This week, we continue our 60 journey together, walking through the pages of Scripture in order to learn who Jesus really was and is.
This is our 6th installment of 60 days with Jesus. If you’d like to join us on the journey, there are daily readings through the Gospel of John and corresponding memory verses - CLICK HERE to see those readings.
We come to Jesus’ final week before the cross. This is the week, most of the world begins to acknowledge on some level the person of Jesus Christ. Chapter 12 will be the central focus of our study, here. In chapter 12, the battle between the forces of light and the forces of darkness once again become the point John wants to make to his readers. It has been a central theme throughout John’s letter. People have to choose between light and darkness. We'll see 4 scenes of the struggle between the devotion of those of the light and the deception of those in the dark.
• Scene One - A banquet at Lazarus’ house.
Lazarus is the man Jesus raised from the dead in chapter 11. His sisters Mary and Martha are there too. The struggle in this scene is the extravagant offering of worship that was given by Mary. You can find the story in John 12:1-8.
The Extravagance of Mary’s gift is a problem with the CFO of the group, Judas. Judas was appalled. Surely there were the poor to feed, the homeless to take care of, the family recently laid off from work. Why this expensive, extravagant, perhaps wasteful act of worship?
Jesus rebukes Judas, pointing out the devotion of Mary. In fact, scholars say Mary was already accepting of the fact that Jesus would die. She is simply preparing him for a proper burial. She is the one who quickly accepts and understands the purpose of Jesus before the rest of the disciples.
The contrast between Mary and Judas is sharp. Mary’s act is one of adoration, offering extravagant devotion. Judas sits in condescending arrogance. He questions Mary’s loving act of worship. Even worse, He judges Jesus’ approval of the act. One is a worshiper; one is a thief. One shows the way of grace. The other, shows the way of sin.
This scene teaches us about extravagant worship.
• Scene Two - Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem.
It was the next day after the banquet: Sunday. Let’s pick up with the story in John 12:12-19.
The crowd did not understand. They were cheering for Jesus thinking he is ushering in a new political movement. That he would lead a revolt. Instead Jesus is riding on a donkey and they didn’t understand. Scholars tell us, If a king were coming to a city to make war, he rode a horse.
In contrast to this idea, Jesus comes in on a donkey, signifying the way of conquest would not be by the sword, but my meekness, gentleness, and peace. He would reign as king, but in a different way.
This scene teaches us that Jesus comes to bring peace.
• Scene Three - A shift in Jesus’ ministry.
Remember, this is the final week before the crucifixion. Up until this point – the mission of Jesus had been specifically to the Jews. Now there is a transition as we move toward the crucifixion and Jesus ultimate death for the whole world. Let's look at John 12:20-36.
The hour has now come… Jesus' mission is for the world. The Greeks, the gentiles, those outside of Judaism – the Gospel is for them too! The Gospel is for everyone.
This is a straight up appeal to people to choose Christ. He has demonstrated His authority and power.
Now, look at v.37-40. This is a sad commentary on the reaction of some. It is marked by unbelief. The chapter ends with a group of believers who decide that the social risks of being a public follower of Jesus are too much. They fear the authorities. And John implies that their faith is inadequate.
This scene is marked by unbelief, and that sets the stage for a final public message of Jesus in the next scene.
• Scene Four - A final public message of Jesus.
We see this final scene play out in John 12:44-50. It’s his final public message. He point to His Father. Once again he connects Himself to the light of life from the Old Testament. Again, Jesus is the light of the world. It says in v.46 that anyone who comes to him, they will no longer walk in darkness. That doesn’t mean you will have it all figured out. You don’t have all the answers, but you will have The Answer. He has all the answers, and when you turn to him, you will see the truth (John 8:32 says “and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”). Will you turn to him right now?