John 12

Grace

To see God’s Kingdom come in the whole life of our neighbourhood, the way Jesus would, using Word, Deed and Sign.

Readings

Devotion 1

Wait: Spend some time waiting on God, letting God reshape your heart and vision.

Read: John 12:1-11

As we approach this passage, the tension is building dramatically. The chief priests and Pharisees had met and expressed their clearest motivation for getting rid of Jesus: so that the Romans might not “destroy both our holy place and our nation” (11:48). They are now on the lookout for Jesus, and as Jesus nears Jerusalem for the Passover, the scene at the home of Lazarus hardly seems to be discreet, as a great crowd learns of his presence.

In the midst of this tension, is shocking, poignant and beautiful. Shocking because of its seeming inappropriateness—socially, it is “shocking violation of the normal distance women and men kept from one another except during the privacy of marriage”1, and economically because of the seeming extravagant waste. Wouldn’t we wonder, along with Judas, why the perfume was not sold for almost a year’s wages and “the money given to the poor?” (v5).

It is poignant because it foreshadows Jesus’ own death. Ironically, the act of raising Lazarus has in the eyes of the Jerusalem leaders sealed Jesus’ fate.

And it is beautiful because, in the midst of the leader’s plotting and Judas’ greed, Mary breaks social boundaries and ordinary wisdom (shouldn’t she, a single woman in a patriarchal society, have kept the perfume for her future security?) to pour out the perfume in an act of love and devotion on Jesus. Just as Jesus has broken boundaries for the sake of loving, so has Mary.

Ask:

  • What strikes you in today’s reading?
  • Do you agree with Judas? Why or why not?
  • In what ways might we live out this story this week?

Share:

  • Share communion
  • Pray that we, like Mary, may discern Jesus’ way.

1. Wes Howard-Brook, Becoming Children of God: John’s Gospel and Radical Discipleship. (Eugene: Wipf & Stock, 1984), 269.

Devotion 2

Wait: Take time to sit in silence together, aware of the presence of God’s Spirit.

Read: John 12:12-19

We are told at the beginning of today’s reading that a “great crowd” comes out to meet Jesus as he comes to Jerusalem (12:12). Presumably, these are people from outside of Jerusalem, as they have “come” for the Passover feast. In the gospel of John, there is something of a contrast between those from Galilee and the Judeans—or those from the marginal rural areas and those from the centre (Jerusalem). It is not surprising here that those from “out of town”, who typically experience the harsher conditions of being on the economic and political underside, are the ones most enthusiastic for a messianic figure.

The crowd’s palm branches allude to their expectation that this messiah will take on the establishment head on, instigating a violent revolt and throwing off the shackles that had kept them oppressed for so long, just as Judas Maccabeus had centuries earlier. But Jesus’ way will be different. Instead of the war horse, this king comes on the lowly donkey.

Ask: 

  • What strikes you in today’s reading?
  • How can we long to “be saved” in ways not consistent with God’s way of peace?
  • How might we live out today’s reading?

Share: Communion

Pray:

  • End with the Lord’s prayer

Devotion 3

Read together John 12:24, then pause, centring on its words:

“Very truly, I tell you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains just a single grain; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.”

Read: John 12:20-36

Ask: 

  • What strikes you in today’s reading?
  • How do Jesus’ words challenge us this week?

Share:

  • Communion

Pray:

  • End with the Lord’s Prayer.

Devotion 4

Wait: Spend some time waiting on God.

Read: John 12:37-50 as a Lectio Divina.

1) Have one person read the verses through twice.

2) Speak out any words or phrases that stand out to you.

3) Read through the verses again.

4) What thoughts, feelings, and impressions do you sense? Share them.

5) Read the verses a final time.

6) What challenges or encouragements emerge? Share them with the group.

Share:

  • Communion

Pray:

  • Spend time praying for each of those present in the room and for the wider UNOH team.
  • End with the Lord’s Prayer.