Relevant Passages John 11:1-12:50
A Devoted Soul and an Impending Cross. Jesus’ ministry is now in transition. In John 11 and 12 we read of two significant events involving Jesus’ friends from Bethany: the death an resurrection of Lazarus, and Mary’s anointing of Jesus. These two events turn the focus of John’s Gospel toward Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection. Immediately following the anointing John describes Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem. The disciples did not understand the significance of these events at the time. But they would. John himself tells us that (John 12:16).
- Deadly delay. On the surface, it would appear that Jesus lacked sympathy for the plight of his friends. He did not go to them immediately but waited until Lazarus had already died. Could he have accomplished his purpose without giving the impression that he did not care for their needs?
- Risen to die again? As with all the resurrections which Jesus performed on earth (e.g. Jairus’ daughter, the widow’s son, Lazarus), the resurrected lived only to die again. There is ultimate hope in Jesus, but anything short of that is still tinged with pain. How does the Christian live with hope in the heart yet with tears in the eyes in for all the pain which still haunts our earth?
- Jesus weeps. John’s Gospel suggests that Jesus’ sorrow over the death of Lazarus was genuine. In Christian tradition, however, it has sometimes been the case that Jesus’ tears are seen to have been triggered by the pending fate of the nation. Is it possible for an all-knowing savior to feel genuine compassion for individuals and for the sorrow that wrenched his close friends? Why are Christians sometimes tempted to remove that privilege from him?
- One man should die for the nation (John 11:51). When Caiaphas made his brazen statement, he had no idea how true it would turn out to be. To what extent would the record of his statement be even more powerful at the time John wrote his Gospel in view of the fact that the Romans had already destroyed the holy place and the nation (cf. John 11:48)?
- One year’s earnings into perfume. Jesus spoke warmly of Mary’s gift and rebuked those who would criticize her. Looking back at Jesus, we can wholeheartedly affirm what Mary did for her Master. But to what extent should or could her generous deed be an example with reference to ordinary mortals? Should, we too, concentrate on gifts to the living instead of merely honoring those already dead?
- The specter of death. What parallels to our day can we draw from the fact that the people closest to Jesus were unwilling to accept the true spiritual nature of his kingdom? Virtually no one understood his mission until after the resurrection. Are we the wiser today? Or are we at risk in similar ways because our spiritual blindness?