John 12

1 Jesus intended to go to the Passover and traveled through Bethany to visit Mary, Martha, and Lazarus again.
2 This supper was held in the house of Simon the Leper (Mat 26:6). Thus, two men that had experienced Jesus' miracles attended the meal to honor Him.
3 This fragrant oil was imported from India.
4 Judas may have lead the attack against Mary, but the other disciples joined in (Mat 26:8).
5 This amounts to nearly a year's wages for an average worker.
6 This activity was apparently not discovered until after Judas' death. There was probably little, if any, formal record keeping, so this thievery went unnoticed. Since Judas presumably spent most of his time with Jesus, he may have been saving the stolen money away.

Jesus knew Judas' weakness, and put him in the very position where he would have to face his temptations. Judas not only failed; he never even asked for help.

7 This was not just a rare indulgence of luxury -- it was a very timely reminder that Jesus was about to die. Mary may have understood this, or her actions were a spontaneous show of thankfulness and affection. In either case, the "embalming" Jesus' feet served as a symbol in anticipation of Jesus' death.
8 The disciples would indeed have the rest of their lives to serve the poor in both physical and spiritual ways. We might wonder how they would have behaved if they really understood that Jesus was about to die. They may have done nice things for Jesus rather than condemn a generous woman.

This is also an object lesson in how we should not grumble about how others show their generosity to God.

Helping the poor is a good thing, but it is even better to honor God.

9 Jesus was a curiosity, and they wanted to investigate the claim that Lazarus had been raised from the dead. God sometimes uses miracles to draw attention to Himself. It is important that our fascination must not be on the miracle, but on God, who made the miracle happen.
10 Lazarus had become a powerful testimony to Jesus' claims to be the Messiah and the Son of God. It was difficult to dispute these claims now because the evidence was both amazing and irrefutable. The religious leaders decided to try to kill Lazarus along with Jesus. This truly exposes their murderous attitudes. They believed that they could execute Jesus for blasphemy, but they could not level any charge against Lazarus.
13 Many believed that Jesus would now come to Jerusalem and claim David's throne. They were ready to rally around the Messiah, their eternal King, who they thought would now lead them in driving out the Roman occupiers.

Palm branches apparently were used during the rededication of the Temple by Judas Maccabaeus. Perhaps the people thought Jesus would free their country from the Roman occupation and purify both their political and religious systems.

"Hosanna" literally means, "Save, I pray." Originally a prayer, it had become a salutation of praise to God.

14 A victorious king often rode back into his city on a horse. Jesus however chose to ride in on a young donkey. In one sense, it elevated Him so that the crowd could see Him, but at the same time, it was a statement of humbleness, not self-glorification.
15 Jesus also chose to ride a donkey to fulfill the Messianic prophesy in Zec 9:9.
16 No one understood what was happening at the moment. Only when they later reflected on this incident would they come to understand it. It also shows that Jesus did not tell them beforehand that this would fulfill a prophecy. Jesus' life on earth fulfilled many prophecies, and human ingenuity was not used to make sure the messianic requirements were met.
17 There were two main groups in the crowd: those who had witnessed Jesus raise Lazarus from the dead, and those who heard about this wonder. The latter segment believed the testimony of the former, and together they believed that Jesus was the Messiah.
19 The Pharisees wanted to kill Jesus and stop His ministry. Their inability to accomplish this task allowed Jesus' influence to grow. They were both angered and jealous of Jesus' increasing popularity. It seemed as though everyone were talking about Him or following Him. Their hopes of regaining influence and control over the people seemed to be diminishing.
20 There were Gentiles who believed in God, but did not wish to take the steps required to become members of the Jewish community. Their proximity to the Temple was limited to the courtyard of the Gentiles.
21 Interest in Jesus had spread outside of Judaism. The Greeks wanted to see the Messiah that the Jews were suddenly so excited about. Jesus' reputation fascinated them and they were interested in finding out more about Him. Was there room in His kingdom for them? Philip was a Greek name, so it seems natural for the Greeks to use him as a contact.
22 Andrew is also a Greek name. Andrew seems to have specialized in bringing people to Jesus. Together, they approached Jesus with the request.
23 There is no indication that Jesus went to the Greeks, but His words here would have equal application to Jew or Greek.

Jesus would soon be killed, but it would be to His glory.

24 If Jesus had not been executed then He would not be able to die for the sins of the world. His selfless act of sacrifice would ensure that anyone who believed in Him would attain eternal life. Without this act, no one would be saved.

One theme that occurs periodically in the Bible is that physical sacrifice leads to spiritual increase.

25 There are those who seek long life, wealth, and comfort in this lifetime. Even if they manage to succeed, they will lose it all when they die and will be accountable to God for their selfish behavior. Those who recognize that there is a better place in heaven for them and earnestly seek God will be greatly rewarded. We only have limited information of what heaven will be like, but the knowledge that we will be with God should make us "hate" our physical life in this sinful world by comparison.

Some people go to great extremes in the hope of living (physically) forever. Even if science does find a solution that will extend life beyond the apparent 120-year limit, the world will still end on Judgement Day. If their hope for eternal life was in anything or anyone other than Jesus, then they will lose everything.

26 The "anyone" appears to include Jew and Gentile.

Those who follow Jesus will place themselves where they see (or anticipate) Him working.

27 Jesus was God, but that did not make the crucifixion any less an ordeal. If there was any other way to save humanity He would have done it, but sacrifice was the only way, and Jesus was the only suitable one.

Jesus' "trouble" could be placed in at least three categories. First, the people he loved would not listen to Him. He only wanted the best for them, but they desired to kill Him. Second, the agony of the crucifixion was not something He wanted to experience. His crucifixion would be worse than a "normal" man would because He would be suffering it as a sinless man bearing the sins of the world. Finally, during the crucifixion, Jesus would be separated from the Father and the Holy Spirit for three days. This is the only time in history that the Godhead would be fragmented. The spiritual pain would be far greater than the physical pain that Jesus was about to endure.

28 Jesus was doing this to satisfy the Father's will, and it would glorify God. God had already done many things that would bring Him righteous fame, but saving people from their sins would be His most difficult and greatest achievement since creation.

This is the third time God spoke audibly to confirm Jesus' identity. The other two occasions were at His baptism (Mat 3:17) and at His transfiguration (Mat 17:5).

29 The people had asked for more confirmation of Jesus' identity, and God Himself spoke again. Still, the people did not believe it was God, but tried to explain it away as a natural event or a less significant spiritual event. Many Bible critics still do the same thing today.
31 Satan rules this world with fear and the power of death. Jesus is about to be killed and brought back to life to break Satan's most powerful and influential weapon. Although Satan will stay in control of much of the world from this point to Judgement Day, his doom is sealed, and his defeat guaranteed.

Satan's other great weapon is sin. He delights in pointing out peoples' sins. Since all people have sinned, Satan naturally believes that no person is qualified for heaven. However, Jesus died for our sins. The only qualification we need now is faith that Jesus did so. Satan will continue to accuse Christians in vain because Jesus' death pays the penalty required by God's justice.

32 Jesus' freeing gift of salvation will be available to all who believe in Him and His sacrificial work on the cross.
34 Isa 9:7 and other verses speak of the Messiah's eternal reign. The people seemed to understand that "lifted up" must refer to His death, but they did not understand that He would rise again. Only one who could prove that death could not hold Him would be able to reign forever as the Messiah.

Note that the Jews were not shocked by such topics as the defeat of Satan or the salvation of the Gentiles. Their main concern was for a king that would make Israel a world power forever. This dialogue appears to be the people's test to determine if Jesus was qualified to be the king they desired.

It is ironic that the people understood the somewhat vague phrase "lifted up," but in other passages, they misunderstand Jesus completely when He uses clearer language.

35 Jesus had already answered this question during the dialogue, and His three-year ministry was a testimony to His identity. He does not waste time by answering the question again since it is apparent they will not listen to Him.

Jesus only had a little time left before He was to depart. Jesus is the light of the world, and asked the people to walk in His light while He was still here. After His departure, darkness would fill the earth again, and things would get worse before the final conflict on Judgement Day.

Those who do not believe in Jesus' words are left in a fragile state of being. Since they do not know or understand God, they are left guessing about life. They wander about hoping that somehow they can impress God or somehow control His favor. Others do whatever they want thinking that death is the end and that there are no further consequences for their disbelief. Both are gravely mistaken.

36 The people of Jesus' time had the immediate, touchable evidence of His existence. Today, we have the record of Jesus' life, words, and power. We have an opportunity like no previous time to believe God in a way that is more clear and simpler than ever.

Jesus knew this conversation would proceed no further, although the people would have continued to question Him. He had other things to do to prepare for the imminent crucifixion. They had rejected Him, and now He deliberately avoids them.

Jesus calls believers "sons of light." This indicates that as adopted children in God's family, we share the same light that Jesus has. God enlightens our minds and makes us lights to the world as we continue Jesus' ministry today.

37 Sadly, many who saw the evidence firsthand did not believe. It was not disbelief based on lack of evidence, but the people chose to reject the evidence because of their own preconceived notion of what the Messiah should be like. We must be extremely careful not to cast God in our image.
38 Isa 53:1-5 expresses the exasperation of the Messiah preaching to a people who will not listen.
40 Isa 6:9-10 makes it clearer that God is not deliberately blinding people who would otherwise believe. Rather, disbelief tends to harden when a person rejects God's words repeatedly. What is intended for salvation is rejected by those who are bent on evil. Thus, they make their condition worse than it was because they have rejected what God has clearly spoken to them. If they die without accepting God's word, they will never be healed.
41 Isaiah was given a vision of Jesus' day, and that is why he wrote these prophecies down.
42 Now, as was mentioned before, a few of the Jewish leaders did come to believe in Jesus. This may have included Nicodemus, if he had not been convinced before this (John 3:1-21). Joseph of Arimathea may have also come to believe at this time (John 19:38).

Fear, however, kept them from revealing their loyalties. In Jewish society, the synagogue was the center of the community. To be cast out of the synagogue was the same as being completely rejected by the community. It was against this fear that prevented them (and still hinders us today) from openly proclaiming their faith in Jesus.

43 It is a terrible trap; pleasing people to the hindrance of the Gospel. In our society, most people feel that Christians should keep their faith to themselves, and in some places, Christianity is a capital offense. It is "safe" in our society to malign Christianity, and most Christians do not like the idea of being rejected by society as a whole. However, we must remember that our society is lost without Jesus, and so it does no good, either for ourselves or for others, to disguise our faith behind "normal" worldly behavior.

Thankfully, some who hid their faith would later find a time to demonstrate it. One should not hide his faith in Jesus merely because of social status, but he should depend on God to show him where and when to shine Jesus' light.

A vital part of the Christian salvation experience is the verbal witness of what Jesus has done for us (Rom 10:9-10). The Christian should also remember that faith without resulting good deeds is of little value (James 2:26). However, in all things look for God's direction.

44 Believing Jesus is equivalent to believing God.
45 Jesus is God made tangible. He knows that we understand material things better than spiritual things. He came to earth physically to both teach and show His self-sacrificing love in a very dramatic way.
46 True enlightenment comes from believing in Jesus.
47 Jesus had harsh words for those whose "faith" in God was a cover for evil and for those who felt they could earn their way to heaven. Yet, these were not final judgments. This incarnation of Jesus was for the purpose of salvation, not for judgement.
48 However, on Judgement Day, these very words will be the deciding factors. Faith in and obedience to Jesus are all that is needed to escape eternal separation from God. Those who reject Jesus' words reject God's plan, and in the end, God will reject the unbeliever.
49 To hear the command from Jesus is to hear the command from God.
50 Obedience to God's command brings eternal life. Jesus loves people dearly, and so He earnestly shared God's word with us. His true desire is that we might escape the horrors of hell and enjoy the love and goodness of God for all eternity. This Good News is available for anyone who would listen, believe, and obey.