John Chapters 10 to 12, Part 7
by Karl Kemp
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We continue the verse-by-verse study of John chapters 10-12 here in Part 7, starting with John 12:14.
(14) Jesus, finding a young donkey [John knew that most of his readers would know that Jesus sent two of His disciples to borrow this young donkey (see Matt. 21:1-7; Mark 11:1-7; and Luke 19:29-35). Jesus knew that He was fulfilling prophecy, as He often did (cf., e.g., John 19:28-30).], sat on it; as it is written, (15) 'FEAR NOT, DAUGHTER OF ZION; BEHOLD, YOUR KING IS COMING, SEATED ON A DONKEY'S COLT.' [[There is widespread agreement that this "quotation" comes from Zech. 9:9; I'll quote ZECH. 9:9 (Zechariah 9:9, 10 contain one of several very significant prophecies regarding the Lord Jesus Christ in the book of Zechariah. Zechariah 9:9 deals with His first coming; Zech. 9:10 deals with His second coming. [I had a footnote: Old Testament prophecies frequently combine things that were to happen at Jesus' first coming with things that will happen at His second coming. God didn't choose to clearly reveal in the Old Testament that there would be two very different comings of the Lord Jesus Christ. Zechariah chapters 9-14 are discussed on pages 191-237 of my book, "The Mid-Week Rapture."]), "Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! Shout in triumph, O daughter of Jerusalem ["Zion" equals "Jerusalem" here.]! He is just and endowed with salvation, Humble, and mounted on a donkey, Even on a colt, the foal of a donkey [The word "colt" refers to a young male donkey (or horse, etc.); the word "foal" refers to a young donkey (horse, etc.) male or female.]." I'll also quote Zech. 9:9 from the Septuagint version (the Hebrew Old Testament translated into Greek), "Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Sion; proclaim it aloud, O daughter of Jerusalem; BEHOLD, THE KING IS COMING [my emphasis] to thee, just, and a Saviour; he [He] is meek and riding on an ass, and a young foal."]] (16) These things His disciples did not understand at the first; but when Jesus was glorified, then they remembered that these things were written of Him [cf. Luke 24:6-8; John 2:22; and 14:26], and that they had done these things to Him. [Jesus' disciples didn't understand until after He was glorified that the events spoken of in verses 14, 15 fulfilled Old Testament prophecy (cf. Luke 24:27, 44-47).] (17) So [The NIV translates "Now."] the people ["Lit., crowd," margin of NASB], who were with Him when He called Lazarus out of the tomb and raised him from the dead [cf. John 11:42, 45], continued to testify [or, "were testifying"] about Him. [[It is best, I suppose, to think of this testifying taking place before (cf. John 12:9-11), during, and after Jesus' triumphal entry. It is reasonable to think that many of those who had been there when Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead were testifying whenever they had an opportunity, but they undoubtedly showed some restraint when in the presence of obvious enemies of Jesus (cf., e.g., John 11:57).]] (18) For this reason also [[I had a footnote: The NIV does not include the word "also." The KJV; NKJV have "also," but they include it after "the people." The United Bible Societies' "Greek New Testament (fourth revised edition) includes the Greek word "kai," which is translated "also" by the NASB, in brackets, which shows that there is some doubt regarding this word in the Greek. The word "also," if it is included, includes the idea (a legitimate idea) that there were other reasons for going to meet Jesus besides the fact that He had raised Lazarus from the dead.]] the people ["Lit., crowd" margin of NASB] went and met Him, because they heard that He had performed this sign [cf. Luke 19:37; John 12:11]. [[Some of the people who heard about Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead had gone to meet Him before the triumphal entry (cf. John 12:9, 12); some undoubtedly also went to meet Him during and after His triumphal entry (see under verse 17; note that there was a crowd ("the crowd") with Jesus in verses 29, 34).]] (19) So the Pharisees said to one another, 'You see that you are not doing any good; look, the world has gone after Him.' [Compare John 11:47-54, 57. John 12:20-24, 31, 32 (and many other verses) show that before long (in a way far beyond what these Pharisees meant) multitudes worldwide were going after the Lord Jesus Christ to become His disciples.] (20) Now there were some Greeks among those who were going up to worship at the feast [[Typically in the New Testament "Greeks" are Gentiles (as contrasted with Jews), and not just Gentiles who lived in Greece (cf., e.g., Rom. 1:16; Gal. 3:28). There is widespread agreement that these Greeks were God-fearing Gentiles (cf. Acts 13:16, 26, 43; 17:4, 17), Gentiles who worshiped the God of Israel but did not become full converts to Judaism. (Many God-fearing Gentiles became Christians through the ministry of the apostle Paul and others; the apostle Peter was sent to Cornelius.) These God-fearing Greeks were allowed to worship in the temple, but they were not permitted to go beyond the outer court, which was called the court of the Gentiles.
These "Greeks" who wished to see Jesus (verse 21) prefigure the Gentiles going after the resurrected Christ; the world going after Him was mentioned in verse 19, and in verse 32 Jesus prophesies of drawing all men to Himself (cf. John 10:16). Many Gentiles (and Jews) across the world have become Christians throughout this age (including us; thank God!).]]; (21) these then came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida of Galilee [[Andrew and Peter were also from Bethsaida (John 1:44) and (apparently) also James and John, in that they were partners with Andrew and Peter in the fishing business (Luke 5:1-11; cf. Matt. 4:18-22; Mark 1:16-20). We are not told why these Greeks came to Philip, who was one of the twelve apostles. The fact that his name happened to be Greek could have been relevant (I had a footnote: His name was an obvious Greek name. Andrew was the only other apostle who had a Greek name.), or perhaps he was the most fluent in Greek. It is also possible that one or more of these Greeks knew Philip.]], and began to ask him, saying, 'Sir, we wish to see Jesus.' [[As these verses continue, John doesn't inform us if Jesus met with these Greeks, or sent a message to them. It is very clear, however, that Jesus was interested in every Jew and Gentile who was open to Him and the gospel. If these Greeks were open, and I assume that at least some of them were, I'm sure that Jesus eventually dealt with them as individuals one way or another (by the Spirit, by sending Christians to them, etc.)]] (22) Philip came and told Andrew; Andrew and Philip came and told Jesus. (23) And Jesus answered them, saying, 'The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified [[The New Testament typically speaks of Jesus being glorified in His resurrection and His being taken up to the right hand of God the Father (cf., e.g., John 7:39; 12:16, 32; 13:1, 32; 17:1, 5; and Acts 2:33). Having been glorified by the Father (after the victory He won on the cross), Jesus was able to carry out God's new-covenant plan of salvation, which includes the full salvation and ultimate glorification of all believers and the overthrow and total removal of the devil (cf., e.g., John 12:31) and all who continue to follow him in his rebellion against God (whether angels, demons, or people). The good fruit that results from Christ's atoning death also includes the new heaven and new earth, with its new Jerusalem.
Christ's being glorified in this context undoubtedly includes the fact that a large number of people worldwide will submit to Him as Savior and Lord; He is glorified by them when they submit to Him and worship Him (cf. John 17:8-10). It is also true that those who reject Him will eventually bow their knee before Him (but not as those who love Him) and will admit that He is Lord to the glory of God the Father and His glory (cf. Phil. 2:9-11).]] (24) Truly, truly [Amen, Amen], I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. [[Compare John 10:15; 15:13; and 1 Cor. 15:36. Jesus likens His atoning death to a grain of wheat falling into the earth and dying (at least it dies in one sense), which then brings forth a harvest of very good fruit. The fruit that comes forth from His atoning death is super-spectacular. See under verse 23 for a brief description of that all-important fruit. For one thing, every person who has a place in God's new heaven and new earth with its new Jerusalem will have that place through the atoning death of the Lord Jesus Christ (cf., e.g., Rev. 21:27).
As Jesus continues in verses 25, 26, we see that His illustration of the need for (the seed and) Him to die to bring forth a harvest of good fruit also applies in some ways to all who would become Christians, not just to Himself. The call to become Christians includes the call to die to sin and (living for) self and to live for God in His truth, righteousness, and holiness, always doing His will from the heart by His grace. ((I had a footnote: Verse 24 refers to Jesus' atoning death, but He was dead to sin and the things of the world and perfectly lived for God the Father all the years before He died on the cross. His life was the perfect example of a man (though He was much more than just a man) living the crucified, sanctified life.)) This call includes our being willing to literally lay down our life for Christ in physical death; we cannot cling to our life in this world in any way. Those, including many who call themselves Christians, who love their life in this world (the world whose ruler is the devil [cf. John 12:31]) and do not live for God and make His will and His righteousness top priority forfeit spiritual/eternal life. In a very real sense they lose their souls (see, for example, Matt. 10:28; 16:24-27; and Mark 8:34-38). ((I had a footnote: The Greek noun (psuche) translated "soul" in the verses just cited is translated "life" in Matt. 16:25; Mark 8:35 and twice in John 12:25. The NASB (1995 edition) normally translates "psuche" as "soul(s)" (47 times) or as "life/lives" (43 times). When it is translated "life/lives" it typically refers to "life" in this world (not life by the Spirit of God or eternal life in God's kingdom). To lose one's soul does not mean that the soul ceases to exist but that the soul loses what man was created to have (fellowship with God in His kingdom of eternal life) but to be totally separated from Him and everything good in the second death, the lake of fire.)) Christians who die to the sinful life of the old man to live for God in His truth, righteousness, and holiness experience eternal life now in a preliminary form as born-again Christians and will inherit eternal life in its full glory at the end of this age.
It is absolutely necessary for Christians to understand that dying to sin and the old man, which is the same thing as crucifying/putting-to-death/laying aside the old man and being freed from sin (cf., e.g., John 8:31-36; Rom. 6:6, 11, 17, 18, 20; Gal. 5:24; Eph. 4:22; and Col. 3:5-9) and being born again and beginning to live for God as a new man in union with Christ, by the Holy Spirit, in God's righteousness and holiness, which is the same thing as being resurrected (by the Spirit) and walking in newness of life, or becoming new creations in Christ, or putting on the new man in Christ (cf., e.g., Rom. 6:4, 5, 8-11; 8:2-14; 2 Cor. 5:17; Gal. 5:16; Eph. 4:23, 24; and Col. 3:1-4, 10, 11) is a supernatural work of God by His saving grace in Christ, which includes all the work of the Holy Spirit. We must continuously appropriate and cooperate with God's grace and walk by His Spirit by faith in accordance with His Word.
I'll quote 1 PETER 2:24 and make some comments in brackets, "He Himself bore our sins [with the guilt and the penalties, including the major penalties of spiritual death and bondage to sin] in His body on the cross, so that we might die to sin and live to righteousness; for by His wounds [literally "wound"; this mortal wound includes the beatings, scourging, crucifixion, etc., all that He bore for us as the Lamb of God in His atoning death; the wages of sin is death] you were healed [The primary healing is spiritual, including the new birth and being made righteous and holy, but it also includes every other type of healing we could ever need.]." Things like positive thinking, trying harder, and striving in the flesh are no match for enemies like sin and Satan.
We are totally dependent on the grace of God in Christ. God the Son became a man (but much more than just a man; He was the God-man and He wasn't spiritually dead); He lived a sinless life; He died for us bearing our sins with the guilt and the penalties so we could die to sin and the self-life and live for God as born-again Christians, in union with Christ, indwelled by the Holy Spirit. We die to sin and the self-life and live for God by the grace of God in Christ through faith, a faith that is based on God's Word. We cannot die to sin or live for God in His righteousness and holiness apart from repenting and submitting to God and His Word in faith and walking by faith (which includes walking in/by/after the Holy Spirit) on a continuous basis, and we must understand that our being dead to sin and our righteousness and holiness come one-hundred percent by the grace of God in Christ - God (the triune God) must receive all the glory.
Serving Christ and following Him (see verse 26) includes dying to living in sin and for self and the things of this world by the enabling grace of God in Christ.]] (25) He who loves his life [in this world] loses it [He loses real life, eternal life; he loses his soul. Matthew 16:26 speaks of forfeiting/losing one's soul], and he who hates his life in this world [We hate the sinful life of the old man. We don't hate the sanctified life of the born again Christian in this world that is lived for God by His grace in His truth, righteousness, and holiness.] will keep it [He will keep his soul instead of losing it; he will keep real life and gain life eternal.] to life eternal. [[See under verse 24. It is significant that the Greek noun behind the first two uses of the word "life" in this verse is "psuche," which is used here for "life in this world," and which is contrasted with the spiritual, eternal life of God. The Greek noun behind the last use of the word life in this verse is zoe. The Greek adjective "aionios, on," translated "eternal," is used with zoe here.
To love our life in this world here includes clinging to that life (the life of the old man who still wants to live in the born-again Christian) and not wholeheartedly submitting to God and His Son and His new-covenant plan of salvation, which enables us to die to sin and the self-life/the old man and to live for God, always doing His will from our hearts in His truth, righteousness, and holiness. ((I had a footnote: John 3:19 shows that loving our life in this world includes loving the darkness (loving the things of sin and Satan, including the lie); see John 3:19 (see on John 3:19-21 in my paper on John 1:19-4:54). Also see 1 John 2:15-17.)) Loving our life in this world (the self-life that doesn't center in God and His truth, righteousness, and holiness) results in missing God's spiritual, eternal life and continuing on in spiritual death, which will culminate in complete separation from God and His life in the second death of Rev. 20:14, which is the lake of fire. On the other hand to hate our life in this world and to submit to God and His Son and to be faithful to Him and the gospel of new-covenant salvation (by His grace) results in inheriting the fulness of eternal life and glory at the end of this age. (I had a footnote: We receive the down payment of eternal life when we submit to the gospel in faith and are born again by the infinite Spirit of God.)
I'll quote 2 TIMOTHY 2:11-13, "It is a trustworthy statement: For IF WE DIED WITH HIM, WE WILL ALSO LIVE WITH HIM [my emphasis]; (12) If we endure, we will also reign with Him; If we deny Him, He also will deny us; (13) If we are faithless, He remains faithful [He remains faithful to do what He said He will do, including denying those who are faithless and deny Him], for He cannot deny Himself." (2 Timothy 2:11-13 are discussed on pages 73-76 of the paper on my internet site [Google to Karl Kemp Teaching] that includes Ephesians chapters 1 and 4.)
Hating one's life in this world obviously includes hating everything sinful, but it also includes loving God above everyone and everything else. I'll quote Luke 14:26, "If anyone comes to Me, and does not hate ["I.e. by comparison," margin of NASB] his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes and even his own life, he cannot be My disciple." God (not us, or anyone, or anything else) must be Number One in every area - He must be our God. "No man can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to one and not the other. You cannot serve God and wealth [or any other idol]" (Matt. 6:24). "To hate...one's life means to turn one's back on it as of secondary importance compared with the cause that matters most" (David J. Ellis, "New Layman's Bible Commentary" [Zondervan, 1979], page 1321).
Dying with Christ (in union with Christ, by faith/the Spirit) to the things of this world in order to live for God is the same thing as denying ourselves and taking up our cross (I had a footnote: This involves our being dead to everything that is outside the will of God for us.) and following Him on a continuous basis, which Jesus also spoke of (see Matt. 10:37-39; 16:24-28; Mark 8:34-38; Luke 9:23-26; 14:26-33; 17:33; Gal. 2:20; 6:14; and Phil. 3:17-21).
I'll quote part of what D. A. Carson says here ("Gospel According to John," pages 438, 439). "The person who loves his life will lose it; it could not be otherwise, for to love one's life is a fundamental denial of God's sovereignty, of God's rights, and a brazen elevation of self to the apogee of one's perception, and therefore an idolatrous focus on self, which is the heart of all sin. Such a person loses his life, i.e. causes his own perdition. By contrast, the one who hates his life (the love/hate contrast reflects a semitic idiom that articulates fundamental preference, not hatred on some absolute scale: cf. Gen. 29:31, 33; Deut. 21:15 AV, NASB margin) will keep it for eternal life (cf. Mark 8:35 [and] parallels - which also follows a passion prediction [which predicts Jesus' death]). This person denies himself, or, to use another of Jesus' metaphors, takes up his cross daily (Mark 8:34 [and] parallels), i.e. he chooses not to pander to self-interest but at the deepest level of his being declines to make himself the focus of his interest and perception, thereby dying."
I'll quote part of what Leon Morris says here ("Gospel According to John" [Eerdmans, 1971], pages 593, 594). " 'Hateth' is of course not to be taken literally, but 'hating the life' is the natural antithesis of loving it (cf. Matt. 6:34=Luke 16:13; 14:26). It points to the attitude that sets no store by this life in itself. The man whose priorities are right has such an attitude of love for the things of God that it makes all interest in the affairs of this life appear by comparison as hatred. This man will keep his life 'unto life eternal'...."
I'll quote part of what William Hendricksen says under verses 25, 26 ("Gospel of John" [Baker, 1953], page 197). "He who when the issue is between me and my gospel, on the one hand, and whatever has been dearest to him (father, mother, son, daughter, material things, the whole world, his own life, Matt. 10:37; 16:26; Luke 17:32) on the other hand, chooses...the latter, will perish everlastingly. I will at my coming be ashamed of him (Mark 8:38; Luke 9:26). But he who, in this world - that is, in the midst of the present adulterous and wicked generation (Mark 8:38...) - is willing to sacrifice his life [Hendricksen has a footnote, "The life in such passages is the self: the terms himself and his life are used interchangeably; see Luke 9:23, 24...."] for me and my gospel (Mark 8:35) will guard and preserve it (Luke 17:33), so that it will blossom forth into everlasting life in the mansions above.... If anyone serves me, let him follow me all the way, even though it be the way of self-denial and the cross (Matt. 16:24; 10:38; Mark 8:34), bearing in mind that the way of the cross leads to the crown. ...."
And I'll quote part of what F. F. Bruce says under verses 25, 26 ("Gospel of John" [Eerdmans, 1983], page 265). "The principle stated in verse 24 is of wide application; in particular if it is true of Jesus, it must be true of his followers. They too must be prepared to renounce present interests for the sake of a future inheritance. [Bruce acknowledges that we already have a down payment of our inheritance, being born-again Christians.] This is a Johannine counterpart to the Synoptic saying about the disciple's obligation to take up his cross and follow his Master (cf. Mark 8:34-38). To love one's life here means to give it priority over the interests of God's kingdom; similarly to hate one's life is to give priority over it to the interests of God's kingdom. ...."]] (26) If anyone serves Me, he must follow Me [[In this context the primary idea is following Christ to die to the self life and the life of this world (which includes dying to sinning) and to live, in union with Him as born-again Christians, in the truth, righteousness, and holiness of God, always doing His will. As the following words show, those who serve Christ and follow Him throughout the rest of their lives in this world (though they are not of this world) will also follow Him to glory - they will be glorified with Him; they will have a place in God's eternal, heavenly kingdom (cf., e.g., John 14:2, 3; 17:24; and Rom. 8:17, 18). Later in this verse (26) Jesus even said that the Father will honor them.
Romans 8:17, 18 show that dying with Christ and being faithful to Him includes being willing to suffer (suffer the things that go with being faithful to Christ, like self-denial, trials, persecution, and temptation) if we want to be glorified with Him, "and if children [born-again children of God] heirs also, heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him so that we may also be glorified with Him. (18) For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us."]]; and where I am, there My servant will be also; if anyone serves Me, the Father will honor him. [See under the first part of this verse.] (27) Now My soul has become troubled [Compare Matt. 26:37, 38; Mark 14:33, 34; and John 13:21. Jesus understood something of the extreme difficulty of the all-important assignment He was facing.]; and what shall I say, "Father, save Me from this hour"? But for this purpose I came to this hour. [[Jesus was speaking of the hour that included His arrest, trial(s), beatings, scourging, and crucifixion. But He came to be the Lamb of God (cf., e.g., John 1:29, 36; 6:51; 10:15, 17, 18; 12:23, 32, 33; 18:11; Matt. 26:39, 42, 51-56; and Luke 22:42). What Jesus said in Luke 22:42 (and the parallel verses in Matthew and Mark; cf. John 6:38) is very significant, "Father, if You are willing, remove this cup from Me; yet not My will but Yours be done." We must follow Jesus in saying, "yet not My will but Yours be done." That's what it means to die to sin and the self-life and really make God our God.]] (28) Father, glorify Your name.' [[The Father would glorify His name by doing the things He must do (including preparing His Son for, and sustaining Him in, His hour of great trial [In some ways Jesus had to endure the cross alone, in that our sins would separate Him from the Father (cf. Matt. 26:46; Mark 14:34).]) for the new-covenant plan of salvation to become reality through the all-important atoning death of His Son.]] Then a voice came out of heaven [cf. Matt. 3:17; 17:5; Mark 1:11; 9:7; and Luke 3:22; 9:35]: 'I have both glorified it, and will glorify it again.' [[The Father had glorified His name through the life and ministry of Jesus to this point; He would glorify it again - and He would glorify it to a much greater extent - through the atoning death of His Son, through resurrecting Him and taking Him up in glory to His right hand, and through all the good fruit that would result from what Jesus had done and would now do.]] (29) So the crowd of people who stood by and heard it were saying that it had thundered; others were saying, 'An angel has spoken to Him.' [It seems clear (based on what the people were saying) that the crowd did not understand what the Father had said to the Son (cf. Acts 22:9). Nevertheless, it was important for them to hear His voice (as verse 30 shows); at least many of them realized that the voice had come from heaven to Jesus.] (30) Jesus answered and said, 'This voice has not come for My sake, but for your sakes. [[This voice came for their sakes in that it served as one more powerful confirmation of the fact that Jesus was who He claimed to be, the God-man sent from God the Father, the Christ, the promised Savior. Jesus knew that the Father always answered His prayers (cf. John 11:42), so He didn't need the Father to affirm that He would glorify His name through Christ, even as He had already glorified His name. And He didn't need to Father to give Him that affirmation by speaking with an audible voice from heaven. However, the Father's response to Jesus' prayer of verse 28 surely proved to be a substantial blessing to Him as He faced the extremely difficult task of going to the cross. I'll quote a sentence from what William Hendricksen says here ("Gospel of John," page 201). "It seems reasonable that here as elsewhere in similar expressions (see on 4:21; 12:44) the meaning is: "Not exclusively for my sake has this voice occurred, but also for your sake.' "]]
We will continue this verse-by-verse study of John chapters 10-12 (with John 9:35-41) in Part 8, starting with John 12:31.
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