As we reach the end of Jesus’ public ministry, John gives us some summary accounts of the various responses to Jesus.
Among His disciples and followers, we see four approaches to Jesus.
Martha ministered to Jesus, for Jesus. This may be the most basic approach to Jesus. It is easy to get busy for the Lord. We do what we know He wants. We work for Him where we see needs and where we have abilities. It is an appropriate response to what Jesus has done and Who He is. However, care must be taken that we do not replace the relationship with Him with mere efforts and busyness.
Lazarus spent time with Jesus and fellowshipped with Him. We see him at the table with Jesus. Jesus was his friend in addition to being his Lord. Lazarus also had things that Jesus wanted Him to do, but we see that Lazarus didn’t hold Jesus at a distance. He spent time with Jesus. He relished the chance to be with Him.
Mary, though, worshiped Him. Perhaps more than the others, Mary recognized the worthiness of Jesus. More than a Lord to follow or a friend to relate to, Jesus is God and worthy of our worship.
Yet even here at the end and amongst the friends of Jesus, not everyone had believed. Judas followed for the benefits, not out of a trust in Jesus as Lord nor God. Even today we see this aspect of Christianity. Not all who call Jesus their friend or Lord really know Him or follow Him. Plenty of people simply see the religious aspect of faith and its benefits. And that is where we see the majority of people even in Jesus day.
Then there are the masses. The crowds came to gawk due to the reports and testimony about Jesus. They had heard about Lazarus and all the other things Jesus had done. And, as we still see today, people are curious. But the Bible says many believed. So the religious leaders tried to undermine Jesus, to control the crowds. Those in power do not like to give that power away. The status quo exists to protect itself. Even today when God moves there are those who are quick to discredit what they see. It is perhaps a more difficult issue today because we don’t simply have Jesus acting in the world. We have to discern between where God is moving amongst His people and where mere religious leaders are creating their own buzz. The key is to submit and follow Jesus, not to try to control people and their reactions. We have to keep our eyes on Jesus and not the crowds.
We focus on Him precisely because the crowds are so malleable. As Jesus approached Jerusalem in that last week, the crowds were whipped up into a frenzy of excitement. The religious leaders began to despair that they would lose their privilege and power to Jesus. But by the week’s end they had turned that same crowd against Jesus fairly easily. The crowd was more about the excitement itself, not the object of the excitement. For most it wasn’t about Jesus, but rather about the buzz.