This past Sunday my pastor was preaching out of John chapter 12 which recounts the events leading up to Jesus entering Jerusalem on a donkey to the cheers and shouts of the crowd. But what is interesting in this chapter is to see how different people respond to Jesus.
The chapter begins in Bethany, six says before Passover. As a Jewish man, Jesus was on his way to Jerusalem for Passover. But in Bethany he is eating with Lazarus, whom he had raised from the dead. And this is where we see Mary’s servants heart. She lovingly anoints Jesus with spikenard (vs. 3). It is also where Judas is exposed (to readers of the passage) as a thief (vs. 6). Judas had been with Jesus and the disciples for years. To outsiders he was probably considered a faithful disciple. But in his heart, Judas was not a Christ-follower. He was a lover of money who stole from the money bag and would later betray Jesus for 30 pieces of silver.
There are also at least two different responses to Lazarus being alive after he had been dead. Some believed in Jesus because of it, and others wanted to kill Jesus and Lazarus for it. Verse 10 says that the “chief priests consulted that they might put Lazarus also to death” because that miracle had caused many to believe.
Some were looking to Jesus for political salvation. As verse 13 says, “[W]hen they heard that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem, took branches of palm trees, and went forth to meet him, and cried, Hosanna: Blessed is the King of Israel that cometh in the name of the Lord.” It is significant, I think, that many in the crowd calling him King as he entered Jerusalem would later be crying out “Crucify him!”
Others saw but didn’t believe, even after they had witnessed many miracles “believed not on him.” (verse 37) And there were Pharisees who believed, but would not admit it to anyone because “they loved the praise of men more than the praise of God.” (verse 43)
Just like back then, people respond to Jesus and the gospel in different ways. Some will humble themselves and believe and worship Him. Others will reject Him and with be judged on the last day.
Jesus said in John 12:44-50, “Whoever believes in me, believes not in me but in him who sent me. And whoever sees me sees him who sent me. I have come into the world as light, so that whoever believes in me may not remain in darkness. If anyone hears my words and does not keep them, I do not judge him; for I did not come to judge the world but to save the world. The one who rejects me and does not receive my words has a judge; the word that I have spoken will judge him on the last day. For I have not spoken on my own authority, but the Father who sent me has himself given me a commandment—what to say and what to speak. And I know that his commandment is eternal life. What I say, therefore, I say as the Father has told me.”