John 12 (House of Affliction)

“Six days before the Passover celebration began, Jesus arrived in Bethany, the home of Lazarus – the man He had raised from the dead.” – John 12:1 (NLT)

Something interesting that I have realized this time around with reading the Gospel of John is the back to back accounts of Jesus visiting Judea, specifically being in the Bethany region. In John 11:17, John points out that Bethany is only a few miles down the road from Jerusalem. In chapters 10, Jerusalem is where we find Jesus and His disciples to be. Then in John 11, after having left the region, He goes back to raise Lazarus from the dead. And again, He withdrew from there and entered the wilderness to escape the Jewish leaders, who were trying to kill Him. Which brings us to John 12, where we once again see Jesus back in Bethany, feasting at the house of Lazarus and his sisters.

Obviously on the physical front of things, Jesus’ frequent visits were for a purpose to see those whom He knew and loved. But I feel that there is a deeper revelation in John placing an emphasis on this. He didn’t have to. The detail of the distance between Bethany and Jerusalem back in John 11, it wasn’t exactly a necessary detail. The exact location where Jesus was visiting was not needed to convey the details of the story in John 12, especially when we have already been told previously where it is that Lazarus and his sisters live.

In light of this, I got curious about the meaning of Bethany. I found two consistent definitions from the Hebrew:

  1. House of figs
  2. House of affliction

I want to focus on the second meaning for this article, though I am sure there is deep revelation to be found with the first one as well.

With this definition, I want to draw attention to the meaning of Lazarus: God has helped.

Jesus goes to Bethany, the house of affliction, and in the midst of the affliction He finds Himself in the house of God has helped.

Do you see the connection? Jesus, finding Himself in a place of affliction, went to the place where God has helped. He went to the place of help from the Lord.

How often, in the midst of the afflictions of life, do we find ourselves doing everything EXCEPT turning to the Lord for help? Instead of our affliction taking us to the place where God will help us, we find ourselves getting lost in the affliction. And keep in mind, Jesus was in the house of affliction before He actually had to face His crucifixion.

I want to let the deep simplicity of this shine through today, so I am keeping it brief. But let us not allow the afflictions we face keep us from turning to the place where God will help. Instead, in our afflictions, in the midst of our trials and tribulations, let us turn to the God who helps. Let us turn to Him for comfort, and let us lavish our praise and love on Him in the midst.

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