Bible Study from Calvary Chapel Newberg
with Tom Fuller
Preparing Jesus, Preparing for Jesus
John places Jesus at Ephraim, a village north of Jerusalem. Between the end of chapter 11 and here, Jesus travels back to Galilee, heals the ten lepers (Luke 17), talks to Zacchaeus (Luke 19) in Jericho on his way back to Bethany.
It?s only six days until the Passover, and Jesus? crucifixion. John devotes most of the rest of his gospel to these six days. We see the tensions mount from Jesus? enemies, and Jesus? ministry to His disciples increase.
It?s all coming into focus now. Jesus? mind and his heart are focused on His real mission: to die on the cross. It is a time of preparation. Jesus is prepared for the cross by loving acts of worship, hints of betrayal, shows of misinformed adoration, seeds of disbelief, and signs of an outcome that far exceeds what anyone thought would happen. Jesus is being prepared and so are the people?so are you for Jesus to come into your life.
1 ? 3
Mary prepares Jesus for burial, like bringing the roses before the funeral. At dinners like this they would lay on divans or couches with their feet stretched out so it would have been easy for Mary to reach Jesus. Mary, more than anyone, got what Jesus was doing and lavished this very expensive gift on him (a year?s worth of wages). Nard is also called spikenard and was imported from India and kept in alabaster jars and used as an investment like gold. Mary was pouring her investment into Jesus. Nard was used as a burial spice, and Jesus refers to Mary?s use of it in this way. She will not have the opportunity to prepare him for burial later.
Other gospels tell us that all the disciples were incensed at Mary?s act but only one says something about it.
4 ? 8
Judas prepares to betray Jesus by bringing accusations against the one who loved Jesus because he does not love him.
If calculated as a day?s wage for a laborer, someone making minimum wage, the cost of the nard would be around $19,000 today. That?s $7.95 x 8 x 300 (?300 days wages?). Judas wanted it sold so that he could pocket the money. Jesus says that opportunities to help the poor will always be available but opportunities to prepare Jesus for the crucifixion would not.
I would point out here that you don?t come to Jesus by way of doing good works for the poor. You come to him by way of acknowledging his death, burial, and resurrection as a way of bringing you into relationship with God and giving you eternal life. Then His Spirit will work in you a desire to help others.
9 ? 11
The Chief priests prepare to murder Jesus, along with Lazarus, because they threatened the current Jewish system.
This is a kind of foreshadowing that the Jewish leaders will mark all those that follow Jesus and tell others. Keep in mind that as people see the miracle of new life in you given by Jesus you will be marked as well by the enemy. He will try to frustrate you and kill you if he can. Good thing you have God and His angels.
12 ? 19
Jesus prepares Jerusalem for its? King, and for the King?s gift of life, by entering into the city in fulfillment of prophecy.
The crowds did not know what they were doing. They thought they were gathering for the arrival of a famous man who raised Lazarus from the dead, or perhaps the Messiah, but a Messiah for their perceived needs, not their actual need. The Scripture quote in verse 15 is from Zechariah 9:9. The date, by the way, is very important. 483 years prior Ezra had received a commission to restore Jerusalem. Daniel the prophet had received a vision from the Lord telling him that exactly 483 years after that decree the Messiah would come.
If anyone had a good grasp on Scripture they would have been waiting by the gates of Jerusalem on Palm Sunday for the Messiah riding on the colt of a donkey. The only one who did that was Jesus. Jesus is the Messiah.
The Pharisees are throwing up their hands while their kingdom slips from their grasp.
20 ? 26
The Greeks prepare for Jesus by reminding Him that the time has come to break down the existing walls that kept all men from coming to God.
We don?t know if Jesus ever met with the Greeks, but we do know that their coming reminds him that the time for him to fulfill his mission is at hand. He uses the opportunity to explain the process of salvation. 1. Jesus must fall to the earth dead like a seed planted in the grown. When he comes back to life he gives us the opportunity to compare the flesh life of the world with the Spirit life of Jesus. In comparison we ?hate? this life or we love it. If we choose Jesus? life we get if for all eternity. That happens by becoming a servant of Jesus?a position honored by the Father.
27 ? 33
The Father prepares Jesus for the inevitability of the cross as the only way to defeat the enemy.
This is one of only two times that Jesus actually shows the magnitude of the cross and how it affects him as a man. ?My soul is troubled.? The word means ?to stir or agitate.? Have you ever faced something really huge?a final exam, a job evaluation, a court date, a big decision?whatever? Then you have just the smallest inkling of what Jesus felt facing the cross, where he would bear the judgment for all of our mistakes.
Later Jesus would say ?Father, if there be any other way, let this cup pass from me? (not recorded in John). ?Never the less, let your will be done.? The alternative to the cross was to leave us all in our sins. But that was the whole reason Jesus came. This is the third time that God spoke audibly?adding huge credibility to Jesus and his words.
The ?ruler? of this world Jesus refers to is Satan. He is the one who enticed man to sin and brought about this separation that Jesus is about to fix. Jesus has invaded earth and is about to take it away from Satan by dying for it.
34 ? 43
Jesus prepares the people for the true nature of Jesus? mission: to save and then to rule. And to prepare them for the choice: believe or reject.
The people were on a precipice. They knew Jesus was something special but that wasn?t enough. They misunderstood the coming of the Messiah. Jesus very carefully tells them that they must believe Him?just as He is, just what He says?or risk being ?overtaken? by darkness. In other words, if you miss Jesus you miss the only source of light, truth, and life there is.
The effect of Isaiah?s prophecies are that unless you believe in Jesus your heart will slowly get harder and harder until it is much easier to reject than accept the light. God desires for all men to be saved but he will not force anyone. In the end he will give us what we want and make it possible to disbelieve Jesus.
44 ? 50
Jesus prepares us to receive him as God the Father, His Word as eternal life, and as exactly what God wants us to know. Nothing more, nothing less.
I find the juxtaposition of groups and individuals in this chapter. And I think it gives us a good contrast that we can learn from.
True worship vs. false
Notice first the contrast between Mary and the crowd. Mary 1) Understood what Jesus was really about (preparing him for burial) 2) Through great personal sacrifice brought her worship to Jesus (spent a year?s wages) 3) Humbled herself before Him and others (bowed before his feet) 4) Let the act affect her personally (her tears).
The crowds on Palm Sunday 1) Did not understand Jesus? real purpose (they wanted a political ruler, He came to be a personal savior 2) Followed the crowd to adore, and would later follow the crowd to condemn 3) No personal humility or 4) personal commitment.
Betrayal vs. Belief
Then look at the comparison of Judas and the Pharisees. At Mary?s act of worship Judas (and the rest of the disciples) decried the sacrifice as wasteful. But Judas was using piety as a smokescreen to feed his sinful nature. He saw how the pouring out of the nard was money that could have been his pouring down the drain. He then thought of the opportunity to betray Jesus (happens in the next chapter).
The Pharisees upon seeing the crowds pouring praise on Jesus thought of how their power was draining away and so desired to strike out against Him and anyone who belonged to Him.
It all hinges on this: do you hear, believe, and trust in the person and words of Jesus? Hear him closely. Jesus is not coming so you can get ahead. He doesn?t come to line your pockets or give you power. You can?t just follow the crowd and wave some palm branches when you see others doing it and expect to belong to him. When others start to criticize him you will find yourselves agreeing with them. Jesus doesn?t want acquaintances he wants disciples. The more you resist him the easier it will get but the more danger you are in.
What we need to understand is that this was no easy thing he came to do and his sacrifice calls for sacrifice on our behalf as well. We aren?t put to death for our own sins but we do die. We die to our own ways and thoughts and desires that are contrary to God?s ways and thoughts and desires.
In the end only one thing will matter: what did you do with the words of Jesus? Did you receive them or reject them?
How extravagant, sacrificial, impacting, and humble before God and men is your worship?
Are you with Jesus because it?s cool?
What happens when it is no longer cool or convenient or easy? For instance, how about our partners in Kenya who suddenly found that if they went to church they were marked for murder?
Are you edging towards or away from trusting the words of Jesus?
Sometimes Jesus says something that we?re not sure we really agree with like ?love your enemies? (Matthew 5). And as you grow and learn more about Him and what it means to be a disciple do you find yourself pulling away? Realize that the One who created you and everything you see is also the one who spoke those words. They can be trusted, He can be trusted.