According to John 12:1-50

12  Six days before the Passover, Jesus arrived at Bethʹa·ny,+ where Lazʹa·rus+ was, whom Jesus had raised up from the dead.  So they spread an evening meal for him there, and Martha was serving them,+ but Lazʹa·rus was one of those dining* with him.  Then Mary took a pound of perfumed oil, genuine nard, very costly, and she poured it on the feet of Jesus and wiped his feet dry with her hair.+ The house became filled with the scent of the perfumed oil.+  But Judas Is·carʹi·ot,+ one of his disciples, who was about to betray him, said:  “Why was this perfumed oil not sold for 300 de·narʹi·i and given to the poor?”  He said this, though, not because he was concerned about the poor, but because he was a thief and had the money box and used to steal the money put in it.  Then Jesus said: “Let her alone, so that she may keep this observance in view of the day of my burial.+  For you always have the poor with you,+ but you will not always have me.”+  Meanwhile, a large crowd of Jews got to know that he was there, and they came not only because of Jesus but also to see Lazʹa·rus, whom he had raised up from the dead.+ 10  The chief priests now conspired to kill Lazʹa·rus also,+ 11  since it was because of him that many of the Jews were going there and putting faith in Jesus.+ 12  The next day the large crowd that had come to the festival heard that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem. 13  So they took branches of palm trees and went out to meet him,+ and they began to shout: “Save, we pray you! Blessed is the one who comes in Jehovah’s name,+ the King of Israel!”+ 14  When Jesus found a young donkey, he sat on it,+ just as it is written: 15  “Have no fear, daughter of Zion. Look! Your king is coming, seated on a donkey’s colt.”+ 16  These things his disciples did not understand at first,+ but when Jesus was glorified,+ they recalled that these things were written about him and that they did these things to him.+ 17  Now the crowd that was with him when he called Lazʹa·rus out of the tomb+ and raised him up from the dead kept bearing witness.+ 18  This is also why the crowd went to meet him, because they heard he had performed this sign. 19  So the Pharisees said among themselves: “You see that you are not getting anywhere. Look! The whole world has gone after him.”+ 20  Now there were some Greeks among those who had come to worship at the festival. 21  So these approached Philip,+ who was from Beth·saʹi·da of Galʹi·lee, and they began to request him, saying: “Sir, we want to see Jesus.” 22  Philip came and told Andrew.+ Andrew and Philip came and told Jesus. 23  But Jesus answered them: “The hour has come for the Son of man to be glorified.+ 24  Most truly I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains just one grain; but if it dies,+ it then bears much fruit. 25  Whoever is fond of his life destroys it, but whoever hates his life+ in this world will safeguard it for everlasting life.+ 26  If anyone would minister to me, let him follow me, and where I am, there my minister will be also.+ If anyone would minister to me, the Father will honor him. 27  Now I am troubled,+ and what should I say? Father, save me out of this hour.+ Nevertheless, this is why I have come to this hour. 28  Father, glorify your name.” Then a voice+ came out of heaven: “I have glorified it and will glorify it again.”+ 29  The crowd that was standing there heard it and began to say that it had thundered. Others said: “An angel has spoken to him.” 30  Jesus answered: “This voice has occurred, not for my sake, but for your sakes.+ 31  Now there is a judging of this world; now the ruler of this world+ will be cast out.+ 32  And yet I, if I am lifted up from the earth,+ will draw all sorts of men to myself.”+ 33  This he was really saying to indicate what sort of death he was about to die.+ 34  Then the crowd answered him: “We heard from the Law that the Christ remains forever.+ How can you say that the Son of man must be lifted up?+ Who is this Son of man?” 35  So Jesus said to them: “The light will be among you a little while longer.+ Walk while you still have the light, so that darkness does not overpower you; whoever walks in the darkness does not know where he is going.+ 36  While you have the light, exercise faith in the light, so that you may become sons of light.”+ Jesus said these things and went off and hid from them. 37  Although he had performed so many signs before them, they were not putting faith in him, 38  so that the word of Isaiah the prophet might be fulfilled, who said: “Jehovah, who has put faith in the thing heard from us?*+ And as for the arm of Jehovah, to whom has it been revealed?”+ 39  The reason why they were not able to believe is that again Isaiah said: 40  “He has blinded their eyes and has made their hearts hard, so that they would not see with their eyes and understand with their hearts and turn around and I heal them.”+ 41  Isaiah said these things because he saw his glory, and he spoke about him.+ 42  All the same, many even of the rulers actually put faith in him,+ but they would not acknowledge him because of the Pharisees, so that they would not be expelled from the synagogue;+ 43  for they loved the glory of men even more than the glory of God.*+ 44  However, Jesus called out and said: “Whoever puts faith in me puts faith not only in me but also in him who sent me;+ 45  and whoever sees me sees also the One who sent me.+ 46  I have come as a light into the world,+ so that everyone putting faith in me may not remain in the darkness.+ 47  But if anyone hears my sayings and does not keep them, I do not judge him; for I came, not to judge the world, but to save the world.+ 48  Whoever disregards me and does not receive my sayings has one to judge him. The word that I have spoken is what will judge him on the last day.+ 49  For I have not spoken of my own initiative, but the Father who sent me has himself given me a commandment about what to say and what to speak.+ 50  And I know that his commandment means* everlasting life.+ So whatever I speak, I speak just as the Father has told me.”+


Or “reclining at the table.”
Or “in our report (message)?”
Or “the praise (approval) from humans even more than the praise (approval) from God.”
Or “is.”

Study Notes

While Jesus was in Bethany: The events described at Mt 26:6-13 evidently took place after sunset when Nisan 9 began. That timing is indicated by the parallel account in John, where Jesus is said to arrive at Bethany “six days before the Passover.” (Joh 12:1) He must have arrived about the beginning (at sunset) of the Sabbath on Nisan 8, which was the day before the meal at Simon’s place.​—Joh 12:2-11; see App. A7 and B12.

Bethany: A village on the ESE slope of the Mount of Olives at a distance of about 3 km (2 mi) from Jerusalem. (Joh 11:18) The home of Martha, Mary, and Lazarus, located in this village, appears to have been Jesus’ base in Judea. (Joh 11:1) Today the site is marked by a small village with an Arabic name meaning “The Place of Lazarus.”

Lazarus: Probably the Greek form of the Hebrew name Eleazar, meaning “God Has Helped.”

Six days before the Passover: Jesus must have arrived about the time when the Sabbath began on Nisan 8 (at sunset). Following the Sabbath (that is, at the beginning of Nisan 9), he enjoyed an evening meal in the home of Simon the leper, along with Martha, Mary, and Lazarus.​—Joh 12:2-11; see study note on Mt 26:6 and App. A7 and B12.

Bethany: See study note on Mt 21:17.

Lazarus: See study note on Lu 16:20.

evening meal: That is, the meal held at the home of Simon the leper after sundown, at the beginning of Nisan 9.​—Mt 26:6; Mr 14:3.

pouring it on his head: According to Matthew and Mark, the woman poured the oil on Jesus’ head. (Mt 26:7) John, who wrote years later, supplied the added detail that she also poured it on his feet. (Joh 12:3) Jesus explains that this loving act, in a figurative sense, prepared him for burial.​—See study note on Mr 14:8.

Mary: That is, the sister of Martha and Lazarus. (Joh 11:1, 2) In the parallel accounts at Mt 26:7 and Mr 14:3, she is referred to as “a woman.”

pound: The Greek term liʹtra is usually equated with the Roman pound (Latin, libra). Thus, it was about 327 g (11.5 oz).​—See App. B14.

perfumed oil, . . . very costly: John’s account specifies that Judas Iscariot said that the oil could be sold for “300 denarii.” (Joh 12:5) That sum represented about a year’s wages for an ordinary laborer. The source of such perfumed oil is generally thought to be an aromatic plant (Nardostachys jatamansi) found in the Himalayas. Nard was often adulterated, even counterfeited, but both Mark and John say that this oil was genuine nard.​—Mr 14:3; see Glossary, “Nard.”

she poured it on the feet of Jesus: See study note on Mr 14:3.

from the beginning: This expression does not refer to Judas’ birth or to his being selected as an apostle, which happened after Jesus had prayed the entire night. (Lu 6:12-16) Rather, it refers to the start of Judas’ acting treacherously, which Jesus immediately discerned. (Joh 2:24, 25; Re 1:1; 2:23; see study notes on Joh 6:70; 13:11.) This also shows that Judas’ actions were premeditated and planned, not the result of a sudden change of heart. The meaning of the term “beginning” (Greek, ar·kheʹ) in the Christian Greek Scriptures is relative, depending on the context. For example, at 2Pe 3:4, “beginning” refers to the start of creation. But in most instances, it is used in a more limited sense. For instance, Peter said that the holy spirit fell on the Gentiles “just as it did also on us in the beginning.” (Ac 11:15) Peter was not referring to the time of his birth or to the time when he was called to be an apostle. Rather, he was referring to the day of Pentecost 33 C.E., that is, “the beginning” of the outpouring of holy spirit for a specific purpose. (Ac 2:1-4) Other examples of how the context affects the meaning of the term “beginning” can be found at Lu 1:2; Joh 15:27; and 1Jo 2:7.

who was about to betray him: The combination of the two Greek verbs used here (one rendered “was about to” and one rendered “betray”), both in the present tense, allows for the idea that Judas’ betrayal of Jesus was, not impulsive, but premeditated. The statement made at Joh 6:64 supports this understanding.​—See study note on Joh 6:64.

300 denarii: Matthew’s account simply says “a great deal of money” (Mt 26:9), but the accounts of Mark and John are more specific.​—See study note on Mr 14:3; Glossary, “Denarius”; and App. B14.

300 denarii: See study note on Mr 14:5.

she put this perfumed oil on my body: The woman (see study note on Mt 26:7) performed this generous act out of love and appreciation for Jesus. He explained that she was unknowingly preparing his body for burial, since such perfumed oil and ointments were often applied to dead bodies.​—2Ch 16:14.

this observance in view of . . . my burial: See study note on Mt 26:12.

there: That is, at Bethany.​—Joh 12:1.

Six days before the Passover: Jesus must have arrived about the time when the Sabbath began on Nisan 8 (at sunset). Following the Sabbath (that is, at the beginning of Nisan 9), he enjoyed an evening meal in the home of Simon the leper, along with Martha, Mary, and Lazarus.​—Joh 12:2-11; see study note on Mt 26:6 and App. A7 and B12.

next day: That is, the morning of Nisan 9, 33 C.E. Nisan 9 started at sunset the evening before. On that evening, Jesus enjoyed a meal in the home of Simon the leper.​—See study note on Joh 12:1 and App. B12.

the festival: As shown by the context, the festival referred to is the Passover. (Joh 11:55; 12:1; 13:1) In Jesus’ time, the Passover, celebrated on Nisan 14, and the Festival of the Unleavened Bread, which lasted from Nisan 15 to 21 (Le 23:5, 6; Nu 28:16, 17; see App. B15), had become so closely connected that all eight days, from Nisan 14 to 21, were treated as one festival. (Lu 22:1) Josephus speaks of “a feast for eight days, which is called the feast of unleavened bread.”​—See App. B12.

Save, we pray: Lit., “Hosanna.” That Greek term comes from a Hebrew expression that means “save, we pray” or “save, please.” Here the term is used as a plea to God for salvation or victory; it could be rendered “please, grant salvation to.” In time, it became an expression of both prayer and praise. The Hebrew expression is found at Ps 118:25, which was part of the Hallel Psalms sung regularly during Passover season. Therefore, these words readily came to mind on this occasion. One way God answered this prayer to save the Son of David was by resurrecting him from the dead. At Mt 21:42, Jesus himself quotes Ps 118:22, 23 and applies it to the Messiah.

Save, we pray you: See study note on Mt 21:9.

Jehovah’s: In this quote from Ps 118:25, 26, the divine name, represented by four Hebrew consonants (transliterated YHWH), occurs in the original Hebrew text.​—See App. A5 and C.

just as it is written: The quote that follows at Joh 12:15 is taken from Zec 9:9.

the daughter of Zion: Or “daughter Zion,” as some Bible translations say. In the Bible, cities are often personified as women or figuratively referred to using feminine terms. In this expression, “daughter” may refer to the city itself or to the people of the city. The name Zion was closely connected with the city of Jerusalem.

a donkey tied and a colt with her: Only Matthew’s account mentions both the donkey and its colt. (Mr 11:2-7; Lu 19:30-35; Joh 12:14, 15) Evidently, since Jesus rode only on the colt, Mark, Luke, and John mention only one animal.​—See study note on Mt 21:5.

on a donkey, yes, on a colt: Although two animals are mentioned at Mt 21:2, 7, the prophecy at Zec 9:9 refers to the king as riding only one animal.​—See study note on Mt 21:2.

daughter of Zion: See study note on Mt 21:5.

a donkey’s colt: That is, a young donkey. The accounts of Mark (11:2), Luke (19:35), and John mention only one animal, the colt, when describing this event. Matthew’s account (21:2-7) adds the detail that the parent donkey was also present.​—See study notes on Mt 21:2, 5.

tomb: Or “memorial tomb.”​—See Glossary, “Memorial tomb.”

Greeks: There were many Greek colonies in Palestine in the first century, but in this context, the term apparently refers to Greek proselytes, or converts, to the Jewish religion. Note that at Joh 12:32, Jesus prophetically said: “I . . . will draw all sorts of men to myself.”

his life: Or “his soul.”​—See Glossary, “Soul.”

minister: Or “servant.” The Bible often uses the Greek word di·aʹko·nos to refer to one who does not let up in humbly rendering service in behalf of others. The term is used to describe Christ (Ro 15:8), ministers or servants of Christ (1Co 3:5-7; Col 1:23), ministerial servants (Php 1:1; 1Ti 3:8), as well as household servants (Joh 2:5, 9) and government officials (Ro 13:4).

minister to: Or “serve.” The Greek noun di·aʹko·nos, rendered minister (or, “servant”) in this same verse, is related to the Greek verb di·a·ko·neʹo used here. The Bible often uses the Greek word di·aʹko·nos to refer to one who does not let up in humbly rendering service in behalf of others.​—See study note on Mt 20:26.

I am: Or “my soul is.” The Greek word psy·kheʹ, traditionally rendered “soul,” here refers to a person’s entire being. So “my soul” can be rendered “my whole being” or simply “I.”​—See Glossary, “Soul.”

a voice: The third of three instances in the Gospel accounts where Jehovah is reported as speaking directly to humans. The first instance occurred at Jesus’ baptism in 29 C.E. and is recorded at Mt 3:16, 17; Mr 1:11; and Lu 3:22. The second instance was in connection with Jesus’ transfiguration in 32 C.E. and is recorded at Mt 17:5; Mr 9:7; and Lu 9:35. The third instance, mentioned only in the Gospel of John, happened in 33 C.E., shortly before Jesus’ last Passover. Jehovah responded to Jesus’ request that his Father glorify His own name.

the ruler of this world: A similar expression occurs at Joh 14:30 and 16:11 and refers to Satan the Devil. In this context, the term “world” (Greek, koʹsmos) refers to human society that is alienated from God and whose behavior is out of harmony with his will. God did not produce this unrighteous world; it is “lying in the power of the wicked one.” (1Jo 5:19) Satan and his “wicked spirit forces in the heavenly places” act as the invisible “world rulers [form of the Greek word ko·smo·kraʹtor] of this darkness.”​—Eph 6:11, 12.

will be cast out: Jesus’ prophetic words point to a future time when Satan will be expelled from his position as ruler of this world.

draws him: Although the Greek verb for “draw” is used in reference to hauling in a net of fish (Joh 21:6, 11), it does not suggest that God drags people against their will. This verb can also mean “to attract,” and Jesus’ statement may allude to Jer 31:3, where Jehovah said to his ancient people: “I have drawn you to me with loyal love.” (The Septuagint uses the same Greek verb here.) Joh 12:32 (see study note) shows that in a similar way, Jesus draws men of all sorts to himself. The Scriptures show that Jehovah has given humans free will. Everyone has a choice when it comes to serving Him. (De 30:19, 20) God gently draws to himself those who have a heart that is rightly disposed. (Ps 11:5; Pr 21:2; Ac 13:48) Jehovah does so through the Bible’s message and through his holy spirit. The prophecy from Isa 54:13, quoted in Joh 6:45, applies to those who are drawn by the Father.​—Compare Joh 6:65.

Greeks: There were many Greek colonies in Palestine in the first century, but in this context, the term apparently refers to Greek proselytes, or converts, to the Jewish religion. Note that at Joh 12:32, Jesus prophetically said: “I . . . will draw all sorts of men to myself.”

I am lifted up from the earth: Apparently referring to Jesus’ execution on a stake, as indicated by the verse that follows.

all sorts of men: Or “people of all sorts.” Jesus declares that he will draw people of all backgrounds to himself, regardless of nationality, race, or economic status. (Ac 10:34, 35; Re 7:9, 10; see study note on Joh 6:44.) It is worth noting that on this occasion, “some Greeks” worshipping at the temple wanted to see Jesus. (See study note on Joh 12:20.) Many translations render the Greek word pas (“everyone; all [people]”) in a way that indicates that every human will ultimately be drawn to Jesus. This idea, however, would not agree with the rest of the inspired Scriptures. (Ps 145:20; Mt 7:13; Lu 2:34; 2Th 1:9) While the Greek word literally means “all; everyone” (Ro 5:12), Mt 5:11 and Ac 10:12 clearly show that it can mean “every sort” or “all sorts”; in these verses many translations use renderings such as “every sort of; all kinds of.”​—Joh 1:7; 1Ti 2:4.

Jehovah: In this quote from Isa 53:1, the original Hebrew text uses the divine name only once, in the expression “the arm of Jehovah.” John, however, apparently quotes from the Septuagint translation of Isaiah’s prophecy, where the Greek text begins with the form of the word Kyʹri·os (Lord) used for direct address. (See Ro 10:16, where Isa 53:1 is also quoted.) The translators may have inserted the divine name in this first occurrence in order to clarify to the reader that the prophet addresses his questions to God. As previously noted, Kyʹri·os in later copies of the Septuagint is often used as a substitute for the Tetragrammaton in the original Hebrew text (as is the case in the second occurrence of Kyʹri·os in this quote). Therefore, the divine name has here been used in the main text. A number of translations of the Christian Greek Scriptures into Hebrew (referred to as J12, 14, 16-18, 22, 23 in App. C4) use the divine name at its first occurrence at Joh 12:38.

arm of Jehovah: In this quote from Isa 53:1, the divine name, represented by four Hebrew consonants (transliterated YHWH), occurs once in the original Hebrew text. (See study note on the first occurrence of Jehovah in this verse and App. A5 and C.) The Hebrew and Greek terms for arm are often used figuratively in the Bible to represent the ability to exert strength or power. Through the signs and miracles that Jesus performed, Jehovah revealed His “arm,” His might and ability to exercise power.

Isaiah . . . saw his glory: When Isaiah saw a vision of the heavenly courts where Jehovah was sitting on his lofty throne, Jehovah asked Isaiah: “Who will go for us?” (Isa 6:1, 8-10) The use of the plural pronoun “us” indicates that at least one other person was with God in this vision. So it is reasonable to conclude that when John wrote that Isaiah “saw his glory,” this refers to Jesus’ prehuman glory alongside Jehovah. (Joh 1:14) This harmonizes with such scriptures as Ge 1:26, where God said: “Let us make man in our image.” (See also Pr 8:30, 31; Joh 1:1-3; Col 1:15, 16.) John adds that Isaiah spoke about him, that is, the Christ, because a large portion of Isaiah’s writings focuses on the foretold Messiah.

Nicodemus: A Pharisee and a ruler of the Jews, that is, a member of the Sanhedrin. (See Glossary, “Sanhedrin.”) The name Nicodemus, which means “Conqueror of the People,” was well-known among the Greeks and had been adopted by some Jews. Nicodemus is mentioned only in John’s Gospel (Joh 3:4, 9; 7:50; 19:39), and Jesus calls him “a teacher of Israel” at Joh 3:10.​—See study note on Joh 19:39.

expelled from the synagogue: Or “excommunicated; banned from the synagogue.” The Greek adjective a·po·sy·naʹgo·gos is used only here and at Joh 12:42 and 16:2. An expelled person would be shunned and scorned as a social outcast. Such cutting off of fellowship from other Jews would have severe economic consequences for the family. The synagogues, which were used primarily for education, to some extent were also used as places for local courts that had the power to inflict the penalties of scourging and excommunication.​—See study note on Mt 10:17.

the rulers: Here the Greek word for “rulers” apparently refers to members of the Jewish high court, the Sanhedrin. The term is used at Joh 3:1 with reference to Nicodemus, a member of that court.​—See study note on Joh 3:1.

expelled from the synagogue: See study note on Joh 9:22.

judge: Or “condemn.” Jehovah did not send his Son to judge adversely, or condemn, the world of mankind, but he sent Jesus on a loving mission to save those who showed faith.​—Joh 3:16; 2Pe 3:9.

judge: Or “condemn.”​—See study note on Joh 3:17.


Palm Tree
Palm Tree

In Bible times, the date palm (Phoenix dactylifera) was abundant in Israel and surrounding areas. Palms were said to flourish on the coast of the Sea of Galilee as well as along the lower reaches of the hot Jordan Valley. They were particularly abundant around Jericho, called “the city of the palm trees.” (De 34:3; Jg 1:16; 3:13; 2Ch 28:15) A date palm may reach a height of 30 m (100 ft). Its branches, or fronds, can grow to be from 3 to 5 m (10 to 16 ft) in length. The Jews gathered palm fronds during the joyful Festival of Booths. (Le 23:39-43; Ne 8:14, 15) The use of palm branches by the crowd who hailed Jesus as “the King of Israel” evidently served to symbolize their praise as well as their submission to his royal position. (Joh 12:12, 13) The “great crowd” of Re 7:9, 10 are likewise pictured with “palm branches in their hands,” ascribing salvation to God and to the Lamb.

Colt, or Young Donkey
Colt, or Young Donkey

The donkey is a hard-hoofed animal of the horse family, distinguished from the horse by its smaller size, shorter mane, longer ears, and shorter tail-hair, with only the end half of the tail having a brush. Although the donkey’s stupidity and stubbornness are proverbial, its intelligence is actually considered to be superior to that of the horse, and it is usually a patient creature. Both men and women, even prominent Israelites, rode donkeys. (Jos 15:18; Jg 5:10; 10:3, 4; 12:14; 1Sa 25:42) Solomon, the son of David, rode to his anointing on his father’s she-mule, a hybrid offspring of a male donkey. (1Ki 1:33-40) It was therefore most appropriate that Jesus, the one greater than Solomon, fulfill the prophecy of Zec 9:9 by riding, not on a horse, but on a young donkey.