Bonnie’s Notes on Dr. Dave’s Comments—John Chapter 12
v. 1. . .—In the timeline, we are now 6 days before the Crucifixion (down to the end, almost to the wire etc.). In Bethany about 2-3 miles from Jerusalem, Jesus and His disciples are in the familiar pattern of spending some “family” time with Mary and Martha and most especially the newly raised Lazarus. This family was probably quite wealthy if they could entertain the Lord and His disciples and Mary could offer a large amount of spikenard to anoint Jesus. The dinner here in Lazarus’ honor was held at the home of Simon the Leper (accounts in Matt. 26 and Mark 14 give us additional details). It is not the same supper as Luke 7 or the same woman. Perhaps Martha was known for hospitality because she is serving at this dinner. It is not her house, but she was probably asked to help. Spikenard was a costly perfume with a wonderful fragrance imported from the Far East and made into oils or ointments. The other Gospels record that Mary anointed the Lord’s feet and his hair and the entire house was filled with a most pleasant fragrance. Alabaster boxes of spikenard have been found in the tombs of wealthy Pharaohs. This is clearly an act of worship to the Lord. Mary must have paid better attention than the disciples for she knows that Jesus is soon to be sacrificed as He had mentioned several times by now.
v. 4-6—Judas was the only disciple not from Galilee but from Kerioth of Judea. As treasurer of the group, he was a thief and an embezzler. He hasn’t changed since the beginning. His true character is shown here. He objects to Mary spending almost a year’s income at this moment. Judas didn’t really care for the poor, but as Sorenson says, “saw only shekel signs flying out of his clutches.” His entire legacy that will stick with him for his entire life and eternity is that of betrayal. (The same is true for all lost people. However they lived their lives, they will be known for that always.) Mary, on the other hand, lives on through the Scripture. The Lord promised her story as a memorial to be recorded in the written Word.
Rice says, “Is it a waste to sacrifice for Jesus? John and Betty Stam went as missionaries to China. They were brilliant in mind, wholly devoted and well trained. Alas, when they were soon murdered by communist bandits In China, some people cried out, ‘What a waste!’ But no life laid down for Christ is wasted. [Any money or expense or provision sacrificed for Him is blessed and worthwhile].” <:>
Jesus doesn’t even respond to Judas’ remark. Sometimes, He avoids questions that are distractions—sometimes, we should do the same (use good judgment when deciding).
v. 7—This is a rare occasion that Jesus really speaks up for Himself. Unlike men and angels in the Scripture, He accepts worship. Mary believed the Old Testament. She had listened to Jesus through these years and knew what was coming.
v. 8 — Jesus taught us that the world political system is always trying to fight poverty without the Lord. They want power and control. Our own President Johnson initiated his “war on poverty.” The bottom line is that it’s a way to get votes. The poor vote for the promises made. Government handouts do not teach men/women to work and take care of themselves. Poverty has never been eliminated no matter what solution the government has tried, whether in the past or today. The Bible says if a man doesn’t work, he doesn’t eat. Our current administration will do anything to get people dependent on the government.
v. 9 — Many people came to see Lazarus (2 Cor. 5:7). Jesus was never about putting on a show, but healed out of compassion. A few of the occasions were to specifically bring glory to the Father. We take the Lord at His Word. There is logic and truth in the Scripture, but beware of emotion and entertainment at the Lord’s expense.
v. 10 — If the Pharisees had put Lazarus to death, the Lord could certainly have raised him again. Their thinking, that this made many Jews go away from them, is ridiculous. They certainly do not understand the whole issue of conversion. Gentile believers didn’t need such amazing signs to repent and be born again.
v. 12, 13 — Look back at John 11:56. The people were looking for Jesus. He stays away for a time before this celebration and the buzz grows. By the time He arrives, they are turning it into a big event. It is not time for Him to come as King. For the people to use the phrase “in the name of the Lord” was not quite appropriate. He actually is the Lord and the Messiah, but these people are still looking for a deliverer from oppression.
It was usual to strew flowers and branches, spread carpets, lay down garments in the pathway of conquerors and great princes, as well as others for whom it was intended to show particular honor and respect. In a similar way, Jehu was recognized as King in 2 Kings 9:13. In modern times, we see this custom carried on in the wedding ceremony when the brides path is strewn with flower petals as a sign of honor. Important, powerful, or famous people are often honored with a red carpet spread in their walkway during a ceremony. (from The New Manners and Customs of the Bible book)
We see by this passage, that there were many trees in Israel at this time. The land was not always as desolate as it is today. When Titus besieged the city in 70 A.D., he cut down many of the trees. A lot of them were used to make crosses to kill the Jews. This and further abuse over time has made the area a desert today.
v. 14 — Look at Zech. 9:9. Check the context. Prophecies cited in the NT have more information related to them than just the prophetic verse itself. In Zech. 9:1, Damascus is the capitol of Syria (enemy of Israel). Tyre and Sidon are in present day Lebanon. Verse 4 is predicting the coming destruction of Tyre under Alexander the Great. Gaza, Ashkelon, and Ekron are in the land of the Philistines. Verse 6 — Foreigners came and the region was occupied by a mixed population. Through the ages, there has been lots of destruction and judgment of Israel’s enemies. The biggest is yet to come as seen here in verse 10. The prophecy pictures a “lowly” or afflicted king able to bring salvation, but he comes in a manner unlike kings. There are no chariots or soldiers — only a lowly donkey. He identifies himself with the poor and common people. We know from other Scripture that His second coming will be very different. He will come in fire with angels the next time.
Morris has a good suggestion on viewing prophecy. “A frequently used illustration is that of an observer looking at two far-off mountain peaks. Unaware that there is a great valley between the peaks, he assumes that they are part of the same mountain, describing the two together.”
The phrase “lowly and riding upon an ass” seems out of place here. These events are 100’s of years apart referring to the first and then the second coming. The people honoring Jesus at the “Triumphal Entry,” as it is called, don’t understand the complexity of the prophecy. The Jews in John 12 saw this as a sign, but not as a humble Savior. They think He is going to rule now. It’s reasonable to assume they would have been searching Scripture and talking a great deal about whether He was “the One” or not. Some leaders must have thought He was coming as the King in Zechariah. After all, they’ve had three years to search out scriptures that might fit. When they see it won’t happen, they turn away violently without the contrition and humility required for salvation.
v. 16 — The disciples, who seemed rather confused through this time, get it later. Sometimes, we are the same. Fortunately, we have the Holy Spirit to help us recognize truth.
v. 18 — Could the people have recognized Him now? Yes, as individuals, but they were following their leaders. The responsibility is shared by leaders and followers.
v. 19 — Fear of loss of power can keep many from responding to the truth as shown here. Today, people want to run their own lives. With the prosperity in America, they see no need for God.
v. 20 — These may have been dispersed “westernized” Jews and probably had Greek names. They seek out Philip and Andrew who also have Greek names rather than Hebrew. Even today, there is much controversy among Jews in Israel that are of different cultures and races. Like many religions, there are a variety of factions and beliefs among them.
v. 21 — “ We would see Jesus” of whom they’ve heard — better to have said we want to “hear” Jesus. Truth is better than sight. Hearing produces faith.
v. 22, 23 — Beginning with this discourse, Jesus, for the first time, says His time has come. Previously, He said it had not come, but now He describes what is coming. He is referring to the cross, resurrection, ascension, glorification, etc. History is about to be changed!
v. 24 — (1) He has to die first to bear much fruit. (2) [v. 25, 26] You must die to self — give up the seed and invest it to get more and more. The seed we must give up is our life (a vapor, at best, compared to eternity). Give it up and get more! That doesn’t sound logical. Moving from death to life is the choice of any man or woman who is lost. This verse is all about repentance. Jesus’ purpose was to seek and save the lost. We do it, too, in order to serve Him and help Him in His work. Matt. 28:18-20 is the Great Commission.
Once in a while we meet someone on the street (just a week or so ago with a 70 year old, as a matter of fact) and Dave will ask them if they share the Gospel with others. “Of course I do,” they self righteously sputter. “Well, when did you do that last?” “Well . . . uh . . . I can’t remember exactly” and they cannot give an answer. Some refer back to their teen years or long ago when they might have said something to someone once. The Mormons are like this. Their young men put in their two year stint and then do nothing more in that regard for the rest of their lives – I’m glad they cool off! The intent is to know that the stakes are so high, that people are depending on us to get the Word out. If a blind man was about to step off a cliff, you would warn him, wouldn’t you? Would you care if he got snippy with you? NO! You must warn him so your conscience is clear and he has a chance to live.
v. 26 — This is a verse that teaches rewards. God made us and He knows that we do respond to rewards. As part of the family, we share in the good things and we endure some trials, too.
v. 27 — This is a rhetorical question — one that needs no answer. In the garden, we see the anguish Christ has, knowing that He must suffer the wrath of God in order to save us. Now, He sets His face as a flint (Is 50:7). He will fulfill His life’s work. He’s always patient, kind, and thoughtful of others through His whole ministry while knowing what the end will be.
The biggest emphasis in mega churches today is “worship, ” meaning “the show.” What is the purpose of worship? Calvinists say it is to bring glory to God. Jesus teaches that the Son of Man is glorified by the Gospel and therefore, later, the preaching of it. It’s okay to sing praises together, pray together, testify, and meet together as pairs, groups, or churches. However, worship and bringing glory to God are centered in the preaching of the Gospel. By this, we don’t mean people sitting in pews and listening to a preacher. Actually, that is teaching.
Preaching (though it is often seen as a profession in our culture) in the modern sense is giving a discourse on some portion of Scripture, but MORE IMPORTANTLY, it is proclaiming the Gospel way of salvation. It is telling the Good News of Jesus Christ which must include the need for repentance and belief. It is teaching Bible truths and exhortation, such that a person can understand and accept the terms of salvation. This was the extemporaneous manner of preaching that Christ and His disciples used. This is most effective on a one-on-one basis, which example Jesus gave us over and over again in His own ministry here on earth.
So, right now, while the seed is being sown and the souls harvested, it is the time to preach and gather in those who would be saved. It is not the time to be simply attending ,singing, and superficially encouraging the members without reaching out to the lost on a regular basis. That cannot be called worship. That will come later. Right now is the time to work and get the harvest in. Doing this work, as described in the verses that give the Great Commission, is true worship.
v. 28 — The Father can’t contain Himself, so He speaks from Heaven. He chooses some moments to personally and publicly verify His Son’s work.
v. 29 — “Let him who hath ears, hear.”
v. 30 — He always thinks of others!
v. 31 — Look at Heb. 2:13 . . .The devil has all in bondage. That system is broken by the cross.
v. 32 — All men. Everyone has a chance for salvation. There’s no Calvinism here. The invitation is open to everybody.
v. 34 — Is. 9:6,7. You could ask them this question. “Do you want justice now? For you, too? Judged for everything you have said, thought, and done up to now?” There’s an argumentative tone here. They have heard Him before, yet keep harping on the same thing. Jesus doesn’t answer this one. We get this same treatment on the street sometimes. We are actually looking for people who are genuinely concerned about their spiritual state. You can waste a lot of time defending Christianity to those who are just arguing for argument’s sake.
v. 35 — The binary aspect of Christianity is strong here. There are only two teams, two choices, light or dark, heaven or hell (lake of fire).
v. 36 — Believe and keep on believing on Him. We’ve talked about this strong life-changing type of belief before. This is not merely intellectual belief, but so strong that it transforms the life and changes the actions. Actions reflect core beliefs. The children of light are the believers — the true born again Christians. He said his piece and then left. He didn’t get phone numbers or addresses or entertain questions.
v. 37 — Despite the miracles, they didn’t believe. To get saved, you must be broken inside. Miracles don’t do that. They impress, but don’t produce the broken spirit needed for salvation. We might remember the awesomeness, but that does not necessarily make a change in life or action.
v. 38 — See Isaiah 53.
v. 40 — Looking at the example of Pharaoh may help here. He got to the point where his heart was so hard and rebellious that he was beyond help. God used that condition of his heart to give him courage in his rebellion. Otherwise, Pharaoh would have surrendered out of fear before the completion of all ten plagues. Eventually, Pharaoh gave in, but his heart was still rebellious on the inside.
The situation with the Jews was similar. John uses a reference to Isaiah. Chapter 53 is clearly a prophecy of the suffering Messiah and the cross. They refuse to accept it. Then the reference to Is. 6:6-10 indicates that they could not believe. The hardness of their hearts for so long had blinded their hearts from believing, thus fulfilling a prophecy made by Isaiah 700 years before. This curse shows how dangerous it is to delay or play games with God. He had finally said to the Jews, “Have it your way!” and the hardness/veil is still there in our present time (2 Cor. 3:14-15 and Rom. 11:8-11).
On the surface, this seems to be harsh. Israel’s broken relationship with God will be used by God for good. They don’t want to get right. They will even change their understanding. They will rationalize and make excuses. They will put themselves in a good light, because they don’t want to repent from being wrong, wasting time, wasting life etc. Is. 6:10 — preaching will make them more resistant to the message as time goes by. In verse 11, the question “how long?” is answered with a picture of the Tribulation and people getting harder and harder. Even in the Tribulation time, the people on earth will understand that it is Jesus/God who is working and still they will refuse to bow to Him and get saved.
V. 42 -43 — Rice said some got saved but stayed hidden – wrong! It doesn’t match Scripture in Matthew 10:32-33 — they weren’t truly saved. See Lu. 16:15. The leaders understood but stayed lost. They are now the hardest crowd on the planet to whom to witness.
v. 44 — This verse proves the interpretation of verses 42 and 43. One must go through Jesus to find God.
v. 46 – “I am” – the source of both physical and spiritual light, the only way out of darkness. There is no other way.
v. 48-50 — Let me say, that a good number of people disregard the Old Testament or will say, “I don’t believe all parts of the Bible.” We are not allowed to pick and choose. All Scripture is given by inspiration of God. Those who say such things will be judged by those words later. Consider 1 John 3:23. Which commandment brings everlasting life? Here is the answer. The two most important things a Christian can do: believe on the name of Jesus and love the brethren — John 15:12.
Some food for thought from Bonnie: It occurs to me that in the modern day church, there are many false converts, even in the most Biblically-based congregations. Worship is defined by Webster as the act of paying divine honors to the Supreme Being consisting of adoration, confession, prayer, thanksgiving etc.; to honor with extravagant love and extreme submission. In many modern church services, there is gyrating to rock music, waving of hands, and loud preaching. It’ s a weekly “show” aimed at entertainment.
In Acts 2, the believers met WITH ONE ACCORD and were given the Holy Spirit. In its infancy, this group was quite pure, but it didn’t take long for sin to rear its ugly head. The early group was characterized by such phrases as “continued steadfastly in the apostle’s doctrine;” “all that believed were together;” “and they continuing daily with one accord in the Temple.” However, by chapter 5, Ananias and Sapphira decide to lie to the Holy Spirit and judgment immediately comes upon them.
Doesn’t true worship require a spirit of unity? Doesn’t it need worshippers who are worthy members of the family of God? Then our modern churches aren’t worshipping God in spirit and in truth. What they do in the regularly scheduled weekly meetings is not worship.
Psalm 1 says, ”Therefore the ungodly shall not stand in the judgment, NOR SINNERS IN THE CONGREGATION OF THE RIGHTEOUS.”
When the whole church is gathered together in the future, without any outsiders, there will be appropriate corporate worship before the Lord, because all who are present belong to Him and are worthy to praise Him.
True worship then, would be demonstrating our love toward God. How best do we do that? John 14:15 says if we love Christ, we will keep His commandments. 1 John 5:1-3 describes the primary characteristics of a Christian and tells us that obeying the commandments is not grievous. John 15:12 says to love the brethren. The two greatest commandments, as restated by Christ, are to love God wholeheartedly and love our fellow man. The Great commission is the primary way to demonstrate love toward God because it is doing the work He gave us to do for Him. Bottom line: If we spread the Gospel and love our brothers and sisters in Christ, we are worshiping God.