“They took palm branches and went out to meet Him shouting, ‘Hosanna!’ ‘Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!’ ‘Blessed is the King of Israel!’”John 12:13 (NIV)
In just six days, Jesus would be crucified. It must have seemed unthinkable to those around Him. At the time John writes chapter 12, Jesus’ popularity couldn’t have been any greater! Even His critics were afraid that “the whole world had gone after Him!” (Verse 19) How unimaginable that the very crowds on Palm Sunday shouting “Hosanna! Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord” would be the very ones crying, “Crucify Him! Crucify Him!” before the week was out! (John 12:13 and John 19:6). How fickle could their faith be?
But, before we judge them, maybe we need to examine our own faith for a moment. This is a great chapter for us to do just that. As you read John 12 today, notice the contrasts between the woman in this chapter and one of Christ’s own disciples. Mary demonstrated an extravagant faith when she anointed Jesus’ feet with such an expensive jar of perfume. It was worth a year’s wages! Yet, one of Christ’s own disciples would object and scold her, and Jesus for that matter, on the false pretense that the money could have been used in a better way.
Nothing reveals the heart as clearly as money. Which one of the two are you more like? Judas had fickle faith. Like the crowds on that Palm Sunday, Judas followed Jesus for selfish reasons alone. And, when Jesus acted contrary to how he thought Jesus should respond, his faith would crater. Mary, on the other hand, was commended by Christ. Jesus said,
“Leave her alone. She did this in preparation for My burial.” John 12:7 (NLT)
Burial? Hardly! A coronation as King seemed more likely at the time. How did Mary know He was about to die when everyone around Jesus was trying to crown Him as King? This wasn’t Jesus’ first visit to Mary’s home. Luke’s gospel, in chapter 10, tells us of another occasion when Jesus and His disciples came to her house, saying that “she sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what He taught.” (Luke 10:40) I believe it was then that Mary realized why Jesus had come – to save her and all of us from our sin! Her love motivated her to give extravagantly for all that Jesus had done and was going to do! He had raised her own brother from the dead just days before! Soon, Jesus would offer His own life as a ransom for all and be raised Himself! Mary’s act of faith would never be forgotten. Little did she know what an impact her offering to Jesus would have. When the heart is right, the hand is swift.
What has God given you that you can offer back to Him in an extravagant way that expresses your love for Jesus like Mary? As we approach Palm Sunday this weekend, read John 12 and consider the nature of your faith. A great place to begin is to sit at Jesus’ feet and listen as Mary did. Only God knows the insights He longs to give you if you will let Him speak to you. Mary didn’t follow Jesus with her own agenda in mind. She worshipped Him for who He is. Her faith was fixed on Him. Read John 12 and ask God to fix your faith on Him.