-Six days before the Passover, Jesus came to Bethany, where He had raised Lazarus from the dead. Mary and Martha made a supper for Him there at that time, and Lazarus reclined at the table with the Messiah. Martha served them, but Mary did something more audacious as she took a pound of very costly perfume of pure nard and anointed Jesus’ feet wiping it with her hair. The house was soon filled with the fragrance of this perfume, and Judas Iscariot was none too pleased with the activity. He asserted that this perfume could have been donated to the disciples’ ministry for the poor at 300 denarii (a day’s wage). John maintains here that Judas, who would be the betrayer of Christ Jesus, was actually doing this from a motivation of thievery as he was known to pilfer the money box of the disciples as its treasurer. Money often corrupts (1 Timothy 3:3; 6:10, Hebrews 13:5). Jesus rebuked him for this accusation, “Let her alone, so that she may keep it for the day of My burial, for you always have the poor with you, but you do not always have Me.” There was a large crowd there who were curious with Jesus’ presence as well as Lazarus’, whom they desired to see post resuscitation. However, John notes here that the chief priests were planning to put Lazarus to death also. We don’t know how that all turned out. Because of the miracle Jesus had performed with Lazarus, many of the Jews were going away and believing in Jesus’ teachings. This brought the wrath of the religious establishment for sure (John 12:1-11).
-The next day, which was Palm Sunday, the large crowd who had come to the Passover Feast took the branches of the palm trees and went out to meet Jesus as He came into Jerusalem. They shouted, “Hosanna! Blessed is He who comes in the Name of the LORD, even the King of Israel.” Jesus, as prophesied (Zechariah 9:9), rode on a young donkey humbly entering the sacred city where He was about to sacrifice His life for the forgiveness of sins. These things went right by the disciples as they were happening so quickly. Their understanding, not yet filled with the Holy Spirit, was dull; but, when Jesus was glorified, He enlightened their understanding, and they recalled these events. Testifying kept occurring by those who had seen His miracle of raising Lazarus. This was bringing curious observers out to meet the Lord. They had heard about His sign and wanted to inquire further during this desperate time of looking for a Messiah in their Jewish nation. The Pharisees were getting more fired up at all this controversy claiming that the whole world had gone after Him (John 12:12-19).
-There were some Gentile Greeks among those going up to worship at the feast. They came to Philip wishing to see Jesus. Philip told his fellow disciple, Andrew, and they both came to Jesus. Jesus told them frankly at this time, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. He who loves his life loses it, and he who hates his life in this world will keep it to life eternal. If anyone serves Me, he must follow Me; and where I am, there My servant will be also; if anyone serves Me, the Father will honor him.” Jesus then went on, “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.” Then He asked the LORD to glorify the Father’s Name. A Voice came out of Heaven, “I have both glorified It, and will glorify It again.” The crowd, which was around, thought it to be thunder, but some were saying, “An angel has spoken to Him.” Jesus told them that this Voice had not come for His sake, but for theirs. Then He some more profound teaching came forth, “Now judgment is upon this world; now the ruler (the devil) of this world will be cast out. And I, if I am lifted up from the earth (the cross), will draw all men to Myself.” Jesus was telling them that the Greeks could look to Him for salvation. Very shortly He would be sacrificed on Calvary for the redemption of all mankind who would believe. The crowd had limited biblical knowledge at this juncture and wanted to know why the Christ wouldn’t remain forever. They could not fathom the possibility that this could be a suffering Servant, even though Isaiah had clearly predicted this (see Isaiah 53 among other places in the OT). Jesus further taught on Him being the Light and for His followers to keep walking in this Light so that darkness would not overtake them. Darkness is related to blindness and not being able to find one’s way. Jesus said, “While you have the Light, believe in the Light, so that you may become sons of Light.” After saying these important things, the Lord went away and hid Himself from them (John 12:20-36).
-Even though the Lord performed so many signs before them, they still were not believing in Him as the Son of God. This also fulfilled the prophecies, and John uses Isaiah 53:1 and Isaiah 6:52 as his proof texts. Isaiah, John says, had seen the glory of the LORD and spoke of this Messiah in plain language. But, even though there were many in doubt, there were many who did believe, even among the rulers of the Jews. However, because of their fear of man, the religious leading Pharisees, they were not openly confessing Him as Lord. Their fear was founded on them being cast out of the synagogue and open shame among their brethren. “They loved the approval of men rather than the approval of God.” Faith determines the action (John 12:37-43).
-Jesus now boldly summarizes His message:
“He who believes in Me, does not believe in Me but in Him who sent Me. He who sees Me sees the One who sent Me. I have come as Light into the world, so that everyone who believes in Me will not remain in darkness. If anyone hears My sayings and does not keep them, 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 sayings, has One who judges him; the word I spoke is what will judge him at the last day. For I did not speak on My own initiative, but the Father Himself who sent Me has given Me a commandment as to what to say and what to speak. I know that His commandment is eternal life; therefore, the things I speak, I speak just as the Father has told Me (John 12:44-50).”
-*Application*- We should see the value of anointing Jesus as Lord as a major theme of this chapter. He should come before our community service and any works-based charity. Plus, we always need to do things with a righteous heart and pure motives. Stealing is forever wrong. Again, as we have seen so many times in John, belief is the crossroads in our stand with Christ Jesus. Are we seeking the approval of God or man? Is it man-made institutions or God’s Kingdom, earth or Heaven, that concern us the most? If we want to save our lives, we must lose them (Matthew 16:25, Mark 8:35, Luke 9:24, John 12:24-25). Following the Lord will always go against the tide and require obedient faith as the cross draws us into redemption.
Verses to Memorize: John 12:11, 24-25, 32, 43