Father MacEvilly’s Commentary on John 12:1-11

Jn 12:1. “Jesus, therefore, six days before the Pasch.” “Therefore,” because the Pasch was near (11:55), Jesus wished to go Jerusalem; or, “therefore,” on account of the commandment above referred to (11:56), not wishing to come into the power of His enemies before the time appointed had come, He left Ephrem, or Ephraim, where He had been sojourning a few days. “Six days before the Pasch,” at which He was Himself to be sanctified, as the true Paschal Lamb, for the redemption of mankind. Instead of going straightway to Jerusalem, He came to Bethany, where lived Lazarus, who had been resuscitated from the grave. Here, our Lord had many friends, and the recollection of His recent miracle would induce the people to conduct Him in triumph to Jerusalem. on the following Sunday, the third day, after His arrival at Bethany. “Whom Jesus raised to life.” The Greek has not, “Jesus,” but only, “whom He raised from the dead.” “Where Lazarus had been dead.” The Greek has, “Where was Lazarus, who had been dead?

Jn 12:2. St. Matthew (26:6), tells us, this banquet was given in the house of Simon the leper.

On verses 1–8. (See Matthew 26:6–13, Commentary on.) I’ll try to post commentary on that passage beofre Monday.

Jn 12:3. “Anointed the feet of Jesus and wiped,” etc. There is a transposition or inversion of order in this. She first wiped His feet with her hair, removing the dust that adhered to them; and then, as Matthew and Mark tell us, anointed His head, which was usually done. Had she wiped His feet after anointing them, she would be only oiling her own hair; and St. John adds, that, in addition to washing His head, she did what was quite unusual, viz., anointed His feet, in proof of her excessive love, and in gratitude for the remission of her sins, which she obtained at His sacred feet. She did not wipe His feet after anointing them, for the reason already assigned. After anointing His head and feet, she left the oil, without wiping it off, as above explained, to produce the intended effect of anointing in such cases.

Jn 12:4, 5. “Judas Iscariot.” The Greek has, “Judas of Simon or, the son of Simon.” The other Evangelists say, that the other disciples joined in the murmuring. They did so, from feelings of charity; Judas, from avarice, as in next verse.

Jn 12:6 He was entrusted with carrying the common purse, in which were deposited the means contributed as a sort of sustentation fund for the support of our Redeemer and His disciples. Abusing the confidence reposed in him, he used to purloin or carry away stealthily, for his own private use, some of its contents. He felt indignant, that the price of this ointment was not thrown with the rest into the common fund, so that he might thus be enabled to set some of it aside for his own use. While affecting great concern for the poor, the gratification of avarice was his real motive. For the poor he felt no concern whatever. How many hypocritical followers of Judas are to be found, at all times, men who talk loudly in favour of the poor, and never contribute a farthing for their relief?

Matthew and Mark, after giving the history of this banquet, refer to the impious compact entered into by Judas with the Chief Priests, as if he wished to compensate himself for the loss of the price of the ointment, by the amount of the reward secured for his base betrayal of his Master.

Jn 12:7, 8. (See Matthew 26:7–12, Commentary on.) Will try to post by Monday.

Jn 12:9. “A great multitude,” etc. They came out from Jerusalem, not merely out of respect for our Lord, but also, out of a feeling of curiosity to see Lazarus, the fame of whose resuscitation from the grave reached far and near. They wished to see both, Lazarus resuscitated, and Jesus who had raised him.

Jn 12:10. “The Chief Priests thought”—conspired together—“to kill Lazarus also,” as well as our Lord, for the reason assigned in following verse. They were influenced purely by malice and envy, as Lazarus harmed none of them. It may be that the Chief Priests, most of them Sadducees, had another reason. Lazarus now brought back to life, would be a standing, living refutation of their doctrine, that there was no Resurrection (Acts 23:18). This does not imply a formal meeting of the Sanhedrim, as in (11:47). The Pharisees are not mentioned here, though, no doubt, they had a hand in the business. They dreaded the influence which Lazarus, now walking abroad in full life, might have on the crowds, assembled from every quarter for the Pasch.

St. Augustine (Tract 50), jeeringly derides them, and exposes their blind malice and folly, as if our Lord, who raised up the dead Lazarus, could not raise up the murdered Lazarus as well. “O stulta cogitatio ac cæca sævitia! Dominus, Christus, qui suscitare potuit mortuum, non posset occisum.” Here is the Augustine quote in full: “But the chief priests consulted that they might put Lazarus also to death; because that by reason of him many of the Jews went away, and believed on Jesus.” O foolish consultation and blinded rage! Could not Christ the Lord, who was able to raise the dead, raise also the slain? When you were preparing a violent death for Lazarus, were you at the same time denuding the Lord of His power? If you think a dead man one thing, a murdered man another, look you only to this, that the Lord made both, and raised Lazarus to life when dead, and Himself when slain.

Jn 12:11. “Went away,” not out of the Synagogue, but withdrew all connexion with the murderous faction of the High Priests and Pharisees, and adhered to Jesus.

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