Ep.104: Who Lives and Who Dies?

Hello, I’m Daniel Westfall on the channel “Pray With Me”. 

John 12 marks the end of Jesus’ public ministry, and the beginning of the story about his death.

Up to this point, Jesus has been interacting with many people in many ways: making wine at the wedding, advising Nicodemus to be born again, offering living water at the well, healing the paralytic and the blind, feeding and lecturing the crowd, and finally  raising Lazarus from the dead. 

John 12 begins with Jesus attending a party at Lazarus’ home, where Mary anointed his feet with a pint of very expensive perfume. Judas, the accountant in the crowd said, “Hey, that’s a waste. We should have sold the perfume and given the money to the poor.”  Jesus replied, “She has anointed me for my burial.”

Anoint Jesus for burial? Is he planning his funeral? 

The story got briefly onto a better track when Jesus rode into Jerusalem on a donkey, to the wild cheers of the crowd who said, “Blessed is the king of Israel.” King Jesus? Is he now a political celebrity? Apparently miracles and free lunch get out the vote every time. 

But Jesus wasn’t consulting the polls and playing to the crowd. Instead he said, “I will draw everyone to myself when I am lifted up on a cross.” And he said, “A grain of wheat must fall into the ground and die.” 

The crowd replied, “Moses said the Messiah will live forever. What’s this about death?”

Jesus said, “I have come as light. Believe in the light, so you won’t keep walking in darkness.” 

When they heard this, some people believed openly, some believed privately, and some didn’t believe at all. John, astounded at pervasive unbelief in the face of momentous miracles, explains it by quoting the prophet Isaiah. 
God has blinded their eyes
            and hardened their hearts,
    So they cannot see with their eyes
              nor understand with their hearts (John 12:40, quoting Isaiah 6:10).

Jesus opened the eyes and the hearts of the blind man and the paralytic and Lazarus. But many eyes and hearts remained closed.

Let’s pray. 

Jesus, we love your public ministry in John. Winemaker of Cana, whip maker at the temple, lunch maker for the crowd, giver of new birth and living water. You called Lazarus from the grave and rode like a king into Jerusalem. 

But in every success, you hinted of impending disaster. Will you be a victim of the whip you used in the temple? After free lunch, is the next menu your body as meat and your blood as wine? Does Mary’s anointing prepare you for the grave? Are you the grain of wheat that falls into the ground and dies? 

Jesus, in our troubled times the strong and arrogant raise themselves to kingship–Donald Trump, Vladmir Putin, Xi Jinping. When you were strong and popular, leading the parade into Jerusalem, why didn’t you raise yourself to kingship?

And why is John’s gospel so insistent on dividing people into those who believe and those who don’t? Is there some hidden meaning in this story of your life that only faith can understand? Is there some unexpected turn in your road where only believers can follow? Will your light and life soon give way to darkness and death? Jesus, help us walk with you where John takes us in your journey. Help us walk with you where you take us in our journey.

Amen. 

I’m Daniel on the channel “Pray with Me”.

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