When I read my Bible, I love to follow the cross references, read all the notes. Both the printed footnotes…and the notes I have left myself.
As it happened I was reading in John today and came again, to the story of Lazarus. I thought I had blogged on the idea of the three signals some time ago, so I checked and found this one from 3 ½ years ago.
I was a little surprised that I had mentioned the idea of the three signals but then only wrote about the first one. (sidetracked with other ideas…haha…to no-one’s surprise)
So I want to note in this post the other two signals as I see them. This is of interest to me because, Jesus always said things like, “My hour has not yet come,” and “I can do only what I see my Father doing…” He always seemed to know what His Father was doing and what His own next step must be. Since Jesus tells us that we are to do His works in the same way as He has done Father’s works….then the process of guidance must be worth investigating to try to see how Jesus received guidance. So…to recap….
The first signal I noticed, which seemed to indicate to Jesus that “His hour” was at hand was the signal of Lazarus. (John 11:4) When Jesus received the news of Lazarus’ illness He said, “This sickness is not to end in death; but (on the contrary) it is to honor God and to promote His glory.” Then He hesitated going to him for a couple of days….on purpose…. Somehow, this gave me the impression that Jesus was receiving a signal…direct guidance…. I will not get sidetracked again although the whole story gets my mind stirring with thoughts which I’ve already mentioned in my other post on John 11. It is enough to note that after the miracle of Lazarus, both Jesus and Lazarus had been catapulted to rock star status, so much so that “From that day on they took counsel and plotted together how they might put Him to death.” 11:53
The second signal (as I see it) is given in Chapter 12. Jesus is attending a dinner at the same home; that of Mary and Martha and their brother Lazarus. The story of Lazarus’ resurrection had really blazed abroad…and so many people had showed up to see both of them, that the elite began to think of ways of killing Lazarus too. At the dinner, Mary shocks the guests by entered the room and pouring $20,000 worth of ointment on Jesus feet. (I’m figuring that roughly…because the Bible states that it was worth a years wages for an ordinary working man… 52 weeks x 40 hours x $10 per hour… If he was talking about a plumber…then the ointment was worth A LOT more…haha… Anyhow…it doesn’t matter what the value….or what anyone else (Judas) thought of the "waste." Jesus seemed to receive it as a signal…a sign…a preparation for His death and burial. And we are told that the very next day was Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem which was the first link in the chain of events leading to Golgotha.
The third signal was puzzling to me at first. But so often, when I find something puzzling…there is a beautiful nugget to be found….and I thought it puzzling when in 12:21-24, we are told that some Greeks had come to worship at the feast and had asked to see Jesus. When Philip and Andrew went to tell Jesus about them, He didn’t set up a meeting for later that evening or for any time for that matter…His response was, “The time has come for the Son of Man to be glorified and exalted…” And He goes on with a beautiful sermon, punctuated by a voice from heaven (which was heard by the bystanders) intended, it seems, to prepare Himself and them for His imminent death. He closes the sermon with the statement, “Whatever I speak, I am saying (exactly) what My Father has told Me to say and in accordance with His instruction.” (So we know that what He has told them… we really need to read again …with comprehension.) But…If only we could realize that kind of guidance…of “walking in the Spirit.”
So...why that signal? How was the request of those Greek fellows to see Jesus a signal to Him?
There are two statements that, I believe give us insight into why that might be a signal. Both refer to the expansion and growth of the kingdom of God. In v.24 He states, “Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abides alone: but if it die, it brings forth much fruit.”
And then in verse 32 He says, “And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me.”
Jesus had previously instructed the disciples to preach only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel…but now, I think the coming of the Greeks was a signal that the timing was right for the message of Christ to begin it’s outward spread to the whole world. That the time for the final act had come…for the first domino to fall… And those attending the feast from near and far....would become incidental witnesses to the death and resurrection of Christ and would begin to bring His message to the rest of the world....