Saturday, April 10, 2010

Jesus Prepared People For His Death By Being Anointed, Fulfilling Prophecy, And Predicting His death (John 12:1-50)

Text: John 12:1-50

Theme: "And many other signs truly did Jesus in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book: But these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name." (20:30-31).

3. Preparatory Persuasion
     A. Of believers (12)
     B. Of unbelievers (12b)

In chapters 1-4, Jesus persuaded individuals that He is the Son of God. In chapters 5-11 He sought to persuade the public of the same. The religious leaders plotted to kill Him, and now, in chapters 12-19, Jesus begins to prepare people for His coming death. In chapter 12, Jesus seems to prepare people by being anointed (v1-11), fulfilling prophecy (v 12-19), and predicting His death (v20-50). 

Jesus prepared people for His death by being anointed (v 1-11). Mary, brother of Lazarus and sister of Martha (cf. John 11), anointed Jesus' feet with a pound of costly perfume, and wiped them with her hair. Judas, because he pilfered what was in the money box, asked Mary why she didn't sell the perfume and give the money to the poor. Jesus told him to leave her alone, because she should save it was for His burial, and because, unlike the poor, He would not  always be with them physically. Jesus prepared people for His death by being anointed.

Jesus prepared people by fulfilling prophecy (v12-19). In fulfillment of Zechariah 9:9, Jesus came as the "king" of Israel, "just and endowed with salvation, humble, and mounted on a donkey..." (NAS). This seems to stand in contrast to the conquest of Alexander the Great (v1-8). At the time, Jesus' disciples did not understand this event, but after He was "glorified (a reference to His death and resurrection (cf. v23, 27-28), it made sense to them. Jesus prepared people for His death by fulfilling the prophecy of the triumphant entry of Jerusalem.

Jesus prepared people for His death by predicting it (v20-50). Some Greeks came to worship at the Passover feast, and asked to "see Jesus." When Jesus heard, He used the illustration of a seed to foretell the meaning of His death (v24). As the kernel of wheat, when planted, bears fruit, so Jesus' death would bear the fruit of eternal life for those who rely on Him as Savior (v25). 

Jesus' death would glorify the Father--who confirmed this by speaking in a thunderous voice (v27-30)--and would pass judgment on Satan (v30; cf. 2 Cor. 4:4; Eph. 2:2; 6:12). The judgment of Satan, among other things, enables Jesus to deliver believers from sin, death, and the kingdom of Satan's spiritual darkness (Col. 1:13-14; Heb. 2:14-15), into the kingdom of His light. His death would be by crucifixion, and would provide salvation for all men who trust Him as Savior (v32-33). 

The crowd understood the OT to teach that Messiah (Savior/King of Israel) would remain forever, and (perhaps because of Daniel 7:13-14), asked how Jesus could say He must be crucified. They were looking for a victorious king, and didn't understand why Messiah would have to die.  Isaiah 53:5-9, however, shows it was necessary for Him to die as an atonement for men's sins.  His first coming was in humility, to bear men's sins.  His second coming would be as the victorious king. Jesus told them to believe in Him--the light--while He was still among them, so they would not be overtaken by spiritual darkness, and so they would become sons of light (v35-36). Jesus prepared people for His death by predicting it.

The general unbelief of the Jews, though He performed "so many signs before them" (v37), was an act of God. Since they would not believe in Him (v38-39), God blinded their eyes and hardened their hearts (v40; cf. Isaiah 6:10), so they could not believe in Him. Jesus concluded that believing in Him was equal to believing in the Father who sent Him (v44-45), and would deliver the believer from spiritual darkness (v46). Those who do not believe in Him will be judged by His words, which came from God the Father (v47-50).

This passage is, in my estimation, one of the strongest proofs that Christ's atonement is of unlimited value.  He directly stated that He did not come to judge the "world", but to save it, and that the "world" He came to save includes those who ultimately reject His words.  Christ's gospel, not He, will judge those who reject His offer of salvation, because He came to save the world, and they rejected His offer.  A man cannot be guilty of rejecting Christ's offer of salvation if it does not apply to Him, and it cannot apply to Him if Christ's death did not pay for his sins.  Otherwise, God convicts them for failing to believe a lie.

Jesus seemed to prepare both believers and unbelievers for His death, by being anointed, entering Jerusalem on a donkey, and predicting His death.

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