Recently I picked up a journaling bible for myself because I love to jot things down and underline. I chose the NIV Beautiful Word Bible. NIV (New International Version) is the version that we use at my church and I just find it easier to follow along in the readings etc. when I'm reading from the same version. I have a couple other versions but always find myself going back to the one that I know. I remember when I first became a Christian and was writing in my bible I read a comment on a blog or something like that saying if you have a friend that underlines in their bible like you, then you've found something special. Some people don't like to mark in their bible. My husband has a beautiful red letter bible that he reads and knows that he won't ever make a mark in. To me, it's a reflection of who I am. Want to know what I'm like? Look in my bible, see what I've underlined or referenced. It's like a catalogue of me. Something I hope my kids can turn to when I'm gone to get a reminder of who I was.
Why am I starting with this? Chapter 12 had be writing, underlining and referencing all through it. John really got me thinking with this chapter and I loved it! I started right at the beginning too. Yesterday I wrote about Martha, Mary and Lazarus. I mentioned that I got mixed up in the events that happened between Mary, Jesus and a bottle of perfume. I thought it happened before Lazarus and I was wrong, at least where the book of John is concerned. Actually it happens right at the beginning of John 12. Jesus is eating at a dinner that is being held in his honour and Mary pours a whole pint of nard (perfume) onto his feet and wipes them with her hair.
A couple things to mention. People did not eat then like we do now - at a table, in a seated position. They actually lounged on couches around a table. So it's not as weird a situation as it may sound. I always thought she was on the floor, under the table cleaning his feet. Context, dear friends, makes all the difference. Another note I made was regarding Mary's hair. In today's lifestyle it's not such a big deal to have your hair showing. In fact, some people take a great deal of time getting their hair just right. However, during the time of Jesus, especially among the Jewish people, women were to wear veils covering their head. Not only did Mary show her hair, she would have had to remove the veil to wipe Jesus' feet. This next sentence is my opinion and not a fact. Perhaps his acceptance of her offering was another way Jesus was showed that He was greater than the Law the Pharisees clung to so much.
In this passage Judas makes the comment that the nard is worth a year's wages and should be given to the poor. A valid idea for sure, except that Judas was the money holder and according to John, a thief. Did Jesus know? Of course! He tells Judas to leave Mary alone and that the nard was meant for his burial. Basically it was yet another prediction of his coming death. At the hands of Judas, no less.
It's in John 12 that we see Jesus come back to Jerusalem, riding on a donkey with the crowds cheering Hosanna! It's where we derive Palm Sunday from. When (in our church) the kids are given palm leaves and walk through the aisles of the church as an example of our acknowledgement of this amazing day. He came humbly to his people. People of the time didn't know him as a great king or mighty warrior. Of course now we know the truth but isn't hindsight always 20/20? The same could be said of his disciples. They didn't understand what was happening on that day until after Jesus was glorified.
Something that caught my eye in chapter 12 and I underlined was verse 25. Anyone who loves their life will lose it, while anyone who hates their life in this world will keep it for eternal life. This can be cross referenced with Luke 9:25. This passage shows the direct battle between the flesh and the Spirit. So many times we fall to earthly things to fulfill us but if we rely on God, and rebuke the temptations of the flesh we can have eternal life.
Another amazing thing about this chapter is that we hear God speak! God spoke to Jesus from the heavens! Imagine what that would have been like. Some people believed it, some people just thought it was thunder. I can't even comprehend what it would have been like to be in that group of people when that happened. Would I believe? I'd like to think I would have. It's just such an awesome thought. To be there and hear God's voice audibly. How cool would that have been? Jesus tells the crowd that the voice was for their benefit and not his. He already knew what was going to happen. He didn't need to hear God's voice. He was one with God and had been there before the Word was the Word.
At the end of chapter 12 we read about the differing beliefs among the people and the leaders. Yet even the leaders were afraid of the Pharisees and being put out of the synagogue so they kept quiet. They loved human praise, more than praise from God (v. 43). It's so true of so many people today. We quietly keep our beliefs to ourselves for fear of rejection. I, myself, can be blamed for that. Recently I started a new job. I didn't know a lot of the girls but I knew one because she is the sister of a friend from church. I wanted to make a "good impression" so I didn't say much in the beginning. (She is not a Christian.) It's been 3 weeks nd I've gradually said a few things and people know now, which I'm glad about. I mean, being a part of the church is such a huge part of my life. To me though, it takes more than that. Yes it's amazing to spread the Good News, I'm all for doing that. But to me, I want to see faith in action. Then one day, my pastor challenged that with a simple saying that I have now made the background for my cell phone. The true test of faith is not in our actions, but in our reactions. That has stuck with me and it's a saying that I am now using with my daughter. Acting like a Christian is one thing. A lot of people can act. When things get hard, when life throws a curve or when someone challenges you, that's when our actions really show our faith.
It's been 12 "days" now. Unfortunately, I missed a few. When I reflect back on when I started and now I can honestly say that I see changes. I have been pondering a lot of what I've read. I think it has helped me a lot when I felt especially alone at work and feel like I don't belong. I'm also increasing my knowledge of Bible. I'm becoming versed in more scripture, which is cool. I know that the woman at the well happens in John 4 without having to look anymore. (I still made sure so as not to sound like an idiot, but I was right.) I've also found a lot of verses that I really like. For instance- He must become greater, I must become less (John 3:30). I miss the readings on the days when I can't get to them and I'm honestly really happy about that. It means that I'm actually in the process of creating this habit. Also when I'm listening to sermons, or taking part in Youth Group I can actually use this new habit help link the two.
Are you ready for a challenge? Try taking this one and see how it changes your patterns. Let me know what you think in the comments.
You know the saying, the grass is always greener on the other side? This is my attempt to find greener grass right where I am in my life.
BTW - I'm the one on the right, just in case you didn't already know that.