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Bible Commentaries
John 12

People's New TestamentPeople's NT

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SUMMARY.--The Feast at Bethany. The Anointing by Mary. The Anger of Judas. The Purpose to Put Lazarus to Death. The Entrance into Jerusalem. The Greeks Seeking Jesus. "The Hour Is Come." The Voice from Heaven. The Son of Man to Be Lifted Up. The Cause of Unbelief.

Verse 1

Jesus six days before the passover came to Bethany. From the other Gospels we learn that he went from Ephraim beyond the Jordan and came back through Jericho with the great company of Galileans who came to attend the passover. The supper at Bethany was Saturday evening before he was crucified.

Verses 2-9

There they made him a supper. For notes on this supper and the anointing, see Mat 26:6-16. Compare Mar 14:3-11 and Luk 7:36-50.

Then saith one of his disciples. Judas Iscariot.

Three hundred pence. Silver to the amount of $45, equivalent to about $300 now, owing to the change of values.

Against the day of my burying hath she kept this. Before a week he was to be in the tomb. It was customary to anoint dead bodies for burial.

Much people . . . came. From Jerusalem to Bethany.

Verses 10-11

The chief priests consulted. Lazarus was a living proof of the Divine power of Christ, and they wished him out of the way.

Verses 12-15

On the next day. Sunday. For notes on the entrance to Jerusalem, see Mat 21:1-11. Compare Mar 11:1-11; Luke 19:29-44.

Verse 19

The world is gone after him. The Pharisees observed the vast crowds that attended him and were filled with alarm. The city was filled with commotion (Mat 21:10-11).

Verse 20

And there were certain Greeks among them that came up to worship at the feast. Among those who came to worship were Greeks, members of the Gentile division of the race which embraced all that were not Jews. These were not Jews who spoke the Grecian language and lived in Greek countries; those are called in the original Greek Hellenistoi. We find the latter in the Jerusalem church in large numbers. See Act 6:1. These who sought to visit Jesus were Hellenes, a term only used of the Greek race. It is probable that they belonged to the large class of "devout Greeks," met elsewhere by Paul, who were sick of heathenism and were attracted by the grand Hebrew revelation of the unity of God. On this great national occasion they had accompanied Jews settled abroad as they returned to worship in the city of David.

Verse 21

The same came therefore to Philip. The name Philip is Grecian, as well as Andrew, and those of the seven deacons of Acts, chapter 6. It is not unlikely that Philip was a Jew born among the Greeks, who spoke the Greek language.

We would see Jesus. They wish to find out more about the great teacher from Galilee.

Verse 22

Philip cometh and telleth Andrew. Andrew was also of Bethsaida, and he and Philip seem to have been inseparable friends.

Verse 23

The hour is come, that the Son of man should be glorified. The answer of Christ may have been to Philip and Andrew, and the Greeks may have heard and understood it. The substance is, that the time of his glorification had come and that glorification would draw all men, Greek, Gentiles as well as Jews, to him.

Verse 24

Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone. This statement, prefaced by the verily, verily, that gives solemn emphasis, enforces a great truth. The grain of wheat may remain in the granary for a thousand years and be preserved, but it is useless there. It neither reproduces, nor is food. It is when it falls into the ground and undergoes dissolution, that it brings forth fruit. It is fruitful by giving itself up. So, too, Christ must give himself up. His death was needful in order that he might impart life to the nation. There is a lesson here for disciples who would "bear much fruit."

Verse 25

He that loveth his life shall lose it. He announces a principle that underlies all exaltation. He gave his life and found eternal exaltation; the grain gives its life and lives a hundred-fold; those who consecrate their lives, give them up for others, dedicate them to their holy work, will live eternally.

Verse 26

If any man serve me, let him follow me. This is Christ's direct answer to the Greeks. His service is to be rendered, not by secret interviews, but by obeying him, for so the word "follow" is to be understood.

Verse 27

Now is my soul troubled. It is the shadow of the cross and the tomb. The best comment on this verse is to compare it with the account of the agony in the garden. Here he exclaims: Father, save me from this hour. There, "If it be possible, let this cup pass from me." Here, he adds: But for this cause came I unto this hour. There, "Nevertheless, not my will but thine be done." Here the perfect resignation that follows the struggle in his soul is in the prayer, "Father, glorify thy name."

Verse 28

Then came a voice from heaven, saying, I have both glorified it. At Gethsemane the angel came to strengthen him; here the Father's voice speaks in approval. Three times the Father's voice was heard from the sky: first, when Christ was buried in Jordan, a type of his own burial; second, when Moses and Elijah talked with him on the holy mount about his death; third, when he had his struggle of soul in view of death portrayed here, and triumphed.

Will glorify it again. God had glorified his name by the wonders wrought by Jesus; he would glorify it by his resurrection, his exaltation, the scenes of Pentecost, and the triumphs of the church.

Verse 29

An angel spake to him. All heard the sound of the divine voice, but it was not clear to all what it was.

Verse 30

This voice came not because of me. He had already won the victory before the voice came. It was rather to confirm the faith of his disciples, who still stumbled over the prospect of his death.

Verse 31

Now is the judgment of this world. Now, "this hour," the "hour" referred to in Joh 12:23 and Joh 12:27, the hour for which he had come into the world, the hour of the cross; that was to be the hour of judgment, the crisis, which should determine who should rule the world. The cross became a throne. It gave him the crown.

The prince of this world be cast out. The cross cast him out, dethroned him; he is now a usurper and shall finally be cast into the lake of fire.

Verse 32

If I shall be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me. Lifted up, first, to the cross; second, from the grave; third, to heaven and the eternal throne.

Verse 34

We have heard out of the law that Christ abideth forever. The multitude were perplexed. Their idea of the Messiah was an eternal king. Now he spoke of death.

Verse 35

Yet a little while is the light with you. He refuses to answer their questions directly, but imparts to them needed truths. The light was then present with them. Let them seek the light and walk in it while they had opportunity. The opportunity might soon pass away and the darkness come.

Verse 36

Believe in the light, that ye may be the children of light. That they might receive the light of the Light of the world they must believe on him.

Verse 37

Yet they believed not on him. They had a kind of intellectual faith, but were filled with doubts when they could not understand. There was no real trust.

Verse 38

The saying of Esaias the prophet, etc. See notes on Mat 13:14-16. They were blinded because they closed their eyes, and God's law is that those who will not see, shall not see.

Verse 42

Among the chief rulers also many believed. Members of the Sanhedrim. We have the names of two, Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus. See Joh 19:38-39.

They did not confess him. For fear of excommunication. The Pharisees had decided to excommunicate those who did. See Joh 9:22. The two rulers just named afterwards became bolder.

Verses 47-48

I judge him not. He shall sit on the throne of judgment, not to condemn the world he came to save. The words he left in the world will decide the destiny of every man. All shall be "judged by the things written in the books" (Rev 20:12).

Bibliographical Information
Johnson, Barton W. "Commentary on John 12". "People's New Testament". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/pnt/john-12.html. 1891.
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