John 12:1-8-It was 6 days before the Passover when Jesus went to Bethany to raise Lazarus from the dead. While they were eating (Martha was serving of course), Mary anointed the feet of Jesus with very costly perfume (300 denarii was the approximate income of a rural work for an entire year). Why would she do such a thing? It was an extravagant expression of her love and devotion to Him. After all, there was her brother Lazarus, whom He had raised from the dead, seated at the table with Him. Judas Iscariot complained about the financial waste. He claims to be concerned with the misuse of the money…it could have been used to feed the poor. Evidently he was the treasurer of the group. We are told that he was a thief and would steal from the disciples’ money box (:6). In reality, he was only concerned that his profit margin was being affected. Jesus reprimands him and tells him to leave Mary alone. She was preparing Him for the day of His burial (after which He would leave), and they would always have poor people to help.
John 12:9-11-Many people came to see Him…but in reality they came to see Lazarus. What would a man raised from the dead look like? Was the story true, or just contrived? After seeing him, many of them believed in Jesus. This caused a dilemma for the Jewish leaders. Even if they killed Jesus…Lazarus would still be around and people might continue to believe in Jesus. The only logical decision was that they would have to kill him, as well.
John 12:12-19-The next day, as He entered Jerusalem, the people received Him as a king…waving palm branches and shouting, “Hosanna!” (cf. Psalm 118:25ff).
in the Hebrew, means “save, we pray.” The word seems to have become an utterance of praise rather than of prayer, though originally, probably, a cry for help. The people’s cry at the Lord’s triumphal entry into Jerusalem (Mat 21:9, 15; Mar 11:9, 10; Jhn 12:13) was taken from Ps. 118, which was recited at the Feast of Tabernacles (see FEAST) in the great Hallel (Psalms 113 to 118) in responses with the priest, accompanied by the waving of palm and willow branches. “The last day of the feast” was called “the great Hosanna;” the boughs also were called “hosannas.”
(http://www.blueletterbible.org/lang/lexicon/lexicon.cfm?Strongs=G5614&t=NASB, Vine’s Expository Dictionary of the New Testament)
Jesus was riding on a young donkey…a fulfillment of prophecy concerning the Messiah (cf. Zechariah 9:9). At this time, the disciples did not fully comprehend the significance of what was happening. But later, after His resurrection, they began to recall these (and many other incidents) and understand them more fully in light of Old Testament prophecy. The people who had witnessed Lazarus being raised from the dead were telling the people about it, “bearing Him witness.” The result was that many people were coming to Jesus. Now the Pharisees begin to accuse each other for not taking care of the problem. They are saying, “…look; the world has gone after Him” (:19).
Prayer: Lord, it seems that the large majority of people who came to You did so for the sake of the miracles…that is what drew them. They did not come so much for You, as for the spectacle that You created. At times You did chastise them for coming only for the miracles. And yet, You continued to perform miracles…that they would come…and some of them would believe (even if they had not initially come for the right reason). Today, people sometimes complain that the music, or the mediums used in preaching are a spectacle and that people come for the wrong reason. Please help us to always know the balance and to keep the same emphasis, as You did. I know that some people may not come for the right reason…but please, when they get there help them to be drawn to You. Please help us to always keep the focus on You.