John Chapter 12


Christ anointed by Mary. (Verse 1-11.)

He enters Jerusalem. (Verse 12-19.)

Greeks apply to see Jesus. (Verse 20-26.)

A voice from heaven bears testimony to Christ. (Verse 27-33.)

His discourse with the people. (Verse 34-36.)

Unbelief of the Jews. (Verse 37-43.)

Christ’s address to them. (Verse 44-50.)

1 Then Jesus six days before the passover came to Bethany, where Lazarus was which had been dead, whom he raised from the dead.

[Matt 26:6, Mark 14:3, John 11:1]

what is found in chapter twelve and the next few chapters are an account of those events that occurred in the days before Jesus was crucified on Calvary.

2 There they made him a supper; and Martha served: but Lazarus was one of them that sat at the table with him.

3 Then took Mary a pound of ointment of spikenard, very costly, and anointed the feet of Jesus, and wiped his feet with her hair: and the house was filled with the odour of the ointment.

“spikenard” – this was an oil (or “ointment” as the verse says) extracted from the spikenard plant  – compare this account of Christ’s anointing with the cross-reference account in Matthew 26:6-13 which says, “Now when Jesus was in Bethany, in the house of Simon the leper, There came unto him a woman having an alabaster box of very precious ointment, and poured it on his head, as he sat at meat.  But when his disciples saw it, they had indignation, saying, To what purpose is this waste? For this ointment might have been sold for much, and given to the poor. When Jesus understood it, he said unto them, Why trouble ye the woman? for she hath wrought a good work upon me. For ye have the poor always with you; but me ye have not always. For in that she hath poured this ointment on my body, she did it for my burial. Verily I say unto you, Wheresoever this gospel shall be preached in the whole world, there shall also this, that this woman hath done, be told for a memorial of her.”

Mark 14:3-9 states, “And being in Bethany in the house of Simon the leper, as he sat at meat, there came a woman having an alabaster box of ointment of spikenard very precious; and she brake the box, and poured it on his head. And there were some that had indignation within themselves, and said, Why was this waste of the ointment made? For it might have been sold for more than three hundred pence, and have been given to the poor. And they murmured against her. And Jesus said, Let her alone; why trouble ye her? she hath wrought a good work on me. For ye have the poor with you always, and whensoever ye will ye may do them good: but me ye have not always. She hath done what she could: she is come aforehand to anoint my body to the burying. Verily I say unto you, Wheresoever this gospel shall be preached throughout the whole world, this also that she hath done shall be spoken of for a memorial of her.”

4 Then saith one of his disciples, Judas Iscariot, Simon’s son, which should betray him,

[Matt 26:8]

5 Why was not this ointment sold for three hundred pence, and given to the poor?

note that Judas Iscariot was not the only disciple complaining about what appeared to be an extravagant waste.  In the account from the book of Mark it says that there “were some that had indignation….”

  • “pence” (plural for penny)  was the average wage that a person would earn in one day (Matt. 20:2).  Because the Jews worked six days a week (roughly 310 days a year), the phrase “300 pence” was another way of saying “a year’s wages.”
  • Judas’ dishonest concern for the poor highlights another pitfall of modern Christianity – the “Social Gospel.”  The term “social gospel” simply refers to the misplaced priorities evidenced by many individuals in churches.  Meeting the physical needs of the poor is considered to be more important than meeting their spiritual needs. When a person’s spiritual needs are met (ie. they get saved and serve God), the Lord becomes their Father and Provider; he fulfils the many promises he has made to his children throughout the Bible to meet the needs of his own.  Attempting to meet the physical needs of the unsaved often becomes a never-ending exercise in frustration; human resources will fail where God’s resources are never-ending.  In the New Testament, God does tell us to help the unsaved poor when the occasion arises; priority however should be given to their spiritual needs.  Galatians 6:10 further adds, “As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith.”

6 This he said, not that he cared for the poor; but because he was a thief, and had the bag, and bare what was put therein.

“had the bag” – Judas Iscariot was the treasurer of the 12 disciples

7 Then said Jesus, Let her alone: against the day of my burying hath she kept this.

8 For the poor always ye have with you; but me ye have not always.

[Deut 15:11, Matt 26:11]

any denomination or government that thinks it can totally eradicate poverty is simply demonstrating its rejection of the word of God.  Jesus said “the poor always ye have with you.”

Judas is about to betray Christ and any money that goes into the coffers after Jesus is arrested would be in Judas’ possession to do with as he pleases.

When the shepherd is struck, the sheep scatter and Judas would be left alone with the money he got from the priests and whatever was still in the bag.

Judas no doubt thought he could have skimmed some of the money from the sale of this ointment or if he timed it right he could get it all. The love of money is the root of all evil.

9 Much people of the Jews therefore knew that he was there: 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 consulted that they might put Lazarus also to death;

11 Because that by reason of him many of the Jews went away, and believed on Jesus.

12 On the next day much people that were come to the feast, when they heard that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem,

[Matt 20:17]

13 Took branches of palm trees, and went forth to meet him, and cried, Hosanna: Blessed is the King of Israel that cometh in the name of the Lord.

[Lev 23:40, Matt 21:8, Psa 118:25,26]

14 And Jesus, when he had found a young ass, sat thereon; as it is written,

“when he had found a young ass” – Mark 11:1-7 gives more information about this statement when it says, “And when they came nigh to Jerusalem, unto Bethphage and Bethany, at the mount of Olives, he sendeth forth two of his disciples, And saith unto them, Go your way into the village over against you: and as soon as ye be entered into it, ye shall find a colt tied, whereon never man sat; loose him, and bring him.  And if any man say unto you, Why do ye this? say ye that the Lord hath need of him; and straightway he will send him hither. And they went their way, and found the colt tied by the door without in a place where two ways met; and they loose him. And certain of them that stood there said unto them, What do ye, loosing the colt? And they said unto them even as Jesus had commanded: and they let them go. And they brought the colt to Jesus, and cast their garments on him; and he sat upon him.”

15 Fear not, daughter of Sion: behold, thy King cometh, sitting on an ass’s colt.

[Zech 9:9, Jer 23:5, Matt 2:2, Matt 21:5, Luke 19:38, John 1:49]

this event is a fulfilment (“as it is written” – vs. 14) of the Old Testament prophecies found in Isaiah 62:10-11 and Zechariah 9:9.  The verse in Zechariah says, “Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion; shout, O daughter of Jerusalem: behold, thy King cometh unto thee: he is just, and having salvation; lowly, and riding upon an ass, and upon a colt the foal of an ass.”

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.

17 The people therefore that was with him when he called Lazarus out of his grave, and raised him from the dead, bare record.

18 For this cause the people also met him, for that they heard that he had done this miracle.

19 The Pharisees therefore said among themselves, Perceive ye how ye prevail nothing? behold, the world is gone after him.

20 And there were certain Greeks among them that came up to worship at the feast:

21 The same came therefore to Philip, which was of Bethsaida of Galilee, and desired him, saying, Sir, we would see Jesus.

22 Philip cometh and telleth Andrew: and again Andrew and Philip tell Jesus.

23 And Jesus answered them, saying, The hour is come, that the Son of man should be glorified.

24 Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone: but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit.

just as seeds are put into the ground, die, and then bring forth life and fruit, so Jesus would die, be buried, and then live again.  Having conquered death, he would be able to “bear fruit” by giving to mankind eternal life.

25 He that loveth his life shall lose it; and he that hateth his life in this world shall keep it unto life eternal.

[Matt 10:39, Matt 16:25, Luke 17:33]

26 If any man serve me, let him follow me; and where I am, there shall also my servant be: if any man serve me, him will my Father honour.

27 Now is my soul troubled; and what shall I say? Father, save me from this hour: but for this cause came I unto this hour.

[Matt 26:38]

28 Father, glorify thy name. Then came there a voice from heaven, saying, I have both glorified it, and will glorify it again.

[Mark 1:11]

29 The people therefore, that stood by, and heard it, said that it thundered: others said, An angel spake to him.

30 Jesus answered and said, This voice came not because of me, but for your sakes.

What an impact this must have had on these apostles to actually hear the voice of God when they heard Jesus praying to his Father.

People are looking for that still today and make promises that if God will speak to them then they will change their ways or do something they know they should be doing.

God has already spoken to all of us through his word, we are not Moses or one of the prophets or apostles that God chose to spread a specific message to the nation of Israel or as Paul who spoke to the Gentile nations through his word.

We need to do what he has already told us to do in his word and our problems will work themselves out. Don’t be like Israel needing a sign, a wicked and adulteress nation 0r person, seeketh after a sign.

31 Now is the judgment of this world: now shall the prince of this world be cast out.

the “prince of this world” is the devil.  See John 14:30 & 16:11.

 32 And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me.

“lifted up” is a reference to being lifted up on the cross and crucified.  Note verse 33 and John 3:14.

 33 This he said, signifying what death he should die.

34 The people answered him, We have heard out of the law that Christ abideth for ever: and how sayest thou, The Son of man must be lifted up? who is this Son of man?

Because Jesus is God, he is eternal – no beginning or ending.  Knowing that the Old Testament foretold that the Christ would be eternal,  the people did not understand how Christ could die.  The verses in the Law these people were referring to would be verses such as Psalm 89:36 & 110:4.

Satan is the prince of this world. 1 Corinthians 2:7 talks about how if the princes of this world would have known the consequences of the cross they would have never crucified the Lord of Glory.

But the consequences of the cross were kept a secret, hid in God from before the foundation of the world until they were revealed unto the apostle Paul after Israel rejected her kingdom and her king.

That is the mystery program for the body of Christ that is only found in Paul’s writings.

35 Then Jesus said unto them, Yet a little while is the light with you. Walk while ye have the light, lest darkness come upon you: for he that walketh in darkness knoweth not whither he goeth.

36 While ye have light, believe in the light, that ye may be the children of light. These things spake Jesus, and departed, and did hide himself from them.

[Prov 4:18, Matt 5:14, John 8:12, John 9:5, Phil 2:15]

people must be born again in order to become “children of light.”  Until then an unsaved person is a child of darkness walking in darkness.  Speaking to Christians, I Thessalonians 5:4-5 says, “But ye, brethren, are not in darkness, that that day should overtake you as a thief. Ye are all the children of light, and the children of the day: we are not of the night, nor of darkness.”

37 But though he had done so many miracles before them, yet they believed not on him:

38 That the saying of Esaias the prophet might be fulfilled, which he spake, Lord, who hath believed our report? and to whom hath the arm of the Lord been revealed?

[Isa 53:1]

this verse is a quote from Isaiah 53:1, “Who hath believed our report? and to whom is the arm of the LORD revealed?”

39 Therefore they could not believe, because that Esaias said again,

40 He hath blinded their eyes, and hardened their heart; that they should not see with their eyes, nor understand with their heart, and be converted, and I should heal them.

[Isa 6:9, Ezek 12:2, Matt 13:14, Luke 8:10, Acts 28:26, Romans 11:8]

this verse is a quote from Isaiah 6:10 which states, “Make the heart of this people fat, and make their ears heavy, and shut their eyes; lest they see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their heart, and convert, and be healed.”  Where God finds people who reject his Son, he provides them with darkness and hardness of heart.  Where God finds belief he gives more light.

41 These things said Esaias, when he saw his glory, and spake of him.

42 Nevertheless among the chief rulers also many believed on him; but because of the Pharisees they did not confess him, lest they should be put out of the synagogue:

compare with John 9:22.

43 For they loved the praise of men more than the praise of God.

What a shame but many today do the same thing. They do it when they see the truth of God’s word rightly divided and then look the other way for fear of what their friends would think, or the fellowship, or the denomination they are a part of.

What a waste trying to gain the praise of men and not seeking the praise of God, do they not realize that eternity is a really long time.

44 Jesus cried and said, He that believeth on me, believeth not on me, but on him that sent me.

[Matt 10:40, Luke 9:48, Galatians 4:14]

45 And he that seeth me seeth him that sent me.

46 I am come a light into the world, that whosoever believeth on me should not abide in darkness.

47 And if any man hear my words, and believe not, I judge him not: for I came not to judge the world, but to save the world.

48 He that rejecteth me, and receiveth not my words, hath one that judgeth him: the word that I have spoken, the same shall judge him in the last day.

this a key verse in the Bible for it shows mankind what will be the basis of his judgment in heaven.  People will not be judged based upon opinions, feelings, emotions or even what they believe and think.  The basis of all judgment will the WORDS OF JESUS CHRIST!  The Bible itself (as it is the inspired words of God) will be what judges all of mankind.  There need not be any surprises or excuses on the judgment day as any man or woman can pick up a Bible today and find out what God expects of them in this life.

49 For I have not spoken of myself; but the Father which sent me, he gave me a commandment, what I should say, and what I should speak.

[Rev 1:1]

50 And I know that his commandment is life everlasting: whatsoever I speak therefore, even as the Father said unto me, so I speak.

Over and over Jesus speaks of his death and resurrection and uses all kinds of parables to prepare them for it yet they do not hear his simple words.

Jesus explained that he must die like a corn of wheat in order to be resurrected and bear much fruit. For those who would refuse to follow his words this was a stumbling block for them of their own choosing.

God gave them the necessary light to believe and they refused because they had their own image of how God should appear and what he should do, and it was contrary to the scriptures.

Commentary by Matthew Henry, 1710.

Verse 1-11 – Christ had formerly blamed Martha for being troubled with much serving. But she did not leave off serving, as some, who when found fault with for going too far in one way, peevishly run too far another way; she still served, but within hearing of Christ’s gracious words. Mary gave a token of love to Christ, who had given real tokens of his love to her and her family. God’s Anointed should be our Anointed. Has God poured on him the oil of gladness above his fellows, let us pour on him the ointment of our best affections. In Judas a foul sin is gilded over with a plausible pretence. We must not think that those do no acceptable service, who do it not in our way. The reigning love of money is heart-theft. The grace of Christ puts kind comments on pious words and actions, makes the best of what is amiss, and the most of what is good. Opportunities are to be improved; and those first and most vigorously, which are likely to be the shortest. To consult to hinder the further effect of the miracle, by putting Lazarus to death, is such wickedness, malice, and folly, as cannot be explained, except by the desperate enmity of the human heart against God. They resolved that the man should die whom the Lord had raised to life. The success of the gospel often makes wicked men so angry, that they speak and act as if they hoped to obtain a victory over the Almighty himself.

Verse 12-19 – Christ’s riding in triumph to Jerusalem is recorded by all the evangelists. Many excellent things, both in the word and providence of God, disciples do not understand at their first acquaintance with the things of God. The right understanding of spiritual nature of Christ’s kingdom, prevents our misapplying the Scriptures which speak of it.

Verse 20-26 – In attendance upon holy ordinances, particularly the gospel passover, the great desire of our souls should be to see Jesus; to see him as ours, to keep up communion with him, and derive grace from him. The calling of the Gentiles magnified the Redeemer. A corn of wheat yields no increase unless it is cast into the ground. Thus Christ might have possessed his heavenly glory alone, without becoming man. Or, after he had taken man’s nature, he might have entered heaven alone, by his own perfect righteousness, without suffering or death; but then no sinner of the human race could have been saved. The salvation of souls hitherto, and henceforward to the end of time, is owing to the dying of this Corn of wheat. Let us search whether Christ be in us the hope of glory; let us beg him to make us indifferent to the trifling concerns of this life, that we may serve the Lord Jesus with a willing mind, and follow his holy example.

Verse 27-33 – The sin of our souls was the troubled of Christ’s soul, when he undertook to redeem and save us, and to make his soul an offering for our sin. Christ was willing to suffer, yet prayed to be saved from suffering. Prayer against trouble may well agree with patience under it, and submission to the will of God in it. Our Lord Jesus undertook to satisfy God’s injured honour, and he did it by humbling himself. The voice of the Father from heaven, which had declared him to be his beloved Son, at his baptism, and when he was transfigured, was heard proclaiming that He had both glorified his name, and would glorify it. Christ, reconciling the world to God by the merit of his death, broke the power of death, and cast out Satan as a destroyer. Christ, bringing the world to God by the doctrine of his cross, broke the power of sin, and cast out Satan as a deceiver. The soul that was at a distance from Christ, is brought to love him and trust him. Jesus was now going to heaven, and he would draw men’s hearts to him thither. There is power in the death of Christ to draw souls to him. We have heard from the gospel that which exalts free grace, and we have heard also that which enjoins duty; we must from the heart embrace both, and not separate them.

Verse 34-36 – The people drew false notions from the Scriptures, because they overlooked the prophecies that spoke of Christ’s sufferings and death. Our Lord warned them that the light would not long continue with them, and exhorted them to walk in it, before the darkness overtook them. Those who would walk in the light must believe in it, and follow Christ’s directions. But those who have not faith, cannot behold what is set forth in Jesus, lifted up on the cross, and must be strangers to its influence as made known by the Holy Spirit; they find a thousand objections to excuse their unbelief.

Verse 37-43 – Observe the method of conversion implied here. Sinners are brought to see the reality of Divine things, and to have some knowledge of them. To be converted, and truly turned from sin to Christ, as their Happiness and Portion. God will heal them, will justify and sanctify them; will pardon their sins, which are as bleeding wounds, and mortify their corruptions, which are as lurking diseases. See the power of the world in smothering convictions, from regard to the applause or censure of men. Love of the praise of men, as a by-end in that which is good, will make a man a hypocrite when religion is in fashion, and credit is to be got by it; and love of the praise of men, as a base principle in that which is evil, will make a man an apostate, when religion is in disgrace, and credit is to be lost for it.

Verse 44-50 – Our Lord publicly proclaimed, that every one who believed on him, as his true disciple, did not believe on him only, but on the Father who sent him. Beholding in Jesus the glory of the Father, we learn to obey, love, and trust in him. By daily looking to Him, who came a Light into the world, we are more and more freed from the darkness of ignorance, error, sin, and misery; we learn that the command of God our Saviour is everlasting life. But the same word will seal the condemnation of all who despise it, or neglect it.