John 12. Jesus Is Glorified. Part. I.
Key Notes: Mary's extraordinary gift. The poor are always with you. Judas and money. The Triumphal Entry.
“The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified.” (12:23).
In this chapter, Jesus was glorified in several ways, all unusual.
Mary of Bethany anointed Him with a perfume. 12:1–1
The crowd made a parade for Him into Jerusalem with palm branches and shouting. 12:12–19
Greeks came to see Him for the first time. 12:20–26
Jesus and others heard the affirming voice of the Father. 12:27–36
Jesus was also glorified in the OT, seen by Isaiah, confirmed by John. 12:37–43
Jesus reiterated His own total dependence on the Father. 12:44–50
12:1–11 Anointing by Mary of Bethany. This is the third Passover of Jesus’ ministry. Jn.2:13; 6:4; 11:5
Jesus had three recorded interactions with His dear friends, all single people, the family of Lazarus, Mary and Martha.
*Martha invited Him to dinner and was irritated that her sister did not help. Mary was at Jesus’ feet, listening to His teaching. Jesus defended Mary’s choice; it is better to learn from the Lord than to fix food. Lk.10:38–42
*Lazarus died, and was raised, as we read in the previous chapter. The sisters grieved that Jesus had not come in time to heal Lazarus, but saw a dramatic miracle when their brother was raised to life. (Jn.11)
*This third episode, the anointing, is also reported by two other evangelists with minor variations. (Matt.26:7-; Mk.14:3-) John puts the anointing of Jesus six days before Passover in the house of Simon the Leper. The other accounts describe ointment poured on Jesus’ head while John mentions only Jesus’ feet. They all relate the commendation of her sacrificial offering, which would be remembered forever. Mary's name is not given.
Another similar episode, of a woman who came to Simon’s party is quite different. She came in contrition for sin and received forgiveness. Lk.7:36–50
12:1–2 The place of the supper is not mentioned, but Lazarus, newly alive, was there, with Martha serving. Mary brought out a pound of spikenard, a rare perfume derived from a plant of the Himalayas. A jar that size would contain about two hand-fulls of creamy liquid. She poured it on His feet (and His head) , wiping the excess from His feet with her hair. The fragrance filled the house and both He and she would carry the fragrance for days.
The disciples were uncomfortable. Judas was not pleased. He disapproved of the extravagant waste of money, in this case, a treasure worth a year’ salary, about $30, 000 in American money. (A diamond ring can be purchased for a tenth of that.) He had a vested interest in money because he kept the petty cash for the disciples, and stole from the box. He was not interested in the poor. Jesus rebuked him and attached Mary’s gift to the preparation for His burial.
Jesus said “The poor you always have with you, but you do not always have Me.” Some are critical of Jesus’ apparent dismissal of the poor. But Jesus cared for the poor; He sent word to John the Baptist in prison that “The poor have good news preached to them.” (Matt.11:5).
“The poor you always have with you” comes from Deut. 15 where Moses issues economic rules for Israel.
“There will be no poor among you... if only you will obey the voice of the Lord your God, being careful to do all this commandment which I command you this day.” (Deut.15:4–5)
That command specified that no interest on loans should be taken from a fellow Israelite.
“For the poor will never cease out of the land….” (Deut.15:11).
This later remark in the same chapter is a recognition that they would not obey. So Jesus was using this occasion to remind Israel of its disobedience.
Judas became possessed by Satan. (Jn.13:27). He went out, we are told by Matthew (26:14), to get money from the Pharisees to betray Jesus. Judas is a study in character. Jesus said he was chosen by Him but was a devil. (Jn.6:70). John says he was a thief and loved money. Also since the other disciples thought they would all soon die (Jn.11:16), Judas may have decided that he would not be caught with this bunch of losers, so he went over to the other side to save his life. He was not so evil that he could not finally feel remorse: “I have sinned in betraying innocent blood.” Matt.27:4.
Mary’s gift was unique and expensive, sensuous and spectacular. It can never be duplicated. We celebrate her offering after two thousand years. Her act of worship raised her above all other women except His Mother, and glorified the Lord whom she loved. But our incentive to give to Him is much greater. We understand what she could only dimly perceive. She could not have experienced salvation fully, as we have, but her love was overwhelming. What shall we give to Him?
12:12–19 This is the story of the Triumphal Entry. Jesus’ raising of Lazarus and the sensation that Lazarus himself made, created conditions for a large gathering around Jesus going to Jerusalem. And thousands who were in Jerusalem for Passover came out to meet Him with palm branches. Jesus went to Jerusalem deliberately. He found a young donkey and rode into the city with crowds cheering, fulfilling the word of Zechariah 9:9.
“Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! Lo, your king comes ro you, triumphant and victorious is He, humble and riding on an ass....”
The humble donkey was a common pack and transportation animal in Old Testament life. David and sons of kings rode donkeys. Riding a horse would have suggested a military mission. Jesus was the Prince of Peace.
The words they shouted were from the Psalms of Ascent (Psa.113–118).
“Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest!” (Matt.21:9)
“Save us, we beseech Thee, O Lord! O Lord, we beseech Thee, give us success.” (Psa.118:25)
The Triumphal Entry of Palm Sunday is celebrated each year as part of Easter Week. We celebrate without thinking much about it. However, it was notably out of character for Jesus to make such a display. Previously when they tried to make Him king, He retreated to the mountain. (Jn.6:15). His reputation for quiet is described in the words of Isaiah 42:1–4:
“He will not wrangle or cry aloud, nor will anyone hear His voice in the streets;” (Matt.12:19)
Making a parade as King is unique and demands explanation. Most commentators are content that He came to fulfill the prophecy of Zechariah. But Palm Sunday is four days before Passover and this is the time to set aside the lamb that was to be sacrificed. The Passover lamb was selected on the tenth day (Ex. 12:3) and sacrificed on the fourteenth. (Ex.12:6). On Palm Sunday, Jesus is presenting Himself as the Passover Lamb to Israel. While the people are rejoicing, the Pharisees were grinding their teeth, and sharpening their knives:
“You see that you can do nothing; look, the world has gone after Him.” (Jn.12:19)
The scene is one of joy and jubilation. Was Jesus down-cast and sad? I think not. He knew that the celebration was short-lived, but it was glorifying to God and to Him. His pleasure would soon be replaced by anger---cleansing the Temple, (Matt.21:12–16) and grieving over the doomed City (Matt.23:37–39)--- but this moment was glorious.
May we glorify Him with our praise and our gifts.