Prelude to Jesus’ Triumphant Entry
Jesus’ Anointing at Bethany
Read John 12:1–8. At Bethany a feast was prepared to celebrate the victory over death. Mary applied costly perfume on the feet of Jesus to show her love for Him. Judas, however, complained that the perfume should have been sold and the money used to feed the poor. But the truth was that he was a thief and wanted the money for himself.
The Plot Against Lazarus
Read John 12:9–11. Many people came to see Lazarus when they heard he had been raised from the dead. Through this miracle, many believed in Jesus. But Satan, God’s enemy, stirred the religious leaders to fight against Jesus. They wanted to destroy Lazarus because he was living proof that Jesus really was the resurrection and the life.
The Triumphant Entry into Jersusalem
Read John 12:12–19. It was the time of the Passover, a yearly feast to remind the people of how God had saved them from slavery and death. At this time many people went to Jerusalem, the center of worship for God’s people.
Jesus also went to Jerusalem for the Passover. The people waved palm branches before Him as He rode into town on a donkey. They did this to honor Him as their Messiah and King. Some of them called Him King of Israel. Afterward, when Jesus was arrested, His enemies used this against Him. They accused Him of trying to be king.
Today, we must revere Jesus as our king—not an earthly or political king, but the eternal king. A king is a ruler, and Jesus must rule our lives. We honor the Lord when we obey Him according to His Word. It is by our behavior that people will know the truth of our commitment to Him. Jesus must be king of our lives at all times.
Some Greeks Seek Jesus
Read John 12:20–26. Some Greeks also went to see Jesus. Jesus knew that in a few days He would be crucified like a criminal. But because of His death, not only Greeks but also people from every country would be saved. They would have Him as their king forever. By faith in His name, words and sacrifice, the understanding and experience of eternal salvation would come to people of every race. John 12:24 notes,
“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.”
Jesus said that we must follow Him. To do that will be the beginning of the greatest life and experience ever!
Jesus Speaks of His Death
Read John 12:27–36. How would you feel if you knew that within a few hours you would be put to death for crimes you had not done? How would you pray?
Jesus wanted to pray for God to save Him from such suffering, but He knew that He had come from heaven and had become a man for this very purpose. He would die for the sins of the whole world—for your sins and mine. So Jesus prayed, “‘Father, glorify your name!’”
What help it was to Jesus when God answered Him from heaven in a voice that all could hear! God was with Him. God would help Him endure the terrible hours ahead. And through His death God’s name would be glorified for all time and eternity.
At Jesus’ death, sin and Satan were judged and defeated. Jesus took our sins and the judgment for our sins upon himself. However, the choice to believe in Him is up to each of us. To do otherwise, it would mean that we do not accept the sacrifice Jesus made on our behalf.
Suppose you owed a great debt but someone paid it for you. How foolish it would be for you to try to pay it again! Jesus paid a great debt for you when He died for your sins. To receive the benefit of His payment, you must believe in Him as Savior and Lord.
The Unbelief of the Jews
Read John 12:37–50. Many of the people did not believe that Jesus was the Messiah because He did not fit their ideas of what the Messiah would do. But even their unbelief was prophesied by the prophet Isaiah. (See Isaiah 53:1.) Though some of the leaders saw that Jesus was the Messiah, they were afraid to accept Him because of what the others would do to them.
Today, many people are afraid to become Christians for the same reason, and some are secret believers. The very words they refuse to listen to would be the words by which they would be judged at the last judgment. Whoever believes and obeys Jesus’ words will be rewarded with eternal life with Him.
Jesus Washes His Disciples’ Feet and Predicts His Betrayal
Read John 13:1–20. At the Passover, lambs were sacrificed for the sins of the people. So on the day of the Passover, Jesus, the Lamb of God, was going to die for the sins of the world. But first He must teach His disciples. The disciples had been arguing over who would be greatest in Jesus’ kingdom, so Jesus taught them that true greatness is service to others.
It was the custom for a servant to wash the feet of the guests. Or one friend might honor another by washing his feet. But not one of the disciples was willing to do the work of a servant and wash the feet of the others. So Jesus washed their feet!
How ashamed they were. Jesus, the Son of God, was doing a work they never thought possible! Their Master was taking the place of a slave. If we are going to follow Jesus, we must be willing to do whatever needs to be done to help others. This is our way of washing feet.
Jesus taught another lesson: we must let Him cleanse us daily from our faults. The disciples had bathed just before going to the place where they ate, but they had gotten their feet dirty walking along the dusty streets. Jesus our Savior washes away all our sins. But daily as we walk through life, we get dirty. We do things we should not do. We do not need to get saved all over again, but must take our faults and failures to Jesus and let Him wash them away.
Jesus Predicts His Betrayal
Read John 13:21–30. Jesus knew how He would be betrayed. Judas, one of His own disciples, would turn against Him. One trouble Judas had was his love of money. He was treasurer and stole from the general funds. This may seem like a little thing, but one sin leads to another. Judas turned Jesus over to His enemies for thirty pieces of silver. He sold his own soul, his place in Christ’s kingdom. Let us understand that money in itself is not wrong. But to love money is what leads to so many difficulties. The apostle Paul warns, “For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil” (1 Timothy 6:10).
The New Commandment
Read John 13:31–35. Jesus again told His disciples of His death, that He would go where they could not go at that time. They had to stay on earth and live in such a way that all people would know they had something different about them. They were to love one another, even as He loved them. This is still a very important command that we must follow daily.
Read John 13:36–38. You have already learned that Jesus was the Prophet and Messiah whom God had promised. God shows prophets things that are going to happen. Then the prophets predict these events, or tell about them before they happen. You have read several of Jesus’ predictions. He said that He would be crucified, Judas would betray Him, and Peter would deny that he knew Him.
Peter thought he was stronger spiritually than the other disciples, but Jesus knew Peter well and told him what would happen before it did. What happened to Peter helps us understand our own human nature. Our spiritual strength is in the Lord.