Read John 12
Jesus Anointed at Bethany
1 Six days before the Passover, Jesus came to Bethany, where Lazarus lived, whom Jesus had raised from the dead.2 Here a dinner was given in Jesus’ honor. Martha served, while Lazarus was among those reclining at the table with him. 3 Then Mary took about a pint of pure nard, an expensive perfume; she poured it on Jesus’ feet and wiped his feet with her hair. And the house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume.
4 But one of his disciples, Judas Iscariot, who was later to betray him, objected, 5 “Why wasn’t this perfume sold and the money given to the poor? It was worth a year’s wages.” 6 He did not say this because he cared about the poor but because he was a thief; as keeper of the money bag, he used to help himself to what was put into it.
7 “Leave her alone,” Jesus replied. “It was intended that she should save this perfume for the day of my burial. 8 You will always have the poor among you, but you will not always have me.”
9 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. 10 So the chief priests made plans to kill Lazarus as well, 11 for on account of him many of the Jews were going over to Jesus and believing in him.
Jesus Comes to Jerusalem as King
12 The next day the great crowd that had come for the festival heard that Jesus was on his way to Jerusalem. 13 They took palm branches and went out to meet him, shouting,
see, your king is coming,
seated on a donkey’s colt.” 16 At first his disciples did not understand all this. Only after Jesus was glorified did they realize that these things had been written about him and that these things had been done to him. 17 Now the crowd that was with him when he called Lazarus from the tomb and raised him from the dead continued to spread the word. 18 Many people, because they had heard that he had performed this sign, went out to meet him. 19 So the Pharisees said to one another, “See, this is getting us nowhere. Look how the whole world has gone after him!”Jesus Predicts His Death20 Now there were some Greeks among those who went up to worship at the festival. 21 They came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida in Galilee, with a request. “Sir,” they said, “we would like to see Jesus.” 22 Philip went to tell Andrew; Andrew and Philip in turn told Jesus.23 Jesus replied, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. 24 Very truly I tell you, 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. 25 Anyone who loves their life will lose it, while anyone who hates their life in this world will keep it for eternal life. 26 Whoever serves me must follow me; and where I am, my servant also will be. My Father will honor the one who serves me. 27 “Now my soul 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. 28 Father, glorify your name!” Then a voice came from heaven, “I have glorified it, and will glorify it again.” 29 The crowd that was there and heard it said it had thundered; others said an angel had spoken to him. 30 Jesus said, “This voice was for your benefit, not mine. 31 Now is the time for judgment on this world; now the prince of this world will be driven out. 32 And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.” 33 He said this to show the kind of death he was going to die. 34 The crowd spoke up, “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 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. Whoever walks in the dark does not know where they are going. 36 Believe in the light while you have the light, so that you may become children of light.” When he had finished speaking, Jesus left and hid himself from them.
and to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?” 39 For this reason they could not believe, because, as Isaiah says elsewhere:
and hardened their hearts,
so they can neither see with their eyes,
nor understand with their hearts,
nor turn—and I would heal them.” 41 Isaiah said this because he saw Jesus’ glory and spoke about him. 42 Yet at the same time many even among the leaders believed in him. But because of the Pharisees they would not openly acknowledge their faith for fear they would be put out of the synagogue; 43 for they loved human praise more than praise from God. 44 Then Jesus cried out, “Whoever believes in me does not believe in me only, but in the one who sent me. 45 The one who looks at me is seeing the one who sent me. 46 I have come into the world as a light, so that no one who believes in me should stay in darkness. 47 “If anyone hears my words but does not keep them, I do not judge that person. For I did not come to judge the world, but to save the world. 48 There is a judge for the one who rejects me and does not accept my words; the very words I have spoken will condemn them at the last day. 49 For I did not speak on my own, but the Father who sent me commanded me to say all that I have spoken. 50 I know that his command leads to eternal life. So whatever I say is just what the Father has told me to say.”
This chapter is packed full of life changing verses and impactful stories. Right smack dab in the middle of these fifty verses, though, is a pivotal proclamation made by Jesus Himself. In verse 25, he says “Whoever loves his life loses it, and whoever hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life.” Upon first glance, it seems like this is a riddle we need to figure out, but it’s actually the truth of the gospel, plain and simple: Are you worldly or heavenly?
“Whoever loves his life loses it…” is addressing the worldly listeners in the crowd gathered around Jesus. Loving the earthly world and the things of this life is living for the here and now–and failing to serve Jesus. Then He follows it with the statement that “whoever hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life.” This is addressing the listeners in the audience who have a heavenly mindset, whose minds are set on things above and are committed to serving Jesus. As a result, they will one day be honored by God (as promised in John 12:26).
Jesus is asking us to make a choice. In verse 23 Jesus said, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified.” Jesus has made this statement as He is literally moving towards physical death and He is inviting us along with Him. He’s asking us to choose to die alongside Him–to choose to hate our own lives just as He chose the cross.
This choice is not easy. It requires self denial and will probably require you to give up things that appear costly in a worldly sense. This is the choice Mary made when she used her expensive perfume to anoint the feet of Jesus (John 12:3). The choice is hard (and often confounding to the rest of the world), but Jesus wraps it up pretty simplistically at the start of verse 26, “If anyone serves me, he must follow me; and where I am, there will my servant be also.” May we consistently be known as people who can be found next to Jesus all the days of our life!
- Would you consider yourself to have a more worldly or heavenly mindset?
- What are roadblocks you have that prevent you from following Jesus on a consistent basis?
- List tangible ways that you can choose to follow Jesus in your current situation.
Did You Know?
John 12 is the last of Jesus’s public teachings. The following few chapters contain private instructions and teachings, primarily between Jesus and the disciples.