We’re going to be reading John 12:12-26 this Sunday. The main theme that ties this section together is that Jesus seems to do and say the opposite of what we think he should. The section begins with v12-22, as Jesus comes into Jerusalem in what has been called his “triumphal entry”.
It’s a familiar scene to us, if we’ve been around the Bible at all, or at very least have seen movies about Jesus…but do we ever think about the particulars of this event? For instance, why are the people waving palm branches? There is some interesting information about palm branches found in this article – I encourage you to read it, and keep this passage in mind as you do. If you read the article you realize what waving the palm branch would have meant, at least to the Romans guarding the city. What do you think their reaction would have been? Does that tell you why the religious leaders were concerned?
There is actually a great deal of historic background that goes along with this event – in the Maccabean Revolt which happened nearly 150 years before Jesus was born, the Jewish people routed the Greek (Seleucid) occupiers – and upon re-entering the city and temple, the people all waved palm branches in celebration of this victory over gentile oppression.
With that in mind…what do you think the people of Jerusalem were anticipating with Jesus coming to town?
How surprising then, when Jesus starts talking about dying in v24. That’s not normally how kings rise to power, is it? We certainly wouldn’t call Saddam Hussein a victor, would we? But Jesus is pointing us in a direction that is opposite to the flow of the patterns of this world. What appears to be the devastating power of Roman authority exercised in crucifying Jesus is actually it’s defeat – and the route to life for all who believe.
This would be true not only for him, but he broadens the application in v25-26, sweeping us into it’s scope. We will follow this route, and according to Jesus, find life; real, eternal life. But what will this look like when lived out? How do we disentangle ourselves from the tyranny of ego? It has to be more than just putting a landscape picture on our FB profile.
I propose it comes down to motive. What motivated Jesus to lay down his life in order to bring fruit into our lives? How can we emulate that same motive, and how will that differ from the patterns of this world’s system?
This will be a challenging study – so….take this advice from Samuel L. Jackson.