Sermon: Better that One Man Should Die (John 11:45-12:11)
There is perhaps no more vivid contrast between the two ways of living in the world than we find in John 11:45–12:11. Here, we see two groups of people who are seeking after Jesus’ cross, but for entirely opposite reasons. The chief priests and the Pharisees plot Jesus’ crucifixion from a desire to preserve their own glory, since Jesus represents a threat to their power, privilege, and wealth. Mary, the sister of Martha and Lazarus, also seeks after the cross of Jesus, but not because she wants to lose her Master. Rather than clinging to Jesus in order to protect someone she loves—or to protect her position as someone with close personal ties to Jesus—she willingly sacrifices great wealth and her own personal dignity to honor Jesus by anointing his body for burial. In these two consecutive stories, we see these two ways of living and of relating to Jesus, with substantial insight into what each requires of us and offers to us as its reward. In this passage, John illustrates that both wolves and sheep seek Jesus’ cross, but for opposite reasons.