16 August 2014

John 12:1-11

"So the chief priests planned to put Lazarus to death as well, since it was on account of him that many of the Jews were deserting and were believing in Jesus." (vv. 10-11)


Jesus had gone into hiding (John 11:54) to avoid the wrath of the chief priests and Pharisees.

But now the Passover now approaches and it's time for him to step back into the open. Where better to start than the scene of the crime? He returns to Bethany -the home of Lazarus, Mary and Martha - the place where Lazarus was given a second shot at life.

His friends throw a dinner party just for him at which Mary makes an elaborate gesture, anointing him with perfume. This is no subtle return to ministry. After what seems like no time at all, Jesus is well and truly back in the limelight - and this time he won't disappear quietly.

The crowds are drawn to Bethany too - not just to see Jesus but to catch a glance of Lazarus. After all, who would miss out on the chance to see a dead man walking, talking and eating? If people could see Lazarus with their own eyes they would know that the stories they had been hearing were indeed true. That this man from Galilee could not only heal the sick, but could even raise the dead.

Here was a rabbi for the no-hopers, the messiah of the lost cause.

Clearly, this doesn't wash well with the Jewish authorities, who by this time are on the brink of hysteria. Not content with only plotting Jesus' demise, now they decide that Lazarus must go too. Lazarus' blessing of new life comes hand-in-hand with a curse - the threat of death. Jesus was getting increasingly dangerous to know. His sacrifice and his ministry would be costly to those around him as well as himself.

To Ponder

  • Have you ever made an extravagant gesture of faith? What happened?
  • Have you ever taken a risk in the name of faith? What happened?
  • Spend some time in prayer for Christians around the world who are persecuted, tortured and murdered because of their faith in Christ. 

Bible notes author

Anna Drew

Anna Drew is Director of Communications for the Diocese of Canterbury. She is a regular contributor to BBC Radio 4's Daily Service and Prayer for the Day and a freelance writer on faith issues.