We continue the discussion under John 11:55 here in Part 6.
J. Carl Laney speaks of the need to be cleansed from any ceremonial defilement before taking part in the Passover (cf. Lev. 7:21). I'll quote part of what he says about how this cleansing was accomplished ("John," page 217). "According to the Mishnah, this was done in a ritual bath called a 'miqveh' ('Mikva'ot' 4.1). Excavations south of the Temple area have uncovered 48 'miqva'ot' (the plural of 'miqveh') that served the pilgrims who sought purification before climbing the steps into the Temple area (William Sanford La Sor, 'Discovering What Jewish Miqva'ot Can Tell Us About Christian Baptism,' 'Biblical Archaeology Review' [January/February 1987] 52-59)." The ritual baths in Jerusalem that I have seen pictures of consisted of a rather small underground pool of water that was deep enough for people to immerse themselves after walking down steps into the pool.
The ritual bath was not sufficient to remove defilement that came through contact with death. Numbers chapter 19 teaches about ritual defilement through contact with death and how the Jews were to be cleansed through being sprinkled on the third day and on the seventh day with hyssop that had been dipped in a mixture of the ashes of a sacrificed red heifer and water. It would have been a very serious sin for Jews to go to the tabernacle/temple, while in an unclean state (cf. Num. 19:13, 20).
I'll quote part of a sentence from what Andreas J. Kostenberger says here ("John" , page 354). "...recent scholarship estimates that the population of Jerusalem swelled from about one hundred thousand inhabitants to some one million during [the Feasts of Passover, Pentecost, and Tabernacles]."]] (56) So they were seeking for Jesus, and were saying to one another as they stood in the temple, 'What do you think; that He will not come to the feast at all?' [cf. John 7:11] (57) Now the chief priests and the Pharisees had given orders that if anyone knew where He was, he was to report it, so that they might seize Him [cf. John 7:32; 11:53]."
JOHN CHAPTER 12.
"Jesus, therefore, six days before the Passover ["Then six days before the Passover" NKJV; cf. John 11:55], came to Bethany where Lazarus was, whom Jesus had raised from the dead. [[Jesus had left Bethany after raising Lazarus from the dead and gone to Ephraim because the Jews had decided at the highest level that He must be killed (John 11:46-54). Now, six days before the Passover, He came back to Bethany, which was a village very close to Jerusalem, knowing that He must be crucified at Jerusalem that Passover. Regarding the day of the week that Jesus came back to Bethany (six days before the Passover) and was anointed (for His burial) by Mary, see under verse 2.]] (2) [See Matt. 26:6-11; Mark 14:3-9. Matthew 26:6; Mark 14:3 show that these things took place at the home of Simon the leper in Bethany. (Presumably Jesus had healed Simon of leprosy.) Those accounts in the Gospels of Matthew and Mark, which were written long before John wrote his Gospel, didn't mention that the woman who anointed Jesus was Mary the sister of Lazarus and Martha, or that Mary had anointed His feet and wiped them with her hair after anointing them. ((Matthew 26 and Mark 14 spoke only of the woman's having poured the expensive ointment on His head. Apparently she poured the ointment on His head and on His feet; John 12:3 shows that she used a rather large quantity of ointment. [[I had a footnote: I'll quote part of what F. Godet says here ("Gospel of John" [Zondervan, reprint of the 1893 edition], pages 206, 207). "These flasks of nard hermetically sealed were probably received from the East; to use the contents of them, the neck must be broken; this is what Mary did, according to Mark 14:3. This act having a somewhat striking character, she must have performed it in the sight of all the guests, consequently over the head of Jesus already seated at the table. His head thus received the first fruits of the perfume (cf. Matthew and Mark: 'she poured it on his head'). Only after this, as no ordinary guest was here in question [and the time setting was very special; she anointed Him for His burial, whether she understood that detail, or not], and as Mary wished to give to her guest not merely a testimony of love and respect, but a mark of adoration, she joined with the ordinary anointing of the head (which was self evident; cf. Psalm 23:5; Luke 7:46) an altogether exceptional homage. As if this precious liquid were only common water, she pours it over His feet, and in such abundance that it was as if she were bathing them with it; so she was obliged to wipe them. For this purpose she uses her own hair. This last fact carries the homage to a climax. … Every act in this narrative breathes adoration, the soul of the act. Perhaps the report of the homage rendered to Jesus by the sinful woman of Galilee [Luke 7] had reached Mary. She was unwilling that the friends of Jesus should do less for Him than a stranger."]])) Furthermore, Matthew and Mark didn't mention that Judas Iscariot was the one (at least he was the ring leader) who criticized Mary for "wasting" the money that the expensive ointment was worth (she could have sold it, Judas said, and given the money to the poor), and Matthew and Mark leave the (apparently wrong) impression that this anointing took place after Jesus' triumphal entry into Jerusalem. ((I had a footnote: John indicates that this anointing took place the day before that triumphal entry (see John 12:12-15). I'll quote two important sentences from what Donald A. Carson says on this point ("Gospel According to John," page 426). "It must be remembered...that the time indicators in Matthew/Mark are notoriously loose. These Evangelists often order their accounts according to topic, not chronology.")) John was undoubtedly thankful that (in the will of God) he was able to add this important information to the accounts in Matthew 26 and Mark 14. Thank God for the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John!]] So they made Him a supper there, and Martha was serving [cf. Luke 10:38-42]; but Lazarus was one of those reclining at the table with Him. [[The most common view is that this supper took place Saturday evening (after the Sabbath was over), the evening before Jesus' triumphal entry into Jerusalem. I somewhat favor the viewpoint that this supper took place Sunday evening before Jesus' triumphal entry into Jerusalem on Monday. ((I had a seven-paragraph footnote: F. F. Bruce and F. Godet are two of the commentators who believe Jesus arrived at Bethany and the supper and anointing took place on Sunday. "Six days before the Passover" (John 12:1) can be understood several different ways, depending on what day the Passover started and on how you do the counting. I believe the apostle John wrote from the viewpoint that the Passover began at sunset on Friday, on which evening the Jews ate the Passover meal. (By Jewish reckoning that would have been the 15th day of the month, which began at sunset, and the lambs were slain on the 14th day [Exod. 12:6]). On Friday afternoon Jesus died on the cross when the Passover lambs were being slain in the temple. On Friday evening (the 15th day happened to fall on the sabbath that year), they ate the Passover meal. According to the Gospel of John, the day that Jesus was tried before Pilate and crucified (which was Friday) was the "the day of preparation for the Passover" (John 19:14; also see John 13:1; 18:28; 19:31, 42 [these verses are discussed in my papers on John chapters 13-17 and John chapters 18-20 on this Christian article site]).
From this point of view, although the meal that Jesus ate with His apostles on Thursday evening was called a Passover meal (and rightly so), it was eaten a day before the Jews ate the Passover meal and before the Passover lambs were slain in the temple. It is interesting that there was no mention of a sacrificial lamb in the accounts of the Passover meal that Jesus ate with His apostles in the accounts in Matthew, Mark, Luke, or John. (See the discussion at the beginning of my paper on John Chapters 13-17, Part 1 on this Christian article site.)
I'll quote a few sentences from what J. N. Sanders and B. A. Mastin say here ("Gospel According to John" [Hendrickson, 1968], page 282). "1. According to the [Gospel of John], the Passover began on the following Friday evening (by our reckoning of the days), which (again by our reckoning) would make the day of Jesus' arrival in Bethany on Saturday. But since he is unlikely to have traveled on a Sabbath, we should probably reckon the six days in the ancient manner, i.e. inclusively. 2. Then the supper would have been on Sunday evening by our reckoning...." It does seem unlikely that Jesus would have traveled far on the sabbath. We don't know the details regarding that journey to Bethany six days before the Passover; see John 11:54; Matt. 20:29-21:11; Mark 10:32-11:10; and Luke 18:35-19:44.
I'll quote part of what G. Ogg says regarding the day of the month and the year that Jesus was crucified in the article on the "Chronology of the New Testament" in the "New Bible Dictionary," second edition (Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., 1982), page 202. "Of attempts to determine the year of the crucifixion the most fruitful is that made with the help of astronomy. According to all four Gospels, the crucifixion took place on a Friday, but whereas in the Synoptics [Matthew, Mark, and Luke] that Friday is 15 Nisan, in John it is 14 Nisan. [The major difference is that the Synoptic Gospels give the impression that the lambs were slain in the temple before Jesus ate the Last Supper with His apostles on Thursday evening, but John shows that the Last Supper (John chapter 13) actually took place the day before the lambs were slain in the temple and the Jews ate the Passover meal. It would have been appropriate for Jesus to participate in the Passover meal with the rest of the Jews, but it was much more appropriate, it seems to me, for Jesus to die when the Passover lambs were being slain in the temple, and John informs us that that is just what happened.] The problem then that has to be solved with the help of astronomy is that of determining in which of the years 26-36 [Pontius Pilate was procurator of Judea from AD 26-36.] the 14th and 15th Nisan fell on a Friday. But since in NT times the Jewish month was lunar and the time of its commencement was determined by observation of the new moon, this problem is basically that of determining when the new moon became visible. Studying this problem, Fotheringham and Schoch have each arrived at a formula by applying which they find that 15 Nisan was a Friday only in [AD] 27 and 14 Nisan was a Friday only in [AD] 30 and [AD] 33. Since as the year of the crucifixion 27 is out of the question [essentially all agree AD 27 is too early], the choice lies between 30 (7 April) and 33 (3 April)."
Ogg goes on to say that he believes the chronology of the Gospel of John is the more probable (that Jesus was crucified on the 14th day of the month) and that "until at least the beginning of the 3rd century it appears to have been the more generally accepted throughout the church." But he points out that the "attempts to reconcile the Gospels on this matter have not secured general consent, and discussion of the problem continues." (The primary problem is that Matthew, Mark, and Luke leave the impression that Jesus ate the Passover meal with the rest of the Jews on Thursday evening, while John shows that the Jews hadn't eaten the Passover meal yet when Jesus was on the cross. Apparently then, the Passover meal that Jesus ate with His disciples and His crucifixion both took place on the 14th day of the month, which began [by Jewish reckoning] at sunset Thursday that year.) He also points out that he considers it noteworthy that the astronomer's calculations do not support the idea that Jesus was crucified on the 15th day of the month in that, according to their calculations, the 15th day of the month does not fall on a Friday in any of the years considered possible for His crucifixion.
I'll also quote part of what W. P. Armstrong and J. Finegan say on the date of the crucifixion of Jesus in the article titled "Chronology of the NT" in the "International Standard Bible Encyclopedia," fully revised, Vol. 1 (Eerdmans, 1979), page 689. "The Gospels name the day before the sabbath (Friday) as the day of the crucifixion...and the Synoptic Gospels represent this Friday as Nisan 15 - the day following (or according to Jewish reckoning from sunset to sunset, the same day as) the day on which the paschal supper was eaten [on Thursday evening].... But the fourth Gospel is thought by many to represent the paschal meal as still uneaten [by the Jews] when Jesus suffered (John 18:28; cf. 13:29).... Astronomical calculations show that Nisan 14 could have fallen on Friday in...30 and again in...33 (H. von Soden, Eb, I, 806; cf. B. W. Bacon, JBL, 28 , 130-148; J. K. Fotheringham, JTS, 11 , 120ff.; R. A. Parker and W. J. Dubberstein, "Babylonian Chronology 626 B.C. - A.D.75" ), but the empirical character of the Jewish calendar [which depended on man's observing when the new moon first became visible] renders the result of such calculations uncertain (HJP2, I, 590f.). In the year...30 Friday, Nisan 14, would fall on Apr. 7; in...33 Friday, Nisan 14, would fall on Apr. 3. ... The date of the crucifixion is probably Friday, Apr. 7, A.D. 30 [I assume that date is correct]." This is the end of the seven-paragraph footnote.))]] (3) Mary then took a pound [["about a pint" NIV; the NIV has a footnote, "Greek 'a litra' (probably about 0.5 liter [where a liter is about a quart, or 2 pints])"; the "Greek-English Dictionary of the New Testament" by Barclay M. Newman, which is a companion volume with the United Bible Societies' "Greek New Testament" says "litra" means "pound (of the Roman pound weighing 11.5 ounces)"; the BAGD Greek Lexicon (3rd edition) says "litra" means "a (Roman) pound (327.45 grams)"; in a marginal note the NASB says "I.e. a Roman pound, equaling 12 oz."]] of very costly perfume [or "very costly ointment, or oil, of pure nard"; Greek "muron"] of pure nard [["The 'pure nard' was a fragrant oil prepared from the roots and stems of an aromatic herb from northern India. It was an expensive perfume, imported in sealed alabaster boxes or flasks which were opened only on special occasions" (Edwin A. Blum, "Bible Knowledge Commentary," New Testament (Victor Books, 1983), page 316).]], and anointed the feet of Jesus and wiped His feet with her hair [This was a touching scene (cf. Luke 7:36-50, especially verses 37, 38, 44-46; 10:38-42; John 11:2, 5, 28-36).]; and the house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume. (4) But Judas Iscariot, one of His disciples, who was intending [or, who was going] to betray Him [[Judas, the son of Simon Iscariot, one of the twelve apostles, betrayed Jesus (cf. John 6:70, 71; 12:5, 6; 13:2, 10, 11, 18, 19, 21-30; 18:2, 3; Matt. 10:4; 26:14-16, 20-25, 47-50; 27:3-10; Mark 3:19; 14:10, 11, 17-21, 43-45; Luke 6:16; 22:3-6, 21-23, 47, 48; Acts 1:15-26). Verse 6 shows that Judas had been sinning all along, stealing from the money box. An apostle of the Lord Jesus Christ stealing, even stealing from the Lord, certainly demonstrates that Judas' heart was far from being right with God. For one thing, he surely should have known that he wouldn't get by with it.
Matthew 26:14-16 with 26:6-13 and Mark 14:10, 11 with 14:3-9 indicate that Judas went to the chief priests to betray Jesus right after this "wasteful" anointing of Jesus. Judas was undoubtedly humiliated by Jesus' rejection of his criticism of Mary (John 12:7, 8), which was a mild rebuke to Judas, but it is very clear that his betrayal of Jesus was motivated by much more than that one incident (including his listening and then yielding to the devil [cf. John 13:2, 27]).]], said, (5) 'Why was this perfume not sold for three hundred denarii [see under verse 2; cf. Mark 14:5; a denarius was a day's wage for a laborer (cf. Matt. 20:2-13)] 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 [cf. John 13:29; Luke 8:3], he used to pilfer what was put into it. [See under verse 4. It seems clear that Judas had been stealing from the money box for a long time, perhaps from the first time he had an opportunity.] (7) Therefore Jesus said, 'Let her alone [This imperative is 2nd person singular in the Greek. Jesus was speaking to Judas. The plurals in the Greek in verse 8 show that He was speaking to all the people there.], so that she may keep it for the day of My burial. [[I believe an amplified/expanded translation like the following communicates the intended idea, "she has done this [that is, she has kept the expensive ointment, instead of selling it and giving the money to the poor, as you (Judas) say she should have done] so that she might keep it [and have it to anoint Me, as she has just done in preparation] for the day of My burial." The translation of the NIV conveys this same basic idea. "It was intended [by God] that she should save this perfume for the day of my burial" NIV. It is quite possible that Mary didn't know that she was anointing Jesus in preparation for His burial, but Jesus knew that she was. Even if Mary didn't realize that she was anointing Jesus in preparation for His burial, she could have been led by God the Father to anoint Jesus.]] (8) For you always have the poor with you, but you do not always have Me.' [Compare Matt. 26:11; Mark 14:7; and Deut. 15:11.] (9) The large crowd of the Jews [This large crowd undoubtedly included many Jews who had come early to Jerusalem for Passover (see John 11:55; 12:12, 17, 18).] then learned that He was there; and they came [to Bethany], 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. [[The raising of Lazarus from the dead played a major role in the events of Jesus' last days before the cross (cf. John 11:45-57; 12:9-11, 17-19). There was, of course, no legal basis for the chief priests to kill Lazarus. He was "guilty" only of believing in Jesus and of being raised from the dead, but they determined that it was politically expedient for him to die (cf. John 11:50).]] (12) [See Matt. 21:1-11; Mark 11:1-10; and Luke 19:29-40.] On the next day [[This is our "Palm Sunday." But I somewhat prefer the viewpoint that this happened on Monday. (I had a footnote: F. F. Bruce, F. Godet, and J. Carl Laney are three of the commentators who favor Palm Monday.) As I mentioned under John 12:2, I somewhat prefer the viewpoint that Jesus went to Bethany and was anointed by Mary on Sunday. If that viewpoint is correct, the "next day," the day of Jesus' triumphal entry into Jerusalem, would be Monday. On the branches of palm trees which the people were spreading in the road before Jesus (some undoubtedly waved the palm branches too), see Matt. 21:8; Mark 11:8; and John 12:13. Matthew 21:8; Mark 11:8; and Luke 19:36 show that many were also spreading their coats in the road before Him.]] the large crowd who had come to the feast, when they heard that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem [[A large number of the Jews who had come early to Jerusalem for the Feast of Passover went out to meet Jesus (see John 11:55, 56; 12:17, 18). John 12:17, 18 indicate that many of these Jews went out to meet Him because of the testimony of the people who had been there when Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead. "Many of these pilgrims would have been Galileans who were familiar with His ministry; many others would have heard of the raising of Lazarus (cf. John 11:55-57) and eagerly sought an opportunity to see Jesus" (Donald A. Carson, "Gospel According to John," page 431).]], (13) took the branches of the palm trees and went out to meet Him [[See under verse 12. The Synoptic Gospels (Matthew, Mark, and Luke) show that Jesus traveled in a westerly direction from a location on the eastern side of the Mount of Olives, near Bethany and Bethpage, across the Kidron Valley, to enter Jerusalem. For at least much of that trip, Jesus was riding on a borrowed donkey (cf. John 12:14, 15).]], and began to shout, 'Hosanna! BLESSED IS HE WHO COMES IN THE NAME OF THE LORD, even the King of Israel [On the "King [of Israel]," see John 1:49; 6:15; 12:15; 18:33-39; 19:14, 15, 19-22.].' [[The words "Blessed is He who comes in the name of the LORD ["Yahweh" in the Hebrew]" are quoted from Psalm 118:26. The most common view is that "Hosanna" is an abbreviated form of a Hebrew imperative (of the Hebrew verb "yasha"; I had a footnote: The Hebrew verb is in the hiphil stem, which explains the "ho" on the front of the word.) that means "save" joined with the Hebrew particle "na," which means "now" or "we pray" or "please." It is significant that this Hebrew imperative and particle are used in Psalm 118:25, the verse just before Psalm 118:26 (and in other verses of the Old Testament). ((I had a footnote: J. N. Sanders and B. A. Mastin may be right when they say "Hosanna is a transliteration of the Aramaic (rather than the Hebrew) for, 'Save we pray' " ("Gospel According to St. John" [Hendricksen, 1988 reprint], page 288). C. K. Barrett expresses the same viewpoint, that Hosanna probably is a transliteration of the corresponding Aramaic, not the Hebrew" ("Gospel According to St. John" [Westminster, 1978], page 418).)) The imperative is addressed to Yahweh in Psalm 118:25. The imperative meaning save now, or save we pray, or save please fits perfectly with the words that follow (here in John 12:13) from Psalm 118:26.
Psalm 118 is a messianic psalm (a psalm that prophesies of the Messiah, Christ Jesus), and it seems clear that these Jews (at least many of them) recognized it as a messianic psalm. Many of these Jews were disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ, which is shown by Luke 19:37-40. (Luke 19:39 shows that the Pharisees were there too; they weren't there to exalt Christ Jesus.) I'll quote LUKE 19:37-40, "As soon as He was approaching, near the descent of the Mount of Olives, the whole crowd of the disciples began to praise God joyfully with a loud voice for all the miracles which they had seen, (38) shouting: 'BLESSED IS THE KING WHO COMES IN THE NAME OF THE LORD; Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!' (39) Some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to Him, 'Teacher, rebuke Your disciples.' (40) But Jesus answered, 'I tell you, if these become silent, the stones will cry out!' "
After Jesus miraculously fed five thousand men (plus women and children) from five loaves and two fish, the Jews wanted to take Jesus by force and make Him the King of Israel (see John 6:15). (I had a footnote: That miracle took place near Passover, (at least) one year before Jesus triumphal entry into Jerusalem.) Jesus rejected their proposal and withdrew because, for one thing, He knew that most of them were not submitting to Him, the only Savior from sin and death, in repentance and faith (they weren't true disciples). They were looking for a king to overthrow the Romans and bless them. Many of the Jews shouting the praises of Jesus at His triumphal entry into Jerusalem were undoubtedly just as shallow and fleshy and as misinformed about the primary purpose for the coming of Christ Jesus into the world as those who wanted to make Him king earlier, but some of them were true disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ, and I'm confident that many of them were in the process of becoming true disciples, and/or would later become true disciples.
I'll quote PSALM 118:21-26a and make a few comments in brackets. "I shall give thanks to You, for You have answered me, And You have become my salvation. [These words which are addressed to Yahweh, the God of Israel, speak of thanking Him for answering their prayer(s) and saving them through the Messiah/Christ. He saves them from their sins (and spiritual death and the devil) and from those who have been oppressing them on the earth. Although the singulars "I" and "me" are used here in verse 21 (and often throughout verses 10-21), it is clear that all the believers (the righteous) of Israel are involved in this salvation (see verse 15). Verses 22-26a use the plurals "our," "us," and "we."] (22) The stone which the builders rejected [Christ Jesus] Has become the chief corner stone. [See Matt. 21:42-44; Mark 12:10, 11; Luke 20:17; Acts 4:10, 11; Eph. 2:20; and 1 Pet. 2:7.] (23) This is the LORD'S [Yahweh's] doing [speaking of His saving work in and through Christ Jesus]; and it is marvelous in our eyes. (24) This is the day [the day of salvation] which the LORD [Yahweh] has made; Let us rejoice and be glad in it. (25) O LORD [Yahweh], do save [or, "save," instead of "do save"], we beseech You [As I mentioned, "hosanna" is an abbreviated form of the Hebrew behind "save, we beseech You."]; O LORD [Yahweh], we beseech You, do send prosperity! (26) Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the LORD [Yahweh]...."
Some commentators make the point that "hosanna" was sometimes used as a shout of praise. I'll quote part of a footnote from Andreas J. Kostenberger that discusses this point ("John," page 369). "...probably Barrett (1978; 417-18) is correct that at the time of Christ, the phrase might have been no more than a 'jubilant shout of praise' as part of a 'spontaneous ovation' (cf. Morris 1995: 516; R. Brown 1966: 457)." In this overall context and with Psalm 118:25, 26 and the added words "even the King of Israel" here in John 12:13, I have to rather strongly favor the viewpoint that Hosanna! was more than a jubilant shout of praise and that it included the idea of "save now" or "save we pray" or "save please." The Septuagint (the Old Testament translated into Greek) doesn't transliterate the Hebrew; it translates the Hebrew with two Greek words that mean "save now."]]
We will continue this verse-by-verse study of John chapters 10-12 in Part 7, starting with John 12:14.