Monday, April 30, 2012

John 11:54-12:3

We have come to the final week of Jesus’ earthly life. After raising Lazarus, Jesus retreated with His disciples to Ephraim, a desert village that is about 15 miles northeast of Jerusalem. Because of His “celebrity,” some people were watching and waiting to see Jesus in Jerusalem, while the religious leaders sought to arrest him.

When it was almost time for the Jewish Passover, many went up from the country to Jerusalem for their ceremonial cleansing before the Passover. They kept looking for Jesus, and as they stood in the temple area they asked one another, “What do you think? Isn’t he coming to the Feast at all?” But the chief priests and Pharisees had given orders that if anyone found out where Jesus was, he should report it so that they might arrest him. (John 11:55-57)

Just prior to going to Jerusalem, Jesus pays one last visit to his friends, Mary, Martha, and Lazarus.

Six days before the Passover, Jesus arrived at Bethany, where Lazarus lived, whom Jesus had raised from the dead. Here a dinner was given in Jesus’ honor. Martha served, while Lazarus was among those reclining at the table with him. Then Mary took about a pint of pure nard, an expensive perfume; she poured it on Jesus’ feet and wiped his feet with her hair. And the house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume. (John 12:1-3)

Jon Courson points out that we are seeing these siblings exhibit three aspects of the church’s purpose: Martha is working in the kitchen (this time with no complaining), Lazarus is giving witness to his new life, and Mary, true to her character, is at the feet of Jesus , worshiping. Regarding Lazarus, Courson writes that although he doesn’t speak a word that is recorded here, he is nonetheless witnessing about his changed life. And just like Lazarus, that is what we are called to do, for Jesus has raised us from death! We were dead in our sins until He gave us new life. There is no witness more compelling than a changed life! As Courson writes, “It intrigues, interests, stimulates, and draws.” (Jon Courson’s Application Commentary: New Testament, P. 538)

Do people see a new creation in us? Do they see a changed heart and a joy that is not dependent upon circumstances? Or do they see the same dead body, still wrapped up in self, grumbling about our work or our marriages or our children, gossiping along with everyone else, and completely devoid of joy? You needn’t speak a word to be an effective witness. But if people see a change in you, they are sure to be curious! Tomorrow we’ll look at Mary, as she lavishes Jesus with love and worship.  

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