The Gospel of John
(James J. Barker)

Lesson 31


(John 12:12-19 )


1.    In John 12:12, we read that “much people” were coming to the feast (Passover) and that they had heard “that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem.” This was to be His last trip into the city.

2.    Our Lord had come to Jerusalem to die on the cross (12:23, 32; 13:1, etc.).

3.    The next time our Lord visits Jerusalem it will be in judgment.  You can read about that in Zechariah 14.

4.    Now as we continue in our study of the book of John, we see our Lord is getting very close to the cross.  We are only a few days away from the cross.  It appears that our Lord was constrained to make a final appeal in the city of David, to let His people know that He was the promised Son of David, their King and their Messiah.  There would be one final appeal before He went to the cross.

5.    The Bible says, “He came unto His own, and His own received Him not” (John 1:11).

6.    In preparation for His triumphal entry into Jerusalem, our Lord instructed two of His disciples to go ahead and get a colt and bring it back to Him (cf. Luke 19:30). This was according to the prophecy of Zechariah 9:9. 

7.    When they returned, our Lord rode into Jerusalem on the donkey (John 12:14-16).  This event is recorded by all four evangelists.

8.    Many churches, especially those that are of the Romish persuasion, commemorate this historical event and call it “Palm Sunday.” 

9.    John 12:13 says they “took branches of palm trees, and went forth to meet Him, and cried, Hosanna: Blessed is the King of Israel that cometh in the name of the Lord” (from Psalm 118, a Messianic psalm).

10. John alone mentions that the branches were from palm trees.

11. They praised Him as the King of Israel (John 12:13), but it would be only a few days later that these same people would be crying out, “Crucify Him…We have no king but Caesar” (John 19:15).

12. It is interesting to observe how people respond differently to the Lord Jesus Christ.  Tonight, we will look specifically at three different groups of people: the disciples (12:16), the great multitude (12:12, 13, 18), and the religious leaders, specifically the Pharisees (12:19).



1.    “These things understood not His disciples at the first…”  (John 12:16).  There are many things that we may not understand down here, but when we get to heaven we will have plenty of time to figure it all out.  In the meantime, let’s just obey God.

2.    We saw last Sunday night that Mary, the sister of Martha and Lazarus, seemed to understand what was going on but the disciples did not (cf. 12:3-8; Matt. 26:8-13; Mark 14:3-9; John 16:17, 18).



1.    John says there were “much people” in Jerusalem that day (12:12).  The reason for this great crowd was that Jews from all over had jammed into Jerusalem for “the feast” of Passover.  The city was crowded with visitors for the annual Passover.  Some Bible teachers estimate that two or three million people had crowded into the city.

2.    Luke says, “The whole multitude of the disciples began to rejoice and praise God…” (19:37).  For a short time they held our Lord in high honor.  Soon these same people would be shouting, “We have no king but Caesar” (John 19:15) and demanding His crucifixion.

3.    It is amazing how fickle people can be.  Phocion was a great Greek statesman and general.  He ruled the city of Athens from 322 to 318 BC.  When Phocion was returning home from a successful military campaign against Philip of Macedon, huge mobs of people crowded the streets of Athens to cheer him.  When an aide remarked that Phocion did not seem very pleased at their enthusiasm, he replied, “They will cheer just as loudly when I am hanged.”  His words proved to be prophetic for later on the people of Athens deposed him, convicted him of treason, and then executed him.  Then shortly after he was buried they put up a big statue in his honor.

4.    At Caesar’s funeral they cheered Brutus.  But not long after Brutus finished his eulogy they chased him out of Rome.

5.    Scofield refers to this mixed-up mob in Luke 19 as “an unthinking multitude” (p. 1028, bottom of page).

6.    Another preacher (W.A. Criswell) suggests that our Lord’s entry into Jerusalem not so much the triumph of a king but the procession of a victim to the sacrifice.  Indeed the shadow of the cross hangs over these festivities.

7.    Spurgeon said: “Alas!  How soon this gleam of sunlight gave place to black darkness.  The day of palms was closely followed by the day of crucifixion.  Thus fickle are the sons of men.”

8.    W. Graham Scroggie, who was trained at Spurgeon’s college and pastured Spurgeon’s church during WWII, wrote these words, “There is something sad about this welcome given to the Christ, for too soon the crown was of thorns.  It is always easier to shout for Christ with the crowd, than to stand alone for Him at the cross.”

9.    People often followed after Jesus for the wrong reasons (cf. 12:17, 18, 37).  It is the same today.

10. This entire “signs and wonders” movement among the Pentecostals and the charismatics is based upon the idea that unbelievers will be drawn to Christ if they see miracles.

11. There are many problems with this philosophy.  First of all, it is contrary to Scripture (cf. Luke 16:19-31).

12. Second of all, it opens the door to demonic deception (cf. Matt. 24:24; II Thess. 2:8, 9; Rev. 13:13-18).

13. Satan’s ministers have the ability to perform miracles.  Much of it is fakery but sometimes it is real, but it is not from God.  It is from the devil (cf. Ex. 7:10-12; II Cor. 11:13-15).

14. If we compare John’s account with the others, we can see the problem with the multitude: they still did not understand that Jesus was God.  To them He was merely a prophet, like Elijah or Jeremiah (cf. Matt. 21:10, 11).

15. After all, Elijah was able to raise the widow’s son from the dead (I Kings 17).  And Elisha was able to restore life to the Shunammite woman’s son (II Kings 4). 

16. Many of the Jews considered our Lord merely a great prophet like Elijah or Elisha (cf. Matt. 21:11).

17. They did acknowledge Him as “the son of David” (Matt. 21:9), but apparently did not truly understand the significance of that term.  As the son of David, Jesus was the promised Messiah. 

18. He was not merely coming “in the name of the Lord” (John 12:13) –  He is the LORD.

19. They did acknowledge Jesus as “the king of Israel” (12:13), but their concept of the kingdom was worldly and political, not spiritual (cf. 6:15).  Unfortunately today too many Christians have a worldly and political concept of the kingdom of God.

20. Jesus said to Pontius Pilate in John 18:36, “My kingdom is not of this world.”



1.    Matthew gives us more information regarding their feelings. We read in Matthew 21:15 that when the chief priests and scribes saw the wonderful things that Jesus did, and when they saw the children shouting out, “Hosanna to the Son of David,” they “were sore displeased.”

2.    This should have brought joy to a true servant of God, but look at how the chief scribes and priests reacted (Matt. 21:15; cf. Luke 19:39).

3.    Over and over in the Gospels, we see the hatred and animosity that the chief priests and scribes had for Jesus (cf. John 11:53; 12:10, 11).

4.    When these men “saw the wonderful things” that Jesus did, they should have repented and received Him as their Lord and as their Saviour, but instead “they were sore displeased” (Matt. 21:15).

5.    Beloved, when we see how wonderful Jesus is and how sinful we are we should be sore displeased at ourselves, not at Him.

6.    The Bible says the chief priests and scribes “were sore displeased” (Matt. 21:15). It bothered them that “the children” were crying out in the temple, and saying, “Hosanna to the son of David” (a Messianic title – 21:15).

7.    By quoting Psalm 8:2, our Lord was, in effect, telling them, “These children are right in praising me, and you are wrong” (Matt. 21:16).

8.    Also, by claiming Psalm 8:2 for Himself, He was also claiming to be Jehovah God.  This left the chief priests and scribes speechless (Matt. 21:16), and so “He left them” (Matt. 21:17).



1.     While all four Gospel writers tell this story, only Luke adds the touching picture of our Lord weeping over Jerusalem (19:41-44).

2.     We need to weep over our city because it too does not know the time of its visitation (19:44b).

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