Daily Bible Studies
|Series Theme: John's Gospel Studies|
Chapter: John 12
Passage: John 12:1-8
A. Find Out:
1. Where did Jesus come to and what happened there? v.1,2
2. What did Mary do? v.3
3. What was Judas's response to this? v.4
4. What did he ask? v.5
5. Why? v.6
6. What was Jesus' response? v.7,8
Jesus is now moving back in the direction of Jerusalem for the final Passover, and Lazarus, Mary and Martha give a special meal for him, probably by way of thanks for all that he had done for them. While the men are reclining around the table Mary comes with an expensive ointment and pours it ALL out, over Jesus, so much that the smell of it fills the entire house. It reminds us of the incense offering that apparently wafted up to be a pleasing smell catching the Lord's attention. This is a similar offering, but whatever else we may think of it, in Mary's mind the intention must be to bless Jesus; this is a love offering of the most extravagant sort.
By stark contrast to her heart and action is Judas, who quibbles over what she has done, seeing it as wasteful. John in his writing reveals the true feelings of Judas's heart, self-centred concern dressed up in respectability!
Mary and Judas portray different ways we can view Jesus: either as the total object of our love, or just simply another person; either we see him through our self-centred tinted glasses or through the eyes of total love. Which actually is it? Is our “religion” academic and intellectual or passionately emotional?
1. Self-centred or Jesus-centred?
2. Intellectual love or unrestrained, extravagant giving love.
A. Find Out:
1. Who did the crowd go to see? v.9
2. Who did the chief priests plan to kill and why? v.10,11
3. What did the crowd hear was happening? v.12
4. So what did they do? v.13a
5. What did they shout? v.13b
6. What did Jesus do and why? v.14,15
Everything that is happening is now provoking the religious authorities to act against Jesus. We know in retrospect, that God planned this and wanted the Jews to express their sin and kill His Son (Acts 2:23) to be a sacrifice for the world, and so it becomes more obvious what was going on.
First Jesus has raised Lazarus from the dead (after allowing him to die first, remember), and because this was all so close to Jerusalem it provoked the authorities. Now he returns to Lazarus's house and crowds come to see the two men; the authorities are even more upset. Then the crowd “hear” (who told them!) that Jesus is about to enter Jerusalem and so their enthusiasm runs over and they line the route and give him a royal welcome. The authorities must be even more upset! Jesus makes it even worse by finding a donkey and riding in on it to fulfil the prophetic Scriptures of the coming king. The authorities can be in no doubt now, this man is about to lead a rebellion, surely, and he must be dealt with.
Jesus knows that if he provokes the sin in the religious leaders at the right moments, they will act hastily against him and sacrifice him, just at Passover, just as God planned.
1. God uses the sinful hearts of men for His own purposes.
2. There was no accident about the death of Jesus. It was on purpose.
A. Find Out:
1. When had the disciples understood what was happening? v.16
2. Who told about him? v.17
3. What was the twofold effect? 18,19
4. Who wanted to see Jesus? v.20,21b
5. Who did they approach? v.21a
6. Who did he approach? v.22
We have an interesting comparison between two different groups of people in these verses and they describe the two approaches that Christians have towards Jesus.
The first group are those who hear about what is happening and just want to come and watch They are the OBSERVERS, who do not really want close contact but are happy to get some benefit from Jesus if they can, such as healing, without cost. They come along and join in the celebrations and run with the emotional hype that sometimes occurs in the Christian world. But they don't want it to cost anything!
The second group are those who come enquiring and are wanting a closer contact with Jesus. They are the SEEKERS, those who genuinely want contact with Jesus. Note something specific about them: they are willing to put themselves in the hands of someone else to have that contact. These Greeks came to Philip and asked him to open the way up for them to meet Jesus. It is one of the humbling things in the Christian life that God so often makes us come to Him via someone else. Perhaps they pray over us or counsel us, but when He makes Himself incarnate, it is through other Christians.
1. Am I an observer or a genuine seeker? Lord, help me face the truth.
2. “Seekers” are those who yearn to have a closer walk with the Lord, who
A. Find Out:
1. What did Jesus say had come? v.23
2. What illustration did he use? v.24
3. What principle did he lay down? v.25
4. What did he say about whoever serves him? v.26
5. What did he feel and what did he want to say? v.27a
6. But what did he decide instead? v.27b
As Philip tells Jesus that there are those coming who want to see him, Jesus says something that has one apparent meaning which he then turns to have a completely different meaning. Its obvious first meaning is that he will be glorified as some of the people at least start to recognise who he is, for that was his reply to their information. But then he turns the meaning about-face with the illustration that follows, an enigmatic description that probably left them wondering (see v.16).
The second meaning is now clear to us who can see the whole picture. For wheat to grow, he says, it first has to “die”, and go into the ground, otherwise it will not reproduce. The clear implication is that that will be true of his life as well. Indeed, he continues, if you try to hang onto your life you'll lose real Life, but if your love for God is so great that by comparison it's as if you hate your own life (and are willing to entirely give it up), then your limited life now will be multiplied to produce eternal life. OK, he continues, understand that if you follow me, you'll have to go the same way, but don't worry, my Father will honour you when you do that.
1. The path for Jesus was death and resurrection. The path is the same for
every person who would follow him. Death to self and the past.
2. The thought of death was not easy for Jesus, but he knew it was the only
way. It isn't easy for us, but it's still the only way!
A. Find Out:
1. What did Jesus pray and what reply did he get? v.28
2. What did the crowd hear? v.29
3. Why, according to Jesus, had God spoken? v.30
4. What did he say was about to happen? v.31
5. What 2 things did he say would happen in respect of himself? v.32
6. To what was he referring? v.33
Jesus has just confessed that the thought of dying troubled him (v.27), and it at this point that the Father speaks from heaven. This is the third time that the Father is recorded as having spoken in this manner. The first was at Jesus' baptism to affirm Jesus in his ministry, and the second was on the mount of Transfiguration when they were planning Jesus' departure. Each time is a crisis time when Jesus would have needed reaffirmation, and yet Jesus, here, says the voice is for their benefit. When we then look back to the two previous times when God spoke we see again that He is speaking to the other people who are there. The audible voice of God does sometimes come and many testify to having heard it, but it tends to come at crisis or turning points in our lives to point us more fully to following after Jesus. Guidance, for the Christian in whatever form, always does that.
Observe yet again Jesus' oblique reference to his coming death, indicating his full understanding of what is before him. “Lifted up” surely refers to the Cross. The fruits of it will be twofold: first Satan will be defeated and overcome, and second, as a result, many people from every nation will come to Jesus and be saved!
1. The Father watches over and affirms the Son's activities - and ours.
2. Jesus' death was planned, and it defeated Satan and released many.
A. Find Out:
1. What did the crowd say the Law had told them? v.34a
2. What two questions did they then ask? v.34b
3. What statement did Jesus make in response? v.35a
4. What command did he then give them? v.35b
5. What did he also tell them to do with what consequence? v.36a
6. What did he then do? v.36b
In verse 23 Jesus had referred to himself as the Son of Man, shorthand for “the promised Coming One”, and then spoke of his death and being lifted up from the earth. The Jewish crowds, the religious people for ever looking for a chance to misunderstand and criticise, respond (in essence) saying, But the Scriptures say the Coming One will go on for ever and ever, so how can you talk about death? Jesus response to all this is interesting!
Note that he doesn't give them a clear exposition (John is going on to explain why he doesn't do that in a verse or two). He talks in an enigmatic way about light and darkness. First, he says they will only have the light with them a little while longer. Second, he says walk or move or take action while you still have the light with you, i.e. respond to the light. Third, he says they should put their trust in the light and fourth, if they do that they will become sons of the light. When we see Jesus as the light then all becomes clear, but it would only be clear for seekers! Having said that, Jesus concludes the conversation and leaves them. They have had enough; if they want to respond properly to him, then they will. If they want to argue - goodbye!
1. Jesus doesn't expect us to understand everything.
2. He does expect us to respond well to him though.
A. Find Out:
1. What had Jesus done? v.37a
2. Yet with what result? v.37b
3. Why was this, according to John? v.38a,39
4. What did Isaiah say God had done? v.40a
5. With what result? v.40b
6. Why had Isaiah said that? v.41
The religious Jews refused to believe in Jesus. As the writer John ponders on these things he realises that this is the fulfilment of what the Lord had said through Isaiah. In the amazing “Servant Song” in Isa 53, the prophet had started out by saying that the Servant of the Lord would not be recognised. In retrospect, having the whole Gospel before us, we may find that difficult to understand, but for the Jews of the day, Jesus seemed too ordinary!
Then John remembers the prophecy given to Isaiah at his commissioning. That word almost seems to indicate that he is to confuse the people. Is that what it really is? When we watch Jesus teaching he spoke in such a way that only those who sought after God understood. When Moses went to Pharaoh he spoke with such directness that he simply hardened Pharaoh's already hard heart. In the same way both Isaiah's and Jesus' preaching came in such a way that it either left people not understanding or it just hardened the hearts of the religious people. Those who were set in their ways just took a defensive stance against the challenges that were coming. It IS possible just to grab God's blessings but not truly follow Jesus (as many did in his time), but those are short-lived blessings.
1. Heart condition is all important to receiving Jesus.
2. God WILL bless non-Christians, but that is different from salvation!
A. Find Out:
1. Yet who believed? v.42a
2. Yet why were they afraid to confess it publicly? v.42b
3. How does John judge them? v.43
4. What did Jesus say about belief? v.44
5. Who did he say he revealed? v.45
6. What did he say he came as? v.46
John has just been writing about the unbelief of the Jews and the apparent non-acceptance of Jesus. Now he seeks to show the true position: there were many people believing in Jesus but they were afraid to acknowledge it openly because of the intimidation of the religious party known as the Pharisees. We need to face the awfulness of the lesson here: the Pharisees (or “separated ones”) were the exponents and guardians of the Law; they were the conservative or religiously orthodox “believers”, yet they were the greatest opposition to Jesus and prevented others coming out into the open to follow him. The warning is clear, and is just as valid for the twentieth century: those of us who hold such a high view of Scripture, should always be careful to ensure that our particular interpretation of it does not end in us resisting the present-day work of God!
At some point Jesus called out and proclaimed himself and his purpose in coming. He came to reveal the Father and he came to bring light or revelation so that people would not need to remain in superstitious ignorance with its accompanying unrighteous life style.
1. Beware rigid orthodoxy that may end up opposing God. Am I open to
what the Lord is doing TODAY?
2. Look at Jesus and you see something of God the Father. Follow Jesus
A. Find Out:
1. Who did Jesus say he didn't judge? v.47
2. Yet what will condemn them? v.48
3. How did Jesus say he spoke? v.49
4. To what do God's commands lead? v.50
It is said that a person who disdains a beautiful piece of music shows their lack of musical ability or appreciation. An attendant in an art gallery of the great Masters, replying to a critical visitor, said, “Sir, it's not the painting that are being judged”. How we respond to what we see or hear tells a great deal about us. Thus Jesus was able to say calmly, I'm not here to judge. He knew that the way we respond to his words reveals the sort of person we are. Alternatively the words themselves judge us: how did we respond to them?
Jesus knew that what he said came from his Father. Elsewhere (Jn 5:19) he said he only did what he saw his Father doing, and so for a second time he states that his ministry flows out of his relationship with his Father. That's why he could be so sure about the validity of his words. How important it is for those of us who speak to ensure that our relationship with the Lord is such that the words we speak come from the Father's heart.
We should note in closing that Jesus reminds us here that there will be a future time of accounting, a time for facing up to the way we responded here on earth to him. Perhaps if we were a little more aware of that final time it might affect how we live today!
1. People are clearly judged by the way they respond to Jesus words.
2. Our speech will reflect the depth or shallowness of our relationship with
In this second group of 9 studies we have seen :
Different people reacting in different ways: Mary pouring out expensive oil, Judas complaining, crowds seeking sensation, priests plotting, an ecstatic crowd welcoming, interested Greeks seeking, a crowd questioning, religious people unbelieving, leaders secretly believing. A multitude of reactions to Jesus, some of them just surface encounters, others with deep feeling. How do we react to him?
1. Jesus wants unrestrained, extravagant, giving love
2. Jesus welcomes genuine seekers, not critical self-seekers
3. The path to Life is first through death
4. Heart condition determines believing ability
5. Religious orthodoxy can so easily oppose God.
Ask the Lord to deepen your relationship with Him so that it one of intimacy and devotion, open to whatever He has for you.
PART 3 : "Last Supper teaching"
In this next Part we move into the so-called “Last Supper” where Jesus teaches the disciples on servanthood and loving one another. He also indicates his complete awareness of Judas's intention to betray him. Watch, therefore, for the things he particularly wants to teach his followers, and the sense that he is in complete control.