Wednesday, 19 September 2012

John 12: Recognising Jesus

In John 11 we see Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead in Bethany. In John 12, we're back in Bethany and we see again how Martha and Mary recognise Jesus for who he is.
  • What was the most extravagant gift you've given or received?
  • Why are gifts given?

Yesterday, we read how Martha said Jesus was "the Messiah, the Son of God, who is to come into the world." She was able to understand who he was and treated him accordingly. Her sister, Mary, does the same in this chapter. She takes 12 ounces of pure nard and pours it on Jesus' feet. Then, rather than getting a cloth, she uses her own hair to rub it over them. Now, this nard wasn't cheap. It would have cost about a year's wages. That's like me getting some £12,000 aftershave and pouring the whole bottle over a friend.

Some of the group were quite shocked, Judas in particular. So why did she do it? The IVP New Testament Commentary Series suggest:
The most obvious possibility was her sheer gratitude for what Jesus had done for her brother and the revelation it brought to her of Jesus' identity, power, authority and grace. John's focus on her anointing Jesus' feet points to Mary's great humility.
We read yesterday how Mary had seen Jesus raise her brother, Lazarus, from the dead. Lazarus was there at the table while she did this; he was a living testament to Jesus' ability to heal and to save. Mary was able to see this and lavishly anointed Jesus with the nard.

It's not just Mary and Martha who can recognise Jesus for who he is. As Jesus rode into Jerusalem on the back of a donkey, the crowds acted unusually. They got branches from palm trees and welcomed him with the cries, "Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Blessed is the King of Israel!" The crowd recognises, even if it is for that short moment, that Jesus is sent by God to be King over Israel.

There are still people in this chapter, despite all this, that still cannot see Jesus for who he is. One of these is Judas Iscariot. He is shocked at Mary's worship of Jesus. He also is stealing from him and the rest of his disciples, and is about to betray him. These are not the actions of someone who realises who is sat before him. When we sin it is, in part, because we too fail to recognise who Jesus is and what he has done for us.

  • What has Jesus done for you?

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