John 12

1 Six days before the Passover, Jesus went to Bethany, the home of Lazarus, the man he had raised from death.
2 They prepared a dinner for him there, which Martha helped serve; Lazarus was one of those who were sitting at the table with Jesus.
3 Then Mary took a whole pint of a very expensive perfume made of pure nard, poured it on Jesus' feet, and wiped them with her hair. The sweet smell of the perfume filled the whole house. 1
4 One of Jesus' disciples, Judas Iscariot - the one who was going to betray him - said,
5 "Why wasn't this perfume sold for three hundred silver coins and the money given to the poor?"
6 He said this, not because he cared about the poor, but because he was a thief. He carried the money bag and would help himself from it.
7 But Jesus said, "Leave her alone! Let her keep what she has for the day of my burial.
8 You will always have poor people with you, but you will not always have me." 2
9 A large number of people heard that Jesus was in Bethany, so they went there, not only because of Jesus but also to see Lazarus, whom Jesus had raised from death.
10 So the chief priests made plans to kill Lazarus too,
11 because on his account many Jews were rejecting them and believing in Jesus.
12 The next day the large crowd that had come to the Passover Festival heard that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem.
13 So they took branches of palm trees and went out to meet him, shouting, "Praise God! God bless him who comes in the name of the Lord! God bless the King of Israel!" 3
14 Jesus found a donkey and rode on it, just as the scripture says,
15 "Do not be afraid, city of Zion! 4 Here comes your king, riding on a young donkey."
16 His disciples did not understand this at the time; but when Jesus had been raised to glory, they remembered that the scripture said this about him and that they had done this for him.
17 The people who had been with Jesus when he called Lazarus out of the grave and raised him from death had reported what had happened.
18 That was why the crowd met him - because they heard that he had performed this miracle.
19 The Pharisees then said to one another, "You see, we are not succeeding at all! Look, the whole world is following him!"
20 Some Greeks were among those who had gone to Jerusalem to worship during the festival.
21 They went to Philip (he was from Bethsaida in Galilee) and said, "Sir, we want to see Jesus."
22 Philip went and told Andrew, and the two of them went and told Jesus.
23 Jesus answered them, "The hour has now come for the Son of Man to receive great glory.
24 I am telling you the truth: a grain of wheat remains no more than a single grain unless it is dropped into the ground and dies. If it does die, then it produces many grains.
25 Those who love their own life will lose it; those who hate their own life in this world will keep it for life eternal. 5
26 Whoever wants to serve me must follow me, so that my servant will be with me where I am. And my Father will honor anyone who serves me.
27 "Now my heart is troubled - and what shall I say? Shall I say, "Father, do not let this hour come upon me'? But that is why I came - so that I might go through this hour of suffering.
28 Father, bring glory to your name!" Then a voice spoke from heaven, "I have brought glory to it, and I will do so again."
29 The crowd standing there heard the voice, and some of them said it was thunder, while others said, "An angel spoke to him!"
30 But Jesus said to them, "It was not for my sake that this voice spoke, but for yours.
31 Now is the time for this world to be judged; now the ruler of this world will be overthrown.
32 When I am lifted up from the earth, I will draw everyone to me.
33 (In saying this he indicated the kind of death he was going to suffer.)
34 The crowd answered, "Our Law tells us that the Messiah will live forever. How, then, can you say that the Son of Man must be lifted up? Who is this Son of Man?" 6
35 Jesus answered, "The light will be among you a little longer. Continue on your way while you have the light, so that the darkness will not come upon you; for the one who walks in the dark does not know where he is going.
36 Believe in the light, then, while you have it, so that you will be the people of the light." After Jesus said this, he went off and hid himself from them.
37 Even though he had performed all these miracles in their presence, they did not believe in him,
38 so that what the prophet Isaiah had said might come true: 7 "Lord, who believed the message we told? To whom did the Lord reveal his power?"
39 And so they were not able to believe, because Isaiah also said,
40 "God has blinded their eyes 8 and closed their minds, so that their eyes would not see, and their minds would not understand, and they would not turn to me, says God, for me to heal them."
41 Isaiah said this because he saw Jesus' glory and spoke about him.
42 Even then, many Jewish authorities believed in Jesus; but because of the Pharisees they did not talk about it openly, so as not to be expelled from the synagogue.
43 They loved human approval rather than the approval of God.
44 Jesus said in a loud voice, "Whoever believes in me believes not only in me but also in him who sent me.
45 Whoever sees me sees also him who sent me.
46 I have come into the world as light, so that everyone who believes in me should not remain in the darkness.
47 If people hear my message and do not obey it, I will not judge them. I came, not to judge the world, but to save it.
48 Those who reject me and do not accept my message have one who will judge them. The words I have spoken will be their judge on the last day!
49 This is true, because I have not spoken on my own authority, but the Father who sent me has commanded me what I must say and speak.
50 And I know that his command brings eternal life. What I say, then, is what the Father has told me to say."

Images for John 12

John 12 Commentary

Chapter 12

Christ anointed by Mary. (1-11) He enters Jerusalem. (12-19) Greeks apply to see Jesus. (20-26) A voice from heaven bears testimony to Christ. (27-33) His discourse with the people. (34-36) Unbelief of the Jews. (37-43) Christ's address to them. (44-50)

Verses 1-11 Christ had formerly blamed Martha for being troubled with much serving. But she did not leave off serving, as some, who when found fault with for going too far in one way, peevishly run too far another way; she still served, but within hearing of Christ's gracious words. Mary gave a token of love to Christ, who had given real tokens of his love to her and her family. God's Anointed should be our Anointed. Has God poured on him the oil of gladness above his fellows, let us pour on him the ointment of our best affections. In Judas a foul sin is gilded over with a plausible pretence. We must not think that those do no acceptable service, who do it not in our way. The reigning love of money is heart-theft. The grace of Christ puts kind comments on pious words and actions, makes the best of what is amiss, and the most of what is good. Opportunities are to be improved; and those first and most vigorously, which are likely to be the shortest. To consult to hinder the further effect of the miracle, by putting Lazarus to death, is such wickedness, malice, and folly, as cannot be explained, except by the desperate enmity of the human heart against God. They resolved that the man should die whom the Lord had raised to life. The success of the gospel often makes wicked men so angry, that they speak and act as if they hoped to obtain a victory over the Almighty himself.

Verses 12-19 Christ's riding in triumph to Jerusalem is recorded by all the evangelists. Many excellent things, both in the word and providence of God, disciples do not understand at their first acquaintance with the things of God. The right understanding of spiritual nature of Christ's kingdom, prevents our misapplying the Scriptures which speak of it.

Verses 20-26 In attendance upon holy ordinances, particularly the gospel passover, the great desire of our souls should be to see Jesus; to see him as ours, to keep up communion with him, and derive grace from him. The calling of the Gentiles magnified the Redeemer. A corn of wheat yields no increase unless it is cast into the ground. Thus Christ might have possessed his heavenly glory alone, without becoming man. Or, after he had taken man's nature, he might have entered heaven alone, by his own perfect righteousness, without suffering or death; but then no sinner of the human race could have been saved. The salvation of souls hitherto, and henceforward to the end of time, is owing to the dying of this Corn of wheat. Let us search whether Christ be in us the hope of glory; let us beg him to make us indifferent to the trifling concerns of this life, that we may serve the Lord Jesus with a willing mind, and follow his holy example.

Verses 27-33 The sin of our souls was the troubled of Christ's soul, when he undertook to redeem and save us, and to make his soul an offering for our sin. Christ was willing to suffer, yet prayed to be saved from suffering. Prayer against trouble may well agree with patience under it, and submission to the will of God in it. Our Lord Jesus undertook to satisfy God's injured honour, and he did it by humbling himself. The voice of the Father from heaven, which had declared him to be his beloved Son, at his baptism, and when he was transfigured, was heard proclaiming that He had both glorified his name, and would glorify it. Christ, reconciling the world to God by the merit of his death, broke the power of death, and cast out Satan as a destroyer. Christ, bringing the world to God by the doctrine of his cross, broke the power of sin, and cast out Satan as a deceiver. The soul that was at a distance from Christ, is brought to love him and trust him. Jesus was now going to heaven, and he would draw men's hearts to him thither. There is power in the death of Christ to draw souls to him. We have heard from the gospel that which exalts free grace, and we have heard also that which enjoins duty; we must from the heart embrace both, and not separate them.

Verses 34-36 The people drew false notions from the Scriptures, because they overlooked the prophecies that spoke of Christ's sufferings and death. Our Lord warned them that the light would not long continue with them, and exhorted them to walk in it, before the darkness overtook them. Those who would walk in the light must believe in it, and follow Christ's directions. But those who have not faith, cannot behold what is set forth in Jesus, lifted up on the cross, and must be strangers to its influence as made known by the Holy Spirit; they find a thousand objections to excuse their unbelief.

Verses 37-43 Observe the method of conversion implied here. Sinners are brought to see the reality of Divine things, and to have some knowledge of them. To be converted, and truly turned from sin to Christ, as their Happiness and Portion. God will heal them, will justify and sanctify them; will pardon their sins, which are as bleeding wounds, and mortify their corruptions, which are as lurking diseases. See the power of the world in smothering convictions, from regard to the applause or censure of men. Love of the praise of men, as a by-end in that which is good, will make a man a hypocrite when religion is in fashion, and credit is to be got by it; and love of the praise of men, as a base principle in that which is evil, will make a man an apostate, when religion is in disgrace, and credit is to be lost for it.

Verses 44-50 Our Lord publicly proclaimed, that every one who believed on him, as his true disciple, did not believe on him only, but on the Father who sent him. Beholding in Jesus the glory of the Father, we learn to obey, love, and trust in him. By daily looking to Him, who came a Light into the world, we are more and more freed from the darkness of ignorance, error, sin, and misery; we learn that the command of God our Saviour is everlasting life. But the same word will seal the condemnation of all who despise it, or neglect it.

Cross References 8

  • 1. 12.3Luke 7.37, 38.
  • 2. 12.8Deuteronomy 15.11.
  • 3. 12.13Psalms 118.25, 26+21 Maccabees 13.51.
  • 4. 12.15Zechariah 9.9.
  • 5. 12.25Matthew 10.39; 16.25;Mark 8.35;Luke 9.24; 17.33.
  • 6. 12.34Psalms 110.4;Isaiah 9.7;Ezekiel 37.25;Daniel 7.14.
  • 7. 12.38Isaiah 53.1 (LXX).
  • 8. 12.40Isaiah 6.10 (LXX).

Footnotes 1

  • [a]. silver coins: [See 6.7.]

John 12 Commentaries