During this extraordinary Holy Week 2020, I want to walk with you through some very important passages of the Bible. I hope that you will take advantage of the opportunity to consider what these verses have to say to you and yours, especially as the world battles COVID-19. We may be separated physically from each other – but we need not be spiritually separated from each other, not now, not ever.
John 12:1-11 King James Version (KJV)
12 Then Jesus six days before the passover came to Bethany, where Lazarus was, which had been dead, whom he raised from the dead.
2 There they made him a supper; and Martha served: but Lazarus was one of them that sat at the table with him.
3 Then took Mary a pound of ointment of spikenard, very costly, and anointed the feet of Jesus, and wiped his feet with her hair: and the house was filled with the odour of the ointment.
4 Then saith one of his disciples, Judas Iscariot, Simon’s son, which should betray him,
5 Why was not this ointment sold for three hundred pence, and given to the poor?
6 This he said, not that he cared for the poor; but because he was a thief, and had the bag, and bare what was put therein.
7 Then said Jesus, Let her alone: against the day of my burying hath she kept this.
8 For the poor always ye have with you; but me ye have not always.
9 Much people of the Jews therefore knew that he was there: and they came not for Jesus’ sake only, but that they might see Lazarus also, whom he had raised from the dead.
10 But the chief priests consulted that they might put Lazarus also to death;
11 Because that by reason of him many of the Jews went away, and believed on Jesus.
Sometimes the greatest truths of scripture are stated in the most understated of ways.
Consider this first verse, John 12:1. At first, it appears to be just sort of a place maker, a marker, if you will – a way for us to get oriented in the story. Like “Where’s Waldo?” John asks “Where’s Jesus?” and the answer is, well, he’s in Bethany.
So what? Why is that significant. Ah, now look at the what comes next:
“Jesus…came to Bethany, where Lazarus was which had been dead, whom he raised from dead.”
Oh – THAT Bethany – THAT Lazarus – the one who had died and who Jesus raised from the dead!
This Monday of Holy Week 2020 let’s not gloss over the fact that the week starts with RESURRECTION. Let’s not skip over the glaring and glorious fact that the One we follow this week is the Way, the Truth, and the Life – evidenced by this example of his resurrecting power miracle in the life of Lazarus.
While we are surrounded by disease, darkness, and death we need to realize that the One we will follow this week is more than just a teacher or prophet or healer – He is GOD – because only GOD has the power of life over death.
Second, why Bethany? Anything significant there? Yes.
- Some translate the word Bethany as meaning “house of misery,” and some believe that this suburb of Jerusalem may have been a place designated place for those who were sick and had contagious diseases. Isn’t that worth noting that, while the world struggles to combat COVID-19, Bethany might have been such a place?
- The edges of Bethany stretch to the Mount of Olives, Gethsemane, that holy place where Jesus will struggle in prayer before being betrayed, and that holy place which will be so significant in the Second Coming. (Zechariah 14:4; Revelation 19:11-16.)
- It is the place from which Jesus will ascend, after his resurrection. From a place of death, a resurrected Christ ascends.
So here we are, at the supper table with Jesus. Martha is serving as usual and a formally dead man named Lazarus is sitting there eating with them. Wow. It’s a picture of that final, glorious banquet in heaven where we all can sit.
Then something beautiful and poignant takes place. Mary anoints Jesus with costly perfume – both a sign of devotion – and a portent of his coming earthly death.
Judas Iscariot – a devilish character (literally) – who will be the one to betray Jesus – speaks up and pretends like he cares about the “waste” and how the money could have been use for social service purposes. But don’t be fooled: “This he said not because he cared for the poor but because he was a thief, and had the bag, and bare what was put therein.” Translation: He had their wallet and stole from it regularly.
Isn’t it more than a little creepy that Jesus called the devil a thief?
Finally, Jesus speaks: “Let her alone: against the day of my burying hath she kept this.”
The essence of this perfume was nard – a burial ointment. That’s says it all.
It speaks both of what is coming for Jesus, and all of us, death. It also speaks of how death cannot extinguish the light of love.
Finally, we are told that the crowd that was there witnessing all this was there not just to see Jesus but to see the one he had raised from the dead, Lazarus.
Two thousand years later – things are much the same. Surrounded by illness and death, many are wondering if it is true. Does Jesus really raise people from the dead?
You have to decide whether it is true or just fairy-tale wishful thinking. How you answer, I believe, will have eternal ramifications for you.
I have decided it’s true. How about you?