- Religion and Philosophy
John's Gospel - a new look number 13: Chapter 12 The entry into Jerusalem.
John's Gospel - A New Look. Number 13:Chapter 12 - The Triumphant Entry into Jerusalem.
The atmosphere in Jerusalem is electric. Everyone seems to have heard about the amazing man from Galilee who is performing miracles of healing and teaching truths that challenge thinking. Will he come to the Passover that is approaching in spite of the threats of the Sanhedrin to put him to death? As people arrive in the city of Jerusalem, the questions are on every lip and yet the answers are missing. Who is this Jesus? He seems to claim to be sent by God who he claims to be his father. Yet he also seems to speak in terms that are difficult to clearly understand. He is loved by many and hated by others, all depending on which side of the political spectrum you stand. Will he face those who threaten him or will he stay in the wilderness? Questions, questions, questions, and so many conflicting answers.
Now in the rest of the Gospel, John records the interaction between him and his disciples. This emphasises his private ministry as he prepares his disciples for the coming challenges that they will have to face. The danger of Jerusalem looms large and yet he does not avoid it but rather faces it head on.
Entry into Jerusalem on a donkey rather than a horse is interesting. Entering a city on a horse would indicate a King leading his army into battle, but riding on an ass is a sign of coming in peace. The quotes from Psalm 118:25,26 that John records are part of the verses sung before the Passover that is now just a few days away. The Passover expectation was for the return of God's Messiah who would enter the city to throw off the yoke of slavery that had been the lot of the Jewish people for so many years.
Two multitudes are mentioned as Jesus is welcomed; the people arriving with him and those already in the city. It is estimated that about 2.8 million people gathered in Jerusalem for this annual feast. Every person would carry a bundle of palm leaves and willow branches.
Here another group arrives on the scene, namely Greek worshippers. This is another sign of a more universal gospel that Jesus is introducing. Obviously another concern to the Jewish leaders with their closed minds and controlling attitude.
With a troubled heart Jesus submits his will to that of his Father. "This is why I came-so that I might go through this hour of suffering" (vs.28). John records that a voice from heaven answers this request from Jesus who not only faced the horror of death on the cross, but also the separation from his Father as he carries the sins of all mankind on his shoulders.
Again the crowd show their confusion as Jesus speaks about spiritual truths - things they will only begin to fully understand later.
The theme of light is mentioned here as John contrasts the darkness of human hate with the light of divine love, a strong theme shining through the fourth Gospel.
The unbelief of the people was predicted by Isaiah and so with their closed minds and blind eyes they fail to see to see and understand this pivotal moment in the history of mankind. So "Jesus went off and hid himself from them". (John 12:36) At the same time many Jewish authorities believed in him but because they feared being expelled from the synagogue they did not speak about it openly.
In a powerful statement Jesus proclaims in a loud voice that belief in him also means belief in the one who sent him. Judgement will come to all in the light of the words he has spoken: "I know that his command brings eternal life." (John12:50; Good News Bible.) He is not acting on his own authority but he is simply saying and doing what his Father has told him to do. We need to go back to the important part of verse 1:14 to be reminded that "The Word became a human being and full of grace and truth lived among us". But before he returns to his Father, there are still some important lessons to be taught to his disciples as John records in the next couple of chapters.