John 12:1-18

Read: John 12:1-18

Jesus’ raising Lazarus from the dead was not too long before the Passion Week. In light of this, Martha, Mary, and Lazarus held a dinner in his honor. At the dinner, Mary took a jar of expensive perfume of nard in an alabaster bottle, perhaps from as far away as India, and poured it on his feet and wiped them with her hair. Judas chimes in, saying the action was wasteful and that the perfume could have been sold for 300 denarii — about a year’s worth wages for a working man — and given the money given to the poor. John notes that Judas was the keeper of the money. John wrote this because he (and perhaps everyone else) knew that Judas would take money for himself. He did accept a bribe from the temple coffers to betray Jesus (Matthew 26:14-19), but in any case Judas’ statement was out of place, as he was saying it presumably to show piety, when he wasn’t pious at all. Jesus condemns Judas’ condemnation. He reasons that they will always have the poor but will not always have him and that she could keep it for her for his burial. Jesus knew that the time was coming for him to die. Mary was showing her respect for Jesus, who she knew to be the Son of God and the one who raised Lazarus from the dead. John also makes note that a large number of Jews found out where he was and come to him because they heard Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead and wanted to see Jesus and Lazarus. The ruler council in Jerusalem wanted to kill Lazarus too as this would stop people from going to see Jesus and Lazarus alike.

The next day was the day that Jesus made his triumphal entry into Jerusalem. He rode in on the back of a young donkey to fulfill the prophecy written in Zechariah 9:9. Zechariah declares a king who is coming with salvation and righteousness who would bring peace to all the nations. What is not certain as if they saw this in literal terms in that they saw Jesus as a political liberator from the Romans or if they saw this in spiritual terms, in that Jesus would deliver them from their sin. The crowds shout “Hosanna” which means “save us!” or “save us now!” and saying “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord” and calling him “the King of Israel”. They were singing a song from Psalm 118:25. Psalm 118 speaks of one who will bring salvation in the midst of adversity. Jesus was certainly at a high point here in terms of his popularity. The people were giving him a royal procession. The Pharisees saw this and were simply amazed. Even though Caiaphas had predicted that Jesus would die for the nation, they still saw him as a threat thinking that he was unstoppable.

Jesus had it all it seems: a following, feasts in his honor, and fame – even so much that they wanted him to be their king and saw him as the means to their political salvation. The Pharisees saw him as a threat to their power and Judas saw him as a means to get money. In the midst of all this though, Jesus knew what he was getting into. He knew that he was going to die and be buried and that he wouldn’t be with them much longer. Whatever expectations the people had for Jesus would surely be turned upside down if Jesus was to die. Even the disciples did not fully understand what Jesus was talking about when he was talking about his death and they did not realize it until after the resurrection. In any case, of one expects Jesus to be something he is not, they are destine to disappointment. Jesus’ mission was not to fulfill the people’s every wish or to liberate them from the Romans, rather his mission was to bring salvation and righteousness to all nations as Zechariah 9 declares. Rather than expecting Jesus to be something he is not, Christians ought to try and understand Jesus for who he really is and what his mission on earth was and align their expectations with that. This way, the expectations will not leave one disappointed because Jesus, being God, is sure to accomplish his tasks.

Lord, help me to not expect you to be something you are not, rather help me accept you for who you are!

John 6:26-41

Read: John 6:26-41

Jesus is the Bread of Life. Jesus had just fed 5000 people, no small feat. Before that, he was performing signs and wonders. He had made his way across the sea to escape the people who were trying to make him king. Jesus was not looking to a political revolutionary, but to bring salvation to those who might believe. Apparently, the people who followed Jesus were looking to get their bellies filled again, but Jesus tells them to seek something more lasting: food that endure. The people do pose a valid question: What shall they do? Jesus had just told them to do the work of God. What they did not understand, so it seems, was that Jesus was talking in parabolic terms, using common elements from life to communicate spiritual truth (John 3:3, John 4:13-14). Jesus answers them, saying that the work of God is to believe in Jesus, and in a typical Jewish fashion, the people ask for a sign. (They followed him because he fed them, not because of signs).

Jesus then expounds on his parabolic message about bread. He quotes from Exodus 16:4 – the story about God bringing manna from heaven. The story tells of how the Israelites were coming out of Egypt, and were grumbling against God because they did not have anything to eat. The Lord promises and sends “bread from heaven” for them to eat emphasizing it was God that sent it, not Moses. The people apparently are still looking for real bread to satisfy their bellies because they ask Jesus for this bread.  Jesus then makes the statement in John 6:35, “I am the Bread of Life” connecting himself to the parable. He describes himself as being sent from heaven and the one who gives life. They have seen him, yet do not believe him – perhaps in response to their demand for a sign. The people grumble against Jesus because he likens himself to the bread that filled their bellies.

The people who ate the bread that Jesus had multiplied had seen this and were ready to make him king. They tracked him down again looking for more bread. When Jesus gives them spiritual truth – what they need the most – they grumbled. Jesus for people today is a lot of things. Some see him as a good teacher. Some see him as a philosopher. Some see him as a revolutionary. While Jesus was these things in part, he was more than that. He was the provider of eternal life. Many people come to Jesus expecting him to be one way or another, and generally leave disappointed because Jesus did not meet their expectations. For those who do believe, it is easy to forget where one came from and grumble at God when God does not meet one’s expectations. God’s job is not to make one’s life more comfortable or easier. Many times, believing in Jesus can make one’s life even harder. What Christians have to remember is remember were God brought them from and where God is taking them and not try to make God into something he is not, rather Christians should let God shape them (Isaiah 64:8).

Lord, you are the potter – make me into the vessel I should be!