12 The next day, the news that Jesus was on the way to Jerusalem swept through the city. A large crowd of Passover visitors 13 took palm branches and went down the road to meet him. They shouted,
Blessings on the one who comes in the name of the Lord!
Hail to the King of Israel!”
14 Jesus found a young donkey and rode on it, fulfilling the prophecy that said:
15 “Don’t be afraid, people of Jerusalem.
Look, your King is coming,
riding on a donkey’s colt.”
16 His disciples didn’t understand at the time that this was a fulfillment of prophecy. But after Jesus entered into his glory, they remembered what had happened and realized that these things had been written about him.
17 Many in the crowd had seen Jesus call Lazarus from the tomb, raising him from the dead, and they were telling others about it. 18 That was the reason so many went out to meet him—because they had heard about this miraculous sign. 19 Then the Pharisees said to each other, “There’s nothing we can do. Look, everyone has gone after him!”
20 Some Greeks who had come to Jerusalem for the Passover celebration 21 paid a visit to Philip, who was from Bethsaida in Galilee. They said, “Sir, we want to meet Jesus.” 22 Philip told Andrew about it, and they went together to ask Jesus.
23 Jesus replied, “Now the time has come for the Son of Man to enter into his glory. 24 I tell you the truth, unless a kernel of wheat is planted in the soil and dies, it remains alone. But its death will produce many new kernels—a plentiful harvest of new lives. 25 Those who love their life in this world will lose it. Those who care nothing for their life in this world will keep it for eternity. 26 Anyone who wants to be my disciple must follow me, because my servants must be where I am. And the Father will honor anyone who serves me.
27 “Now my soul is deeply troubled. Should I pray, ‘Father, save me from this hour’? But this is the very reason I came! 28 Father, bring glory to your name.”
Then a voice spoke from heaven, saying, “I have already brought glory to my name, and I will do so again.” 29 When the crowd heard the voice, some thought it was thunder, while others declared an angel had spoken to him.
30 Then Jesus told them, “The voice was for your benefit, not mine. 31 The time for judging this world has come, when Satan, the ruler of this world, will be cast out. 32 And when I am lifted up from the earth, I will draw everyone to myself.” 33 He said this to indicate how he was going to die.
Points of Interest
- ‘the news that Jesus was on the way to Jerusalem swept through the city’–apparently Jesus’ stop in Bethany heightens the anticipation. Everyone is watching and wondering whether he would dare to actually enter Jerusalem itself. It seems everyone senses that if he does so, it signals a fundamental shift of some sort.
- ‘Blessings on the one who comes in the name of the Lord!’–they’re quoting Psalm 118:25,26. This was a common song for greeting pilgrim’s arriving for the festival, though it seems to be invested with special significance in this circumstance.
- ‘Look, your King is coming, riding on a donkey’s colt’–this is from Zechariah 9:9:
Rejoice, O people of Zion!
Shout in triumph, O people of Jerusalem!
Look, your king is coming to you.
He is righteous and victorious,
yet he is humble, riding on a donkey—
riding on a donkey’s colt.
- ‘His disciples didn’t understand at the time that this was a fulfillment of prophecy’–I think John is telling us that the disciples didn’t intentionally manufacture a fulfillment of prophecy; they didn’t even catch it at the time. Of course, Jesus could still be knowingly following Zechariah’s script, in which case he is finally answering the request from last festival: ‘If you are the Messiah, tell us plainly’ (10:24).
- ‘There’s nothing we can do’–Jesus has ‘crossed the Rubicon.’ Since he has declared himself God’s king, in an impromptu parade, in Jerusalem, during a festival, there’s no putting a brake to events anymore. Who knows how things will turn out, but they will very quickly make their way to a conclusion.
- ‘Some Greeks who had come to Jerusalem’–these people are not necessarily from Greece itself. ’Greeks’ is the common term Jesus and his disciples would use for any non-Jew, Greek being the general language and culture of their part of the world at the time. This is a first sign that Jesus’ goal ‘to bring together and unite all the children of God scattered around the world’ (11:52) has begun to be accomplished.
- ‘its death will produce many new kernels—a plentiful harvest of new lives’–a single seed buried in the ground (thus ‘dying’) produces many, many seeds. Jesus knows that he will soon be buried in the ground. But that’s the way it has to be. And it’s a good thing: his one death will produce life for many.
- ‘Anyone who wants to be my disciple must follow me’–it’s not so much that Jesus is dying so that his followers don’t have to. They’re followers. And he expects them to follow him even in this. Follow him to death; it’s the only way to get through to the eternal life on the other side. This reminds me again of Psalm 23: ‘Even when I walk through the dark valley of death, I will not be afraid’ (v.4 alternate reading).
- ‘Now my soul is deeply troubled’–this isn’t easy even for Jesus. He wants there to be some other way to get to life, for him and those who follow him. Just as his disciples trust him to guide them, he’s trusting his Father to guide him.
- ‘when Satan, the ruler of this world, will be cast out’–perhaps we finally have the answer to our judgment puzzle here. The object of Jesus’ judgment is Satan, the great enemy of God, portrayed here as a usurper. Jesus has not come to fight the Romans, but to wrest authority over the world from Satan.
Taking It Home
- For you and your family: When Jesus comes to Jerusalem, it’s like a big parade or celebration. Have you ever been to a parade? What were you celebrating? Where would you like to be in this story? Why? Imagine a parade for Jesus coming to town. Where would you like to be? Do something together today to celebrate Jesus.
- For your six: I like that Jesus says it’s his job to draw people to himself, maybe only because the task of trying to push my six to Jesus myself would feel daunting and joyless. Thank Jesus that he is in fact drawing each of your six to him. Ask him to keep it up, and tell him you would like to be helpful in any way possible.
- For our church: Just as Jesus looks to God to help him actually complete what he came on earth to do, ask Jesus to help our church fulfill our unique mission and purpose. Ask Jesus to empower and sustain our church even when the task feels daunting.