John 12:1-11

April 13, 2014 Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead and many people believed, but many others refused and even wanted to kill Him. They were afraid of a rebellion and they knew Rome would come and take away their nation and their power, but it’s not His time yet so He can’t be killed. I want to go back and look at 11:54-55; if we only had John’s gospel we might not realize just how much happens between those two verses. He goes to Ephraim (we know that much), but John doesn’t tell us (as the other gospels do) that from there He made His way to Samaria and healed ten lepers and had another confrontation with the Pharisees. Then He went to the coasts of Judea where He met the rich young ruler and bumped into some more Pharisees. Shortly after that He made His way to Jericho where He encountered Zaccheus and healed another blind man. Only then does He go to Bethany and begin the events in chapter 12. It’s important to know this because John skips several exciting stories just to tell us about Mary pouring oil over Him. Why would He do this? How could that story be more important than some of the others? I want you to notice that the rest of his gospel mainly covers only one more week in time. Within six days Jesus will be on the cross, and there are five big events building up to it: (1) Jesus is anointed by Mary before His death (12:1-11) (2) Jesus is welcomed into Jerusalem by people waving palm branches (12:12-19) (3) Jesus meets with some Greeks and condemns rejection (12:20-50) (4) Jesus meets with His disciples in the upper room (13:1-17:26) (5) Jesus goes into the garden to pray before His arrest (18:1-2) And then He’s arrested, tried, crucified, and resurrected. We get a little insight to some teachings beyond that but he doesn’t recount the ascension. And so, we’re going to focus on why he chooses these five things (especially the first three). Why would He skip so much to tell us this? Before we begin I’d also like for you to know that Matthew 26:6-13 and Mark 14:39 share what we’re about to read today from a slightly different perspective. We won’t read them now, but you should so you can get those extra details. For now let’s start in the first verse:

Then Jesus six days before the passover came to Bethany, where Lazarus was, which had been dead, whom he raised from the dead. Matthew and Mark both tell us that the supper was held at the home of a man called Simon the leper. You’ll notice in verse four that Judas is Simon’s son. I t’s possible that they had met at Judas’ father’s house. It’s also interesting that there’s another story of a woman who washes Jesus’ feet with her tears and hair in Luke 7:36-39. It’s not the same story, but it’s important because we know that the woman did this to His feet because of her great love for Him (7:47). Why does Mary pour this oil out onto Jesus? I think it ’s because she too loves Jesus. But the point I really want you to see here is that Lazarus had been dead but Jesus raised him again. This, I believe, is the main point in telling us this story about Mary. He’s getting ready to go to the grave…but look at Lazarus and be comforted!

There they made him a supper; and Martha served: but Lazarus was one of them that sat at the table with him. He’s no stranger to this family; it wasn’t long ago He was here and Martha served while Mary sat at His feet. (Lk. 10:38-42). When it says “but Lazarus” it draws special attention to the fact that Lazarus is there too. He was dead and in the tomb, but Jesus the life-giver made him alive! Now he’s sitting with Jesus and enjoying fellowship with Him.

Then took Mary a pound of ointment of spikenard, very costly, and anointed the feet of Jesus, and wiped his feet with her hair: and the house was filled with the odour of the ointment. This was referenced in 11:2. She was so devastated at that time but the Lord had brought comfort. Now she has a genuine love for Him that she shows with the spikenard. Matthew and Mark both say that she anointed His head; some think this is a contradiction, but as I said earlier, it really just shows us a more complete picture. She poured this oil on His head and it ran down to His feet. She got down on her knees and wiped the oil from His feet with her hair. In other words, she covered His entire body with this expensive oil, but it’s not appreciated by all:

Then saith one of his disciples, Judas Iscariot, Simon’s son, which should betray him, 5Why was not this ointment sold for three hundred pence, and

given to the poor? 6This he said, not that he cared for the poor; but because he was a thief, and had the bag, and bare what was put therein. The other gospels indicate that Judas wasn’t alone in this, but John’s account pinpoints him as the main culprit. 300 pence is estimated to be about a year’s wages. Whatever it’s worth, it’s enough to cause the disciples to see it as a waste when it’s spilled all over Jesus , and it might even seem like they have a worthy cause. But then John reveals the true motivation: Judas wants to look pious and he’s greedy. He didn’t really care about the poor; he could have skimmed a little from its profit. The word for “bare” means to “lift up.”1 It’s not a bad word choice; the disciples dropped their money in and Judas raised it back out. The Greek word for “poor” has in mind the idea of a beggar. 2 It’s astounding that in spite of all Jesus has done Judas has no faith in His ability and thinks money is the answer to the problem. It’s more amazing that Jesus let him so close into their circle and that He never told anyone else what He surely knew. Judas had a place and it would be discovered in due time. But look at Jesus’ response:

Then said Jesus, Let her alone: against the day of my burying hath she kept this. 8For the poor always ye have with you; but me ye have not always. Mary has this oil for for this purpose. It’s predestined perfume. The remark about always having the poor is written in Deuteronomy 15:11, but here the emphasis is not on them; Jesus wouldn’t be around with the disciples in the same way for much longer. He had already been predicting His death, but none of them understood what He meant. Even now they don’t seem to get it, but this is His point: the oil serves a special purpose in preparing for His death which is to come very shortly. Now, picture yourself as a disciple after the death of Christ. Could this story not have been a source of comfort to you? Lazarus had been dead, but now he’s alive. Jesus had predicted His death (He had even prepared for it at Simon ’s house); He will also live! And if He lives then so will we!

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Much people of the Jews therefore knew that he was there: and they came not for Jesus’ sake only, but that they might see Lazarus also, whom he had raised from the dead. Again, it’s stressed that Lazarus had been dead. When the people see Lazarus walking around they believe in Christ.
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But the chief priests consulted that they might put Lazarus also to death; Because that by reason of him many of the Jews went away, and believed on Jesus. This reinforces what we learned last week about how they suppress the truth. Even if someone is raised from the dead they won’t believe it. Lazarus makes their problem worse, so they make secret plans to kill an innocent man. If they can give the people a dead Jesus and a dead Lazarus then the people will stop believing, they hope. Next week we’ll see that the Pharisees’ fears of how Jesus might rule aren’t entirely unfounded. He rides into town with the adoration of the people as they shout that He is the King of Israel! For now let’s close with some observations: #1- This passage shows us a little about WORSHIP It is the result of grace and new life. Mary gave something valuable and didn’t think it was a loss to pour out the oil. It was directed at Christ specifically. #2- This passage shows us a little about FELLOWSHIP The one who had been given new life was there eating with Christ. Think of how often eating is compared to loving fellowship in the New Testament. #3- This passage shows us a little about HYPOCRISY Judas and those priests were so hypocritical, but they were known by God and used by Him. In the end they were revealed so everyone would know. This isn ’t something that’s supposed to scare God’s children (note that other disciples agreed with Judas about the oil). Rather, it should be something that comforts us because we know that we’ll be chastened as sons and the hypocrites will be exposed. #4- This passage shows us a little about HOPE When Jesus was on the cross His enemies said it was a real shame that He could save others but not Himself (Matt. 27:42). But you know what? Jesus did save Himself! He was raised from the dead. Lazarus was just a little taste of what Jesus

was going to do. He was ready for the grave and He knew He would overcome it. Now, if Christ rose, so shall we! What comfort and hope! But if there be no resurrection of the dead, then is Christ not risen: 14And if Christ be not risen, then is our preaching vain, and your faith is also vain. 15Yea, and we are found false witnesses of God; because we have testified of God that he raised up Christ: whom he raised not up, if so be that the dead rise not. 16For if the dead rise not, then is not Christ raised: 17And if Christ be not raised, your faith is vain; ye are yet in your sins. 18Then they also which are fallen asleep in Christ are perished. 19 If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable. 20But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits of them that slept. 21 For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead. 22 For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive (I Cor. 15:13-22).

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