Letters to the Prison - Week 134

Hello, everyone.  We’re so glad you’ve joined our study of the Gospel of John.  Last week, we saw that Jesus left the area of Jerusalem after raising Lazarus from the dead, and after the religious leaders in Jerusalem started plotting his death.  Jesus won’t stay away from Jerusalem for long, though.  In fact, the very next verse shows that, though some time has passed, the time for all Jews (including Jesus) to return to Jerusalem to celebrate the Passover has come:
•Now the Passover of the Jews was at hand, and many went up from the country to Jerusalem before the Passover to purify themselves. 56 They were looking for Jesus and saying to one another as they stood in the temple, “What do you think? That he will not come to the feast at all?” 57 Now the chief priests and the Pharisees had given orders that if anyone knew where he was, he should let them know, so that they might arrest him.  -John 11:55-57
So, the Passover is a yearly feast required by Jewish law and is held at the temple in Jerusalem.  Jesus, being a Jewish man, is required to show up and celebrate the Passover.  So naturally, the Jewish religious leaders –whom we now know are actively and intentionally plotting to murder Jesus- are waiting… wondering…  watching.
Friends, as we close our study of John 11, there are some important things to consider:
This Passover event is unlike any other –ever.  We’ll see why eventually, but it will take us some time to get there because John’s account of this Passover celebration will span the next 9 chapters of his book.  9 chapters to cover one of the most important weeks in the history of man –and perhaps the most important week in the history of God’s redemption of his people.  So, we’re going to take a slow tour through a slow tour; moment by moment, day by day… and we will see so much of what people say about Jesus… and what Jesus says about himself… and us.
Another important thing to consider and remember is that Jesus is on God’s timetable… not anyone else’s.  So, the imminent threat to his life is not going to stop him from doing precisely what he is supposed to do precisely when he’s supposed to do it.  And he will do what he is supposed to do openly, publicly, and with no fear of what evil men are plotting against him.  Can we find this same level of bold confidence in our ministry and service to God regardless of the environment or circumstance or whether anyone is hostile to us?  John has an answer:
As John 12 opens, we find Jesus returning to Bethany where Lazarus and his family live.  It is most likely the Saturday before the Passover.  Lazarus and his sisters host a dinner for Jesus.  They only live a mile or two from Jerusalem, so they probably know that the authorities are looking for Jesus.  Nevertheless, they graciously house and feed Jesus… and no report is made of any attempt by them to conceal Jesus or hide their hospitality to him.  And they certainly don’t “turn him in.”  We’ll see in a few verses that it doesn’t take long for word of Jesus’ arrival to spread, so it’s not like they are actively keeping Jesus a secret.  Here then is a family of believers serving God openly and boldly and simply with no fear of the consequences.  Nothing fancy.  Just obedient.  Except that Lazarus has been raised from the dead… and during dinner, Mary anoints Jesus’ feet with a very expensive perfume... even wiping his feet with her hair (John 12:3).  This is quite the significant act and, by itself, speaks volumes about Jesus… and what Mary thinks of him.  We will consider this act in more depth next week.  We love you!  

Dean A.

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