Pastor Scott L. Harris
Grace Bible Church, NY
August 20, 2000
Vice President Gore was lauded during the Democratic National Convention because he has declared that he would never stand in the way of a woman’s right to choose – referring to abortion. I hope you understand that when a man or a woman advocate abortion under the banner of “freedom of choice,” they are declaring the value the place on human life. And they value it only to the level of inconvenience the woman may have to go through to give birth. The woman who wants an abortion has already made many choices that led up to her pregnancy. However, once she is with child, she now has a responsibility to the unborn, distinct, individual human being that is growing within her. The only moral choices she has left are to give birth and either keep the child, or give the child up for adoption.
But let’s make this question more personal. What is the value of your life? If you are threatened by some disease or injury, how much would you pay to receive the care needed to save your life? I think most of us would without much hesitation give all we have and do nearly anything to save our life. We already spend vast amounts just trying to stay healthy.
Let’s take this one more step. What is the value of your soul? What is it worthy to you? What is it worth to God? We will see the answer to those questions this morning as we study John 12:12-36.
As we begin this section of Scripture, we find that Jesus had arrived at the home of Lazarus, Mary and Martha in Bethany in preparation for Feast of Unleavened Bread and Passover. Bethany is only about 2 miles from Jerusalem, so it is a good location to have access to Jerusalem, yet without having to be in the midst of the crowds or subject to the high priests and the Pharisees who are looking for Him that they might seize Him (John 11:57).
A special supper was made at the home of Simon the leper in honor of Jesus and Lazarus. Martha was helping out and demonstrating her love to Jesus by serving at the supper. Mary demonstrated her love by breaking a jar of very expensive perfume and anointing Jesus with it. Judas objected to such a valuable item being wasted in such a manner saying it could have been sold and the proceeds given to the poor. But he said this only because he was greedy and wanted to steal part of it from the money box. Jesus rebuked him and pointed out that what Mary did was in preparation for His death. They would not have Jesus with them much longer.
When the multitudes came out to see Jesus and Lazarus, many of them believed in Jesus because of the miracle He had performed in rasing Lazarus from the dead. The chief priests now plotted to also kill Lazarus in addition to Jesus.
Our text this morning begins the day following this feast. Turn to John 12:12. On the next day the great multitude who had come to the feast, when they heard that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem, 13 took the branches of the palm trees, and went out to meet Him, and [began] to cry out, “Hosanna! Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord, even the King of Israel.” 14 And Jesus, finding a young donkey, sat on it; as it is written, 15 “Fear not, daughter of Zion; behold, your King is coming, seated on a donkey’s colt.” 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, and that they had done these things to Him. 17 And so the multitude who were with Him when He called Lazarus out of the tomb, and raised him from the dead, were bearing Him witness. 18 For this cause also the multitude went and met Him, because they heard that He had performed this sign. 19 The Pharisees therefore said to one another, “You see that you are not doing any good; look, the world has gone after Him.”
Again we find that John gives a summary of all that occurred in Jesus’ Triumphal entry into Jerusalem. He expects that his readers are familiar with the more detailed accounts given in Matthew, Mark and Luke. This event occurred the day after the multitudes had come to see Jesus and Lazarus in Bethany.
Jesus had sent two of His disciples ahead to get the donkey and her colt telling the owner that “the Lord has need of them” (Mt. 21:3). They some of the disciples laid their own garments on the animals and Jesus sat on the colt of the donkey (Mt. 21:7). As John points out in verse 15, this was the fulfillment of the Messianic prophecy given in Zechariah 9:9.
The “daughter of Zion” is a reference to Jerusalem, often called Zion because that is the name of the city’s highest and most important hill – Mount Zion. There were many prophecies concerning the Messiah, and this one noted the humble manner in which He would come to Jerusalem as king. He would be riding on the colt of a donkey. A conquering king would come riding on a war horse or at least a carefully groomed white stallion. That is the way that Jesus will return according to Revelation 19. He will be mounted on a white horse riding at the head of armies of heaven. But for this entrance into Jerusalem, Jesus did not come as the leader of a victorious army, but as a humble servant who was yet the king.
I like what one of my commentaries said about this. “He who makes his entry unarmed with unarmed followers on a peaceful animal must be either already acknowledged as ruler, or he must aim at dominion in such a manner as excludes all force and political power.” That certainly fits Jesus. He was already ruler, though not acknowledged as such, and the manner by which He would gain dominion would not be by force of arms or by political power. Jesus came not in wealth, but poverty; not in grandeur, but modesty; not as judge, but as savior – the Passover lamb.
Remember that large crowds would gather to Jerusalem for Passover. Estimates based on the number of sacrifices recorded project that there could easily have been two million people in the area on Passover. While there are not that many yet, there are a lot. John’s account indicates at least three sources for the large crowd that had gathered around Jesus. First, there was a multitude of people that had come to Jerusalem for the feast, many of them from Galilee, that went out to meet Jesus when they heard that He was coming (Jn 12:12). Another crowd was made up of people from Bethany and friends of Lazarus and his family, these were people who had been present when Jesus had raised Lazarus from the dead (Jn 12:17). And another large gathering of people were coming out from Jerusalem to meet Jesus because they had heard about him raising Lazarus from the dead (Jn 12:18).
Imagine for just a moment the commotion all of this would have caused. Jerusalem is in quite a state of excitement already just because of the preparations being made for Passover, then you hear and then see this huge crowd of people coming over the Mt. of Olives and down the road through the valley to enter Jerusalem through the East gate. The people are cutting down the palm branches and putting their coats down in front of Jesus as a sign of honor. At the same time everyone is shouting, “Hosanna! Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord, even the King of Israel.” What a sight! What a wonderful time that would have been to have been present.
What the people were shouting was fitting to the occasion and in fact fulfillment of prophecy as well. Most of what they were saying was taken from Psalm 118:25,26 which is part of the Hallel (Psalms 113-118). These were psalms of praise for the Lord’s deliverance, and were often sung at Passover. In addition, “Hosanna” is an exclamatory word meaning, “save now,” or “give thy salvation!” What they were shouting out was exactly what was being done for them. Salvation was coming from the Messiah. Jesus was coming as Lord. The one from the highest heaven was bringing salvation to them.
Did the people understand all that they were saying? Sadly, they did not. They were still looking for a king who would save them from Roman oppression, not someone who would bring them salvation from sin’s oppression. What they were shouting was true, but they neither understood it or believed it in the correct sense.
Now the exact chronology and dating of all the events that take place are not easy to figure out and there are very good scholars that disagree on exactly when things happened. Most scholars have traditionally put the Triumphal entry on Sunday. I hold with the minority opinion that it occurred on Monday. I want to show you why.
First there is the typology. Jesus was to be the perfect “Passover” sacrifice. The Mosaic Law required that the sacrificial lamb for Passover be selected on the tenth of Nisan (the first month) and then sacrificed on the 14th of Nisan. In the year that Jesus was crucified the 14th of the month was on a Friday. The 10th of the month would have been that Monday. If Jesus has come into Jerusalem on that Monday, then He would have been fulfilling the symbolism of Passover to the smallest detail including being received by the Jewish nation on the 10th of Nisan the same way each Jewish family was receiving into their home the sacrificial lamb. Jesus was coming into Jerusalem as the “lamb of God who would takes away the sins of the world.” He was the perfect Passover sacrifice.
But another more important reason is prophetic fulfillment. John does not mention this prophecy here, but Daniel had prophesied when Messiah the Prince would be declared. Daniel 9:25 says, “So you are to know and discern that from the issuing of a decree to restore and rebuild Jerusalem until Messiah the Prince there will be seven weeks and sixty-two weeks.” The next verses tells us that after the sixty-two weeks, the Messiah would be cut off.
Dr. Harold Hoehner worked out the following calculations. (See Chart – Daniel’s Seventy Weeks). The weeks referred to were weeks of years. The total is 7 + 62 = 69 weeks of years, and 69 X 7 = 483 years. The Messiah would arrive 483 years after the beginning of this prophecy. This can be worked out to the number of days. We have 365 days/year in our calendar, but the calendar Daniel used only had 360 days/year. 483 years X 360 days/year = 173,880 days.
Nehemiah 2:1-8 records the beginning of the prophecy when on Nisan 1 of King Artaxerxes 20th year (March 5, 444 B.C.) he decreed that Nehemiah could return to restore and rebuild Jerusalem. The prophecy was to be fulfilled 173,880 days later. This works out to be Nisan 10 (Monday, March 30), A.D. 33. None of this was by chance, but orchestrated precisely by the sovereign God. Jesus’ hour had arrived. He fulfilled the prophecy to the very day.
John points out in verse 16 that even the disciples did not understand all of the prophecies being fulfilled until after Jesus had been glorified. They were also caught up in all the commotion and rejoicing. The crowd that had been with Jesus when He called Lazarus out from the grave were proclaiming what Jesus had done. There were the multitudes lining the road shouting Hosanna and waving their Palm branches. There were more people coming out to meet Jesus. The only ones not rejoicing were the religious leaders.
Luke 19 adds that some of the Pharisees said to Jesus in the midst of this, “Teacher, rebuke your disciples.” Jesus answered them, “I tell you, if these become silent, the stones will cry out!” Matthew 21 tells us that as Jesus entered the temple the children there picked up the chorus of “Hosanna to the son of David,” which made the Pharisees there indignant and confronted Jesus about what the children were saying. Jesus rebuked them quoting Psalm 8:2, “Out of the mouth of infants and nursing babes Thou has prepared praise for Thyself.” In light of all this, John points out the Pharisees disgust and frustration saying to one another, “You see that you are not doing any good; look, the world has gone after Him.”
This was also part of the plan to have the prophecies fulfilled. The religious leaders had been seeking to seize Jesus with a plan to kill Him, but because of their fear of the uproar that might cause among the crowds gathered for Passover, they had agreed to wait to kill until after the feast (Matt. 26:3-5). Jesus’ Triumphal entry had angered and frustrated them so much it caused them forgo their earlier decision. They would act in God’s timing, not their own. Their greater concern at the moment was the acclaim Jesus was receiving. Indeed, it did seem as the “whole world” was going after Jesus, for even the Greeks were now seeking Him. Look at verse 20.
John 12:20 (NASB) Now there were certain Greeks among those who were going up to worship at the feast; 21 these therefore came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida of Galilee, and [began to] ask him, saying, “Sir, we wish to see Jesus.” 22 Philip ^came and ^told Andrew; Andrew and Philip ^came, and they ^ told Jesus.
These were gentiles who had forsaken the paganism of their own nations and recognized that the God of Israel was the true God. They were proselytes. Because they were not Jews, they could not participate in all the aspects of temple worship, but they could participate to a limited extent including going up to the outer court of the Temple to pray. This was the part of the temple that Jesus had taken a scourge and had driven out the moneychangers and merchants who had set up shop there. They were also seeking Jesus.
We are not told why they came to Philip first, but they did. Philip then consults his friend Andrew about their request and then both of them together go to Jesus to ask Him. In view of what Jesus had said on previous occasions concerning the gentiles, they had some reason to be hesitant to bring gentiles to Him. For example, to the Syrophonecian woman Jesus said, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel” (Matt 15:24). At the same time, Jesus had also spoken about “other sheep, which are not of this fold” (John 10:16). They went to Jesus to present the request of these gentiles and find out if He would see and talk with them.
The answer that Jesus gives Philip and Andrew is for them to take back to these Gentiles as well as for the benefit of the other people that were around Him at that time.
John 12:23 And Jesus ^answered them, saying, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. 24 “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains by itself alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. 25 “He who loves his life loses it; and he who hates his life in this world shall keep it to life eternal. 26 “If anyone serves Me, let him follow Me; and where I am, there shall My servant also be; if anyone serves Me, the Father will honor him.
Jesus’ answer let the gentiles and those around Him know where their hope must be placed. It also let them know the consequences of how they responded to Him. The people were expecting a political Messiah who would free them from Roman bondage and make Israel a glorious nation again. It must be assumed that these gentiles would have also thought the same way since their understanding of the Messiah would have come from the Jews. Yet, Jesus had been consistently saying that he was going to die. He had pointed that out only the night before in commenting about Mary’s anointing Him with the perfume that it was “for the day of My burial.” Jesus now specifically points out that their hope is going to be based in His death.
The previous attempts to kill Jesus had all failed for, as John points out, Jesus hour had not yet come (John 7:30; 8:20). Jesus had used the same terminology in John 2:4, “Mine hour is not yet come” when He responded to his mothers request at the wedding feast. But now Jesus hour had come to be glorified. And how would that be done? Jesus points to the analogy of a grain of wheat.
This is a fitting analogy to use at that time of the year when the farmers were planting in hope of a future harvest. Anyone that has ever done any gardening understand this basic principle of plant life. The seed of a plant is put in the ground and it itself dissolves in bringing forth the new plant which will then grow, flower and produce an abundance of fruit.
The prophetic reference is to Isaiah 53:10 But the Lord was pleased To crush Him, putting [Him] to grief; If He would render Himself [as] a guilt offering, He will see [His] offspring, He will prolong [His] days, And the good pleasure of the Lord will prosper in His hand. 11 As a result of the anguish of His soul, He will see [it] and be satisfied; By His knowledge the Righteous One, My Servant, will justify the many, As He will bear their iniquities. 12 Therefore, I will allot Him a portion with the great, And He will divide the booty with the strong; Because He poured out Himself to death, And was numbered with the transgressors; Yet He Himself bore the sin of many, And interceded for the transgressors.
The promise to the Messiah is that the result of His being the guilt offering that would pay for the sins of others, He would conquer and see His offspring or seed. In other words, there would be much fruit because of His death on behalf of sinners. The only true hope Jesus could give to the people would to be the substitute sin sacrifice and redeem them. An earthly Messiah would be of little help to the gentiles and even for the Jews, what benefits His righteous reign would bring would only last for the few short years of their lives. Then they would still have to face judgement. In becoming the sin sacrifice, the grain that dies to itself, Jesus would bring much fruit of righteousness by cleansing multitudes of their sins.
Jesus also applies this same general principle to them in declaring His expectation of them.
He who loves his life loses it, but he who hates his life in this world will keep it with a view to everlasting life. If the wheat grain sought only to preserve itself, then it would remain alone and never accomplish anything. If the wheat grain sacrifices itself it fulfills its purpose and produces much fruit. If a person lives their life only for themselves, they live it to themselves and accomplish nothing of eternal value. If they view this life as the opportunity to give of themselves for eternal purposes they fulfill the reason for their existence and gain eternal reward.
Some may wonder at Jesus’ use of such strong language as “hates his life in this world,” but Jesus has used similar language before. In Luke 14:26 “If anyone comes to Me, and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be My disciple. Jesus does not want you to hate others. He commanded us to love even our enemies (Mt. 5:44). The issue is one of comparison and contrast. Your love of Jesus needs to be so great that by comparison your love for other things would seem like hate.
In Matthew 10:37 Jesus said “He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me; and he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me.” Your love for Him needs to be greater than your love for the pleasures of this life. Your desire to please Jesus needs to be greater than your desire to please yourself or others. Your effort to serve Jesus needs to be greater than your effort to serve yourself or others. Our eternal hope is in Jesus and Jesus alone because of who He is and what He has done. Outside of Him there is only condemnation and judgement. Our love for Him comes only because He first loved us (1 John 4:19).
It is amazing enough that Jesus would sacrifice Himself for our sin, but it is even more amazing that He does so that we might be with Him and be honored by God. John 12:26 “If anyone serves Me, let him follow Me; and where I am, there shall My servant also be; if anyone serves Me, the Father will honor him.
The reward for serving Jesus is two-fold. First, you will be wherever Jesus is. There will be no separation between you and your master. Jesus’ promise to us was that no one can take us out of His hand (John 10:28) and that He would never leave us for forsake us (Heb. 13:5).
Second, God the Father will honor him. I can’t begin to imagine what that will be like. God will honor me and you for serving Him? We deserve nothing from Him except condemnation, yet His great love extends to our salvation from our sin and beyond to even honoring us for simply doing what really is our duty as His creatures!
The duty of the servant is to follow the master. If you want to serve Him, then you must follow Him. That is not an easy task, but it is the only one that is in keeping with your purpose of existence and one in which Jesus will help. His yoke is easy and His burden is light (Mt. 11:29,30). Jesus said in Luke 9:23, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me. 24 “For whoever wishes to save his life shall lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake, he is the one who will save it. 25 “For what is a man profited if he gains the whole world, and loses or forfeits himself? 26 “For whoever is ashamed of Me and My words, of him will the Son of Man be ashamed when He comes in His glory, and [the glory] of the Father and of the holy angels.
What is the value of your life? What is the value of your soul? Jesus valued them enough to become your substitute sin sacrifice. He gave His life that you might gain everlasting life. How much do you value your soul? The answer to that question will be found in your response to Jesus. Those who truly value their life and souls will deny themselves and follow the Master.
Parents, you are responsible to apply God’s Word to your children’s lives. Here is some help. Young Children – draw a picture about something you hear during the sermon. Explain your picture(s) to your parents at lunch. Older Children – Do one or more of the following: 1) Count how many times the name “Jesus” is said. 2) Discuss with your parents Jesus’ triumphal entry and what it meant.
THINK ABOUT IT!
Questions to consider in discussing the sermon with others.
What is the value of a human life to you? What is the value of your soul? What had just occurred prior to Jesus riding the colt into Jerusalem? Why did Jesus ride a donkey’s colt? What will Jesus ride the next time He comes to Jerusalem? Where did all the people come from? Why were they so excited? Why is their shouting, “Hosanna . . .” significant? What did it mean? Do some extra research and find out the possible dates Jesus could have been crucified. What are two reasons that make Jesus’ triumphal entry on a Monday plausible? What reasons are given for a Sunday entry? How did the Pharisees react? How would that help fulfill God’s timing? Why didn’t the Greeks (vs. 20) go to Jesus directly? How would they have understood Jesus’ answer? How does the analogy of the wheat seed apply to Jesus? How does the same general principle from the wheat seed analogy apply to you? What did Jesus mean to “love their life” and “hate” your “life in this world” (vs. 25)? What is the reward for the person that follows Jesus? What do you think about those rewards? What is the duty of a servant of Jesus? How are you doing at fulfilling your duty?
Riding a Donkey’s Colt – Zech. 9:9
Proclamation – Hosanna! – Psalm 118:25,26
Typology – Exod. 12:3f
Prophetic Fulfillment – Daniel 9:25
69 X 7 = 483 years X 360 days/year = _____________ days.
Nehemiah 2:1-8 – Nisan 1 (March 5, 444 B.C.)
+ 173,880 days = Nisan ________________ A.D. (March ___, ____ A.D.)
Searching Greeks (20-26)
Their Search (20-22)
Jesus’ Answer (23-26)
The Wheat Grain Analogy (Isa 53:10f)
Honored by the Father
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