Day 12 – Nick
Summary of Chapter 12
Verses 1-11: This scene is spectacular! It’s a gospel-scene that requires faith and meditation to fully appreciate because of the threat of familiarity breeding its ugly, callousing contempt in our hearts. There is concentrated wonder for us here but the devil lurks in the shadows to steal, kill and destroy because he knows that wonder is uniquely and inextricably linked to our satisfaction in God and our effectiveness in the world.
So permit me some creative license and imagine with me, if you will, as though you were Martha:
Your brother, who had passed away earlier that year, is sitting with you at the dinner table with your closest friends and relatives. There is still an atmosphere of astonishment in the home because Lazarus who was dead four days is part of the family again – he is alive! But as stunning as this is, as relieved and grateful as you surely are, this dinner is not in honour of your brother; the dinner is in honour of the Lamb of God who is nearing His Gethsemane travail and Who reclines at the head enjoying the sweetness of family time.
You’re serving food, clearing plates and refilling drinks, oblivious to the dancing candle light throwing tired shadows across the table. And then above every other presence – of people, animals and outside noise – invades an invigorating perfume so strong that every part of the house is filled and infused with its fragrance. A fragrance that you’re literally able to taste and see and, virtually, a sweetness that you’re able to touch. It wouldn’t matter where you were in the house, or outside of it, the fragrance follows you, clings to you.
Mary was sat at the feet of Jesus lavishly washing His feet with a jar of perfume (costing approximately £25’000 as an average UK salary), unleashing the priceless atmosphere of adoration. The whole jar used, the whole house filled, the whole of your heart was electrocuted with a presence so potent that it was all that you could do to worship, to fall down, to cry with joy and echo with John…“Jesus, You are the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!”.
Verses 12-19: ‘Private Jesus’ shifts to ‘public Jesus’ Who’s next pictured on a donkey, fulfilling more Old Testament prophecy by riding into Jerusalem as the Servant Messiah as the whole world follows. (verse 19).
Verses 20-36: Here, Jesus’ language begins to change and explicitly unveil His masterpiece gospel master plan. Using the metaphor of the fruitfulness of a seed that falls into the ground en route to death and a greater harvest, Jesus prefigures the ‘garden discourse’ of chapter 15 in which His agricultural language takes over entirely, concealing battle plans in a garden poems.
Anticipating His own suffering, Jesus prays earnestly in verse 28 for the Name of the Father to be glorified. The Father willingly booms from heaven for the benefit of the Jews and the Greeks, as Jesus prophecies the casting out of the prince of darkness and again announces His identity as The Light of the World.
I have glorified it and will glorify it again
Verses 37-50: The persistent unbelief of the Jews now adopts a new dimension in its relationship with Old Testament prophecy from Isaiah – it would seem that the sinful unbelief in Israel was fulfilling scripture as much as Jesus riding into David’s City on a donkey. It’s worth noting that it was Isaiah (Isa.55:8) who had also prophesied,
“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the LORD.
Key thoughts from Chapter 12
- In reading John 12 today, I’m reminded of the need to slow down and read the Bible carefully. Memorisation of scripture is like a weapon of mass destruction for us toward the devil’s evil schemes and meditation in the Word is like a time machine transporting us into the gospel-scenes of our Saviour. Think! How many times have you read vv 1-8 and not imagined the power of His presence in the moment?
- Christ being the fulfilment of Old Testament prophecy has featured in John’s gospel on several other occasions. But toward the close of this chapter this fulfilment is bittersweet as it relates to ‘positive scenes’ such as Jesus riding into Jerusalem on a donkey but also the stubborn, unbelieving, hard-heartedness of man. This echoes both Pharaoh’s and Judas’ inescapable demise and points to the difficult-to-take-in but equally difficult-to-dismiss doctrine of predestination.
- The Son’s exclaimed passion for the glory of the Father is front and centre as the curtain falls on chapter 12
Prayers from Chapter 12
Oh, God. Thank you for Your grace today which is an difficult to take in as other doctrines. Help us to live and feel Your Word in new ways. Like the power of the perfume in Martha’s house, fill our homes with atmospheres of prayer and worship. We love You, God!