Today John brings us to the beginning of the end. Several things to notice:
Chapter 12 starts with John telling us it is six (6) days before the Passover. Recall, this is the 3rd Passover John has highlighted for us. So far the events of the Passover that John has highlighted for us have been as follows: (1) Jesus turns water into wine, (2) Jesus multiplies the loaves and the fishes and gives the bread of life discourse and (3) Jesus raises Lazarus from the dead. The message is clear – the bread and wine bring new life.
John tells us now of additional events that have important symbolism. Martha anoints Jesus with expensive oil. Literally, “messiah” means anointed one. Thus, this anointing again confirms Jesus is the messiah. Also, dead bodies were anointed with perfumed oil to help suppress the stench. The anointing foretells Jesus death and how he will have to be rushed into the tomb.
I love the next part. We see Palm Sunday and Jesus riding into town on a donkey. The crowd shouts:
13 So they took branches of palm trees and went out to meet him, crying, “Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord, even the King of Israel!”
At the Catholic Mass the congregation sings this line of scripture before the Eucharistic liturgy and Communion begins. We know that the bread and wine brings the real presence of Jesus to us and we quote this scripture to welcome him.
Finally, some gentiles come to see Jesus. When they are announced, Jesus says something curious.
23 And Jesus answered them, “The hour has come for the Son of man to be glorified.”
This is because Holy Week is beginning. The “hour” of the death of Jesus is at hand. This will end the old covenant and begin the New Covenant through which the good news will be extended to the gentiles. Thus, the arrival of the gentiles anxious to speak with Jesus shows the longing of the whole world to embrace the gospel and that the time is almost here for the gospel to go out to the world.