The people therefore that was with Him when He called Lazarus out of his grave, and raised him from the dead, bare record.
For this cause the people also met Him, for that they heard that He had done this miracle.
The Pharisees therefore said among themselves, Perceive ye how ye prevail nothing? behold, the world is gone after Him.
This passage reminds me of the way the British army felt when they realized they had lost to the upstart colonists in America. The song their musicians played was The World Turned Upside Down. That song goes way back in British history, which I looked up and found too long to relate here. But I did find this quote, which seems appropriate for today:
Anyway, The Pharisees were upset. So many people who saw and heard Jesus raise Lazarus from the tomb had testified to others about what they saw. So many people were thronging Jerusalem, hoping to get a glimpse of Jesus. So many Jews were, for all practical purposes, ignoring their religious leaders and trying to follow Jesus.
“Look!” the Pharisees said to each other. “Look at how ineffective our efforts are to disparage this Jesus. The whole WORLD is following after Him!”
They really couldn’t understand the fascination the people had with Jesus. They certainly, as a body, didn’t share it. There were a few–a very few–who silently pondered these things and wondered. The evidence of His power was hard to deny. The power of His teaching was drawing crowds wherever He went, crowds that never gathered to hear the pompous religious leaders bloviate about their own superiority.
It never occurred to them that Jesus truly was sent from God. They were dealing with Jehovah, Himself. What would seem like a win in just a few more days would end in turning their world upside down.
John 12:16. These things understood not His disciples at the first: but when Jesus was glorified, then remembered they that these things were written of Him, and that they had done these things unto Him.
Sometimes it seemed the disciples were a bit slow, doesn’t it? After all, they had walked with Jesus for nearly three years. They had the benefit of His teaching, both public and private, as He explained the scripture to them and told of His coming death and resurrection. Still, they just couldn’t wrap their minds around all of it.
How could anyone slay the Master? How could it be possible? He was the Son of God!
We need to consider, though, that today we have the entire Word of God, and still we tend not to believe what is right in front of us. We prefer to just pretend that everything is going to be fine. Nothing bad can happen! This is America, after all, where we believe in law and order!
The disciples knew Who Jesus was. What they hadn’t quite grasped yet was the reason He came to earth. They simply couldn’t wrap their minds around His dying. They couldn’t imagine being without Him. Their world was crumbling under their feet, and they just didn’t get it.
It wasn’t until after the awful events of His arrest, trials, crucifixion, resurrection and return to heaven that the penny finally dropped.
We’ve had our doors and windows open all day. Right now the frogs and the crickets are serenading us. The house feels fresh. I love a late summer day that starts with a clear, fresh sky, cool air that is NOT saturated with humidity, and no air conditioning necessary 🙂 Yesterday was not like this. You’d think we lived in two different hemispheres.
Yesterday it was heavy, hot like a sauna that surrounds you even inside an air conditioned house. Clothes sticking to you all day. Felt like you were swimming through the air. Some kids I work with were out playing soccer for about an hour, and they all came back inside with red faces, sweat-soaked clothes, and needing a lot of water. I was glad I don’t have to do stuff like that any more.
I always used to feel sorry for babies whose well-meaning mommies bundled them up even when it was 90 degrees and humid. Poor little things sweated and fussed, and I always wanted to grab them, unwrap them, and put them in some lukewarm water before they melted away into a puddle of goo.
Today is much better.
Delicious weather is forecast for my corner of the world this coming week.
We all seem to love to talk about weather. Not much we can do about it, so I guess talking about it is the normal thing.
Have you thought much about how the weather affects our moods and our bodies? My body hurts when it’s either hot and humid or cold and humid, and in PA we get plenty of both.
My mood? Well, I try not to let the weather affect my mood, but I have to admit that a hot, muggy day saps my energy and my desire to do anything at all.
I’ll rest better tonight, too. I like blankets, but it’s just been too hot for them. Maybe tonight I’ll be able to enjoy the comfort of my weighted blanket.
I’m rambling, I know. I don’t really have anything profound I need to say tonight. It’s still Saturday, by the way. This post will publish at 7 a.m. on Sunday.
I hope you all get to enjoy a pleasant change in the weather. May you rest peacefully in the knowledge that the God Who created weather knows all about it, and I think He’s given us, here in my corner of PA, a break that we all needed.
And Jesus, when He had found a young ass, sat thereon; as it is written,
Fear not, daughter of Sion: behold, thy King cometh, sitting on an ass’s colt.
Many prophecies were fulfilled during the week before and including the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus. This was one of them.
In these two verses, Jesus fulfills Zech 9:9 – “Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion; shout, O daughter of Jerusalem: behold, thy King cometh unto thee: He is just, and having salvation; lowly, and riding upon an ass, and upon a colt the foal of an ass.”
Why would Jesus choose to ride on such a lowly animal? It was because He came not in war, but in peace. The donkey was an animal used perhaps by a priest or a merchant, someone who came for peaceable reasons. He did not enter Jerusalem on a war horse, but on a donkey. His kingdom was spiritual, not military.
“Daughter of Zion” is a personification of Jerusalem, used often in the Old Testament. And as I mentioned yesterday, the people’s cry of “Hosanna!” or “save now!” indicated their hope that Jesus would rescue them from the grip of Roman domination.
There is some controversy over how many animals Jesus used. The passage in Zechariah mentions a donkey and its colt. The only gospel rendition that mentions both the dam and the foal is Matthew 21:1-11. Always keep in mind that the human writers of the gospels were writing, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, from their own perspectives. Failure to mention both animals is not a contradiction. It simply didn’t figure in to their narratives and was not the major issue.
But the fulfillment of Zech. 9:9 was of special importance to the Jews, and Matthew’s gospel was written to the Jews to present Jesus as Messiah.
It was common practice to not separate a dam from her newborn colt. It would have been cruel to both animals to do so. I believe they were brought together to Jesus, just as He had asked. I believe he rode on the colt, with the mother close by, either behind or beside.
I also believe that there’s been a lot of fuss and feathers over this issue in attempts to prove contradictions in the Bible. There is no contradiction. Again, it is simply a matter of perspective, and always under the guidance of the Holy Spirit. Matthew’s gospel is the one that mentions both animals because it fulfills Zech. 9:9, important to the Jews, who were the main target of Matthew’s gospel.
On the next day much people that were come to the feast, when they heard that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem,
Took branches of palm trees, and went forth to meet Him, and cried, Hosanna: Blessed is the King of Israel that cometh in the Name of the Lord.
There were throngs of people in Jerusalem for this most important feast day of the year, the Passover. And with the people, there were sheep. Jewish law demanded that the sacrificial lamb live with the family for at least three days before the feast. That’s partly why so many people came early. They had to purchase a lamb, and stay in Jerusalem or nearby before the day of the Passover. The historian Josephus tells us that someone counted, at some point, over 265,000 lambs coming into the city. All those lambs, and the Lamb of God among them.
I’ve never been to Jerusalem. Friends who have been there tell me it’s not as big as they expected (not the older part) and that it’s typically crowded on a normal day. Think of thousands coming from all over Israel, especially from Galilee, and filling every available spot in the city. Noise, confusion, children running here and there, people hawking food, lambs, and many other items for sale; even in the Temple, lambs were being sold. Add to all that the occasional clatter of hooves when Roman soldiers rode through, sending people running to get out of the way.
It couldn’t have smelled very good, either. Horses, sheep, donkeys–all leaving smelly reminders behind them.
And what about the palm branches? Why were they used?
Palm leaves and branches had been a symbol of Jewish nationalism since the days of the Maccabees. You can read about them here. The people saw Jesus more as a political figure, a king, than as the perfect Lamb of God Who was sent to give His life for their salvation.
So they welcomed Him with great joy and celebration as He entered the city on a donkey selected for just that purpose. Hosanna means save us now. It is clear that the people were hoping for freedom from Rome, and that such freedom would be claimed under the leadership of Jesus. He was immensely popular with the common people who, even after seeing His miracles and hearing Him teach, still didn’t get it. They wanted a king to set them free from Rome, and they thought Jesus was the one who would do that for them.
Much 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.
But the chief priests consulted that they might put Lazarus also to death;
Because that by reason of him many of the Jews went away, and believed on Jesus.
When Jesus restored Lazarus back to life, I don’t believe he came out of the tomb looking horrible. He had been restored! He was whole, healthy, and just needed a little help in removing the binding of the grave clothes. He didn’t stink 🙂
The people who learned that Jesus was in Bethany certainly came to see Him, but they also came to see Lazarus. Who wouldn’t want to see a man who had been dead four days, and was now alive and enjoying his dinner?
But when word reached the Pharisees that Jesus was in Bethany, and that many people saw Lazarus alive and well, and believed in Jesus, they were outraged. “Well, we’ll just have to kill Lazarus, too,” they said to each other.
And so the plot was formed not only to execute Jesus, but to find a way to kill Lazarus. This whole movement must be stopped, at any cost.
Then said Jesus, Let her alone: against the day of My burying hath she kept this.
For the poor always ye have with you; but Me ye have not always.
Mary of Bethany had just shown her overwhelming love for Jesus, offering Him her most valuable gift. She poured it over his feet, and then wiped his feet with her hair.
As usual, someone was offended. At least, he pretended to be offended.
“Why didn’t she sell this ointment for 300 pence, and distribute it among the poor?” In other words, Judas thought her gift was wasted on Jesus. He was the treasurer, and he held the money bag. He would have been more than happy to take care of the sale and the money!
But Jesus rebuked Judas. “Leave her alone. She has kept this ointment to honor Me, and to use after My death, to anoint My body. You will always have the poor all around you, but you will not always have Me to walk with you and talk with you.”
Jesus was not demeaning the ministry to the poor and needy in His day. There was much poverty, partly due to Roman domination. When there is no means of making a living, there will be poverty. Poverty can also come through illness, or some catastrophic event. Whatever the case, Jesus knew Judas’ heart, and He knew that Judas was a thief and a liar who would not have distributed the money to the poor, but would have used it for his own selfish purposes.
Jesus also knew that His time on earth was coming to an end, and that Judas would betray Him to the Pharisees–for money. Always, financial gain was the motive for Judas’ behavior.
In Luke 8: 2-3 we learn that several wealthy women in the area contributed to the financial needs of Jesus and His group of disciples, so there was already an amount of money that could well have been used to help the poor. None of those funds were sacrificial giving on the part of the women who contributed, but Mary’s gift was indeed sacrificial. Even the act of unbinding her hair was risky, because decent women kept their long hair covered and contained.
There is so much to consider in what could be seen as a simple act of devotion. Did Mary know that Jesus’ time was coming to an end? Did she. understand how He would suffer; that He would give Himself as the perfect sacrifice for the sin of mankind?
The feet of a guest were usually washed in water by one of the lower servants when the guest entered the home. A drop or two of sweet-smelling oil would be placed upon the head of a guest, an aroma to enjoy during his visit. But Mary knelt at His feet, putting herself as a lowly servant, and poured her oil over His feet. She further humbled herself by uncovering and unbinding her hair to use as a towel.
She gave Him her best, honored Him and revered Him in her act of devotion.
So I’ve been thinking a lot today about something President Trump has said: “Nothing is more powerful than God!”
Seriously, do we believe that? It’s true. It’s absolutely true.
The book of Revelation tells us that God will defeat all the forces of Satan. The victory will be His.
Do we really believe that? Or are we so fearful of the loud attacks of Satan that we’ve forgotten Who is actually in charge?
Isaiah says that Jesus is the Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace, King of Kings, Lord of Lords.
Do we really believe that? Are those truths foremost in our minds as we read all the news, the political stuff, the financial predictions of worse-than-ever-before losses? If we listen to the world, we’ll want to run for cover and never poke our heads above ground again.
Are we intimidated by the loud rhetoric from those who deny the existence of God? By those who disagree with our politics? Who say that Christians are evil heretics who are responsible for all the problems of the world?
Do we really believe in God and His power enough to take a stand, speak up, refuse to bow to anyone or any other movement? Do we have the courage to stand firm if some radical group gets up in our faces to demand we comply with their symbols, their mottoes? Do we trust God enough?
Fear is an awful master.
II Timothy 1:7. “For God has not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.”
Do we really even believe that verse? Fear is not from God! FEAR is NOT from God! It as a tool Satan uses to discourage us, defeat us, and keep us quiet.
I’m not advocating we riot and protest. There’s nothing godly about that. I am asking that we look inside our own hearts and try to figure out how much we really believe in God; in His power, in His plan; in His purpose.
When is the last time your faith was truly tested? When did you have to take a stand even though you were afraid? Have you just kept quiet when you could have taken a stand, when you knew you really should?
Then 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.
Then saith one of His disciples, Judas Iscariot, Simon’s son, which should betray Him,
Why was not this ointment sold for three hundred pence, and given to the poor?
This 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.
In one of the most tender moments of Jesus’ life and ministry, this incident perhaps stands out among the rest. It contains both deep love, and deep evil. Yet the evil is not able to overcome the good, and that is such an encouragement to me!
Mary gave what was surely her most valuable possession and poured it over Jesus’ feet.
Spikenard, or nard, was expensive. Poor people didn’t have it. Only the wealthy bought it. Nard was the oil used for anointing royalty, and was often given as a gift to honor a king. The oil was poured on the king’s head, and dripped down onto his clothing, a long-lasting reminder of the value of the gift.
So what is spikenard? From the Online Dictionary:
HISTORICAL: a costly perfumed ointment much valued in ancient times.
the Himalayan plant of the valerian family that produces the rhizome from which this ointment was prepared.
Preparation was a lengthy process, requiring many steps and many hands.
Mary, we are told, poured an entire pound of spikenard on Jesus’ feet. The scent filled the room. It is said to have been a woodsy, earthy scent, perhaps reminiscent of the smell of a deeply wooded forest after a summer rain.
How much was her gift worth?
Judas, pretending to be indignant and concerned for the poor, tells us it was worth three hundred pence. That’s about 300 day’s worth of work, just two months short of a year. Today, it would be worth more than $20,000!
Perhaps Mary was thinking of Isaiah 52:7 as she poured out her precious ointment: “How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him that bringeth good tidings, that publisheth peace; that bringeth good tidings of good, that publisheth salvation; that saith unto Zion, Thy God reigneth!”
We don’t often think of feet as things of beauty. I had to buy some shoes recently because I’ve lost enough weight that my shoes were dangerously loose. At my age, one cannot risk a twisted ankle or a fall! The lovely saleswoman noticed that I have bunions. I have callouses. I have short little toes. I have arthritis. She was so helpful in finding the style of shoes I liked that would fit all the above conditions. My feet are not beautiful, But if I use my feet to carry the message of salvation, then they become beautiful.
To Mary, Jesus’ feet were precious and beautiful. Not only did she offer up her valuable oil; she then uncovered her long hair and, kneeling, used her hair to wipe up the excess oil from His feet. Such love and such humility must have been far more important to Him than the oil itself.
I imagine that scent must have clung to Mary’s hair for some time. Even after she washed her hair, it carried that reminder of her Savior and she held it close in her heart.
But what about Judas? Well, the Bible tells us that his indignation was an act. He pretended to be concerned for the poor, but in reality he wanted that expensive oil because he was a thief, and he was the treasurer of the group of disciples. He could barely stand to see the spikenard wasted on the feet of the Man he would betray.
He reminds me of some present-day politicians, always promising to help the poor (with our tax dollars, of course) but in reality lining their own pockets.
Incredible love and goodness and incredible hatred and evil, all in one incident. A perfect picture of the capacity for both good and evil in the human heart.
Then Jesus six days before the passover came to Bethany, where Lazarus was which had been dead, whom He raised from the dead.
There they made Him a supper; and Martha served: but Lazarus was one of them that sat at the table with Him.
Six days before the Passover. What we have come to refer to as the Passion Week has now begun. It is fitting that Jesus would choose to spend time with His friends Martha, Mary, and Lazarus.
Keep in mind that Jesus was traveling with His disciples, so there were at least 11 guests for the hostesses to feed and care for. There very likely were others, neighbors who knew Lazarus’ story and who quickly got word that Jesus had arrived.
They did not sit in upright chairs, as is customary today. They rested while they ate, enjoying the occasion as a social event, relaxing from the labors of the day. It seems uncomfortable to me to eat while reclining, but it was normal for them.
I think this must have been a joyous reunion for all of them. Lazarus was healthy. They were wealthy enough to have plenty of food for a crowd. As usual, Martha was bustling about, doing everything she could to make everyone comfortable. Because of the status of this family, I suspect she was not the head cook. There were probably servants in the kitchen, but Martha was the supervisor of all things pertaining to having a beloved guest in the house.
Mary is not mentioned in these first two verses. We see her in the next verse, in an act of devotion that affected everyone present.