John Chapter Twelve
I. Content of the Chapter
The Ways that Son of God the Savior Manifested His Glory
A. The testimony of Bethany (v.1-11) ---- they valued the Lord’s death and were willing to cast their glory unto His feet.
B. The people welcomed the Lord when He was sitting on a donkey's colt (v.12-19) ---- it was an epitome of the manifestation of His glory.
C. The Lord’s reaction to Philip who wished to see Him (v.20-36) ---- He revealed that He would be glorified through death.
D. Two obstructions of seeing His glory:
1. “Unbelief” made men not be able to see His glory (v.37-41).
2. Though believing, men still loved the praise of men more than the praise of God (v.42-43).
E. The final declarations in public before being glorified (v.44-50).
II. Verse by Verse commentary
John. 12:1 “Then, six days before the Passover, Jesus came to Bethany, where Lazarus was who had been dead, whom He had raised from the dead.”
YLT: “Jesus, therefore, six days before the passover, came to Bethany, where was Lazarus, who had died, whom he raised out of the dead;”
Meaning of Words: “Bethany”: house of figs, house of affliction;
Spiritual Meaning: “the Passover” is the day when the lamb has been killed. “Bethany” is the place where death has been overcome. It typifies that men can obtain the risen life through only the death of the Lamb (Christ) of the Passover.
Enlightenment in the Word:
1) We should always bear about in the body the dying of Jesus so that the life also of Jesus may be manifested in us (see 2Cor 4:10-11).
2) The house of Bethany typifies the church. Though the church usually seems to be afflicted (the meaning of Bethany) outwardly, she is actually filled with the “risen” life therein.
John. 12:2 “There they made Him a supper; and Martha served, but Lazarus was one of those who sat at the table with Him.”
YLT: “they made, therefore, to him a supper there, and Martha was ministering, and Lazarus was one of those reclining together (at meat) with him;”
Meaning of Words: “serve”: minister, use the office of a deacon; “sit”: recline in company with;
Literal Meaning: “there they made Him a supper”, “they” referred to Simon the leper (see Matt 26:6; Mark 14:3). Some Bible exegetes guessed Simon was probably a relative of the family of Lazarus, and he might even be Mary’s husband.
“Sat at the table with Him”, it meant reclining in company with others ---- it was the habitual gesture when the Jews had feast.
Spiritual Meaning: “sat at the table”, it symbolized enjoying rest and joy. This verse presented a picture, witnessing that the church was comprised of the Lord Himself and those who had believed Him, where God and men had found rest and joy together.
Enlightenment in the Word:
1) “There they made Him a supper”, the word “there” referred to the place where Lazarus had risen up (v.1). Where a man has been granted grace, where he should give his gratitude.
2) The life in church should be filled with the enjoyment of life (“sat at the table”). And only when the Lord has found enjoyment, we can have enjoyment thereafter.
John. 12:3 “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. ”
YLT: “Mary, therefore, having taken a pound of ointment of spikenard, of great price, anointed the feet of Jesus and did wipe with her hair his feet, and the house was filled from the fragrance of the ointment.”
Meaning of Words: “costly”: very expensive; “true”: genuine, pure;
The Background: anointing the ointment of spikenard was a social etiquette of showing welcome and respect. It was usually anointed on one’s head (see Luke 7:46).
Literal Meaning: “a pound (according to Roman weight units)”: a litra in the original. A pound equals to twelve ounces, about one third kilograms.
“Very costly oil of spikenard”, a kind of expensive ointment of spikenard, and it was made from the oil which was refined from the root and stem of a certain plant named nard from India.
Spiritual Meaning: “anointed the feet of Jesus”, it symbolized the fragrant devotion to the Lord.
“And wiped His feet with her hair.” ---- Hair is the glory of women (see 1Cor 11:15). Mary used her goriest part to wipe the lowest part of the Lord (the feet), which typifies casting her crown before the Lord (see Rev4:10).
Mary represented all those who loved the Lord. Having seen Christ who had been crucified for us, they were deeply moved and devoted themselves to the Lord and poured all their hearts to the Lord.
Enlightenment in the Word:
1) Believers in the church, who were sinners in the past, have now been washed by the precious blood. Therefore, the Lord delights to live with them and sit at the table with them.
2) All those who have really known that they are sinners and have been favored by the Lord will always be grateful to the Lord, love Him, open his house to receive Him and devote their possessions to the Lord.
3) Mary devotes “very costly oil of spikenard” to the Lord. We believers should also devote what we think the most precious and genuine to the Lord.
4) Once the oil of spikenard was anointed, the whole house would be filled with sweet savor. All that we have devoted to the Lord for the sake of love will be a fragrant testimony to men around us.
5) All that we have devoted to the Lord sincerely from the bottom of our heart will always give out sweet savor, making others feel a sweet odor of Christ to God (see 2Cor 2:14-16).
6) Many people want to obtain the Lord’s salvation, but refuse the Lord Himself. Many people value Lord’s blessings, but ignore the Lord Himself. Do we want all that besides the Lord, or the Lord Himself?
7) For the love of Christ compels us, because we judge thus: that if One died for all, then all died. And He died for all, that those who live should live no longer for themselves, but for Him who died for them and rose again (see 2Cor 5:14-15).
8) Mary has such characters as follows: (1) sat down at the feet of the Lord (see Luke 10:39). (2) Fell at the Lord’s feet (see 11:32). (3) Wiped the Lord’s feet with her hair. He who is able to sit down at the Lord’s feet will fall at the Lord’s feet. He who can fall at the Lord’s feet will devote his glory to the Lord at the His feet.
9) If one has received the salvation, he must also devote himself afterwards. He who has received the salvation but has not devoted himself to the Lord yet has not enjoyed the salvation completely.
John. 12:4 “But one of His disciples, Judas Iscariot, Simon's son, who would betray Him, said,”
YLT: “Therefore saith one of his disciples -- Judas Iscariot, of Simon, who is about to deliver him up --”
Literal Meaning: “who would betray Him”, since the Lord had known Judas would betray Him, why did He still elect him as His disciple? Please see the explanation in chapter six (6:67).
“Judas Iscariot”, “Iscariot” might be a small city in the southern part of Judaea. In the ancient times, the Jews were fond of describing a man with his birthplace, so here Judas was called in this way.
John. 12:5 “"Why was this fragrant oil not sold for three hundred denarii and given to the poor?" ”
YLT: “`Wherefore was not this ointment sold for three hundred denaries, and given to the poor?'”
Literal Meaning: “three hundred denarii”, it amounted to the salary of a whole year for a common worker at that time (see Matt 20:2).
“And given to the poor”, such good things had to be done by all those who came to have feast in Jerusalem (see 13:29), and by the true believers (see Gal 2:10).
Enlightenment in the Word:
1) If man does not love Christ, he will replace devoting his love to the Lord with working for the Lord. How easily that some “good” and “spiritual” excuses may move the Lord’s status which He should have in believers!
2) Among the believers, those who are drawn near by the Lord’s love are not many. Most of them, standing in the position of knowledge, do not quite approve the works of others who walk in love.
3) Many times, love may be interrupted by cognitive analysis. Once a man takes economic factors into consideration, the will of the Lord will be eclipsed behind.
4) He who has really been touched by the Lord’s love cares for the delight of the Lord only, regardless of his personal gain or loss, success or failure. Therefore, they are willing to do things which are even unprofitable in men’s perspectives
5) If we see from the perspective of love, everything that has been done for the Lord is worthy, all the money that has been spent for the Lord is not in vain.
6) Today there are so many works for the need of work (“being given to the poor”), but not for the delight of the Lord Himself (“anointing Him”). Obviously, many works in the church seem to work for the Lord, but actually they are for the need of the environment.
7) We should not take too much notice of men’s ideas about out ministry. The most important is how we evaluate the Lord. Is He worthy of our service in this way?
8) The Lord is precious to those who believe (1Pet2:7). How much we have devoted to the Lord indicates that how much He should be in our eyes. If we really treasure and know the value of Christ, we will find we are still unworthy to devote ourselves and all that we have to Him.
John. 12:6 “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.”
YLT: “and he said this, not because he was caring for the poor, but because he was a thief, and had the bag, and what things were put in he was carrying.”
Meaning of Words: “care for”: concern; “money box”: a casket or purse, which was used to put money; “put”: throw;
Literal Meaning: “he was a thief”, he stole the public money for his private usage.
“And had the money box”, Judas might arrange the money and possessions that others had devoted to the Lord Jesus and His disciples (see 13:29; Luke8:3).
Enlightenment in the Word:
1) Having following the Lord for three years and a half, Judas was entrusted with the work of arranging the financial affairs by the Lord, but he still could not overcome the enticing power of money. Admittedly, the power of money was rather terrible.
2) Today, the Lord entrusts money (including the ecclesiastical and individual one) to us to manage. We shall spend them carefully instead of spending without authorization.
3) He who loves the Lord usually put money in the money box, but he who loves himself “usually takes what is put in it”. Whether we love the Lord or not can be judged from the attitude towards money.
4) There are both positive and negative sides in the church, where is a place trying and manifesting men’s heart. Do we believe, love, serve or manifest Him? Or love other things besides Him?
John. 12:7 “But Jesus said, "Let her alone; she has kept this for the day of My burial.”
YLT: “Jesus, therefore, said, `Suffer her; for the day of my embalming she hath kept it,”
Meaning of Words: “let alone”: leave, forsake; “keep”: preserve;
The Background: As it is the custom with the Jews to prepare for burial, they anointed the corpse with aromatic spices and bound it up in linen with the spices (see 19:40; Mark 16:1).
Literal Meaning: “she has kept this for the day of My burial.” ---- “Keep”: to preserve for a certain purpose. Mary surely knew from the Lord’s words that He would be crucified (see Matt26:2). Seeing that there was not too much time, she caught the opportunity as long as He still lived, showing her gratitude to the Lord and His being dead for men.
Enlightenment in the Word:
1) It will be best if we love the Lord like Mary. If not, we shall not restrain others from loving the Lord (“let her alone”).
2) Criticism from others shows how much they love the Lord. We devote to the Lord, seeking to please the Lord, not men (Gal 1:10).
3) In the matter of loving and serving the Lord, ample liberty should be given to everyone. We should never judge or interrupt others.
4) Christians are on one hand not free ---- being confronted with the criticism, interruption and persecution; and are “free” on the other hand (“let her alone”) ---- having been set free in Christ from the bondage of the law, the sin and the devil (see Gal 5:1).
5) Mary anointed her best on the Lord for she had received the revelation of the Lord. We shall seek the Lord’s revelation first, and then love Him with the best love.
6) Mary of Bethany seized the opportunity to anoint the Lord before His death. Mary of Magdala also wanted to anoint the Lord after His death, but found no chance (see Mark 16:1-6). We should seize the opportunity to love and serve the Lord.
7) Mary availed herself of expressing her love toward the Lord before His death. Let us also avail ourselves of expressing the love to the Lord before His second coming.
8) All that we have done for the sake of loving the Lord may be misapprehended by others, but the Lord knows our heart and will also personally clarify everything for us.
9) The Lord Himself is much more important than anyone or anything. No one or nothing are worthy of taking place of Him in us.
John. 12:8 “For the poor you have with you always, but Me you do not have always." ”
YLT: “for the poor ye have always with yourselves, and me ye have not always.'”
Literal Meaning: “for the poor you have with you always”, it did not mean the Lord did not care about the poor. Actually, He was usually concerned about the need of the poor (see 13:29; Matt 6:2-4; Luke 4:18; 6:20; 14:13, 21; 18:22).
Enlightenment in the Word:
1) Those who are of the Lord usually make a mistake, namely, be awfully busy with working for “the poor” (e.g. the objects of the glad tidings, brothers who have stumbled, ministrations of the social welfare, and ministrations in the church etc.), but ignore the Lord Himself.
2) Believers shall learn to distinguish between what “have with us always” and what “have not with us always”. Otherwise, we may lose the opportunity which we do not always have for the sake of those frequent opportunities.
3) The Lord in many believers’ heart is even less important than “the poor”. We shall let the Lord have the first place in all things (Col 1:18).
John. 12:9 “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.”
YLT: “A great multitude, therefore, of the Jews knew that he is there, and they came, not because of Jesus only, but that Lazarus also they may see, whom he raised out of the dead;”
Enlightenment in the Word: there are two mysteries of attracting men when we preach the glad tidings: (1) Christ should be manifested. (2) We should have the real experience of resurrection.
John. 12:10 “But the chief priests plotted to put Lazarus to death also,”
YLT: “and the chief priests took counsel, that also Lazarus they may kill,”
Literal Meaning: “the chief priests”, most of them were Sadducees, who did not believe the resurrection (see Matt 22:23). Therefore, some Bible exegetes thought the chief priests plotted to put Lazarus to death for probably they schemed to wipe out the evidence of resurrection.
Enlightenment in the Word:
1) They originally plotted to kill the Lord Jesus only (see 11:53), but now they even schemed to put Lazarus to death also ---- obviously, sin can be spread and extended.
2) The testimony of the risen life usually evokes the jealousy of Satan, who tries to destroy it by all means.
John. 12:11 “because on account of him many of the Jews went away and believed in Jesus.”
YLT: “because on account of him many of the Jews were going away, and were believing in Jesus.”
Enlightenment in the Word:
1) Lazarus had not spoken any word or preached any sermon, but he was a living witness of resurrection (v.1). We usually pay attention to the witness of words, but ignore the fact that we are the Lord’s witness.
2) As long as we conduct ourselves worthily of the glad tidings of the Christ (Phil 1:27), there will usually produce greater effect than that of the testimony of the words.
3) Where grace has been manifested on us, others will receive such grace from us thereafter. Where the Lord manifests His glory, He will be glorified thereafter.
John. 12:12 “The next day a great multitude that had come to the feast, when they heard that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem,”
YLT: “On the morrow, a great multitude that came to the feast, having heard that Jesus doth come to Jerusalem,”
John. 12:13 “took branches of palm trees and went out to meet Him, and cried out: "Hosanna! "Blessed is He who comes in the name of the LORD!' The King of Israel!" ”
YLT: “took the branches of the palms, and went forth to meet him, and were crying, `Hosanna, blessed he who is coming in the name of the Lord -- the king of Israel;'”
Literal Meaning: “took branches of palm trees”, “palm trees” were usually used in feasts (see Lev 23:40).
“Hosanna!” ---- “we beseech your immediate salvation” (see Ps 118:15), and it also means the exclamation of adoration ---- “You are almighty. Worthy is your name!” The people exalted and adored Him so much, for they thought He came to be the king as the savior of their nation and led the Jews to go against the dominance of the Roman Empire and establish the Kingdom of the Messiah.
“Blessed is He who comes in the name of the LORD!” ---- Such blessed words were for the pilgrims (see Ps 118:26). The people here mentioned the words and the Messiah together, so the One who came in the name of the LORD referred to the coming Messiah, i.e. this Jesus before them. “The King of Israel” here was added by the people.
Spiritual Meaning: “palm trees” symbolizes victory (see Rev 7:9).
Enlightenment in the Word: when the glorious Lord reveals to us, we cannot help from exalting and praising.
John. 12:14 “Then Jesus, when He had found a young donkey, sat on it; as it is written:”
YLT: “and Jesus having found a young ass did sit upon it, according as it is written,”
The Background: “donkey” is a kind of docile animal, which was used as the mount of the king (see Judges 10:4; 12:14; 2Sam 16:2) before horse was widely used among the Jews in the ancient times. The Scripture compared donkey with horse for being not majestic as the warhorse, thus manifesting he who rode the donkey was meek and gentle (see Zech 9:9-10).
Literal Meaning: “Jesus had found a young donkey.” ---- The detailed process that the Lord found the donkey was recorded in the Book of Mark (Mark 11:2-6).
John. 12:15 “"Fear not, daughter of Zion; Behold, your King is coming, Sitting on a donkey's colt." ”
YLT: “`Fear not, daughter of Sion, lo, thy king doth come, sitting on an ass' colt.'”
Literal Meaning: “daughter of Zion”, “Zion”, a small mountain in Jerusalem, here was another name of the city of Jerusalem (see Zech 9:9). “Daughter”, in the Scriptures, daughter of a certain city usually represents the people of that city (see Ps 45:12; Songs 1:5)
“Fear not, your King is coming, sitting on a donkey's colt.” ---- During the last week of the days when Lord Jesus was on the earth, He appeared, as a king, before the people who lived in the city of the great King before His crucifixion in Jerusalem. Nevertheless, He did not come in a splendid and majestic manner, but peacefully and gently ---- that the Lord rode the donkey had given the people such impression.
Spiritual Meaning: that the Lord rode the donkey had such spiritual meaning ---- He shall reign in His people who are subject to Him, but He is unwilling to compel men to obey Him. If men are unwilling to be subject to Him, He will “give them up”.
John. 12:16 “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.”
YLT: “And these things his disciples did not know at the first, but when Jesus was glorified, then they remembered that these things were having been written about him, and these things they did to him.”
Literal Meaning: “but when Jesus was glorified”, the Holy Spirit came down when Jesus was glorified (see 7:37-39).
“Then they remembered that these things were written about Him.” ---- The Holy Spirit will bring to men’s remembrance the Lord’s words (see 14:26) and guide men into all the truth (see 16:13), so the disciples will understand.
John. 12:17 “Therefore the people, who were with Him when He called Lazarus out of his tomb and raised him from the dead, bore witness.”
YLT: “The multitude, therefore, who are with him, were testifying that he called Lazarus out of the tomb, and did raise him out of the dead;”
John. 12:18 “For this reason the people also met Him, because they heard that He had done this sign.”
YLT: “because of this also did the multitude meet him, because they heard of his having done this sign,”
Literal Meaning: “the people also met Him”, a swarm of people went to meet Him because of their curiosity about the signs and miracles instead of believing the fact that He is the Son of God.
John. 12:19 “The Pharisees therefore said among themselves, "You see that you are accomplishing nothing. Look, the world has gone after Him!" ”
YLT: “the Pharisees, therefore, said among themselves, `Ye see that ye do not gain anything, lo, the world did go after him.'”
Literal Meaning: when the Pharisees saw the people going to meet Jesus in a continuous stream, they thought their works of repressing Jesus were totally inefficient. In fact, they did not realize that the thoughts of the people were capricious and unstable. Those who cried out "Hosanna” on that day yet cried out “take away” several days after(see 19:15; Luke 23:18).
John. 12:20 “Now there were certain Greeks among those who came up to worship at the feast.”
YLT: “And there were certain Greeks out of those coming up that they may worship in the feast,”
Literal Meaning: “there were certain Greeks”, “Greeks” may generally refer to the Gentiles under the influence of the Greek civilization at that time. They also “came up to worship” in Jerusalem, so they might be the Gentiles who believed the true God (see Acts 10:22).
John. 12:21 “Then they came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida of Galilee, and asked him, saying, "Sir, we wish to see Jesus." ”
YLT: “these then came near to Philip, who from Bethsaida of Galilee, and were asking him, saying, `Sir, we wish to see Jesus;'”
The Background: “Philip, who was from Bethsaida of Galilee”, “Bethsaida” was close to Decapolis (see Matt 4:25), where lived many Greeks. “Philip” was a Greek name, so he might be able to speak Greek.
Literal Meaning: “we wish to see Jesus.” ---- It means that we desire to ask Jesus for advice in the presence of Him. Note that when the Lord Jesus was born, there were several gentiles who came to worship Him (see Matt 2:1-12). At this time, when He would go to be crucified on the cross, there were also gentiles who wished to see Him. It unveils that He is the savior of all human beings.
John. 12:22 “Philip came and told Andrew, and in turn Andrew and Philip told Jesus.”
YLT: “Philip cometh and telleth Andrew, and again Andrew and Philip tell Jesus.”
Literal Meaning: “Philip came and told Andrew”, Philip and Andrew were from the same place (see 1:44).
John. 12:23 “But Jesus answered them, saying, "The hour has come that the Son of Man should be glorified.”
YLT: “And Jesus responded to them, saying, `The hour hath come that the Son of Man may be glorified;”
Literal Meaning: “The hour has come that the Son of Man should be glorified.” ---- It indicated that the hour that the Lord Jesus would be glorified by His death on the cross and His resurrection afterwards.
John. 12:24 “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.”
YLT: “verily, verily, I say to you, if the grain of the wheat, having fallen to the earth, may not die, itself remaineth alone; and if it may die, it doth bear much fruit;”
Meaning of Words: “wheat”: corn;
Literal Meaning: “unless a grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies”, “into the ground and dies”, the grain of wheat shall be saturated with water in the soil, and then the shell will be decayed after a period of time.
“It produces much grain.” ---- The earth bears fruit of itself, first blade, then an ear, and finally full corn in the ear (see Mark 4:28).
Spiritual Meaning: “unless a grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it remains alone”, “a grain of wheat” typifies the Lord Jesus Himself. “Falls into the ground and dies”, it typified His crucifixion on the cross in the flesh. The whole sentence meant that the divine life in Him would not be multiplied if He had not been crucified on the cross.
“But if it dies, it produces much grain.” ---- It typified that the divine life in the Lord Jesus had been given through His death and resurrection. This life had been obtained by many people who believed the Lord from ages and from generations, thus giving birth to many Christians who had the life and disposition of God (see 1Pet1:3; 2Pet1:4).
Enlightenment in the Word:
1) The production of life comes after death. If there is no death, there will be no fruit.
2) Life comes from death. The more one suffers, the more life he will give.
3) If we want to bear fruit in the Lord, the best way will be denying ourselves.
4) The more the Lord’s life works in us, the more prosperous His life in us will be. The more one burns (denies) himself, the more he will illuminate others.
John. 12:25 “He who loves his life will lose it, and he who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life.”
YLT: “he who is loving his life shall lose it, and he who is hating his life in this world -- to life age-during shall keep it;”
Meaning of Words: “love”: have affection for; kiss; “life”: soul (psuche); “lose”: destroy, die, mar, perish; “hate”: detest, to love less; “keep”: observe, save; “eternal life”: eternal life (zoe);
Literal Meaning: “he who loves his life”, “life”: soul, which includes thought, affection and will. It means that one emphasizes the enjoyment and satisfaction of his soul in his life.
“He who hates his life”, it means the one ignores the enjoyment and satisfaction of his soul in his life and never be overtaken by the unreasonable requirements of his soul.
“Love” and “hate” are of comparative speaking ---- he who loves himself more than God loves his soul. And he who loves God more than himself hates his soul.
This verse shows that he who seeks ease to satisfy his soul in this world makes his soul suffer and loses the satisfaction of his soul in the coming age. He who makes his soul suffer in this world must obtain the satisfaction of soul and keep it unto eternal life.
Enlightenment in the Word:
1) He who loves his life will lose it, and he who hates his life will keep it. We shall realize it so that we will never be regretful in the coming age.
2) “Losing life” refers to “denying oneself” and “taking up one’s cross”. The cross will finally put our “self” and soul to death.
3) Taking up one’s cross and denying oneself will always make his soul pain. All that which can not make one’s soul afflict can not be counted to the cross.
John. 12:26 “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. ”
YLT: “if any one may minister to me, let him follow me, and where I am, there also my ministrant shall be; and if any one may minister to me -- honour him will the Father.”
Enlightenment in the Word:
1) “If anyone serves Me, let him follow Me.” ---- If believers want to serve the Lord, they should follow the path of the Lord and conform to His death.
2) “If anyone serves Me, him My Father will honor.” ---- If we serve the Lord for a while, God the Father will honor us. Therefore, serving the Lord is the most glorious thing in our life, and we shall never ignore or even give up this blessing.
John. 12:27 “"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. ”
YLT: “`Now hath my soul been troubled, and what? shall I say -- Father, save me from this hour? -- but because of this I came to this hour;”
Meaning of Words: “soul”: psuche (in Greek); “trouble”: agitate
Literal Meaning: “Now My soul is troubled”, it was the necessary reaction of men’s life when men were confronted with danger or troubles. The Lord is both God and a man. In His humanity, He was a man of like passions to us (see James 5:17), so He wept and sometimes was troubled. Nevertheless, the Lord’s sadness here was not because of fearing death, but fearing of being forsaken by God the Father for the sake of bearing sins (see Matt 27:46).
“This hour” referred to the time when the Lord Jesus would be crucified on the cross.
John. 12:28 “Father, glorify Your name." Then a voice came from heaven, saying, "I have both glorified it and will glorify it again." ”
YLT: “Father, glorify Thy name.' There came, therefore, a voice out of the heaven, `I both glorified, and again I will glorify ;'”
Literal Meaning: “glorify Your name.” ---- May your name be exalted in the earth.
“I have both glorified it”, it indicated that God the Father had already been glorified by the Lord’s walking, ministry and signs in the past years (see 1:14; 11:4).
“And will glorify it again”, it pointed that God the Father would still been glorified by the crucifixion of Jesus on the cross and resurrection.
Enlightenment in the Word: “Father, glorify Your name.” ---- The Lord Jesus cares about the glory of God instead of Himself. If believers want to overcome in troubles, he should earnestly consider the glory of God and love Him, thus obtaining the boldness and power of bearing the suffering.
John. 12:29 “Therefore the people who stood by and heard it said that it had thundered. Others said, "An angel has spoken to Him." ”
YLT: “the multitude, therefore, having stood and heard, were saying that there hath been thunder; others said, `A messenger hath spoken to him.'”
Literal Meaning: “it had thundered”, they heard the voice only, but had no understanding of the meaning therein.
“An angel has spoken to Him.” ---- They had only vague idea about it.
John. 12:30 “Jesus answered and said, "This voice did not come because of Me, but for your sake.”
YLT: “Jesus answered and said, `Not because of me hath this voice come, but because of you;”
Meaning of Words: “come”: grow, happen, become;
Literal Meaning: “This voice did not come because of Me”. ---- The voice did not come to tell Me that My prayer had been granted.
“But for your sake.” ---- The voice was to try and establish your faith.
John. 12:31 “Now is the judgment of this world; now the ruler of this world will be cast out.”
YLT: “now is a judgment of this world, now shall the ruler of this world be cast forth;”
Meaning of Words: “world”: orderly arrangement, the world (in a wide or narrow sense, including its inhabitants), cosmos (in Greek); “be cast out”: be driven out, be sent away;
Literal Meaning: “now is the judgment of this world”, “world” referred to an orderly arrangement or organization. Those visible men and things in the world were created by the divine Trinity (see 1:10), but were afterwards sized by Satan, who changed the world into another physically invisible organization or arrangement to grab and deduce men’s heart. Finally, men were alienated from God and even opposed against God. When the Lord Jesus was crucified on the cross, in likeness of flesh of sin, and for sin, and was condemned in place of men. Therefore, the judgment on the cross had judged not only sinners and sins, but also the origin of sin ---- the Satan and its instrument of committing sins ---- the world.
“Now the ruler of this world will be cast out.” ---- “The ruler of this world” refers to the devil (see 14:30; 16:11; 2Cor 4:4; 1John 5:19). Outwardly, it seemed to be the victory of Satan when the Lord Jesus was crucified on the cross. However, the Lord just annulled the devil who had the might of death through being crucified and dead on the cross (see Heb 2:14).
Enlightenment in the Word:
1) Believers should have the spiritual insight. Once we have perceived that the world ---- the adversary of God (see 1John 2:15) ---- has been condemned by God, we will not love the world.
2) The cross is God’s judgment on the world. Therefore, the world is crucified to me (Gal 6:14).
John. 12:32 “And I, if I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all peoples to Myself." ”
YLT: “and I, if I may be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto myself.'”
Literal Meaning: “if I am lifted up from the earth”, “I am lifted up”, it refers to the Lord’s crucifixion on the cross (see 3:14). “If” did not mean he did not necessarily need to be crucified, but meant “when” He was crucified on the cross.
“Will draw all peoples to Myself”, “all peoples” does not refer to all the people in the world, but those who have different nationalities, races or languages, including the Jews and the Gentiles (see Rom 1:16). The “all peoples” are the above-mentioned “much grain” (see v.24).
Enlightenment in the Word:
1) The Lord had been highly exalted by His cross (see Phil 2:8-9).
2) The Lord Jesus is the preserver of all men (1Tim 4:10). One will be saved if he believes the Lord, no matter who he is, for there is no acceptance of persons with God.
3) The life of the Lord Jesus is to all the people (see Luke 2:10). The Lord’s death will “draw all peoples”.
John. 12:33 “This He said, signifying by what death He would die.”
YLT: “And this he said signifying by what death he was about to die;”
Meaning of Words: “signify”: indicate;
John. 12:34 “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?" ”
YLT: “the multitude answered him, `We heard out of the law that the Christ doth remain -- to the age; and how dost thou say, That it behoveth the Son of Man to be lifted up? who is this -- the Son of Man?'”
Literal Meaning: “we have heard from the law that”, “the law” refers to the Old Testament (see 10:34).
“Christ remains forever.” ---- “Christ” is the “Messiah” in Greek. The Old Testament prophesies that the Messiah abides forever (see Ps 89:36; 110:4; Is 9:7; Dan7:14).
John. 12:35 “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. ”
YLT: “Jesus, therefore, said to them, `Yet a little time is the light with you; walk while ye have the light, that darkness may not overtake you; and he who is walking in the darkness hath not known where he goeth;”
Meaning of Words: “overtake”: apprehend, attain, come upon, and comprehend;
Literal Meaning: “A little while longer the light is with you.” ---- “Light” refers to the Lord Himself (see 8:12; 9:5). Here, it suggested that the Lord would be crucified on the cross and it remained only a few days.
“Lest darkness overtake you”: “lest darkness overcome you” or “lest darkness prevail over you”.
Enlightenment in the Word:
1) Men’s life is limited. The night is far spent, and the day is near. We should run the heavenly journey when we still live, lest we regret after death.
2) There will be light in the presence of the Lord, but the darkness prevails when the presence of the Lord has been lost.
John. 12:36 “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. ”
YLT: “while ye have the light, believe in the light, that sons of light ye may become.' These things spake Jesus, and having gone away, he was hid from them,”
Meaning of Words: “hide”: keep secret; conceal;
Literal Meaning: “believe in the light”, it means that one can come into the light by believing.
John. 12:37 “But although He had done so many signs before them, they did not believe in Him,”
YLT: “yet he having done so many signs before them, they were not believing in him,”
John. 12:38 “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?" ”
YLT: “that the word of Isaiah the prophet might be fulfilled, which he said, `Lord, who gave credence to our report? and the arm of the Lord -- to whom was it revealed?'”
Literal Meaning: “that the word of Isaiah the prophet might be fulfilled”, it was quoted from the Book of Isaiah (53:1).
“Lord, who has believed our report?” ---- Isaiah sighed for men’s unbelief towards the messages that he preached in his times, which signified that the Jews did not believe what the Lord Jesus preached in like manner.
“And to whom has the arm of the LORD been revealed?” ---- “Arm” is the mark of power. The signs the Lord Jesus has done manifest the power of God.
Enlightenment in the Word: the Lord reveals His arm (power) merely to those who believe Him. A wicked heart of unbelief prevents men from witnessing or experiencing the great power of the Lord.
John. 12:39 “Therefore they could not believe, because Isaiah said again:”
YLT: “Because of this they were not able to believe, that again Isaiah said,”
Literal Meaning: the following words were quoted from the Book of Isaiah (6:10).
John. 12:40 “"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." ”
YLT: “`He hath blinded their eyes, and hardened their heart, that they might not see with the eyes, and understand with the heart, and turn back, and I might heal them;'”
Literal Meaning: “He has blinded their eyes and hardened their hearts.” ---- They did not think good to have God in knowledge, and God then gave them up to blind eyes and hard hearts (see Rom 1:28). “Blind eyes” restrain men from witnessing the works of God. “Hard hearts” hinder men in understanding the words of God.
“Lest they should see with their eyes, lest they should understand with their hearts and turn,” ---- God does not fear men repent and turn to Him, but fears men disregard Him and move around things outside of Him.
Enlightenment in the Word:
1) Spiritual truth is of little significance in the sight of those who are not willing to seek the Lord. Even though they hear it, it still serves no purpose. He who refuses the words of God will be rejected by God.
2) The mystery of being healed is: “see with their eyes, understand with their hearts and turn”.
John. 12:41 “These things Isaiah said when he saw His glory and spoke of Him.”
YLT: “these things said Isaiah, when he saw his glory, and spake of him.”
Literal Meaning: “Isaiah said when he saw His glory”, “His glory” refers to the glory of God (see Is 6:3), but it specifically refers to the glory of Christ in this book, thus indicating that the Father and the Son are one (see 10:30).
John. 12:42 “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;”
YLT: “Still, however, also out of the rulers did many believe in him, but because of the Pharisees they were not confessing, that they might not be put out of the synagogue,”
Literal Meaning: “nevertheless”, it refers to the unbelief of most of the Jews (see v.37-39).
“But because of the Pharisees they did not confess Him, lest they should be put out of the synagogue”, it indicated that: (1) they feared “men” more that “God”. (2) They confessed “men” more that “God”. (3) They focused on the “synagogue” on the earth more than the “universal assembly” in heaven (see Heb 12:23).
Enlightenment in the Word:
1) For with heart is believed to righteousness; and with mouth confession made to salvation (Rom 10:10). Believing with heart is a matter before God. Confessing with mouth is a matter before men.
2) If one believes only with his heart but dares not confess before men, he can bear no witness before men ---- he can neither glorify the Lord nor be delivered from the world.
3) If we want to be delivered from the world, we should not only believe the Lord, but also bear clear witness ---- confess that we are Christians.
4) In the church history, there were always the “Pharisees” who persecuted our belief and the “rulers” who hankered for the advantages of the “synagogue” from ages and from generations. Both of them were causes of loss to the witness of the Lord.
John. 12:43 “for they loved the praise of men more than the praise of God.”
YLT: “for they loved the glory of men more than the glory of God.”
Enlightenment in the Word:
1) If believers “love the praise of men more than the praise of God”, they will give up the praise of God for the sake of the praise of men.
2) If we want to please God (Phil 2:3), we shall not seek vain glory.
John. 12:44 “Then Jesus cried out and said, "He who believes in Me, believes not in Me but in Him who sent Me.”
YLT: “And Jesus cried and said, `He who is believing in me, doth not believe in me, but in Him who sent me;”
Literal Meaning: “Jesus cried out and said”, He spoke out earnestly from His heart.
“He who believes in Me, believes not in Me but in Him who sent Me.” ---- He who believes Jesus believes God. That is to say, he who does not believe Jesus does not believe God.
The words from verses 44 to 50 were the last sermon given by the Lord Jesus before the people in public. He said nothing to the Jews from then on. Therefore, this paragraph summarized all the Lord’s sermons to the Jews.
Enlightenment in the Word: There is salvation in none other than Him (Acts 4:12).
John. 12:45 “And he who sees Me sees Him who sent Me.”
YLT: “and he who is beholding me, doth behold Him who sent me;”
John. 12:46 “I have come as a light into the world, that whoever believes in Me should not abide in darkness.”
YLT: “I a light to the world have come, that every one who is believing in me -- in the darkness may not remain;”
Literal Meaning: “should not abide in darkness”, please see the meaning of the word “darkness” in the commentary of chapter 8, verse 12.
John. 12:47 “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.”
YLT: “and if any one may hear my sayings, and not believe, I -- I do not judge him, for I came not that I might judge the world, but that I might save the world.”
Literal Meaning: “for I did not come to judge the world but to save the world.” ---- It did not mean the Lord Jesus did not judge men at all (see 5:30), but the main purpose of His coming to the world was to save the world instead of judging the world.
John. 12:48 “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.”
YLT: “`He who is rejecting me, and not receiving my sayings, hath one who is judging him, the word that I spake, that will judge him in the last day,”
Meaning of Words: “reject”: cast off, despise, disannul; “words (the first one in this verse)”: rhema (in Greek); “receive”: take; “word (the second one)”: logos (in Greek).
Enlightenment in the Word:
1) There are double functions of the Lord’s words: (1) to those who receive the Lord’s words, the words will save them (see v.47). (2) To those who refuse the Lord’s words, the words will judge them.
2) Since believers have known the Lord’s words, if they do not keep them, they will also be judged by the Lord’s words.
John. 12:49 “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.”
YLT: “because I spake not from myself, but the Father who sent me, He did give me a command, what I may say, and what I may speak,”
Literal Meaning: “what I should say and what I should speak”, “what I should say” refers to the content and the essence of preaching. “What I should speak” refers to the wording and the manner of expression.
Enlightenment in the Word: we should never preach the words of God according to men’s eloquence or thinking, but preach the words given by the spirit of the Father (see Matt 10:19-20).
John. 12:50 “And I know that His command is everlasting life. Therefore, whatever I speak, just as the Father has told Me, so I speak." ”
YLT: “and I have known that His command is life age-during; what, therefore, I speak, according as the Father hath said to me, so I speak.'”
Literal Meaning: “His command is everlasting life”, the command of God is to grant men eternal life ---- he who receives His command has eternal life. He who rejects His words will perish. The command of God is none other than what the Lord Jesus has said and spoken (see v.49). Moreover, what the Lord has said to us is life (see 6:63), so he who receives His word has eternal life.
III. Outlines of the Spiritual Lessons
I. The House Of Bethany ---- the Epitome of the Church
B. Lazarus who had been raised from the dead (v.1b) ---- it manifested the risen life
they made Him a supper (v
D. Martha served (v.2b) ---- there were the actions of servicing the Lord.
at the table with Jesus (v
F. Mary anointed Jesus (v.3) ---- there was the testimony of loving the Lord.
G. Judas who aspired after money (v.4-8) ---- there were the nominal believers.
H. Many Jews came to see Jesus and Lazarus (v.9) ---- many people were drawn near.
I.The chief priests plotted to put Lazarus to death (v.10) ---- he was persecuted by the religion.
J. Many of the Jews believed in Jesus (v.11) ---- it brought about some new believers.
II.To Manifest His Glory by Death
A. Lazarus sat at the table with the Lord (v.1-2) ---- he bore the witness of manifesting the glory by death.
B. Mary anointed the feet of Jesus with her hair (v.3) ---- she delivered her glory unto death, thus manifesting the glory of Christ.
C. His disciples did not understand the prophecy of the Lord’s riding the young donkey until the Lord was crucified (v.14-16) ---- His glory had been truly manifested after His death.
D. If a grain of wheat dies, it produces much grain (v.24) ---- His glory had been fully manifested through His death.
E. He who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life (v.25) ---- Only will he who hates his soul through death enjoy the eternal life in resurrection (namely, to obtain glory by death).
F. If anyone follows the Lord, him God will honor (v.26) ---- He who follows the Lord’s path of the cross will obtain glory from God.
G. The Lord’s soul was troubled for this hour, but He sought to glorify God in His deep heart (v.27-28) ---- For our momentary light affliction works for us in surpassing measure an eternal weight of glory (see 2Cor 4:17).
H. If I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all peoples to Myself (v.32) ---- death on the cross is the condition of gaining men ---- the shameful death is the way of manifesting glory.
III. The Meaning and Way of “Being Glorified”
A. Men Does not Understand What is “Being Glorified”:
1. His disciples did not understand at first (v.16).
2. The people did not understand (v.29).
3. The Jews did not understand (v.37-41).
B. Men Think That “Being Glorified” Are:
welcomed by men (v
2. Being exalted and praised by men (v.13b).
3. Being followed by men (v.19).
4. Being accepted by men (v.42-43).
C. “Being Glorified” is Manifesting God:
glorified” is denying oneself (v.24
2. “Being glorified” is obtaining the life of spirit (v.25b).
3. “Being glorified” is being honored by God (v.26).
4. “Being glorified” is that God has been manifested (v.28).
D. The Way of “Being Glorified”:
1. To hate one’s life of soul (v.25).
2. To follow the path of the Lord Jesus (v.26).
3. To be crucified (v.32).
4. To love the praise of men (v.43).
IV. The Heart That the Lord Pleases
anonymous person’s (Simon’s) heart ---- he opened his house and made the Lord a
B. Martha’s heart ---- she was willing to serve the Lord and those who sat at the table with Him together (v.2b).
C. Mary’s heart:
1. She loved the Lord, and
considered Him more precious than any other thing, thus devoting herself voluntarily
without any reservation to the Lord (v
2. She humbled herself, and regarded the Lord more honorable than any other one, thus anointing His feet with her hair (v.3b).
3. She valued the Lord’s love of laying down His life, and seized the opportunity to express her gratitude (v.7).
V. The Heart that the Lord Displeases
A. Judas’s heart:
1. He thought that spending for the Lord was not as good as giving to the poor (v.5).
2. He practiced jobbery and took the Lord’s money privately in the name of the poor (v.6).
B. The chief priests’ heart ---- they plotted to put Lazarus to death in order to maintain vested privilege (v.10).
C. The people’s heart ---- they swarmed to meet the Lord when they heard the signs the Lord had done (v.18).
D. The rulers’ heart ---- they loved the praise of men more than the praise of God (v.42-43).
VI. The Effect of the Crucifixion of the Lord Jesus
A. The Son of Man should be glorified (v.23) ---- the Lord became obedient even unto death and death of cross, so God highly exalted him (see Phil 2:8-9).
B. It produces much grain (v.24) ---- there are many Christians through the divine life given by God.
C. To distinguish between the life of soul and the life of spirit (v.25) ---- it makes believers’ life of spirit more abundant through dealing with the life of soul.
D. He has become the exemplar of serving the Lord (v.26) ---- believers shall follow the Lord’s path of the cross ---- deny oneself.
E. He had glorified God the Father (v.27-28).
F. He judged this world, and the ruler of this world had been cast out (v.31).
G. He would draw all peoples to Himself (v.32) ---- He had annulled the enmity in his flesh and formed the two in himself into one new man (see Eph 2:11-18).
VII. The Final Declarations of the Lord to the Opponents
A. He is the God who reveals to men. He who believes Him believes God (v.44-45).
B. He has come as a light into the world, that whoever believes in Him should not abide in darkness (v.46).
C. He who hears and keeps the Lord’s words will be saved. He who rejects the Lord’s words will be judged in the last day (v.47-48).
D. What He has spoken is according to the command of God, and God’s command is everlasting life (v.49-50).
VIII. To Know the Lord’s Words
A. He who hears the Lord’s words shall keep them (v.47).
B. He who rejects the Lord’s words will be judges by His words in the last day (v.48).
C. The Lord has not spoken on His own authority, but the Father who sent Him gave Him a command, what He should say and what He should speak (v.50).
── Caleb Huang《Christian Digest Bible Commentary Series》
Translated by Mary Zhou