilderness as Jesus began His ministry immediately after His baptism. In December we concluded our Knowing Christ series as Jesus arrived in Jerusalem in Luke 19. Today we are studying in John 11-12, just six days before the Passover weekend of Jesus’ death, burial and resurrection.
After raising Lazarus from the dead (John 11:1-45), John tells us that many believed in Jesus. At the same time, the religious rulers were wrestling with how best to deal with this person who could obviously work miracles. Of course, the only answer that made sense to them was to kill Jesus (John 11:45-57)!
John tells us that there was at least one person who got it: Mary, the sister of Lazarus (John 12:1-11). She actually begins the preparation of Jesus’ body for burial while, at the same time, the leading priests begin to plot the death of Lazarus, too!
Jesus: “She did this in preparation for my burial” (John 12:7)
JESUS’ ARRIVAL IN JERUSALEM
People’s reactions are so different towards Jesus at the conclusion of John’s record of His triumphal entry into the city of Jerusalem. The disciples are confused. The crowds want to see more. The religious leaders are exasperated, complaining, ” Look, everyone has gone after him!” (vs. 19).
Then, seemingly out-of-the-blue, some Gentiles show up wanting to see Jesus and meet Him. So, they go to Philip who then goes to Andrew who then goes to Jesus…and that’s it. We assume that they are in the crowd as Jesus speaks about His death, burial and resurrection. During that discussion a voice thunders from heaven verifying Jesus’ message followed by Jesus’ dispelling the myth that the Messiah will not die (John 12:20-36).
In the end, John tells us, most of the people really did not believe in Jesus. For those that did believe, however–even among the religious rulers–they chose to keep their faith to themselves out of fear (John 12:37-43). John assures us that this was what Isaiah had predicted from long ago.
With Lazarus Jesus showed His authority over death. His predictions of His impending execution directly confront the belief that the Messiah cannot die in spite of the popular myths and legends. The arrival of the Gentiles who just want to meet with Jesus mixed with the volatile mixture of belief and disbelief of the crowds certainly set the stage. Added to this are the murderous intentions based on the fear and confusion of the religious leaders over what to do with Him.
It is almost as though John has been preparing us for Jesus’ final word before He completely turns His attention to the disciples in John 13-16 and His prayer for them in John 17. Here, at the conclusion of John 12, verses 44-50, Jesus makes it clear that “when you see Me, you are seeing the One Who sent Me”, His Father. Whether it is first century Greek Docetism or the modern day belief that Jesus was a good and wise man, the overriding theme is that there are people who will not believe in Him in spite of His claims.
The challenge for us is to accept God as He defines Himself. But, our nature is to take that role upon ourselves, creating a god in our own image, limited by our own understanding.
In sharp contrast, for those who do put their faith and trust in Jesus, Jesus Himself tells us…
- they are trusting in God,
- they are seeing God,
- they are emerging from the darkness,
- they are saved from the world,
- they will obey His commands and
- they will be given eternal life.