A. A dinner at Bethany.
1. (1-2) Lazarus eats and Martha serves.
Then, six days before the Passover, Jesus came to Bethany, where Lazarus was who had been dead, whom He had raised from the dead. There they made Him a supper; and Martha served, but Lazarus was one of those who sat at the table with Him.
a. Six days before the Passover: John gave a time marker, telling us that this was the last week before the death and burial of Jesus. Almost one-half of John’s Gospel is given to this last week. Matthew used more than 33% of his Gospel to cover that week, Mark nearly 40% and Luke over 25% – to seven days of Jesus’ entire life.
b. There they made Him a supper: Less than a week before His crucifixion, Jesus attended a dinner in Bethany, probably to celebrate the raising of Lazarus from the dead. With all Jesus had on His mind, knowing His fate as He came to Jerusalem for Passover, it is remarkable that He attended this dinner at all. Most would not feel like socializing.
i. “He would not pain His hosts by self-absorbed aloofness at the table. The reason for the feast is obviously the raising of Lazarus, as is suggested by his being twice mentioned in verses 1 and 2.” (Maclaren)
ii. There they made Him: “The ‘therefore’ (which the A.V. omits) points to the gratitude for Lazarus’ restoration, which that household now showed by entertaining Him at supper.” (Trench)
c. Martha served: It seems that this dinner was at the home of Simon the Leper (Matthew 26:6 and Mark 14:3). His friends Martha, Lazarus, and Mary were also in attendance. Because Martha seems to be the hostess, some think Simon the Leper was related to Mary, Martha, and Lazarus or even that he was Martha’s husband. If common customs were followed, this dinner was for the men of the village and Martha and the other women served.
i. It’s easy to see Martha in our imagination bringing the best dishes first to Jesus, pressing Him to eat more and more. She was so grateful and so happy to serve Jesus. Her service was appreciated and valued.
ii. “John does not state, as do Mark and Matthew, that the host at Bethany was Simon the leper. In the story of Luke 7 the host, Simon the Pharisee, is almost certainly a different Simon from the one mentioned in Mark. Simon was a very common Jewish name.” (Tasker)
iii. “The only discrepancy of any consequence being that the Synoptists seem to place the feast only two days before the Passover. But they introduce the feast parenthetically to present the immediate motive of Judas’ action, and accordingly disregard strict chronology.” (Dods)
2. (3) Mary anoints the feet of Jesus.
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.
a. Mary took a pound of very costly oil of spikenard, anointed the feet of Jesus: In the midst of the supper, Mary gave a remarkable gift to Jesus. It wasn’t unusual to wash the feet of a guest, but it was unusual to do it during the meal itself, to use very costly oil of spikenard to do it, and to wipe the feet with her hair, using the hair as a kind of towel.
· Mary’s gift was remarkably humble. When a guest entered the home, usually the guest’s feet were washed with water and the guest’s head was anointed with a dab of oil or perfume. Here, Mary used this precious ointment and anointed the feet of Jesus. She considered her precious ointment only good enough for His feet. “To attend to the feet was the task of the most lowly slave. Thus Mary’s action denoted great humility as well as great devotion.” (Morris)
· Mary’s gift was remarkably extreme. She used a lot (a pound) of a very costly oil of spikenard. Spices and ointments were often used as an investment because they were small, portable, and could be easily sold. Judas believed this oil was worth 300 denarii (John 12:5), which was worth a year’s wages for a workingman.
· Mary’s gift was remarkably unselfconscious. Not only did she give the gift of the expensive oil, she also wiped His feet with her hair. This means that she let down her hair in public, something a Jewish woman would rarely do.
i. Oil of spikenard: “Both John and Mark describe it by the adjective pistikos (Mark 14:3). Oddly enough, no one really knows what that word means. There are four possibilities. It may come from the adjective pistos which means faithful or reliable, and so may mean genuine. It may come from the verb pinein which means to drink, and so may mean liquid. It may be a kind of trade name, and may have to be translated simply pistic nard. It may come from a word meaning the pistachio nut, and be a special kind of essence extracted from it. In any event it was a specially valuable kind of perfume.” (Barclay)
ii. “It was very costly, but it had not cost a penny too much now that it could be used upon him. There was a pound of it, but there was none too much for him. It was very sweet, but none too sweet for him.” (Spurgeon)
iii. “The act is all the more striking in that a Jewish lady never unbound her hair in public. That apparently was a mark of loose morals. But Mary did not stop to calculate public reaction. Her heart went out to her Lord and she gave expression to something of her feelings in this beautiful and touching act.” (Morris)
iv. In all of this, Mary is a study of devotion to Jesus. “The life of Mary is painted for us, in three memorable pictures, in each of which she is at the feet of Jesus.” (Eerdman)
· Luke 10:39: Mary sat at Jesus’ feet and learned.
· John 11:32: Mary fell at Jesus’ feet and surrendered.
· John 12:3: Mary anointed Jesus’ feet and honored Jesus.
v. “You must sit at his feet, or you will never anoint them; he must pour his divine teaching into you, or you will never pour out a precious ointment upon him.” (Spurgeon)
b. The house was filled with the fragrance of the oil: The sense of smell makes for long-lasting memories and John remembered how Mary’s essential oils made the whole house smell good.
3. (4-6) Judas objects to Mary’s rich gift.
Then one of His disciples, Judas Iscariot, Simon’s son, who would betray Him, said, “Why was this fragrant oil not sold for three hundred denarii and given to the poor?” This he said, not that he cared for the poor, but because he was a thief, and had the money box; and he used to take what was put in it.
a. Judas Iscariot, Simon’s son, who would betray Him: In a short time Judas would betray Jesus. His betrayal was so much darker when contrasted with the brightness of Mary’s devotion to Jesus. Judas probably objected to Mary’s gift because he was shamed by her simple and powerful display of love.
i. This is the only place in the New Testament where Judas is mentioned as doing something evil other than his betrayal of Jesus, and even this was done in secret. Judas successfully hid the darkness of his heart from everyone except Jesus. Outward appearances often deceive. Many people have a religious facade that hides secret sin.
ii. “He would sell his very Saviour. And a fair match he made: for, as Austin saith, Judas sold his salvation, and the Pharisees bought their damnation.” (Trapp)
b. Why was this fragrant oil not sold for three hundred, denarii: This was an awkward scene. Then Judas broke the embarrassed silence with his sharp sense of financial values – but no appreciation of what God valued. He thought this was too much love and devotion to show to Jesus.
i. “Judas, blinded in self-interest, criticized her action, and so revealed himself as utterly opposed to the very spirit of the Lord Himself.” (Morgan)
ii. The isn’t this all a little much attitude of Judas was contagious. Matthew 26:8 shows Judas was not alone in this objection. Others seem to have felt that Judas made some sense. “The shock of what they had seen must have caused a brief embarrassed silence, which was broken by one voice giving expression to the sentiments of many.” (Bruce)
iii. Sometimes this thinking is twisted into a justification for all kinds of opulence and luxury, claiming that nothing is too good for Jesus – and in the twisting, for those who claim to serve Him. We notice that this was done directly for Jesus, not for any of the disciples. We also notice that it was poured out in a single act, and not something like a work of art that could be sold for the benefit of the poor or the extension of the kingdom of Jesus.
c. This he said, not that he cared for the poor, but because he was a thief, and had the money box; and he used to take what was put in it: We rightly suppose that John did not know at that time that Judas was a thief; this was hidden to the disciples. Yet we also rightly suppose that Jesus did know that Judas was a thief yet He still appointed Him to be treasurer.
i. Luke 8:2-3 tells us that generous women provided some of the financial needs of Jesus and His disciples. That money would be kept and managed by Judas.
ii. “When a man has gone so far in selfish greed that he has left common honesty behind him, no wonder if the sight of utterly self-surrendering love looks to him folly.” (Maclaren)
iii. “The Greek word translated bare [take] (bastazo) means both ‘carry’ and ‘carry off’. Judas did both!” (Tasker) “That ἐβάσταζεν can bear the sense of ‘take away’ or ‘make away with’ is beyond dispute.” (Dods)
iv. “The verb ‘bare’ [take] is in the imperfect tense, showing that he habitually carried it”, and habitually carried from it. (Trench)
v. It was probably through greed and discontent the devil gained a foothold in Judas’ life. “Take heed of discontent. It was the devil’s sin that threw him out of heaven. Ever since which this restless spirit loves to fish in troubled waters.” (Trapp)
vi. By some chronologies Judas went out the next day and made his bargain with the religious leaders to betray Jesus for 30 pieces of silver (Matthew 26:14-16, Mark 14:10-11). “The impression left is that Judas, seeing one source of personal enrichment lost, hastened to create another.” (Morris)
4. (7-8) Jesus defends Mary and explains what she did.
But Jesus said, “Let her alone; she has kept this for the day of My burial. For the poor you have with you always, but Me you do not have always.”
a. Let her alone: If we are extreme in our love for Jesus, He will not criticize us; that was what Judas did. It is much better to be like Mary (extreme in our love for Jesus) than to be like Judas (criticizing others who show such great love for Jesus).
b. She has done this for the day of My burial: In the same way that it would be rude to loudly object to funeral expenses at the service for the deceased, so it was inappropriate for Judas or anyone else to put a price on Mary’s love and devotion to Jesus while He was still alive.
i. “Unusual expense at a funeral was not regarded as unseemly; why should anyone object if the ointment which would otherwise have been used to anoint his dead body in due course was poured over him while he was still alive and able to appreciate the love which prompted the action?” (Bruce)
ii. Mark 14:9 says, Assuredly, I say to you, wherever this gospel is preached in the whole world, what this woman has done will also be told as a memorial to her. “The Evangelist who records that promise does not mention Mary’s name; John, who does mention the name, does not record the promise. It matters little whether our names are remembered, so long as Jesus bears them graven on His heart.” (Maclaren)
iii. What John wrote about the fragrance of the oil filling the house may have been his way of saying what Mark 14:9 said. “There is a rabbinic saying ‘(The scent of) good oil is diffused from the bed-chamber to the dining-hall while a good name is diffused from one end of the world to the other.’” (Morris)
5. (9-11) The plot to kill both Jesus and Lazarus.
Now a great many of the Jews knew that He was there; and they came, not for Jesus’ sake only, but that they might also see Lazarus, whom He had raised from the dead. But the chief priests plotted to put Lazarus to death also, because on account of him many of the Jews went away and believed in Jesus.
a. The chief priests plotted to put Lazarus to death also: The chief priests were mostly Sadducees, and the Sadducees didn’t believe in the resurrection. Lazarus was a living example of life after death, and having him around was an embarrassment to their theological system. For them, there was only one solution to this embarrassing problem – to put Lazarus to death also.
i. “What a giant like madness was this, to take up arms against heaven itself! to seek to kill a man, only because God had made him alive!” (Trapp) “In this devilish proposal the obduracy of unbelief is exhibited in its extreme form.” (Dods)
ii. “When men hate Christ, they also hate those whom he has blessed, and will go to any lengths in seeking to silence their testimony.” (Spurgeon)
iii. “How blind were these men not to perceive that he who had raised him, after he had been dead four days, could raise him again though they had slain him a thousand times?” (Clarke)
b. On account of him many of the Jews went away and believed in Jesus: This made the problem of the chief priests worse. The miracle of raising Lazarus from the dead drew many people to Jesus. Therefore, in the opinion of these religious leaders, Lazarus also had to be stopped.
i. Went away and believed: “The expression ‘were going and believing in Jesus’ may be Semitism, meaning ‘were increasingly believing in Jesus’.” (Bruce)
B. The triumphal entry.
1. (12-16) The crowd greets Jesus as a coming King.
The next day a great multitude that had come to the feast, when they heard that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem, took branches of palm trees and went out to meet Him, and cried out:
‘Blessed is He who comes in the name of the LORD!’
The King of Israel!”
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.”
His disciples did not understand these things at first; but when Jesus was glorified, then they remembered that these things were written about Him and that they had done these things to Him.
a. The next day a great multitude that had come to the feast: This was the large crowd that came for the greatest holidays of Judaism – Passover. Many of them came from Galilee. When they came, they came with lambs. Jewish law required that the Passover lamb live with the family for at least three days before sacrifice (Exodus 12:3-6). When Jesus came and went into Jerusalem, lambs for sacrifice would surround him and everyone else.
i. “Josephus, the Jewish historian, tells us that one year a census was taken of the number of lambs slain for Passover and that figure was 256,500. In other words, with numbers this large, lambs must literally be driven up to Jerusalem throughout the entire day. Consequently, whenever Jesus entered the city He must have done so surrounded by lambs, Himself being the greatest of lambs.” (Boice)
b. Took branches of palm trees: The many people (a great multitude) gathered for something that was like a patriotic parade. Palm branches were a symbol of Jewish nationalism since the time of the Maccabees. The crowd looked to Jesus as a political and national savior, but not so much as a spiritual savior.
i. “They greeted Jesus as a king, though ignorant of the nature of His kingship. It would seem that they looked upon Him as a potential nationalist leader, with whose help they might be able to become wholly independent of foreign powers.” (Tasker)
ii. “From the time of the Maccabees palms or palm-branches had been used as a national symbol. Palm-branches figured in the procession which celebrated the rededication of the temple in 164 BC (2 Maccabees 10:7) and again when the winning of full political independence was celebrated under Simon in 141 BC (1 Maccabees 13:51). Later, palms appeared as national symbols on the coins struck by the Judean insurgents during the first and second revolts against Rome (AD 66-70 and 132-135).” (Bruce)
c. Hosanna! “Blessed is He who comes in the name of the LORD!” This large, enthusiastic crowd greeted Jesus with words from the Messianic Psalm 118:25-26. The cry Hosanna meant “save now,” and on this day the crowd received Jesus as a triumphant Messiah.
d. Jesus, when He had found a young donkey, sat on it: Jesus did this both as a deliberate fulfillment of prophecy (Zechariah 9:9) and as a demonstration of the character of His kingdom. It was a spiritual kingdom, not a military kingdom. He came in peace, not war.
i. “The ass was not normally used by a warlike person. It was the animal of a man of peace, a priest, a merchant or the like. It might also be used by a person of importance but in connection with peaceable purposes. A conqueror would ride into the city on a war horse, or perhaps march in on foot at the head of his troops. The ass speaks of peace.” (Morris)
ii. “He did not come as a conqueror but as a messenger of peace. He rode on a donkey, not the steed of royalty, but that of a commoner on a business trip.” (Tenney)
e. The King of Israel: This shows that the crowd, in shouting “save now!” had in mind political salvation from the oppression of the Romans. Yet the Romans probably felt they had little to fear from a so-called king who came without armies or the accepted symbols of power.
i. “‘Daughter of Zion’ is a personification of the city of Jerusalem; it occurs frequently in the Old Testament, especially in the later prophets.” (Tenney)
2. (17-19) The crowds come after Jesus, to the dismay of the leaders.
Therefore the people, who were with Him when He called Lazarus out of his tomb and raised him from the dead, bore witness. For this reason the people also met Him, because they heard that He had done this sign. The Pharisees therefore said among themselves, “You see that you are accomplishing nothing. Look, the world has gone after Him!”
a. For this reason the people also met Him, because they heard that He had done this sign: The crowds adored Jesus because they believed that the raising of Lazarus from the dead proved that Jesus could be the conquering Messiah they longed for.
i. “One who could summon a dead man back to life would certainly be able to deliver the holy city from the yoke of Caesar.” (Bruce)
b. Look, the world has gone after Him! The popularity of Jesus was offensive to His enemies. It made them feel that they were accomplishing nothing. It makes us happy to see the enemies of Jesus frustrated.
i. “The Pharisees were of course exaggerating, but the words the world is gone after him (John 12:19), like the words of Caiaphas in John 11:50, were unconsciously prophetic.” (Tasker)
ii. “They are concerned that a few Judeans were being influenced. But their words express John’s conviction that He was conquering the world.” (Morris)
C. The hour has come.
1. (20-23) Greeks come to meet Jesus.
Now there were certain Greeks among those who came up to worship at the feast. Then they came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida of Galilee, and asked him, saying, “Sir, we wish to see Jesus.” Philip came and told Andrew, and in turn Andrew and Philip told Jesus. But Jesus answered them, saying, “The hour has come that the Son of Man should be glorified.”
a. Now there were certain Greeks among those who came up to worship at the feast: We are not told the background of these certain Greeks. They may have been Greek converts to Judaism. They may have been Greek God-fearers, those who had great respect for Judaism but didn’t convert and become circumcised. They may have simply been Greek travelers, known for their curiosity.
i. “We have heard much concerning him, and we wish to see the person of whom we have heard such strange things. The final salvation of the soul often originates, under God, in a principle of simple curiosity. Many have only wished to see or hear a man who speaks much of Jesus, his miracles, and his mercies; and in hearing have felt the powers of the world to come, and have become genuine converts to the truths of the Gospel.” (Clarke)
ii. “On this occasion the Greek’s curiosity about Jesus may have been stirred simply because everyone was talking about him. But there could have been a more special reason. Between verses 19 and 20 a day or two had elapsed: Jesus was no longer on the road to Jerusalem, but teaching daily in the temple precincts. And in the meantime, according to Mark 11:15-17, he had expelled the traders and moneychangers from the precincts — that is, more precisely, from the outer court — in order that the place might fulfill its divinely ordained purpose of being ‘a house of prayer for all the nations’ (Isaiah 56:7). Did these Greeks recognize this action as having been undertaken in the interests of Gentiles like themselves who, when they came up to worship the true God, had to confine themselves to the outer court?” (Bruce)
b. Sir, we wish to see Jesus: These Greeks had heard of Jesus, perhaps of His reputation as a teacher and worker of miracles. What they did know of Jesus made them want to know more about Him, so they came to Philip (the one disciple with a Greek name) asking to see Jesus.
i. “These men from the West at the end of the Life of Jesus, set forth the same as the Magi from the East at its beginning: — but they come to the Cross of the King, as those to His cradle.” (Stier, cited in Alford)
c. The hour has come: At least twice before Jesus said that the time was not ready (John 2:4 and 7:6). He took this seeking interest of Gentiles as the signal that now the hour has come that the Son of Man should be glorified.
i. “In this Gospel we see Jesus as the world’s Saviour, and evidently John means us to understand that this contact with the Greeks ushered in the climax… Jesus sees it as evidence that His mission has reached its climax and that he is now to die for the world, Greeks included.” (Morris)
ii. The fact that His hour had not yet come had delivered Him from violence before (John 7:30, 8:20). Now that the hour has come, it was time for Jesus to make the final sacrifice.
iii. Jesus never really responded to these Gentile seekers, but He would on the other side of the cross. If humanity was to receive new life in God the Son, then Jesus must die (be glorified) first.
d. The hour has come that the Son of Man should be glorified: Jesus didn’t mean that He would be glorified in the eyes of men. That just happened at the triumphal entry. The glorification Jesus pointed to here was being glorified on the cross. Something the world could only see as disgraceful humiliation, Jesus saw as being glorified.
i. The hour has come: “The verb ‘is come’ is in the perfect tense, ‘the hour has come and stays with us’. There is no going back on it.” (Morris)
2. (24-26) Jesus explains why He is willing to face death.
“Most assuredly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it produces much grain. He who loves his life will lose it, and he who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. If anyone serves Me, let him follow Me; and where I am, there My servant will be also. If anyone serves Me, him My Father will honor.”
a. Unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies: Just as a seed will never become a plant unless it dies and is buried so the death and burial of Jesus was necessary to His glorification. Before there can be resurrection power and fruitfulness, there must be death.
i. “The principle stated in verse 24 is of wide application; in particular, if it is true of Jesus, it must be true of his followers.” (Bruce)
b. He who loves his life will lose it, and he who hates his life in this world will keep it: We are called to hate our life not in the sense that we disregard it, but in the sense that we freely give it up for God. Our life is precious to us, especially because it is something we can give to Jesus.
i. Jesus focused our hatred of life when He said hates his life in this world. We are to disregard our life in this world, seeing instead that we are mere pilgrims and sojourners, with our home in heaven instead of earth (Hebrews 11:13-16).
ii. “The man whose priorities are right has such an attitude of love for the things of God that it makes all interest in the affairs of this life appear by comparison as hatred.” (Morris)
c. If anyone serves Me, let him follow Me: To be a Christian is to serve Jesus, to follow Him. It doesn’t mean that you stop working your job or caring for your family or studying at school. It means you do all that as a servant of Jesus, a follower of Jesus.
i. “All of you who would have Christ as your Savior, that you must be willing to serve him. We are not saved by service, but we are saved to service.” (Spurgeon)
ii. Serves Me: “Diakonos is especially a servant in attendance, at table or elsewhere; a doulos may serve at a distance: hence the appropriateness of diakonos in this verse. The office of diakonos may seem a humble and painful one, but to be valued or honoured by the Father crowns life.” (Dods)
iii. It would be easy for the disciples to think, “Jesus is going to the cross. Thank heaven I don’t have to do that.” Then Jesus says, “Follow Me.”
iv. “Think of one Man standing up before all mankind, and coolly and deliberately saying to them, ‘I am the realized Ideal of human conduct; I am Incarnate Perfection; and all of you, in all the infinite variety of condition, culture, and character, are to take Me for your pattern and your guide.’” (Maclaren)
d. Where I am, there My servant will be also: Jesus described the servant as one who wanted to be where Jesus is. This isn’t forced slavery where the servant wants to be free from the master. This is a chosen, willing service that simply wants to be close to the Master.
i. Where I am: “The word refers, not to the place of our Lord at that moment, but to His essential, true place, i.e. (John 17:24) in the glory of the Father.” (Alford)
e. If anyone serves Me, him My Father will honor: This is a remarkable promise. The reward for serving Jesus is to receive honor from God the Father. This honor is both reward and recognition.
3. (27-28a) At the crucial hour, Jesus expresses His resolve.
“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.”
a. My soul is troubled: Jesus received this crucial hour, yet it troubled Him because He knew what the agonies of the cross would involve. John doesn’t tell us about the prayer of Jesus in Gethsemane, but the idea behind that prayer of Jesus is expressed in John 12:27-28.
ii. “As a man he was troubled at the prospect of a violent death. Nature abhors death: God has implanted that abhorrence in nature, that it might become a principle of self preservation; and it is to this that we owe all that prudence and caution by which we avoid danger.” (Clarke)
b. And what shall I say? “Father, save Me from this hour?” Knowing this was the crucial hour Jesus could not ask to escape the hour, because He knew that for this purpose I came to this hour. The cross, which had cast a shadow over the entire life and ministry of Jesus, would now become a reality in the experience of Jesus.
i. “It seems clear that the words represent a rhetorical question, a hypothetical prayer at which Jesus looks, but which He refuses to pray.” (Morris)
ii. “The very object of His Incarnation, the reason of this His Coming into the world and of His continuance to this hour was to meet this Suffering.” (Trench)
c. Father, glorify Your name: As Jesus thought of the cross just a few days away, His main concern was to glorify the name and character of God the Father.
4. (28b-30) The Father testifies to Jesus in a voice from heaven.
Then a voice came from heaven, saying, “I have both glorified it and will glorify it again.” Therefore the people who stood by and heard it said that it had thundered. Others said, “An angel has spoken to Him.” Jesus answered and said, “This voice did not come because of Me, but for your sake.
a. Then a voice came from heaven: This was the third audible Divine testimony to Jesus’ status as the Son of God, after the Divine voice heard at His baptism and His transfiguration.
b. I have both glorified it and will glorify it again: This was assurance from God the Father. Approaching the cross, the great concern of Jesus was to glorify the Father, and He was assured that He already had and would continue to do so.
i. And will glorify it: “Christ was glorified: 1st. By the prodigies which happened at his death. 2. In his resurrection. 3. In his ascension, and sitting at the right hand of God. 4. In the descent of the Holy Ghost on the apostles. and 5. In the astonishing success with which the Gospel was accompanied, and by which the kingdom of Christ has been established in the world.” (Clarke)
ii. And will glorify it again: “The word again here implies no mere repetition, but an intensification, of the glorification a yet once more: and this time fully and finally.” (Alford)
c. This voice did not come because of Me, but for your sake: To some, the voice of God sounded like thunder. Others thought it sounded like some kind of angelic speech. For those who could discern it, it gave them confidence in Jesus before these critical days.
i. “So in Acts 9:7, 22:9, Saul’s companions heard the physical reverberations, but not so as to understand the Voice, for it was not meant for them.” (Trench)
5. (31-33) Jesus plainly proclaims His death.
“Now is the judgment of this world; now the ruler of this world will be cast out. And I, if I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all peoples to Myself.” This He said, signifying by what death He would die.
a. Now is the judgment of this world: The spirit of this world was judged by the way it treated Jesus at the cross. The cross not only judged the world it also defeated Satan (now the ruler of this world will be cast out). The defeat of the world (culture in opposition to Jesus) and Satan was God’s victory and the victory of the people of God.
i. We could define this world in the sense Jesus spoke of as culture in opposition to Jesus. This culture has a leader, a ruler of this world – Satan, the great adversary to God (John 14:30, 16:11; 2 Corinthians 4:4, Ephesians 2:2, 6:12).
b. Now the ruler of this world will be cast out: Satan, the great adversary, was in some sense cast out by what Jesus accomplished at the cross. Satan was cast out of any rightful authority over God’s people.
i. “But the world’s judgment on Jesus, directed by the sinister spirit-ruler (archon) of the present order, would be overruled in a higher court; that spirit-ruler himself would be dislodged.” (Bruce)
ii. “It was because of disobedience that man was driven by God out of the Garden of Eden for having submitted to the prince of this world (John 12:31); now by the perfect obedience of Jesus on the cross the prince of this world will be deposed from his present ascendancy.” (Tasker)
iii. Colossians 2:14-15 vividly described the defeat of Satan at the cross: having wiped out the handwriting of requirements that was against us, which was contrary to us. And He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross. Having disarmed principalities and powers, He made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them in it.
c. If I am lifted up from the earth: The verb used for lifted has a deliberate double meaning. It means both a literal elevation (as in being raised up on a cross) and exaltation (being raised in rank or honor). Jesus promised that when He was lifted (elevated, exalted) on the cross He would draw all peoples to Himself.
i. “In ὑψωθῶ [lifted] therefore, although the direct reference is to His elevation on the cross, there is a sub-suggestion of being elevated to a throne… It was the cross which was to become His throne and by which He was to draw men to Him as His subjects.” (Dods)
ii. If I am lifted up: “If, as often, has the force of ‘when’. There is no doubt in Jesus’ mind that He will be crucified.” (Tasker)
iii. Jesus knew that the benefit of His work on the cross would go far beyond blessing and salvation to the Jewish people. He would draw all peoples to Himself.
iv. Draw all peoples: “The Cross is the magnet of Christianity. Jesus Christ draws men, but it is by His Cross mainly…You demagnetize Christianity, as all history shows, if you strike out the death on the Cross for a world’s sin. What is left is not a magnet, but a bit of scrap iron.” (Maclaren)
v. All peoples: “There is no exclusion of any class or creature from the mercy of God in Christ Jesus. ‘I, if I be lifted up, will draw all men unto me’; and the history of the church proves how true this is: the muster-roll of the converted includes princes and paupers, peers and potmen.” (Spurgeon)
d. This He said, signifying by what death He would die: Jesus did not only know that He would die, but also that He would die on a cross, lifted up from the earth. Jesus knew the painful and humiliating manner of His death, but still obeyed God’s will.
6. (34-36) Will the Messiah live forever?
The people answered Him, “We have heard from the law that the Christ remains forever; and how can You say, ‘The Son of Man must be lifted up’? Who is this Son of Man?” Then Jesus said to them, “A little while longer the light is with you. Walk while you have the light, lest darkness overtake you; he who walks in darkness does not know where he is going. While you have the light, believe in the light, that you may become sons of light.” These things Jesus spoke, and departed, and was hidden from them.
a. We have heard from the law that the Christ remains forever: The people had been taught only the passages from the law (the Old Testament) which spoke of the triumph of the Messiah. They were mostly unaware of the passages that spoke of His suffering (such as Psalm 22 and Isaiah 53). It made them wonder if Jesus was really the Messiah, the Son of Man.
i. “There were several passages that spoke of the perpetuity of his reign, as Isa 9:7; Eze 37:25; Da 7:14, they probably confounded the one with the other, and thus drew the conclusion, The Messiah cannot die; for the Scripture hath said, his throne, kingdom, and reign shall be eternal.” (Clarke)
ii. This crowd that enthusiastically greeted a political conqueror didn’t want to consider His sacrificial death. It didn’t fit in with their idea of what a Messiah should be.
iii. Son of Man: “This among other passages shows that the ‘Son of Man’ was a title suggestive of Messiahship, but not quite definite in its meaning and not quite identical with ‘Messiah’.” (Dods)
b. A little while longer the light is with you…While you have the light, believe in the light: Jesus assured them that He would be with them only a short time longer. The light of His earthly ministry was about to go out.
i. We must believe on Jesus while the light is there, because it won’t last forever. God’s Spirit will not always strive with man (Genesis 6:3), and we must answer His call while it rings to us.
ii. Sons of light: “The Semitic idiom ‘sons of’ describes men who possess the characteristics of what is said to be their ‘father’. In our idiom, we should probably say ‘men of light’, cf. our expression ‘a man of integrity’.” (Tasker)
7. (37-41) John explains their unbelief in light of Old Testament prophecy.
But although He had done so many signs before them, they did not believe in Him, that the word of Isaiah the prophet might be fulfilled, which he spoke:
“Lord, who has believed our report?
And to whom has the arm of the LORD been revealed?”
Therefore they could not believe, because Isaiah said again:
“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.”
These things Isaiah said when he saw His glory and spoke of Him.
a. Although He had done so many signs before them, they did not believe in Him: Throughout his Gospel, John told us of many signs that Jesus performed that should cause us to believe in Him (John 2:11, 4:54, 6:14). Yet many did not believe in Him. Using two quotations from Isaiah (Isaiah 53:1 and 6:9-10), John explained that this was prophesied.
i. “After centuries of Christian history, during which the church has been almost exclusively Gentile, we have come to accept that it is quite normal that there should be very few Jews in it. But this was not the way it seemed to the men of the New Testament.” (Morris)
b. To whom has the arm of the LORD been revealed: In quoting from Isaiah 53:1 John emphasized that if someone believes, it is because God has revealed Himself and His truth to them. Jesus had revealed Himself to them through the many signs and through His teaching.
c. He has blinded their eyes and hardened their heart: In quoting from Isaiah 6:9-10, John emphasized that unbelief was because God acted in judgment upon those who refused to see His truth and turn to Him. God would strengthen them in their decision, either for Jesus or against Him. In light of this principle, they could not believe, as Isaiah described.
i. “Not one of them was fated to be incapable of belief; it is made plain below (John 12:42) that some did in fact believe. But the OT prediction had to be fulfilled, and fulfilled it was in those who, as matter of fact, did not believe.” (Bruce)
ii. “He does not mean that the blinding takes place without the will or against the will of these people. So with the hardening of their heart. These men chose evil. It was their own deliberate choice, their own fault.” (Morris)
d. These things Isaiah said when he saw His glory and spoke of Him: As the prophecy is recorded in Isaiah 6, the Prophet Isaiah saw the Lord, Yahweh (Isaiah 6:1-13). John properly understood that Isaiah saw the glory of Jesus before His incarnation and that Jesus is Yahweh.
i. “The vision of Isaiah recorded in Isaiah 6 is interpreted by John as a vision of the Godhead as a whole. The prophet saw Christ’s glory as well as the Father’s glory.” (Tasker)
8. (42-43) Some of the rulers have a weak belief in Jesus.
Nevertheless even among the rulers many believed in Him, but because of the Pharisees they did not confess Him, lest they should be put out of the synagogue; for they loved the praise of men more than the praise of God.
a. Nevertheless even among the rulers many believed in Him, but because of the Pharisees they did not confess Him: At this point in Jesus’ ministry there were many who believed on Him secretly. They saw the signs and heard His teaching, yet because they were afraid of what others would think and do against them they would not openly declare (confess) their allegiance to and trust in Jesus.
i. “Secret discipleship is a contradiction in terms for, ‘either the secrecy kills the discipleship, or the discipleship kills the secrecy.’” (Barclay)
ii. Bishop Trench was more sympathetic: “The commentators are hard on these timid ones. Are all Christians heroic? Is there no smoking flax?” (Trench)
b. They loved the praise of men more than the praise of God: Jesus just explained that if anyone served Him, they would receive honor from God (John 12:26). Yet there were many who loved the honor that comes from other men more than the praise that comes from God.
i. Loved the praise of men: “Which what is it else but a little stinking breath? These have their reward.” (Trapp)
9. (44-50) A final appeal to belief: Jesus makes a last, passionate appeal to the multitude.
Then Jesus cried out and said, “He who believes in Me, believes not in Me but in Him who sent Me. And he who sees Me sees Him who sent Me. I have come as a light into the world, that whoever believes in Me should not abide in darkness. And if anyone hears My words and does not believe, I do not judge him; for I did not come to judge the world but to save the world. He who rejects Me, and does not receive My words, has that which judges him—the word that I have spoken will judge him in the last day. For I have not spoken on My own authority; but the Father who sent Me gave Me a command, what I should say and what I should speak. And I know that His command is everlasting life. Therefore, whatever I speak, just as the Father has told Me, so I speak.”
a. Then Jesus cried out and said: These are the last words in John’s gospel from Jesus to the public. In this last speech to the multitude, Jesus emphasized the themes of all His previous preaching in John. It included a reminder of His teaching, a challenge to decide, a warning to those who decided against Him and a promise to those who decided for Him.
i. Cried out: “The imperfect tense in the original signifies that the shouting was persistent.” (Tasker)
ii. “As a rule our Saviour did not cry [shout]. He did not cry nor lift up His voice in the streets. But now and then, in some exalted hour, the Gospels tell us that He cried (John 7:37).” (Morrison)
b. He who sees Me sees Him who sent Me: Jesus emphasized His unity with God the Father. To believe in Jesus was to put faith in Him who sent Jesus, even more than it was to put faith in Jesus Himself.
i. “Though it was for asserting this (his oneness with God) that they were going to crucify him, yet he retracts nothing of what he had spoken, but strongly reasserts it, in the very jaws of death!” (Clarke)
c. I have come as light into the world: Jesus stressed His own truthfulness, and the need man has to follow Jesus – or else live in darkness.
d. I did not come to judge the world but to save the world: The incarnation wasn’t necessary if Jesus came only to judge. He didn’t need to add humanity to His deity to do that, but He did need to do it to rescue humanity. Yet, the word that I have spoken will judge Him – there are inescapable consequences for rejecting Jesus.
i. “His last word is not one of condemnation. It is one of tender appeal.” (Morris)
ii. “Always in the Fourth Gospel there is this essential paradox; Jesus came in love, yet his coming is a judgment.” (Barclay)
e. I have not spoken on My own authority: Jesus stressed His own submission to God the Father. His authority was connected to His submission to God the Father.
i. What I should say and what I should speak: “The former designates the doctrine according to its contents, the latter the varying manner of delivery.” (Dods)
©2018 David Guzik – No distribution beyond personal use without permission