John 12:20-50 Comments by Stephen Ricker
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Jesus, A Kernel of Wheat
Comments for Study 17

John 12:20-50
Key verse: 12:24


Passion Week Events

* An outline of Jesus' last week before his resurrection is as follows.
Friday -Jesus arrives in the Jerusalem area.
    Friday -Jesus arrives in the Jerusalem area. (John 11:54-12:1)
    Saturday (Sabbath) -a day of rest; no event recorded except Luke 21:37-38.
    Sunday -Jesus' triumphal entry. (Matt. 21:1-11; Mark 11:1-10; Luke 19:29-44; John 12:12-19)
    Monday -Jesus curses the fig tree (Matt. 21:18-19; Mark 11:12-14). Jesus clears out the Temple. (Matt 21:12-13; Mark 11:15-18)
    Tuesday -Jesus' authority questioned. (Matt. 21:23-27; Mark 11:27-33; Luke 20:18) Jesus teaches in the temple. (Matt. 21:28-22:46; Mark 12:1-44; Luke 20:9-21:4) Jesus wept over Jerusalem's leader's unbelief and rejecting him as their King. (Matthew 23:1-39) Jesus anointed at Bethany. (Matt. 26:6-13; Mark 13:3-9; John 12:2-11)
    Wednesday -another day of rest; no event recorded except Luke 21:37-38. The Jews plot to kill Jesus. (Matt. 26:14-16; Mark 14:10-11; Luke 22:3-6)
    Thursday (Hebrew month Abib the 13th day) -the Passover meal begins at twilight (see below note) when Jesus and the disciples celebrate the Last Supper. (Matt. 26:17-29; Mark 14:12-25; Luke 22:7-20; John 13:1-18) Jesus comforts the disciples (John 14:1-16:33) Jesus prays at Gethsemane. (Matt. 26:26-46; Mark 14:32-42; Luke 22:40-46)
    Friday (Hebrew month Abib, 14 day) -According Hebrew time Jesus is arrest and tried from night to daylight. (Matt. 26:47-27:26; Mark 14:43-15:15; Luke 22:47-23:25; John 18:2-19:16) Jesus' crucifixion at 3:00pm, and death before sunset which is the end of the Hebrew day and Passover. (Matt. 27:27-56; Mark 15:16-41; Luke 23:26-49; John 19:17-30) Jesus is buried at sunset. (Matt. 27:57-66; mark 15:42-47; Luke 23:50-56; John 19:31-42)
    Saturday (Sabbath Abib 15, Seven day Feast of Unleavened Bread begins) Jesus' body is in the tomb. He appears in Sheol and accompanies the saints previously dead to heaven.
    Sunday (Abib 16; day of First Fruits Sheaf Wave) Jesus' morning resurrection and appearing to the women. (Mark 16:9-11; John 20:11-18) Then he appeared to the two on the road. (Mark 16:12-13; Luke 24:13-35) Then to the ten apostles (no Thomas or Judas) in the evening. (Mark 16:14; Luke 24:36-43; John 20:19-25)
    Saturday (Sabbath) -Jesus appears to Thomas and the rest of the apostles. (John 20:26-31)
    A week later -Jesus talks and eats with some disciples by the Sea of Galilee. (John 21:1-25)
    Forty days since his resurrection -Jesus ascends to his Father from the Mount of Olives. (Matt. 28:15-20; Mark 18:19-20; Luke 24:44-53; Acts 1:1-11)

* The Passover is linked to the 14th day of the month not the day of the week. It starting on Thursday twilight is a very rare event; unusually it starts on a different day of the week. (Hebrew days start at sunset/twilight and go through the night till the next day's sunset.) Falling on a Thursday that year made it possible for Jesus to fulfill the meaning behind the feasts associated with the Passover. His was crucified was on Friday (still Passover), the Sabbath (Saturday) rest was the Feast of Unleavened Bread, and Sunday was the third day since his death, the day of the First Fruit Wave Sheaf, and the day that Jesus rose from the dead. All three feasts were thus fulfilled by Jesus.

I. "A Kernel of Wheat" (20-36)

>1. What message did Jesus send (by whom) to the intellectual Greeks when they came to meet him?

* "Now there were some Greeks among those who went up to worship at the Feast. They came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida in Galilee, with a request. 'Sir,' they said, 'we would like to see Jesus.' Philip went to tell Andrew; Andrew and Philip in turn told Jesus." -John 12:20-22

* Jesus said this directly the Greeks, but indirectly everyone.

* Greece was the world power before Rome. The world common language was Greek at the time. It is the source of philosophy. Many well known philosophers came from Greece before this time.

* "some Greeks" -in Acts 19:17-21 about the Greeks in Athens it says, "Then they took him and brought him to a meeting of the Areopagus, where they said to him, 'May we know what this new teaching is that you are presenting? You are bringing some strange ideas to our ears, and we want to know what they mean.' (All the Athenians and the foreigners who lived there spent their time doing nothing but talking about and listening to the latest ideas.)" Philosophy is not related to one's life and is not practical. So Jesus taught them words they could practice and apply (very personal). Christians are not to present the gospel as a theory. Jesus often used the word "must".

* "among those" -they went as the Jews did. They became Jews by a faith decision. They acted like Jews as far as they were allowed. They accepted their way of life as Ruth did.

* "to worship at the Feast" -they became worshippers of the true God and were celebrating the Passover, the most holy day for a Jew is Jesus' day.

* "They came to Philip" -a Greek name, though he was a Jew. Being his name was Philip, they probably felt better coming to Philip rather than another disciples. Perhaps they did not come to Jesus directly because Jesus was so busy or because they were respectful/afraid to come to Jesus without permission. Most likely they were at the temple. Gentiles had to stay in a special area at the temple. Jews were allowed closer to the temple. Jesus would have been in the Jewish area. So most likely they could not get to him.

* "who was from Bethsaida in Galilee" -a fishing town. Woes pronounced upon by Jesus in Matt. 11:21.

* "Sir we would like to see Jesus" -they were more than knowledge seekers. They were truth seekers. They must have heard of Jesus teaching and the raising of Lazarus from the dead and his other miracles.

* "Philip went to tell Andrew" -Philip is a Greek name. He was a Jew, but perhaps one of his parents were also Greek. Most likely he could speak Greek which may have been another reason that the Greeks came to him. Philip it seems did not have enough faith/confidence to bring them to Jesus. He needed help from someone.

* "Andrew and Philip in turn told Jesus." -Andrew did not exclude Philip but co-worked with him. They were often together (i.e. the feeding of the five thousand.)

>What does it mean for a kernel of wheat to die?

* "Jesus replied, 'The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. I tell you the truth, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds.'" -John 12:23-24

* John 12:24 is Jesus' life key verse.

* "The hour" -Jesus often refereed to his crucifixion as the hour.

* "the Son of Man" -Jesus used this title of the Messiah which often referred to his being human. But also uses it with his glory and as judge.

* "to be glorified" -Jesus did not view his painful humiliation as something terrible. He saw it as his glory. This is because it would glorify God. When we die it glorifies God. He would conquer sin.

* Verse 23 was said to the Greeks showing Jesus' death was not only for the Jews, but also for the Gentiles. The Gentiles would see Jesus' glory as Jews would. The process is as much glory as the final result.

* Verse 24 is the principle of life. It wouldn't make sence to a philosopher. A philosopher would ponder all day and not understand it.

* "unless" -this implies that a kernel of wheat can do other things, but if it wants to produce fruit it has only one choice, die.

* "a kernel of wheat" -small with life potential. It exists to die or be eaten.

* "falls to the ground" -when it falls it quits being a kernel of wheat.

* "and dies" -This seems useless if we wouldn't know the outcome. Since we do it isn't.

>To remain only a single seed?

* "it remains only a single seed" -no change, no good

* "But if it dies it produces many seeds" -the point to dieing is to produce seeds. These seeds are good seed, meant to do good to the planter. It doesn't die just to die. Also if it does die there is a natural outcome; that is, it produces many seeds.

* A seed will die one way or another. It may go into hibernation for a long time, but eventually it will lose its ability to give life.

>How is one's life like a kernel of wheat?

* A man has to die to himself in order for him to produce fruit; inward fruit and external fruit.

* To produce inward fruit the old self must die. To produce external fruit (raise other disciples) we need to change our way of living and practice the word of God.

* Fully die, fully committed. There is no such thing as half die and half committed.

* We don't have to die, but if we want to bear fruit we must die. There is no other way.

>2. How do verses 25 and 26 explain the "kernel of wheat"?

* "The man who loves his life will lose it, while the man who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. Whoever serves me must follow me; and where I am, my servant also will be. My Father will honor the one who serves me." -John 12:25-26

* Verse 24 is the principle. Verse 25 is the application. Verse 26a is the invitation to follow. Verse 26b is the reward of following.

* "...who loves his..." -Love is Greek "phileo" from; to be a friend to (fond of [an individual or an object]), i.e. have affection for (denoting personal attachment, as a matter of sentiment or feeling; while other words is wider, embracing espec. the judgment and the deliberate assent of the will as a matter of principle, duty and propriety: the two thus stand related very much ; the former being chiefly of the heart and the latter of the head); spec. to kiss (as a mark of tenderness):-kiss, love.

* "...his life will..." -Life is Greek "psuche" from; breath, i.e. (by impl.) spirit, abstr. or concr. (the animal sentient principle only; thus distinguished on the one hand , which is the rational and immortal soul; and on the other , which is mere vitality, even of plants: these terms thus exactly correspond respectively to the Hebrew ):-heart (+ -ily), life, mind, soul, + us, + you.

* "...will lose it..." -Lose is Greek "apollumi" from and the base of ; to destroy fully (reflex. to perish, or lose), lit. or fig.:-destroy, die, lose, mar, perish.

* "...who hates his..." -Hates is Greek "miseo" from a prim. misos (hatred); to detest (espec. to persecute); by extens. to love less:-hate (-ful).

>What two kinds of living are described here?

* A man who hates his life.

* A man who loves his life.

* The life described here is an ordinary family man, nice human being life with no concrete mission for Jesus and the gospel.

* For a Christian, the family is part of mission life. It is not all there is to mission life, but it is also not excluded from mission life. But of course it must be Christ centered.

>What is the reward given those who follow Jesus?

* 1. Jesus will be with us. (26a)
    2. Heavenly kingdom and life in the glorious Millennium, the one thousand year reign of Christ, and life with Jesus and his people for all eternity.
    3. The Father will honor him.
    4. They will bear fruit.

* God's honor is permanent, not life with man's honor which is temporary.

* "...eternal life..." -Life is Greek "zoe" from; life (lit. or fig.):-life (-time). Comp. Greek root zao, dzah'-o; a prim. verb; to live (lit. or fig.):-life (-time), (a-) live (-ly), quick. And Greek root psuche, psoo-khay'; from Grk; breath, i.e. (by impl.) spirit, abstr. or concr. (the animal sentient principle only; thus distinguished on the one hand, which is the rational and immortal soul; and on the other, which is mere vitality, even of plants: these terms thus exactly correspond respectively to the Heb.):-heart (+ -ily), life, mind, soul, + us, + you.

* A lot of Christians these days don't teach about losing one's life. They only teach about the new Christian life. Jesus taught dying as a positive truth in a Christian's life.

>3. How is Jesus himself like a kernel of wheat?

* The creator himself left heaven.

* He died so others could have life through him.

* His death brought more glory than his life.

>Read verses 27 and 28.

* "'Now my heart is troubled, and what shall I say? 'Father, save me from this hour'? No, it was for this very reason I came to this hour. Father, glorify your name!' Then a voice came from heaven, 'I have glorified it, and will glorify it again.'" -John 12:27-28

* Through the Greeks coming Jesus was reminded of his life as a kernel of wheat. So now he was troubled. Often times teaching the truth revealed to ourselves the truth of our life.

>What does this tell us about Jesus' personal struggle?

* As a human, death and suffering was not appealing to him as it is not to us.

* Jesus didn't voice his personal struggles often so this time was a great struggle. But also as his time approached he wanted his disciples to know that stuggles will happen and pain was not easy for him either.

* This was a struggle between the spiritual body and the physical body.

* Jesus was not a super human beyond the human experience of pain when obeying God. So we don't have an excuse and we can't walk away from our life of mission, our cross.

>What is Jesus' heart desire?

* "No, it was for this very reason I came to this hour. Father, glorify your name!'" (27b-28)

* To complete his task.

* To glorify God's name.

>His prayerful decision?

* To glorify God's name. When we meet our human limitation we have to commit it to God.

* We have this conflict too. It is not easy to be a kernel of wheat.

* It is easy to lay down the cross any time.

* How can we resolve the conflict properly?

* We need to rely on God in prayer as Jesus did:
    1. He just said no.
    2. He thought about the meaning of his life; his life purpose; his reason for living.
    3. He thought of his Father.
    4. He prayed.
    5. He committed the solution to God. He put it in God's hand.

* "Father glorify you name" -Links to his glory. It is his crucifixion.

* "I have glorified it" -Jesus' life of self denial, as a kernel of wheat and God glorified his life work.

>How did God confirm his decision?

* "Jesus said, 'This voice was for your benefit, not mine. Now is the time for judgment on this world; now the prince of this world will be driven out. But I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to myself.'" -John 12:30-32

* "will glorify it again" -refers to his crucifixion.

>4. What did Jesus teach about the manner of his death? (32-33)

* "'But I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to myself.' He said this to show the kind of death he was going to die." -John 12:32-33

* Jesus always knew he would die by crucifixion.

>Its meaning? (30,31,32)

* For judgment on this world.

* The prince of this world will be driven out.

* To draw all men to him.

* Lift up Jesus and people will be drawn to him.

>What does it mean to drive out the prince of this world?

* He has no power on earth over those who believe in Jesus. We have not guilt, no judgement, so his accusations against us is meaningless.

>To draw all men to himself?

* They put their faith in Jesus and have a close relationship with him.

>5. What invitation did he give to the Jewish leaders, to his disciples and to us?

* "Then Jesus told them, 'You are going to have the light just a little while longer. Walk while you have the light, before darkness overtakes you. The man who walks in the dark does not know where he is going. Put your trust in the light while you have it, so that you may become sons of light.' When he had finished speaking, Jesus left and hid himself from them." -John 12:35-36

>What does it mean to walk in the light?

* "walk" -have faith and follow his example.

* "light" -Jesus.

* They and all had to decide while the heart was moved by his word and the Holy Spirit because the true word was spoken to them and the truth made clear to them.

* In a person's life there are times where we are more inclined to to accepting Jesus than others.

>Why is it imperative to do so?

* They may not get another chance.

* Darkness may overtake them.

* The truth was made very clear. They could see and believe at no better time than the present.

>How did the crowd respond? (34)

* "The crowd spoke up, 'We have heard from the Law that the Christ will remain forever, so how can you say, 'The Son of Man must be lifted up?' Who is the Son of Man?'" -John 12:34

* They had heard and understood that Jesus said he was the Messiah. They knew lifted up meant crucifixion.

* They were confused by a misunderstanding and common teaching of the Old Testament in their times. Today their are also a lot of false teachings concerning Jesus, the Messiah, the Lord of Hosts.

>Why? (34-36)

* "Who is this 'Son of Man'?" Then Jesus told them, "You are going to have the light just a little while longer. Walk while you have the light, before darkness overtakes you. The man who walks in the dark does not know where he is going. Put your trust in the light while you have it, so that you may become sons of light.' When he had finished speaking, Jesus left and hid himself from them." -John 12:35-36

* The problem was in their thinking not in Jesus' teaching. He was very clear. They would not give up their old ideas, their culture, their traditions, and their teachings. Jesus said trust in him even though they didn't understand. Understanding does not lead to eternal life, faith and trust does. Understanding comes later as we live following Jesus' example of a kernel of wheat.

* "darkness overtakes you" -without Jesus we have no power over darkness.

II. Many Even Among the Leaders Believed in Him (37-50)

>6. Why did the Jewish leaders not believe in Jesus in spite of many miraculous signs? (9-10; 18-19; 34)

* "Meanwhile a large crowd of Jews found out that Jesus was there and came, not only because of him but also to see Lazarus, whom he had raised from the dead. So the chief priests made plans to kill Lazarus as well," -John 12:9-10

* "Many people, because they had heard that he had given this miraculous sign, went out to meet him. So the Pharisees said to one another, 'See, this is getting us nowhere. Look how the whole world has gone after him!'" -John 12:18-19

* "The crowd spoke up, 'We have heard from the Law that the Christ will remain forever, so how can you say, 'The Son of Man must be lifted up'? Who is this 'Son of Man'?'" -John 12:34

>What does "the arm of the Lord" mean? (Isa 53:1)

* "Who has believed our message and to whom has the arm of the LORD been revealed?" -Isaiah 53:1

* Jesus is the arm of the Lord.

>7. What light do the verses from Isaiah 6 throw on the problem and meaning of unbelief? (38-41)

* "This was to fulfill the word of Isaiah the prophet: 'Lord, who has believed our message and to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?' For this reason they could not believe, because, as Isaiah says elsewhere: 'He has blinded their eyes and deadened their hearts, so they can neither see with their eyes, nor understand with their hearts, nor turn--and I would heal them.' Isaiah said this because he saw Jesus' glory and spoke about him." -John 12:38-41

* Verse 38 they rejected. Verse 40 God hardens their heart.

* They chose to stay in darkness.

* They had no open heart to receive what Jesus freely offered them.

* It is a matter of the heart attitude.

* Those who stay in unbelief grow blinder and blinder. Unbelief leads to blindness. So it is imperative to believe when the truth is presented to us the first time, no matter what truth it may be.

>Why did many who knew better decide not to believe? (42-43)

* "Yet at the same time many even among the leaders believed in him. But because of the Pharisees they would not confess their faith for fear they would be put out of the synagogue; for they loved praise from men more than praise from God." -John 12:42-43

>8. What is Jesus' final word to them about who he is and why he came, and about the serious consequences of rejecting him and his word?

* "Then Jesus cried out, 'When a man believes in me, he does not believe in me only, but in the one who sent me. When he looks at me, he sees the one who sent me. I have come into the world as a light, so that no one who believes in me should stay in darkness. "As for the person who hears my words but does not keep them, I do not judge him. For I did not come to judge the world, but to save it. There is a judge for the one who rejects me and does not accept my words; that very word which I spoke will condemn him at the last day. For I did not speak of my own accord, but the Father who sent me commanded me what to say and how to say it. I know that his command leads to eternal life. So whatever I say is just what the Father has told me to say.'" -John 12:44-50

* "come into this world" -Jesus did not just say Jerusalem, nor just Israel.