The Threat Escalates

Okay. We’re going to resume our study of going through the New Testament. Tonight, we’re going to pick up again in the gospel of John. For those who are just now joining us, we are looking to come to a deeper understanding of the doctrine of the Trinity and going through the New Testament to see what it says about who Jesus is and his relationship to the Father and the Spirit. Tonight, we’re going to be looking at John 12:1-11.

1Six days before the Passover, Jesus arrived at Bethany, where Lazarus lived, whom Jesus had raised from the dead. 2Here a dinner was given in Jesus’ honor. Martha served, while Lazarus was among those reclining at the table with him. 3Then Mary took about a pint of pure nard, an expensive perfume; she poured it on Jesus’ feet and wiped his feet with her hair. And the house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume. 4But one of his disciples, Judas Iscariot, who was later to betray him, objected, 5“Why wasn’t this perfume sold and the money given to the poor? It was worth a year’s wages.6He did not say this because he cared about the poor but because he was a thief; as keeper of the money bag, he used to help himself to what was put into it.

 7“Leave her alone,” Jesus replied. ” It was intended that she should save this perfume for the day of my burial. 8You will always have the poor among you, but you will not always have me.”

 9Meanwhile a large crowd of Jews found out that Jesus was there and came, not only because of him but also to see Lazarus, whom he had raised from the dead. 10So the chief priests made plans to kill Lazarus as well, 11for on account of him many of the Jews were going over to Jesus and putting their faith in him.

The anointing of Jesus involves a gracious act done by the donator. A year’s worth of wages was nothing to sneeze at back then. (And it still isn’t today!) This was a most valuable perfume and it was all used on Christ. Judas was indignant. (He also had an ulterior motive as he often helped himself to what was donated to Christ.)

Jesus tells them that Mary has done a wonderful thing. The poor will always be there. Christ will not always be there. Let us be sure we don’t see the poor always being with us as a good thing. It is a reminder that there will always be evil and the church will always need to be there until the return of Christ. There will never cease to be a need for ministry.

The most interesting aspect in John’s account however is that Lazarus is there. In John 9, we saw the Jews expelled someone from the synagogue because of belief in Jesus. Now they’re escalating the threat. Not only do they want Jesus dead, they want to get rid of Lazarus. He’s a living testimony to what Jesus has done.

When we realize this, it should remind us of the kind of message Jesus was speaking. Jesus was not weak and meek. Jesus was an iconoclast. He was going after the greatest sacred cows that the Jews had and all the while making them worry about the Roman threat that was all around them. 

If Jesus had just gone around  teaching that we ought to love our neighbors and basic morality, then chances are we would not have heard much about him. There is no shortage of moral teachers after all. Who in a society that claimed to follow the Law of God would want to put to death someone teaching that?

Jesus was teaching much more and what was worse than that was that he was someone who seemed to be credible to many. He wasn’t some crackpot that everyone would dismiss. This guy was teaching this stuff and he was getting a following. He was teaching the strangest message the world had ever heard, that God had come among them and his kingdom was beginning and Jesus was the focus of all of it.

Is it any wonder they saw him as a threat?

And what’s sad is that they took him more seriously than we do. One should look at Jesus and either fall down at his feet and call him Lord or sentence him to the lowest level of Hell. As C.S. Lewis would say, he did not leave you any other options.

What’s your choice?

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