Read John 11:47 - 12:11
47Then the chief priests and the Pharisees called a meeting of the Sanhedrin.
"What are we accomplishing?" they asked. "Here is this man performing many miraculous signs. 48If we let him go on like this, everyone will believe in him, and then the Romans will come and take away both our place and our nation."
49Then one of them, named Caiaphas, who was high priest that year, spoke up, "You know nothing at all! 50You do not realize that it is better for you that one man die for the people than that the whole nation perish."
51He did not say this on his own, but as high priest that year he prophesied that Jesus would die for the Jewish nation, 52and not only for that nation but also for the scattered children of God, to bring them together and make them one. 53So from that day on they plotted to take his life.
54Therefore Jesus no longer moved about publicly among the Jews. Instead he withdrew to a region near the desert, to a village called Ephraim, where he stayed with his disciples.
55When it was almost time for the Jewish Passover, many went up from the country to Jerusalem for their ceremonial cleansing before the Passover. 56They kept looking for Jesus, and as they stood in the temple area they asked one another, "What do you think? Isn't he coming to the Feast at all?" 57But the chief priests and Pharisees had given orders that if anyone found out where Jesus was, he should report it so that they might arrest him.
12:1Six days before the Passover, Jesus arrived at Bethany, where Lazarus lived, whom Jesus had raised from the dead. 2Here a dinner was given in Jesus' honor. Martha served, while Lazarus was among those reclining at the table with him. 3Then Mary took about a pint of pure nard, an expensive perfume; she poured it on Jesus' feet and wiped his feet with her hair. And the house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume.
4But one of his disciples, Judas Iscariot, who was later to betray him, objected, 5"Why wasn't this perfume sold and the money given to the poor? It was worth a year's wages." 6He did not say this because he cared about the poor but because he was a thief; as keeper of the money bag, he used to help himself to what was put into it.
7"Leave her alone," Jesus replied. "[It was intended] that she should save this perfume for the day of my burial. 8You will always have the poor among you, but you will not always have me."
9Meanwhile 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. 10So the chief priests made plans to kill Lazarus as well, 11for on account of him many of the Jews were going over to Jesus and putting their faith in him. (NIV)
In this section, we have several stories that transition us from Jesus raising Lazarus to Jesus entering Jerusalem on Palm Sunday (next week’s reading). The one common theme in both of these stories is Jesus’ death. In the end of chapter 11, John tells the story of Caiaphas talking about killing Jesus so that the Jewish nation can be saved. John indicated that Caiaphas doesn’t truly understand the significance of his words and the great truth behind them. He is simply thinking of killing a nuisance that is going to stir up so much trouble, that the Romans might come and kill many Jews.
When I read this, I am reminded at how much truth is in the world, but people do not recognize it. God is making himself known over and over in everything, but we miss it again and again. But God’s will cannot be stopped by humanity’s actions. God even uses the desires of evil for his purposes. This is the true wonder of God.
In the next section, we see Jesus at the home of Martha, Mary and Lazarus. Here, Mary takes a jar of expensive perfume and pours it on Jesus’ feet and wipes it with her hair. Jesus lifts this act up saying she is preparing him for burial which is interesting because Jesus will be buried hastily, without all the normal spices and oils being put on the body. Mary is essentially doing this act before hand.
We also see that Lazarus was targeted for death. This is a somewhat a precursor to the fact that Christians will be singled out and killed for their relationship with Christ. But Lazarus, like disciples who witnessed Christ’s death and resurrection will not be swayed by a simple threat of death. To one who has found life in Christ, they know in their heart of hearts there is no death because Christ will give life to our mortal bodies. There is power in Christ’s death.
That is the other point we see. Caiaphas says the death of one will save all. Lazarus is the living example of the life of a believer. We can find hope and strength in this knowledge.
What gives you strength and hope in your faith? What does Christ’s death mean to you?