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Bible Commentaries
John 12

Concordant Commentary of the New TestamentConcordant NT Commentary

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Verses 1-6

49 The high priest's prophecy is another clear indication of the overruling and sovereign power of God. His enemies fulfill His will even when they are most opposed to His plans and purpose, as they see it. The very arrogance of the chief priest reacts on himself. Not only the Sanhedrin, whom he accused of crass ignorance, but he also was unaware of the great truth which his lips uttered. How pitiable is man's "free will" in the hands of such a God! Man is utterly at the mercy of his heredity and environment, and these are beyond his control. God alone decides the factors of which our lives are composed and hence He is the final Arbiter of our deeds and destiny. Once we know Him we would not have it otherwise.

53 How vivid are the contrasts in this account! Christ has proclaimed Himself as the Life, both by word and by deed. From that day, then, they plan that they may kill Him. They deliberately decide to murder the One Who not only has life in Himself, but Who is to give life to all mankind !

55 "The Lord's Passover" ( Exo_12:27 ) has become "the Passover of the Jews"! The Lamb was not there.

1-8 Compare Mat_26:6-13 ; Mar_14:3-9 .

1 We are now treated to a beautifully symbolic picture of the three-fold phase of resurrection life. The saints shall serve Him as Martha did. They shall share with Him, as Lazarus. They shall worship Him, like Mary. In these degenerate days we have forgotten that there is need of one thing, and that is not service or sacrifice, but of sitting at the feet of our Lord and hearing His Word. Service has its place, but it is not, as Martha thought, the great need. God can get servants. He has many much more powerful than we are. He can make the very elements do His bidding. He is looking for worship, and true worship comes only from the heart attuned to His grace. Martha served, as she always did, though she had learned not to be worried by its details. Mary no longer sits at His feet but worships there, and "wastes" a woman's prized possession on them, and wipes them with a woman's glory. It is the most exalted act of any of His disciples. Like us, they were usually after blessing for themselves , instead of seeking to give Him what His heart craves. It is not what we get but what we give to God that fulfils the purpose for which He formed and favored us. Let us become so enamored of His excellencies that we, too, shall waste our most precious possessions in worship at His feet. Nothing is too good for Him! Nothing is lost that serves to express our adoration, nothing is wasted that conveys our love. But worshipful response is impossible apart from the preparation of heart which comes only to those who search the treasures of His Word. The discoveries of His wisdom and grace alone can constrain the heart to the impulsive and uncalculated displays of lavish affection which are His delight. One heart, responding to His love, is better than all the service and ceremony of a myriad of slaves driven by fear or favor.

3 The term "ointment" is now used especially for fatty or fixed oils, of heavy consistency, but the perfumes used in the Orient are essential oils, or attars. This seems the only satisfactory English term for the precious perfume used by Mary.

Verses 7-36

7 While facing the terrible ordeal of death our Lord found no fellowship with His disciples in the sorrows before Him. Like Peter, they could not entertain such a thought. But it seems that Mary alone, of all His friends, had learned to believe His words. She looked forward to His death and the tomb. Is it any wonder that she is first at the tomb on the resurrection morning and first to speak to the risen Christ?

12-19 Compare Mat_21:4-11 ; Mar_11:7-10 . Luk_19:35-40 .

13 See Psa_118:25-26 .

15 See Zec_9:9 .

21 Perhaps the surest index of the spiritual state and experience of believers is the way in which they use the name and titles of our Lord. The prevalent use of His personal name is shocking to the spiritual ear. Only His enemies and those unacquainted with Him, as these Greeks, addressed Him or spoke of Him familiarly by the name given Him at His birth. Those who knew Him and had learned to love Him always gave Him a title suited to the occasion. He was Teacher to His disciples, Adept, or Doctor, in reference to His wisdom, Lord or

Master to His slaves, and Christ or Messiah to His loyal subjects. To them He was Jesus the Christ, in humiliation. To us He is Christ Jesus, in glory. Surely it is a small thing for us to speak of Him as He deserves! Let us not degrade His high dignity by using His human name without at least one of the titles of His glory.

23 It seems that here we have a preview of the coming kingdom. He enters Jerusalem in triumph exactly, to a day, as foretold by Daniel the prophet ( Dan_9:25 ). The indignant Pharisees acknowledge that the world went after Him, and even the Greeks seek His acquaintance, as the nations will come up to Jerusalem in the millennial kingdom. There is no intimation that the curiosity of the Greeks was satisfied. In the kingdom they will have their place, but before that, immediately athwart His path, is the death that will open the way for the blessing of all. The Greeks must wait until the grain of wheat has died.

24 The millennial vision fades away and gives place to the black shadows of Golgotha. The King has come, but they do not know Him. The kingdom proclamation is withdrawn. Death looms large ahead. The Wheat kernel must die. Only in resurrection can be realized the close unity with His own which He craved.

25 We fail to feel the force of this if we confound the soul with life . We could hardly say, in verse Joh_12:27 , "Now is My life disturbed," yet it is the very same word. The soul has to do with sensation. Some forms of life, as plants, have no soul, or sensation. He who is fond of his soul will shrink from discomfort and suffering. He will not endure the affliction which precedes the kingdom. He will lose the joy and blessedness of the reward. He who hates his soul will not allow any sorrow to stand between him and faithfulness to God.

27 The Lord Himself is the first to hate His own soul. His darkest hour has come. Shall He shrink from its horrors? No! Let God's name be glorified whatever the bitter cost! The rendering "life", in place of "soul", fails to give the true thought. A man may love life, yet hate his soul. Those who fear persecution and distress for Christ's sake are fond of their souls, and they will forfeit the very ease and delight which they crave, when the kingdom comes.

31 .'Now is the judging of this world" suggests that God was, at that time, about to judge mankind. But He did not. Judgment still waits. It is the world that was doing the judging. This is confirmed by the same form of the word in "the judging of Gehenna" ( Mat_23:33 ), "the just judging of God" ( 2Th_1:5 ). See also Rev_14:7 ; Rev_16:7 ; Rev_18:10 ; Rev_19:2 . The world would hardly judge Satan, so the Chief here spoken of must be Christ Himself. This title is used again in Joh_14:30 and Joh_16:11 , where further evidence is given that our Lord is speaking of Himself. The judging is His exaltation on the cross, for it was a reference to the manner of His death. So it was that the throng understood the term. We should not give one of His titles to Satan. Christ is the world's Chief.

Verses 37-50

37 What better proof could be found that they were walking in darkness than their rejection of the Man of Sorrows? The prophets plainly foretold their action and yet they are too much in the dark to see.

38 Our Lord has now come to that stage of His ministry which was so graphically described by His namesake, Isaiah. His public ministry is at its close. He hides Himself. As the prophet continues ( Isa_53:2-3 ):

He has no shapeliness or honor,

And, seen by us, He is no sight to be coveted.

He is despised and shunned by men,

A Man of pains and knowing illness,

And, as One concealing His face from us, He is despised, and we take no account of Him.

39 Outside the Scriptures ,ye hear much of human responsibility, and that those who reject the light deserve the judgment they have invited. This passage makes us pause. These men had heard the most powerful of all preachers and seen the most marvelous of all miracle workers, yet we are distinctly told that they could not believe . The reason given is that the Scriptures must be fulfilled . God's purpose demands a measure of unbelief as well as of faith. He locks up all in stubbornness that He may have mercy on all ( Rom_11:32 ). To damn these men who could not believe with irretrievable and irrecoverable ruin is unthinkable of God.

40 Isaiah's message of doom to Israel is always quoted when their apostasy has passed repair. It divides our Lord's ministry and the accounts given of it into two distinct and different epochs. He begins His proclamation of the kingdom and continues until its rejection. Then, after quoting the sixth of Isaiah, He speaks to His own of His suffering and death.

See Mat_13:13-15 .

In the Pentecostal era we see the same. The kingdom is proclaimed to the whole nation once again, but when their rejection is irrevocable, Paul quotes from Isaiah and seals their doom for the eon. This rejection is the basis on which the present secret economy of transcendent grace has been established.

1 The path of our Lord as brought before us in John's account may be compared with the path of a priest who comes out of the tabernacle and returns thither within the curtain. We find Him first with God ( Joh_1:1 ). Then He is the Light ( Joh_1:9 ), reminding us of the seven-branched lampstand. At His baptism ( Joh_1:29 ) we see Him at the laver and as the Lamb He is on the brazen altar of sacrifice. Thus He came out from God. Now that He is rejected, He goes back to God. The order is reversed. He bears witness to His death ( Joh_12:24 )-the brazen altar. He washes the disciples' feet ( Joh_13:5 )-the laver. He partakes of the "last supper"-the shewbread. The Holy Spirit - the lampstand. Within the curtain in chapter seventeen-the mercy seat. Thus we see how really He came out from God and is going back to God (3). He returns whence He came.

2 This act is characteristic of the Adversary's opposition. He was to "bruise His heel" ( Gen_3:15 ) , a special phrase denoting the treachery of one who seems to serve while he plots destruction. The name Jacob, literally "heeler" or supplanter. conveys this same idea of unfair advantage ( Gen_25:21-26 ). The tribe of Dan is "a horned snake in the path to bite the horse's heels" ( Gen_49:17 ). Its treachery excluded it from the list of tribes in the Unveiling ( Joh_7:4:8 ).

3 The majesty of humility is seldom so splendidly set forth as in this passage. First we have His high place in reference to the world. All is in His hands. Then we are told of His relation to God. Did not such dignity and power entitle Him to the highest esteem? Yet, as such , He stoops to the meanest humility.

5 Many features of oriental life are very different from our customs. We remove our hats on entering a house, as a token of respect. In the East they keep on their turbans, but remove their footgear, leaving it in the small, lower entrance to the reception room (See Exo_3:5 ; Jos_5:15 ; Act_7::33 ). It is then the duty of the humblest slave in the establishment to wash the feet of the guest, by pouring water over them, and wiping them off with the towel with which he is girded.

Bibliographical Information
"Commentary on John 12". Concordant Commentary of the New Testament. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/aek/john-12.html. 1968.
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