Monday, April 30, 2012

John 12

Mary Anoints Jesus at Bethany

Jesus was hanging out with Lazarus (the guy he has recently raised from the dead) and Mary used a bunch of expensive ointment to anoint the feet of Jesus. Then she wiped it clean with her hair. Judas asked why they didn't sell the ointment and donate the money to the poor. He didn't actually care about the poor, he was a thief and would dip into the money before it was donated. Jesus said to leave her alone, she should keep the rest of the ointment for the day of his burial. For the poor you always have but I will not always be here.

That last line is strange to me. I thought he was supposed to be in favor of giving all of your belongings to the poor, yet he seems to be indulging in this expensive thing and wants it to be kept for his death. 

Now, as to the part with Judas, we have seen this story before. Why was the detail about Judas never mentioned before? It seems like a pretty big detail to leave out. Also, in this version it is only Judas who complains where in the other versions it says there are multiple disciples who complain.

The Plot to Kill Lazarus

The chief priests wanted to put Lazarus to death as well as Jesus, because many have seen that Jesus raised him from the dead and they were following him.

Seems logical I guess, if you are willing to kill one person, why not another.

The Triumphal Entry

Jesus rode in to town on a donkey. This matched what was in some ancient prophecy and everyone thought it was great.

I've said this many times, but I just don't find these types of things interesting. The thing is, Jesus knew about the prophecy right? He wanted to fulfill the prophecy so he was seeking out the donkey. Doesn't that make the prophecy less impressive? As Matt Dillahunty has pointed out on numerous occasions, if I order a steak and then the waitress brings me a steak, is she fulfilling prophecy or just following instructions? For the prophecy to be interesting, I would think the players would have to at least not know what the prophecy means while they are fulfilling it, although even then, you have the problem of the players fitting the prophecy to events in the past. (Why is everything reminding me of star trek lately?)

Some Greeks Seek Jesus

Among the people that came to worship Jesus were some Greeks. Jesus says that whoever loves life loses it but whoever hates life in this world will keep it for eternal life.

Not really sure what the message is supposed to be here. If I hate life, why would I want eternal life? I would rather live one life happily than eternal life which I hate. Is the implication that if you hate this life you will get eternal life later and that life will be good? It doesn't seem to say that, but I will be honest, I find the wording of this section fairly confusing so I might be missing something pretty big here.

The Son of Man Must Be Lifted Up

Jesus shouts to the heavens that God should glorify his name. He does. Many in the crowd said they heard thunder while others said they heard angels.

My old roommate and I used to talk about this verse on occasion (he is catholic). We were discussing when people see Jesus or the virgin mary in objects that I thought it was just our natural pattern matching. He referenced this verse and said maybe there is something really there, but you only see it if you want to see it.

Jesus says he will be lifted up to heaven. The crowd responds that the Christ is supposed to stay forever, so how can he be lifted up? He avoids their question and just says that he won't be around forever so they should enjoy the light while they can.

The Unbelief of the People

After saying these things Jesus hid himself away from everyone. He was upset that he has performed so many miracles and yet people still don't believe in him. However, many people did believe in him they were just afraid to say it because the people in power didn't like Jesus.

Don't listen to what they are saying, they are picking on you because they are jealous.

Jesus Came to Save the World

verse 47 says he is not here to judge, but then verse 48 says he is here to judge, what am I missing?


  1. Here are my two cents' worth:

    Mary anointing Jesus with the expensive oil is rooted in a Jewish belief that the care of the dead was to take precedence over giving to the poor. That may not make much sense to us today, but it was a cultural thing. What's unusual is the fact that she poured it on Jesus while he was alive. Usually, it would be poured on a corpse. The act foreshadows his death.

    Regarding the different versions found in the gospel, look at it this way:

    The same story can appear in four different newspapers. While the basic information will remain the same, reporters will highlight different aspects of it.

    As for the difference in reports re: the number of people present, look at it this way: If I describe a beautiful sunset to you and tell you that my friend, John, made such and such a comment as we watched the sun disappear, you will know that there were two of us present. However, that doesn't mean that there weren't others present. There may have been several other people with us, but I only mentioned what John said.

    That's the way it is in the Bible. Different writers chose to mention different things, but that doesn't mean that any of the accounts are in error just because they aren't identical.

    Re: Lazarus -- the Pharisees would have wanted him dead because, as long as he was alive and walking around, people would know that Jesus had raised him from the dead and that meant they would lose even more followers. So they wanted to get rid of both him and Jesus.

    Re: the donkey -- point taken. However, not all prophecies could be fulfilled that simply. Some of them were fulfilled by people who knew nothing about the prophecies -- for example, the prophecies in Daniel regarding the foreign powers that would play a prominent role in the future of the Israelites.

    Re: hating life: The love/hate contrast reflects a popular Jewish idiom of that time period. The word "hate" doesn't mean "detest" as we might use it. It refers to preference, that is, the follower of Christ prefers life in heaven to life on earth, recognizing that it's much better.

    Re: Christ and judgment: In his first visit to earth, Christ didn't come to judge people, but to offer salvation to them (v. 47). When he comes a second time, he will come in judgment (v. 48).

  2. MaryLou, thanks for throwing in your two sense. The best reality checks usually come from someone with a different perspective so I really appreciate having your voice here.

    You make a really good point about the 4 newspapers and I like your example about the sunset. Many discrepancies in the gospels can definitely be explained in that way. But there are many different levels of discrepancies and some seem like it would be a stretch to think it is just 2 different perspectives. For example, the detail about Judas seems so important to the story that it is odd to me that it was left out in the different versions. Also, I think some discrepancies either make sense or they don't depending on how you think the bible was written. If you think the bible is inerrant, and that God wrote the bible through the people, the space for there to be minor errors is very small. On the other hand, if you think the bible is simply the writings of regular people who were describing their experiences in dealing with Jesus, then a lot more differences would make sense. I would say if you are in this second camp, then the thing with Judas can make sense, maybe the other writers didn't know Judas had been skimming money. But if you are in the first camp, it seems odd that such a detail would be left out.

    RE: hating life - that is interesting, so you are saying that if Jesus says to hate X and love Y, he isn't saying what I think he is saying, but instead he is saying that you should prefer Y to X. I did a quick google search and found the following which says a similar thing at point 4. I wish I knew a better way to verify this idea but it certainly seems to have some merit. Thanks for pointing this out, I will keep this in mind in the future.

    The judging thing. I guess the key phrase there is at the end of v48 "on the last day"

  3. Mary Anoints Jesus at Bethany It's interesting to me here how it says that Judas intended to betray Christ. I was always under the impression that it was Satan entering Judas that caused him to betray Christ. In John it's during the supper, in Luke, its before the supper. Show's what I know. He had probably been intending on betraying him all along and maybe Satan gave him that final push he needed to finally do it.

    The Plot to Kill LazarusI think here they want to kill him, partially because they really don't like Jesus anyway and partially because they probably think he's practicing some sort of necromancy.

    The Triumphal Entry Jesus rides in on a donkey. This is to fulfill the prophecy in Zechariah It's unimpressive to me as well. These kinds of things done to fulfill prophecy. But it's also less impressive when you read the next few verses. When you read the context, it sounds like the prophecy talks about an earthy ruler. Someone might have a different take on this, but that's how it sounds to me anyway.

    Some Greeks Seek JesusIt sort of seems to keep in line with the verses about not fearing death, but it seems to conflict with Jesus' pleading in the other gospels for his life in the garden (see below) and when he was fearing the Jews.

    The Son of Man Must Be Lifted UpAgain, its interesting how he talks about not asking his father to save him, since that's why he came. But it's probably one of those “do as I say, not as I do.” I find this a lot when it comes to the things God orders people to do in the bible, vs how he commands them to do, and how he treats the people.
    In verse 39-40 he says “For this reason, they could not believe, for Isaiah said again, “He has blinded their eyes and he hardened their heart, so that they could not see with their eyes and perceive with not their heart, and be converted and I heal them.” This troubles me a lot. This seems to fly in the face of free will when God hardens people's hearts then punishes them for it. What happened to free will? What right does God have to judge his own creation, especially after he messes with them?

    Jesus Came to Save the World It sounds ambiguous, but He is saying, “I'm not really going to judge you, I'm just telling you what to do.” I think Jesus sets the rules with his teaching, but they will be the measure of what God judges by. That's the way I understand it anyway.

    MaryLou, that's really interesting about the priority of the dead. While I think it's a rather bad tradition, it was enlightening. You also bring up a good point about the newspaper analogy. What bothers me with the bible is when there are discrepancies of Jesus saying completely different things, or events being set in different locations. Those kinds of things are really hard to get past. A newspaper might get different quotes from different people, or talk about different aspects of the same story or put their own slant on it. However, if a newspaper reports that something happened in a completely different local, for example, that reporter would probably be out of a job. As far as the prophecy in Daniel, its so vague. Without being much of a student of history, one can pretty much make that prophecy in any country, anywhere on the planet, at any time in history.

  4. I've been thinking about your comment about whether the scripture was divinely inspired or not Hausdorff. According to Timothy it sounds as though it's all divinely inspired. But these verses sound like some scripture is not inspired.

    I think you make a great point about credibility. I think I would find the bible a lot more credible as a secondary source of information of what happened. Especially since we don't have any original copies, we really don't know what they originally said.

  5. I came across this verse when skimming the bible. Is hatred toward one's brother used in the same way?

  6. "partially because they probably think he's practicing some sort of necromancy."

    Technically, I suppose he is practicing necromancy, I mean, he is bring someone back from the dead. :)

    I agree with you about the harden heart thing. It seems crazy for God to remove free will from people.

    With regard to the hatred toward the brother link, I'm guessing that it doesn't apply here. My reasoning is it seemed to me that MaryLou was referring to situations when there is a hate/love comparison. If there is just hate or just love without the other, I'm guessing we can just read it like normal.

    MaryLou, if you see this, I'd love for you to weigh in. Have I correctly understood the hate/love thing?


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