John Chapter 12
E. L. Lovering, Ilfracombe
Subject: THE LAST DAYS.
Study Portion: Chapter 12. 1-33.
JOHN SELECTS THREE INCIDENTS in this last week of our Lord's earthly life:
The feast at Bethany, vv. 1-11.
The triumphant entry into Jerusalem, w. 12-19.
The coming of the Greeks, vv. 20-33.
We may note:
The Saviour's Anointing and an Act of Faith
Here is a study in Characters, Attitudes, Motives and Deeds.
The Lord Jesus who had so often been the Giver was now the Guest, for 'there they made him a supper'. It is still a great privilege to open the home to the Saviour.
LAZARUS AND THE SPIRIT OF SERENITY
Martha 'served' but Lazarus 'sat' at table with Him. Despite the thrill of a unique experience and the fact that he was now the centre of curiosity, Lazarus is calm - his greatest joy was to sit with Christ at the table. The Lord not Lazarus was the centre of the company.
The silence of worship is often more desirous than the sound of words.
MARTHA AND THE SPIRIT OF SERVICE
Service was the outstanding feature of Martha's character.
Previously distressed and distracted, she is now the one who 'served' or 'waited upon them'.
True service is thoughtfulness for others - 'inasmuch as ye did it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me', Matt. 25. 40.
MARY AND THE SPIRIT OF SACRIFICE
Here is an event of outstanding devotion and sacrifice. Note particularly the comment of the Saviour on this loving act, v. 7, 'Let her alone, against the day of my burying hath she kept this'.
These words have been interpreted variously. Some, taking R.V., 'Suffer her to keep it against the day of my burying', suggest that this was a preliminary act of devotion, and that Mary had kept the remainder of the ointment in anticipation of his death.
Others, that Mary, though unaware of the nearness of His death, was indeed anointing Him for his burial.
Still, others suggest that Mary was so intimately in touch with her Lord that she knew the secret of the cross and this, an act of devotion and faith, was indeed a revelation of what was in her heart. She was in some measure sharing His sorrow and revealing her knowledge of His soon-coming passion.
How far removed from this was the feigned philanthropy of Judas.
JUDAS AND THE SPIRIT OF SELFISHNESS
Waste or Worship?
How essential is the principle of motive! It would have been difficult for Mary to explain in logical terms this unconventional and seemingly prodigal act. Three hundred pence could indeed have helped the poor and the sick. But it was not mercy but money that moved the heart of Judas; not the poor of Bethany but the pence in the bag that inspired him.
'He had the bag and bare what was put therein', v. 6 (literally 'he carried away' or 'lifted' - with its double meaning), what was in the bag. Where Mary had enthroned the Saviour, Judas had enthroned self.
Worship is not weighed by words, nor praise produced by pence.
The Saviour's Advance and the Cry of Hope
John's account emphasizes the purpose, rather than the performance of the King's advance into Jerusalem.
'They took branches of palm trees and cried, Hosanna; Blessed is the King of Israel that cometh in the name of the Lord', v. 13.
'Hosanna' meaning 'save now' might indicate the belief that they expected immediate deliverance from the power of Rome. It was a cry of hope.
He was to wage a conflict, not with human rulers or earthly governments but with the powers of darkness and sin.
The cross was the crisis of the conflict.
HE RODE IN MEEKNESS
Five hundred years before, Zechariah had declared 'Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion . . . behold thy King cometh unto thee . . . lowly and riding upon an ass', Zech. 9. 9.
How accurately was this Scripture fulfilled!
Riding upon an ass was not essentially the mark of humility, for royal personages rode thus when they came in peace - here is the real significance of His triumphal entry.
HE RODE IN MAJESTY
'And Jesus when he had found a young ass, sat thereon', v. 14.
The manner of His entry expressed the character of His kingship; not upon a horse as military conqueror with the sword of war, but upon a young ass, the symbol of peace.
The ass as yet unharnessed and uncontrolled, responded to the Master's will and thus,
HE RODE IN MIGHT
The Saviour's Attraction and the Test of Love
Certain Greeks, perhaps Gentile-born proselytes, came with the request, 'Sir, we would see Jesus', v. 21.
Philip and Andrew together tell Jesus - here is fellowship in soul-winning.
Maybe the answer they received was not what they expected -the hour had come when the Son of man should be glorified, but it must be through suffering and death. His travail must precede His triumph, Isa. 53. 11, and the cross was the way to the crown. Here then is -
A corn of wheat in harvest - death and resurrection - so must it be for Him.
Did He see in the Greeks a firstfruit of harvest?
vv. 25, 26
Here is the test of love. 'He that loveth his life shall lose it, and he that hateth his life in this world shall keep it unto life eternal.' 'If any man serve me let him follow me . . .' A life of surrender and obedience to the Son receives the Father's honour. Men can only see Jesus by the way of the cross.
w. 27, 28
"Now is my soul troubled and what shall I say? Father, save me from this hour: but for this cause came I unto this hour. Father glorify thy name'. The reality of this petition must not be diminished by making the whole expression a question. Like that in Gethsemane's garden, 'Let this cup pass from me', it is genuinely real. Nothing could reconcile Him to the death of the cross, but the knowledge that it was His Father's will that He should endure it, and to His will He was obedient.
'Then came there a voice from heaven, saying, I have both glorified it, and will glorify it again.'
God had previously done this, at His baptism, and on the Mount of Transfiguration.
To some the voice of God was no more than a natural phenomenon, to others a manifestation from heaven. People often hear the same thing differently.
'And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me. This he said, signifying what death he should die.' Note here -
THE MAJESTY OF THE PERSON "I, if I'
This is emphatic and stands in direct contrast to v. 31. The prince of this world (the devil) is dethroned, but He is uplifted. As v. 33 indicates, this refers to the cross, but seeing the expression is literally 'lifted up out of the earth' the resurrection, ascension and exaltation at God's right hand may also be in view.
THE MAGNETISM OF THE POWER 'will draw all unto me'
'They came to Him from every quarter', Mark 1. 45.
From every part of the world - no geographical limits.
From every position in life - no social limits.
From every period in age - no age limits.
From every phase of society - no moral limits.
'That in all things he might have the pre-eminence . . . and having made peace through the blood of his cross, by him to reconcile all things unto himself, . . . whether they be things on earth, or things in heaven', Col. 1. 18, 20.
THE MANNER OF THE PASSION
'Lifted up'. See also chapters 3. 14; 8. 28.
Not death by stoning, but the death of the cross. That the Scripture might be fulfilled 'they pierced my hands and my feet', Ps. 22.
'Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us; for it is written, cursed is everyone that hangeth upon a tree', Gal. 3. 13.
'He became obedient to the extent of death, even the death of the cross', Phil. 2. 8.
Have you been drawn to Christ?