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Bible Commentaries

William Godbey's Commentary on the New Testament
John 12

 

 

Other Authors
Verse 1

ARRIVAL AT BETHANY

John 11:55-57; John 12:1; John 12:9-11. Jesus, having spent Saturday night at the house of Zaccheus, the following day travels to Bethany, twenty miles, all the way ascending the great mountains of Benjamin, on whose lofty summit is situated the Holy City, the joy of Israel and the magnetism of the whole world. It is now Sunday, preceding the Friday of His crucifixion. “And the Passover of the Jews was nigh, and many came up to Jerusalem from the country before the Passover, that they might purify themselves;” i. e., by conformity to the Levitical law, under which all who had come in contact with dead bodies, unclean animals, or Gentiles, should have some clean person sprinkle them with the water of purification. which was prepared by dropping some of the blood of a sacrificed red heifer in water, into which the hyssop was dipped, and this water of purification was sprinkled on the subject of ceremonial defilement. This was a prerequisite to their eating the Passover. Hence a great diversity of preparatory catharisms must be utilized, after their arrival at Jerusalem, before they can enjoy the Passover festival.

“Then they began to seek after Jesus, mad speak with one another, standing in the temple, What seems to you, that He may not come to the feast? The chief priests and Pharisees gave commandment that if any one Nay know where He is, he must divulge, in order that they may arrest Him.” When he came thither a dozen days previously and raised Lazarus from the dead, thus stirring the multitude to the very acme, the high priests and Pharisees had convened the Sanhedrin, and secured from them a condemnatory verdict against Him. As the period of His ministry had not yet expired, He went away beyond Jordan, and spent the time preaching the gospel, saving souls, healing the sick, and restoring sight to the blind. Now, that His enemies have secured this condemnatory verdict of the Sanhedrin, they are on the constant outlook for His arrival at Jerusalem, and determined to lay violent hands on Him. The more mighty works He did, the madder they got, as they had grieved the Holy Spirit away, and actually yielded to diabolical possession.

“Then Jesus, six days before the Passover, came into Bethany, where Lazarus, who had died, was, whom He raised from the dead. Then a great multitude of the Jews found out that He is there, and came, not only on account of Jesus, but in order that they may see Lazarus, whom He raised from the dead.” You wonder that they did not come to Bethany to see Lazarus at an earlier date, as Jesus had raised him about two weeks ago. The explanation of that is easy: Lazarus had gone away with Jesus on His tour. Consequently they could not see him till he accompanied Him on His return.

“But the high priests passed a verdict that they would slay Lazarus, because through him many of the Jews were coming and believing on Jesus.” They had settled down in their policy to rule or ruin, having so given way to diabolical influence that reason no longer sat upon her throne in their refined and cultured intellects.


Verses 2-8

THE SUPPER AT BETHANY

Matthew 26:6-13; Mark 14:3-9; John 12:2-8. “Then they made for Him a supper there, and Martha served; and Lazarus was one of those sitting along with Him.” Matthew and Mark say that this supper was in the house of Simon the leper, at Bethany. I was in that house four months ago. It is still in quite a state of preservation, like so many houses in Palestine, being located in a cave at the base of Mount Olivet, which is utilized in the construction of the edifice, whose walls are adjusted to the dimensions and capacity of the cavern. We know nothing about Simon the leper, but he is believed to be one of the numerous lepers healed and saved by the blessed Benefactor.

John 12:3. “Then, Mary, taking a pound of ointment of pure spikenard, very valuable, anointed, the feet of Jesus, and wiped His feet with her hair; and the house was filled with the odor of the ointment. Then one of His disciples, Judas Iscariot, the son of Simon, the one about to betray Him, says, Wherefore was not this ointment sold for three hundred denaria, and given to the poor?” The English word “penny,” E. V., is misleading in this passage, as our penny is only one cent. The denarion was a Roman coin, worth fifteen cents in our money. Hence the estimate of this ointment, which is here said to be very valuable, was forty-five dollars. The spikenard, from which this valuable myrrh was manufactured, was not indigenous in Palestine, but in Arabia Felix, where the ointment was made and exported.

“He said this, not because there was a care to him concerning the poor, but because he was a thief, and had the purse, and was accustomed to carry the contributions.” Why was Judas a thief at that time? Because he had already made up his mind to sell Jesus for money. How was that stealing? Because he had no idea that they could take Him, as he had seen them try it over and over, and never could put their hands on Him. Frequently He suddenly disappeared, passing unseen through the great wall of the temple, and recognized on the other side. Unfortunately for Judas, he held the most dangerous office ever conferred on mortal man — i. e., that of treasurer — which proved his ruin, because he gradually yielded to the love of money till he finally concluded to sell Jesus for filthy lucre, in that respect being guilty of stealing the fifteen dollars for which he sold Him, as he had no idea that they could take Him; but believing them to be a set of scoundrels, he concluded that he would just as well get their money when he had a chance.

“Then Jesus said, Let her alone; she hath kept it unto the day of My burial; for the poor you have always with you, and Me you have not always.” In less than two days from that supper, He was in the sepulcher and numbered with the dead. Hence the idea is that this anointing is really for His burial, which is now at hand.

Mark 14:8. “She hath done what she could.” O what a deep significance in this terse statement! Are you doing what you can for Jesus? If you can not go to Greenland, Ethiopia, or China, you can do some small part in the support and encouragement of those who can go. If you cannot preach like Paul, nor exhort like Apollos, you can go into the slums, pray for the dying, and tell the broken-hearted of Jesus. If you can not be a flaming evangelist, you can be an humble altar-worker. “She came beforehand to anoint My body for the burial. Truly I say unto you, that wherever this gospel may be preached in all the world, that which she did shall be told for a memorial of her.” Notoriety is a powerful incentive. Actuated by it, men have led armies, besieged cities, and desolated great countries. Erostratus burned down the great Temple of Diana at Ephesus, one of the seven wonders of the world, which was two hundred years in building, as he confessed under the gallows, for sheer notoriety. By this little, simple act of loving appreciation, thus manifested to the Prince of life, Mary immortalized her name, securing a commendatory mention in the pulpit throughout the whole earth, as the gospel moves on, peregrinating every land and brightening every sky.


Verses 9-11

ARRIVAL AT BETHANY

John 11:55-57; John 12:1; John 12:9-11. Jesus, having spent Saturday night at the house of Zaccheus, the following day travels to Bethany, twenty miles, all the way ascending the great mountains of Benjamin, on whose lofty summit is situated the Holy City, the joy of Israel and the magnetism of the whole world. It is now Sunday, preceding the Friday of His crucifixion. “And the Passover of the Jews was nigh, and many came up to Jerusalem from the country before the Passover, that they might purify themselves;” i. e., by conformity to the Levitical law, under which all who had come in contact with dead bodies, unclean animals, or Gentiles, should have some clean person sprinkle them with the water of purification. which was prepared by dropping some of the blood of a sacrificed red heifer in water, into which the hyssop was dipped, and this water of purification was sprinkled on the subject of ceremonial defilement. This was a prerequisite to their eating the Passover. Hence a great diversity of preparatory catharisms must be utilized, after their arrival at Jerusalem, before they can enjoy the Passover festival.

“Then they began to seek after Jesus, mad speak with one another, standing in the temple, What seems to you, that He may not come to the feast? The chief priests and Pharisees gave commandment that if any one Nay know where He is, he must divulge, in order that they may arrest Him.” When he came thither a dozen days previously and raised Lazarus from the dead, thus stirring the multitude to the very acme, the high priests and Pharisees had convened the Sanhedrin, and secured from them a condemnatory verdict against Him. As the period of His ministry had not yet expired, He went away beyond Jordan, and spent the time preaching the gospel, saving souls, healing the sick, and restoring sight to the blind. Now, that His enemies have secured this condemnatory verdict of the Sanhedrin, they are on the constant outlook for His arrival at Jerusalem, and determined to lay violent hands on Him. The more mighty works He did, the madder they got, as they had grieved the Holy Spirit away, and actually yielded to diabolical possession.

“Then Jesus, six days before the Passover, came into Bethany, where Lazarus, who had died, was, whom He raised from the dead. Then a great multitude of the Jews found out that He is there, and came, not only on account of Jesus, but in order that they may see Lazarus, whom He raised from the dead.” You wonder that they did not come to Bethany to see Lazarus at an earlier date, as Jesus had raised him about two weeks ago. The explanation of that is easy: Lazarus had gone away with Jesus on His tour. Consequently they could not see him till he accompanied Him on His return.

“But the high priests passed a verdict that they would slay Lazarus, because through him many of the Jews were coming and believing on Jesus.” They had settled down in their policy to rule or ruin, having so given way to diabolical influence that reason no longer sat upon her throne in their refined and cultured intellects.


Verses 12-19

TRIUMPHANT ENTRY

John 12:12-19; Matthew 21:1-11; Matthew 21:14-17; Luke 19:29-44; Mark 11:1-11. John: “On the morrow a great multitude, having come to the feast, hearing that Jesus comes into Jerusalem, took the branches of the palm-trees, and came out to meet Him, and continued to cry out, Hosanna! Blessed is He that cometh in the name of the Lord, the King of Israel!” Having arrived at Bethany Sunday evening, and lodged at the house of Mary, Martha, and Lazarus, on Monday morning Jesus goes to Jerusalem, over Mount Olivet, as the road then led. Now it goes around it, south of the summit.

Mark: “When they draw near to Jerusalem, to Bethphage and Bethany, near to the Mount of Olives, He sends forth two of His disciples, and says to them, Go ye into the village which is opposite you, and going into it, you will immediately find a colt tied, on which no one of men has sat. And if any one may say to you, Why do you do this? say that the Lord has need of him, and immediately he will send him hither. They departed, and found the colt tied at the door without, on the crossing of two roads, and they are loosing him; and certain ones of those standing there began to say to them, What are you doing, loosing the colt? And they said to them as Jesus commanded. And they led the colt to Jesus, and cast their garments on him, and He sat on him.” I made a specialty of pursuing this old road over the mountain which Jesus traveled on this notable occasion. Bethphage is about half-way from Bethany to the summit, on the mountain slope. From this place, in the journey, Jesus sent the two disciples, whose names are not given, with orders to go into a village on the mountain in full view, and bring to Him the young donkey, which had never been mounted. Matthew says they brought the mother along with the colt. Those donkeys have wonderful strength, utterly out of proportion to their size, which is quite diminutive. They are much used in the Holy Land, really more than any other domestic animal, the camel ranking next, and being used for all heavy burdens. Some get confused in the statement of Matthew that “He sat on them,” thinking that He rode both of the donkeys, which is untrue, as “them” does not refer to the animals, but to the clothes which they laid on the young animal, and on which Jesus sat. Why did Jesus ride the donkey? Why not a horse? The reason is very obvious. The horse is the symbol of war, being always used in battle; while the donkey, too slow for war, is the universal symbol of peace, and consequently the appropriate animal for the Prince of Peace to ride. Again, the donkey symbolizes humility, as he is the poor man’s animal, eating about as much as a sheep, hardy enough to live in the desert, and so small and tough that he can climb a mountain like a goat. Jesus came, the first time, in His humiliation, homeless and friendless, riding into Jerusalem on the donkey. He will come the second time in His glory, riding on a white cloud.

John: “Jesus, having found the young donkey, sat on him, as has been written, Fear not, daughter of Zion; behold, thy King cometh, sitting upon the colt of the donkey.” (Zechariah 9:9) That is certainly a very beautiful prophecy. As Jerusalem occupies the summit of Mount Zion, the application is clear and unmistakable.

Mark: “And many strew their garments in the way; and others cut down the branches from the trees, and continued to strew them in the way. Those going before and those following alter continued to shout, saying, Hosanna! Blessed is He that cometh in the name of the Lord! Blessed is the kingdom coming in the name of our father David I Hosanna in the highest!” Luke says: “He, drawing nigh to the descension of the Mount of Olives, the whole multitude of His disciples, rejoicing, began to praise God with a loud voice for all the miracles which they had seen.” After the gushing, Oriental style of saluting kings and conquerors, they threw down their garments for Him to ride over them, demonstrative of their perfect submission to His authority, and at the same time they strew His way with palm-leaves, which are so majestic and beautiful in Oriental climates, and vividly symbolic of royalty, conquest, and victory. They had waited three years for that wonderful hour, and now feel sure that the desideratum for which they had prayed, sighed, and cried to God so long is fast culminating into a glorious reality; and when they reach Jerusalem, they are very sanguine that He will be crowned King of the Jews. At that time there were no factories, and clothing was so scarce and costly, comparatively with our day, that we can hardly estimate the sacrifice which they so cheerfully and gladly made in throwing down the best apparel they had, in the dusty road, for the donkey to tread upon. O they are so glad to hail Him King of the Jews, little dreaming that this grand ovation was but a scintillation of the oncoming glory of the triumphant entry of King Jesus into Jerusalem on the white cloud, symbolized by the white donkey, when the mighty host of angels and glorified saints will accompany Him. Thus they witnessed an exultant prelibation of the grandest triumph in the history of redemption, when our Lord shall descend from heaven on the throne of His glory, accompanied by the celestial millions. The perfect submission they manifested by casting their garments beneath the tread of the donkey, and the royal triumphs emblemized by the palm-leaves strewn in the Conqueror’s path, and the joyous shout of the appreciative disciples, “Blessed is He that cometh in the name of the Lord! Glory in the highest!” O what a grand adumbration of our Lord’s triumphant return on the throne of His millennial glory, to girdle the globe with peace, righteousness, holiness, and victory! Satan will be chained and imprisoned; the six-thousand-year weekdays of toil, temptation, conflict, and suffering under the dark reign of Satan will be fled and gone, and the bright Sabbath of Eden return in millennial glories,

“Undimmed by sorrow, unhurt by time;”

the earth, exultant from the long winter of sin and oppression, will again leap into the life of perpetual springtime; and sterility, wintry storms, wasting tempests, will retreat forever before the glorious Sun of righteousness, rising on all the world, with healing in His wings, dissipating forever the long, dismal night of sin, and girdling the globe witch God’s hallowed millennial day. As the happy years roll on, the people will forget the awful suffering, conflict, and desolation of bygone ages. This shouting multitude caught a glimpse of the oncoming victory, and thought the long-prayed-for triumph had actually come. But it receded away, leaving bright memories which have inspired the saints in all subsequent ages. While we contemplate this symbolic adumbration of our Lord’s coming glory, let us all thank God and take courage, remembering that we are eighteen hundred and sixty-seven years nearer that glorious hour when the triumphant coming of our King shall not only verify the prophecies, but triumphantly fulfill the thrilling symbolism of this memorable occasion.

John 12:16. “And His disciples did not at first understand these things; but when Jesus was glorified, then they remembered that these things had been written in reference to Him, and they did them to Him.” When the Holy Ghost descended on them at Pentecost, sanctifying and flooding them with light on the precious Word, then they were able to tightly divide the Word of Truth, and separate the prophecies — some appertaining to His first coming, in humiliation; and others to His glorious coming in triumph. At the time of this public entry into Jerusalem, they were awfully disappointed, because He rendered Himself invisible and passed out of their hands when they came to crown Him King; but the Pentecostal baptism, which followed the glorification of Jesus, gave light on all these mysteries and filled them with joy.

“Then the multitude, being with Him, continued to testify that He called Lazarus out of the tomb, and raised him up from the dead.” Lazarus was then with Him, one of His loving disciples, and also a host of people who had actually witnessed that wonderful miracle, regarded as the greatest of our Savior’s ministry. Therefore the multitude came to Him because they heard that He had performed this miracle.

“Then the Pharisees said to one another, You see that you profit nothing. Behold, the world has gone after Him.” This grand ovation which Jesus received, along with the popular excitement over the resurrection of Lazarus, stirred the gall of the Pharisees and the higher clergy to the very bottom.

Luke 19:39 “And certain ones of the Pharisees from the crowd said to Him, “Teacher, rebuke Thy disciples.” Dead religion can’t stand hallelujah meetings. They are literal torture to dead professors and dry-bone preachers. “Responding, He said to them, I say unto you, that if they must keep silent, the rocks will shout.” We see that the Lord believes in shouting meetings. This was a more noisy time than you ever witnessed at a holiness camp, and yet the Lord rebuked no one for fanaticism, but commended the whole affair. The Lord is going to be praised with “a loud voice.” If the Churches will not do it, He will convert the drunkards and harlots, though their hearts be hard as stone, till they will shout His praises. The rocks did cry out the next Friday, when He hung on the cross, and they were rent with the earthquake shock.

“And when He drew nigh, seeing the city, He wept over it, saying, If thou hadst known, even in this thy day, the things appertaining to thy peace; but now they are hidden from thine eyes. Because the days shall come upon thee, and thine enemies will throw a blockade around thee, and encompass thee in a circle, and they will press thee on all sides; they will slay thee and thy children in thee, and will not leave in thee stone upon stone, because thou hast not known the time of thy visitation.” On the very spot, descending Mount Olivet, here referred to, where Jesus poured forth gushing tears, weeping over the city, we have a most conspicuous view of all Jerusalem. Christian money has built a beautiful, snowy-white stone church-edifice on that very spot. It is called “The Church of Jesus Weeping.” His omniscient eye saw the great and formidable Roman armies coiled round the city, like a huge boa-constrictor, cutting off all ingress and egress, dooming the inmates to famine, which, along with the sword, slew them so rapidly that interment was impossible. Consequently the pestilential exhalations, from the putrefying corpses, produced an awful pestilence, which swept its withering epidemic through the air, actually competing with the sword and famine by heaping the city with mountains of the dead. Josephus says the horrors of the siege actually beggared all possible description, Jesus, with immortal eyes, seeing the future like the present, gazes on these awful and shocking tragedies, while His pure, tender, unfallen human heart gives way to profoundest pity and lacerating sympathy, till His eyes flood with gushing tears. Only four days intervening till the bloody scene of Calvary is to seal the doom of that devoted city, and expedite the righteous judgments of the Almighty, the Holy Spirit, as we here see from the words of Jesus, having already been grieved away, while hell, with its black legions, has come to the front.

Mark 11:11. “Jesus came into Jerusalem, and into the temple; and looking round upon all things, the hour already being late, went out to Bethany with the twelve.” You must not forget that “temple,” in these Scriptures, simply means the Holy Campus, which is said now to contain thirty-five acres, with many valuable buildings on it, and more then than now; for none but the priests were admitted into the temple proper. Jesus, with His apostles, had lodged in Bethany the preceding night, and now goes back and lodges there Monday night. If He had lodged in the city, there is no doubt but His enemies would have attacked Him. Having lodged Sunday and Monday nights in Bethany, Tuesday and Wednesday nights in some of the villages on Mount Olivet, He remained in the city Thursday night, being arrested by His enemies at midnight.

Matthew 21:10. “Jesus having come into Jerusalem, the whole city was stirred, saying, Who is this?” We do not wonder at the excitement and the inquiry which had been produced by an entrance so exceedingly demonstrative. Besides the native population, multitudes have already arrived in the city, that they may prepare for the oncoming Passover. As the children of Abraham, the most enterprising people in the world in all ages, had gone away into all the cities of the known world, there to sojourn and accumulate wealth, therefore to the great annual Passover they came from the ends of the earth. “And the multitudes continued to say, This is Jesus, the Prophet, from Nazareth of Galilee. The blind and the lame were coming to Him in the temple, and He healed them.” Many of them are there now. O how they thronged me, last November and December. begging for contributions, which I was only delighted to give, of course, in small value! Jerusalem this day is a practical Bible looking-glass. O what a glory when the blind and the lame all crowded around Him there in the great Temple Campus, and on their sightless eyeballs He poured the light of day, and made the lame to leap for joy!

“And the high priests and scribes, seeing the wonderful things which He did, and the children in the temple, crying, Hosanna to the Son of David, got mad, and said to Him, Do you hear what they are saying? And Jesus says to them, Yes; have you not read that out of the mouth of babes and sucklings Thou hast perfected praise?” (Psalms 8:3.) We still see that Jesus believes in noisy meetings — none too young and none too old to shout aloud the praises of God. It made these big preachers and Church officers very mad; and they still get mad when you get up a sweeping holiness revival, and they hear the people praising the Lord with a loud voice, with no exception of age, sex, race, sect, or color.


Verses 20-36

THE GREEKS COME TO SEE JESUS

John 12:20-36. “And there were certain Greeks of those having come up that they may worship during the festival; then they came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida of Galilee, and asked him, saying, Sir, we wish to see Jesus. Philip comes and speaks to Andrew; Andrew and Philip come and speak to Jesus.” When Jesus was born, the Magi came from the East to pay Him homage at the manger, and offer valuable gifts, which proved so opportune in the defrayal of the traveling expenses into Egypt. Now, we see men coming from the West, to witness to His Messiahship, and pay Him homage at the cross. Thus the East and the West, representing the whole world, unite their testimony to the Christhood of Jesus, the former testifying at the manger, and the latter at the cross.

“And Jesus responds to them, saying, The hour has come that the Son of man must be glorified.” As the Gentiles were not allowed to enter the Temple Campus, these Greeks awaited Jesus at the gate, where He is now preaching to them, having bidden adieu to the Temple, and left it to return no more till He rides down on a cloud, accompanied by the mighty angels and the trump of God. Jesus was glorified when He died, as you and I will be if faithful to redeeming grace, and in case that our wonderful Savior should not honor us by the translation, which is a nigh-cut to glory, without passing through the portals of death.

“Truly, truly, I say unto you, Unless the grain of wheat, having fallen into the ground, may die, it remaineth alone; but if it may die, it produceth much fruit.” It seems that the presence of these Gentiles, who had come from the far-off land of Greece, to see Jesus and hear Him preach, reminds Him of the speedy call of the whole Gentile world to the gospel feast. As bloody Calvary was then looking Him in the face, the; glorious ascension and victorious Pentecost coming on speedily, consequently our Lord at once moves out into the deep truths of the atonement and experimental salvation. When the grain of wheat is sown in the ground, if it remains solid — i. e., does not soften, germinate, die, and rot — it will produce no crop. If Jesus had not died, His great spiritual posterity would never have existed. So if you do not die — i. e., old Adam die in your heart — you’ll never amount to anything as a soul-saver. That explains the woeful failure of the ministry, only one now and then succeeding as a soul-saver. The germination of your wheat symbolizes the regeneration of the heart. When the wheat sprouts, the old grain must die and rot, in order to give nutriment to the young sprout, which otherwise will die, superinducing a failure in the crop. Now, follow the analogy: When you get converted, old Adam must die, in order to feed the young convert on honey. N.B. — When Sampson slew the lion, he soon found the carcass full of honey, as the bees in that dry climate had utilized it for a hive, and filled it with honey. So if you have the courage to slay the man of sin, you will soon have plenty of honey to eat, which is the only edible on which the new-born soul can subsist. The reason why the Churches abound with backsliders is because the old body did not die, and consequently, as in the case of the wheat, the germ — i. e., the babe in Christ — died. What a deplorable condition! The Church ought to be an embattled army of stalwarts, making it awfully hot for the devil, and running, him out of the community. But what does the devil care for a morgue, filled up with dead babies?

“He that loveth his soul, loseth it. He that hateth his soul in this world, shall preserve it unto eternal life.” It is strange that the E. V. has “life” in every instance in this verse, when the Greek has psyche, “soul,” in the first two, and zoe, “life,” only in the last. The man who. so loves his hereditary, Adamic soul — which is fallen and destined to perdition if not crucified here — as to cling to it with pertinacity to the end of probation, is going to lose his soul eternally; while the man who courageously comes to the cross, and has that old, fallen, depraved, hereditary, Adamic soul crucified, will “preserve his soul unto eternal life.” The solution of the mystery is, Adam the Second gives him a new soul, which, surviving its predecessor, lives on forever.

“If any one may minister unto Me, let him follow Me; and where I am, there My minister will be also. If any one may minister unto Me, him will the Father honor.” Our Savior, in His preaching to these Greeks, who represent the whole Gentile world, delivered the plan of salvation and discipleship with remarkable clearness.

“My soul is now troubled; and what must I say? Father, save Me from this hour? But on account of this I came to this hour.” This is Wednesday, and, I trow, about 2 P.M. He has spent the entire morning preaching in the Temple Campus. The following day is the last, as at midnight the bloody mob is coming, cruelly and demonically to lacerate and abuse His body.

His case was infinitely different from ours, as we would not have known with certainty what was coming. But in His case, Omniscient Scrutiny contemplated the bloody panorama, even then making haste.

“Father, glorify Thy name. Then a voice came from heaven, I glorified Thee, and I will again glorify Thee. Then the multitude, standing, hearing, said that it had thundered; others continued to say that an angel has spoken to Him. Jesus responded and said, This voice did not come on My account, but on yours.” While Jesus perfectly understood the inaudible voice of His Father from heaven, the multitude, upon hearing the audible voice ringing down from the skies, should have been convinced, confirmed, and established in their faith, appropriative of His Christhood, by all these appeals to their bodily senses. Hence the articulated voice was a signal mercy to the audience. There is no doubt but John, the Writer, along with the spiritual people present, actually understood what was said; while the unspiritual multitude only heard the sound, afraid thought it was thunder; some taking the more intelligent view and concluding that an angel spoke to Him.

“Now is the judgment of this world; now shall the ruler of this world be cast out. And if I may be lifted up from the earth, I will draw all people unto Myself.” This is a direct allusion to His crucifixion, elevated high up in a conspicuous place, as Mount Calvary stands in the angle at the intersection of the two most important roads entering Jerusalem i. e. to Damascus and Jericho. Here, we see, Satan is recognized as the ruler of this world, from the fall possessing it for four thousand years, and very largely having his way with it, the people mistaking him for God and worshipping him as God. While the devil stirred up the preachers, and through them the people, to kill Him, thinking His death would consummate His victory, he made the greatest mistake of his history, not understanding the vicarious atonement; as he is utterly destitute of spiritual light, though possessing wonderful intellectual power and sagacity. The death of Jesus redeemed the world and broke the devil’s power forever, thus in that very crisis bringing him down under the crushing verdict of the law which he, and man through him, had violated; but now, through the vicarious atonement, that law is satisfied and magnified, humanity is redeemed, and the devil dethroned and signally defeated. That was the grand culmination of the conflict which had been running four thousand years, Satan now receiving the great and signal defeat of his campaign against humanity, then and there beginning to fall under the crushing wheels of King Immanuel’s triumphant chariot, and destined to suffer defeat after defeat preliminary to his final and eternal discomfiture, ejectment, and imprisonment.

“Then the multitude responded to Him, We have heard from the law that Christ abideth forever; and how do You say, It behooveth the Son of man to be lifted up? Who is this Son of man?” Daniel 7:14, describes Christ as coming at the end of the tribulation, and receiving from the Ancient of Days a kingdom “which shall never pass away,” and over which He shall “reign for ever and ever.” You see that this quotation, with many others, applies to Him in His second advent, the Jews having the misfortune to mix the prophecies relative to His two advents, applying them all in one, and consequently settling down in the conclusion that when Christ came lie would abide forever. Even all of His disciples so believed, and were consequently utterly disconcerted and disappointed when they crucified Him.

“Then Jesus said to them, Yet a little while the light is among you. Walk about as you have the light, in order that darkness may not overtake you. He that walketh in darkness does not know whither he goes. As you have the light, believe in the light, in order that you may be the sons of light.” Our Savior in this Scripture alludes to Himself as the Light. He is the glorious Sun of righteousness. As all the light in this world emanates from our sun, the moon and every object on the earth shining by light reflected by the sun, so Christ is the only spiritual Light in all this world, the saints His satellites, shining by light reflected from Him.

“Jesus spoke these things, and having gone away, was hidden from them.” This is Wednesday. Only day before yesterday He entered the city in triumph, amid the grand ovation of the multitude, hailing Him as the royal Son of David. These two days have flown; meanwhile He has been very busy, preaching to the vast multitudes on the Temple Campus, all eyes centered on Him, somehow anticipating His royal coronation during the Passover. They are eager and anxious to expedite the matter, and crown Him King without further delay. How they are foiled when, rendering Himself invisible, He suddenly disappears, and no one can find Him! This He had often done on former occasions in order to prevent them from crowning Him King. Now that Jesus has disappeared, John, the writer, proceeds with his narrative.


Verses 37-41

JUDICIAL BLINDNESS OF THE JEWS

John 12:37-41. “He, having performed so many miracles in their presence, they did not believe on Him, in order that the word of Isaiah the prophet may be fulfilled, which he spoke, Lord, who hath believed our report? and to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?”. [Isaiah 53:1] For this reason they were not able to believe, because Isaiah again said,

He hath blinded their eyes, and hardened their heart; in order that they may not see with their eyes, and understand with their hearts, and turn, and I shall heal them.” (Isaiah 6:9)

The reader is liable to take up the conclusion from the above Scriptures that there was a constraint on the Jews, so they could not receive Jesus. This conclusion arises from a misapprehension of the prophecies. N. B. — Prophecy is nothing but history from a Divine standpoint. God saw just what they would do of their own free will, and revealed it to Isaiah, who wrote it down long before it occurred, just as we write up the history of events after they have occurred. Perhaps you are puzzled with the statement, “He hath blinded their eyes, and hardened their hearts.” When God gives light and we refuse to walk in it, He takes it away, and leaves us to the infatuation of the devil in his black darkness. All are practically blind in darkness. The same sun which softens the wax, hardens the clay. Consequently it is impossible for people to reject the gospel without actually receiving hardness of heart. As it is God’s gospel, there is a practical sense in which He hardens all hearts who reject it.


Verse 42-43

COWARDICE OF THE RULERS

John 12:42-43. “Moreover, indeed, many of the rulers believed on Him; but did not confess Him on account of the Pharisees, in order that they might not be put out of the synagogues; for they loved the glory of men rather than the glory of God.” Of course, the faith with which they believed on Him was not spiritual, or it would have put the glory of men into speedy eclipse. But their faith was merely intellectual, like that of the popular clergy and Churchmen of the present day; e. g., a presiding elder in Texas took me aside and requested me to pray for his sanctification; but not to tell anybody. He was afraid of popular depreciation and official humiliation. Thousands of America’s truest saints have been put out of the Church for professing sanctification. Hence you see that history repeats itself as the world moves on.


Verses 44-50

SUPREMACY OF THE WORD

John 12:44-50. “And Jesus cried out and said, He that believeth on Me, believeth not on Me, but on Him that sent Me; and he that seeth Me, seeth Him that sent Me.” In this affirmation, Jesus certifies His identity with the Father. “I have come a Light into the world, in order that every one believing in Me may not abide in darkness.” The world had waited four thousand years for the coming of the Incarnate God; meanwhile the profound learning of Egypt, the metaphysical lore of India, the transcendent philosophy of deep-thoughted Greece, and the lofty dictations of mighty Rome, had ransacked the world, exploring every ramification of mythology, science, literature, poetry, oratory, and the fine arts, in the vain and unsatisfactory attempt to solve the mysterious problem of humanity, adjust man to his Creator, tame the ferocity of his animal nature, and subordinate it to the intellectual and the moral, and make him the incarnation of virtue instead of vice, — all having exhausted their resources, and despaired of their enterprise, and mutually acquiesced in the conclusion that the Creator and Preserver of the universe would certainly, in condescending mercy, send a Divine Teacher into the world. Hence the Incarnate Son of God was a glorious sunburst on all the nations of the earth, lighting the dark places of every land and clime, and more than satisfying the anticipations of the saints and sages of all the earth.

“If any one may hear My words, and not keep them, I do not judge him for I did not come that I may judge the world, but that I may save the world.” The judgment of the wicked world can mean nothing but condemnation and retribution. But, fortunately for us all, He came, not for judgment, but for salvation. However, in the end, He will judge the quick and dead.

“He that rejecteth Me, and receiveth not My words, hath that which judgeth him: the Word which I have spoken, that will judge him in the last day.” How infinitely momentous is the revealed Word of God! By this Word we are saved, sanctified, edified, fortified, and finally judged. If you are out of harmony with any part of God’s Word, to your knees quickly! Repent and get right before you are called into judgment! Even religious people, as a rule, are asleep relative to the momentous importance of the Word.

“Because I have not spoken of Myself; but the Father Himself, having sent Me, gave Me the commandment what I may say and what I shall speak. And I know that His commandment is eternal life. Therefore whatsoever I speak, as the Father hath said unto Me, so I speak.” Jesus here affirms that the commandment of God is eternal life. Now, the commandment is the Divine injunction for us to obey. Hence you see that we must receive the Word as it is, not venturing to tinker with it, nor attempt to bend it to suit our unsanctified natures, as we will all be judged by it precisely as the Holy Ghost gave it. If your life is in harmony with the precious Word, you should than It God and take courage.

 


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Bibliography Information
Godbey, William. "Commentary on John 12:4". "William Godbey's Commentary on the New Testament". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/ges/john-12.html.

Lectionary Calendar
Sunday, September 15th, 2019
the Week of Proper 19 / Ordinary 24
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