Musings From the Gospel of John – Number 27

The Scriptures covered in this post are from John 12:1-19

Six days before the Passover Jesus goes to Bethany (which would have been on Saturday before the coming crucification that took place on the following Friday) , which is just a relatively short distance from Jerusalem, where Mary, Martha and Lazarus lived. They prepared a supper for Jesus and Martha was serving, Lazarus was one of those who was reclining at the table with Jesus and Mary anoints the feet of Jesus with pure nard, which is an amazingly beautiful perfume, which can still be purchased in Jerusalem to this very day. The entire house would have been filled with its fragrance, as the Scripture notes.

One can only imagine the love and devotion that would have been extended to Jesus, who has just recently raised Lazarus from the dead. The custom at that time was to anoint the heads of guests and Mary would have done that as an act of honor but anointing the feet of Jesus would have been an act of devotion, especially where the Scriptures notes that Mary wiped the feet of Jesus with her own hair.

Judas makes note of the cost of the nard, being about 300 Denarii (one denarius was a laborer’s wage for one day, thus the perfume’s cost was approximately a year’s wage), noting that the money could have been given to the poor. Interesting that John indicates that Judas never really cared about the poor but was only really concerned because he was the one who held the money box for Jesus and his disciples and that Judas was a thief because he was prone to pilfering money that was put into it. The other disciples might not have been aware of that practise of Judas at that time, but Jesus obviously was and nevertheless allowed Judas to do so, knowing that according to the Scriptures, Judas has a part to play in what would eventually unfold.

Jesus tells Judas to leave Mary alone, that she will use what is left for the day of His burial. Obviously Mary, Martha and Lazarus plus the rest of His disciples were all aware of what Jesus had told them about his pending death and one can’t help but think that the mood of that dinner would have been difficult. Jesus draws to their collective attention that the poor will always be present with them but not so with Him.

A large crowd of Jews from Jerusalem learned that Jesus was at Bethany, so they went there, not only because Jesus was there but also to see Lazarus, who Jesus had raised from the dead. Bear in mind that the previous sign Jesus had done was to heal a blind man from birth, something that had not been done before by anyone and now we have Jesus raising someone from the dead, even after his body had started to decompose, so these escalating “signs” were really significant and noteworthy to the Jewish populace at large, which explains why the Chief Priests wanted to do away with Lazarus also. John tells us that many Jews were reconsidering the teachings and traditions of the Jewish leaders and were now believing in Jesus.

The next day (Sunday), the large crowd that had come to the Passover and heard that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem, goes out to meet Him with branches of palm trees, which is a sign of homage to Jesus as King, shouting “Hosanna! Blessed (celebrated, praised) is He who comes IN THE NAME OF THE LORD, even the King of Israel.” These are the very words below in Psalm 118:26 that the people used to bless Jesus as He rode into Jerusalem the week before the Passover.
Psalm 118:26
“Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord;
We have blessed you from the house of the Lord.”

It’s interesting to note that up until this point in time Jesus had discouraged expressions of support from the people (John 6:15, John 7:1-8) but here He allowed public enthusiasm because He knows that His time is at hand. He enters Jerusalem on the back of a young donkey. This act fulfilled prophecy in Zechariah 9:9 which states:
“Rejoice greatly, daughter of Zion!
Shout in triumph, daughter of Jerusalem!
Behold, your king is coming to you;
He is righteous and endowed with salvation,
Humble, and mounted on a donkey,
Even on a colt, the foal of a donkey.”
And having fulfilled this prophecy, it is a symbolic proclamation that Jesus is the Messiah.

In John 7:16 the Scripture states that at that time the disciples were not aware of the significance of this fulfillment of prophecy, but later, when Jesus was glorified and exalted, they remembered that these things had been written about Him and had been done to Him. This correlates with Jesus appearing to His disciples after His resurrection as recorded in Luke 24:25-27 which reads:
“And then He said to them, “You foolish men and slow of heart to believe in all that the prophets have spoken! Was it not necessary for the Christ to suffer these things and to come into His glory?” Then beginning with Moses and with all the Prophets, He explained to them the things written about Himself in all the Scriptures.”
And John 14:26 which reads” But the Helper, the Holy Spirit whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and remind you of all that I said to you.”

And concluding this post, in John 12:17-19 we see John tell us that the people who had been with Jesus, when He raised Lazarus from the dead, continue to tell others about Him. And, as John states, it is for this reason that the crowd went to meet Jesus, because they had heard that He had performed this sign. And the overall effect this was all having in and around Jerusalem? The Pharisees state it from their own perspective: “You see that your efforts are futile. Look! The whole world has gone after Him!

More to follow.

Worthy is the Lamb! Blessings!

8 comments

  1. I love to read about Mary’s anointing Jesus. Over the years I’ve heard/read a few additional thoughts. Such a valuable perfume was often a woman’s dowry, so using it on Jesus was a huge act of devotion. If it was the kind of thing used to anoint a body for burial, it’s still significant – Mary hadn’t even used it for her brother’s burial! This was done so close to the Crucifixion that it’s not hard to imagine Jesus’ clothing still having the fragrance on them when the soldiers were gambling for them. (I majored in directing, so details and speculations like this fascinate me. 😉 )

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    • The fact that Mary used her hair really got to me. It’s at such a personal level and Jesus accepted it, which also means a lot. I’m thinking that Mary was special in her devotion to Jesus. Have you every smelled real nard? It’s a beautifully consuming smell that seems to affect all of your senses.

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