Sunday, April 29, 2012

John, Chapter 12: Celebrity Stalking

Jesus goes over to Lazarus' house for dinner, and things immediately go weird. As they're eating, Lazarus' sister Mary brings in a freaking pound of expensive perfume and rubs it all over Jesus' feet, rubbing it in with her hair. This makes the entire house stink, because you're only supposed to use a few drops, not the whole brick. Judas, his supper ruined, asks why the perfume couldn't have been sold and the money distributed to the poor. Only by now, 60 years after all these events supposedly took place, Judas no longer cares about the poor. Now he's a thief who's been pilfering from the disciples' moneybag, and he wants the three hundred pence for himself. Also, the disciples now have a moneybag. I seem to recall Jesus specifically telling them  not to carry money in the other gospels. Oh, yes, there we go: Luke 9:3, Mark 6:8, Matthew 10:9: Do not take along any gold or silver or copper in your belts. Funny how things change when you have an agenda and there's no one to refute you. Jesus tells him to knock it off, the perfume is for his burial and there will always be poor people.

Dinner is further ruined by the arrival of a bunch of gawkers eager for a glimpse of the famous Jesus and Lazarus. The priests debate whether to kill Lazarus as well, since so many people now believe in Jesus thanks to him.

The next day, everybody heads to Jerusalem in hopes of seeing the celebrity preacher. On the way, they grab a bunch of palm fronds and wave them around in the air shouting Hosanna: Blessed is the King of Israel that cometh in the name of the Lord (v. 13). Which I guess is where Palm Sunday comes from. Jesus himself enters the city riding the colt of an ass, because that is somehow important, prophecy-wise. Nobody will understand why until after he's gone.

As Jesus is riding into town, his disciples and the people who saw the Lazarus routine tell the story to anyone and everyone who will listen. People crowd closer to the spectacle. Among them are some Greeks, which I guess is an attempt to explain why a book about an illiterate Aramaic speaker from the Galilee is written in that language, specifically Philip and Andrew. All this worries the Pharisees.

And what does Jesus want to talk about? Death. What else? As he's praying, a voice seems to come down from heaven, convincing people even further. It doesn't stop Jesus though, because once he's on his favourite subject, it's well nigh impossible to get him to talk about anything else. The people try their darndest, though, asking him who this son of man is. His reply is a confusing parable about light and dark and when is the best time to go for a walk. Then he leaves for an undisclosed location. The people are not convinced, despite his many miracles. Why not? Well, god is up to his old trick of hardening hearts against himself.

Although Jesus has not had much success with the common people, apparently many of the high priests have secretly converted, but haven't said anything publicly for fear of the Pharisees' reaction.

Meanwhile, wherever he is, Jesus is lamenting the peoples' stubborn, god-hardened hearts. He swears he isn't here to judge the world, but to bring peace, and all the judgement will be left up to god.

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