Jesus just performed one of his greatest miracles by publicly raising a man from the dead. One would think that the response from the crowd would be amazement, belief and reverential awe for God, but we find the response is actually mixed. The text tells us that many (most) of the Jews who were with them believed. Now these were not the Jewish leaders but the text suggests these are Jewish friends of Mary and Martha who had come to grieve and give condolences for the passing of their brother. We also read that some immediately left and went to the Jewish authorities and ratted Jesus out. This is a key spot in the Gospel of John because from this point the remainder of the Gospel of John deals primarily with the events that lead up to and end with the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus. We have spent eleven and a half chapters covering three and half years of Jesus’ life and now the remaining ten chapters focus primarily on the final six days of Jesus’ life. We now enter the phase of Jesus’ life that I am calling the beginning of the end.
Verse 45: It’s amazing to see the responses to this miracle. There are two responses.
- Many saw and believed. The word “many” implies that most people believed. They saw the hand of God at work in Jesus and they were convinced Jesus is who he said he was. They believed he was the coming Messiah.
- Others were infuriated and wanted Jesus dead. Others saw what Jesus did and went to the authorities and their response was based on fear and decided… This man needs to be gone for good.
Verses 47 – 48: The Jewish authorities called council together and began talking about what must be done to stop Jesus. You and I know he had done nothing wrong and in reality the Jews knew this as well. They were not concerned with his good deeds, they were worried that he was gaining a large following and people were beginning to believe he was the Messiah. They were afraid people would start putting their allegiances in Jesus and as a result would attract the attention of the Romans. When they saw this band of followers they would assume a revolt was on the horizon and they would put it to an end. They feared the Romans would come in and violently take their land and disperse the people. Obviously the Jews did not want this to happen. They were mostly concerned that Jesus’ agenda would disrupt the peace (never in a million years would they think it would in fact bring peace). The truth is God’s agenda did not fit their agenda. In actuality God’s agenda was not even on their radar. They had no clue God was up to something and even if he was they had no interest in it.
Verses 49 – 53: Caiaphas (the High Priest) spoke words that rang true and yet he had no idea how true his words were. He was not a follower of Jesus. His conclusion was if Jesus dies the nation of Israel will be saved. This is true… however he was thinking if they dispose of Jesus then Rome will have no reason to come and take their land and peace will continue. If Jesus dies Israel will be left alone.
The truth is Jesus’ death would in fact save the nation of Israel but not in the way they were thinking. Through Jesus’ death salvation would be available to the whole nation of Israel (and Gentiles) to all who believed. The death of Jesus is inevitable it is part of the plan of restoration. Even Caiaphas received a prophecy about the death of Jesus. Calvary was God’s Plan A… There was no Plan B, C, or D. Jesus knew this as this was the purpose of his coming.
The conclusion the Jewish authorities come to is we must kill him. Thus a plot to kill him began.
Verse 54: Jesus goes underground. Apparently Jesus knew of this plot and he goes to Ephraim. This is about 15 miles from Jerusalem and is located close to the wilderness. Jesus’ staying there was probably strategic in case he needed to escape to the wilderness if he was sought out.
Verse 55: Passover nears. Passover is the chief Holy day of the three annual festivals of the Jews. For a complete historical background on Passover I would suggest you read Exodus 12-13. In a nutshell Passover is a remembrance of the Lord’s passing over the house of the Israelites during the tenth plague in Egypt (death of the firstborn). It is also known as the Feast of Unleavened Bread because unleavened bread was to be eaten and kept in the household. Passover was a big deal and people came from all over to Jerusalem to undergo a ceremonial cleaning before entering the Passover celebration.
Verse 56 - 57: The Jews figured Jesus would come for the ritual of cleansing so they devised a plot to arrest Jesus.
Verses 1 – 3: Six days before Passover Jesus goes to Lazarus’s house. A meal is prepared and He is anointed with very expensive perfume by Mary. She uses her hair to wipe his feet. This is an act of worship on Mary’s part. In this act of worship she is declaring the value of Christ to her. As we will see in a few verses this perfume could have been sold for a year’s wages so this was a very costly act of worship. In essence Mary was declaring that there is nothing more valuable to her than Jesus.
Verses 4 – 6: Judas questions the “wastefulness” of expensive oil. Judas had no care for the poor he was just a greedy thief. He tried to spiritualize his shortsightedness by stating they could use the funds to give to the poor but John tells us he had no concern for the poor.
How often do we do this in our own lives and church? How often do we spiritualize what we think we should do concerning something so we can get our way? Many times these are used as stall tactics to stop something that is happening that we don’t want to happen. Or we try to use God’s name as a reason for not doing something when in fact it is ourselves who really don’t want to do something. These are narrow sighted acts. When we do this we don’t see with eyes of faith and worship (or even appreciate the value of Christ and feel he is worth the investment) instead we do or promote that which seems logical, sensible and reasonable as an excuse to do nothing and keep things for ourselves. We try to manipulate by using God’s name. Can you think of a time when you have done this in your life?
In life we are to use logic and reason to make decisions but logic and reason should not be the only way we make decisions. God does not always take the logical and reasonable route to accomplish his will (ask Jonah, Peter, and millions of Christians around the world who have taken the risk to follow God). We need to be sensitive to his Spirit and be willing to “risk” everything for him and his glory.
Verses 7 – 8: Jesus rebukes Judas. He tells Judas to leave Mary alone because what she is doing is a good thing. There will always be opportunities to serve the poor and meet their needs, but what Mary is doing now super cedes the needs of the poor.
- The value of Christ – Mary gives her best and most expensive to Jesus not leftovers because he was worth the best. Jesus is worth the 300 denarii to Mary (1 year’s wages). Mary knows Jesus is worthy of her best perfume, she does not see it as wasteful but worshipful. When you value something you invest in it, care for it, save it, protect it, and maybe even give your life for it. Jesus was more valuable to Mary than money. She knew Jesus was worth the investment. He is still worth the investment today.
- Mary used her most expensive perfume on Jesus as an act of worship. She wasn’t trying to impress Jesus; she was genuinely pouring her worship onto his feet. Jesus was worth every drop she poured out. Can you and I say the same in our lives? What is Jesus worth to you? Is he a one day a week investment? Maybe two? Is he worth investing in only when things get bad? Maybe you have made an initial investment in him and then just set him in a safe place for use at another time in your life? Or is Jesus of such value to you that you openly acknowledge that he is the most precious thing in your life? Does your life reflect this? When people meet you or talk with you do they know that you have a precious savior who has given you abundant life and is the source of your joy and hope? What is Jesus worth to you? Are you willing to give everything for him? This includes your finances, family, job, personal life, relationships, church and private life. Are you willing to let Jesus be Lord over everything in your life? Is he worth the investment? If you have difficulty answering this question may I remind you what you are worth to him? We need only look as far as the cross of Calvary. Here are some verses to leave you with to remind you the value you are to Jesus.
Romans 8:31 – 39
Ephesians 2:4 – 10
2 Thessalonians 2:13 – 16
1 John 4:10, 11
You… We… are so precious to him that he gave everything for us. We/you are worth the investment in the eyes of our Savior. Reflect on this today in your personal time. Come to terms with the fact that you are of such high value to God you were worth dying for in order to save. If Christ values you this much then how much should you value him in your life?