The Gospel of John
(James J. Barker)


Lesson 30

THE SUPPER AT BETHANY

(John 12:1-11)



INTRODUCTION:


1.     Last week we saw how our Lord raised Lazarus from the dead.  Tonight we find Lazarus sitting down at the dinner table in Bethany (12:1, 2).

2.     Apparently Lazarus had become a bit of a celebrity and because of him many Jews believed on Jesus.  This annoyed the chief priests and they decided to kill Lazarus as well as Jesus (12:9-11).

3.     This has always been the method of the false religionist.  It is the method of the Muslim terrorists.  It was the method of the RCC during the Inquisition and in fact it still is their method today when they can get away with it.

4.     Here is a recent article from David Cloud:


RELIGIOUS INTOLERANCE ON THE RISE IN RUSSIA, September 2, 2005.
"Monitoring conducted by the Slavic Law Centre has determined that in Russia the first four months of 2005 yielded more cases of religious
discrimination and violation of the believers' rights than 2003 and
2004 combined. ... Reported cases include attempts to seize church
buildings or destroy them through arson or explosions. Protestant
Christians have suffered physical attacks, verbal insults and
beatings from the police and from groups of fanatics. Also it has
been reported that a number of churches, some with over 1,000
members, are having huge problems getting permission to construct
church buildings. ... Evidence of how serious Russian Orthodox Church
resistance is can be seen in a most striking and absurd document that
was recently published ... The document, which was signed by
Archbishop German, was meant for 'inner circulation' ... It obliges
all priests to provide a report on the activities of 'totalitarian
sects' in their locality every three months. Amongst the items the
priest must report are: name of organisation ('sect'); confessional
affiliation; approximate membership; leaders; places of worship;
approximate age percentage and growth of membership; missionary
methods used by the church (e.g., house visiting, street evangelism,
camps, concerts, festivals, free meals, free literature); degree of
activity or aggression; if the ROC is openly confronted; and planned
events. The most shocking element of this is the order for the
priests to report on key people in society who show favour to
'sectarians.'"

5.     Matthew and Mark give nearly identical accounts of this story; John’s is slightly different. Luke does not mention it at all.

6.     There are three key people in this story, besides our Lord and Lazarus – Martha, Mary, and Judas.  The other disciples were there also but they are not referred to in John’s account.

 

I.                  THE MINISTRY OF MARTHA & MARY

II.               THE OBJECTIONS OF JUDAS ISCARIOT

III.           THE ANSWER OF JESUS

 

I.     THE MINISTRY OF MARTHA & MARY (12:1-3).

1.     It was only six days before the passover (12:1). Since we are approaching the passover, we are also approaching the crucifixion.  Our Lord was coming to Jerusalem to die (cf. 12:12).

2.     But for now our Lord is enjoying a feast with Lazarus, Martha, and Mary in Bethany, a town about two miles from Jerusalem (cf. 11:18).

3.     John does not state that the supper at Bethany was held immediately after our Lord’s arrival in Bethany.  Matthew and Mark tell us that the meal was two days before the passover.  We are getting very close to the cross.

4.     The picture of Martha serving and Mary worshipping is similar to a story recorded by Luke (cf. Luke 10:38-42). 

5.     Once again we find Martha busy serving, and Mary sitting at our Lord’s feet worshipping (12:2, 3).

6.     We learn from Matthew 26:6 that this meal took place in the house of Simon the leper.  Undoubtedly he was no longer a leper.  More than likely Jesus healed him.

7.     As we consider the ministry of Martha and Mary, we note that Martha’s service is mentioned first.  Beloved, we are saved to serve.

8.     Then comes worship (12:3).  Mary had a pound of ointment (expensive perfume) of spikenard, “very costly” and anointed the feet of Jesus (12:3).  “Very costly” reminds us that worship ought to cost us something.

9.     Judas says it was worth “three hundred pence” (12:5).  A “pence” is the equivalent of a Roman denarius. A denarius was a day’s pay back then.  So “three hundred pence” would be almost a year’s wages for a working man!

10. To Mary there was nothing too precious for Jesus.  She lavished her best upon Him. How many Christians do you know with that kind of devotion?

11. H. A. Ironside said, “Is Christ Himself so real and precious to us that we are ready to make any sacrifice in order to show our devotion to Him?”

 

II.     THE OBJECTIONS OF JUDAS ISCARIOT (12:4-6).

1.     Unregenerate sinners cannot understand why Christians worship Jesus.  They do not understand why we give generously of our time and money.

2.     Judas was religious but he was not saved.  John tells us he was nothing but a thief (12:6).  Judas was an imposter, a hypocrite, and a wolf in sheep’s clothing (cf. John 6:70; 13:10, 11, 27; 17:12).

3.     Religious hypocrites talk often about the poor but they really do not care about the poor.  It is all a front for their thievery.

4.     And when godly Christians give generously to support the Lord’s work, these same hypocrites say, “What a waste.”   And they even try and dissuade Christians from giving.

5.     Mark them: they are followers of Judas, not followers of Jesus.

6.     In Matthew’s account and in Mark’s account, we read that Judas was able to influence the other apostles.  How sad when an unbeliever gets into the church and stirs up trouble!  But this happens all the time.

7.     Oftentimes, Christians are led astray by unconverted church members.  Let us be careful and on guard, lest we allow some trouble-makers to lead us to do wrong.

 

III.     THE ANSWER OF JESUS (12:7, 8).

1.     There are several important statements here in the response of our Lord.  First, Matthew and Mark tell us that our Lord rebuked Judas and those that were siding with him (cf. Matt. 26:10).

2.     Also, our Lord reminded them that the poor would always be with them, but He would soon be leaving (Matt. 26:11; John 12:8).

3.     Our Lord pointed out that Mary anointed His body for His burial (12:7).  If the Lord puts it upon your heart to do something for Him, do it now.  Do not wait around to see what others say because they might try and discourage you.

4.     Interestingly, Scofield notes that, “Mary of Bethany was not among the women who went to the sepulcher with intent to embalm the body of Jesus” (p. 1037).

5.     Apparently, Mary understood that our Lord would soon be crucified, buried, and raised from the dead.  She was the only one who anointed Him for His burial. Her act of worship and devotion was also an act of faith.

6.     Apparently Mary understood Psalm 16:10.  “For thou wilt not leave my soul in hell; neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption.”

7.     Finally, our Lord said that Mary would be memorialized throughout “the whole world” wherever the Gospel is preached.

8.     “Verily I say unto you, Wheresoever this gospel shall be preached in the whole world, there shall also this, that this woman hath done, be told for a memorial of her” (Matt. 26:13). 

9.     In Matthew’s account, immediately after our Lord said these words Judas rushed off to the chief priests for his thirty pieces of silver (Matt. 26:14-16).  This is significant.

 

CONCLUSION:


1.     Interestingly, Judas and the others complained and said, “To what purpose is this waste?” (Matt. 26:8).

2.     In John 17:12, our Lord referred to Judas as “the son of perdition,” which literally means “son of waste.”  A life without Christ is a wasted life.  How sad to waste one’s opportunities to get right with God, and then spend eternity in hell.  What a waste!



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