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Commentary on John 12
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Commentary on John 12

John 12, a pivotal chapter in the Gospel according to John, masterfully weaves together various narratives that signal the impending climax of Jesus’ earthly ministry.

This chapter holds profound theological insights and offers valuable life lessons that continue to speak to believers today. We invite you to join us as we explore the depths of this rich passage and ponder its transformative power.

From the intimate setting of a dinner table in Bethany to the bustling streets of Jerusalem filled with Hosanna chants, and finally to a reflective dialogue about Jesus’ impending glorification, John 12 covers significant ground.

Through these interconnected narratives, we come to appreciate the profound significance of Jesus’ mission on earth. Let’s delve into this exploration together, with expectant hearts open to the timeless truths enshrined within this Scripture passage.

Key Takeaways from This Article:

  1. Comprehensive understanding of the narratives and themes in John 12.
  2. Deep insights into the significance of Jesus’ teachings in this chapter.
  3. Greater appreciation of John’s portrayal of Jesus’ ministry.
  4. Fresh perspectives on how these teachings can apply to our modern lives.
Commentary on john 12

The Anointing at Bethany: A Symbolic Act of Worship

John 12 begins with a poignant scene in Bethany where Jesus dines with those He loves. Mary, the sister of Lazarus, anoints Jesus with a costly perfume, a lavish act of worship that fills the house with its fragrance.

“Then Mary took a pound of very costly oil of spikenard, anointed the feet of Jesus, and wiped His feet with her hair. And the house was filled with the fragrance of the oil” (John 12:3, NKJV). This act of anointing signifies Mary’s deep devotion and recognition of Jesus’ messiahship.

Mary’s act of devotion contrasts sharply with Judas Iscariot’s criticism. His objection to the ‘waste’ of the perfume is less about concern for the poor, as John reveals his underlying motive of greed.

This account provides a stark contrast between genuine devotion and mere religious lip service, a theme that echoes throughout the Gospels.

John, through this narrative, invites us as believers to examine our own hearts and attitudes towards Jesus. Are we like Mary, willing to offer our best to Jesus, or do we echo Judas, hiding selfish motives behind seemingly righteous actions?

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The Triumphal Entry: The Humble King

The next scene transports us to the streets of Jerusalem where Jesus makes His triumphal entry. Despite the jubilant reception, Jesus rides on a donkey, an image of humility and peace.

“Then Jesus, when He had found a young donkey, sat on it; as it is written: ‘Fear not, daughter of Zion; Behold, your King is coming, Sitting on a donkey’s colt.'” (John 12:14-15, NKJV).

This is not the triumphant entry of an earthly king but a humble messiah fulfilling Zechariah’s prophecy (Zechariah 9:9).

Even as the crowd hails Him as king, shouting “Hosanna! Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord! The King of Israel!” (John 12:13, NKJV), Jesus presents a different kind of kingship. His is not a reign characterized by worldly power and dominance, but by humility, servanthood, and sacrifice.

John’s account of this event compels us to reflect on our understanding of Jesus’ kingship. Are we seeking a savior to fulfill our earthly expectations, or are we willing to submit to Jesus as He truly is – a humble King who reigns through sacrificial love?

Greeks Seek Jesus: The Draw of the Savior

John 12:20-26 introduces Greek proselytes who express their desire to see Jesus. Their request symbolizes the broad reach of Jesus’ ministry beyond the Jewish community. It shows us that the message of Jesus is universal, transcending cultural and ethnic boundaries.

Jesus responds to their request with an analogy of a grain of wheat dying to produce many grains, signifying His impending death and its purpose – the salvation of many. “And I, if I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all peoples to Myself” (John 12:32, NKJV).

In this statement, Jesus highlights the magnetic power of His sacrificial love that draws all people to Him.

This passage challenges us to consider our response to Jesus’ call. Are we drawn to Him, understanding the profound significance of His sacrifice? Do we, like the grain of wheat, die to ourselves so that we can bear much fruit in His kingdom?

Jesus Predicts His Death: The Glorification of the Son

In John 12:27-36, Jesus anticipates His impending death with an air of solemnity and resolve. He acknowledges the weight of what lies ahead, but in the face of this, His purpose remains firm.

Now My soul is troubled, and what shall I say? ‘Father, save Me from this hour’? But for this purpose I came to this hour. Father, glorify Your name.” (John 12:27-28, NKJV).

This moment serves as a turning point, the glorification of the Son of Man through His sacrificial death and resurrection.

In these verses, Jesus also re-emphasizes the urgency of believing in the light while it is still present. He encourages His followers to walk in the light to avoid stumbling in darkness.

This discourse conveys the critical importance of acknowledging Jesus as the Light of the world, urging us to build our lives upon His illuminating truth.

Jesus’ openness about His death underscores the depth of His love and commitment to us. It prompts us to reflect: do we recognize the magnitude of Jesus’ sacrifice? Are we committed to walking in His light, grounding our lives in His eternal truth?

The Unbelief of the People: Hardened Hearts

Despite the many signs Jesus performed, John notes that many still did not believe in Him (John 12:37).

John ties this unbelief to the prophecy of Isaiah, asserting that this was to fulfill the prophet’s words: “He has blinded their eyes and hardened their hearts, lest they should see with their eyes, lest they should understand with their hearts and turn, so that I should heal them.” (John 12:40, NKJV).

This hardened unbelief is not a result of a lack of evidence but a deliberate rejection of Jesus. It also underscores the spiritual battle at play – that recognizing Jesus as Lord involves more than just observing miracles; it requires a spiritual awakening, a softening of the heart.

This narrative challenges us to examine our response to Jesus. Do we truly believe, or are we merely intrigued by the signs and wonders? Are our hearts soft, receptive to the truth of who Jesus is, or are we hardened by skepticism and unbelief?

Belief Among the Rulers: Fear of Man

John also records that many rulers believed in Jesus but, because of the Pharisees, they did not confess Him, fearing excommunication from the synagogue (John 12:42-43).

They loved the praise of men more than the praise of God, highlighting the potent influence of societal pressure and the struggle between human fear and divine faith.

Their reluctance to openly acknowledge Jesus underscores the cost of discipleship. Following Jesus requires courage, a willingness to prioritize His praise over human approval.

It’s a timeless challenge that believers face, even in our modern context.

These verses invite us to reflect on our own faith. Are we, like these rulers, held back by the fear of human opinion? Or are we bold in our faith, valuing God’s approval above all else?

The Judgment of Rejecting Jesus: Light versus Darkness

John 12:44-50 concludes the public teaching ministry of Jesus with a solemn warning about the judgment that comes from rejecting Him. Jesus reaffirms His role as the one sent by God and equates belief in Him with belief in God. “He who believes in Me, believes not in Me but in Him who sent Me” (John 12:44, NKJV).

Jesus presents Himself as the Light, come into the world to dispel darkness. Rejecting Him results in remaining in darkness, an eternal consequence that Jesus does not wish for any. His words are clear and weighty, revealing the spiritual stakes of accepting or rejecting His message.

This passage emphasizes the gravity of our response to Jesus. It challenges us to consider our stand: are we walking in the Light that Jesus provides, or are we rejecting it, choosing to remain in spiritual darkness?

Conclusion: The All-Encompassing Power of Love

John 12 presents a series of interconnected narratives that reveal the profound depths of Jesus’ love and the implications of our response to His message. From the lavish worship of Mary to Jesus’ solemn anticipation of His death, we see the depths of love that mark Jesus’ mission.

The way Jesus addresses His impending death underscores His selfless love. He is troubled, yet He doesn’t pray for deliverance but rather for God’s glory. This is love in its purest form – a love that lays down one’s life for others. As followers of Christ, we are called to emulate this selfless love in our own lives.

The narratives of John 12 remain as relevant today as they were in the time of Jesus. They beckon us to respond to Jesus’ love with belief and faithful devotion.

They call us to walk in His light, to break free from the fear of human approval, and to resist the hardness of unbelief. In doing so, we fully embrace the love of Jesus, experiencing its transformative power in our lives. As we reflect on these lessons, may we continue to deepen our love for Jesus and our commitment to His mission.

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Pastor duke taber
Pastor Duke Taber

Pastor Duke Taber

All articles have been written or reviewed by Pastor Duke Taber.
Pastor Duke Taber is an alumnus of Life Pacific University and Multnomah Biblical Seminary.
He has been in pastoral ministry since 1988.
Today he is the owner and managing editor of 3 successful Christian websites that support missionaries around the world.
He is currently starting a brand new church in Mesquite NV called Mesquite Worship Center, a Non-Denominational Spirit Filled Christian church in Mesquite Nevada.