John 12:1-50 - Outline of John (Book Notes menu page)
Chapter 12 records events, during the last week of Jesus' public ministry, shortly before His crucifixion.
12:1 Then Jesus six days before the passover came to Bethany,
where Lazarus was which had been dead, whom he raised from the dead.
12:2 There they made him a supper; and Martha served:
but Lazarus was one of them that sat at the table with him.
12:3 Then took Mary a pound of ointment of spikenard, very costly,
and anointed the feet of Jesus, and wiped his feet with her hair:
and the house was filled with the odour of the ointment.
This incident is also recorded in Mat 26:6-13 and Mark 14:3-9,
where we learn that it took place in 'the house of Simon the Leper.'
[Note that Luke 7:36-50 records a different occasion, earlier in Jesus' ministry, hosted by a Pharisee named Simon. There, an unnamed woman acts in thanksgiving for sin forgiven, and Jesus is criticized for tolerating a disreputable person. Here, Mary acts in understanding of Jesus' teaching, while some, who lacked her understanding, criticized her 'wasteful' act.]
Those present picture the relationship of the church to the Lord.
  • Lazarus - the communion of new life.
    Not many days earlier, he had been dead, in the tomb, and cut off from sitting at the table with Jesus. Fellowship with Him is possible only by the Life which He gives. cp. Eph 2:1; Rev 3:20
  • Mary - worship.
    Worship expresses His worth by thought, word or action.
    Her worship --
    • was very costly (v.3,5).
    • was a fanatical waste, in the eyes of the world. (v.5).
    • flowed from a right understanding of His word (v.7).
  • Martha - service.
    She did what she was gifted to do - for Him. cp. Luk 10:40-41
  • His disciples - identification with Jesus.
    There was risk involved in fellowship with Him (Joh 11:57).
    eg., Lazarus' identification with Jesus included: the witness of his life (v.9), and the sentence of death (v.10,11).
    Mary... anointed the feet of Jesus.- There is no conflict with Mat 26:7.
    Customary hospitality included anointing of the feet and the head (cp. Luk 7:46).
    Jesus saw her action as including everything from head to toe: She anointed "my body." Mat 26:12
  • 12:4 Then saith one of his disciples,
    Judas Iscariot, Simon's [son], which should betray him,
    12:5 Why was not this ointment sold for three hundred pence, and given to the poor?
    12:6 This he said, not that he cared for the poor;
    but because he was a thief, and had the bag, and bare what was put therein.
    300 pence - ie., the annual wage of a laborer (cp. "very costly," v.3).
    Judas... a thief.- John knew this in retrospect.
    The disciples did not suspect Judas of wrong doing, at the time. (Joh 6:70,71; 13:26-29)
    As the treasurer of the group, Judas was entrusted with the money bag.
    12:7 Then said Jesus, Let her alone:
    against the day of my burying hath she kept this.
    12:8 For the poor always ye have with you;
    {Deu 15:11; Mark 14:7}
    but me ye have not always. {Joh 12:35; 13:33; 17:11}
    against... my burying...-
    • "Having heard that He was to die, she purchased a costly spikenard to assist in the embalming of His body;
      but instructed by the resurrection of Lazarus, and hearing that Jesus was Himself the Resurrection and the Life, learning that He was to rise on the third day, and recognizing that embalmment would be needless, she poured it out on His living body, and so testified her belief in the resurrection." [GWms]
    • Mary was the only disciple to understand His teaching regarding His death and resurrection before it was accomplished.
      Her early understanding of concepts central to the Gospel message would not be forgotten. Mat 26:13
    • Mary of Bethany was not among the women who later would approach His tomb with spices.
      The others were too late, for they had not been attentive to His word.
    12:9 Much people of the Jews therefore knew that he was there:
    and they came not for Jesus' sake only,
    but that they might see Lazarus also, whom he had raised from the dead.
    12:10 But the chief priests consulted that they might put Lazarus also to death;
    12:11 Because that by reason of him many of the Jews went away, and believed on Jesus.
    the chief priests consulted...- and Judas covenanted with them.
    Apparently, Judas rebelled at Jesus' response to his protest (v.5-8). cp. Mat 26:13-16; Mark 14:9-11
    many... believed...- cp. Joh 11:45; 2:23-25
    12:12 On the next day much {many} people that were come to the feast,
    when they heard that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem,
    12:13 Took branches of palm trees, and went forth to meet him,
    and cried, Hosanna
    {ie., ''save now''}:
    Blessed [is] the King of Israel that cometh in the name of the Lord.
    the next day - ie., five days before Passover (v.1).
    Jesus... coming to Jerusalem...- Jesus presented Himself publicly as the King.
    This is often called the "Triumphal Entry," but Jesus wept at Israel's unbelief.
         cp. Mat 21:1-9; 23:37-39; Luk 19:29-44
    Many of those who acclaimed Him here, would soon turn against Him. cp. Joh 19:14,15
    Note the prophetic significance -
    1. The words of the people are quoted from Psa 118:25,26.
      This is the last of the Hallel Psalms which were sung annually at Israel's major feasts.
         The Psalm spoke prophetically of the Messiah's work of salvation. Jesus would accomplish that salvation at this Passover. Though the nation rejected and crucified Him, these words would continue to echo in the Temple, over the next 40 years, as testimony to the rejected Messiah.
    2. His action fulfilled Zechariah 9:9...
    12:14 And Jesus, when he had found a young ass, sat thereon; as it is written,
    12:15 Fear not, daughter of Sion: behold, thy King cometh, sitting on an ass's colt.
    12:16 These things understood not his disciples at the first:
    but when Jesus was glorified, then remembered they that these things were written of him,
    and [that] they had done these things unto him.
    these things were written of Him.- He is the theme of Scripture. cp. Joh 5:39; Rev 19:10e
    then they remembered - The Holy Spirit would call these things to their minds. cp. Joh 14:26; 16:12-14
    12:17 The people therefore that was with him when he called Lazarus out of his grave,
    and raised him from the dead, bare record
    {gave testimony}.
    12:18 For this cause the people also met him,
    for that they heard that he had done this miracle.
    12:19 The Pharisees therefore said among themselves,
    Perceive ye how ye prevail nothing?
    {ie., Their campaign against Jesus seemed to be faultering. cp. 11:47-50,57}
    behold, the world is gone after him.
    His wide popularity among the Jews troubled them.
    They were probably unaware that some from other nations sought Him:
    - - At His birth, Persians from the east (the magi, Mat 2:1,2),
    - - At the end of His ministry, Greeks from the west (v.20)...
    12:20 And there were certain Greeks among them that came up to worship at the feast:
    12:21 The same came therefore to Philip, which was of Bethsaida of Galilee,
    and desired him, saying, Sir, we would see Jesus.
    12:22 Philip cometh and telleth Andrew: and again Andrew and Philip tell Jesus.
    Greeks {ie., Gentiles}... came to Philip...-
    Why didn't they approach Jesus directly?
    • Perhaps Jesus was in the Temple, where gentiles could not approach?
    • Perhaps they were more comfortable with approaching Philip.
      'Philip' is a Greek name. His family may have had business dealings with Greeks. Perhaps he was fluent in the Greek language.
    Philip, uncertain concerning their request (cp. Mat 10:5-7),
    conferred with Andrew before telling Jesus.
    12:23 And Jesus answered them, saying,
    The hour is come, that the Son of man should be glorified.
    12:24 Verily, verily, I say unto you,
    Except a corn
    {grain, seed} of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone:
    but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit.
    Jesus answered them...- We are not told whether or not Jesus spoke to the Greeks.
    He had just presented Himself as King, to Israel. But because Israel had officially rejected Him, the Kingdom would not come, at this time. The Greeks would not be benefited in seeking Him as King of the Jews. They needed "the Savior of the world" (cp. Joh 4:42).
    The hour is come...- cp. 2:4; 4:21,23; 7:30; 8:20; 13:1; 17:1,5
    Apparently, the gentile request, to "see Jesus", confirmed to Him the arrival of His hour.
    Israel's rulers had rejected the Messiah. The Messianic Kingdom must await a future day.
    Therefore, He prepares the disciples for His crucifixion and resurrection.
    He speaks of the necessity of His death, through which all nations will be blessed.
    It is for this work that the rejected One came into the world. Isa 49:4-6
    He will be glorified in its accomplishment.
    ...that the Son of man should be glorified.-
    As the Son of God, His glory was shown in the resurrection of Lazarus. Joh 11:4
    As the Son of David, His glory was acclaimed as He rode into Jerusalem. v.13
    As the Son of man, He must die to bring many sons unto glory. Heb 2:9,10 [adapted from GWms]
    Except a grain of wheat {ie., a seed}... die...- Jesus is the seed that must die.
    (He gave this illustration to show the absolute necessity of His death and burial.)
    • except a seed... die... it abides alone.-
      A seed that is kept dry and clean can last a long time.
      But unless it is planted in the ground, it will never produce a crop of grain.
      Likewise, apart from Jesus' death, the Life that was in Him (Joh 1:4) would never provide eternal life for others.
    • but if it die, it brings forth much fruit.- The redeemed are His "much fruit."
      By means of His death and resurrection, His Life springs up within believers (who, as His 'seed', bear the Word of Life to others). cp. Psa 22:1,15,22,30-31; Isa 53:10-12; 2Cor 5:17-21; Php 2:13-16
    12:25 He that loveth his life {GK= psuche, soul, self} shall lose it;
    and he that hateth his life
    {GK= psuche} in this world
    shall keep it unto life
    {GK= zoe, essential life} eternal.
    12:26 If any man serve me, let him follow me;
    and where I am, there shall also my servant be:
    if any man serve me, him will [my] Father honour.
    If any man serve me...- Jesus' selfless death, besides being redemptive, is also instructive.
    He calls each individual, who would be His disciple, to...
    The two differing GK words for 'life' (in v.25) indicate that true Life is possessed only in union with Him, who gave Himself for us. Jesus demonstrated the application of these words, in Joh 10:10,11: "I am come that they might have life {GK=zoe}... The Good Shepherd giveth His life {GK= psuche} for the sheep." See Isa 53:12 where 'soul' {HB= nephesh} is equivalent to GK= psuche; See Col 3:3, where 'life' is 'zoe.'
    12:27 Now is my soul {GK= psuche} troubled; and what shall I say?
    Father, save me from this hour: but for this cause came I unto this hour.
    12:28 Father, glorify thy name.
    troubled {ie., distressed, disquieted} - cp. this word in Joh 11:33; 14:1.
    this hour...- ie., the hour of His redemptive death.
    Fully aware, He shudders inwardly at the agony of that hour. eg., Psa 22:1; 2Cor 5:21.
    We cannot begin to comprehend the suffering that He bore for us.
    • "But none of the ransomed ever knew,
          how deep were the waters crossed,
      or how dark was the night that the Lord passed through,
          e'er He found His sheep that was lost." [hymn: 'The Ninety and Nine']
    Father, glorify Thy name.- cp. Mat 26:38,39,42
    Then came there a voice from heaven, [saying],
    I have both glorified [it], and will glorify [it] again.
    {Isa 49:1-9; Joh 13:31,32}
    12:29 The people therefore, that stood by, and heard [it], said that it thundered:
    others said, An angel spake to him.
    12:30 Jesus answered and said,
    This voice came not because of me, but for your sakes.
    {cp. Joh 11:41,42}
    12:31 Now is the judgment of this world:
    now shall the prince of this world be cast out.
    12:32 And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all [men] unto me.
    12:33 This he said, signifying what death he should die.
    now is the judgment of this world {GK= kosmos, order, arrangement}...-
    On the cross, Christ bore the judgment for sin.
    I... if {ie., because} I be lifted up...- cp. 3:14,15
    Jesus was lifted up on the cross by those who crucified Him.
    I... will draw all {ie., whosoever}... unto me.- cp. 6:44
    In v.32, the word 'men' is not in the GK text. The verse does not say that all men will be saved. cp. Joh 5:28,29
         In John's gospel, the word 'all' {GK= pas} is often translated 'whosoever.' While the sacrificial death of Jesus Christ was sufficient to redeem everyone (2Cor 5:14; 1Joh 2:2), it is only applicable and effective for 'whosoever believes in Him' (Joh 3:15,16). Although He died for all, salvation is limited to the 'many' who trust in Him (Mat 20:28; Joh 1:11,12).
         'Whosoever' also implies that the saved are drawn from all people groups (cp. 10:16; 11:52; Psa 22:27; Rev 5:9). Salvation is of the Jews, in that God's Word and God's Son came into the world through Israel. But salvation is not for the Jews only. Christ's sacrificial death and resurrection provided the way of salvation for Jew and Gentile alike (Rom 1:16,17). This was the great need of the Greeks who sought Him (in v.20-22).
    (...signifying what death He should die.)-
    His enemies had sought to stone Him. eg., Joh 10:31-33
    But He foretold that He would be lifted up in crucifixion. Mat 20:17-19; Joh 3:14; 8:28
    12:34 The people answered him,
    We have heard out of the law that Christ abideth for ever:
    {cp. Psa 102:24-28; Isa 9:7; Dan 7:13,14}
    and how sayest thou, The Son of man must be lifted up? who is this Son of man?
    12:35 Then Jesus said unto them, Yet a little while is the light with you.
    {cp. Joh 7:33,34}
    Walk while ye have the light, lest darkness come upon you:
    {cp. Psa 69:22-28; Rom 11:7-10; 2Cor 3:14}
    for he that walketh in darkness knoweth not whither he goeth.
    12:36 While ye have light, believe in the light,
    that ye may be the children of light.
    {cp. 1Joh 2:8-11}
    When the Messiah's Kingdom is established, it will last forever. (v.34; see refs. at v.34 above)
    But because the leaders rejected Him, His Kingdom would not come to the nation, at that time. However, individuals could still enter His spiritual Kingdom of Light by faith in Him. cp. Col 1:12-14
    Who is this Son of man? - cp. Joh 1:1-5
    The Light rejected included that of...
    1. His miracles {signs}, v.35-37
    2. His Person, v.38-46
    3. His words, v.47-50
    12:37 But though he had done so many miracles {lit., signs} before them,
    yet they believed not on him:
    {cp. Joh 20:30,31}
    12:38 That the saying of Esaias the prophet might be fulfilled, which he spake,
    Lord, who hath believed our report?
    and to whom hath the arm of the Lord been revealed?
    {Isa 53:1}
    12:39 Therefore they could not believe, because that Esaias said again,
    12:40 He hath blinded their eyes, and hardened their heart;
    that they should not see with [their] eyes, nor understand with [their] heart,
    and be converted, and I should heal them.
    {Isa 6:9,10}
    12:41 These things said Esaias, when he saw his glory, and spake of him.
    Their unbelief, which robbed them of the blessings of faith, was...
    • irrational, in the face of overwhelming evidence. v.37
    • in fulfillment of prophecy (v.38). eg., the verses cited from Isaiah, in v.38 and v.40.
    • the result of willful blindness (determined by the free will of man). v.38
    • the result of judicial blindness (determined by the sovereignty of God). v.39,40
      They would not believe. Therefore, they could not believe.
    when Isaiah saw His glory...-
    The two passages quoted from Isaiah (in v.38 and 40) reflect different aspects of His glory.
    In both passages, the Glory of God is met by the unbelief of men.
    1. In Isaiah ch.6, Isaiah saw "the LORD, high and lifted up... the LORD of hosts," in the glory of His holiness.
      John says that Isaiah saw Jesus, the Christ, in His glory as Jehovah God. v.41; cp. Joh 11:40 and the Book Notes there.
    2. In Isaiah ch.53, Isaiah saw "the Arm of the LORD,"
      who, in His humiliation as the sacrificial Lamb of God, justified believing sinners, and glorified the Father's Name. cp. v.27,28
      Therefore, the Father has highly exalted Him. Php 2:5-11
    12:42 Nevertheless among the chief rulers also many believed on him;
    but because of the Pharisees they did not confess [him],
    lest they should be put out of the synagogue:
    {cp. Joh 9:22}
    12:43 For they loved the praise of men more than the praise of God.
    12:44 Jesus cried
    {ie., called out} and said,
    His words are an exhortation to such secret believers: Fear God rather than man. cp. Luk 12:4,5
    He that believeth on me, believeth not on me, but on him that sent me.
    12:45 And he that seeth me seeth him that sent me.
    {cp. Joh 10:30; 14:9}
    12:46 I am come a light into the world,
    that whosoever believeth on me should not abide in darkness.
    12:47 And if any man hear my words, and believe not, I judge him not:
    for I came not to judge the world, but to save the world.
    12:48 He that rejecteth me, and receiveth not my words, hath one that judgeth him:
    the word that I have spoken, the same shall judge him in the last day.
    12:49 For I have not spoken of myself;
    but the Father which sent me, he gave me a commandment,
    what I should say, and what I should speak.

    12:50 And I know that his commandment is life everlasting:
    whatsoever I speak therefore, even as the Father said unto me, so I speak.
    he that believes on me, believes... on Him that sent me (v.44)-
    God, the Father and the Son, is (are) "a single object of saving faith." 1Joh 5:20
    I came not to judge the world... (v.47) -
    Yet, the judgment, of the world, pivots upon Him. cp. v.31; Joh 3:17,18, 9:39
    I have not spoken of {from} myself...(v.49)- cp. 3:31-34; 7:16-18; 8:28,38; Heb 1:1-3
    the Father... gave me a commandment...
    ...what I should say.- ie., the substance of the Gospel message.
    ...what I should speak.- ie., the words to use. Joh 6:68; 17:8; cp. 1Joh 3:23
    His commandment is life everlasting.-
    The Gospel received (v.50) = Salvation = eternal Life. Joh 5:24
    The Gospel rejected (v.48) = Condemnation = eternal loss. cp. 3:18,36

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