It’s a transitional chapter in John’s gospel, as we move from the action and conversations and signs to the Passover, and what Jesus says and does at this final feast. (SPOILER ALERT: It’s pretty big.)
1) Martha, Mary, and Lazarus again.
After the incredible scene of raising Lazarus from the dead, and after the sisters’ brokenhearted “if only”s to him, Jesus is back hanging out with his buddies. Knowing the end of the story, as we often do, it’s easy for us to skip over this scene. But assuming we don’t know how it ends, as the characters within this story don’t, Jesus’ words about burial should throw us off our game. And what’s this “you do not always have me” about?
2) Lazarus, the accomplice of Jesus.
For three years now the Pharisees have been fighting the battle of public opinion concerning Jesus. For all the crazy things he says, there’s always people you can sway to believe he’s a lunatic or, better yet, demon possessed. It’s not much different than a contemporary political election cycle.
But now Jesus has raised somebody from the dead. That’s a serious trump card. And so the death threats against Jesus now include those closest to him, as well.
3) A ticker-tape parade.
Now Jesus comes to Jerusalem, the center of the death threats, the place Thomas was dreading and expecting the end, just in the last chapter. And Jesus is given a parade and proclaimed “king.”
4) Some Greeks want to see Jesus.
The curiosity about Jesus crosses cultural and racial boundaries. The Greeks have been the oppressors of the Jews. They talk about philosophy. They play sports without clothes on. They worship different gods. Jews hate Greeks. But Phillip and Andrew, the first evangelists according to John, bring some Greeks to Jesus. And Jesus gives them a riddle to puzzle over about wheat and death.
What about you? What do you see?