The Bible says in John 12:1-8, "Then Jesus six days before the Passover came to Bethany, where Lazarus was which had been dead, whom He raised from the dead. There they made Him a supper; and Martha served: but Lazarus was one of them that sat at the table with him. Then took Mary a pound of ointment of spikenard, very costly, and anointed the feet of Jesus, and wiped His feet with her hair: and the house was filled with the odour of the ointment. Then said one of His disciples, Judas Iscariot, Simon’s son, who would betray him, Why was not this ointment sold for three hundred pence, and given to the poor? This he said, not that he cared for the poor; but because he was a thief, and had the bag, and bare what was put therein. Then said Jesus, Let her alone: against the day of my burying has she kept this. For the poor always you have with you; but me you have not always."
The last place that Jesus went before His final trip to Jerusalem was to the town of Bethany, and the house of Martha, Mary, and Lazarus. In this scene at the supper that was provided for Jesus there is a great contrast between the person of Mary and the person of Judas Iscariot. Out of devotion to Jesus, Mary had sacrificed a large sum of money in order to buy a precious ointment with which to anoint Jesus. You don’t have to ask people to be generous who are truly devoted to Christ. Such people are like Mary, and they look for opportunities to use their substance for the glory of God. Those who are forgiven much, the same love much.
The Bible says that Mary wiped His feet with her hair and the house was filled with the fragrance of the ointment. It was the custom in Palestine in the times of the New Testament that for those who had been out on the dusty roads during the day, at night the servants would wash their feet before the evening meal. Mary was taking the position of the servant by anointing the feet of Jesus. Everyone who believes in Jesus should regard themselves as a servant of Christ.
We see Mary as the devoted and humble servant of Christ, and in great contrast to her was Judas Iscariot. Mary loved Jesus: what Judas’ love was money, material things. Jesus taught by the example of the rich, young ruler what would happen to someone who loved material things more than God. It says in John 12:6 that Judas was the keeper of the bag of money. In other words Judas was the treasurer. He probably volunteered to be the treasurer of the group, and he either planned all along to steal from the bag, or because of his own inherent weakness, he could not resist stealing from it once it was in his possession.
Judas is a good example of how one sin will lead to another. Either learn to repent of your sins, or your sins will destroy you. Judas became a thief and then he became a liar. He lied when he scolded Mary for wasting the ointment on Jesus, because Judas had no intention of giving to the poor. He wanted the money to go into the bag so that he would have access to it. At the Last Supper, Jesus would say that Judas had a devil. If you do not allow the Spirit of God to have free access to your heart and to your soul, you never know what evil spirit may come and take control of you. In just a few days, Judas would sell the life of Jesus for 40 pieces of silver.
When Judas criticized and condemned Mary for what she had done in buying the ointment for Jesus, he showed a critical and condemning spirit. You are most like the devil when you condemn and criticize because the devil is called the accuser of the brethren. But Jesus came to Mary’s defense, just as He will come to ours. No one can rise in judgment against the believers in Jesus, because He will always be there for us. "We have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous." Jesus did not confront Judas for his lying, or for his treacherous materialism; but when Judas criticized and condemned Mary, Jesus stood up for her and told Judas to leave her alone. In the same way, when the devil tries to condemn us, Jesus will always say, "Leave them alone. I have forgiven them."
If you have ever come under the scornful or criticizing opinion of others, then you probably understand the value of being totally and completely accepted by Jesus, and having Him for your defender. ‘What a wonderful Savior is Jesus our Lord, what a wonderful Savior is He. He hideth my soul in the cleft of the rock, where rivers of mercy I see.’ Paul wrote in Rom. 8:1, "There is therefore, now no condemnation to those that are in Christ Jesus."
In John 12:9-11 the Bible says, "Much people of the Jews therefore knew that he was there: and they came not for Jesus’ sake only, but that they might see Lazarus also, whom he had raised from the dead. But the chief priests consulted that they might put Lazarus to death; Because that by reason of him many of the Jews went away, and believed on Jesus." Jesus had raised Lazarus from the dead, and that miracle had caused more commotion and had gotten more attention than any other miracle that Jesus had done. Notice the illogical response of the chief priests. They decided that the solution to the problem was to kill Lazarus. You would think that it would have crossed their minds, that if Jesus had already raised Lazarus from the dead, that killing Lazarus could not possibly be the solution. But they would make the same mistake in regards to Jesus. Other leaders of other countries have made the same mistake, also. You cannot stop the truth with violence or any other underhanded means. The truth has a way of coming to light that no one stop, like bubbles of air that rise from the ocean floor until they eventually break the surface and join the rest of the atmosphere. Jesus said, "That which is spoken in secret shall be shouted from the housetops." The wise person will love the truth and will speak the truth, even when it hurts. It will hurt less to speak the truth now, than to cover it up and then to have both the truth and the lie to come out later.
John 12:12-15 says, "On the next day much people that were come to the feast, when they heard that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem, Took branches of palm trees, and went forth to meet him, and cried, Hosanna: Blessed is the King of Israel that comes in the name of the Lord. And Jesus, when he had found a young donkey, sat thereon; and as it is written, Fear not, daughter of Zion, Behold, your king is coming, sitting on a donkey’s colt."
In Jerusalem the rulers of the Jews had done a very good job of causing the populace to be afraid of speaking out in favor of Jesus. But now at the time of the Passover Jerusalem was filled with people from all over the regions of Palestine and beyond. It was these people who were not affected by the threats from the Jewish leaders who came out to publicly welcome Jesus on what we now call Palm Sunday. There are some things that God is going to cause to happen no matter what man does to resist or to oppose. If these people had not cried out, the very rocks may have cried out in praise to God.
The manner in which Jesus came into Jerusalem was very significant. If you were to go back a thousand years before the time of Christ, you would find that David’s son, Solomon, rode into Jerusalem on a donkey when he was crowned as King of Israel. And we know that the prophesies in the Bible about the Messiah state that He would come in the lineage of David, not only to be the King of Israel but to also be the King of Kings. The Apostle John quoted prophecies from Zechariah and the Psalms that tell of the Messiah riding into Jerusalem on a donkey. By riding into Jerusalem in this manner and receiving the praises of the people, Jesus was saying through the symbolism of it all, "I am the Messiah. I am the fulfillment of the promises about the Messiah who would come in the name of the Lord." We see that Jesus is received as the Messiah on Palm Sunday, but in the next few chapters of John we see that the behavior of these people will change drastically. The same ones who cried out, "Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord," will later in the week cry out, "Crucify him, crucify him." In the 2,000 years that have passed since the crucifixion of Jesus, we have seen a similar pattern in human beings. On Sunday many human beings profess to believe one thing, but later in the week in the pressures of life, their actions are not consistent with what they professed just a few days before. One of the greatest challenges of the Christian life will always be to put into practice what you claim to believe. "Be not hearers of the Word only, but doers of it."
John 12:16-19 says, "These things understood not his disciples at the first: but when Jesus was glorified, then remembered they that these things were written of him, and that they had done these things unto him. The people therefore that was with him when he called Lazarus out of his grave, and raised him from the dead, bore record. For this cause the people also met him, for that they heard that he had done this miracle. The Pharisees therefore said among themselves, Perceive you how you prevail nothing? Behold, the world is gone after him."
Many of the things that the disciples experienced with Jesus, they did not understand until later. This was especially true concerning the tragic events in the last week of the life of Jesus. We will sometimes have the same experience in life. Things will happen that we will not understand, and we will be tempted to think, “Why?” “Why did God allow it to happen?” We may not understand now, but some day we will. Some day we will see that God knew what He was doing all along, and that everything fit perfectly into the will of God.
When Jesus entered Jerusalem on that day, John quoted from Zechariah that said, "Fear not, daughter of Zion. Behold, thy King is coming, sitting on a donkey’s colt." He said, "Fear not." If Jesus is King, then Jesus is in control, and there is nothing to fear. The main events of history will proceed according to God’s timetable, and so will the events of your life. Those who do not believe in Jesus; do not have the same opportunity to be free from fear, and so the leaders of the Jews were afraid that Jesus would take away their position. They feared the popularity that Jesus appeared to be receiving.
It was not just the Jewish population that received Jesus. Jesus came in order to be the Savior of the whole world, not just of the Jews. He offers Himself to all the world. And the non-Jews who were in Jerusalem also wanted to see Jesus. It says in John 12:20-23, "And there were certain Greeks among them that came up to worship at the feast: The same came therefore to Philip, which was of Bethsaida of Galilee, and desired him saying, Sir, we would see Jesus. Philip comes and tells Andrew: and again Andrew and Philip tell Jesus. And Jesus answered them saying, The hour is come, that the Son of man should be glorified."
We do not know a lot about Philip, but one of the things that we do know about him is that in John Chapter 1, after he believed on Jesus, Philip went to Nathanael and said to him, "We have found him of whom Moses in the law and the prophets did write, Jesus of Nazareth the son of Joseph." So we know that Philip invited Nathanael to come to Jesus, but now we see that Philip hesitates to invite these Greeks to come to Jesus. The answer that Jesus gave was, "The hour is come, that the Son of Man should be glorified." Jesus told Philip that he was the Son of man, in other words, the Son of mankind. Of course, the Greeks should be permitted to come to Jesus. Jesus came to die for the sins of all the world. He is the Son of Man. He rejects no one. As a matter of fact, He invites everyone to come.
If someone does fail to come to Jesus, it will not be because of their race or nationality. All of humanity is welcome and invited to come to Him. But if someone does not come to Jesus, the reason is given by Jesus in John 12:24-25. He said, "Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abides alone: but if it die, it brings forth much fruit. He that loves his life shall lose it; but he that hates his life in this world shall keep it unto life eternal." The true believers in Jesus are the ones who have surrendered their life to Him. It’s not an easy thing to give your entire life to Jesus Christ with nothing held back. It requires dying to oneself. That’s one of the reasons that not many wise and not many noble are saved. It’s usually the misfits of the world who give their life to Jesus, because they are more easily willing to lose the life that they otherwise would have in this world.
To believe in Jesus in the way that He was talking about means that you give up something to God. What you give up is all the things that you otherwise would have wanted and all the things that you otherwise would have done. Someone who comes to Jesus to believe in Him must surrender their life with no reservations or they did not believe. It’s the pride of life and the will of man that will keep someone from being a servant of Christ. The servant of Christ will say, “How can I use my business or my occupation for the glory of God?” But the person who does not believe in Jesus will have none of that. Such a person will only have the will of the flesh to motivate them, and will say, “My business and my affairs I will use for myself and for my own purposes.”
One of the important meanings of life is to see that your life is not in vain: that your life accomplishes something worthwhile, and that you reach a meaningful level of fulfillment. That’s bringing forth fruit. If your life brings forth fruit, then you will have arrived to the point where some of the things that you are involved in have a good influence on the world around you. Instead of your life being wasted on selfish pursuits, your life becomes a part of the greater good and of the will of God. Jesus said that this can only happen if you die to yourself. He said, "He that loves his life shall lose it; but he that hates his life in this world shall save it unto life eternal."
Copyright; 2000 by Charles F. (Rick) Creech
All Rights Reserved