How much inconvenience should we accept in our lives?
What is the definition of inconvenience? You want to get some Chick-fil-A real quick, but the drive-through is wrapped around the building. What an inconvenience.
Inconvenience is defined as trouble or difficulty caused to one’s personal requirements or comfort. Some synonyms are aggravation, annoyance, disruption, disturbance. I like disruption. How much disruption should we allow into our lives?
What I’m getting at is not the disruption that happens to us, but the disruption we choose to bring into our lives. Another word for this is “sacrifice.” When we sacrifice, we choose to invite disruption into our lives. We give up something. We surrender something valuable. Might be our time, our money, our energy, sleep. Let’s keep this in mind as we study John 12:12-50 this week.
Before we read the story, let’s remember the context. We learned in chapter 11, verses 46-57 (see post here) that the Jewish leaders in Jerusalem are on high alert for Jesus because they want to arrest him and kill him. Why? They believe that the Romans will think Jesus is starting a movement to overthrow the Romans, and therefore the Romans will respond by not just killing Jesus, but with overwhelming force, destroying Israel. The Jewish leaders, in order to avoid war and destruction, therefore, believe they must preemptively eliminate Jesus, which they think will have the effect of shutting down his movement.
Jesus finds outs and goes into hiding for a short while. When it is time for the Jews’ Feast of Passover, he comes out of hiding and boldly travels to the town of Bethany, just two miles outside of the capital city of Jerusalem, the very place the religious leaders are looking for him. In Bethany his friend Mary pours expensive perfume on his feet, and Jesus says she was preparing him for burial. In chapter 12, verses 9-11, we read that a large crowd gathers in Bethany, and word of Jesus’ presence there makes it to the Jewish leaders. Now that the leaders know where he is, they make final plans to kill Jesus. That brings us to John 12, verses 12-19.
“The next day the great crowd that had come for the Feast heard that Jesus was on his way to Jerusalem. 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!” Jesus found a young donkey and sat upon it, as it is written, “Do not be afraid, O Daughter of Zion; see, your king is coming, seated on a donkey’s colt.” At first his disciples did not understand all this. Only after Jesus was glorified did they realize that these things had been written about him and that they had done these things to him. Now the crowd that was with him when he called Lazarus from the tomb and raised him from the dead continued to spread the word. Many people, because they had heard that he had given this miraculous sign, went out to meet him. So the Pharisees said to one another, “See, this is getting us nowhere. Look how the whole world has gone after him!”
Of course this is the very familiar story of Jesus’ Triumphal entry into the city of Jerusalem, which we celebrate on Palm Sunday every year. As I write this in May 2023, Palm Sunday was just about a month ago, so I’m going to skim past the event. But I do want to ask: Is Jesus, by entering Jerusalem, making a horrible mistake riding right into the hands of the religious leaders, the very people who wish to kill him? Maybe. Maybe not. For now we learn that the leaders’ hands are tied because the crowds are enthralled by Jesus.
You can almost hear the religious thinking as they watch the Triumphal Entry, “See. I told you so. The Romans are not going to like this. The crowd and all their cheering about good news…this is bad news! Very bad news. The crowds are quoting Scripture calling him ‘King of Israel,’ for goodness sake! Jesus is riding into Jerusalem like some big stuff conqueror might seem fun right now. Just you wait. When the Romans find out, they are going to decimate us all. How can we put a stop to it when everyone is rallying around him? Jesus needs to stop this. Or rather, we need to stop him.”
It seems like Jesus is inviting holy disruption into his life in a significant way.
So the Triumphal Entry, while very celebratory, actually needs to be seen in the larger context of dark storm clouds of conflict that are growing all around Jesus. What happens next in the passage, it seems to me, is rarely mentioned when the story of Jesus’ final days is told. In the next post, we’ll begin to learn about that rare occurrence.
Photo by Brady Leavell on Unsplash
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