St. John’s Gospel (31): Jesus Enters Jerusalem (John 12)
St John’s Gospel (31): Jesus Enters Jerusalem (John 12)
Jesus is Anointed by Mary . . . Again (vv1-11) - The previous chapter makes reference to an anointing of Jesus with costly perfume-oil. Which anointing is the referent (Mt. 26, Mk 14, Lk 7:36, Jn 12)? Like the temple cleansing which fulfills an OT type-pattern, cleansing a leprous/unclean House (Lev. 14:33-47; cf. John 2:13), anointing happened twice. The first anointing in his early ministry pictured the payment of forgiveness as a fragrant aroma, the second as the cost for forgiveness in a burial fragrance, prior to his final entry into Jerusalem. Worshipful Mary does more than sit at his feet to learn, she washes Jesus’ feet - just as Jesus “wipes” (same term) the feet of the disciples (ch. 13). Only Mary, among all of the disciples, truly “gets” Jesus. This not only foreshadows Christ’s humble service, it also discloses the haughty disservice of Judas. Judas had a “sharp sense of financial values and no appreciation of human values” (EBC). Word spreads that both Jesus and celebrity mummy, Lazarus were present, so a crowd forms. At first this pericope looks odd, but unpacked, it is an factual and artful transition from the events of ch. 11 (Lazarus, Martha/Mary, and the plot to kill Jesus) to the events of Holy Week. Don’t Judas-ize, using pious reasons for greed.
Jesus Enters into Jerusalem . . . Again (vv12-36) - John alone provides the “Palm Sunday” chronology (“six days before the Passover” + “the next day,” 12:1 & 12:12) embedded in Church Time. John’s “triumphal entry” also provides a strong rationale as to why the crowds hailed Jesus, namely the raising of Lazarus (vv17-18). These waving branches (unique to Jn) provide a symbolic “riding in the clouds” (on the tops of the trees). This kingly “pretense” provides fuel for the murderous fires in the Pharisees hearts (v19). They proclaim (rightly, but ironically) that the “world” (cosmos) has gone after Jesus; just at this point a group of cosmopolitan Greeks beseech Him (v20). Christ’s words explain the very heart of his mission: “unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit” (v24-25). Christ’s sacrificial and substitutionary death is for the cosmos. Christ’s explanation of this powerful word is: the coming-near judgment and the banishment of Satan as coterminous with his being “lifted up to draw all” to himself (v31). The Son is lifted up and the Serpent is cast down. Because of the cross, Satan no longer has authority as a “prince” in the world. Don’t be a devil-worshiper by believing Satan rules the world.
Jesus Summarizes His Teaching . . . Again (vv36-50) - Jesus spoke these things and then temporarily removed Himself from their clawing grasps (not unlike 6:14ff). The signs were abundant, but the crowds were faithless. This fulfills the hard words of Isaiah (53) in the rejection of the Servant. John also cites Is. 6:10; God blinded Israel from “seeing” him (Jn 1:11). Amazingly, John identifies Isaiah’s paramount vision of the Lord with seeing Jesus, pre-incarnate (Is. 6; Jn 12:41). This qualifies as a superlative example of “Jesus = God” teaching in the NT. Despite this glory, believing Jews lacked courage to confess him (v42). Jesus final words of his public ministry sum up his message (vv44ff): believing in Me is believing in the Father; seeing Me is seeing the Father; rejecting my word is judgment by the Father, whose commandment purposed eternal life. Jesus came not to judge the world, but to save the world (v47). Don’t lie about Jesus’s mission which was to save the world.
Gregg Strawbridge, Ph.D., is the pastor of All Saints Church in Lancaster, PA. He became a committed follower of Jesus Christ at age 20, discipled in the context of a University Navigator Ministry. As a result of personal discipleship he went on to study at Columbia Biblical Seminary (M.A., Columbia, SC, 1990), as well as a Ph.D. in education and philosophy... read more