John 12:12-22

Sunday Morning Bible Study

August 29, 2010


Do people see Jesus? Is the gospel preached? Does it speak to the broken hearted? Does it build up the church? Milk – Meat – Manna Preach for a decision

We are in the final week of Jesus’ life on earth.  The annual Feast of the Passover is approaching, the feast that celebrated the deliverance of Israel from Egypt, but which also painted a prophetic picture of a lamb being slain to deliver the people.

Before that week started, Jesus did something amazing.  Jesus raised His friend Lazarus from the dead.  Believe me, it was a big deal.  A lot of people heard about it.

12:12-16 The “Grand” Entrance

:12 The next day a great multitude that had come to the feast, when they heard that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem,

:13 took branches of palm trees and went out to meet Him, and cried out: “Hosanna! ‘Blessed is He who comes in the name of the LORD!’ The King of Israel!”

:12 next dayepaurion – on the morrow, the next day

This is now Sunday, Palm Sunday.

Some have suggested (Jon Courson) that this might have been the tenth day of Nisan, the day when each family was supposed to pick out a lamb that would be sacrificed on the Passover. (Ex. 12:3)

(Ex 12:3 NKJV) —3 Speak to all the congregation of Israel, saying: ‘On the tenth of this month every man shall take for himself a lamb, according to the house of his father, a lamb for a household.

:12 great multitude – Josephus records that at a later Passover 2.5 million people that would crowd into Jerusalem at the time of the Passover.

:12 the feast – the Passover feast, which would take place at the end of the week.

:13 palm treesphoinix – a palm tree, date palm

Why the palm branches?

Palm trees were in the design of Solomon’s Temple (1Kin. 6:29-35)
(1 Ki 6:29–35 NKJV) —29 Then he carved all the walls of the temple all around, both the inner and outer sanctuaries, with carved figures of cherubim, palm trees, and open flowers. 30 And the floor of the temple he overlaid with gold, both the inner and outer sanctuaries. 31 For the entrance of the inner sanctuary he made doors of olive wood; the lintel and doorposts were one-fifth of the wall. 32 The two doors were of olive wood; and he carved on them figures of cherubim, palm trees, and open flowers, and overlaid them with gold; and he spread gold on the cherubim and on the palm trees. 33 So for the door of the sanctuary he also made doorposts of olive wood, one-fourth of the wall. 34 And the two doors were of cypress wood; two panels comprised one folding door, and two panels comprised the other folding door. 35 Then he carved cherubim, palm trees, and open flowers on them, and overlaid them with gold applied evenly on the carved work.
Palm branches were used in making the booths for the Feast of Tabernacles (Lev. 23:40).
When The Greek ruler Antiochus Epiphanes was overthrown by the Jewish revolt led by Judas Maccabeus, the Jews celebrated the rededication the Temple by carrying palm branches into it (1Macc. 13:51)
The Palm Tree was often seen as a symbol of Israel.  The  Jewish (Hasmonean) rulers that followed Judas Maccabeus put palm trees on their coins.  When the Romans finished wiping out the Jewish nation in AD 70, they minted coins with palm branches and the words “Judea has been captured” (Ioudaias Ealokuias)
The Palm Tree was not only a symbol of beauty and prosperity, but became a symbol of victory as well.

(Re 7:9–10 NKJV) —9 After these things I looked, and behold, a great multitude which no one could number, of all nations, tribes, peoples, and tongues, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, with palm branches in their hands, 10 and crying out with a loud voice, saying, “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!”

The Jews had a saying: “If a man takes palm tree branches in his hands, we know that he is victorious.”
It’s like the people are welcoming their victorious, king of the Jews.

:13 Hosannahosanna – from the Hebrew words which means “save now” (yasha and ana)

We often hear it in our worship choruses, and we can think that it is an expression of praise, which it kind of is.

But the main meaning is a cry out to God for deliverance.

The Jews have been under the Roman oppression for some time now.

Earlier, after He had fed the five thousand, they wanted to take Jesus and make Him their king, but He got away from them, it wasn’t time yet (John 6:15).
Now, after displaying such power in raising Lazarus from the dead, the people are hoping one more time that Jesus is the Savior they had prayed for.  They were still looking for a political deliverer.
Jesus doesn’t stop them this time, but He’s still not going to do what they are asking for.
He’s going to save them, but in a different way.
Instead of wiping out the Romans, Jesus is going to wipe out a greater threat, the penalty of their sins.


What do you really need?

Sometimes we get a little confused as to just what we really need.
Some of you are going through a difficult time financially.
Some of you are in that place of your life where you are looking for that special person, someone you can marry.
Some of you are struggling with all sorts of physical difficulties, disease, cancer, handicaps.
Some of you are struggling to stay sober just one more day.

Don’t get me wrong, God cares about all these things.  But this is not His first priority in your life.

God cares first of all that you would know Him.
And until someone does something about your sins, you aren’t going to know Him.
Jesus did come to answer the cries of the people, “Hosanna”.

He came to save them from their sins.

One of the fellows we met in Russia was an old man named Dima.  We had gotten to know his son Alexander throughout the week, kind of a tough kid.  We met Dima on our last day in Kirovochepetsk.  He was two years older than me.  He was drunk.  He was asking us to come back and visit him next year, but we said that it might take us a couple of years to get back, he was sad.  We asked why that made him sad, and he said that he might be dead in a couple of years.  When one of the kids asked Dima where he would go after he died, he got a strange look on his face and answered, “Hell”.  He told us that he had been a soldier in Chechnya and had seen and done many horrible things.  We tried to talk to him about God’s forgiveness, but he wouldn’t hear of it.
Dima needs to get sober.  Dima needs work.

But most of all, Dima needs to know God’s salvation that comes from the forgiveness of our sins, the salvation that comes only from Jesus.

Some of you need to know God’s salvation.
Some of you have friends that you are concerned about, and perhaps you’ve lost sight of what’s really important in life.

:13 blessedeulogeo – to praise; to invoke blessings

:14 Then Jesus, when He had found a young donkey, sat on it; as it is written:

:15 “Fear not, daughter of Zion; Behold, your King is coming, Sitting on a donkey’s colt.”

:14 young donkeyonarion – a little donkey

We know from the other gospels, that Jesus had actually sent a couple of disciples into a village to fetch a donkey (Luke 19:28-36)

Jesus had a little help finding the donkey.
(Lk 19:28–36 NKJV) —28 When He had said this, He went on ahead, going up to Jerusalem. 29 And it came to pass, when He drew near to Bethphage and Bethany, at the mountain called Olivet, that He sent two of His disciples, 30 saying, “Go into the village opposite you, where as you enter you will find a colt tied, on which no one has ever sat. Loose it and bring it here. 31 And if anyone asks you, ‘Why are you loosing it?’ thus you shall say to him, ‘Because the Lord has need of it.’ ” 32 So those who were sent went their way and found it just as He had said to them. 33 But as they were loosing the colt, the owners of it said to them, “Why are you loosing the colt?” 34 And they said, “The Lord has need of him.” 35 Then they brought him to Jesus. And they threw their own clothes on the colt, and they set Jesus on him. 36 And as He went, many spread their clothes on the road.

Why did Jesus ride a young donkey?

John quotes from Zechariah 9, where Zechariah first predicts the coming of Alexander the Great and the destruction that he would bring on his conquests through the lands of Syria, and the Philistines around 330 BC.
Alexander was known for riding Bucephalus, his huge black horse with a white star on his forehead.
The Romans had a custom called the “Triumph” where a ruling general or important dignitary would receive a HUGE parade when they were welcomed into the city.

Play Cleopatra clip.

Zechariah switches his prophetic look from Alexander the Great, to the coming king of the Jews:
(Zec 9:9 NKJV) “Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! Shout, O daughter of Jerusalem! Behold, your King is coming to you; He is just and having salvation, Lowly and riding on a donkey, A colt, the foal of a donkey.

donkeychamowr – (he) ass

colt‘ayir – he-ass, male ass

foalben – son, grandson, child

donkey‘athown – she-ass, she-donkey

It seems that the young donkey is in contrast to the conquering Alexander.  The coming king of the Jews is described as “lowly” or “humble”.

We often call Palm Sunday the “Triumphal Entry” of Jesus into Jerusalem, but perhaps not so much.  There will be a much bigger “entrance” in a few years when Jesus returns the second time, He won’t be riding a young donkey:

(Re 19:11–16 NKJV) —11 Now I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse. And He who sat on him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness He judges and makes war. 12 His eyes were like a flame of fire, and on His head were many crowns. He had a name written that no one knew except Himself. 13 He was clothed with a robe dipped in blood, and His name is called The Word of God. 14 And the armies in heaven, clothed in fine linen, white and clean, followed Him on white horses. 15 Now out of His mouth goes a sharp sword, that with it He should strike the nations. And He Himself will rule them with a rod of iron. He Himself treads the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God. 16 And He has on His robe and on His thigh a name written: KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS.

It’s just a little different from the “entrance” we’re reading of now.

When David turned his kingdom over to Solomon, Solomon rode David’s mule to the spring of Gihon where he was anointed, then rode back into the city.
(1 Ki 1:38–39 NKJV) —38 So Zadok the priest, Nathan the prophet, Benaiah the son of Jehoiada, the Cherethites, and the Pelethites went down and had Solomon ride on King David’s mule, and took him to Gihon. 39 Then Zadok the priest took a horn of oil from the tabernacle and anointed Solomon. And they blew the horn, and all the people said, “Long live King Solomon!”

mulepered – mule (the cross between a donkey and a horse)


Humility First

What we call a “Triumphal Entry” was really quite a humble entry.
He didn’t ride a big black horse, but a small donkey colt.
Solomon wrote,
(Pr 15:33 NKJV) The fear of the Lord is the instruction of wisdom, And before honor is humility.

It was this way in Jesus’ life.  His Second Coming will be with great honor.  His First Coming was all about humility.

It is no different for us.

I want to share a story of what happened the day after Palm Sunday:
Palm Monday Donkey
The donkey awakened, his mind still savoring the afterglow of the most exciting day of his life. Never before had he felt such a rush of pleasure and pride. He walked into town and found a group of people by the well. “I’ll show myself to them” he thought. But they didn’t notice him. They went on drawing their water and paid him no mind. “Throw your garments down,” he said crossly. “Don’t you know who I am?” They just looked at him in amazement. Someone slapped him across the tail and ordered him to move. “Miserable heathens!” he muttered to himself. “I’ll just go to the market where the good people are. They will remember me.” But the same thing happened. No one paid any attention to the donkey as he strutted down the main street in front of the market place. “The palm branches! Where are the palm branches!” he shouted. “Yesterday, you threw palm branches!” Hurt and confused, the donkey returned home to his mother. “Foolish child,” she said gently. “Don’t you realize that without him, you are just an ordinary donkey?”

Just like the donkey who carried Jesus in Jerusalem, we are most fulfilled when we are in the service of Jesus Christ. Without him, all our best efforts are like “filthy rags” (Isaiah 64:6) and amount to nothing. When we lift up Christ, however, we are no longer ordinary people but key players in God’s plan to redeem the world.

Edited from More Hot Illustrations for Youth Talks by Wayne Rice. Copyright 1995 by Youth Specialties, Inc.
Isn’t that just like us?  We can trick ourselves into thinking that we’re really hot stuff, when in truth, all the good that comes from us came from Jesus.
Humility is good.
Peter wrote,

(1 Pe 5:5 NKJV) Likewise you younger people, submit yourselves to your elders. Yes, all of you be submissive to one another, and be clothed with humility, for “God resists the proud, But gives grace to the humble.”

:15 coltpolos – a colt, the young of a horse; of a young ass

:15 donkeyonos – a donkey

:16 His disciples did not understand these things at first; but when Jesus was glorified, then they remembered that these things were written about Him and that they had done these things to Him.

:16 when Jesus was glorified

At the moment the disciples didn’t realize all that was happening.

It was after the resurrection that things began to fall in place and they began to realize the prophecies that had been fulfilled that day.

:16 these things were written

There were many things written about this specific day that we call “Palm Sunday”

Not only was there a prophecy in Zechariah fulfilled, but several more were fulfilled on that day.

The Psalmist wrote,

(Ps 118:22–26 NKJV) —22 The stone which the builders rejected Has become the chief cornerstone. 23 This was the Lord’s doing; It is marvelous in our eyes. 24 This is the day the Lord has made; We will rejoice and be glad in it. 25 Save now, I pray, O Lord; O Lord, I pray, send now prosperity. 26 Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! We have blessed you from the house of the Lord.
Do any of those words sound familiar?
The people with the palm branches were quoting verses 25-26.
If you take note, verse 22 also is significant:

Jesus was the stone that the builder’s rejected.  We’re watching it happen in our passage today as the Pharisees are clearly rejecting Jesus.  Yet God would build His kingdom on Jesus and what He would do at the cross.

Even verse 24 – “This is the day …”

I believe that this particular day, Palm Sunday, was the particular day that the Psalmist was talking about.  It was a day set aside for something special.

The prophet Daniel hints at the very day that the Messiah would make His entrance:

(Da 9:25–26a NKJV) —25 “Know therefore and understand, That from the going forth of the command To restore and build Jerusalem Until Messiah the Prince, There shall be seven weeks and sixty-two weeks; The street shall be built again, and the wall, Even in troublesome times. 26 “And after the sixty-two weeks Messiah shall be cut off, but not for Himself…

The decree to rebuild the city of Jerusalem came from King Artaxerxes (Neh. 2:1) on March 14, 445 B.C.

It gets complicated, but if you follow the details of the Babylonian calendar and what Daniel is calling “69 weeks” (173,880 days), you can arrive at the date of April 6, 32 A.D.

That’s the day we call “Palm Sunday”

It was “the day the LORD has made”.

Luke records that immediately after this “parade” Jesus would stop and weep over Jerusalem:

(Lk 19:41–42 NKJV) —41 Now as He drew near, He saw the city and wept over it, 42 saying, “If you had known, even you, especially in this your day, the things that make for your peace! But now they are hidden from your eyes.

“This your day” – the exact day prophesied in which He would come.

He was on time for His appointment, but they didn’t recognize Him.


Our “religion” is different

There is a lot of talk today about all religions being the same, that they are all about the same God.
This is part of the talk you will hear about Islam and why we should build the mosque at Ground Zero.
All religions are not the same.
I’m not saying this because I think that Christians are better than other folks – sometimes we’re worse.
Our belief is not in some fuzzy “god” that we don’t understand.
Our belief is in a god who has revealed Himself through the Scriptures.
He has given us proof of His supernatural existence in the many incredible, detailed prophecies in the Scriptures.
There is no greater collection of fulfilled Scriptures than those that speak directly about Jesus Christ.
When Jesus says,
(Jn 14:6 NKJV) …“I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.

He is not being narrow minded.  He is simply telling the truth.

He is the only remedy for man’s greatest problem, our sin.

He died on the cross to pay for our sins.

12:17-22 The world has gone after Him

:17 Therefore the people, who were with Him when He called Lazarus out of his tomb and raised him from the dead, bore witness.

:18 For this reason the people also met Him, because they heard that He had done this sign.

:17 bore witnessmartureo – to be a witness, i.e. to affirm that one has seen or heard or experienced something

In Greek, the meaning of a sentence isn’t dependant on word order.  The words in a sentence can be in almost any order.  One of the ways that a writer puts emphasis on something is to put the word at the beginning of the sentence.  That’s what John has done here – the emphasis is on the “witness”.

One of the reasons for the large crowds gathering to greet Jesus as He came into Jerusalem was because of what had taken place just a few days earlier, when Jesus had raised Lazarus from the dead.

The people that had seen this take place had “born witness” to what Jesus had done.

And the crowds grew larger that day because of the “witness”.


Share what you know

We can make “witnessing” pretty complicated.
It’s simply sharing what you know, what you’ve seen.
Some of us are like Lazarus, we’ve had some pretty dramatic things taking place in our lives.
Some of us are like those who watched Lazarus, and though we might not have dramatic things to talk about in our lives yet, we’ve seen God do things.
People need to know that God is alive.
People need to know that God wants them to know Him.

:19 The Pharisees therefore said among themselves, “You see that you are accomplishing nothing. Look, the world has gone after Him!”

:19 accomplishingopheleo – to assist, to be useful or advantageous, to profit

“You are not profiting anything”

The Pharisees had been plotting on arresting Jesus and putting him to death, but now that the crowds were getting bigger and bigger, they realize they have a problem on their hands.

(Mk 14:1–2 NKJV) —1 After two days it was the Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread. And the chief priests and the scribes sought how they might take Him by trickery and put Him to death. 2 But they said, “Not during the feast, lest there be an uproar of the people.”

:20 Now there were certain Greeks among those who came up to worship at the feast.

:20 GreeksHellen – Greek

It is possible that these are Jews who didn’t live in Israel, but lived in other parts of the world and spoke Greek.

It’s more likely that these people were actually Gentile Greeks, who honored the God of Israel.  They are sometimes called “God fearers”. (Robertson, Wiersbe)

There was a large Greek community living in the Galilee area, known as the Decapolis, including cities like Beit She’an.
(Jn 10:16 NKJV) —16 And other sheep I have which are not of this fold; them also I must bring, and they will hear My voice; and there will be one flock and one shepherd.

They were in Jerusalem to worship God during the Passover feast.

We already saw that many people arrived early in Jerusalem to go through the ritual cleansing ceremonies and get ready to worship God:

(Jn 11:55 NKJV) And the Passover of the Jews was near, and many went from the country up to Jerusalem before the Passover, to purify themselves.

:21 Then they came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida of Galilee, and asked him, saying, “Sir, we wish to see Jesus.”

It is likely that Jesus has gone into the Temple.  He will be teaching in the Temple during the week.  This might be why they go to Philip.

:21 they came to Philip – some suggest that they come to Philip because he has a Greek name.

:21 we wishthelo – to will, have in mind, intend; to be resolved or determined, to purpose; to desire, to wish

:22 Philip came and told Andrew, and in turn Andrew and Philip told Jesus.

:21 “Sir, we wish to see Jesus.”

I have this phrase taped to my pulpit.  I need to be reminded of it.


People want to know

I know that not everyone is open right now to hearing about God, but there are people out there that want to know.
Are you ready to talk to them?  Are you ready to point them in the right direction?
It’s kind of like going fishing.  Do you like to go fishing?
Some people just don’t like to fish.

PlayFishing and Whining Girlfriend” video.

Some people just know where the fish are.

PlayIncredible Fishing” video.

We don’t need to force it.  We don’t need to force ourselves to talk to the first five people we meet each day.
We need to be available.  Make it your prayer:  “God use me today”.
I believe God will answer that prayer.  I believe God will put you where the fishing is good.

Perhaps today you want to know God …