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Joh 12:1-11. THE ANOINTING AT BETHANY.
(See on Mt 26:6-13).
2. Martha served--This, with what is afterwards said of Mary's way
of honoring her Lord, is so true to the character in which those two
women appear in
as to constitute one of the strongest and most delightful confirmations
of the truth of both narratives. (See also on
3. spikenard--or pure nard, a celebrated aromatic
4. Judas . . . who should betray him--For the reason why this is here mentioned, see on Mr 14:11.
5. three hundred pence--between nine and ten pounds sterling.
6. had the bag--the purse.
7. said Jesus, Let her alone, against the day of my burying hath she done this--not that she thought of His burial, much less reserved any of her nard to anoint her dead Lord. But as the time was so near at hand when that office would have to be performed, and she was not to have that privilege even alter the spices were brought for the purpose (Mr 16:1), He lovingly regards it as done now.
8. the poor always . . . with you--referring to
(2) Works of utility should never be set in opposition to the promptings of self-sacrificing love, and the sincerity of those who do so is to be suspected. Under the mask of concern for the poor at home, how many excuse themselves from all care of the perishing heathen abroad. (3) Amidst conflicting duties, that which our "hand (presently) findeth to do" is to be preferred, and even a less duty only to be done now to a greater that can be done at any time. (4) "If there be first a willing mind, it is accepted according to that a man hath, and not according to that he hath not" (2Co 8:12). --"She hath done what she could" (Mr 14:8). (5) As Jesus beheld in spirit the universal diffusion of His Gospel, while His lowest depth of humiliation was only approaching, so He regards the facts of His earthly history as constituting the substance of this Gospel, and the relation of them as just the "preaching of this Gospel." Not that preachers are to confine themselves to a bare narration of these facts, but that they are to make their whole preaching turn upon them as its grand center, and derive from them its proper vitality; all that goes before this in the Bible being but the preparation for them, and all that follows but the sequel.
9-11. Crowds of the Jerusalem Jews hastened to Bethany, not so much to see Jesus, whom they knew to be there, as to see dead Lazarus alive; and this, issuing in their accession to Christ, led to a plot against the life of Lazarus also, as the only means of arresting the triumphs of Jesus (see Joh 12:19) --to such a pitch had these chief priests come of diabolical determination to shut out the light from themselves, and quench it from the earth!
Joh 12:12-19. CHRIST'S TRIUMPHAL ENTRY INTO JERUSALEM.
12. On the next day--the Lord's day, or Sunday (see on Joh 12:1); the tenth day of the Jewish month Nisan, on which the paschal lamb was set apart to be "kept up until the fourteenth day of the same month, when the whole assembly of the congregation of Israel were to kill it in the evening" (Ex 12:3, 6). Even so, from the day of this solemn entry into Jerusalem, "Christ our Passover" was virtually set apart to be "sacrificed for us" (1Co 5:7).
16. when Jesus was glorified, then remembered they that these things were written of him, &c.--The Spirit, descending on them from the glorified Saviour at Pentecost, opened their eyes suddenly to the true sense of the Old Testament, brought vividly to their recollection this and other Messianic predictions, and to their unspeakable astonishment showed them that they, and all the actors in these scenes, had been unconsciously fulfilling those predictions.
Joh 12:20-36. SOME GREEKS DESIRE TO SEE JESUS--THE DISCOURSE AND SCENE THEREUPON.
20-22. Greeks--Not Grecian Jews, but Greek proselytes to the Jewish
faith, who were wont to attend the annual festivals, particularly this
primary one, the Passover.
22. Philip . . . telleth Andrew--As follow townsmen of
these two seem to have drawn to each other.
23-26. Jesus answered them, The hour is come that the Son of man should be glorified--that is, They would see Jesus, would they? Yet a little moment, and they shall see Him so as now they dream not of. The middle wall of partition that keeps them out from the commonwealth of Israel is on the eve of breaking down, "and I, if I be lifted up from the earth, shall draw all men unto Me"; I see them "flying as a cloud, and as doves to their cotes"--a glorious event that will be for the Son of man, by which this is to be brought about. It is His death He thus sublimely and delicately alluded to. Lost in the scenes of triumph which this desire of the Greeks to see Him called up before His view, He gives no direct answer to their petition for an interview, but sees the cross which was to bring them gilded with glory.
24. Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone; but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit--The necessity of His death is here brightly expressed, and its proper operation and fruit--life springing forth out of death--imaged forth by a beautiful and deeply significant law of the vegetable kingdom. For a double reason, no doubt, this was uttered--to explain what he had said of His death, as the hour of His own glorification, and to sustain His own Spirit under the agitation which was mysteriously coming over it in the view of that death.
25. He that loveth his life shall lose it; and he that hateth his life in this world shall keep it unto life eternal--(See on Lu 9:24). Did our Lord mean to exclude Himself from the operation of the great principle here expressed--self-renunciation, the law of self-preservation; and its converse, self-preservation, the law of self-destruction? On the contrary, as He became Man to exemplify this fundamental law of the Kingdom of God in its most sublime form, so the very utterance of it on this occasion served to sustain His own Spirit in the double prospect to which He had just alluded.
26. If any man serve me, let him follow me; and where I am, there shall also my servant be: If any man serve me, him will my Father honour--Jesus here claims the same absolute subjection to Himself, as the law of men's exaltation to honor, as He yielded to the Father.
27, 28. Now is my soul troubled--He means at the prospect of His death,
just alluded to. Strange view of the Cross this, immediately after
representing it as the hour of His glory!
But the two views naturally meet, and blend into one. It was the
Greeks, one might say, that troubled Him. Ah! they shall see Jesus, but
to Him it shall be a costly sight.
28. Father, glorify thy name--by a present testimony.