Study Notes

John 12:12-33

12:12-16 The Triumphal Entry

Jesus riding into Jerusalem on a donkey. Most of us have heard the story, but many don't understand the great significance it truly has.

John the Baptist proclaimed at the beginning of Jesus' ministry,

John 1:29 ..."Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world! "

There were many lambs in Jerusalem that day. You see, it was the 10th of Nisan. It was this day that God had commanded,

Exod. 12:3, 6 ..."On the tenth of this month they are each one to take a lamb for themselves, according to their fathers' households, a lamb for each household... And you shall keep it until the fourteenth day of the same month, then the whole assembly of the congregation of Israel is to kill it at twilight.

On this very day, the Passover lambs were entering into people's houses, until they were to be killed the 14th of Nisan. Here, the true Passover Lamb is entering into Jerusalem, and in keeping with the prophetic picture of Passover, He will be killed on the 14th of Nisan. But that is not the only thing significant about this special day.

Over 500 years before, the prophet Daniel was visited by the angel Gabriel. In Daniel 9 we read that Gabriel tells him,

Dan. 9:24-25 "Seventy weeks have been decreed for your people and your holy city, to finish the transgression, to make an end of sin, to make atonement for iniquity, to bring in everlasting righteousness, to seal up vision and prophecy, and to anoint the most holy place. So you are to know and discern that from the issuing of a decree to restore and rebuild Jerusalem until Messiah the Prince there will be seven weeks and sixty-two weeks"

The Hebrew word translated "weeks" is actually "sevens." Just as a week is a group of 7 days to us, in the Jewish mind, a week could be any group of 7 periods of time. So there will be 70 periods of time in groups of 7. They turn out to be years - more specifically, the 360-day years of the Babylonian calendar that society was operating under at the time this prophecy was given.

Now this prophecy given by Gabriel to Daniel was specifically to "your people and your holy city" - to the Jews and the city of Jerusalem. All the prophetic dealings of God with Israel were now being wrapped up in these 70 groups of 7 Babylonian years. But notice too that he divides them up into 62+7 weeks, when Messiah the Prince would appear, and then 1 final week. When did this time clock begin? "From the issuing of a decree to restore and rebuild Jerusalem until Messiah the Prince there will be seven weeks and sixty-two weeks."

This part of the book of Daniel was written in the "first year of Darius," which was 538 BC. Nearly 100 years later, in the year 445 BC, Artaxerxes did issue the decree to Nehemiah to restore and rebuild the holy city of Jerusalem - which you can read about in the beginning of the book of Nehemiah. We know from Sir Robert Anderson's archaeological and historical work that the date was exactly March 14, 445 BC.

Gabriel told Daniel "so you are to know and discern" these times. All they had to do was count the days, and 69x7x360 works out to 173,880 days from March 14, 445 BC. At the end of those days, they could expect to see their Messiah entering into the holy city as a king. 173,880 days from March 14, 445 BC is April 6, 32 AD - this day that Jesus rode into Jerusalem as a king.

So afterwards, the disciples realized that all of these things were written of Jesus Christ - the Hosannas, the donkey, the Messiah's entry - everything.

12:17-19 Blaming One Another

As Jesus was riding in, those who had seen Jesus raise Lazarus from the dead were telling everyone about it, bearing Him witness. Huge crowds turned out to see this miracle worker riding into town.

Remember that the Pharisees had threatened the people.

John 9:22 ...They were afraid of the Jews; for the Jews had already agreed, that if anyone should confess Him to be Christ, he should be put out of the synagogue.

But now, as they're seeing that Jesus was at the peak of His popularity, they turn on each other, blaming each other for being completely ineffective in turning people away from Christ.

This is a sure sign of ungodliness - when you turn on others, blaming other people for your failings. The first personality change we see in man after falling into sin is blaming others. When Adam and Eve were called on the carpet for entering into sin,

Gen. 3:12-13 ...the man said, "The woman whom Thou gavest {to be} with me, she gave me from the tree, and I ate." Then the LORD God said to the woman, "What is this you have done?" And the woman said, "The serpent deceived me, and I ate."

Adam blamed the woman. Adam blamed God. Eve blamed the serpent. But we see in a godly man, Job, as he suffered terrible trials in his life,

Job 1:22 Through all this Job did not sin nor did he blame God.

May we be a godly people who take responsibility for our failures, our shortcomings, and our sin.

So the Pharisees are blaming one another for their failure. Of course, it is good that they had failed up to this point, but unfortunately, they will succeed in their desire to do evil in just a few short days.

12:20-22 We Wish To See Jesus

Jesus has ridden into Jerusalem and entered the temple. Believing gentiles come from the west, and having heard the buzz about this incredible man - a healer, a prophet, a miracle worker - they desire to see Him. But there's a catch - as Gentiles, they cannot enter into the temple area as far as Jesus has gone. Remember that the temple had certain areas that had entrance restrictions. The outer court was called the Court of the Gentiles. Further in was the Court of Women. Sill further inside was the Court of Men. So these Greeks are coming as close as they can, but Jesus is inaccessible to them.

This was the situation with us Gentiles back then. The gospel

Rom. 1:16 the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.

Jesus was sent specifically to the Jews - the door had not opened widely to the Gentiles yet.

So these Greeks come to Jesus' disciple Philip, and say, "Sir, we wish to see Jesus." But Philip doesn't go to Jesus directly. He's probably remembering the statement that Jesus had made,

Matt. 15:24 But He answered and said, "I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel."

Not knowing what to do, Philip goes and tells Andrew. The two of them figure that they'd better tell Jesus these Greeks want to see Him, so they go together.

12:23-33 Jesus Answered

Philip and Andrew came to Jesus, "Lord, there is a group of Greeks out in the court of the Gentiles that wish to see You." Jesus' answer is this 11-verse discourse. We'll look at everything He says, but I don't want us to lose sight of the fact that the gist of Jesus' answer is, "I'm about to be glorified by being crucified. And when I am crucified, everyone everywhere will be able to come to me. There will no longer be this separation." Soon, the gospel will be opened in Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, even the ends of the earth!

If It Dies

Looking into more detail of Jesus' response, He first says,

John 12:24 "...Unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains by itself alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit."

The amazing thing about a seed is that it remains a seed as long as you leave it alone. But if you bury it in the ground, it multiplies its mass. It sprouts and grows and turns into a full grown plant. This plant produces many more seeds, which each in turn can be planted and will grow. Amazing! Jesus is saying, "Look, when I die, I will be multiplied - My ministry will increase exponentially. My death will produce much fruit."

Loving Or Hating Your Life

Then He directs this statement to us:

John 12:25 "He who loves his life loses it; and he who hates his life in this world shall keep it to life eternal.

His death produced more seeds - produced us. Now, in order for our ministries to be multiplied, we must die to ourselves. We must give up our lives - not physically killing ourselves, but being as Paul was,

Gal. 2:20 "I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the {life} which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God...

We must put our own lives to death - and allow Christ to grow in us and through us. Jesus said,

Luke 9:23 And He was saying to {them} all, "If anyone wishes to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me.

If we give up our lives, our lives will be multiplied. But if we try to hang onto our lives, then we will just remain as we are - fruitless and alone.

For This Purpose

It's not easy to give up your life. Jesus knows that, because it wasn't easy for Him either.

John 12:27 "Now My soul has become troubled; and what shall I say, 'Father, save Me from this hour'? But for this purpose I came to this hour.

It wasn't easy, but it was the will of God. It was Jesus' entire purpose in life. And the same goes for each of us. Jesus said,

Matt. 10:38 "And he who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me."

Life is not about fun and money and fulfillment in this world. It is about the fact that Jesus gave His life for me, so I need to give my life for Him. It means that maybe you have plans to go to college and become a rich doctor. But God's plan is that you live a life of poverty ministering the Bible to people in China. Maybe you have plans to move into your dream home and live a comfortable life of luxury, but God's desire for you is to deny yourself that lifestyle - using your income to meet the needs of people that are suffering. Paul willingly gave up everything for God. He told the Philippians,

Phil. 3:7-11 But whatever things were gain to me, those things I have counted as loss for the sake of Christ. More than that, I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them but rubbish in order that I may gain Christ, and may be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own derived from {the} Law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which {comes} from God on the basis of faith, that I may know Him, and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death; in order that I may attain to the resurrection from the dead.

Death is loss, but it is also gain. What you give up in your life is nothing compared to the "surpassing value" of knowing Jesus Christ. If you choose not to give up your life for His, you'll never know the power of His resurrection, you'll never have complete fellowship with Him, you'll never be completely conformed to Him. Death is never easy when it is your choice. But it is God's will and must be your purpose.

Lifted Up

And Jesus again addresses the fruit that will be borne by His choice to die:

John 12:32 "And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to Myself."

Jesus will be lifted up on a cross within a few days. And that act of self-sacrifice will produce a harvest of souls that will continue for another 2,000 years.

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