The Gospel of John: John 12

Let me start off by saying that my classes have gotten fairly crazy. Unfortunately that means I am writing this post much later in my normal cycle that I would like to be doing. I hope and pray that my rush to get this written for you does not come out in the quality of this post. But if I can believe in resurrection, I’m certain I can write well in spite of the rush. Let us focus our eyes upon Jesus, so the things of this earth can grow dim in the light of who he is (I’m pretty sure that’s a song).

Before Jesus begins enters Jerusalem for the final week of his life, he spends some time with the family he was with at the end of the last chapter. Martha is serving the meal to Jesus, her resurrected brother Lazarus, and (presumably) Jesus’ disciples. Mary chooses to anoint Jesus with nard (or spikenard). Scripture tells us that this perfume was expensive, and I am certain that as an import from India or China, it would have to be. In his greed, Judas asked why the money for the perfume was not given to the poor rather than used in this manner. Jesus, knowing what is about to happen, says, “Let her alone, so that she may keep [the body preparation for burial ritual] for the day of My burial. For you always have the poor with you, but you do not always have Me.” (John 12:7-8, NASB)

“What each one honors before all else, what before all things he admires and loves, this for him is God.”
— Origen

After Jesus entered Jerusalem on a donkey, there were some gentile Greeks, who witnessed the resurrection of Lazarus, that were looking for Jesus. They found Philip and Andrew who took them to Jesus. Jesus responds by speaking in parables and spiritual talk, a voice even speaks from heaven! Jesus teaches the crowd that they should follow after him for the short time that is left, so that when he is gone, they will know how to live. However, they were met with contradiction as the Pharisees did not follow Jesus. But Jesus responds to the crowd’s confusions by saying, “He who believes in Me, does not believe in Me but in Him who sent Me. He who sees Me sees the One who sent Me. I have come as Light into the world, so that everyone who believes in Me will not remain in darkness. If anyone hears My sayings and does not keep them, I do not judge him; for I did not come to judge the world, but to save the world.” (John 12:44-47, NASB)

“Let this be thy whole Endeavor, they thy prayer, this thy desire, that thou mayest be stripped of all selfishness, and with entire simplicity follow Jesus only.”
— Thomas á Kempis

Both of these sections show how people did not understand Jesus. They saw him, the recognized what he could do, but did not grasp what it means for Jesus to be who he is. Judas did not recognize the symbol of honor that Mary was giving him and the gentiles were not able to recognize that Jesus was more authoritative than the leaders of Israel. According to Jesus, humanity is under the curse of living in darkness; we cannot see or comprehend the truth. He is the light in the darkness, referring back to John 1:5. Jesus seeks to show the people around him the truth so they know what it is to live with God. Humanity, no matter how pious, had not lived in this truth since the events of Genesis 3. Jesus came to be visual to his people, and show them the way to be.

Going Forward

The truth is that we cannot make it on our own. Apart from Jesus, we cannot see the truth and are stumbling around within our lives. Yes, we try our best, but even a blind person cannot navigate a new space without something to guide them. Not only does God know what you were created for, and what is best for you, Jesus had the same existential experiences you do. Jesus helps you to overcome what you cannot see over. “For since He Himself was tempted in that which He has suffered, He is able to come to the aid of those who are tempted” (Hebrews 2:18, NASB). Jesus does not want you to fail against temptation. He wants to show you the path that leads past the temptation and into a life that is freed from those chains. Salvation is so much bigger than a ticket to heaven; it is our path Jesus has revealed to us.

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