Building the tension

IMG_0521We’re looking at John 12 this week to understand the tension of Holy Week, the week that starts with Palm Sunday and ends on Easter. Yesterday we read John 12:1-11.

Today, take a look at John 12:12-19.

Because John identifies people in tension with each other as a way of getting us ready to hear the teaching of Jesus, talk a look at the people in this text and picture what they are doing.

There is a great crowd. They are in Jerusalem for a religious festival. They’ve heard of Jesus. They hear he’s coming. They join a spontaneous procession.

There are Old Testament writers. The crowd quotes from Psalm 118. Read it to get a sense that they – and John – are tieing this procession to a familiar song in their hymnal. And Zechariah, a writer near the end of the Old Testament time, pointed to this event.

Jesus is simply riding on a young donkey.

The disciples are clueless. When John points out that they understood everything later, he is meaning that they had no idea what was really going on at the moment.

There is a different crowd, a crowd that came with Jesus and the disciples from Bethany, who knew that Jesus had raised Lazarus from the dead. They weren’t the people looking for a parade. They were the people saying they had found the one who could give people life.

And then there are the Pharisees. These are religious leaders who are watching the parade crown and the Lazarus crowd converge. They are given to the kind of statements we make: “The whole world is following.” Or at least, the kind of statements that politicians and the press make.

When you read through this text, John 12:12-19, watching the people in their various actions, do you get the sense that something is on the verge of exploding?

That’s what John is hoping.