Psalms: 51:1-18(19-20) & 69:1-23
OT: Jer. 12:1-16
NT: Phil. 3:1-14
Gospel: John 12:9-19
What happens when you challenge the status quo? If someone rocks the boat those in power get really uncomfortable. When you start doing things and saying things that force people to look at the world differently then folks who guard the normal begin to try and stop you.
Jesus made the religious leaders really uncomfortable. He did things that were relegated to God to only. Jesus pushed back against the normal and the expected, he forced the world to look at itself in a new way.
Check out John’s telling of “The Triumphal Entry.” It’s like a behind the scenes account as opposed to those in Mark, Matthew, and Luke.
When the large crowd of the Jews learned that Jesus was there, they came, not only on account of him but also to see Lazarus, whom he had raised from the dead. So the chief priests made plans to put Lazarus to death as well, because on account of him many of the Jews were going away and believing in Jesus.
The next day the large crowd that had come to the feast heard that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem. So they took branches of palm trees and went out to meet him, crying out, “Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord, even the King of Israel!” And Jesus found a young donkey and sat on it, just as it is written,
“Fear not, daughter of Zion;
behold, your king is coming,
sitting on a donkey’s colt!”
His disciples did not understand these things at first, but when Jesus was glorified, then they remembered that these things had been written about him and had been done to him. The crowd that had been with him when he called Lazarus out of the tomb and raised him from the dead continued to bear witness. The reason why the crowd went to meet him was that they heard he had done this sign. So the Pharisees said to one another, “You see that you are gaining nothing. Look, the world has gone after him.” (John 12:9-19, ESV)
I have read this passage many times over the years. What I don’t think ever caught my attention was this little statement, “So the chief priests made plans to put Lazarus to death as well…” Jesus had so shook the power base and structure of the religious authority that they were turning to violence. Not just violence against Jesus but violence against Lazarus too.
These leaders were willing to commit murder as opposed to change their mind in the face of fact.
We look at this incredulously. Yet, we see this happen all the time. It is standard fair of the human condition. When presented with facts that counter our deeply beliefs we can either change or seek to suppress the truth. If we have enough power then we can suppress the truth, even through violence.
Human history is a series of the powerful seeking to suppress and oppress change in light of truth. This is usually through violence.
Yet, here is Jesus, the one riding on donkey. His victory march into the city of Jerusalem is not on a noble steed but a humble donkey. The one who taught us to be peacemakers and turn the other cheek. The one who changed the world by undoing death through love.
The crowd that followed Jesus from Lazarus’ tomb “continued to bear witness.” They had seen him do something so remarkable that they couldn’t stop bearing witness about him. In spite of those in power who would commit violence to stop this Jesus, the crowds wouldn’t stop.
This is beautiful.
So, what have you seen Jesus do? What can you not stop bearing witness to?