The Anointing at Bethany.a 1* Six days before Passover Jesus came to Bethany, where Lazarus was, whom Jesus had raised from the dead.b 2They gave a dinner for him there, and Martha served, while Lazarus was one of those reclining at table with him.c 3Mary took a liter of costly perfumed oil made from genuine aromatic nard and anointed the feet of Jesus* and dried them with her hair; the house was filled with the fragrance of the oil.d 4Then Judas the Iscariot, one [of] his disciples, and the one who would betray him, said, 5“Why was this oil not sold for three hundred days’ wages* and given to the poor?” 6He said this not because he cared about the poor but because he was a thief and held the money bag and used to steal the contributions.e 7So Jesus said, “Leave her alone. Let her keep this for the day of my burial.* 8You always have the poor with you, but you do not always have me.”f
9[The] large crowd of the Jews found out that he was there and came, not only because of Jesus, but also to see Lazarus, whom he had raised from the dead.g 10And the chief priests plotted to kill Lazarus too, 11because many of the Jews were turning away and believing in Jesus because of him.h
The Entry into Jerusalem.* 12i On the next day, when the great crowd that had come to the feast heard that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem, 13they took palm branches* and went out to meet him, and cried out:
Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord,
[even] the king of Israel.”j
14Jesus found an ass and sat upon it, as is written:
15“Fear no more, O daughter Zion;*
see, your king comes, seated upon an ass’s colt.”k
16His disciples did not understand this at first, but when Jesus had been glorified they remembered that these things were written about him and that they had done this* for him.l 17* So the crowd that was with him when he called Lazarus from the tomb and raised him from death continued to testify. 18This was [also] why the crowd went to meet him, because they heard that he had done this sign. 19So the Pharisees said to one another, “You see that you are gaining nothing. Look, the whole world* has gone after him.”m
The Coming of Jesus’ Hour.* 20Now there were some Greeks* among those who had come up to worship at the feast.n 21* They came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida in Galilee, and asked him, “Sir, we would like to see Jesus.”o 22Philip went and told Andrew; then Andrew and Philip went and told Jesus.p 23* Jesus answered them,q “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. 24* Amen, amen, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains just a grain of wheat;r but if it dies, it produces much fruit. 25Whoever loves his life* loses it, and whoever hates his life in this world will preserve it for eternal life.s 26Whoever serves me must follow me, and where I am, there also will my servant be. The Father will honor whoever serves me.t
27“I am troubled* now. Yet what should I say? ‘Father, save me from this hour’? But it was for this purpose that I came to this hour.u 28Father, glorify your name.” Then a voice came from heaven, “I have glorified it and will glorify it again.”v 29The crowd there heard it and said it was thunder; but others said, “An angel has spoken to him.”w 30Jesus answered and said, “This voice did not come for my sake but for yours.x 31Now is the time of judgment on this world; now the ruler of this world* will be driven out.y 32And when I am lifted up from the earth, I will draw everyone to myself.”z 33He said this indicating the kind of death he would die. 34So the crowd answered him, “We have heard from the law that the Messiah remains forever.* Then how can you say that the Son of Man must be lifted up? Who is this Son of Man?”a 35Jesus said to them, “The light will be among you only a little while. Walk while you have the light, so that darkness may not overcome you. Whoever walks in the dark does not know where he is going.b 36While you have the light, believe in the light, so that you may become children of the light.”c
Unbelief and Belief among the Jews. After he had said this, Jesus left and hid from them. 37* d Although he had performed so many signs in their presence they did not believe in him, 38* in order that the word which Isaiah the prophet spoke might be fulfilled:
“Lord, who has believed our preaching,
to whom has the might of the Lord been revealed?”e
39For this reason they could not believe, because again Isaiah said:
40“He blinded their eyes
and hardened their heart,
so that they might not see with their eyes
and understand with their heart and be converted,
and I would heal them.”f
41Isaiah said this because he saw his glory* and spoke about him.g 42Nevertheless, many, even among the authorities, believed in him, but because of the Pharisees they did not acknowledge it openly in order not to be expelled from the synagogue.h 43For they preferred human praise to the glory of God.i
Recapitulation. 44Jesus cried out and said, “Whoever believes in me believes not only in me but also in the one who sent me,j 45and whoever sees me sees the one who sent me.k 46I came into the world as light, so that everyone who believes in me might not remain in darkness.l 47And if anyone hears my words and does not observe them, I do not condemn him, for I did not come to condemn the world but to save the world.m 48Whoever rejects me and does not accept my words has something to judge him: the word that I spoke, it will condemn him on the last day,n 49because I did not speak on my own, but the Father who sent me commanded me what to say and speak.o 50And I know that his commandment is eternal life. So what I say, I say as the Father told me.”
* [12:1–8] This is probably the same scene of anointing found in Mk 14:3–9 (see note there) and Mt 26:6–13. The anointing by a penitent woman in Lk 7:36–38 is different. Details from these various episodes have become interchanged.
* [12:3] The feet of Jesus: so Mk 14:3; but in Mt 26:6, Mary anoints Jesus’ head as a sign of regal, messianic anointing.
* [12:5] Days’ wages: literally, “denarii.” A denarius is a day’s wage in Mt 20:2; see note on Jn 6:7.
* [12:7] Jesus’ response reflects the rabbinical discussion of what was the greatest act of mercy, almsgiving or burying the dead. Those who favored proper burial of the dead thought it an essential condition for sharing in the resurrection.
* [12:12–19] In John, the entry into Jerusalem follows the anointing whereas in the synoptics it precedes. In John, the crowd, not the disciples, are responsible for the triumphal procession.
* [12:13] Palm branches: used to welcome great conquerors; cf. 1 Mc 13:51; 2 Mc 10:7. They may be related to the lûlāb, the twig bundles used at the feast of Tabernacles. Hosanna: see Ps 118:25–26. The Hebrew word means: “(O Lord), grant salvation.” He who comes in the name of the Lord: referred in Ps 118:26 to a pilgrim entering the temple gates, but here a title for Jesus (see notes on Mt 11:3 and Jn 6:14; 11:27). The king of Israel: perhaps from Zep 3:14–15 in connection with the next quotation from Zec 9:9.
* [12:15] Daughter Zion: Jerusalem. Ass’s colt: symbol of peace, as opposed to the war horse.
* [12:16] They had done this: the antecedent of they is ambiguous.
* [12:17–18] There seem to be two different crowds in these verses. There are some good witnesses to the text that have another reading for Jn 12:17: “Then the crowd that was with him began to testify that he had called Lazarus out of the tomb and raised him from the dead.”
* [12:19] The whole world: the sense is that everyone is following Jesus, but John has an ironic play on world; he alludes to the universality of salvation (Jn 3:17; 4:42).
* [12:20–36] This announcement of glorification by death is an illustration of “the whole world” (19) going after him.
* [12:20] Greeks: not used here in a nationalistic sense. These are probably Gentile proselytes to Judaism; cf. Jn 7:35.
* [12:21–22] Philip…Andrew: the approach is made through disciples who have distinctly Greek names, suggesting that access to Jesus was mediated to the Greek world through his disciples. Philip and Andrew were from Bethsaida (Jn 1:44); Galileans were mostly bilingual. See: here seems to mean “have an interview with.”
* [12:23] Jesus’ response suggests that only after the crucifixion could the gospel encompass both Jew and Gentile.
* [12:24] This verse implies that through his death Jesus will be accessible to all. It remains just a grain of wheat: this saying is found in the synoptic triple and double traditions (Mk 8:35; Mt 16:25; Lk 9:24; Mt 10:39; Lk 17:33). John adds the phrases (Jn 12:25) in this world and for eternal life.
* [12:25] His life: the Greek word psychē refers to a person’s natural life. It does not mean “soul,” for Hebrew anthropology did not postulate body/soul dualism in the way that is familiar to us.
* [12:27] I am troubled: perhaps an allusion to the Gethsemane agony scene of the synoptics.
* [12:31] Ruler of this world: Satan.
* [12:34] There is no passage in the Old Testament that states precisely that the Messiah remains forever. Perhaps the closest is Ps 89:37.
* [12:37–50] These verses, on unbelief of the Jews, provide an epilogue to the Book of Signs.
* [12:38–41] John gives a historical explanation of the disbelief of the Jewish people, not a psychological one. The Old Testament had to be fulfilled; the disbelief that met Isaiah’s message was a foreshadowing of the disbelief that Jesus encountered. In Jn 12:42 and also in Jn 3:20 we see that there is no negation of freedom.
* [12:41] His glory: Isaiah saw the glory of Yahweh enthroned in the heavenly temple, but in John the antecedent of his is Jesus.
a. [12:1–11] Mt 26:6–13; Mk 14:3–9.
i. [12:12–19] Mt 21:1–16; Mk 11:1–10; Lk 19:28–40.
j. [12:13] 1:49; Lv 23:40; 1 Mc 13:51; 2 Mc 10:7; Rev 7:9.
r. [12:24] Is 53:10–12; 1 Cor 15:36.
s. [12:25] Mt 10:39; 16:25; Mk 8:35; Lk 9:24; 17:33.
t. [12:26] 14:3; 17:24; Mt 16:24; Mk 8:34; Lk 9:23.
u. [12:27] 6:38; 18:11; Mt 26:38–39; Mk 14:34–36; Lk 22:42; Heb 5:7–8.
v. [12:28] 2:11; 17:5; Dn 4:31, 34.
w. [12:29] Ex 9:28; 2 Sm 22:14; Jb 37:4; Ps 29:3; Lk 22:43; Acts 23:9.
y. [12:31] 16:11; Lk 10:18; Rev 12:9.
z. [12:32] 3:14; 8:28; Is 52:13.
a. [12:34] Ps 89:5; 110:4; Is 9:7; Dn 7:13–14; Rev 20:1–6.
b. [12:35] 9:4; 11:10; Jb 5:14.
d. [12:37–43] Dt 29:2–4; Mk 4:11–12; Rom 9–11.
e. [12:38] Is 53:1; Rom 10:16.
f. [12:40] Is 6:9–10; Mt 13:13–15; Mk 4:12.
n. [12:48] Lk 10:16; Heb 4:12.
o. [12:49] 14:10, 31; Dt 18:18–19.