The Gospel of John now moves to the early ministry of Jesus, both in demonstrating his authority as from God, and reaching out to all beyond Israel alone. The message of Jesus has gone out from now from multiple witnesses, not just Jesus. From John the Baptist, following on the predictions and words of the Old Testament and of Moses. And even so: I know you do not have the love of God in your hearts (5:42), how are you going to believe what I say (5:47). And the challenge has been: No fence sitting now about the person of Jesus. The miraculous signs of John’s gospels now speak to the identity and authority of Jesus as the Son of God:
- Changing water into wine at the wedding at Cana (Jn 2:1-11);
- Healing the royal official’s son (Jn 4:46-54);
- Healing the paralyzed man at the pool of Bethesda in Jerusalem (Jn 5:1-15);
- Feeding the 5,000 (Jn 6:5-14);
- Walking on water (Jn 6:16-21);
- Healing the man born blind (Jn 9:1-7); and
- Raising Lazarus from the dead (Jn 11:1-45).
The enemies of Jesus are now organizing to kill Jesus. There are now multiplied prophecies by Jesus predicting his imminent death and illustrates the nature of pure worship of Jesus.
4 But one of his disciples, Judas Iscariot, who was later to betray him, objected, 5 “Why wasn’t this perfume sold and the money given to the poor? It was worth a year’s wages.[a]” 6 He did not say this because he cared about the poor but because he was a thief; as keeper of the money bag, he used to help himself to what was put into it. 7 “Leave her alone,” Jesus replied. “It was intended that she should save this perfume for the day of my burial. 8 You will always have the poor among you,[b] but you will not always have me.” John 12:4-8.
1. The Nature of True Worship. After the raising of Lazarus from the dead, there was a dinner given in honor of Jesus. The disciples were there. Mary and Martha as well, along with Lazarus, recently brough back from his tomb. That had to be an amazing gathering. But Mary did more. Taking a very valuable 16 ounce vial of perfume, she bowed down and anointed Jesus with this perfume, honoring His soon death and sacrifice for His own. Judas, always the vigilant for his own selfish purposes, objected to the waste of resources, opining rather that this would better serve the poor. So both camps were present – those disciples who followed and believed in Jesus – and at least one, driven by Satan, and opposing the person and work of Jesus at every front.
2. Understanding Life Priorities. As Judas raised the issue of the poor, Jesus responded, You will always have the poor among you. This was not to degrade the poor, but to elevate the soon-death of Jesus as the highest of priorities at this time. This, then, contrasts the routines of life compared to those priorities that count for eternity.
3. Jesus’ soon death and resurrection. Again, Jesus reminded his followers that this act of worship by Mary consecrated the fact that Jesus would soon be gone. You will not always have me. The disciples, following the lead of Mary, were to consider this a sacred day and week, leading up to events ordained from eternity past, to the redemption and salvation provided by Jesus in his death.
To Mary and Martha, the teaching of Jesus just before Lazarus was raised from the dead, echoed back to this dinner table:
Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; 26 and whoever lives by believing in me will never die. Do you believe this?” John 11:25-26.
Regardless of the difficulties in life, priorities will get you through your circumstances. Years ago a man named Samuel Scull moved with his wife and their three small children to a desert house in Arizona. They were a long way from anybody. He loved it as they settled in, planted a garden, built a chicken coop, and in time began to gather eggs. They enjoyed their new life out in the middle of the wilderness. Suddenly one night an enormous desert storm brought high winds, huge hail, and pouring rain that pummeled their property. At daybreak, he feared what he would find. Samuel slowly opened his back door and walked out to survey the mess.
It was a disaster! The hail had beaten their garden into the ground and nothing was left alive. His pick-up truck was seriously damaged with many deep dents from the heavy hail. The house had been partially unroofed, such that it needed to be repaired soon. And on top of all that, the hen house had blown away leaving dead chickens scattered all over the back yard. Everywhere was destruction and disaster.
As he stood there dazed, wondering where he would start, something began to stir under a pile of lumber which had once been the henhouse. A rooster scratched his way up through the debris, slowly climbing until he mounted the highest board in the pile, and there he stood . . . featherless. All of his feathers had been beaten off by the storm. Nevertheless, that naked rooster flapped his bony wings and crowed louder than ever.
The farmer looked at the naked rooster and thought, Well, if he can do it, I guess I can, too!¹
Stay well this week and keep your priorities looking both forward and looking up.