Morning Devotions: John 12
I greet you in the wonderful name of our Lord Jesus Christ.
We're in Day 13 of lockdown, which puts us in chapter 12 of The Gospel of John, we have one day to catch up. I'm going to read God's Word, make some observations from the text, apply the text to our lives and then I'm going to close in a word of prayer.
Hear the word of God John chapter 12 beginning at verse 1.
John 12 Christian Standard Bible (CSB)
12 Six days before the Passover, Jesus came to Bethany where Lazarus was, the one Jesus had raised from the dead. 2 So they gave a dinner for him there; Martha was serving them, and Lazarus was one of those reclining at the table with him. 3 Then Mary took a pound of perfume, pure and expensive nard, anointed Jesus’s feet, and wiped his feet with her hair. So the house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume. 4 Then one of his disciples, Judas Iscariot (who was about to betray him), said, 5 “Why wasn’t this perfume sold for three hundred denarii and given to the poor?” 6 He didn’t say this because he cared about the poor but because he was a thief. He was in charge of the money-bag and would steal part of what was put in it. 7 Jesus answered, “Leave her alone; she has kept it for the day of my burial. 8 For you always have the poor with you, but you do not always have me.” 9 Then a large crowd of the Jews learned he was there. They came not only because of Jesus but also to see Lazarus, the one he had raised from the dead. 10 But the chief priests had decided to kill Lazarus also, 11 because he was the reason many of the Jews were deserting them and believing in Jesus. 12 The next day, when the large crowd that had come to the festival heard that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem, 13 they took palm branches and went out to meet him. They kept shouting: “Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord —the King of Israel!” 14 Jesus found a young donkey and sat on it, just as it is written: 15 Do not be afraid, Daughter Zion. Look, your King is coming, sitting on a donkey’s colt. 16 His disciples did not understand these things at first. However, when Jesus was glorified, then they remembered that these things had been written about him and that they had done these things to him. 17 Meanwhile, the crowd, which had been with him when he called Lazarus out of the tomb and raised him from the dead, continued to testify. 18 This is also why the crowd met him, because they heard he had done this sign. 19 Then the Pharisees said to one another, “You see? You’ve accomplished nothing. Look, the world has gone after him!” 20 Now some Greeks were among those who went up to worship at the festival. 21 So they came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida in Galilee, and requested of him, “Sir, we want to see Jesus.” 22 Philip went and told Andrew; then Andrew and Philip went and told Jesus. 23 Jesus replied to them, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. 24 Truly I tell you, unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains by itself. But if it dies, it produces much fruit. 25 The one who loves his life will lose it, and the one who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. 26 If anyone serves me, he must follow me. Where I am, there my servant also will be. If anyone serves me, the Father will honor him. 27 “Now my soul is troubled. What should I say—Father, save me from this hour? But that is why I came to this hour. 28 Father, glorify your name.” Then a voice came from heaven: “I have glorified it, and I will glorify it again.” 29 The crowd standing there heard it and said it was thunder. Others said, “An angel has spoken to him.” 30 Jesus responded, “This voice came, not for me, but for you. 31 Now is the judgment of this world. Now the ruler of this world will be cast out. 32 As for me, if I am lifted up from the earth I will draw all people to myself.” 33 He said this to indicate what kind of death he was about to die. 34 Then the crowd replied to him, “We have heard from the law that the Messiah will remain forever. So how can you say, ‘The Son of Man must be lifted up’? Who is this Son of Man?” 35 Jesus answered, “The light will be with you only a little longer. Walk while you have the light so that darkness doesn’t overtake you. The one who walks in darkness doesn’t know where he’s going. 36 While you have the light, believe in the light so that you may become children of light.” Jesus said this, then went away and hid from them. 37 Even though he had performed so many signs in their presence, they did not believe in him. 38 This was to fulfill the word of Isaiah the prophet, who said: 39 This is why they were unable to believe, because Isaiah also said: 40 He has blinded their eyes and hardened their hearts, so that they would not see with their eyes or understand with their hearts, and turn, and I would heal them. 41 Isaiah said these things because he saw his glory and spoke about him. 42 Nevertheless, many did believe in him even among the rulers, but because of the Pharisees they did not confess him, so that they would not be banned from the synagogue. 43 For they loved human praise more than praise from God. 44 Jesus cried out, “The one who believes in me believes not in me, but in him who sent me. 45 And the one who sees me sees him who sent me. 46 I have come as light into the world, so that everyone who believes in me would not remain in darkness. 47 If anyone hears my words and doesn’t keep them, I do not judge him; for I did not come to judge the world but to save the world. 48 The one who rejects me and doesn’t receive my sayings has this as his judge: The word I have spoken will judge him on the last day. 49 For I have not spoken on my own, but the Father himself who sent me has given me a command to say everything I have said. 50 I know that his command is eternal life. So the things that I speak, I speak just as the Father has told me.”
John chapter 12 really is a milestone chapter. Just like the other gospels, Matthew, Mark and Luke, we see a pattern emerging in the Gospel of John. The gospel writers aren't intending to give us a biography of the life story of Jesus Christ. They are intending to get us to the cross. And so they devote the first half of the Gospel accounts to three years of Jesus ministry and the short section about his birth. And then they devote half of their gospel, certainly the Gospel of John, to what we would call Passion Week; the period just before the death the burial and in the subsequent resurrection of Jesus Christ.
We see a number of links in the Gospel of John back to itself, which reminds us that you can't read any part of scripture in isolation from the rest of scripture. John chapter 12 makes clear reference to John chapter 11, the raising of, that great sign which demonstrates that Jesus Christ has Dominion even over the grave. He has dominion over life and over death itself. And so we see the chapter opens with a meal at Mary, Martha and Lazarus’ home. There are other links to other parts of the Gospel to for example, the plot to kill Jesus that narrative is extended in this chapter to include Lazarus himself as the Jews recognize that this great sign is pulling more and more believers away from the power structures and centres as people are flocking to Jesus Christ.
In chapter 12, we also see Palm Sunday; that moment where Jesus enters into Jerusalem. You will note that there’s are crowd that gathers with Jesus Christ and Bethany, to celebrate that supper, to see Jesus with Lazarus. That crowd goes on before Jesus, to Jerusalem, and they exciting even greater crowd that has been gathered for the Passover Feast in Jerusalem, and that huge throng comes outside to the gate in order to welcome the King of Israel into Jerusalem.
Of course, we know that just a few days later many of those people, in that crowd will be shouting “Crucify him, crucify him!” But for now, they satisfy the prophetic word by acknowledging Jesus Christ as the Son of God. At this point, a number of Gentiles-Greeks, come to Jesus Christ in present themselves before him. Jesus could have taken that great crowd. And now, even the Greeks were turning to him as the moment of his coronation, ascending the throne and becoming a world King, but instead, Jesus Christ turns attention to his mission. He has come to be crucified, to die and to be lifted up that men might be saved. And that brings us to the main point of this chapter and of every of the Gospel of John. If you reject Jesus Christ, you reject God himself.
Well, how does this apply to a reader today?
If you're an unbeliever, if you do not know Jesus Christ as your own Lord and your Savior, I want you to hear the words of Jesus in John chapter 12 verse 46. He says, “I have come as light into the world, so that everyone who believes in me would not remain in darkness.” Friend, do you feel the darkness within? I'm sure you see the darkness without! Our world is a mess, not just coronavirus, at economic collapse, and just the way that man oppresses man. But do you recognize that you have darkness within? The Bible says that “All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.” and it is another place that “the wages of sin is death.” The reality is, you will one day be judged and while you are in the domain of darkness, there is no hope for you. And yet God came into this world in human flesh - Jesus Christ. Light pierced the darkness and lived for the briefest of times in this world, perfectly obeying the will of God in every way. Jesus died, not like you or I will die, but Jesus died as a substitute, the perfect spotless Lamb of God, for Sinners just like you and me. The gospel messages that everyone who believes, who puts their faith and their trust in Jesus Christ will be saved and that's the call on your life. You are to repent from your love for sin and your love for this world. Repent from these things and turn to Jesus Christ and live this day.
If you are a seeker, if you are genuinely looking for God, this text helps you to find him in the person of Jesus Christ. The verses that just precede, John 12 verse 46, I John chapter 12 verse 44-45 read, “Jesus cried out, “The one who believes in me believes not in me, but in him who sent me. And the one who sees me sees him who sent me.” Friend, do you recognize that you are separated from a holy God because of your sin? Do you see yourself rightly as a sinner in need of a Savior? Are you genuinely looking for God and seeking for him? Find him in the person of Jesus Christ!
Jesus is the Son of God, very God from very God light from light, He was begotten not made. He is fullness of deity, existing in bodily form. He came into this world and tabernacle, tented with us for a moment. That you might see in him the Creator of the heavens and the earth. The call on your life is to repent and place your faith and trust in Jesus Christ that you might live.
There's a type of backsliding which is going on in this chapter, that may be appropriate to you; the kind of backslider who once upon a time professed the name of Jesus, but now starters and stumbles when it comes time to professing him in front of family, friends and co-workers or people at school. And we see this in the believers in John chapter 12: 42-43, it reads, “Nevertheless, many did believe in him even among the rulers, but because of the Pharisees they did not confess him, so that they would not be banned from the synagogue. For they loved human praise more than praise from God.”
The reality is when you refuse to profess Jesus Christ as your Lord and your Savior, when you don't give testimony to the good work, which God has done in your life before watching world, it demonstrates a heart, which is either not turned towards God, or which is an unrepentant sin, examine yourself. If in truth you've never put your faith and trust in Jesus Christ and don't have the Holy Spirit within you, emboldening needing you to make these claims of Jesus Christ, and his deity to a watching world, then you need to repent from that.
If you are a believer, but you are struggling to give witness to the good work which Jesus has done, then you need to repent from that. The reality is, we must love the praise of God more than the praise of men, fear God more than we fear man.
If your new convert, I find it helpful to look at the lives of the disciples, both for my encouragement as well as for my exhortation. The disciples in John chapter 12:16, “…did not understand these things at first. However, when Jesus was glorified, they remembered that these things had been written about him and that they had done these things to him.” be encourage! Even the disciples didn't know everything off the bat. They are not the heroes of the story and neither are we! The reality is, over time, they recognize these things from God's Word. And so the encouragement is, if you don't know everything, so be it. God does! Learn from his hand.
Secondly, the way that God reveals things to us through his Word. And so seek and where he might be found, in his written Testaments, the old and the new, that he might be glorified in your life.
Lastly. If you're a believer, I want to remind you of just the opening words of this chapter. Six days before the Passover, John in chapter 12, and don't forget this book goes to 21 chapters. John in chapter 12 turns his attention to the main thing, to that which is a priority, and that is the death and the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Friend, what do you make the main thing in your life? And what do you make the main thing in your religious life? Make sure that it is the Gospel of Jesus Christ, once delivered to the Saints. Make sure that you are devoted to the apostles’ teaching, which is that Jesus died for the sins of many and that he rose from the grave on the third day in accordance with the scriptures, and that all men everywhere must repent. That's what you need to believe in your own life as the priority and that's what you need to declare to watching world.
Don't get hung up too much on the things that the world gets excited about. Get hung up on the things that is excited about.
Let’s close in a word of prayer.
Father God in heaven, I do ask that we would love the things that you love, desire the things that you would have us desire, that our focus would be upon Jesus Christ, that our focus would be upon your Word, the apostles’ teaching. That we would live it out in our lives, and that we would proclaim it to watching world, trapped in darkness. That you might be glorified as many men and women put their faith in their trust in you. This I pray in the wonderful name of Jesus Christ, Amen!
May the Lord bless you.