A Tender Encouragement
Tim Temple

Introduction

Open your Bibles to John, chapter 12, as we continue working our way through John's Gospel. First Corinthians, chapter 13, is the chapter that is called the great love chapter in the Bible, and you probably know that that chapter concludes with the words, “Now abide faith, hope and love, but the greatest of these is love.”

It is a wonderful thing to have faith in God. We certainly do have hope because of all that God has done for us and given to us, but as we study the Word of God and as we walk with the Lord any length of time, we come to realize that it is love that makes all of those other things function. It is love that puts those other things in perspective—God's love for us primarily. “Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins” (I John 4:10). As we focus on the love that God had for us and was expressed to us in the person of Jesus Christ and His death for us, our hearts respond to Him in love. As we love Him, those matters of faith and hope and all the other so-called doctrinal issues seem to fall into their proper perspective.

This chapter begins the last section of John's Gospel, even though there still are several more chapters to go in the book. The remainder of the book really focuses on the last week or so of the life of Christ here on earth, chapters 12-21. There are a lot of details included, so it would seem like more than a week's time, but basically that is what we are talking about in the remainder of the book.

As we look at chapter 12, we are first going to see the tender encouragement that is given to Him. Did you ever stop to think that the Lord Jesus Christ, as a human being, needed encouragement? We think of Jesus as the Christ. We think of Him as God, and we hardly stop to think that He needed encouragement. He did, as we will see in this passage, and God the Father lovingly provided that encouragement for Him. We will talk about that in verses 1-11 in this study. Then in verses 12-19, we will see John's description of the triumphal entry into Jersusalem. In verses 20-50, we will see the Lord Jesus teaching eternal principles.

In this lesson, we want to look first at the tender encouragement that Jesus receives from one of His followers, in verses 1-11. To get that encouragement in its proper perspective, we want to go back to chapter 11 and notice the last few verses of the chapter, beginning with verse 53. We looked at that chapter in our last lesson, and I pointed out at that time that those last several verses of chapter 11 really fit better with chapter 12.

Why Jesus Needed Encouragement

The first part of the setting for the encouragement, the setting out of which that encouragement for Jesus came, is animosity that is described in verses 53-57 of chapter 11. Here is why Jesus needed encouragement. Notice these verses:

John 11

53Then from that day forth they took counsel together for to put him to death.
54Jesus therefore walked no more openly among the Jews; but went thence unto a country near to the wilderness, into a city called Ephraim, and there continued with his disciples.
55And the Jews' passover was nigh at hand: and many went out of the country up to Jerusalem before the passover, to purify themselves.
56Then sought they for Jesus, and spake among themselves, as they stood in the temple, What think ye, that he will not come to the feast?
57Now both the chief priests and the Pharisees had given a commandment, that, if any man knew where he were, he should shew it, that they might take him.

This is the kind of animosity that we have been seeing from these Jewish leaders from early on in the life of Jesus, but the intensity of it is demonstrated in that in these verses they are so intent on finding Jesus that they even looked at the Passover itself not as the biblical observance that it really was, but simply as an opportunity and a possibility of capturing the Lord Jesus. What depths these religious leaders had sunk to, that all they could think of was whether or not Jesus would be coming to the feast. They got the people stirred up to talk in that way.

You remember that in the chapter before this, we had seen a clear demonstration of Christ's deity. He had already done many miracles by this time, some of which John has described for us. We see Him even having power over death in calling Lazarus forth from the grave, and as we pointed out in our last lesson, God's demonstration of Himself always drives people either away from Him or to Him.

There were those who believed in Jesus because of what they saw about Lazarus. When they saw not just the mighty work, but that this man must be the Christ because He was able to do that mighty work, they believed. But there were others who at the same time were driven away from the Lord Jesus Christ, and their hearts became hardened, and they became even more intent on doing away with Him.

A Beautiful Demonstration of Affection

That is the setting into which we come in chapter 12 and find this beautiful demonstration of affection. That is the second part of the setting for this outpouring of love toward the Lord Jesus. In striking contrast to the animosity on the part of the unbelievers is the affection that we find described in verses 1-2 of chapter 12. Notice verse 1:

John 12

1Then Jesus six days before the passover came to Bethany, where Lazarus was, which had been dead, whom he raised from the dead.
2There they made him a supper; and Martha served: but Lazarus was one of them that sat at the table with him.

We read these things, and we are familiar with the story of the raising of Lazarus from the dead and these kinds of things. One of the handicaps that we have any time we are studying a book as familiar as the Gospel of John is that we so easily take these things for granted. I think John may have had that in mind, and certainly the Holy Spirit had that in mind, whether John did or not, as He had them write these words in this way.

It is almost humorous to read about Lazarus here: “Six days before the Passover, Jesus came to Bethany, where Lazarus was, who had been dead….” You can't say that about many folks, you know. Do you know anybody who had been dead? You may have known or heard about someone who was dead for eighteen minutes, and then he was resuscitated. We hear about that, but remember, Lazarus had been in the grave four days, and the grave clothes had to be unraveled from him. John says, “…where Lazarus was…” Make no mistake about who this was; he was the one who had been dead, whom He had raised from the dead. There they made Jesus a supper. Martha served, but Lazarus was one of those who sat at the table with Him.

Not only did Lazarus come back from the dead, but he was able to sit at the table with the Lord Jesus. Here is a beautiful description of fellowship and love and devotion within a family for Jesus, His having restored their brother to them in a way that was even more wonderful than anything they had imagined.

You know, we ask the Lord to do something, and we are so anxious for Him to do it, and we think it is the only solution to the problem that we are facing. We ask others to pray with us that God will solve this problem. Then He doesn't do it, or at least He doesn't do it in the way that we had asked Him to. Those sisters had sent word to Jesus to come because their brother was near death, and their sending a physical message to Jesus was exactly the same thing as our prayers to the Lord. They were able to do it physically when He was on earth just as we do it spiritually while He is at the right hand of the Father. They had a specific request in mind. They had a specific objective. They wanted their brother to be made well. They wanted their brother to be restored to them, and they sent word to Jesus.

We talked in more detail in our last lesson about the fact that He waited deliberately until Lazarus was dead. He did not say yes to their prayer. He did not consent to come and heal Lazarus. He let Lazarus die, but He did answer their prayer and He did answer it in a positive way. What they really wanted was for their brother to be well again, and they thought the only way for their brother to be well again was to be healed of that sickness. But God knew all along that there was another way, really a better way for their brother to be made well, and that was for him to be raised from the dead.

I think that that is all a part of the matrix out of which John says, “…Lazarus who had been dead was sitting there at the table.” Don't you know that they were rejoicing in the presence of the Lord a great deal more because it was Lazarus who had been dead who was sitting at the table with them than they would have been if it were Lazarus, who had been sick, who was sitting at the table? They would have rejoiced that Lazarus had been sick and now was well; but they were ecstatic about the fact that Lazarus had been dead and now was well.

I just throw that in to remind you that if you are praying about something, be careful how you pray. On the one hand, it is certainly realistic for us to tell God what we want, but let's be careful that we don't demand and insist that God limit Himself to doing it the way that we want it done.

Abraham was called on to sacrifice his only son, Isaac. The wording of those verses there in Genesis is almost exactly the same, though they are written in different languages—one in Hebrew, the other in Greek—as John, chapter 3, verse 16: “…God's only begotten Son.” Abraham was told by God to take his only son whom he loved, whom he had received from the dead when he was to old to bear children, and to put him on the altar and kill him. Abraham was ready to do that, and at the last moment, when Abraham had the knife in the air, God stopped him and provided a sacrifice.

Hebrews tells us that Abraham did that accounting that God was able to raise him from the dead. If it is not stretching the point too much, by way of analogy of what we are talking about here, Abraham's prayer was that God would raise his son from the dead. But in that case, it was kind of the reverse. God did something even better than raising him from the dead; He never let him die in the first place. In Abraham's situation, that was even better, because Abraham would have always had the terrible memory of plunging that knife into his son's chest, even if God had raised him from the dead. As it was, God didn't raise him from the dead, but He accomplished the same purpose by providing a substitute, so let's be careful that we don't demand that God accomplish our objective in a certain way.

God is our Father, and just like we, as fathers and mothers, love to hear our children tell us what they want, God loves to hear us tell Him what we want. As I have said to you many times before, I believe that prayer is very largely for God's sake. It is very largely to warm the heart of God just to see that we trust Him enough and we love Him enough and we have an open enough relationship with Him that we will bring our problems to Him because He knows what we need, and He knows how best to meet that need; but He loves for us to come to Him with those needs just like we love for our children to open up to us.

He is going to meet that need in the way that He knows is best, and it is all right to tell Him what we would like to see Him do, but don't be disappointed if He doesn't do it that way. If He does it some other way, it may take Him longer and you may think that He has said no, but don't let yourself get bitter and upset like Mary and Martha did. Recognize that in His own time and His own way, He is going to answer that prayer in the way that is best for you, even though it may not be anything like you expected Him to do. He is going to accomplish His will in our lives even when sometimes we don't understand what that will is.

Mary's Encouragement to Jesus

Here was Lazarus, who had been dead, sitting at the table with them. There was this great love and affection and warm fellowship with good friends going on at this table as the setting for this encouragement that comes to Jesus. It was out of this setting that the actual sharing of encouragement comes to Jesus, in verses 3-8. The action of Mary is described first, in verse 3:

John 12

3Then took Mary a pound of ointment of spikenard, very costly, and anointed the feet of Jesus, and wiped his feet with her hair: and the house was filled with the odour of the ointment.

It is interesting to notice that even in these closing hours of Jesus' life, with all the theological details, there are many practical lessons interspersed. In the next few weeks, we are going to be talking about His betrayal and about His teaching of His disciples, about His trial and about His crucifixion and all of those things; but along the way, we want to be careful to look at all the practical lessons that are taught as a part of that. This is one of those cases.

One of the lessons is to be found in the love of Mary for Jesus as is demonstrated in this passage. As we look at it, we are going to actually see two basic points. First, love for Jesus Christ is the only real motivation for serving Him. Second, we are going to see that love for Him gives the ability to have insight into His plans and purposes. These things are demonstrated in what Mary did in this verse, but the connecting link between those two lessons is the actions that are going to be taken by Judas in contrast to Mary.

Let's look at the details of this action that she took. It was a very simple thing. She broke a bottle of very expensive perfume and basically washed Jesus' feet with it. This took place when this group of friends had gotten together for dinner. On this happy, probably informal occasion, she took a pound of oil of spikenard. I suppose that that would be something like a gallon of White Shoulders or Obsession or whatever some of those other perfumes are. She washed His feet with a pound of oil of spikenard and wiped them with her hair.

Of course, that would have meant even more in that society than it does in ours. In those days, it was a very routine thing to wash the feet of your guests. It was a practical matter because they wore sandals on those dusty roads, and they would come in with their feet dirty. It was soothing and relaxing and cooling to wash the feet. It also, over time, became a mark of respect and a mark of appreciation. Mary carries it far beyond the norm by washing Jesus' feet with a very expensive perfume.

Historians say that oil of spikenard was brought to the east from the Himalayan mountains in sealed containers, and that is why it was so very expensive. Verse 5 tells us that it had a street value, as we say these days, of 300 denarii. The best way to measure this is that 300 denarii in the day of Jesus was almost a year's wages for a common laborer.

We don't know where Mary got this perfume. She was a young, unmarried lady so it might have been the gift of some suitor. She may have saved up her money for a long time to buy it; but the fact is, she had this very expensive perfume, and purely as a mark of her love for the Lord Jesus, she poured out this expensive gift upon Him and wiped his feet with her hair. Mary's point in doing this was purely to show her love for Jesus. It didn't matter to her the cost; it didn't matter to her whether it was something that He needed; it was something that she felt led by her love of Him to do.

That is the way our giving ought to be. The focus of any of our giving, whether it is the giving of love and encouragement, fellowship and responsiveness to another person, or whether it involves the giving of money or the giving of time—whatever the giving is—the real motivation for it ought to always be our love for the Lord Jesus, our appreciation to Him for all that He has done for us. When we give, it ought not to be with a thought as to how much it is going to cost or where it is going to come from. Certainly God expects us to be good stewards, and He wants us to think through our resources; but there are those times when the Lord may lead us, just out of our love for Him, to do something that is outrageous—to spend money that, technically speaking, perhaps we don't have in the sense of fitting into the budget.

Someday, if you haven't already, you may have the urge to do so; and if your motivation is simply the love of the Lord Jesus—not for any attention you might get, but just because you love the Lord and you are doing what He leads you to do—God will honor that. He will bless that and chances are, you will discover the person or the organization or the need that you have poured that out in love for Jesus to, will be bowled over with your provision of their need. It is a wonderful principle of giving to the Lord—the principle of giving out of a heart of love, giving just because we love the Lord and just because He prompts us to do it.

Judas' Alienation From Jesus

It is out of that kind of loving background that the pendulum swings back again to the attitude of the disciples. Remember that this whole thing started in the setting of animosity toward Jesus on the part of the Jewish leaders. Then it swings all the way over here again to this deep love for Jesus that Mary exhibits. Now it swings back again almost to animosity, in verses 4-6. Notice verse 4:

John 12

4Then saith one of his disciples, Judas Iscariot, Simon's son, which should betray him,
5Why was not this ointment sold for three hundred pence, and given to the poor?

Let's stop there for just a minute. That is where we find the value of the perfume. John specifies that it was Judas who said this, but Mark says that all of the other disciples shared his viewpoint. They agreed with him about it. Think about the contrast between Mary and Judas in this regard. First, she gave this thing that was valuable. No matter how she got it, it had to have had some value to her. If it was a gift, it must have been a gift from someone who cared very much about her; and even if she didn't reciprocate that person's love, at least she would have recognized a great value to it. Somebody cared a great deal about her to give her this gift. If she bought it, she had to have worked a long time to get the money. It was very valuable to her, and she gave that.

Judas, who was simply a follower of Jesus, a Christian in name only—he was the extreme example of that—would have sold it to give to the poor. In fact, he would have sold other people's possessions. Notice that he is talking about something that belonged to Mary being sold. In verse 6, John tells us:

John 12

6This he said, not that he cared for the poor; but because he was a thief, and had the bag, and bare what was put therein.

He didn't care about selling that to give to the poor. That was the last thing that he had in mind. He wanted to sell it to give to himself. Mary gave. He would have sold. She drew attention to Christ. He would have drawn attention away from Christ. His focus was really on himself. It would have been more money that he could have gotten hold of to use on himself. Mary had a fully developed affection for the Lord Jesus. He had a fully developed alienation from Him.

As we compare this with the other Gospels, we realize that it was right after this incident that Judas went out and made his deal with the high priest to betray Christ. This demonstrates, at the very least, that a person can be very close to Christ and very close to the things of Christ and still not be a believer. Judas, by Jesus' own account, was not a believer in Him, even though he was among the twelve. He was with Jesus every day, and he saw the things that Jesus did. This emphasizes again that a relationship with Christ is a matter of individual, personal choice. These men were not saved because they were the twelve disciples; they were saved because eleven of them, independently of each other, individually put their faith in Jesus Christ. Judas never did that.

It also gives us some insight into the personality of Judas. He was evidently very persuasive. Here was this outrageous idea—taking something that belonged to someone else and selling it and giving the money to the poor. Yet, we are told the other disciples went along with it. They thought that it was a great idea. He must have been very persuasive. We think of Judas, and we see him sometimes portrayed in the movies and the plays that are made about the life of Jesus, as a shriveled up Mister Scrooge-type person; but I think that he was probably the most charismatic of the disciples. He was probably the most handsome. They themselves elected him their treasurer. He was the kind of person who could get the confidence of other people even to the point of being allowed to handle their money.

That ought to tell us something about how to think when we are electing a treasurer or when we are electing a president or a governor or a congressman or a senator—anyone who is going to handle other people's money. Those kinds of decisions cannot be made on the basis of how trustworthy those people appear to be. That is why you have to look beyond what they say to what their record is and what they have done and what their character is.

Jesus Answers Judas' Criticism of Mary

This shows us that the disciples had not taken that attitude about Judas, and they agreed with him. He was ready to do this terrible thing, but in verses 7-8, we find the answer of Jesus to all of this. Notice verse 7:

John 12

7Then said Jesus, Let her alone: against the day of my burying hath she kept this.
8For the poor always ye have with you; but me ye have not always.

In those two short verses, there is a great deal of food for thought. Notice what Jesus said: “Leave her alone.” From a human standpoint, Mary had done something that was very foolish. She had done something that, from a human standpoint, perhaps was wasteful because oil of spikenard was not just perfume. I am not sure that we would call it wasteful to pour out a bottle of perfume on somebody's feet, because perfume is used for very little else, but oil of spikenard was one of the spices that was used in the embalming process. That was one of the reasons that it was so expensive. It was used primarily like perfume is used in our day, but it did have a more practical value. She had wasted something that was valuable for some practical purpose other than just making a person smell good.

This had a practical value, and from a human standpoint she had wasted that, and yet Jesus said, “Leave her alone.” Why leave her alone? “Because,” He said, “she has kept this for the day of My burial.” Apparently, when Mary acquired the oil of spikenard, somewhere along the line when she acquired it or somewhere before this incident, she had realized that Jesus was going to die. She understood the coming death of the Lord Jesus Christ, and she thought to herself, “I'll use my oil of spikenard for His burial. I will be able to help in the embalming process.” Her thought process was probably something like that.

You see, she had a purely loving motive, but the interesting thing is that Mary was the only person in the room and, as far as we know, the only one in the circle of Jesus' acquaintances who understood the fact that Jesus was going to die. That tells us something very important, and that is that God reveals Himself most fully to those who love Him from the heart.

You have seen this from practical examples. Some of the greatest Bible teachers that I have ever been around and the people who are able to bring out the most intriguing details of the Scripture are not people who have been to the seminary. There is nothing wrong with going to the seminary. It has its proper place. But many times—I am sure you will agree with this—those who seem to have the deepest knowledge of the Word of God are those who have not had any formal training, but they love Jesus Christ and they love His Word, and God shows Himself to those who love Him.

God had revealed in some way to Mary that Jesus was going to die, and she saved this ointment spice for His burial. I am going to get pretty close to the edge as I make this suggestion, but one application is that sometimes we see or we hear about people doing something in worship that is not quite kosher. Maybe they raise their hands when they sing. Maybe they close their eyes and lift their heads toward the ceiling while they sing. Maybe even when the preacher is talking, they do that kind of thing. If we don't do those kinds of things, we wonder what is the matter with those people who do. We wonder if they are all they should be or if there is something wrong with them. We wonder how much farther this thing is going to go.

I think that some people probably do that for show. Some people do that because other people are doing it, but I am becoming more and more convinced that people do that because they love Jesus Christ, and I think that Jesus would say to some of us, “Leave them alone.” Sure, it is not the way that you would do it, and maybe the way that you are doing it is just fine, but you leave them alone.

God tells us very clearly the principles of the orderliness of a service. I Corinthians, chapters 12-14, is as clear as any manual that you would ever need. It says very clearly there that people are to speak one at a time, and if there is someone speaking in tongues, there needs to be an interpreter or it is not going to be a part of the public service. If somebody is doing something that is outside the bounds of that, if they are really doing it out of their love for Jesus and not to just get attention for themselves or not to show off how spiritual they are, Jesus will take care of teaching them the proper way of doing it. You don't need to. Leave them alone. If some friend of yours is giving a lot more money to television evangelists than you think they ought to give, if you are sure that they are doing it out of love for Jesus, leave them alone.

It is so easy for us to become judgmental of other Christians because they are not doing it the way that we are doing it. You know, the only question that we have the right to ask is if they are doing it out of love for Jesus. That is a very hard question to answer, and most of the time we just have to leave that with the Lord.

Jesus goes on to say, “The poor you have with you always, but Me, you do not have always.” He divided His answer into two parts, but it was all one answer, and I think that the answer was probably a shock to the disciples. This was not what they expected Him to say. They probably expected Him to reprimand Mary and to try somehow to wring some of that out of her hair and get it back in the jar. I don't know what they expected, but they didn't expect this. He explains why Mary has done this: “She has done this for My burial.”

She understood what it was all about. Mary knew that Jesus was going to die whether anybody else did or not, and she acted on that knowledge. It was an act of faith because His death was still a while away, but she knew that it was going to happen. Out of love, she gave the most expensive thing that she had.

Jesus is the Priority

The second application of Jesus' answer about Mary's action is the statement of verse 8 concerning Himself and the poor. There are a couple of things to think about in that part of the answer. I think, in verse 8, that Jesus is talking about the primacy of the spiritual over the social. What this statement boils down to is a matter of priorities. They only had Jesus with them for a little time, and anything that they felt led to do for Him personally was going to have to be done in a matter of a few days by this time. They could care for the poor any time.

I think the application of that for our day is that even though there is legitimacy to serving the poor, the more important thing is to tell them about Christ, if a choice has to be made. If we can, the optimum thing is to do both. Sometimes we can get them to listen to us tell them about Christ if we give them some food or clothing, and that is something that the Lord can direct us about on a case-by-case basis. But if we have to make a choice, it is a great deal more important that they hear about Jesus Christ than that they get fed. So the primary importance is telling people about Christ. When they have had that primary thing taken care of, then certainly there are legitimate needs that they have; and if we can help with that, and usually we can, we should.

The whole department of health and human services gets the cart before the horse, and it doesn't solve anything, because Jesus said, “The poor you have always.” We are just coming out of a thirty year experiment in our nation—I hope we are coming out of it—that proves that point. Probably most of us can remember thirty years ago when legislation was signed to end poverty in our nation. Most taxpayers have paid through the nose for thirty years, and it is worse now than it was then. Jesus said, “You are always going to have the poor with you.”

You can never get rid of the problems that cause people to be poor. It is nothing against the poor; it is just a part of the human condition. It is part of being a human race of sinful people. Some people are lazy, and they are poor because of that. Some people are crooks, and other people are poor because they are crooks. There are all kinds of reasons why the poor we will always have with us. It doesn't mean that we shouldn't try to help the poor; it doesn't mean we shouldn't have compassion on people who are legitimately in need; but it does mean that we shouldn't be so foolish as to think that we are ever going to do away with poverty, because it is rooted in sin. It is rooted in sins people commit—sins of gluttony and laziness and bad stewardship and all kinds of sin like that—and it is rooted in the sin that other people commit against them. They become poor because of what someone did to them. As long as there is sin, there is always going to be poverty. Therefore, there is going to always be the need for compassion upon those who are poor.

We always have the poor, but let's reverse that a little bit. There are always going to be poor people who may die in their poverty and in their sin if they don't hear about Christ. We have their whole lifetime to deal with their poverty; we may not have their whole lifetime to deal with them about their soul. So the primary thing is the spiritual help that they need, and there is a place after that for the social help that they need.

Jesus is Pre-eminent

There is another application of this and that is something about the pre-eminence of Jesus Christ. The word me in verse 8 is in the emphatic position in the sentence in the Greek text, and I think that is why it is translated this way in the English. It is not all that unusual in the English. He said, “The poor you always have with you, but Me, you have not always.” His reference to Himself in the Greek is in the first part of the sentence which is a way of showing the importance of that subject in the Greek. Sometimes we do that in English also.

This is exactly what the Scripture says about the Lord Jesus in Philippians, chapter 2, verses 5-11. He was willing to leave His legitimate place in Heaven and come and provide our salvation. Because of that, God has given Him the name that is above every name. Notice verse 10:

Philippians 2

10That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth;

Jesus was simply saying what God the Father had already declared. He is always the first consideration in any decision that we make, in any opportunity that we are involved in, in any activity that we decide to get involved in. Where does Jesus Christ fit into that picture? He is the primary subject in every case, so much so that He puts Himself and worship of Him above the feeding of the poor. Callous as that sounds, it was Jesus, the Son of God Himself, who said that. “To bestow affection on Me is more important than spending that same amount of money on the poor.” His name is above every name and His standards and His principles and His honor must always be the first thing we consider in any decision that we make or in any involvement that we undertake. It is a good test of how we use our time and what we get involved in. Will this expenditure, will this communication give Jesus Christ His place of the name that is above every name, or will it somehow put His name beneath someone else? That is what Jesus was teaching here.

It again raises the question: Was He liar or lunatic or Lord? Really only a lunatic would have said something like this if He wasn't God. You know, only a crazy person would say, “It is more important to pour perfume out on My feet than it is to sell it and feed the poor,” or God Himself could say that. That is true for God, but it is not true for any human person. So He was either a lunatic or a liar for trying to make them think that He was that important or He really was God. It keeps coming back to that. When we think about Jesus Christ, we can't get by with saying, “Oh, Jesus was a great teacher. He showed us how to live. He showed us how to die. He showed us how to treat our neighbors.” Baloney! If He was not God, He was not good. If He was not the Lord, He was the worst kind of liar or lunatic.

Sequel to Mary's Encouragement

Let me just mention verses 9-11 quickly. The anointing of Jesus was a great encouragement to Him, but in verses 9-11, we see the sequel to the encouragement:

John 12

9Much people of the Jews therefore knew that he was there: and they came not for Jesus' sake only, but that they might see Lazarus also, whom he had raised from the dead.
10But the chief priests consulted that they might put Lazarus also to death;
11Because that by reason of him many of the Jews went away, and believed on Jesus.

These verses are a microcosm of the same kind of confusion that always surrounded the Lord Jesus. On the one hand, there were those who were just interested in the miraculous aspect of Jesus' work. A lot of people came to the home of Mary, Martha and Lazarus that day because they wanted to see Jesus; but they also wanted to see this man whom Jesus had raised from the dead. He was becoming quite a celebrity, and well he might. Can you imagine a person who had been in the grave for four days, now alive and sitting up, eating with his friends? You would want his autograph, too, wouldn't you?

Then there were a lot of people who were just interested in the miraculous aspect of God's work, and their descendants are still with us. There are a lot of religious people, and even some Christians, who only want to see the miraculous. They only want to see the flashy. They only want to see the impressive. If God is not doing those kinds of things, they are not too interested. On the other extreme, perhaps there were those who were plotting every way they could to do away with Him—not only that, but to do away with anybody who enhanced His reputation.

They were going to kill Lazarus. Isn't that dumb? Didn't they understand that Jesus could have just raised him up again? What good would it have done to kill Lazarus? Jesus had already proved it wouldn't do any good to kill Lazarus, but here they were. Emotion rises; reason declines. That is a good rule of thumb. They were so angry with Jesus that they wanted to kill Lazarus. They should have realized that they couldn't kill either one of them for keeps. Between that, there were those who did believe in Jesus in spite of everything. Look at verse 11:

John 12

11Because that by reason of him many of the Jews went away, and believed on Jesus.

We still have those same three groups today. We have those who are simply curious, those who are impressed, those who want to see the flashy part of Christianity. On the other hand, we have those who are adamantly opposed to the things of Christ. In between, we have those who simply love Jesus Christ for Who He is and what He has done. They respond to His love and let the chips fall where they may.

Conclusion

That brings us to a good concluding point for this study. Where do you fit in that line-up? Are you in it for the thrills? Are you in it because the music is good and the people are friendly? I hope there is no one on the other end of the scale, trying to do away with Jesus.

Are you in your relationship with the Lord simply because you realize that He loved you enough to die for you? In all of our failures, all of our sins, the wonderful thing is that Jesus loves us. It is the greatest knowledge that we could ever have. He loved us enough to purchase us with His body on the tree. That is all the motivation that any of us need to come to know Him better, to serve Him, even at great sacrifice. That is the issue—the love of Jesus Christ and how we respond to it.


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