Summary: Great love and great hatred displayed at the same table
Jesus, therefore, six days before the Passover, came to Bethany where Lazarus was, whom Jesus had raised from the dead. 2 So they made Him a supper there, and Martha was serving; but Lazarus was one of those reclining at the table with Him. 3 Mary then took a pound of very costly perfume of pure nard, and anointed the feet of Jesus and wiped His feet with her hair; and the house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume. 4 But Judas Iscariot, one of His disciples, who was intending to betray Him, said, 5 “Why was this perfume not sold for three hundred denarii and given to poor people?” 6 Now he said this, not because he was concerned about the poor, but because he was a thief, and as he had the money box, he used to pilfer what was put into it. 7 Therefore Jesus said, “Let her alone, so that she may keep it for the day of My burial. 8 “For you always have the poor with you, but you do not always have Me.” 9 The large crowd of the Jews then learned that He was there; and they came, not for Jesus’ sake only, but that they might also see Lazarus, whom He raised from the dead. 10 But the chief priests planned to put Lazarus to death also; 11 because on account of him many of the Jews were going away and were believing in Jesus.
There are several instances of the word ‘therefore’ in the final verses of chapter eleven and the first verse of chapter 12 that serve to put together a picture for us.
Verse 54 of chapter 11 says ‘Jesus therefore no longer continued to walk publicly among the Jews’. The reason for this is that they have made up their minds to kill Him. But it wasn’t His time so He and His disciples went and stayed in a city in the wilderness.
It couldn’t have been a very long stay though, because the time came for the Passover and it was time to head back to Jerusalem. In fact, Jesus had more to accomplish at this Passover than ever before because it was at this time He was to be arrested, tried, tortured and crucified.
Then in verse 56 of chapter 11 there is another ‘therefore’, telling us the people were seeking for Jesus. They were seeking Him because it was Passover time and they were hoping He would come to Jerusalem as was His custom. We’ll talk more about these people later, because they are like many of us in the church today. I’ll tell you why later.
Then verse 1 of our text says, “Jesus, therefore, six days before the Passover, came to Bethany…” Interestingly, this ‘therefore’ comes on the heels of the author telling us that the chief priests had given orders that anyone seeing Jesus should report it so they might seize Him. “Therefore”, Jesus came to Bethany.
They were seeking to seize Him, ‘therefore’ He came back out of the wilderness to Bethany. Why? Because He came to do the Father’s will, and it was now time. Remember all those times in the Gospels that Jesus is recorded as saying ‘My time is not yet’, or the author saying Jesus disappeared from the midst of angry crowds because ‘His time was not yet’? Well, it was time. So six days before the Passover, which we also know was five days before His crucifixion, He came to Bethany, which is less than 2 miles from Jerusalem.
Jerusalem can be seen from Bethany. All of His venom-dripping enemies are curled up in their viper’s den less than 2 miles away, but Jesus comes to dine with His friends. Let’s look in on the feast.
A NICE DINNER
“Jesus therefore, six days before the Passover, came to Bethany where Lazarus was, whom Jesus had raised from the dead”.
Before we go to dinner, allow me a brief side trail for your edification.
This was probably the Sunday prior to Passover. Different people calculate the beginning of Passover differently; some saying the first full day of the celebration is the first day. However, since the Jews reckon the new day to begin at sundown, others calculate Passover to begin the evening before, as soon as the last rays of the sun disappear behind the western horizon.
There is something worth looking at here. John said that Jesus came to Bethany six days before Passover. If you count back starting with Friday, six days, you end up on the previous Sunday.
John 12:12 says that the next day, following this feast in Bethany, Jesus was welcomed to Jerusalem by the multitudes who were waving palm branches and shouting ‘Hosanna!” That would have been Monday the 10th of Nissan, the month of the Jews in which Passover is celebrated.