Jesus goes to Bethany, to the house of Simon the Leper (Matthew 26:6), where he is joined by Mary, Martha. and lazarus. He is anointed by Mary as a fulfillment of prophecy regarding His death and burial. He is preparing to fulfill the prophecy written in Zechariah 9:9 and Isaiah 53:1; 6:10.
Because many people are believing in Jesus, the Jewish leaders are fearful of losing their political power with the Roman government, and their cultural/religious influence over the common people.
The desire of the Pharisees are about to come to fruition, that is, to get rid of Jesus. They do not understand Scripture, nor that they are actually doing God’s will albeit unwittingly. This is what the Devil does as well, for even he is not free of God’s sovereignty. While we do not understand the methods or motives of God (because He does not reveal all to us), we believe that He is righteous and does all things from that righteousness.
II. Key words, phrases, concepts
A. Believe: As with chapter 11, this is an especially important word and concept to John. This word basically means “to be persuaded, to commit, to intrust”. In the New Testament, it is used 241 times. In the writings of John, it is used nearly half of those times, or 108. The Gospel of John uses it about 100 times. Again, this is in keeping with the purpose of his writing, as stated in John 20:31.
B. Follow Jesus. Beginning in this chapter, John begins to explain in greater detail what it means to actually be a follower of Jesus. Many people believe, but not all follow. The commitment to follow is made after the belief, but requires ones entire life. There is no exception.
III. John 12:1-19
A. Anointing Jesus
1. Significance – according to Jesus, this is for His burial. In light of the context, especially with the Triumphal entry into Jerusalem about to occur, why would it be important that Jesus mentions His burial?
2. Read Matthew 26:6-13 and Mark 14:3-9. In tIhese accounts the disciples are mentioned as being angered at the “waste” of the perfume. Also, Jesus is anointed from His head down, not only His feet.
Remember, John is writing much later that the others, so he is not repeating all of the details already known. It is no surprise that he is summarizing some events, or only writes what is significant to his particular purpose.
The ointment runs down toJesus’ feet, and Mary shows humility which is the example Jesus whites for all of His followers to exhibit.
Theologically, the anointing of Jesus has several interesting aspects:
1 – Jesus is the Prophet, Priest, and King of the Old Testament. No other human in history fulfilled all three. David was a King and Prophet, Melchizedek was a Priest and a King, Moses was a Prophet and a Priest. (Use a bible dictionary and look up Melchizidek)
2 – As prescribed by the Old Testament, the anointing was a symbol of a holy calling and of authority, being chosen by Jehovah.
3 – The anointing runs over the entire body and into the closing, showing that the entire person and life is involved.
4 – Isaiah 53 graphically depicts the suffering Messiah, being totally misunderstood by the people of Jesus’ day (including the disciples). This anointing is preparation and fulfillment of Isaiah 53. (Some of Isaiah 53 expresses the early life and ministry of Jesu as He moves toward the crucifixion).
3. Judas’ anger – a thief, he did not believe in the Lord Jesus Christ. John writes this after-the-fact, likely that Judas was not known at the time to the others as a thief and a liar.
Are we willing to study to discover God’s will? Are we willing to wait if necessary? Do we truly want to know and do His will, or do we rather want Him to conform to our plans?
4. Jesus is special – He will not always be there and supporting the poor can continue in His name after He leaves (v.8).
B. The testimony of Lazarus
1. People are well aware of the miracle regarding Lazarus
2. The miracle provides occasion for Jesus to speak God’s Word and the result is that “many believe”.
Consider how often there is an “occasion” for speaking God’s Word for the Lord Jesus. Why is it that miracles make these possible?
What, then, are the purpose of Jesus’ miracles?
What might this teach us today about the priority of God’s Word?
C. “Triumphal entry”,or “Palm Sunday”
1. The disciples do not understand this event at first, but do later.
2. Most of the people attend because of the miracle, not because they believe or a fulfilling Scripture.
John provides great insight into the true meaning of “Palm Sunday”. It is not about people accepting and praising the Lord Jesus. In fact, these are the people who called for Jesus’ crucifixion. They believe that Jesus is the King to set them free from Roman oppression, but they do not realize that He is the Messiah to save from sin.
a. Jesus is the King, but not as people hoped for.
b. The Pharisees are still disbelievers and their attitude toward Jesus is further exposed.
IV. John 12:20-36
A. Greeks seek to see Jesus
1. A sign – v. 23
a. “Grain of wheat” – this is Jesus teaching about His death and the birth of the Church (This is the testimony of the book of Acts)
b. Bearing fruit – Jesus uses an agricultural illustration to present an eternal truth. In chapter 15 He will expand on “bearing fruit”.
Notice here that the Greeks, who are not Jewish, are part of this “fruit”.
How does this truth regarding being a grain of wheat apply to Jesus and to His future followers?
2. Loving one’s own life
a. The Greek word here is “phileo”, meaning a friendliness toward one’s own life.
b. “Hate” means “to love less” – no one actually hates their own life, and Jesus is not teaching this. It is a comparison regarding who is in control of one’s life. All through Scripture we are told that followers of Jesus must “give up” their own lives.
This is the essence of discipleship: giving up one’s own life as Jesus did. Read Matthew 10:34-39; 16:21-28; Luke 9:21-27; Acts 20:24; 21:13.
c. Keep it to eternal life – not earning eternal life, but keeping a careful watch over it. Jesus doses not take away eternal life, but it can be hindered/hampered by living for one’s self rather than for Jesus Christ. The demands of discipleship are rigid, rigorous, but the rewards are equally intense.
B. Worship and Serving always go together. Read Matthew 4:10.
1. In verse 26, “follow” is a written as a command, a necessity. Following means to go with, go after, do the same as….. Following does not mean simply being a part of the crowd. To follow means to stand out from the crowd. (Interesting note: The book of Mark highlights “the crowd” as being fickle)
2. Honored by the Father. It means “to be noted as praise-worthy”. This is conditional, and not everyone who is a believer will be honored. Compare John 10:17 and its context. Again, to follow Jesus means more than to attend a church service or do religious things.
Read 1 Peter 2:18-25; 3:13-22; 4:1-5. Compare these with 1 John 2:6; 3:16. In light of these passages, what is it to follow Jesus?
C. Jesus is prepared for His final task on earth – crucifixion
1. Jesus is “troubled”. He is deeply agitated with what He knows is about to take place. He is to be not only horribly tortured, but will be forsaken by those closest to Him and by His own Father.
a. Scripture is fulfilled who His disciples run away – see Matthew 26:31 and Zechariah 13:7.
b. His Father must forsake Him temporarily because Jesus becomes sin for you and me, 2 Corinthians 5:21.
2. Jesus’ purpose for coming to earth has not changed, and He will not waver.
Whom is Jesus obeying? What does this teach His followers about following?
D. Walk in the Light
1. This is one of John’s topic from the prologue, 1:3-9. Jesus has spoken of this several times in John. Read John 8:12; 9:5; Psalm 119:130.
a. “Walk” is to “maintain a certain conduct”
b. The Light is the Truth of God’s Word, as opposed to the values of the world. Followers of the Lord Jesus Christ must make the distinction and maintain the “walk”. This is one of the reasons that we need one-another.
2. Sons of Light
a. A new creation, walking in the Light as contrasted to walking in the darkness. Read 2 Corinthians 5:17.
b. Read Romans 12:1,2.
V. John 12:37-50
A. Commentary by John, 12:37-43
1. Belief is not the result of miracles. It is a supernatural action initiated by God Himself.
2. Fulfillment of Isaiah 6:10; 53:1. Also expressed by Jesus in Mark 4:11,12.
3. Some believe but remain fearful, controlled by the fear of man.
B. “Believing” explained by Jesus
1. One believes on both Jesus and His father. They are inseparable.
2. Believing means to move out of, not remain in, the darkness. Remember, the Light is from God’s Word.
3. Jesus came to save, not to Judge. However, the Gospel message judges those who do not believe.
Why does John include this commentary regarding the Pharisees who believed yet were fearful?
VI. Truths Presented
A. Jesus is fulfilling the Old testament Scriptures
1. He has come to save, not judge
2. He transforms people
B. Following Jesus is a costly commitment
1. Not every believer will follow
2. Serving at God’s pleasure
C. Satan is a real person
1. Judged and cast out
2. Rules the world
D. God’s Word is our command
1. He demands obedience
2. Jesus is our supreme example.
Read the book, “The Crucified Life” by A.W. Tozer