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Bible Commentaries

The Fourfold Gospel

John 12

Verses 1-11


P A R T S E V E N T H.
LAST WEEK OF OUR LORD’S MINISTRY, THE
FOURTH PASSOVER, THE CRUCIFIXION.

CIV.
JESUS ARRIVES AND IS FEASTED AT BETHANY.
(From Friday afternoon till Saturday Night, March 31 and April 1, A. D. 30.)
dJOHN XI. 55-57; XII. 1-11; aMATT. XXVI. 6-13; bMARK XIV. 3-9.

d55 Now the passover of the Jews was at hand: and many went up to Jerusalem out of the country before the passover, to purify themselves. [These Jews went up before the Passover that they might have time to purify themselves from ceremonial uncleanness before the feast. They were expected to purify before any important event ( Exodus 19:10, Exodus 19:11), and did so before the passover ( 2 Chronicles 30:13-20), for those who were ceremonially unclean were excluded from it-- John 18:28.] 56 They sought therefore for Jesus, and spake one with another, as they stood in the temple, What think ye? That he will not come to the feast? 57 Now both the chief priests and the Pharisees had given commandment, that, if any man knew where he was, he should show it, that they might take him. [The decree of the Sanhedrin ordering the arrest of Jesus led the people to question as to whether he would dare to approach the city. But this mention of it and the stir and question which it created have a dark significance. It shows that the Jews generally were forewarned of the evil purpose of the Sanhedrin, and the dangers which surrounded Jesus. They were not taken unawares when their rulers told them to raise the cry "Crucify him!" And they raised it after they had due notice and time [568] for deliberation.] d1 Jesus therefore six days before the passover came to Bethany, where Lazarus was, whom Jesus raised from the dead. [The word "therefore" refers to the decree and consequent dangers just mentioned. Because his "hour" had come, Jesus went to face these dangers. We are told that he came to the house of Lazarus and that he kept near Lazarus because these facts emphasized the great miracle which roused the hatred of the Jews, and caused them more earnestly to seek the death of Christ. Jesus appears to have arrived in Bethany Friday afternoon, March 31, A. D. 30. It is likely that he spent the Sabbath day at that place, and that the supper mentioned below was given him after sunset on Saturday, which, according to Jewish reckoning, would be the beginning of Sunday. This supper is mentioned later by Matthew and Mark, but without any note of time to show that it belongs specifically where they put it. But John does give us a note of time. The John 12:12 shows that it was the night before the triumphal entry, and therefore we follow the chronology of John.] 2 So a6 Now when Jesus was in Bethany, dthey made him a supper there: ain the house of Simon the leper, dand Martha served; but Lazarus was one of them that sat at meat with him. [Who Simon the leper was is not known. It is not unlikely that he was one whom Jesus had healed, and that he united with the household of Lazarus in a joint effort to show gratitude unto the Lord for his goodness to this group of his friends.] b3 And while he was [there] as he sat at meat, there came aunto him a woman {d3 Mary} ahaving an alabaster cruse of exceeding precious ointment, bof pure nard very costly; d3 Mary therefore took a pound [a litra, a Greek weight containing nearly twelve ounces avoirdupois] of ointment of pure nard, very precious [Nard was a liquid perfume distilled from some odorous plant or plants and mingled with oil. It was sealed in flasks or alabaster boxes and imported from the far East], band she brake the cruse, and poured it over {aupon} bhis head. aas he sat at meat. dand anointed [569] the feet of Jesus, and wiped his feet with her hair [The cruse seems to have been a long-necked flask sealed with wax so tightly as to necessitate it being broken to extract the nard. These flasks were tasteful and costly objects such as women delight to possess. Many of them were so delicate that Pliny compares them to closed rosebuds, and the same writer, speaking of nard, reckons it as an instance of excessive luxury to anoint the feet or ankles with it]: and the house was filled with the odor of the ointment. [Thus the liberality of Mary contributed to the pleasure of all the guests. The odor of a good deed is generally diffusive.] 4 But Judas Iscariot, one of his disciples, that should betray him, saith, 5 Why was not this ointment sold for three hundred shillings, and given to the poor? 6 Now this he said, not because he cared for the poor; but because he was a thief, and having the bag took away what was put therein. a8 But when the disciples saw it, they {bthere were some that} had indignation among themselves, asaying, To what purpose is this waste? bTo what purpose hath this waste of the ointment been made? 5 For this ointment might have been sold afor much, bfor above three hundred shillings, and given to the poor. And they murmured against her. [It seems very likely that this murmuring was started by Judas Iscariot, for the murmurers fall in with his notions that the price of the ointment should be deposited in the poor fund. It is a singular thing that Jesus permitted a thief to occupy the office of treasurer. It is probable that Judas was honest when he was called to serve, but that same management and spirit of economy which made him fit for the place ruined him when he got it. Thus our strong points are often our weakest. The price of the pound of nard would be about fifty-one dollars of our money, but the purchasing power of money was then nearly ten times as great as it is now. The price here named agrees almost exactly with the figures at which Pliny rates the most costly nard.] a10 But Jesus perceiving it, dtherefore said, aunto them, bLet her [570] alone; aWhy trouble ye the woman? for she hath wrought a good work upon me. dSuffer her to keep it against the day of my burying. a12 For in that she poured this ointment upon my body, she did it to prepare me for burial. b8 She hath done what she could; hath anointed my body beforehand for the burying. [The expression "Suffer," etc., used by John, is taken by some as implying that all the ointment was not poured out, and that some of the apostles were endeavoring to persuade Mary to keep and sell what was left, and that Jesus ordered it kept to finish the embalming of his body which Mary had already begun. But there is nothing in the language to require such an interpretation. Jesus meant, "Let her use it rightly," using the word "keep" as in the expression, "keep the feast;" i. e., observe the ceremony. The words of Jesus about the ointment taken as a whole may be construed thus: "The sorrows of my coming passion oppress me ( Matthew 26:38), and Mary, conscious of that sorrow, wishes to cheer me with the evidence of love and gratitude. She sympathizes with me as I approach the shadow of death, and anoints me beforehand for the burial. You do not begrudge what is given to the dead. You do not censure as extravagant what is spent for the embalming of a dear one. You yourselves would be ready enough to anoint me in this same manner after I am dead. So do not censure her because in the fullness of her sympathy she has anticipated the coming catastrophe and has anointed me beforehand."] d8 For the poor ye have always with you [ Deuteronomy 15:11]; band whensoever ye will ye can do them good: but me ye have not always. [There would be plenty of opportunities in which to do good to the poor, but the time for conferring a personal benefit upon Christ in the flesh was now limited to seven days. Thereafter gifts could only be given to Christ by bestowing them upon the poor.] 9 And verily I say unto you, Wheresoever the {athis} gospel shall be preached in {bthroughout} the whole world, that also which this woman hath done shall be spoken of for a memorial of her. [Jesus here makes [571] prominent the different estimates which God and man place upon the same acts. That which the disciples had censured as a waste and that which they had regarded as worthy of rebuke was in his sight an action fit to be kept in everlasting remembrance as a model for the conduct of future generations throughout the whole earth, and he accordingly decreed that it be so kept in mind.] d9 The common people therefore of the Jews learned that he was there [in Simon’s house]: and they came, not for Jesus’ sake only, but that they might see Lazarus also, whom he had raised from the dead, 10 But the chief priests took counsel that they might put Lazarus also to death; 11 because that by reason of him many of the Jews went away [withdrew from the party headed by the Jewish rulers], and believed on Jesus. [The presence of the resurrected man and the Christ who had resurrected him both at one table greatly excited the curiosity of the multitudes who had come up to Jerusalem to attend the passover. When word of this supper spread among the people it was natural that they should slip out to Bethany to see the sight, and it was equally natural that seeing it they should believe in Jesus. This deflection of the common people gave a keener venom to the hatred of the rulers.]

[FFG 568-572]

Verses 12-19


CV.
JESUS’ TRIUMPHAL ENTRY INTO JERUSALEM.
(From Bethany to Jerusalem and back, Sunday, April 2, A. D. 30.)
aMATT. XXI. 1-12, 14-17; bMARK XI. 1-11; cLUKE XIX. 29-44; dJOHN XII. 12-19.

c29 And d12 On the morrow [after the feast in the house of Simon the leper] cit came to pass, when he he drew nigh unto Bethphage and Bethany, at the mount that is called Olivet, a1 And when they came nigh unto [572] Jerusalem, and came unto Bethphage unto {bat} athe mount of Olives [The name, Bethphage, is said to mean house of figs, but the derivation is disputed. Canon Cook and others think that the region on the eastern slope of Olivet was called Bethphage, and that Bethany was located in it. If it was a village, all trace of it has long since vanished, and it is not worth while to give the guesses and surmises of commentators as to its location. But it was evidently near Bethany], then Jesus sent {bsendeth} two of his {cthe} disciples, b2 and saith {a2 saying} unto them, cGo your way into the village [probably Bethphage, for Jesus started from Bethany] athat is over against you, band straightway as ye enter into it, aye shall find an ass tied, and a colt btied, awith her: bwhereon no man ever sat; loose him, {athem,} band bring him. {athem} unto me. [Numerous Scripture references show that the ass was held in high estimation in the East. The sons of the judges used them, and David’s mule was used at the coronation of Solomon ( Judges 10:4, 1 Kings 1:33). It is specifically stated that no man had ever sat upon this colt, for if the colt had been used by men it would have been unfit for sacred purposes-- Numbers 19:2, Deuteronomy 21:3, 1 Samuel 6:7.] 3 And if any one say aught unto you, 31; cAnd if any one ask you, {bsay unto you,} Why do ye this? cWhy do ye loose him? thus shall ye say, The Lord hath need of him. {athem;} band straightway he will send him. {athem.} bback hither. [The owner of the ass was no doubt a disciple or well-wisher of Jesus, and therefore readily consented to respond to the Master’s need. Such a well-wisher might readily be found in a multitude ready to lay their garments in the road to honor Christ. The words "send him back" are usually construed to be a promise on the part of Christ that he would return the colt when through with him. But such a promise seems rather out of keeping with the dignity of the occasion. We prefer to construe the words as referring to the movements of Christ’s two messengers from the neighborhood of Bethany to Bethphage and back again, or to a backward [573] movement along the caravan’s line of march.] a4 Now this is come to pass, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken through the prophet, saying, 5 Tell ye the daughter of Zion [the poetical name for the city of Jerusalem], Behold, thy King cometh unto thee, Meek, and riding upon an ass, And upon a colt the foal of an ass. [The prophecy is a combination of Isaiah 62:11, Zechariah 9:9. This is the only instance in which Jesus rode. He entered in meekness, for the ass was a symbol of peace as the horse was of war ( Job 39:19-25), but there was nothing degrading about riding such a beast. The Eastern ass is smaller, but livelier, and better framed than the specimens found in our country. They constituted a chief asset in the property of the wealthy-- Genesis 12:16, Genesis 30:43, Job 42:12, 1 Chronicles 27:30, 1 Kings 1:38.] 6 And the disciples {cthey} that were sent away, aand did even as Jesus appointed them, cand found even as he had said unto them ba colt tied at the door without in the open street [the streets being narrow, one would very seldom see an ass tied in one]; and they loose him. c33 And as they were loosing the colt, bcertain of them that stood there cthe owners thereof said unto them, Why loose ye the colt? bWhat do ye, loosing the colt? 6 And they said unto them even as Jesus had said: and they let them go. 7 And they bring {abrought} the ass, and the colt, {chim} bunto Jesus, aand put on them their garments [The garments were the loose cloaks worn over the tunics or shirts. This cloak survives in the abba or hyke of the modern Arab. The unbroken colt would of course have no saddle, and these loyal disciples lent their cloaks to supply the deficiency, and to do Jesus royal honor. Compare the enthronement of Jehu ( 2 Kings 9:13). They prepared both beasts, not knowing which he would choose to ride]; cand they threw {bcast} ctheir garments upon the colt, and set Jesus thereon. aand he sat thereon. {bupon him.} da great multitude that had come to the feast, when they heard that Jesus was coming to [574] Jerusalem, 13 took the branches of the palm trees, and went forth to meet him [Palm-trees were never abundant in Palestine, but there were many around Jericho, through which city these Galilean pilgrims had so recently come. They were date palms, the leaves of which were often ten feet in length. They are now comparatively rare, but are found in the plains of Philistia. The palm branch is emblematic of triumph and victory-- Leviticus 23:40, Revelation 7:9; I. Macc. xiii. 51; II. Macc. x. 7], and cried out, Hosanna: Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord, even the King of Israel [The shouting appears to have been started by those who came out of Jerusalem; it is evident, therefore, that the apostles who were approaching the city with Jesus had nothing to do with inciting this praise.] 14 And Jesus having found a young ass, sat thereon; as it is written, 15 Fear not, daughter of Zion: behold, thy King cometh, sitting on an ass’s colt. 16 These things understood not his disciples at the first: but when Jesus was glorified, then remembered they that these things were written of him, and that they had done these things unto him. [The apostles were not conscious that the prophecies were being fulfilled nor did they understand that Jesus was approaching a heavenly rather than an earthly coronation. But after Jesus was glorified, their understandings were spiritually illuminated ( John 16:13). They not only remembered the prophecy, but saw in what sense it was that Jesus was king, and how badly mistaken they had been when they expected him to antagonize the Romans. The greatness of her king would have removed all cause for fear if Jerusalem had but accepted him.] 17 The multitude therefore that was with him when he called Lazarus out of the tomb, and raised him from the dead, bare witness. [The two parts of the miracle--the calling and the raising--are both mentioned as alike impressive, sublime, and wonderful.] 18 For this cause also the multitude went and met him, for that they heard that he had done this sign. [It is evident from this that the testimony of those who [575] witnessed the raising of Lazarus had enthused the pilgrims in Jerusalem and had sent a large band of them forth charged with that ardent admiration which produced the shouting of the triumphal entry.] 19 The Pharisees therefore said among themselves, Behold how ye prevail nothing: lo, the world is gone after him. [Again, as at John 11:47-49, we notice the self-confessed impotency of the Pharisees, but the Sadducees, under the determined and more resolute leadership of Caiaphas, did not participate in this despair. The Pharisees speak of the world as if its acquisition by Jesus was their loss.] c36 And as he went, athe most part of the multitude {bmany} [Matthew would have us know that the demonstration was no small affair, but was well-nigh universal. Josephus estimates that the number present at one passover was three million, or about one-half the population of Judæa and Galilee. The language of the Pharisees in 1 Corinthians 1:26.] c37 And as he was now drawing nigh, even at the descent of the mount of Olives, the whole multitude of the disciples began to rejoice and praise God with a loud voice for all the mighty works which they had seen [John has shown us just above that the raising of Lazarus was most prominent in their thoughts]; a9 The multitudes that went before him, and that followed [Jesus approached the city leading a multitude of pilgrims, and we have seen from John’s account above that another multitude came out of the city to meet him: Jesus approached the city between two great multitudes.] cried, saying, bHosanna [This is the Greek form or spelling of two Hebrew words, Hoshiah-na, which means, Save now, or, Save, I pray, na being a particle of entreaty added to imperatives. The two words are taken from Psalms 118:25, which was recognized as the Messianic Psalm. The shout "Hosanna" was customarily used at the feast of the tabernacles and the other festivals. It was a shout of exaltation about equivalent to "Salvation"]; aHosanna to the Son of David [see Psalms 118:26]; cblessed is the King that cometh in the name of the Lord: b10 blessed is the kingdom that cometh, the kingdom of our father David: cpeace in heaven, and glory in the highest. aHosanna in the highest. [This phrase is taken to mean in the highest degree or highest strains or in the highest heavens. It is likely they were calling upon heaven to participate in glorifying and to ratify their shouts of salvation. The Evangelists give us the various cries of the multitude, for they did not all cry one thing. The cries, if seriously construed, were a fore-recognition of the Messiahship of Jesus, but popular cries are soon caught up and are as fickle as the impulses which beget them. But the public recognition of the Messiahship of Jesus gave [577] weight to the accusation made by Simon Peter on the day of Pentecost that they had slain the Messiah-- Acts 2:36. Comp. Acts 3:14, Acts 3:15.] c39 And some of the Pharisees from the multitude [not a committee sent from Jerusalem for that purpose] said unto him, Teacher, rebuke thy disciples. [It is possible that these may have been moved with an honest fear that the enthusiasm of the people would call down the vengeance of the Romans ( John 11:48), but it is more likely that they were prompted solely by envy.] 40 And he answered and said, I tell you that, if these shall hold their peace, the stones will cry out. [The expression is probably proverbial ( Habakkuk 2:11). The meaning is that the occasion of the great King’s visit to his city ( Matthew 5:35) was so momentous that, if man withheld his praise, inanimate nature would lend its acclamations.] 41 And when he drew nigh, he saw the city and wept over it, 42 saying, If thou hadst known in this day, even thou, the things which belong unto peace! but now they are hid from thine eyes. [The summit of Olivet is two hundred feet higher than the nearest part of the city of Jerusalem and a hundred feet higher than its farthest part, so that the Lord looked upon the whole of it as one looks upon an open book. As he looked upon it he realized the difference between what his coming might mean to it and what it did mean to it; between the love and gratitude which his coming should have incited and the hatred and violence which it did incite; between the forgiveness, blessing and peace which he desired to bring it and the judgment, wrath and destruction which were coming upon it. The vision of it all excited strong emotion, and the verb used does not indicate silent tears, but audible sobbing and lamentation. The day then passing was among the last before the crucifixion, which would present to the Jews a strong motive for repentance. Had Jerusalem hearkened unto Jesus then, he would have saved her from that self-exaltation which proved her ruin. But bigotry and prejudice blinded her eyes.] 43 For the days shall come upon thee, when thine enemies shall cast up a bank about thee, and compass thee round, [578] and keep thee in on every side. [from where Jesus then stood he could see the houses which were to be thrown down, he could locate the embankments which would be built, and he could trace almost every foot of the line of the wall by which Titus in his anger girdled the city when his embankments were burned--Jos. Wars V. 6. 2, 11. 4-6, 12. 1, 2], 44 and shall dash thee to the ground, and thy children within thee [the city is figuratively spoken of as a mother, and her citizens as her children]; and they shall not leave in thee one stone upon another; because thou knewest not the time of thy visitation. [The term "visitation" usually refers to a season of judgment, but here, as elsewhere also ( Exodus 4:31), it means a season of grace. To not leave one stone upon another is a proverbial expression descriptive of a complete demotion, but in the overthrow of Jerusalem it was well-nigh literally fulfilled. Thus, while the people rejoiced in the present triumph, the prophetic eye and ear of our Lord beheld the judgments which were coming upon the city, heard the bitter cry of the starved defenders during the siege, the screams of the crucified left to perish upon their crosses after its capture, all ending in the final silence of desolation when not one stone was left upon another.] b11 And he entered into Jerusalem [his route led him down the steep face of Olivet, past Gethsemane, across the stone bridge which spans the Kedron, and up the slope of Moriah to the eastern gate of the city], a10 And when he was come into Jerusalem, all the city was stirred, saying, Who is this? 11 And the multitude said, This is the prophet Jesus, from Nazareth of Galilee. 12 And Jesus entered into the temple of God [here Matthew tells of the cleansing of the temple, which evidently occurred the next day], 14 And the blind and the lame came to him in the temple; and he healed them. 15 But when the chief priests and scribes saw the wonderful things that he did, and the children that were crying in the temple and saying, Hosanna to the Son of David; they were sore displeased, 16 and said unto him, Hearest thou what [579] these say? And Jesus saith unto them, Yea; did ye never read [ Psalms 8:2 as rendered by the LXX.], Out of the mouth of babes and sucklings thou hast perfected praise? [Matthew mingles this scene with events which apparently occurred on Monday, but the enthusiasm and the Hosanna cry evidently belonged to the triumphant Sunday. The presence of our Lord in the temple should, indeed, have been heralded with joy, for as that was the day in which the paschal lamb was presented and set apart, it was fitting that Christ our passover should be presented there amidst rejoicing.] band when he had looked round about upon all things, it being now eventide. [a general expression covering the period both before and after sunset], ahe left them, and went forth out of the city bunto Bethany with the twelve aand lodged there. [Having inspected the temple as his Father’s house, Jesus withdrew from it, for in the present state of rancor which fermented within his enemies it was not safe for him to spend the night within Jerusalem.]

[FFG 572-580]

Verses 20-50


CXII.
GREEKS SEEK JESUS. HE FORETELLS THAT HE
SHALL DRAW ALL MEN UNTO HIM.
(In the Temple. Tuesday, April 4, A. D. 30.)
dJOHN XII. 20-50.

d20 Now there were certain Greeks among those that went up to worship at the feast [The language indicates that they were Greek converts to Judaism, such as were called proselytes of the gate. It is also noted that as Gentiles came from the east at the beginning of Jesus’ life, so they also came from the west at the close of his ministry]: 21 these therefore came to Philip, who was of Bethsaida of Galilee [See 2 Corinthians 5:8, Philippians 1:23, Revelation 21:3, Revelation 22:20.] 27 Now is my soul troubled [Thus Jesus admits that it was difficult for him to live up to the principle of sacrifice which he had just enunciated. Had it not been thus difficult for him, he would hardly have been a fitting example for his disciples; for certainly it is and has always been difficult for them]; and what shall I say? [In his trouble Jesus raises the question as to what prayer he shall offer to the Father.] Father, save me from this hour. But for this cause [for this purpose of imparting life through a sacrificial death] came I unto this hour. [Thus Jesus proposes a prayer for deliverance, but repudiates it as contrary to the very purpose of his life.] 28 Father, glorify thy name. [Having refused to ask for deliverance, Jesus prays that he may glorify the Father by suffering according to his original statement contained in John 12:23, John 12:24. Two two prayers are counterparts to the two offered in Gethsemane [614] ( Luke 22:42). The prayer here is the climax of the thought begun at John 12:23. We are first shown that nature is glorified by sacrifice ( John 12:24). Then that discipleship is so glorified ( John 12:25, John 12:26) and this prayer shows that our Lord himself is glorified by the same rule.] There came therefore a voice out of heaven, saying, I have both glorified it, and will glorify it again. [The Father had glorified his name in the Son. By words of commendation at his baptism ( Matthew 3:17) and at his transfiguration ( Matthew 17:5), and by the performance of miracles ( John 11:40), and he would glorify it again by the preaching of the universal gospel, and by making Jesus head over all to the church and the final judge of all men.] 29 The multitude therefore, that stood by, and heard it, said that it had thundered: others said, An angel hath spoken to him. [Those who thought it thundered were nervous persons who were so startled as not to distinguish the words. Genesis 3:15. "The meaning of it," says Barnes, "may be thus expressed: Now is approaching the decisive scene, the eventful period--the crisis--when it shall be determined who shall rule this world." In the long conflict which had hitherto been carried on, Satan had earned for himself the name "prince of this world," and it was no empty title ( Matthew 4:8, Matthew 4:9, 2 Corinthians 4:4, Ephesians 6:12); but by his approaching death Jesus would break down the power of Satan, and cast him out, not suddenly, but by the advancing power of a superior kingdom. The kingdom of darkness recedes before the kingdom of light as the night withdraws before the rising sun.] 32 And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto myself. 33 But this he said, signifying by what manner of death he should die. [Jesus thrice speaks of his death as a lifting up, a euphemism for being crucified ( John 8:28). While the distinctions between the three statements are not to be insisted upon, yet they suggest that the first is a saving sacrifice, a priestly work ( John 3:14); the second is mentioned as the convincing credential that he is the prophet sent from God, speaking the message of God ( John 8:26-28); and in the passage before us, he is evidently the king who shall wrest his kingdom from the usurping Satan.] 34 The multitude therefore answered him, We have heard out of the law that the Christ abideth for ever: and how sayest thou, The Son of man must be lifted up? who is this Son of man? [The term "law" is used loosely for the whole of the Old Testament Scriptures ( John 10:34). The people were persuaded by certain passages such as Isaiah 9:6, Isaiah 9:7, Psalms 89:36, Psalms 110:4, Daniel 7:13, Daniel 7:14, Ezekiel 37:25, etc. that the Messiah would abide forever. They knew that Jesus in his triumphal entry had received honors which they thought belonged to the Messiah, but when they hear him use words indicating that he should die, and thus (as they construed) not abide forever, they felt that he was openly disavowing all claim to Messiahship. Having heard him style himself the Son of man ( John 12:23), they now catch at it as if Jesus had used it to distinguish himself from the true [616] Messiah, and ask with more or less contempt, "Who is this Son of man?" Thus blinded by their preconceived opinions and misconstructions of Scripture, the people wavered in their loyalty to Jesus, and Watkins well says, "This question came midway between the ’Hosanna’ of the entry into Jerusalem and the ’Crucify him’ of the trial."] 35 Jesus therefore said unto them, Yet a little while is the light among you. [The phrase "little while" stands in contrast with "abideth for ever."] Walk while ye have the light, that darkness overtake you not: and he that walketh in the darkness knoweth not whither he goeth. 36 While ye have the light, believe on the light, that ye may become sons of light. [Jesus did not reply to their question, because it was asked contemptuously and not seriously, and because any effort to make their carnal mind grasp the idea that he could be lifted up, and yet still abide, would have resulted in more contempt. He therefore speaks a solemn warning to them, counseling them to make use of his presence while they had it, even if his fleshly abiding with them was but brief; and promises that a proper use of the light then given them would make them sons of light.] These things spake Jesus, and he departed and hid himself from them. [This was his last public appeal to the people. He now retired, probably to Bethany, and they saw him no more until he was a prisoner in the hands of his enemies.] 37 But though he had done so many signs before them, yet they believed not on him. [the multitude had long oscillated between belief and unbelief, but, despite all his past miracles and the marvelous wisdom shown on this the day of hard questions, they settled down in unbelief]: 38 that the word of Isaiah the prophet [ Isaiah 53:1] might be fulfilled, which he spake, Lord, who hath believed our report? And to whom hath the arm of the Lord been revealed? 39 For this cause they could not believe, for that Isaiah said again [ Isaiah 6:10], 40 He hath blinded their eyes, and he hardened their heart; Lest they should see with their eyes, and perceive with their heart, And should turn, And [617] I should heal them. [See Romans 10:10); their hearts already being occupied with the love of praise or man-glory. Their disbelief accorded with the words of Jesus ( John 5:44). As to expulsion from the synagogue, see John 12:36. They are placed here to bring out in stronger light the final unbelief of the Jews and the patient, persistent effort which Jesus had made to win those who were the better inclined], He that believeth on me, believeth not one, but on him that sent me. 45 And he that beholdeth me beholdeth him that sent me. 46 I am come a light into the world, that whosoever believeth on me may not abide in the darkness. 47 And if any man hear my sayings, and keep [618] them not, I judge him not: for I came not to judge the world, but to save the world. [See Acts 9:7, Acts 22:9, Acts 26:13.). To the mass, therefore, the voice was a mere sound; to others, the utterance was articulate though incomprehensible, while to John, and perhaps to all the disciples, the voice communicated a thought. "Thus," says Godet, "the wild beast perceives only a sound in the human voice; the trained animal discovers a meaning; a command, for example, which it immediately obeys; man alone discerns therein a thought." (P. Y. P.)

[FFG 613-619]


Copyright Statement
These files are public domain and are a derivative of an electronic edition that is available on the Christian Classics Ethereal Library Website. These files were made available by Mr. Ernie Stefanik. First published online in 1996 at The Restoration Movement Pages.
Bibliographical Information
J. W. McGarvey and Philip Y. Pendleton. "Commentary on John 12". "The Fourfold Gospel". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/tfg/john-12.html. Standard Publishing Company, Cincinnati, Ohio. 1914.