Read: John 12:1-11
Consider: Have you ever wondered why the miracles Jesus did created such negative reactions in some of the people who witnessed them or heard about them? Today’s reading from John 12 concerns the raising of Lazarus (refer to John 11 for the full story). Notice at the beginning and end of today’s reading we see very different reactions to this miracle.
Firstly, those directly affected by the miracle (Mary, Martha and Lazarus) organised ‘… a dinner in Jesus’ honour’ (John 12:2). Each of them would have reason to thank Jesus for what he did in raising Lazarus: Mary and Martha for their brother being restored to them and Lazarus himself for being alive (an understatement!). Mary’s gratitude went further as we are told: Then Mary took about a half a litre of pure nard, an expensive perfume; she poured it on Jesus’ feet and wiped his feet with her hair (12:3).
Secondly, there was the reaction of the crowd that gathered when they heard that Jesus was in Bethany, at the home of Lazarus. We read: ‘… a large crowd of Jews found out that Jesus was there and came, not only because of him but also to see Lazarus, whom he had raised from the dead’ (12:9). This was a crowd made up of those who had probably heard about Jesus and what he had done in raising Lazarus from the dead. Was their curiosity driven by the fact that they had never seen a dead man rising from the dead before? There must have been an element of this in their curiosity, but we cannot be sure whether or not this would drive them to believe in Jesus.
Thirdly, there was the reaction of the chief priests. We are told: So the chief priests made plans to kill Lazarus as well, for on account of him many Jews were going over to Jesus and believing in him (12:10-11). This links back to what we read in John 11, about a meeting held between the chief priests and the Pharisees where they reveal their primary concern: If we let him go on like this, everyone will believe in him, and then the Romans will come and take away both our temple and our nation (11:48). While the chief priests and the Pharisees should have related Jesus’ actions to their long-awaited Messiah and rejoiced in this, they were more concerned about losing their temple and nation. Their reaction was one of scheming to kill Jesus: So from that day on they plotted to take his life (11:53).
Pray: Father, today we still see different reactions to the claims of Jesus. There are those who react with antagonism and hatred towards the One who offers them the gift of salvation. There are also those who are curious, but may never take it further. We praise and thank you for those who recognise Jesus for who he is and wish to honour him in their lives, willingly accepting him as their Saviour and Lord. Amen