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John 12 – Anointed for His Grave

by Jill

In the Gospel of John, Chapter 12, we find a rich narrative filled with symbolism and profound teachings from Jesus as he approaches the final days before his crucifixion. This chapter offers a glimpse into the events and interactions that underscore the significance of Jesus’ mission and the fulfillment of prophecies.

A Prelude to Sacrifice

The chapter opens with Jesus arriving in Bethany six days before Passover, where he is welcomed with a dinner in his honor. Martha serves, and Lazarus, whom Jesus had raised from the dead, is also present. In a profound act of devotion, Mary anoints Jesus’ feet with expensive ointment made of pure nard and wipes them with her hair. This gesture, while deeply intimate and reverent, breaks several social conventions of the time. It highlights Mary’s understanding of Jesus’ impending sacrifice and serves as a preparation for his burial, as Jesus himself points out.

The Symbolism of the Triumphal Entry

The following day, Jesus enters Jerusalem riding on a donkey, fulfilling the prophecy from Zechariah 9:9. The crowd greets him with palm branches and shouts of “Hosanna,” recognizing him as the King of Israel. This event, known as the Triumphal Entry, signifies Jesus’ kingship but in a manner that contrasts sharply with worldly expectations. Instead of a conquering hero on a warhorse, Jesus presents himself as a humble king, emphasizing peace and servitude.

The Grain of Wheat Analogy

As Greeks seek to meet Jesus, he speaks of his approaching glorification using the metaphor of a grain of wheat. He explains that a grain must fall to the earth and die to produce much fruit, symbolizing his death and the resulting salvation for many. This teaching underscores the necessity of sacrifice for the greater good and prepares his followers for the trials they will face.

A Troubled Yet Resolute Heart

Despite the looming suffering, Jesus remains committed to his purpose. He openly acknowledges his troubled soul but resolutely declares his mission to glorify the Father through his death and resurrection. A voice from heaven affirms this, but the crowd’s varied reactions—some hearing thunder, others an angel—reveal their spiritual deafness and blindness.

The Light Versus Darkness

Jesus continues to teach about the light versus darkness, urging the crowd to believe in the light while it is still with them. This call to action emphasizes the urgency of embracing his teachings and the consequences of rejecting them. Jesus clarifies that his mission is to save the world, not judge it, but warns that those who reject his word will be judged by it on the last day.

Concluding Reflections

John 12 concludes with reflections on belief and unbelief. Despite witnessing Jesus’ miracles, many remain blinded and hardened in their hearts, fulfilling Isaiah’s prophecy. Yet, some leaders do believe but fear the repercussions of openly following Jesus. This tension between fear and faith highlights the personal and societal challenges of discipleship.

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