John Chapter 12
John 12:1-50 NLTse Six days before the Passover celebration began, Jesus arrived in Bethany, the home of Lazarus–the man he had raised from the dead. (2) A dinner was prepared in Jesus’ honor. Martha served, and Lazarus was among those who ate with him. (3) Then Mary took a twelve-ounce jar of expensive perfume made from essence of nard, and she anointed Jesus’ feet with it, wiping his feet with her hair. The house was filled with the fragrance. (4) But Judas Iscariot, the disciple who would soon betray him, said, (5) “That perfume was worth a year’s wages. It should have been sold and the money given to the poor.” (6) Not that he cared for the poor–he was a thief, and since he was in charge of the disciples‘ money, he often stole some for himself. (7) Jesus replied, “Leave her alone. She did this in preparation for my burial. (8) You will always have the poor among you, but you will not always have me.” (9) When all the people heard of Jesus’ arrival, they flocked to see him and also to see Lazarus, the man Jesus had raised from the dead. (10) Then the leading priests decided to kill Lazarus, too, (11) for it was because of him that many of the people had deserted them and believed in Jesus. (12) The next day, the news that Jesus was on the way to Jerusalem swept through the city. A large crowd of Passover visitors (13) took palm branches and went down the road to meet him. They shouted, “Praise God! Blessings on the one who comes in the name of the LORD! Hail to the King of Israel!” (14) Jesus found a young donkey and rode on it, fulfilling the prophecy that said: (15) “Don’t be afraid, people of Jerusalem. Look, your King is coming, riding on a donkey’s colt.” (16) His disciples didn’t understand at the time that this was a fulfillment of prophecy. But after Jesus entered into his glory, they remembered what had happened and realized that these things had been written about him. (17) Many in the crowd had seen Jesus call Lazarus from the tomb, raising him from the dead, and they were telling others about it. (18) That was the reason so many went out to meet him–because they had heard about this miraculous sign. (19) Then the Pharisees said to each other, who had come”There’s nothing we can do. Look, everyone has gone after him!” (20) Some Greeks to Jerusalem for the Passover celebration (21) paid a visit to Philip, who was from Bethsaida in Galilee. They said, “Sir, we want to meet Jesus.” (22) Philip told Andrew about it, and they went together to ask Jesus. (23) Jesus replied, “Now the time has come for the Son of Man to enter into his glory. (24) I tell you the truth, unless a kernel of wheat is planted in the soil and dies, it remains alone. But its death will produce many new kernels–a plentiful harvest of new lives. (25) Those who love their life in this world will lose it. Those who care nothing for their life in this world will keep it for eternity. (26) Anyone who wants to be my disciple must follow me, because my servants must be where I am. And the Father will honor anyone who serves me. (27) “Now my soul is deeply troubled. Should I pray, ‘Father, save me from this hour’? But this is the very reason I came! (28) Father, bring glory to your name.” Then a voice spoke from heaven, saying, “I have already brought glory to my name, and I will do so again.” (29) When the crowd heard the voice, some thought it was thunder, while others declared an angel had spoken to him. (30) Then Jesus told them, “The voice was for your benefit, not mine. (31) The time for judging this world has come, when Satan, the ruler of this world, will be cast out. (32) And when I am lifted up from the earth, I will draw everyone to myself.” (33) He said this to indicate how he was going to die. (34) The crowd responded, “We understood from Scripture that the Messiah live forever. How can you say the Son of Man will die? Just who is this Son of Man, anyway?” (35) Jesus replied, “My light will shine for you just a little longer. Walk in the light while you can, so the darkness will not overtake you. Those who walk in the darkness cannot see where they are going. (36) Put your trust in the light while there is still time; then you will become children of the light.” After saying these things, Jesus went away and was hidden from them. (37) But despite all the miraculous signs Jesus had done, most of the people still did not believe in him. (38) This is exactly what Isaiah the prophet had predicted: “LORD, who has believed our message? To whom has the LORD revealed his powerful arm?” (39) But the people couldn’t believe, for as Isaiah also said, (40) “The Lord has blinded their eyes and hardened their hearts– so that their eyes cannot see, and their hearts cannot understand, and they cannot turn to me and have me heal them.” (41) Isaiah was referring to Jesus when he said this, because he saw the future and spoke of the Messiah’s glory. (42) Many people did believe in him, however, including some of the Jewish leaders. But they wouldn’t admit it for fear that the Pharisees would expel them from the synagogue. (43) For they loved human praise more than the praise of God. (44) Jesus shouted to the crowds, “If you trust me, you are trusting not only me, but also God who sent me. (45) For when you see me, you are seeing the one who sent me. (46) I have come as a light to shine in this dark world, so that all who put their trust in me will no longer remain in the dark. (47) I will not judge those who hear me but don’t obey me, for I have come to save the world and not to judge it. (48) But all who reject me and my message will be judged on the day of judgment by the truth I have spoken. (49) I don’t speak on my own authority. The Father who sent me has commanded me what to say and how to say it. (50) And I know his commands lead to eternal life; so I say whatever the Father tells me to say.”
After writing three studies on this story about Mary anointing Jesus, I can finally see how God changed the order in this sequence. We can see Lazarus mentioned a number of times, which brings attention to his death. We see Mary anointed Jesus before His death. But look at the story that follows, the shorted account of Jesus’ ride into Jerusalem on a donkey. When we carefully pray before studying scripture, we can see another story out of place. But is it?
If we compare Solomon’s ordination to this story, we see Solomon rode David’s mule out of Jerusalem to Gihon Spring. The word Gihon means to shoot forth water. Jesus rode a young donkey colt from Bethany into Jerusalem. Solomon was anointed after his ride, Jesus was anointed before. We have two examples of a reversed order in one chapter.
This calls attention to many spiritual lessons in the gospels. Some we’ve seen, and others we are about to study. One of the reasons God gave us those examples of a reverse order is to remind us, understanding His Word may not be as easy as some people claim it is. If there is one thing people who really study God’s Word can tell you is, you have to go over it again and again to understand. God has a way or revealing only portions at a time.
Jesus had a choice. He could have ridden the donkey, the colt’s mother, or the little colt. Jesus chose the little colt. The disciples were so embarrassed, the their their coats over the beast to cover it up. They didn’t want people to think that was the best they could do for their Teacher. We have to approach God’s Word in much the same way. Whatever we bring to a Bible Study is small and embarrassing compared to what God can provide, or what He has to reveal.
As we pray and look deeper into this series of stories, we see another order revered. People expected Jesus to crown Himself King. But that’s not the order in God’s plan. Jesus was first to serve as High Priest before receiving His crown. Jesus’ first ministry in Heaven is to conduct the judgment. Look at the previous chapters to see how often Jesus tried to teach that point. Now you can see the need for those examples of a reverse order. We didn’t understand the messages when they were presented, but when new details are added and we look back, we can clearly see why Jesus used that specific order.
And I saw another angel flying through the sky, carrying the eternal Good News to proclaim to the people who belong to this world–to every nation, tribe, language, and people. “Fear God,” he shouted. “Give glory to him. For the time has come when he will sit as judge. Worship him who made the heavens, the earth, the sea, and all the springs of water.” (Revelation 14:6-7 NLTse).
There is a specific order given to announce Jesus’ return. The first is to announce the beginning of His duties as High Priest in Heaven which involves His role as judge. But how many people understand this order? How many people are able to explain? Not many people choose to go to God’s mountain to learn God’s order. When we look at the messages of the remaining two angels we clearly see how that order has been reversed.
Then another angel followed him through the sky, shouting, “Babylon is fallen–that great city is fallen–because she made all the nations of the world drink the wine of her passionate immorality.” Then a third angel followed them, shouting, “Anyone who worships the beast and his statue or who accepts his mark on the forehead or on the hand must drink the wine of God’s anger. It has been poured full strength into God’s cup of wrath. And they will be tormented with fire and burning sulfur in the presence of the holy angels and the Lamb. (Revelation 14:8-10 NLTse).
For the most part, Christians today are all too happy to run around preaching either the second or third message, but have no understanding of the first message. For one thing, people place the judgment Jesus talked about in all kinds of different time frames. How do we know which one is true and which of the many are false? We have to study and let God’s Spirit lead us to the truth. When we allow human understanding to take over for God’s Spirit, the sequence is already tainted, stained, and ruined.
Look at the second message. There must be more interpretations for Babylon’s fall than there are Christian denominations in this world today. Some churches were created by splitting off based on a new interpretation of Babylon or the sequence it will happen. Years and generations have passed, and people still cling onto those traditions and beliefs. Little do the see, they cannot understand the second message until the understand the first.
The same is true for the third message. I hear people quoting little pieces of the second message claiming it is actually the third. Some people claim this is the last message to the world, but can’t really explain what it means. Most religions claim to have identified the beast in Revelation 14, but I haven’t see any who can prove it using only the Bible. They have not learned the art of looking back in scripture for the answer.
That mark is another major doctrine taught in this world now and for generations. There must have been hundreds of guesses attempting to identify that mark. Many of those guesses have been left on the side of the road, replaced by more modern versions. Once again, which are true and which are false?
In those few verses we have uncovered one major difference between Heaven and earth. There is only one true judgment in Heaven, but many Babylons, beasts, and marks on earth. Satan would never plan or rely on a single deception. Not when he has more demons than we can count to carry out his orders. He is as unstable as a raging sea, moving and causing destruction in all directions.
I often wonder why so many people dedicate themselves to the study of Babylon, the beast, and his mark. I’ve noticed those people know so little about Jesus. Is their obsession a deception? But how many people can explain what Jesus is doing in Heaven this minute? What a mixed up world and religion we find ourselves in. How many of those people can tell you when Jesus entered the Heavenly Sanctuary to begin judgment?
There were two things Israel was told to listen for. The sound of the bells on the high priests robe when he walked into the Most Holy, and the sound those bells made when He left the Most Holy. Aaron will wear this robe whenever he ministers before the LORD, and the bells will tinkle as he goes in and out of the LORD’s presence in the Holy Place. If he wears it, he will not die. (Exodus 28:35 NLTse). If they didn’t hear the sound of those bells when Jesus entered the Heavenly Sanctuary, how will they ever recognize the sound when He leaves? What a sad and dangerous example showing how man has chosen once again to ignore God’s order and sequence.
I’m sitting here writing this and wondering how we are going to hear those bells. We can be certain we will hear them in God’s Word when the time is right. Will God confirm their sound with prophets? Then you will know that I am among my people Israel, that I am the LORD your God, and there is no other. Never again will my people be disgraced. “Then, after doing all those things, I will pour out my Spirit upon all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy. Your old men will dream dreams, and your young men will see visions. In those days I will pour out my Spirit even on servants–men and women alike. And I will cause wonders in the heavens and on the earth– blood and fire and columns of smoke. The sun will become dark, and the moon will turn blood red before that great and terrible day of the LORD arrives. But everyone who calls on the name of the LORD will be saved, for some on Mount Zion in Jerusalem will escape, just as the LORD has said. These will be among the survivors whom the LORD has called. (Joel 2:27-32 NLTse).
When we look at what the prophet Joel recorded, there will be much more. How much of it will be physical and how much spiritual? As I sit and write this, I am looking out on a snow covered year looking like a lifeless wasteland covered in white. I can’t help but see the contrast. I know life remains underground ready to shoot up as soon as the sun warms the land. Every spring is like a resurrection in Wisconsin. But now, a major portion of the United States is covered in snow. Other sections of the country that have not seen rain in years has been experiencing major flooding over the past few weeks. The cold weather is so bad here this February, it has set records in many parts of the country. Some placed that rarely see snow are blanketed today. Most of the time snow will melt later in the day, or the next day. But this winter it lingers as if it is whispering a message. As if God wants us to hear a message. What are the signs of the end – when Jesus’ finishes judging?
If you want to see those signs, look out the window and listen to God. Over the past few years this world has experienced record cold and hot temperatures. Some times at the same time on opposite sides of this planet. God’s creation is crying out while it is being shaken and wrenched apart. Like every creature in God’s new world had to suffer the effects of sin, they suffer under unbearable conditions while this world repeats the first sin – they refuse to listen to God.
Record long droughts are followed by record rain falls and floods. The worst storm every recorded in history hit the Philippians a little more than a year ago. Every part of this world is suffering under stains beyond its control. Governments promise relief, but are really helpless. They point to science as the only answer to this world’s problems, induce additional burdens in the form of taxes to battle the fury this world has unleashed upon us, but can’t see they have fulfilled prophesy.
Because of this, I will once again astound these hypocrites with amazing wonders. The wisdom of the wise will pass away, and the intelligence of the intelligent will disappear.” What sorrow awaits those who try to hide their plans from the LORD, who do their evil deeds in the dark! “The LORD can’t see us,” they say. “He doesn’t know what’s going on!” How foolish can you be? He is the Potter, and he is certainly greater than you, the clay! Should the created thing say of the one who made it, “He didn’t make me”? Does a jar ever say, “The potter who made me is stupid”? (Isaiah 29:14-16 NLTse).
What does that clay represent? Who questions God? Who tries to silence His voice? Who claims to be greater than God? There is only one answer, science, the people who claim they can save this world. All it will take is more money, more taxes. Don’t they know Jesus was born in Bethlehem because of a decree to raise taxes? What about that clay? Look at Daniel, who tells us when it will appear in history. The feet and toes you saw were a combination of iron and baked clay, showing that this kingdom will be divided. Like iron mixed with clay, it will have some of the strength of iron. (Daniel 2:41 NLTse). According to Daniel, that clay will appear near the end of time. That is when that clay will question the creator. The clay will not all the iron to cling together. Science will work to divide the world’s kingdoms. Those taxes are not used only the fight the unpredictable nature of God’s creation, the majority of taxes are going to the greatest military build up in earth’s history. Some alliances are being formed while others are being fractured. To a large degree, countries are dividing and uniting along religious lines. Something we wouldn’t have imagined fifty years ago.
We have to be very careful with symbols. There are a few rules of contest to follow when we study symbols.
Authors repeat key words to draw attention to their use as symbols.
Symbols always point to something far greater.
Symbols can only be interpreted by God’s Word.
Key words help to point to scripture explaining the meaning of a symbol.
The meaning of a symbol is often explained within the chapter it is recorded.
Symbols must always be interpreted within context.
We cannot take one interpretation of a symbol found in one chapter and apply it to all chapters. We have to consider context, which includes the main theme of the chapter found in the introduction and summation in every chapter, as well as key words used in the chapter.
Key words are words the author repeated to draw attention to his main thought, point, or lesson. Key words are words that are the SAME, SIMILAR, or RELATED.
It may take a bit of practice to develop a pattern highlighting key words. I look at it as a fundamental and necessary way for God’s Spirit to slow you down and get you to listen. It’s difficult to thoroughly highlight all the key words in one pass. You have no choice but to go back and forth over scripture to do a complete job. Many people have heard of other texts in the Bible that show us how to study, such as line upon line, and using a churning method of going back and forth over scripture. Now you know what that means.
God does not intend in smashing all the clay, nor does all science oppose God and His will. Like everything else, there is good and bad. And God will not stop reaching out. So it is God who decides to show mercy. We can neither choose it nor work for it. For the Scriptures say that God told Pharaoh, “I have appointed you for the very purpose of displaying my power in you and to spread my fame throughout the earth.” So you see, God chooses to show mercy to some, and he chooses to harden the hearts of others so they refuse to listen. Well then, you might say, “Why does God blame people for not responding? Haven’t they simply done what he makes them do?” No, don’t say that. Who are you, a mere human being, to argue with God? Should the thing that was created say to the one who created it, “Why have you made me like this?” When a potter makes jars out of clay, doesn’t he have a right to use the same lump of clay to make one jar for decoration and another to throw garbage into? In the same way, even though God has the right to show his anger and his power, he is very patient with those on whom his anger falls, who were made for destruction. (Romans 9:16-22 NLTse).
Like Pharaoh constantly opposed God, we see some branches of science opposing and trying to disgrace God. But that does not mean God cannot perform another miracle by reaching them. The jar he was making did not turn out as he had hoped, so he crushed it into a lump of clay again and started over. Then the LORD gave me this message: “O Israel, can I not do to you as this potter has done to his clay? As the clay is in the potter’s hand, so are you in my hand. (Jeremiah 18:4-6 NLTse).
This reminds us, only God can change likes. Working the clay with His hands shows the close personal contact God has with good and bad people, and everyone between. For since the world began, no ear has heard, and no eye has seen a God like you, who works for those who wait for him! You welcome those who gladly do good, who follow godly ways. But you have been very angry with us, for we are not godly. We are constant sinners; how can people like us be saved? We are all infected and impure with sin. When we display our righteous deeds, they are nothing but filthy rags. Like autumn leaves, we wither and fall, and our sins sweep us away like the wind. Yet no one calls on your name or pleads with you for mercy. Therefore, you have turned away from us and turned us over to our sins. And yet, O LORD, you are our Father. We are the clay, and you are the potter. We all are formed by your hand. Don’t be so angry with us, LORD. Please don’t remember our sins forever. Look at us, we pray, and see that we are all your people. (Isaiah 64:4-9 NLTse).
The most important part of this lesson shows how, we have to leave every bit of judgment in God’s hands. God gave Jesus the authority to judge. Jesus is the only one to earn such an important role. When we try to take that role away from Jesus, are we any better than science who openly defiles God? But there is hope. If you have a cold heart that knows only how to judge, Christ can reform you in His hands. If all you love about the Bible is the study of the beast and his mark, God can get you to listen, if you are willing. As for the rest of the world. They are in God’s hands. But He can’t use you until He is done reforming you. Are you ready? Can you hear God’s voice and recognize His work?
Mary Anointed Jesus for Burial
John 12:1-8 NLTse Six days before the Passover celebration began, Jesus arrived in Bethany, the home of Lazarus–the man he had raised from the dead. (2) A dinner was prepared in Jesus’ honor. Martha served, and Lazarus was among those who ate with him. (3) Then Mary took a twelve-ounce jar of expensive perfume made from essence of nard, and she anointed Jesus’ feet with it, wiping his feet with her hair. The house was filled with the fragrance. (4) But Judas Iscariot, the disciple who would soon betray him, said, (5) “That perfume was worth a year’s wages. It should have been sold and the money given to the poor.” (6) Not that he cared for the poor–he was a thief, and since he was in charge of the disciples‘ money, he often stole some for himself. (7) Jesus replied, “Leave her alone. She did this in preparation for my burial. (8) You will always have the poor among you, but you will not always have me.”
In chapter 12, John breaks from the pattern established over previous chapters consisting of a great deal of detail, back to a series of stories. Any dedicated student of the Bible will tell you, a break in a pattern is just as important as an established pattern in scripture.
Once a pattern is established, and we see a break in it, this is an indication to pay attention. It often indicates a movement into a new event. Often a break in an established pattern leads into a sever warning or a wonderful promise of fulfillment.
Moving into a new event is the understatement of the universe once we see where John’s book is headed. We can see Jesus is building up to His trial in Jerusalem, death, and resurrection. One thing to pay attention to in this series of stories is the details Jesus shared and how people perceived them.
John makes sure to tell us this first event happened six days before the Passover. The date helps us to piece together Jesus’ last days of His ministry on this world in human from. Jesus began in Bethany. We see Lazarus repeated a number of time. John pointed out, Lazarus was the man Jesus raised from the dead.
The first event was a dinner where Mary anointed Jesus for His burial. Jesus pointed this out. Judas didn’t appreciate the act. He must have harbored a hidden dislike or mistrust of Mary. John pointed out, this was the same Mary who was Lazarus’ sister. This established another link to the previous story where Jesus rose Lazarus from his grave. We see how each story is arranged to build one detail and lesson upon another.
John did not record a lot of details about that dinner, which draws more attention to what he did write. Judas Iscariot, the disciple who would soon betray him, said, “That perfume was worth a year’s wages. It should have been sold and the money given to the poor.” Not that he cared for the poor–he was a thief, and since he was in charge of the disciples‘ money, he often stole some for himself. Jesus replied, “Leave her alone. She did this in preparation for my burial. You will always have the poor among you, but you will not always have me.”
We see, Judas was a thief. How does that fit into the spiritual lessons taught here? How do people steal away those lessons while they are still Jesus’ disciple? We have a contrast here between Mary and Judas.
Mary gave a very expensive gift to Jesus. Once the oil was poured over Jesus, it couldn’t be recovered. It was an extravagant gift from the heart. Perfume is normally used in small amounts. Mary anointed Jesus using the entire bottle. She didn’t hold anything back. It was a symbol of her love for Jesus.
Mary didn’t expect anything in return. She also didn’t expect to be criticized for her act. If we look at other gospels, we see how the disciples were arguing who is the greatest. Judas wasn’t listed in those conversations, but this story showed where his heart was. The question still remains, how do Jesus’ disciples steal from Him today?
Twelve ounces is the size of a soda can, or bottle of soda. Some people call it pop or a soft drink. Pouring an entire bottle that size on a person is sure to be noticeable. John made sure to tell us the fragrance filled the room. It had to be more than pure olive oil, which was normally used to anoint a king or priest. This was perfumed oil so everyone would notice.
The Bible doesn’t tell us anything about anointing dead bodies for burial. That was a tradition copied from other cultures. God used this as a lesson to show how He uses traditions to meet people where they are. He didn’t condemn the act, He used it to bring glory to His Son. The Christian world can learn a ton lessons from that.
Mary didn’t just pour the oil over Jesus, she wiped it with her hair and kissed Jesus’ feet. She touched Jesus in an intimate manner and in a way beyond normal respect and concern. Do you touch Jesus in the same manner when you offer something to Him?
John 12:9-11 NLTse When all the people heard of Jesus’ arrival, they flocked to see him and also to see Lazarus, the man Jesus had raised from the dead. (10) Then the leading priests decided to kill Lazarus, too, (11) for it was because of him that many of the people had deserted them and believed in Jesus.
Opposition grows like a cancer. When people reply on themselves and shut out God’s Spirit, they are left to the devil’s desires and work. Judas had a demon, we will cover more details later. We will also see how the devil controlled those people who thought they had all the answers. Satan guided them along every step so we could see the extent of his control and his real motives. The entire universe witnessed those scenes as they unfolded. The universe wonders why this is the only planet in the universe that doesn’t understand.
Jesus Entered Jerusalem
John 12:12-16 NLTse The next day, the news that Jesus was on the way to Jerusalem swept through the city. A large crowd of Passover visitors (13) took palm branches and went down the road to meet him. They shouted, “Praise God! Blessings on the one who comes in the name of the LORD! Hail to the King of Israel!” (14) Jesus found a young donkey and rode on it, fulfilling the prophecy that said: (15) “Don’t be afraid, people of Jerusalem. Look, your King is coming, riding on a donkey’s colt.” (16) His disciples didn’t understand at the time that this was a fulfillment of prophecy. But after Jesus entered into his glory, they remembered what had happened and realized that these things had been written about him.
John tells us this next event happened five days before the Passover. Jesus rode a little colt into Jerusalem and people hoped He was about to take David’s throne. To them at that moment, their King had come to Jerusalem. They didn’t realize, that was only one aspect of Jesus’ ministry. Other details and prophecies had to be fulfilled before Jesus received His crown. As Jesus explained to Pilate, His Kingdom was not of this world. Jesus wasn’t going to receive glory from this world, or any crown. This story was much larger than any of them could image.
John pointed out how the disciples didn’t understand what was happening. That number included John himself. Admitting we don’t have the answer is the beginning of understanding. When people think they know what those symbols pointed to, chances are, they are wrong. At the very best, all men can do is figure out a small portion of those symbols on their own. When they don’t go to God and stick to His word to find their true and full meaning, they rob God. We want to look at the prophecy Jesus pointed us to so we don’t rob Him.
Another important Bible Study rule is, when you see scripture quoted by an author, always look up the original texts. An inspired writer will only quote a small portion of scripture. Just enough to point you back to the original texts. It’s your job to open up and read the original texts. And remember to check to introduction and summation for the chapter the original scripture is located. This a a major way God uses to communicate with us. An easy way to locate the original texts is to use a chain reference in a Study Bible. Or you can use the TSK (Treasury of Scripture Knowledge) you can download and use with E-Sword, and other Bible computer programs.
Go out through the gates! Prepare the highway for my people to return! Smooth out the road; pull out the boulders; raise a flag for all the nations to see. The LORD has sent this message to every land: “Tell the people of Israel, ‘Look, your Savior is coming. See, he brings his reward with him as he comes.'” They will be called “The Holy People” and “The People Redeemed by the LORD.” And Jerusalem will be known as “The Desirable Place” and “The City No Longer Forsaken.” (Isaiah 62:10-12 NLTse).
The prophecy John pointed out shows us much more than what he wrote. John is showing us another important rule of context we have to follow if we plan on understanding scripture. Notice how detailed John had been in the previous stories. Then John goes onto a story about Jesus being anointed, followed with a short story about Jesus riding the colt into Jerusalem. John chose to record only brief accounts of what happened? That doesn’t make any sense – to us. Compare the importance of those previous stories to these. Why would John change his pattern now?
The answer is easy to see when we look at Old Testament scripture quoted. Look at the detail it added. John never recorded any of the details about Jesus going into the temple courtyard, he didn’t have to. We find those details in the Old Testament prophecy. Jesus went into the gates to prepare a highway for His people. That is when He told them a series of parables teaching them details about His ministry as well as their role in it. We see more details in the summation of the chapter we’re pointed to.
Because I love Zion, I will not keep still. Because my heart yearns for Jerusalem, I cannot remain silent. I will not stop praying for her until her righteousness shines like the dawn, and her salvation blazes like a burning torch. The nations will see your righteousness. World leaders will be blinded by your glory. And you will be given a new name by the LORD’s own mouth. The LORD will hold you in his hand for all to see– a splendid crown in the hand of God. (Isaiah 62:1-3 NLTse).
The summation gives us a behind the scene look at what Jesus did as well as how He felt during His last moments in Jerusalem. Jesus stayed still when He refused to answer the high priest and Pilate. Because He loved Jerusalem, He forgave them while on the cross. Looking at the Old Testament texts tells us much more than anyone could imagine. Look at those details. They are telling us details that occurred after Jesus rode into Jerusalem. Look at God’s time line and see how God has many lines that cross that spiritual moment in time. Each line recorded in scripture explains details on both sides of that point, past and future. The Bible shows how it explains the past and reveals the future. The sad part of it is, few people take time to look at God’s collection of books they way they were meant to be read.
The People Met Jesus
John 12:17-19 NLTse Many in the crowd had seen Jesus call Lazarus from the tomb, raising him from the dead, and they were telling others about it. (18) That was the reason so many went out to meet him–because they had heard about this miraculous sign. (19) Then the Pharisees said to each other, who had come”There’s nothing we can do. Look, everyone has gone after him!”
John showed how people were split in Jerusalem. Some people believed those miracles Jesus performed, others ran off to consult with the religious leaders as we’ve seen in the previous chapter. Once the Pharisees saw the number of people following Jesus, they did more than worry.
Jerusalem was crowded with thousands of people to observe the Passover. There’s not a lot to do walking along the road. Sharing news helps to pass the time. Never was there news like they heard on that trip to Jerusalem. News about Lazarus spread quickly. Jesus had been traveling all over the region healing and teaching people. Many of them were thankful for being healed or seeing friends and relatives healed. Some heard more than Jesus talk, they listened to God’s Spirit. Some people searched scripture. It would be nice to know what they found and how much God explained at the time.
John pointed out how much the story about Lazarus influenced Jesus’ last minute ministry. Another example showing how God’s timing is important. Some people want to serve Jesus, but don’t understand God’s timing. They don’t see how much harm they can cause if they don’t know how to follow orders when they are given. Jesus showed how He had to wait a few days before going to Jerusalem during the Festival of Tabernacles. If waiting was part of Jesus’ ministry, maybe it should be an important part of ours.
Walk in the Light
John 12:20-41 NLTse Some Greeks to Jerusalem for the Passover celebration (21) paid a visit to Philip, who was from Bethsaida in Galilee. They said, “Sir, we want to meet Jesus.” (22) Philip told Andrew about it, and they went together to ask Jesus. (23) Jesus replied, “Now the time has come for the Son of Man to enter into his glory. (24) I tell you the truth, unless a kernel of wheat is planted in the soil and dies, it remains alone. But its death will produce many new kernels–a plentiful harvest of new lives. (25) Those who love their life in this world will lose it. Those who care nothing for their life in this world will keep it for eternity. (26) Anyone who wants to be my disciple must follow me, because my servants must be where I am. And the Father will honor anyone who serves me. (27) “Now my soul is deeply troubled. Should I pray, ‘Father, save me from this hour’? But this is the very reason I came! (28) Father, bring glory to your name.” Then a voice spoke from heaven, saying, “I have already brought glory to my name, and I will do so again.” (29) When the crowd heard the voice, some thought it was thunder, while others declared an angel had spoken to him. (30) Then Jesus told them, “The voice was for your benefit, not mine. (31) The time for judging this world has come, when Satan, the ruler of this world, will be cast out. (32) And when I am lifted up from the earth, I will draw everyone to myself.” (33) He said this to indicate how he was going to die. (34) The crowd responded, “We understood from Scripture that the Messiah live forever. How can you say the Son of Man will die? Just who is this Son of Man, anyway?” (35) Jesus replied, “My light will shine for you just a little longer. Walk in the light while you can, so the darkness will not overtake you. Those who walk in the darkness cannot see where they are going. (36) Put your trust in the light while there is still time; then you will become children of the light.” After saying these things, Jesus went away and was hidden from them. (37) But despite all the miraculous signs Jesus had done, most of the people still did not believe in him. (38) This is exactly what Isaiah the prophet had predicted: “LORD, who has believed our message? To whom has the LORD revealed his powerful arm?” (39) But the people couldn’t believe, for as Isaiah also said, (40) “The Lord has blinded their eyes and hardened their hearts– so that their eyes cannot see, and their hearts cannot understand, and they cannot turn to me and have me heal them.” (41) Isaiah was referring to Jesus when he said this, because he saw the future and spoke of the Messiah’s glory.
John returned to his style of adding detail. Something prompted John to added those details. John told a story about some Greeks who came to Jerusalem looking for Jesus. They first met Philip who told Andrew, who took the Greeks to Jesus. This showed how people work together to bring people to Jesus.
Once we learn to see the patterns John and other authors used, we begin to see scripture open up with details a casual reading would not catch. Now we can understand Jesus’ answer. Jesus replied, “Now the time has come for the Son of Man to enter into his glory.” To see the spiritual message, we have to look at this a few lines at a time and see how they relate to previous verses.
When did God choose the right time for Jesus to enter into His glory? The simple answer is that Passover that happened to be during the Sabbath. Looking back a few verses we see God’s Spirit at work arranging a few details. John showed us how Greeks came to look for Jesus. It would have been unusual for Greeks to be in Jerusalem during the Passover, but not out of the question. Greeks most likely would have been shunned by Hebrews. They looked and talked differently then the Hebrews in Jerusalem. Most of the Jews would have shunned them, except for the vendors who welcomed everyone’s money.
Those Greeks also remind us about the hundreds of thousands of Greek Old Testaments spread over the world. I wish we knew if the had access to scripture. It would also be nice to see how scripture influenced their view of Jesus before they met Him. We can see a few details based on what John recorded about the conversation.
Those Greeks would have entered Jerusalem expecting to see an entire city celebrating the coming of the Messiah. They couldn’t imagine the joy and excitement Israel must have felt to see their Savior return. The excitement in those Greeks must have built as they saw long lines of people meeting on the road to Jerusalem. They must have felt it was strange to listen to different accounts and opinions about Jesus from the people they met on the road.
It’s funny how we can talk to people today and still hear different opinions. Not as drastic as what those Greeks would have heard, but strange just the same. And we still have associate with people to different degrees. Some people we love and can’t live without. We have friends we occasionally see. People we know but rarely see. Some people have friends they only call when they need something from them. And there are people we try to avoid. So what’s the difference between what we hear about relationships with Christ today and what those Greeks heard on that road? No matter how hard Jesus tried, people set their own standards when it came to their relationship with the ultimate source of infinite love.
All they could do was hope Jesus would meet them. And of course, Jesus was happy to meet them. Reaching out to Greeks represented how Jesus reached out to the world. The process they followed to meet Jesus showed how Jesus’ disciples have to work together. It is a physical description of one person plowing, another sowing, and another harvesting. It also showed the disciples how working together wiped out the desire to be greatest. Not one person nor step in the process is more important than the other.
Jesus used the illustration of a seed to describe what He was about to do. But now that we understand what was taught in the previous verse, we can see how that parable about the seed also showed the disciples what is meant to die to this world. They had to bury their pride.
Jesus told them the seed that was about to be planted will die and its death will produce more seeds. Jesus wasn’t just teaching about His death, He was telling them about the ministries they would soon be conducting. Think of what the disciples gave up to conduct a full time ministry. They gave up everything to serve Jesus and tell people about the prophecies they witnessed as Jesus fulfilled each one.
Jesus also told them, they had to give up this world. People usually have an easy time understanding that. But what did Jesus mean by being where He is? Where did Jesus go after His resurrection? To Heaven. Jesus showed the only way to Heaven is through Him, now and after death. Jesus didn’t tell people to follow Him after they died. Jesus rose Lazarus to bring glory to God. God gave that glory to His Son. Lazarus served Jesus’ ministry while he lived, not when he was in the grave.
Something strange happened in Jerusalem. People heard God’s voice. Some heard it and others thought it was thunder. This has been repeated throughout history. Some people hear God’s message while some people think it is nothing to worry about. Jesus explained why God spoke at that moment. It was for the benefit of Jesus’ followers as well as Jesus. God knew they all needed encouragement for what was about to happen. This also shows how close God is and how He is always watching.
Jesus didn’t go into much detail about what was about to happen, but He did give them clues. The people thought they understood scripture, but they didn’t understand God’s timing or the process Jesus had to follow in the plan of salvation.
Jesus pointed out the purpose of His sacrifice, to defeat the ruler of this world one last time. Jesus revealed who was behind the coming events. Jesus told them who was responsible for all the pain and suffering, not only His, but the world. Jesus showed the world how far Satan would go. If he would snuff out the life of God’s Son, he wouldn’t hesitate to kill any of us, once he’s done using us. That is if we allow him.
Jesus also told them what He told Nicodemus three years ago. He told them how He was going to be lifted up above the earth to draw people to Himself. That was where the people got confused. They couldn’t see how the Messiah could die. Based on the pattern we’ve seen in previous chapters, we can see a number of people walked away from Jesus. Tradition was once again stronger than truth. How many people say they believe in Jesus, say they are following Him, but are actually following traditions they’ve been taught? Traditions that actually make them turn and walk away from Jesus.
Jesus was instructed by God’s Spirit to repeat the lesson using light as a symbol. We see a pattern when Jesus repeated Himself, but this time it is a new crowd. Once again, that symbol of light was followed by the key word believe. When light comes it takes more than common sense to follow it. It takes something some people don’t have, belief or faith.
Why did Jesus talk about the light as if it would be available for a limited time? We know Jesus’ resurrection shed new light on the plan of salvation. We know even the disciples understood very little before the resurrection, and were taught by Jesus for forty days. After that Jesus sent His Spirit on Pentecost. Why would Jesus say His light would shine for just a little longer? Did Jesus know there were a few listening who needed to see Him in His physical body to believe? Some people find it hard to find enough faith to follow anything else but their eyes. But despite all the miraculous signs Jesus had done, most of the people still did not believe in him.
This time John quoted two scriptures from Isaiah. Of course we already know how important it is to look at texts he pointed us to. This is an unusual occurrence in the Bible. When we pay attention, we can see, Jesus didn’t quote this scripture, John added it. Of course we know John was an inspired author. God told him to add that scripture. This teaches us a lesson we have to be aware of. Sometimes Jesus will refer to scripture without directly quoting it. This is something to watch out for, but not be obsessed with. Don’t worry, God’s Spirit will let you know when He wants to show you something important. Just pray you are paying attention.
Who has believed our message? To whom has the LORD revealed his powerful arm? My servant grew up in the LORD’s presence like a tender green shoot, like a root in dry ground. There was nothing beautiful or majestic about his appearance, nothing to attract us to him. He was despised and rejected– a man of sorrows, acquainted with deepest grief. We turned our backs on him and looked the other way. He was despised, and we did not care. Yet it was our weaknesses he carried; it was our sorrows that weighed him down. And we thought his troubles were a punishment from God, a punishment for his own sins! (Isaiah 53:1-4 NLTse).
John introduced Isaiah 53 near the end of Jesus’ ministry while He was preaching in Jerusalem. We see how John quoted the very beginning of Isaiah 53 to lead everyone who read his book back to Isaiah. Can you imagine the emotions John felt as he wrote this story in his book? Put yourself in John’s place as he wrote this book at a slow, steady pace by hand. He paused before he added this little part pointing us to Isaiah. John was very careful not to add any of his personal views but follow the direction of God’s Spirit. As John opened Isaiah’s book and turned to the portion he wanted to quote from, he read the entire prophecy about Jesus. John wept as he followed through the words Isaiah recorded so long ago. John wanted to reach people with his book. That was his intention when he sat down to write it. That had been his prayer for months before he started his book and prayer everyday as he wrote out his account of Jesus’ ministry. Once John finished reading the prophecy, he knew it was what God wanted. But John\’s emotional state would only allow him to copy the first few lines. I only included the introduction and summation to Isaiah 53. I hope you take the time to read the entire chapter on your own and feel the emotions John felt when he read it.
Look at the first few words. What did Isaiah feel when he penned those words? Who has believed our message? I know I ask that question almost everyday. Some people just don’t want to listen. Or they’ll listen but feel little need to move forward in their walk to catch up to Jesus and walk hand in hand with Him. I wonder why people choose this world over what they could have with Jesus today.
He has a way of comforting us like nothing else in this world. With a little faith, worries of this world will disappear. Everything the world can throw at you seem like a futile attempt from the enemy to draw you back into his camp. When you walk with Jesus, the enemie’s attempts to draw you back are like a mosquito trying to push and elephant.
Look back a chapter to see how Isaiah led into this prophecy and see how Isaiah 53 makes chapter 52 perfectly understandable. The watchmen shout and sing with joy, for before their very eyes they see the LORD returning to Jerusalem. Let the ruins of Jerusalem break into joyful song, for the LORD has comforted his people. He has redeemed Jerusalem. The LORD has demonstrated his holy power before the eyes of all the nations. All the ends of the earth will see the victory of our God. (Isaiah 52:8-10 NLTse).
You can see how watchmen are defined when we read Isaiah 52, 53, and John’s Gospel together. The watchmen were the people watching Jesus ride into Jerusalem. But those watchmen didn’t have the proper vision of Jesus. At that point they misunderstood His ministry.
When we progress to the next line we can see, Isaiah was not referring to the moment in time Jesus rode into Jerusalem on a donkey, but when He returned after His resurrection, when His victory over the enemy was sure. When His resurrected body proved the religious leaders wrong and exposed the bondage they put those people under. It was time to shout for joy because Jesus freed them. It wasn’t only His death and resurrection that freed them. It was His words, the miracles He performed, and the prophecies He fulfilled before their eyes. Isaiah 53 in only a small part of them.
Get out! Get out and leave your captivity, where everything you touch is unclean. Get out of there and purify yourselves, you who carry home the sacred objects of the LORD. You will not leave in a hurry, running for your lives. For the LORD will go ahead of you; yes, the God of Israel will protect you from behind. (Isaiah 52:11-12 NLTse). Isaiah told them about their departure from Jerusalem when the religious leaders hunted them, trying to silence them. God knew when truth reveals itself persecution is sure to follow. If they didn’t hesitate to kill His Son. Those religious leader would think little about the lives of Jesus’ disciples. The great light Jesus shed upon the earth was in conflict with the darkness trying to cover this world. Isaiah revealed what Jesus was telling them about the light being available for a short time. He told them that in Jerusalem. The disciples only enjoyed freedom to preach the word for a short time before the powers of darkness regrouped to launch a new attack.
That sequence of events showed how little the devil knows about scripture. He doesn’t have the ability to interpret scripture. He can’t interpret scripture without God’s Spirit. That would be impossible. Even if he can figure out the patterns, there is a portion locked away from his view and understanding. Satan is not guided in scripture. He has no way of seeing how prophecies are going to be fulfilled until after the events pass. That doesn’t stop him from reacting as quickly as he can and in most cases, he follows the same course he did with Jesus.
See, my servant will prosper; he will be highly exalted. But many were amazed when they saw him. His face was so disfigured he seemed hardly human, and from his appearance, one would scarcely know he was a man. And he will startle many nations. Kings will stand speechless in his presence. For they will see what they had not been told; they will understand what they had not heard about.(Isaiah 52:13-15 NLTse). Jesus was intentionally disfigured by the priests. Satan filled their heads with the possibility He may be the Messiah, but not the Messiah they wanted. To make sure they got the right Messiah, they disfigured Jesus thinking God could never accept a less than perfect physical sacrifice. They showed once again how they and their leader, the devil misinterpreted scripture.
After it was over Pilate and Herod saw what they did or didn’t’ do. They had to live with the thought, they killed God’s Son. Do you think Satan’s demons left those two alone after they killed Jesus? No! Demons tormented them with guilt. Their consciences would not give them a moment of rest. Both those kings received more reports about Jesus than anyone beside Jesus’ disciples. They had their witnesses, but ignored them.
Looking back, and looking back again reveals so much. There are times you almost have to read the Bible in reverse. How do you know when? That’s a job for God’s Spirit. He will show you when to refer to other books in the Bible, when to look up specific words, when to look at the previous chapter, God’s Spirit is your guide in God’s Word. Send out your light and your truth; let them guide me. Let them lead me to your holy mountain, to the place where you live. When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all truth. He will not speak on his own but will tell you what he has heard. He will tell you about the future. (Psalms 43:3, John 16:13 NLTse). You have one advantage over the enemy. Use it.
He had done no wrong and had never deceived anyone. But he was buried like a criminal; he was put in a rich man’s grave. But it was the LORD’s good plan to crush him and cause him grief. Yet when his life is made an offering for sin, he will have many descendants. He will enjoy a long life, and the LORD’s good plan will prosper in his hands. When he sees all that is accomplished by his anguish, he will be satisfied. And because of his experience, my righteous servant will make it possible for many to be counted righteous, for he will bear all their sins. I will give him the honors of a victorious soldier, because he exposed himself to death. He was counted among the rebels. He bore the sins of many and interceded for rebels. (Isaiah 53:9-12 NLTse).
Isaiah filled everyone in on Jesus’ perfect life, and so much more. God knew about the plan to crush Jesus long before it entered Satan’s mind as a thought. Then again, God saw how those thoughts were beginning to formulate in Lucifer’s mind while he still held a high position in Heaven. It wasn’t hard to figure out where Lucifer’s rebellion was leading. But God had to sit and watch while Satan worked his plans to their fulfillment. The difficult part was getting Satan to do everything on time. When you see how God was able to get Satan to put his plan into action at the exact moment God said the prophecies would be fulfilled is not only amazing, but adds additional proof Satan doesn’t understand scripture.
Too bad people focus on one little part of this prophecy and forget to look at the rest. People look at and preach, “he will bear all their sins,” while passing over the major portion of this prophecy. If they don’t see the part of God knowing all the plans, do you think they can understand all of Jesus’ many descendants? Can they see all of Jesus’ brothers and sisters in all the churches, countries, areas of this world no one can reach, and those areas no one cares about?
We’ve seen how people Jesus talked to face to face didn’t understand what He was talking about. How much less do people understand when they only read His Word? Do they see the patterns in Jesus’ ministry, in His miracles, or in His sacrifice?
Do people see and understand the glory God gave Him? Can anyone describe that unimaginable glory beyond anything in this world, beyond the stars, and human understanding? What do people do when they try to explain the glory Jesus received from His Father in a way to make it appear they have all the answers? They rob people of meeting Jesus to find out about that glory from His Spirit.
Isaiah told us about one of those honors, a victorious soldier. Actually this translation seems to take a little artistic freedom. But we may have missed the point if we used the KJV. Therefore will I divide him a portion with the great, and he shall divide the spoil with the strong; because he hath poured out his soul unto death: and he was numbered with the transgressors; and he bare the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors. (Isaiah 53:12 KJV). Translators for the KJV used the word great. The actual Greek work covered a broad range of positions including captain, elder, officer, and prince. The main focus of the Greek word focused on abundance.
Why was the NLT translated as soldier? The translators for the NLT used the rules of context to translate words that had a number of meanings. When they found a situation like this, they looked back at the introduction for a clue for which way to go. When we look at the introduction, we see a strong arm mentioned. That led translators to use the word soldier in the summation.
They Loved Human Praises
John 12:20-41 NLTse Many people did believe in him, however, including some of the Jewish leaders. But they wouldn’t admit it for fear that the Pharisees would expel them from the synagogue. (43) For they loved human praise more than the praise of God. (44) Jesus shouted to the crowds, “If you trust me, you are trusting not only me, but also God who sent me. (45) For when you see me, you are seeing the one who sent me. (46) I have come as a light to shine in this dark world, so that all who put their trust in me will no longer remain in the dark. (47) I will not judge those who hear me but don’t obey me, for I have come to save the world and not to judge it. (48) But all who reject me and my message will be judged on the day of judgment by the truth I have spoken. (49) I don’t speak on my own authority. The Father who sent me has commanded me what to say and how to say it. (50) And I know his commands lead to eternal life; so I say whatever the Father tells me to say.”
John began his summation to this series of stories, or this chapter by pointing out many people didn’t understand. Of course John pointed out many people did believe, including some of the Jewish leaders. We see the results later in Acts. God’s message continued to spread. The number of believers greatly increased in Jerusalem, and many of the Jewish priests were converted, too.
(Acts 6:7 NLTse). This is an important point to concentrate on, otherwise we’ll miss the major point in the verses that follow.
John wasn’t pointing out people who failed to understand. John pointed out how hard Jesus, God, and His Spirit worked to reach those people. Jesus didn’t care some of those people were planning to kill Him, He wanted to reach them all. But Jesus didn’t want them to look at Him, or honor Him. Jesus wanted to introduce them to His Father. Jesus explained His relationship with God and the process He followed. God sends Jesus orders and He followed them.
Jesus also brought up that subject of judgment. This time He made it clear, He didn’t want to judge anyone. He showed how far He was willing to go. They could have read about the details in Isaiah. But they saw it in real life. They saw the trial in front of Pilate. They heard about the other trials in front of Herod and the priests. They saw what those leaders did to Jesus. They saw Him on the cross. Then they heard about His resurrection. Not many saw Jesus after He rose from that tomb, but they could go back and read about it in scripture. We weren’t able to see what those people saw, but we can still go back to scripture and read about it.