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Bible Commentaries
John 12

The Bible Study New TestamentBible Study NT

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Verse 1


Six days before the Passover. The other Gospels tell us that Jesus went from Ephraim across the Jordan and came back through Jericho with the large crowd of Galileans who came to Jerusalem for Passover. This dinner at Bethany would be on Saturday [the Sabbath], six days before he would die on Friday.

Verses 2-9


They prepared a dinner for him. For notes on this dinner and the anointing, see Matthew 26:6-16. For the day of my burial. Before the week ended, he would be in the grave. It was the custom to anoint bodies for burial. A large crowd of the Jews. People from Jerusalem.

Verses 10-11


So the chief priests made plans to kill Lazarus too. Lazarus was living proof of the divine power of Jesus.

Verses 12-15


The next day. McGarvey says this would be Sunday, April 2, 30 A.D. [by the corrected calendar]. For notes on the Triumphant Entry, see Matthew 21:1-11.

Verses 17-18


That was why the crowd met him. John explains both the crowd and their attitude as they meet Jesus in the Triumphant Entry.

Verse 19


Look, the whole world is following him. At this point, Jesus could have proclaimed himself King, and the people would have followed him! But see John 6:15 and note there. The whole city was in an uproar (Matthew 21:10-11).

Verse 20


Some Greeks. These are Gentiles who have converted to Judaism. [Not Greek-speaking Jews, as in Acts 6:1.] They had come to worship in Passover.

Verse 21


Sir, we want to see Jesus. They want an interview with the one whom all Jerusalem is talking about! [Philip probably spoke the Greek language.]

Verse 22


Philip went and told Andrew. They were close friends.

Verse 23


Jesus answered them. He speaks to the two disciples, but likely the Greeks were there also and heard his answer. The hour has now come. When he is lifted up, he will draw all men, Greeks, Gentiles, as well as Jews, to himself. See John 12:32; and compare note on John 8:28.

Verse 24


If it does die. A grain of wheat may be preserved for centuries in a storage bin, but is useless there. When it is dropped into the ground, it dies, but in the process, it produces many grains. It is a paradox that the death of Christ is the source of life to the whole world! There is also a lesson here for those who follow him.

Verse 25


Whoever loves his own life will lose it. Christ gave his life and was given great glory. The grain of wheat dies, and lives a hundred grains. Those who hate [love less, see note on Luke 14:26] their own lives for Jesus’ sake, will live eternally [and reproduce many new Christians].

Verse 26


Whoever wants to serve me. This is his direct answer to the Greeks. To serve Jesus is to give yourself to him as a living sacrifice (Romans 12:1-2), adopt his methods and goals, and follow him even to the point of death! God will honor those who do this.

Verse 27


Now my heart is troubled. The best explanation of this is the account of Gethsemane (Matthew 26:38-46 and notes there). Shall I say? His whole life on earth has been preparation for this hour. His death will fulfill God’s purpose (Luke 9:31). Without his death, he would be a seed preserved but not planted, fruitless!

Verse 28


Father, bring glory to your name! In Gethsemane, an angel came to help him (Luke 22:43); here it is God who speaks. Three times God spoke from heaven during Christ’s life: first, as Jesus is buried in baptism, symbolic of his own burial in the grave; second, at Transfiguration, when Moses and Elijah talk with him about his death; third, as his heart is troubled as he views the death he must die, and he honors God (compare John 12:23-24). And I will do so again. What Jesus has said means this: “Father, complete the demonstration of Your holiness and love, which you are making through me; complete it even at the cost of my agony (compare Hebrews 5:7-8).” God’s answer is that he has brought glory to his name through Christ already, and that he will complete this visible demonstration, by the Cross, the Resurrection, the Ascension, Pentecost, and the victory of the messianic community!

Verse 29


An angel spoke to him. All heard the sound of the voice, but could not identify it. They knew only that it was something supernormal!

Verse 30


But for yours. The Expositor’s Greek Testament says: “It was of immense importance that the disciples, and the people generally, should understand that the sudden transition from the throne offered by the triumphal acclamation of the previous day to the cross, was not a defeat but a fulfilment of the Divine purpose.” The fact that the voice spoke would give them courage in the days to come.

Verse 31


Now is the time for the world to be judged. The Cross became his throne, and he received the Crown! See Philippians 2:5-11. Now the ruler of this world. It must be frustrating to be the Devil! He never can win, and the Cross turned out to be his greatest defeat! See Hebrews 2:14-15; 1 John 3:8; Revelation 5:9-10.

Verse 32


When I am lifted up. Lifted up: first, to the Cross; second, from the grave; third, to heaven and the Throne. See notes on John 6:37; 1 Corinthians 1:23-25.

Verse 34


That the Messiah will live forever. They do not see how his death will fit in with their idea of an eternal king. Who is this Son of Man? They begin to think that perhaps “Son of Man” is not the same as “Messiah.” Two distinct lines of prophecy in the Old Testament spoke of a Messiah who would be KING, and a Messiah who would SUFFER. They ignored the part about “suffering,” because it did not fit in with what they wanted to believe.

Verse 35


The light will be. This is their only answer. Use the opportunity you now have, before it is taken away from you.

Verse 36


Believe in the light. To be “people of the light” is to find life in the truth of Jesus.

Verse 37


They did not believe in him. Mighty works do not produce faith in one whose heart is wicked and bitter.

Verse 38


What the prophet Isaiah had said. God’s law is that those who refuse to see will not be allowed to see (compare 2 Thessalonians 2:10-12).

Verse 42


Many Jewish authorities believed in Jesus. We know two of the Council who did: Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimathea. Did not talk about it openly. Those who did would be expelled (John 9:22)

Verses 47-48


I will not judge him. The word which he has spoken will measure everyone! God sent the Son into the world to be the world’s Savior. God acted in history through Jesus. Because this is true, we may be changed (2 Corinthians 5:17) from enemies into friends of God. He is the source of Eternal Life, and the Father offers this to all through him!!!

Bibliographical Information
Ice, Rhoderick D. "Commentary on John 12". "The Bible Study New Testament". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/ice/john-12.html. College Press, Joplin, MO. 1974.
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