Studies in John's Gospel -- Part 18
The True Glory
By: A.J. Higgins, M.D.
Passage: John 12
The chapter before us, John 12, shows the Lord Jesus moving in three companies. In the first eleven verses He is seen as the central attraction in the home at Bethany. There amidst a small company of those who have known His love and redemptive power, He is seen as the true glory of the church.
In verses 12-19 He enters Jerusalem to the acclaim of the multitude, "Hosanna: Blessed is the king of Israel..." Certainly as her king He would be the symbol, the embodiment of the nation’s glory. And in verses 20-33, we read of Greek or Gentile proselytes who sought to see Christ. They were attracted to Him doubtless by the fame of His deeds. While all this has interesting eschatological implications, a far more discernible, and perhaps for us a more important lesson lies upon the surface.
The home in Bethany was characterized by Mary worshipping, Martha working, and Lazarus witnessing. Now the essential point to see in all this is that Mary is worshipping Him, Martha is working for Him, and Lazarus is witnessing of Him. He is the center of all. A company of redeemed souls who have been brought into the good of salvation by the knowledge of Christ find Him their great attraction and true glory.
Lazarus, the once dead brother of Mary and Martha, now sits at the table with Christ, his body pulsating with new life. His every breath was a testimony to the life giving power of the Son of God. No word is recorded as coming from his lips; a new life lived for all to see was his eloquent testimony.
By virtue of Lazarus a crowd gathered. When the Lord Jesus entered nearby Jerusalem the next day, the throng enacted the famous palm procession. For a brief moment, the nation hailed its king. He came with the proper credentials, riding upon the ass in fulfillment of Zech. 9.9. Excitement was at a fever pitch. The crowd in Jerusalem had apparently gone out of the city to meet the coming throng from Bethany. The meeting of the two companies and the small party of Christ and His disciples led to the outbursts of praise and honor.
The third company that day was the inquiring Greek proselytes. Their desire was simply "to see Jesus." In response to their request, the Lord Jesus made some of the most important statements relative to His death that John’s gospel contains.
The Lord Jesus made clear the absolute necessity for His death. Under the metaphor of a corn of wheat, He explained that apart from His death, no one could ever be in heaven. Apart from the atoning sufferings of Calvary, no sinner would ever be able to enjoy divine forgiveness. From the absolute necessity of His work, the Lord Jesus moved to the actual nature. "Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die..." Death was the only way to bring life. Our sin had brought the sentence of eternal separation from God (Rom. 6:23). Only by His death could the Lord Jesus Christ bring life and immortality to us (2 Tim. 1.10).
In vs. 32 of our chapter, the Lord Jesus made clear that His death would be through crucifixion; "And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto Me." The cross was not a defeat for the Son of God, nor was it a tragic end to a brilliant life. While it was the crowning sin in man’s long history of rebellion against God, it was also the divinely planned pathway for the Son.
Greeks came to worship and sought to see Jesus. The hour of His crucifixion was approaching. By virtue of the cross, a day would dawn and has dawned when all men are drawn to Christ: all men without distinction of race, distinction of place, or nationality. Our lot has been cast in the age of grace, on this side of Calvary. Today all can come to Christ for salvation, finding in Him all that the little household in Bethany found; finding in Him the Kingly Lord Who brings salvation and rule to shattered lives; and finding in Him the ultimate object of worship.