The Gospel of John: Revealing the Invisible God
A Bible Study by Fred Kenison
This book is a verse-by-verse commentary. To go to the commentary for any particular verse in Chapter 12, please click on a number below.
12:1 Therefore Jesus came to Bethany six days before the Passover, where Lazarus was, who had died, whom he raised from among [the] dead.
Therefore points back to earlier comments. Did Jesus "come to Bethany six days before the Passover" in order to purify himself as so many others did? Or, did he come early because he knew he was being hunted, and waiting until just before the Passover meant he would be more likely found? One of these two must have been the reason as they are the only two possibilities listed in earlier verses.
Lazarus was still alive after having been raised from among the dead. From among comes from ek, and is the same word used to say Jesus was raised from among the dead [ones] (see Acts 3:15, 4:10, Romans 6:4). Lazarus is unique as he was the only one so raised after being dead so long a time. Later, Jesus would also be raised after three days.
12:2 Therefore they made him a supper there, and Martha served, but Lazarus was one of those reclining with him.
The home of Simon, the leper, was the place where Jesus felt most at home. He went there to relax and fellowship with the members of this household. When he came, "they made him a supper, and Martha served." Martha seemed to be the one who was the busiest doing household chores, while Mary, her sister, seemed to be more interested in sitting at the feet of Jesus while listening to him teach. Jesus also had the fellowship of Lazarus who "was one of those reclining with him." People did not sit at a table as we do, but reclined on benches while they ate their meals.
12:3 Therefore, Mary, having taken a pound of ointment of pure nard, of great price, anointed the feet of Jesus, and wiped his feet with her hair: and the house was filled with the odour of the ointment.
"The pound of ointment of pure nard" would have been a Roman pound, or about 12 ounces as we measure weight. This was an extremely expensive kind of ointment, nardos. Thayer (p. 423) says,
"nard, the head or spike of a fragrant East Indian plant belonging to the genus Valeriana, which yields a juice of delicious odor which the ancients used (either pure or mixed) in the preparation of a most precious ointment."
There were cheaper oils which were commonly used for perfumery, but nard was the most expensive. That Mary even possessed such an expensive item indicates that the household of Simon, the leper, was probably one of great wealth.
Mary took this "ointment of great price," and "anointed the feet of Jesus, and wiped his feet with her hair." After traveling on foot, his feet would have been hot and dusty. It was a common courtesy for the host to offer water to wash one's feet. But, this was a unique situation. Only great adoration and humility would have caused Mary to do such a thing. It is difficult to imagine any woman wiping someone's feet with her own hair. A woman's hair was considered her glory, and any woman whose hair was not well done, was uneasy in the company of others.
"And the house was filled with the odor of the ointment." Anyone who was in the house would recognize the smell, and would realize how costly it was. And that was exactly what caused a controversy among the disciples.
12:4 Says therefore one of his disciples, Judas, Simon's [son] Iscariote, who was about to deliver him up.
This was only the second time that the apostle John had mentioned Judas, whose name has been associated with betrayal ever since (the other mention occurred in verse 6:71, when Jesus spoke of him as being a devil). By now, Judas was "about to deliver him up." It is he who will assist the Pharisees and the Sanhedrin and help capture Jesus.
Of course, Jesus already knew this and spoke of it earlier. Jesus often knew beforehand many of the things which would befall him. What a blessing it is that The God has not seen fit to grant this ability to ordinary people. Such an ability would be a constant worry, not a blessing.
12:5 Why was not this ointment sold for three hundred denarii, and given to [the] poor?
This question would imply that Judas was concerned for the poor people. This question also implies that Jesus and the disciples had been giving to those in need.
The average workman earned about one denarii for a day's labor, or about 18 cents. If this ointment would sell for "three hundred denarii," that would be the equivalent of 300 days of labor, or most of the yearly income for the average man. This was indeed a precious ointment.
12:6 But he said this, not that he was caring for the poor, but because he was a thief, and had the bag, and carried what was put into [it].
These words reveal the true character of Judas. His betrayal of Jesus would not be an anomaly, but normal behavior. Judas loved money. Paul called this kind of love for money the root of all evil (I Timothy 6:10).
Judas was not the first to be corrupted by the love of money, and he certainly was not the last. In our world today, the love of money seems to have affected most of the population. It is a world-wide phenomenon, and it will eventually lead the world into the total chaos of greed. It will also fuel the anti-christ government of the end times. [For more on this subject, see our book, The Apocalypse of Revelation.]
Judas did not care for the poor; "he was a thief." He was the one entrusted with the money bag, and he had been stealing from it. In plain language, he was a greedy, dishonest thief.
Bag comes from, gloossokomon. Which means
"(a) case in which to keep the mouth-pieces of wind instruments; (b) a small box for other uses; esp. a casket, purse to keep money in: John xii. 6" (Thayer, p. 119).
The bag was not a large one, and evidently Jesus and the disciples did not carry large amounts of money with them.
12:7 Therefore Jesus said, Let her alone: for she has kept it for the day of my burial.
This verse indicates that Judas had been speaking to Mary, and Jesus rebuked him. This is one of the few times that Jesus ever rebuked one of his disciples. Peter was the only other disciple that Jesus openly rebuked. There were times, however, when he corrected them as a group.
Jesus then revealed the purpose for Mary's anointing. "She has kept it for the day of my burial." The scriptures do not indicate whether or not Mary understood this statement. She was apparently acting out of her adoration for Jesus.
Jesus, however, perceived it differently. He knew that his death was now imminent. He was also aware that a criminal who died on a cross could not be anointed before his burial. Since Jesus
"was reckoned among the transgressors" (Luke 22:37),
the authorities would not allow him to be anointed after he was brought down from the cross to be buried.
12:8 For the poor ye have with you always, but ye have not me always.
The poor are not necessarily just those who are in material need. The poor are also those who are in spiritual need. The churches are organized just like secular businesses. They, too, constantly seek more and more money. But, are they meeting the spiritual needs of those whom they profess to serve? Or, are they primarily seeking to perpetuate their organizations and their power, much as the Jews did in Jesus' day?
Jesus was totally aware that his time on earth was limited, at least as a natural man. He would spend more days on earth in the near future, but that would be as a glorified man. Did the disciples understand this clear statement? Like so many others Jesus had given them, it is unlikely they understood it until after the coming of holy spirit.
12:9 Therefore a great crowd of the Jews knew that he was there: and they came, not because of Jesus only, but that also they might see Lazarus whom he raised from among [the] dead.
The great crowd included many who knew he was in Bethany visiting Simon, the leper, and his children, Martha, Mary, and the revived Lazarus. Those who had seem him raise Lazarus from the dead had gone about the community telling what they had seen.
This great crowd came for two reasons. First, "because of Jesus," whom they wanted to see, and second, that they might see Lazarus, whom he raised form the dead. Crowds, especially religious crowds, have not changed much over the centuries! At least what this crowd came out to see was authentic.
12:10 But the chief priests took counsel that also Lazarus they might kill,"
As long as Lazarus was alive, the chief priests were concerned. The people were flocking to see this man whom had been dead for four days, and now he was alive and walking around. His presence was a constant testimony that Jesus really was the resurrection and the life, as he claimed to be.
This was an intolerable situation since the chief priests were planning to denounce Jesus as an impostor. Therefore, "the chief priests took counsel that also they might kill Lazarus." If he were dead, the chief priests would have a much easier time convincing the crowd. It was not stated here, but the chief priests were likely those who composed the Sanhedrin, the rulers of the Jewish religion.
This is an example of how far an organized religion will go in order to maintain its authority. The Jewish religion was originally sponsored by their god, Jehovah, to show the love and mercy of their god to the world of Gentiles. But, these religious leaders had strayed so far from the teaching of the scriptures that they were more concerned about keeping their authority than being true to their calling.
Jesus recognized this very problem and spoke harshly about it.
"Hypocrites! Well prophesied Esais concerning you, saying, This people draws near to me with their mouth, and with the lips it honors me; but their heart is far away from me. But in vain they worship me, teaching [as] teachings injunctions of men" (Matthew 15:7-9).
Their religion no longer reflected the teachings of their god, Jehovah, but the injunctions, or commandments, of men. By now, the Jewish religion no longer reflected their god, but was one they had invented themselves. We believe there is a corollary in the so-called "christian religion" today.
12:11 That because many of the Jews because of him were going away, and were believing on Jesus.
It is dangerous for anyone to threaten the organized religion of which they are a part. Even today, in many nations of the world, including the U.S., people are still threatened-economically, physically, and socially-for criticizing or even questioning organized religions. Ignorant people, who blindly follow religious leaders, are easily duped into believing all manner of error.
Were going away comes from upeegov, which means
"that many of the Jews left their former Jewish allegiance and way of life to become disciples" (Rienecker, p. 247).
Nothing could have been more threatening to the chief priests! They were losing followers, and every religion hates those who proselytize their members.
Today, in many parts of the world, those caught proselytizing are put to death. In those countries, the religious leaders control both the religion and the government, much as the Jewish leaders did in the time of Jesus. What could possibly justify such an attitude on the part of religious leaders? They proclaim that their religion is the only true way to their god, who is the only true god. But, just in case someone may be convinced otherwise, any opposing viewpoints must be silenced, even by death. If the teaching of a religious organization will not stand investigation and criticism, it is certainly not one that is true to the scriptures.
12:12 On the morrow a great crowd who came to the feast, having heard that Jesus is coming into Jerusalem,
On the morrow would be the next day after the anointing at Bethany. The great crowd who came to the feast had heard that Jesus was coming into Jerusalem. How they heard this is not known. Whether true or not, few things travel faster in a crowd than a rumor. However, there was an element of truth in this one.
12:13 [The great crowd] took branches of the palms and went out to meet him, and were crying, Hosanna, blessed [is] he who comes in [the] name of [the] lord, the king of Israel.
It seems that Jesus would finally be getting the honor due him as the messiah. But, is that what the people really thought of him? This event is a singular example of what is meant by the Greek word, parousia, or coming. When a ruler or king came to a city, the people went out to welcome him and escort him into the city. That will certainly be the case for Jesus at his second coming, or parousia, as the king of kings, and lord of lords.
Hosanna is a shout, usually one of joy and welcome. And, what did these people say to welcome him? "Blessed [is] he who come in [the] name of [the] lord, the king of Israel." The words in the brackets are not in the Greek manuscript; therefore, they are not definite, and should be properly translated as "a name," and "a lord."
The word lord in the KJV is written both as Lord, and LORD. When written with all capitals, LORD indicates Jehovah. When written as Lord, it is equal to the Hebrew adonai, or someone to whom obeisance is warranted. Thus, according to the wording, these Jews were not yet welcoming him as Jehovah, the word of The God become flesh, but only as a ruler, or an anointed one, or a messiah, whom they believed had been sent to deliver them from their Roman rulers.
12:14-15 Having found a young ass, Jesus sat upon it, as it is written, Fear not daughter of Sion; behold, thy king comes, sitting on a colt of an ass.
These two verses form one sentence, and they were combined in order to more easily follow the sense of them. Why did Jesus find a young ass, and sit upon it? Because "it is written." Jesus was fulfilling another of the prophesies concerning his coming as the messiah, not just a messiah. He was a unique messiah, not one of the many who came before him or after him claiming to be the messiah.
The scripture being fulfilled in the sight of these Jews of Jerusalem was that of Zecharias 9:9.
"Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion: 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."
Please note that Jesus did not arrive riding on a white charger, leading a conquering army. He did not even ride an adult ass, but only a colt, a lowly mode of transportation. He was a lowly man.
12:16 Now these things his disciples knew not at the first, but when Jesus was glorified, then they remembered that these things were written of him.
If the common people mistook Jesus as being a lord, instead of the lord, surely they could be more easily pardoned for their ignorance than his own "disciples who knew not at the first." They did not understand what this procession into Jerusalem really meant either. They had to wait until "Jesus was glorified, then they remembered these things were written of him." Why did they remember then? It was because holy spirit came upon them, and made them aware of the meaning behind what Jesus said and did.
12:17 Therefore the crowd that was with him when he called Lazarus out of the tomb, and raised him from among [the] dead bore witness.
"Therefore" points back to the quote from Zecharias (see Luke 1). All the people who had come to comfort Martha and Mary about the death of their brother were now witnesses to the fact that Lazarus was raised from the dead. This was considered a true sign, or miracle, that Jesus was someone who had been anointed by their god, Jehovah, to be their messiah.
12:18 On account of this the crowd met him, because it heard of his doing this sign.
Here is the reason the crowd had come forth and greeted him as the king of Israel. They were acquainted with the scriptures enough to know that each king of Israel would be given enough holy spirit so they could prophesy, or do some sign, or miracle, which would prove they had the approval of Jehovah. They did not yet understand that they were in the very presence of their god in the person of Jesus, who was Jehovah, become flesh. However, the raising of Lazarus was significant enough to warrant their acceptance of Jesus as king.
12:19 Therefore the Pharisees said among themselves, Do ye see that ye gain nothing? Lo, the world is gone after him.
The Pharisees were aware that in spite of all their efforts they had gained nothing. The people were accepting Jesus based on what he had done, rather than accepting the arguments of the Pharisees.
"Lo, the world is gone after him." The world would be quite an exaggeration, but if it meant the world that they tried to control, the Israelite nation, then this would not be such an exaggeration.
Gone after him comes from apeelthen, and means literally that they had gone out to him. This would be consistent with the word parousia, when the people went out of Jerusalem to welcome him with palm leaves, and escorted him into the city as their ruler.
12:20 And there were certain Greeks among those coming up that they might worship in the feast.
These were native born Greeks, not Jews who lived in Greece. They were proselytes to the Jewish faith. These Greek proselytes were "among those coming up that they might worship in the feast." They wanted to participate in the festivities of the day.
The word worship conveys something different than it would mean today. It not only involved the current meaning of worship, but it also included the joys of the feast. After killing the sacrificial animals, and after giving the required portion to the priests, the rest of the animal was used for a gala festival. This was consistent with the commands of Jehovah.
12:21 Therefore these came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida of Galilee, and they asked him saying, Sir, we desire to see Jesus.
Bethsaida was the home of Andrew, Peter, and Philip. These three were among the first of the disciples whom Jesus had chosen to follow him. It was also near the place where the 5,000 were fed, and where Jesus had healed the blind man. Why the Greeks approached Philip is not known, but perhaps it was because they knew that he was one of the first disciples chosen.
"Sir, we desire to see Jesus." The Greeks had come to the feast, but these words suggest that they also had another purpose for their visit. They must have been aware of some of the miracles which Jesus had done to prove that he was sent from The God.
12:22 Philip comes and tells Andrew, and again Andrew and Philip tell Jesus.
Philip apparently did not want to approach Jesus by himself, so he enlisted the company of Andrew, the brother of Peter. Why they should be hesitant to approach Jesus was not mentioned. Together they told Jesus that the Greeks wanted to see him. These Greeks may have simply wanted to be in the presence of Jesus, or to counsel with him, or perhaps they wanted him do one of his miracles so they could be sure of his credentials. The scriptures do not say.
12:23 But Jesus answered them saying, The hour has come that the son of the man should be glorified.
Whatever their reason, Jesus did not agree to meet with the Greeks. Jesus knew that his crucifixion would take place soon , or that "his hour has come." Hour does not refer here to a period of only 60 minutes. It is speaking of a period of time that could be a matter of days or weeks.
Should be glorified comes from the Greek word doxasthee, an aorist passive subjunctive. The subjunctive means that it is something which has not yet actually come to pass. The passive means it is something which will be done to Jesus. And the aorist indicates that it is a one-time event. Jesus will not be crucified again by anyone (see Hebrews 6:4-6).
Jesus again spoke of himself as "the son of the man." This was his usual way of designating himself, by identifying himself with mankind, rather than his special relationship with The God.
When Jesus said "the son of the man should be glorified," this indicated a significant change in his ministry. Before this, Jesus had been avoiding his crucifixion; now, he was facing it head-on. No longer would he be concerned for the crowds, but he would draw aside his disciples and strive to help them understand the true meaning of his coming and his death. This would be no small undertaking.
12:24 Verily, verily, I say to you, Unless the grain of wheat falling into the ground should die, it abides alone; but if it should die, much fruit it bears.
He openly spoke of his death when he said "the grain of wheat falling into the ground should die." Whether his disciples understood this or not, we can today discern his meaning. He was speaking about himself as a grain of wheat. The people were mostly an agricultural population, and Jesus used the terminology they would understand.
If the grain of wheat did not die, "it abides alone." Without his death, Jesus would be the only person whom The God would accept as warranting eternal life. But, "if it should die, much fruit it bears." Just as a grain of wheat, by dying, brings forth fruit, so too would the body of Jesus bear fruit by dying. How much fruit? The whole of mankind, who would be reconciled to The God, with all their sins forgiven, and their guilt borne in his body.
12:25 He that loves his life shall lose it, and he that hates his life in this world shall keep it to life eternal.
Jesus admonished his disciples, saying that they, too, are expected to live their lives in complete obedience and dedication to The God, even if it meant losing their lives. He spoke of two ways in which they could live their lives. One is "he that loves his life (in this world) shall lose it." Jesus was referring of those who will not enter the next age, the kingdom of God, in a place of blessing. They will remain in what the scriptures call "outer darkness." They will be ministered to by the overcomers, and they will retain a natural body, rather than receiving a glorified body.
The second way they could live, is "he that hates his life in this world, shall keep it to life eternal." Hates comes from miseoo. Thayer (p. 415) says,
"Not a few interpreters have attributed to miseoo...the signification to love less, to postpone in love or esteem, to slight; through oversight of the circumstances that the Orientals, in accordance with their greater excitability, are wont both to feel and to profess love and hate where we Occidentals, with our cooler temperament, feel and express nothing more than interest in, or disregard and indifference to a thing."
Thus, there are only two ways to live our lives. One involves an indifference to this world, and the other an indifference to The God. The latter will cause us to lose our live; the former will cause us to keep our lives, even unto eternal life. Eternal life, remember, comes from living our lives empowered by holy spirit, in regard to The God's desire for us. [For more about eternal life, both now and in the kingdom, see Part I, Monograph 2, in our book, What Scripture Says About Salvation.]
12:26 If anyone serve me, let him follow; and where I am there also my servant shall be. And if anyone serve me, him the father will honor.
With this verse, Jesus began to lay out the conditions of being a servant. Follow comes from akoloutheitoo, which means to follow as a disciple. A servant should look to Jesus as an example. Jesus never told people they could continue to live a worldly life, practicing an easy-believism, and still be considered as his servant.
Being a servant required following the admonition of Matthew 16:24:
"If any one desires to come after me, let him deny himself, and let him take up his cross, and let him follow me."
Take up his cross conveys the sense of self-denial. Jesus was the ultimate example of someone who had denied every element of self-desire. This showed the world that he absolutely was even willing to die for the glory of his heavenly father. He did not expect any less of his servants, not then, and not now.
Paul said we should offer our bodies a living sacrifice which is our reasonable service (Romans 12:1). We are not our own, but we were bought with a price (I Corinthians 6:20). That price was the death of Jesus.
For those who follow, Jesus promised two things. First, that "where I am there also my servant shall be." This is the same as the prophesy of I Thessalonians 4:16-17.
"Because the lord himself, with a shout of command, and archangel's voice, and with trumpet of god, shall descent from heaven, and the dead in christ shall rise first; then we the living who remain, togethr with them shall be caught away in[the] clouds for [the] meeting of the lord in [the] air; and thus always with [the} lord we shall be."
This will be the parousia of Jesus, the Christ, when he returns. The saints will go forth to meet him as he comes in the air, to escort him to his kingdom on this earth.
The second promise was "And if anyone serve me, him the father will honor." This promise is one which looks forward to "being honored" by being accepted as one to rule and reign with Jesus in the coming kingdom of The God. Jesus is lord and master and he will lead those who submitted in service to him into the next age.
12:27 Now my soul has been troubled, and what shall I say? Father, save me from this hour? But on account of this I came to this hour.
Jesus had just spoken about the grain of wheat falling into the earth and dying, referring to himself as the grain of wheat which dies. Then, he added, "my soul has been troubled." Has been troubled is in the perfect passive, which shows it was something my soul, or psyche, experienced. Jesus used psyche instead of spirit, indicating that it was his natural flesh which wanted to avoid death.
The next question revealed the depth of his feeling. "What shall I say?" Should he allow his flesh, or psyche, to have its way and say, "Father save me from this hour? " The consequences for mankind would have been monumental. If he had given in to his fleshly desire to stay alive, the sins of mankind would not have been forgiven. Neither would the natural world, the plants and animals, ever be rejuvenated to their original state.
Jesus concluded, "but on account of this I came to this hour." He knew why he had been sent to earth. It was to glorify the Father by facing the death of the cross. Jesus was now facing the horrible physical truth. His hour had come, and he was facing imminent death!
12:28 Father, glorify thy name. Therefore came a voice out of the heaven, I both glorified, and will again glorify [it].
When Jesus said "father glorify thy name," it signified his complete commitment to the purposes of his heavenly father. He was totally surrendered to the will of his father.
"Glorify thy name" was written as an imperative, or command. Jesus was not issuing orders to his father in heaven; rather, his remark indicated a complete capitulation to The God's desires. In our vernacular, he was saying, "Go ahead father, and have me crucified for your glory."
"Therefore, came a voice out of heaven." This voice out of heaven did not sound until Jesus spoke acceptance of the Father's will. "I both glorified, and will again glorify [it]." When had the Father earlier glorified it? Matthew 3:17 says,
"And lo a voice from heaven, saying, This is my beloved son, in whom I am well pleased."
This was at the time of his baptism. Now, Jesus was facing a different baptism-that of death. When this baptism takes place, then, again, his father will glorify his own name.
12:29 Therefore the crowd which stood [there] and heard, said, There has been thunder: others said, An angel has spoken to him.
"Therefore," again points back to the previous comment, "a voice out of heaven."
The crowd disagreed on what they had heard. Some thought "there had been thunder," while others thought an angel had spoken to Jesus. No one, however, knew the correct answer, that it was The God who had spoken.
12:30 Jesus answered and said, This voice has not come because of me, but because of you.
When Jesus heard the crowd discussing what it was they had heard, he said that the voice had not been for his benefit, but for the crowd's benefit. The God wanted the people to know he had spoken to his son, but they still did not understand.
Earlier (John 11: 42), Jesus had spoken to the Father openly for the crowd's advantage. Here it was the Father who spoke for the same reason: to demonstrate the close relationship between The God and Jesus, his son.
12:31 Judgment of this world is now; now the prince of this world shall be cast out.
Why did Jesus make such a statement at this point? He was still speaking in relation to his previous statements which compared his body to a grain of wheat which must fall into the ground and die in order to bear much fruit.
In this verse, he was contemplating it as though it had already occurred. This is a grammatical term called a prolepsis. The word "now" sounds as though the judgment of this world was occurring at that precise moment, although it would not actually occur until his death. At his death, the "judgment of this world" took place, and all were found worthy of death.
"Now the prince of this world shall be cast out." This also happened when Jesus died. The prince of this world was a reference to all the accumulated sins of mankind which were constantly accusing mankind before The God. This accumulation of sins is personified in the scriptures as satan. When Jesus died for all these sins, the scriptures refer to that as satan being cast out of heaven.
There is no fallen angel named satan, although there is much preaching to the contrary. There is no personality named satan either, but only the mass of sin personified. [For a detailed study of this point, see our article, A Study of Satan.]
12:32 And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all to myself.
Jesus clearly stated that he "will draw all to myself." Note carefully that this is not only the believers, as it is often preached, but "all," meaning everyone.
Thayer (p. 647) gives this definition of the Greek word uphooo, translated as lifted up.
"John xii.32. The Evangelist himself interprets the word of the lifted up upon the cross, but a careful comparison of vii.28 and xii.32 renders it probable that Jesus spoke of the heavenly exaltation which he was to attain by the crucifixion."
Since this same Greek word is often translated as exalted, it is possible that Jesus was speaking of both his crucifixion and his exaltation to the right hand of the Father in heaven.
12:33 But this he said, signifying by what death he was about to die.
As is often the case, scripture clarifies itself. Discussion ended.
12:34 The crowd answered him, We heard out of the law that the christ abides for ever, and how sayest thou, that the son of the man must be lifted up? Who is this son of the man?
The crowd understood that Jesus was speaking about dying. This did not fit with their conception of the christ. "We heard out of the law that the christ abides for ever." They could have been referring to Psalms 89:3-4.
"I have made a covenant with my chosen, I have sworn unto David my servant. Thy seed will I establish for ever, and build up thy throne to all generations." (See also Psalms 89:36-37, and Psalms 110:4).
Isaiah 9:6-7 also speaks quite clearly to this matter.
"For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder; and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty god, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth even for ever. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will perform this."
It is easy to understand why the crowd was confused. If Jesus was the messiah, how could he speak of his death? Today, we understand the purpose of his death, but at that time it was inconceivable to people that the messiah could, or would, ever die.
These people knew enough about the scriptures to realize they faced a dilemma. There are several scriptures which seem contrary. Do we believe him, or do we believe the scriptures? Just "who is this son of the man?"
12:35 Jesus therefore said to them, Yet a little while the light is with you. Walk while ye have the light, that the darkness may not overtake you. And he who walks in the darkness knows not where he goes.
By this time, Jesus must have been discouraged and despaired about ever convincing the crowd of Jews that he was the messiah. He had done many works of power, or miracles, before them. He had told them numerous things about the heavenly father. Still, they questioned his identity and relationship to the Father.
The answer Jesus gave seems to have no relationship to the question they asked. Light, according to the context, referred to Jesus himself. Matthew 6:21-24a says,
"For where your treasure is, there will be your heart also. The lamp of the body is the eye; therefore if your eye be single, thy whole body will be light. But if thine eye be evil, thy whole body will be dark. If therefore the light that [is] in thee is darkness, how great the darkness. No one is able to serve two lords."
The eye must be single, or have one purpose above all other purposes. If the purpose is to serve The God, then the body will be light. If the eye is evil, or set on the wrong purpose, then the body will be dark. Note carefully that Jesus was speaking of the body. The body will either be offered as a living sacrifice to The God, or the body will be offered on an altar of the world.
Paul taught essentially the same message in II Corinthians 4:3-4.
"But if also our glad tidings is covered, it is covered in those perishing; in whom The God of this age blinded the thoughts of the unbelieving, so as not to beam forth to them the radiancy of the glad tiding of the glory of the christ, who is [the] image of The God."
Paul was speaking of those who are perishing, those to whom the glad tidings, or light, is covered, or hidden. Paul was speaking of the mind, while Jesus was speaking of the body.
The god of this age is worldliness, or the idea that we can save ourselves by what we do. This is also reflected in the overriding pursuit of material possessions. To such people, the glad tidings of the glory of the Christ does not beam forth.
The glory of the Christ was that he alone was the one to whom was given both the privilege and the responsibility of manifesting the heavenly father, the invisible god. Many of the people of his time either did not understood this, or they chose to ignore it. This is still true for people in our time.
II Timothy 1:9-10 enlightens further about the light which engulfed Jesus. Paul writes,
"[God] Who saved us and called [us] with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which [was] given us in Christ Jesus before the ages of time, but now made manifest by the appearing of our savior Jesus Christ, who annulled death, and brought to light life and incorruptibility by the glad tidings."
This was the light which Jesus claimed to be.
12:36 While ye have the light, believe in the light, that ye may become sons of light. These things spoke Jesus, and going away was hid from them.
Jesus admonished the crowd of Jews about the light. He is that light, and he told them they should "believe in the light." He is that light because he is one who brought the gospel of The God to them.
If they believe the light, this will allow them to "become sons of light." Sons comes from uioi, or sons who have reached a level of spiritual maturity to where they can carry responsibility. They are mature believers. Without faith, people will never reach this point of spiritual maturity, no matter how religious they are.
Jesus was reaching the point of no return. No matter how he tried, he could not reach these highly religious Jews with their overpowering religious organization. "He spoke these thing, and going away was hid from them. " It does not say how, but he simply left. Perhaps he disappeared the same way he left the temple while people were searching for him.
12:37 But [though] so many signs he had done before them, they believed not on him.
The not is the absolute Greek ouk. They had not the least bit of faith in what Jesus had told them, nor in the "many signs he had done before them." Believed not on him, comes from eis, or into. Although eis is often translated as on, it always retains the sense of into. Believing into him has more of a sense of the accusative, which shows motion toward some thing or some one. Therefore the word eis demonstrates that faith is a growing, moving process, not a static one, as would be implied by the word on.
These Jews would not believe. Believed not comes from epistenon, an imperfect which emphasizes the repeated unbelief or the continual stubbornness of the unbelief (Rienecker, p. 248).
12:38 That the word of Isaias the prophet might be fulfilled, which he said. Lord, who believed our report? And the arm of [the] lord to whom it was revealed?
This verse is a quotation of Isaiah 53:1. Hundreds of years before his birth, Isaiah had prophesied about the kind of reception Jesus would receive from the Jews of his time. In previous verses, Isaiah had spoken of that coming one who would not only show many signs, but would also tell many spiritual things which the people would not believe.
"Arm of the lord" is an Old Testament term. Arm meant power, the power of the Lord, or Jehovah, the word of The God who later became Jesus, the man. This Jesus brought light, or knowledge of The God to the Jews, who would not hear him, thus fulfilling Isaiah's prophecy. Some claim these Jews were destined to unbelief because of Isaiah's prophecy. Did they have a choice? Yes, they did. No one is condemned to unbelief; it is a result of their own ungodliness.
12:39 On this account they could not believe, because again Isaias said,
Again, this sounds as though the people had no choice in the matter of believing. Could not believe comes from ouk, the absolute no. There was absolutely no possibility of their having any faith in what Jesus said or did. Was this because of the prophecy of Isaiah? No. It was on account of their own adverse reactions to Jesus and his ministry. Isaiah only predicted, or prophesied, what their reaction would be. His prophesy was not the reason for their unbelief.
12:40 He has blinded their eyes and has hardened their heart, that they should not see with the eyes and understand with the heart and be converted, and I should heal them.
This verse finishes the thought begun in verse 12:39, and is a quote from Isaiah 6:10. It is part of the command which Jehovah gave to Isaiah. This was the message he was to take to the people of his day.
This verse almost sounds as though Jesus had purposefully blinded their eyes and hardened their hearts. However, to hold such a meaning requires dismissing the whole of Jesus' ministry to these people. He was sent only to the house of Israel, and he was to minister only to them at the first.
An old proverb says that the sun, when it shines on wet clay, hardens it; but when it shines on ice, it melts it. This proverb provides a good explanation for understanding this verse. Jesus brought light to these people, but their refusal to hear what he said, and their refusal to see what he did, resulted in the condition described here.
There could be no healing or dealing with their sinful attitude as long as they persisted in their religious ideas about Jesus. Religion is a blinding hindrance to understanding the truth of the scriptures.
12:41 These things said Isaias when he saw his glory, and spoke concerning him.
This verse says that Isaiah "saw his glory," or the glory of Jesus as he manifested the father to mankind. It also says that he "spoke concerning him." However, reading Isaiah 6:10 in context, reveals nothing about any prophecy, but only what Isaiah was to tell the people of his own time. This is only one example of how difficult it is to read the Old Testament and discern the truths which speak to events far in the future.
12:42 Although indeed even from among the rulers many believed on him, but on account of the Pharisees they confessed not, that they might not be put out of the synagogue.
This verse verifies that it was not impossible for people to believe. Some did, even "from among the rulers," or members of the Sanhedrin. These rulers who believed did not speak out, however, for fear that the Pharisees would put them out of the synagogue. If that happened, they would lose their place of honor and power.
Things have not changed much since the time of Jesus. Any organized religion has its own political agenda, and its adherents must follow the official dictates or pay the penalty. Many church leaders today who may otherwise see the truth are most often not willing to pay this penalty.
12:43 For they loved the glory of men more than the glory of The God.
These rulers wanted to keep their place of honor because it brought them "the glory of men," or prestige. They chose the glory of men over the glory of The God. This attitude indicates disbelief in the rewards promised by The God for faithful service.
12:44 But Jesus cried and said, He that believes on me, believes not on me, but on him who sent me.
This verse is a renewal of what Jesus taught the crowd, and is a renewal of the thought which was interrupted after verse 12:37 by the insertion of Isaiah's prophesies. Thus, verses 12:38-43 are really a parenthetical insert disrupting Jesus' speech to the crowd.
Jesus was pointing people beyond himself, as he always did. Anyone who believed on him was actually believing on "him who sent him." Jesus always wanted people to see The God, who sent him. Jesus wanted people to know that everything he said or did was to reveal The God to them.
12:45 And he that beholds me, beholds him who sent me.
Verses 12:44-45 effectively summarize Jesus' ministry and the purpose of his ministry. He wanted people to behold The God who sent him. For the most part, the Jews did not do this. Their unbelief had hardened their hearts and blinded their eyes, and they could not, or would not, understand his ministry at all.
12:46 I have come a light into the world, that everyone that believes on me may not abide in the darkness.
Jesus came into the world as a light, or one who brought knowledge of the invisible god, his heavenly father, to the people. Previously, no one had direct access to the heavenly holy of holies. It was only when Jesus gave his body in death that the last veil between people and The God was broken. But as a light, he did bring knowledge of The God's existence to those who believed on him. No longer must they abide in the darkness of ignorance about The God.
12:47 And if anyone hear the words of me and believe not, I do not judge him for I came not that I might judge the world, but that I might save the world.
The comment, "if anyone believe not, I do not judge him," is a remarkable statement for any teacher to make. It is difficult not to judge when teaching something, especially when the people listening do not accept it. Any teacher, who is convinced of what they are teaching, must accept that although they may bring the light of the scriptures to others, it is only holy spirit that reveals it to them. The why of their unbelief must be left to The God.
"I came not that I might judge the world, but that I might save the world." Here was another purpose for which Jesus came. Might save is written in the aorist subjunctive, which means that this is something which definitely will be accomplished; there is no maybe about it. Save, as used here in context, concerned the matter of his bringing light into the world. His ministry was accomplished whether or not people accepted that light, or knowledge. Yet today, that light shines to the world.
12:48 He that rejects me and does not receive my words, has him who judges him: the word which I spoke, that shall judge him in the last day.
Jesus went on to tell these recalcitrant Jews that they will not escape judgment for their unbelief. He will not judge them, but the message, "the word which I spoke, that shall judge him in the last day." This is a very scary issue for many people today who treat the scriptures lightly.
Many people have the scriptures in their house, but seldom read them. There will be many at the judgment of the last day who will claim ignorance of the scriptures. However, this will not be a sufficient excuse since they could have read if they chose to read. Hosea 4:6 says,
"My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge."
The God has set teachers among the people with the truth of the scriptures, but many are ignored. People are so inured to hearing the false doctrines of organized churches that they will accept only what has been fed to them over the years. It would behoove them to at least listen to something different, and study to see if what they hear is truth.
12:49 For I myself spoke not, but the father who sent me, himself gave me commandment what I should say and what I should speak.
Again, Jesus stated unequivocally that he did not speak for himself. The message he delivered did not come from his thinking. Where was the source of his message? He had repeatedly said that he did and said only what the Father told him to do and say.
12:50 And I know that his commandment is life eternal. What therefore I speak, as the father has said to me, so I speak.
What a burden this would be to bear! Jesus had to weigh and evaluate every word he spoke during his ministry to make sure it was something the Father said to him.
I wonder how many preachers and Bible teachers today understand how precious the scriptures are to The God. He has said that his word is higher than all his holy name (see Psalms 138:2, Proverbs13:13).
There is a somber responsibility associated with bringing the word of The God to others. Many people who are coerced into teaching Sunday School are unaware that they will face a more dire judgment for having taught the word of The God.
# In our world today, the love of money seems to have affected most of
the population. It is a world-wide phenomenon, and it will eventually
lead the world into the total chaos of greed. It will also fuel the anti-
christ government of the end times.
# The poor are not necessarily just those who are in material need. The
poor are also those who are in spiritual need.
# Seeking to kill Lazarus is an example of how far an organized religion
will go in order to maintain its authority. The Jewish religion was
originally sponsored by their god, Jehovah, to show the love and mercy
of their god to the world of Gentiles. But, these religious leaders had
strayed so far from the teaching of the scriptures that they were more
concerned about keeping their authority than being true to their
# The Jewish religion no longer reflected the teachings of their god,
Jehovah, but the injunctions, or commandments, of men. By now, the
Jewish religion no longer reflected their god, but was one they had
invented themselves. We believe there is a corollary in the so-called
"christian religion" today.
# It is dangerous for anyone to threaten the organized religion of which
they are a part. Even today, in many nations of the world, including
the U.S., people are still threatened-economically, physically, and
socially-for criticizing or even questioning organized religions.
Ignorant people, who blindly follow religious leaders, are easily duped
into believing all manner of error.
# Nothing could have been more threatening to the chief priests! They
were losing followers, and every religion hates those who proselytize
# If the teaching of a religious organization will not stand investigation
and criticism, it is certainly not one that is true to the scriptures.
# Jesus was a lowly man.
# The word worship conveys something different than it would mean
today. It not only involved the current meaning of worship, but it also
included the joys of the feast. After killing the sacrificial animals, and
after giving the required portion to the priests, the rest of the animal
was used for a gala festival. This was consistent with the commands of
# Without his death, Jesus would be the only person whom The God
would accept as warranting eternal life. But, just as a grain of wheat,
by dying, brings forth fruit, so too would the body of Jesus bear fruit
by dying. How much fruit? The whole of mankind, who would be
reconciled to The God, with all their sins forgiven, and their guilt borne
in his body.
# Jesus admonished his disciples, saying that they, too, are expected to
live their lives in complete obedience and dedication to The God, even if
it meant losing their lives.
# There are only two ways to live our lives. One involves an indifference to
this world, and the other an indifference to The God. The latter will
cause us to lose our live; the former will cause us to keep our lives, even
unto eternal life.
# The prince of this world was a reference to all the accumulated sins of
mankind which were constantly accusing mankind before The God.
This accumulation of sins is personified in the scriptures as satan. When
Jesus died for all these sins, the scriptures refer to that as satan being
cast out of heaven.
# There is no fallen angel named satan, although there is much preaching
to the contrary. There is no personality named satan either, but only
the mass of sin personified.
# Jesus clearly stated that he "will draw all to myself." Note carefully that
this is not only the believers, as it is often preached, but "all," meaning
# If the purpose is to serve The God, then the body will be light. If the eye
is evil, or set on the wrong purpose, then the body will be dark. Note
carefully that Jesus was speaking of the body. The body will either be
offered as a living sacrifice to The God, or the body will be offered on an
altar of the world.
# The god of this age is worldliness, or the idea that we can save ourselves
by what we do. This is also reflected in the overriding pursuit of
material possessions. To such people, the glad tidings of the glory of the
Christ does not beam forth.
# The glory of the Christ was that he alone was the one to whom was
given both the privilege and the responsibility of manifesting the
heavenly father, the invisible god. Many of the people of his time either
did not understood this, or they chose to ignore it. This is still true for
people in our time.
# Without faith, people will never reach this point of spiritual maturity, no
matter how religious they are.
# An old proverb says that the sun, when it shines on wet clay, hardens it;
but when it shines on ice, it melts it. This proverb provides a good
explanation for understanding this verse (12:40). Jesus brought light to
these people, but their refusal to hear what he said, and their refusal to
see what he did, resulted in the condition described here (blinded eyes
and hardened hearts).
# There could be no healing or dealing with their sinful attitude as long as
they persisted in their religious ideas about Jesus. Religion is a blinding
hindrance to understanding the truth of the scriptures.
# Things have not changed much since the time of Jesus. Any organized
religion has its own political agenda, and its adherents must follow the
official dictates or pay the penalty. Many church leaders today who
may otherwise see the truth are most often not willing to pay this
# Jesus wanted people to know that everything he said or did was to
reveal The God to them. He wanted people to behold The God who sent
him. For the most part, the Jews did not do this. Their unbelief had
hardened their hearts and blinded their eyes, and they could not, or
would not, understand his ministry at all.
# Any teacher who is convinced of what they are teaching must accept
that although they may bring the light of the scriptures to others, it is
only holy spirit that reveals it to them. The why of their unbelief must
be left to The God.
# Jesus brought light into the world. His ministry was accomplished
whether or not people accepted that light, or knowledge. Yet today,
that light shines to the world.
# Many people have the scriptures in their house, but seldom read them.
There will be many at the judgment of the last day who will claim
ignorance of the scriptures. However, this will not be a sufficient excuse
since they could have read if they chose to read.
# There is a somber responsibility associated with bringing the word of
The God to others.