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David Guzik :: Study Guide for John 12

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The Hour Has Come

A. A banquet at Bethany.

1. (Jhn 12:1-3) Lazarus eats, Martha serves (without complaining), and Mary anoints the feet of Jesus.

Then, six days before the Passover, Jesus came to Bethany, where Lazarus was who had been dead, whom He had raised from the dead. There they made Him a supper; and Martha served, but Lazarus was one of those who sat at the table with Him. Then Mary took a pound of very costly oil of spikenard, anointed the feet of Jesus, and wiped His feet with her hair. And the house was filled with the fragrance of the oil.

a. There they made Him a supper: Less than a week before His crucifixion, Jesus attended a dinner in His honor at the home of Simon the Leper (Matthew 26:6 and Mark 14:3). His friends Martha, Lazarus, and Mary were also in attendance.

b. Mary took a pound of very costly oil of spikenard, anointed the feet of Jesus: In the midst of the supper, Mary gave a remarkable gift to Jesus. It wasn't unusual to wash the feet of a guest, but it was unusual to use very costly oil of spikenard to do it, and remarkable to wipe the feet with her hair.

i. Mary's gift was remarkably humble. When a guest entered the home, usually the guest's feet were washed with water and the guest's head was anointed with a dab of oil or perfume. Here, Mary used this precious ointment and anointed the feet of Jesus. She considered her precious ointment only good enough for His feet.

ii. Mary's gift was remarkably extravagant. She used a lot (a pound) of a very costly oil of spikenard. Spices and ointments were often used as an investment because they occupied a small space, were portable, and were easily negotiable in the open market. Judas believed this oil was worth 300 denarii (John 12:5), which was worth a year's wages for a working man.

iii. Mary's gift was remarkably unselfconscious. Not only did she give the gift of the expensive oil, she also wiped His feet with her hair. This means that she let down her hair in public, something a Jewish woman would rarely (if ever) do.

iv. In all of this, Mary is a study of devotion to Jesus. "The life of Mary is painted for us, in three memorable pictures, in each of which she is at the feet of Jesus. " (Eerdman)

2. (Jhn 12:4-8) Judas objects to Mary's rich gift.

Then one of His disciples, Judas Iscariot, Simon's son, who would betray Him, said, "Why was this fragrant oil not sold for three hundred denarii and given to the poor?" This he said, not that he cared for the poor, but because he was a thief, and had the money box; and he used to take what was put in it. But Jesus said, "Let her alone; she has kept this for the day of My burial. For the poor you have with you always, but Me you do not have always."

a. Judas Iscariot … who would betray Him: In a short time Judas would betray Jesus, and his betrayal is so much darker when contrasted with the light of Mary's devotion to Jesus. No doubt, Judas objected to Mary's gift because he was convicted by her simple and powerful display of love.

i. This is the only place in the New Testament where Judas is mentioned as doing something evil other than his betrayal of Jesus, and even this was done in secret. Judas successfully hid the darkness of his heart from everyone except Jesus.

ii. Judas teaches us that outward appearances can be deceptive. Many people have a religious facade that hides secret sin.

b. Why was this fragrant oil not sold for three hundred, denarii: Judas had a sharp sense of financial values, but no appreciation of what God valued. He thought this was too much love and devotion to show to Jesus.

i. If we are extravagant in our love for Jesus, He will not criticize us; that is what Judas did. Are we like Mary, extravagant in our love for Jesus, or are we like Judas, criticizing others who are?

c. She has done this for the day of My burial: Mary knew something that the disciples didn't understand. She knew that Jesus was going to die, and so she was compelled to offer this extravagant gift of devotion to Jesus. Mary had more insight than others because she spent time at the feet of Jesus.

i. "This was the moment at which Jesus was symbolically set apart for burial by one who really understood what was happening. " (Boice)

3. (Jhn 12:9-11) The plot to kill both Jesus and Lazarus.

Now a great many of the Jews knew that He was there; and they came, not for Jesus' sake only, but that they might also see Lazarus, whom He had raised from the dead. But the chief priests plotted to put Lazarus to death also, because on account of him many of the Jews went away and believed in Jesus.

a. The chief priests plotted to put Lazarus to death also: Thechief priests were mostly Sadducees, and the Sadducees didn't believe in the resurrection. Lazarus was a living example of life after death, and having him around was an embarrassment to their theological system. For them, there was only one solution to this embarrassing problem - to put Lazarus to death also.

b. On account of him many of the Jews went away and believed in Jesus: This made the problem of the chief priests worse. Lazarus was drawing people to Jesus and in the opinion of these religious leaders he had to be stopped.

B. The triumphal entry.

1. (Jhn 12:12-16) The crowd greets Jesus as a coming King.

The next day a great multitude that had come to the feast, when they heard that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem, took branches of palm trees and went out to meet Him, and cried out: "Hosanna! 'Blessed is He who comes in the name of the LORD!' The King of Israel!" Then Jesus, when He had found a young donkey, sat on it; as it is written: "Fear not, daughter of Zion; Behold, your King is coming, Sitting on a donkey's colt. " His disciples did not understand these things at first; but when Jesus was glorified, then they remembered that these things were written about Him and that they had done these things to Him.

a. Hosanna! "Blessed is He who comes in the name of the LORD!" This large, enthusiastic crowd greeted Jesus with words from the Messianic Psalm 118:25-26. The cry Hosanna! meant "save now," and on this day the crowd received Jesus as a triumphant Messiah.

b. The King of Israel: This shows that the crowd, in shouting "save now!" had in mind political salvation from the oppression of the Romans. But Jesus showed that His purpose was peace by riding a donkey, in fulfillment of prophecy (the cited passage in Zechariah 9:9).

c. Took branches of palm trees: Palm branches were a symbol of Jewish nationalism since the time of the Maccabees. This was a patriotic rally, and the crowds looked to Jesus as a political and national savior, but not a spiritual savior.

2. (Jhn 12:17-19) The crowds come after Jesus, to the dismay of the leaders.

Therefore the people, who were with Him when He called Lazarus out of his tomb and raised him from the dead, bore witness. For this reason the people also met Him, because they heard that He had done this sign. The Pharisees therefore said among themselves, "You see that you are accomplishing nothing. Look, the world has gone after Him!"

a. For this reason the people also met Him, because they heard that He had done this sign: The crowds adored Jesus because they believed that the raising of Lazarus from the dead established Jesus' credentials as a conquering Messiah.

i. "One who could summon a dead man back to life would certainly be able to deliver the holy city from the yoke of Caesar. " (Bruce)

b. Look, the world has gone after Him! The popularity of Jesus was offensive to His enemies. It made them feel that they were accomplishing nothing. It makes us happy to see the enemies of Jesus frustrated.

C. The hour has come.

1. (Jhn 12:20-23) Greeks come to meet Jesus.

Now there were certain Greeks among those who came up to worship at the feast. Then they came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida of Galilee, and asked him, saying, "Sir, we wish to see Jesus. " Philip came and told Andrew, and in turn Andrew and Philip told Jesus. But Jesus answered them, saying, "The hour has come that the Son of Man should be glorified.

a. Sir, we wish to see Jesus: Jesus previously said that the time was not ready (John 2:4 and 7:6). He took the seeking interest of Gentiles as the signal that now the hour has come that the Son of Man should be glorified.

i. The fact that His hour had not yet come had delivered Him from violence before (John 7:30, 8:20). Now that the hour has come, it is time for Jesus to make the final sacrifice.

ii. Jesus never really responded to the Greeks here, but He would on the other side of the cross. So that these Greeks, as well as others, could receive the new life He offered, then Jesus must die (be glorified) first.

b. The hour has come that the Son of Man should be glorified: Jesus didn't mean that He would be glorified in the eyes of men. That just happened at the triumphal entry. The glorification Jesus pointed to here was being glorified on the cross. Something the world could only see as disgraceful humiliation, Jesus saw as being glorified.

2. (Jhn 12:24-26) Jesus explains why He is willing to face death.

"Most assuredly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it produces much grain. He who loves his life will lose it, and he who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. If anyone serves Me, let him follow Me; and where I am, there My servant will be also. If anyone serves Me, him My Father will honor."

a. Unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies: Just as a seed will never become a plant unless it "dies" and is "buried" so the death and burial of Jesus is necessary to His glorification. Before there can be resurrection power and fruitfulness, there must be death.

b. Loves his live … hates his life: We are called to hate our life in the sense that we disregard it, but in the sense that we freely give it up for God. Our life is precious to us, but only because it is something we can give to Jesus.

i. Jesus focused our hatred of life when He said hates his life in this world. We are to disregard our life in this world, seeing instead that we are mere pilgrims and sojourners, with our home in heaven instead of earth (Hebrews 11:13-16).

c. If anyone serves Me, let him follow Me: If we are Christians, we must follow Jesus in this path of others-centered and heaven-centered living.

i. This path will lead us to the way of the cross, but it will also take us to the resurrection glory of the empty tomb.

3. (27-28a) At the crucial hour, Jesus expresses His resolve.

"Now My soul is troubled, and what shall I say? 'Father, save Me from this hour'? But for this purpose I came to this hour. Father, glorify Your name."

a. My soul is troubled: Jesus received this crucial hour, yet it troubled Him because He knew what the agonies of the cross would involve.

b. And what shall I say? "Father, save Me from this hour?" Knowing this was the crucial hour, Jesus could not ask to escape the hour, because for this purpose I came to this hour. The cross, which had cast a shadow over the entire life and ministry of Jesus, would now become a reality in the life of Jesus.

4. (28b-30) The Father testifies to Jesus in a voice from heaven.

Then a voice came from heaven, saying, "I have both glorified it and will glorify it again. " Therefore the people who stood by and heard it said that it had thundered. Others said, "An angel has spoken to Him. " Jesus answered and said, "This voice did not come because of Me, but for your sake.

a. Then a voice came from heaven: This is the third audible Divine testimony to Jesus' status as the Son of God, after the Divine voice at His baptism and His transfiguration.

b. This voice did not come because of Me, but for your sake: Jesus didn't need this confirmation, but it was for the benefit of the onlookers, especially the disciples.

5. (Jhn 12:31-36) Jesus plainly proclaims His death.

"Now is the judgment of this world; now the ruler of this world will be cast out. And I, if I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all peoples to Myself. " This He said, signifying by what death He would die. The people answered Him, "We have heard from the law that the Christ remains forever; and how can You say, 'The Son of Man must be lifted up'? Who is this Son of Man?" Then Jesus said to them, "A little while longer the light is with you. Walk while you have the light, lest darkness overtake you; he who walks in darkness does not know where he is going. While you have the light, believe in the light, that you may become sons of light. " These things Jesus spoke, and departed, and was hidden from them.

a. Now is the judgment of this world: The world system was judged by its treatment of Jesus at the cross. The cross not only judged the world it also defeated Satan (now the ruler of this world will be cast out). The defeat of the world and Satan was God's victory and the victory of the people of God.

i. Colossians 2:14-15 vividly describes the defeat of Jesus at the cross: having wiped out the handwriting of requirements that was against us, which was contrary to us. And He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross. Having disarmed principalities and powers, He made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them in it.

b. If I am lifted up from the earth: The verb used for lifted up (the ancient Greek word hypsothenai) has a deliberate double meaning. It means both a literal elevation (as in being raised up on a cross) and exaltation (being raised in rank or honor).

i. We don't "lift up" Jesus with our praises in the sense He means here. He was lifted up on the cross, and we proclaim that fact to the world. We lift Jesus up by preaching Christ (1 Corinthians 1:23).

c. We have heard from the law that the Christ remains forever: The people had been taught only the passages from the law (the Old Testament) which speak of the triumph of the Messiah. They were virtually unaware of the passages that speak of His suffering (such as Psalm 22 and Isaiah 53).

i. This crowd who greeted a political conqueror with such enthusiasm didn't want to consider His sacrificial death. It didn't fit in with their idea of what a Messiah should be.

d. A little while longer the light is with you … While you have the light, believe in the light: We must believe on Jesus while the light is there, because it won't last forever. God's Spirit will not always strive with man (Genesis 6:3), and we must answer His call while it rings to us.

6. (Jhn 12:37-41) John explains their unbelief in light of Old Testament prophecy.

But although He had done so many signs before them, they did not believe in Him, that the word of Isaiah the prophet might be fulfilled, which he spoke: "Lord, who has believed our report? And to whom has the arm of the LORD been revealed?" Therefore they could not believe, because Isaiah said again: "He has blinded their eyes and hardened their hearts, lest they should see with their eyes, lest they should understand with their hearts and turn, so that I should heal them. " These things Isaiah said when he saw His glory and spoke of Him.

a. Although He had done so many signs before them, they did not believe in Him: John is answering the question "if Jesus was so great, why didn't everybody believe on Him?" John reminds us that this was prophesied in these two quotations from Isaiah.

b. Therefore they could not believe: It is possible to harden your heart to the place where you can not believe. Therefore we must believe while there is light.

c. He has blinded their eyes and hardened their heart: There comes a place where God will strengthen us in our decision, whether for Jesus or against Jesus. Ultimately, before God, we get what we want, and those who push Jesus away will not have to endure eternity with Him.

7. (Jhn 12:42-43) Some of the rulers have a feeble belief in Jesus.

Nevertheless even among the rulers many believed in Him, but because of the Pharisees they did not confess Him, lest they should be put out of the synagogue; for they loved the praise of men more than the praise of God.

a. They did not confess Him: Though some of the religious leaders believed in Him, they would not publicly proclaim it, because they were afraid to loose their position. This love of the praise of men is deadly, and keeps many from a life fully committed to God.

b. Lest they should be put out of the synagogue: Is it possible to be a secret follower of Jesus? Only temporarily; either the secrecy will cancel out the belief, or the belief will cancel out the secrecy.

8. (Jhn 12:44-50) A final appeal to belief: Jesus makes a last, passionate appeal to the multitude.

Then Jesus cried out and said, "He who believes in Me, believes not in Me but in Him who sent Me. And he who sees Me sees Him who sent Me. I have come as a light into the world, that whoever believes in Me should not abide in darkness. And if anyone hears My words and does not believe, I do not judge him; for I did not come to judge the world but to save the world. He who rejects Me, and does not receive My words, has that which judges him; the word that I have spoken will judge him in the last day. For I have not spoken on My own authority; but the Father who sent Me gave Me a command, what I should say and what I should speak. And I know that His command is everlasting life. Therefore, whatever I speak, just as the Father has told Me, so I speak."

a. Then Jesus cried out and said: These are the last words in John's gospel from Jesus to the public. In this last speech to the multitude, Jesus emphasized the themes of all His previous preaching in John.

b. He who sees Me sees Him who sent Me: Jesus stressed His unity with God the Father.

c. I have come as light into the world: Jesus stressed His own truthfulness, and the need man has to follow Jesus.

d. I do not judge Him: Jesus stressed His love and acceptance for the sinner; yet the word that I have spoken will judge Him - there are inescapable consequences for rejecting Jesus.

e. I have not spoken on My own authority: Jesus stressed His own submission to God the Father. His authority flowed from His submission to God the Father.

© 2006 David Guzik - No distribution beyond personal use without permission

CONTENT DISCLAIMER:

The Blue Letter Bible ministry and the BLB Institute hold to the historical, conservative Christian faith, which includes a firm belief in the inerrancy of Scripture. Since the text and audio content provided by BLB represent a range of evangelical traditions, all of the ideas and principles conveyed in the resource materials are not necessarily affirmed, in total, by this ministry.

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