Saturday, July 08, 2023

And they brought the colt to Jesus (John 12)

Okay, John chapter twelve opens with Jesus being anointed by Mary. The SAB compares this story with one in the other gospels, but I think if you look at the details, it's two different anointings. In this story, we're told the anointer is Mary, while in the other, it's a nameless woman who is a "sinner" (I think it may be implied that she is a prostitute). In this story, Jesus is at the house of Lazarus, while in the other he is at the house of Simon "the leper" (probably a former leper that Jesus healed). In this story, it's six days before Passover, while in the other, it's two days before. In this story, there's no mention of what sort of vessel Mary had the ointment in, while in the other, they specify an alabaster box.

Is it OK to use perfume? Wow, a lot of the SAB's supposed contradictions are insightful, but this is a reach. The answer is yes, it is okay. The Exodus 30 verse is crystal clear in context that it's talking about a specific perfume; the one described in the previous two verses is specified to be for ceremonial use only, and not personal use. The Proverbs 7 passage is saying that prostitutes use perfume, but doesn't in any way say only prostitutes use it. I don't know entirely what the point of the Isaiah verses is, but they certainly don't say not to use perfume. This really is a non-issue.

Anyway, Judas complains that the perfume was worth about a year's worth of wages, and it could have been sold to help the poor. The Bible notes that Judas didn't really care about the poor, but rather was in charge of holding the money bag for the group, and often stole from it for himself. Jesus says an interesting thing here, "the poor always ye have with you; but me ye have not always." It dounds a bit calloused, and indeed it's sort of strange that Jesus, who often taught about helping the poor, would say it, but keep in mind, Jesus has about a week to live. This is actually a rather unfortunate verse in the Bible that I have actually heard "Christians" quote to justify not helping the poor.

So the next day, Jesusrides into Jerusalem, but the SAB asks, On what did Jesus ride into Jerusalem? This seems like a contradiction, but it's just that the different gospel writers used different words for the same thing. Jesus rode on the colt of an ass. Saying he rode on a colt or an ass essentially means the same thing, and saying that he rode on both is just saying the colt's mother was there; obviously he didn't ride on two things at once. The SAB also questions whether this truly fulfilled the prophecy quoted in verse 15. While he fulfilled that specific verse, the SAB claims, "But this can't be since the person referred to in Zechariah (see verses 10-13) was both a military leader and the king of an earthly kingdom." Let's see those verses:
9 Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion; shout, O daughter of Jerusalem: behold, thy King cometh unto thee: he is just, and having salvation; lowly, and riding upon an ass, and upon a colt the foal of an ass. Be glad and shout, people of Jerusalem, because your king comes to you, humble and riding on a young donkey.
10 And I will cut off the chariot from Ephraim, and the horse from Jerusalem, and the battle bow shall be cut off: and he shall speak peace unto the heathen: and his dominion shall be from sea even to sea, and from the river even to the ends of the earth.
11 As for thee also, by the blood of thy covenant I have sent forth thy prisoners out of the pit wherein is no water.
12 Turn you to the strong hold, ye prisoners of hope: even to day do I declare that I will render double unto thee;
13 When I have bent Judah for me, filled the bow with Ephraim, and raised up thy sons, O Zion, against thy sons, O Greece, and made thee as the sword of a mighty man.
I think I don't see the military thing, as verse 10 talks about peace; nonetheless, there is a concept that is pretty consistent in the New Testament of "spiritual warfare" which is to say that there is always a battle going on in the spiritual realm between good and bad (actually, there are elements of this concept in the Old Testament, too). It's also known that it's symbolic that when a military leader rides into a city on a stallion, he's coming for war, but when he rides on a colt, he's coming in peace. As for an earthly kingdom, the book of Revelation says some things similar to this, implying that at Jesus's second coming, he will have a kingdom on earth.

After riding into Jerusalem, Jesus makes a speech. In the speech, he says something about seeds "dying" that the SAB takes issue with. I vaguely recall addressing this somewhere before, but I have no idea where that would have been. Yes, technically seeds don't "die", but they have the appearance of not being alive and need to be buried in the ground to grow (most of them, anyway) so speaking metaphorically, I think this makes sense. In verse 27, Jesus says something that prompts the SAB to ask, Did Jesus ask God to save him from crucifixion? I'd have to say at most, this is another instance of Jesus lying, which is not a contradiction, but it's probably worth examining the other verses where Jesus seems to contradict himself. Yes, Jesus says, "if it be possible, let this cup pass from me," but Jesus knows it's not possible to avoid crucifixion and fulfill God's will, so he follows with, "nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt." Although Jesus went willingly to the cross, it's understandable that he wasn't enthusiastic about it. Then something interesting happens; God the Father speaks out of the sky again, like he did at Jesus's baptism.

Jesus, in talking about his crucifixion, mentions that "now shall the prince of this world be cast out." This prompts the SAB to ask
Who is the Lord of this world? Interestingly enough, I really covered this at the end of my post on Ruth chapter four, where I said God is the original owner of the earth, but gave it to Adam, who essentially sold it to Satan for a piece of fruit. My link to Revelation five there implies that there is a trust deed that Jesus will redeem from whoever currently owns it, which is likely Satan, since he essentially offered the world to Jesus as a temptation. So the answer is that Satan has it temporarily in his possession, but it ultimately belongs to God.

I answered the question of whether Jesus performed many signs in John chapter three. Does God want some to go to hell? and Who forces non-believers to disbelieve? are both closely related questions and have a lot of proof texts in common. It seems pretty evident that there seems to be contradiction in the first question, but the second one can be very easily dismissed: some people are influenced by Satan to disbelieve, but for many people who disbelieve, God solidifies their disbelief. It's a lot like what was said about the hardening of Pharaoh's heart; if you're stubborn, sometimes God entrenches your stubbornness. And really, for those verses shared by both pages, that's the explanation; but what about the others? Well, the Proverbs verse is just stating a fact: God made all people, both good and bad, and in ways we don't always fully understand, bad people have a purpose, too. The 2Thessalonians verse in a larger context is largely saying all of the things that were said in the above paragraph; Satan deceived them, they preferred the delusion, and so God reinforced it.

The chapter winds up with Jesus saying stuff about belief and judgment, with there being a side note about there being members of the Sanhedrin who believed, but were silent. I answered the question about whether Jesus judges people or not in John chapter five.


Brucker said...

My pastor just did a sermon in this chapter today, and he brought up a point I had never considered. All four gospels talk about Jesus's triumphal entry on Palm Sunday and record the reaction of the general crowd and the Pharisees, but never mention the reaction of the Romans. He suggested that while this event was probably a big deal for Jerusalem (the number of people in the city would have approached three million around Passover), by Roman standards, this was barely a blip on the radar. A parade of twelve men and a couple donkeys? Who cares? An interesting thought.

Brucker said...

Another sermon today in this chapter. I noticed something that the SAB seems to have missed. In verse 34, the people say to Jesus, "We have heard out of the law that Christ abideth for ever:" Whast scripture are they talking about? There are a couple prophecies about the Messiah having dominion forever:

Isaiah 9:6-7 For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counseller, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth even for ever. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will perform this.

Daniel 7:13-14 I saw in the night visions, and, behold, one like the Son of man came with the clouds of heaven, and came to the Ancient of days, and they brought him near before him. And there was given him dominion, and glory, and a kingdom, that all people, nations, and languages, should serve him: his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom that which shall not be destroyed.

However, the people say "out of the law", which usually means the books of Moses. So is there a scripture in the Torah that supports this concept? I don't know if there is, or if the people here are being sloppy in their use of "the law".

Brucker said...
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Brucker said...

Today, a sermon from Luke 7, a similar passage without specification of timing. I notice that "Simon the leper" is specified to be a Pharisee (if indeed this is the same Simon). Perhaps it's not, as the "sinful woman" in Luke anointed Jesus's feet rather than head. (In Matthew and Mark, she anoints his head; did I mention that detail? I didn't.) Interesting fact, if true; a Pharisee who was a leper?

Brucker said...

If context is meaningful enough, Luke 7 seems to take place in a town called Nain, which is far to the North of Jerusalem, so perhaps that Simon was a different one, and there were three separate anointings of Jesus with perfume.