John 12:12
On the next day much people that were come to the feast, when they heard that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem,
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(12) In the section which follows (John 12:12-19), we again meet with matter which is common to St. John and the earlier Gospels. The Entry into Jerusalem is described by each of the evangelists, and the outer incidents are told more briefly by St. John than by any one of the others. (Comp. Notes on Matthew 21:1-11; Mark 11:1-11; Luke 19:29-44.)

On the next day.—See Note on John 12:1. St. John only gives us this definite note of time, connecting the Entry with the previous sojourn at Bethany. The Synoptic narrative is more general, describing the approach from Jericho, and naming Bethphage (Matt. and Luke) and Bethany (Mark and Luke) as stages in the journey, but not connecting the Supper at Bethany with the Entry.

When they heard that Jesus was coming.—They heard probably from those of the Jews (John 12:9) who had gone to Bethany. Note that these multitudes are not called Jews, though, of course, in the ordinary sense they were so. They were not “Jews” in the sense in which St. John uses the word, and he describes them as “much people that were come to the feast.” (Comp. John 11:54.)



John 12:12 - John 12:26

The difference between John’s account of the entry into Jerusalem and those of the Synoptic Gospels is very characteristic. His is much briefer, but it brings the essentials out clearly, and is particular in showing its place as a link in the chain that drew on the final catastrophe, and in noting its effect on various classes.

‘The next day’ in John 12:12 was probably the Sunday before the crucifixion. To understand the events of that day we must try to realise how rapidly, and, as the rulers thought, dangerously, excitement was rising among the crowds who had come up for the Passover, and who had heard of the raising of Lazarus. The Passover was always a time when national feeling was ready to blaze up, and any spark might light the fire. It looked as if Lazarus were going to be the match this time, and so, on the Saturday, the rulers had made up their minds to have him put out of the way in order to stop the current that was setting in, of acceptance of Jesus as the Messiah.

They had already made up their minds to dispose of Jesus, and now, with cynical contempt for justice, they determined to ‘put Lazarus also to death.’ So there were to be two men who were to ‘die for the people.’ Keeping all this wave of popular feeling in view, it might have been expected that Jesus would, as hitherto, have escaped into privacy, or discouraged the offered homage of a crowd whose Messianic ideal was so different from His.

John is mainly concerned in bringing out two points in his version of the incident. First, he tells us what we should not have gathered from the other Evangelists, that the triumphal procession began in Jerusalem, not in Bethany. It was the direct result of the ebullition of enthusiasm occasioned by the raising of Lazarus. The course of events seems to have been that ‘the common people of the Jews’ came streaming out to Bethany on the Sunday to gape and gaze at the risen man and Him who had raised him, that they and some of those who had been present at the raising went back to the city and carried thither the intelligence that Jesus was coming in from Bethany next day, and that then the procession to meet Him was organised.

The meaning of the popular demonstration was plain, both from the palm branches, signs of victory and rejoicing, and from the chant, which is in part taken from Psalm 118:1 - Psalm 118:29 The Messianic application of that quotation is made unmistakable by the addition, ‘even the King of Israel.’ In the Psalm, ‘he that cometh in the name of Jehovah,’ means the worshipper drawing near to the Temple, but the added words divert the expression to Jesus, hail Him as the King, and invoke Him as ‘Saviour.’ Little did that shouting crowd understand what sort of a Saviour He was. Deliverance from Rome was what they were thinking of.

We must remember what gross, unspiritual notions of the Messiah they had, and then we are prepared to feel how strangely unlike His whole past conduct Jesus’ action now was. He had shrunk from crowds and their impure enthusiasm; He had slipped away into solitude when they wished to come by force to make Him a King, and had in every possible way sought to avoid publicity and the rousing of popular excitement. Now He deliberately sets Himself to intensify it. His choice of an ass on which to ride into Jerusalem was, and would be seen by many to be, a plain appropriation to Himself of a very distinct Messianic prophecy, and must have raised the heat of the crowd by many degrees. One can fancy the roar of acclaim which hailed Him when He met the multitude, and the wild emotion with which they strewed His path with garments hastily drawn off and cast before Him.

Why did He thus contradict all His past, and court the smoky enthusiasm which He had hitherto damped? Because He knew that ‘His hour’ had come, and that the Cross was at hand, and He desired to bring it as speedily as might be, and thus to shorten the suffering that He would not avoid, and to finish the work which He was eager to complete. The impatience, as we might almost call it, which had marked Him on all that last journey, reached its height now, and may indicate to us for our sympathy and gratitude both His human longing to get the dark hour over and His fixed willingness to die for us.

But even while Jesus accepted the acclamations and deliberately set Himself to stir up enthusiasm, He sought to purify the gross ideas of the crowd. What more striking way could He have chosen of declaring that all the turbulent passions and eagerness for a foot-to-foot conflict with Rome which were boiling in their breasts were alien to His purposes and to the true Messianic ideal, than that choosing of the meek, slow-pacing ass to bear Him? A conquering king would have made his triumphal entry in a chariot or on a battle-horse. This strange type of monarch is throned on an ass. It was not only for a verbal fulfilment of the prophecy, but for a demonstration of the essential nature of His kingdom, that He thus entered the city.

John characteristically takes note of the effects of the entry on two classes, the disciples and the rulers. The former remembered with a sudden flash of enlightenment the meaning of the entry when the Cross and the Resurrection had taught them it. The rulers marked the popular feeling running high with bewilderment, and were, as Jesus meant them to be, made more determined to take vigorous measures to stop this madness of the mob.

The second incident in this passage contrasts remarkably with the first, and yet is, in one aspect, a continuation of it. In the former, Jesus brought into prominence the true nature of His rule by His choosing the ass to carry Him, so declaring that His dominion rested, not on conquest, but on meekness. In the latter, He reveals a yet deeper aspect of His work, and teaches that His influence over men is won by utter self-sacrifice, and that His subjects must tread the same path of losing their lives by which He passes to His glory. The details of the incident are of small importance as compared with that great and solemn lesson; but we may note them in a few words. The desire of a few Greeks to see Him was probably only a reflection of the popular enthusiasm, and was prompted mainly by curiosity and the characteristic Greek eagerness to see any ‘new thing.’ The addressing of the request to Philip is perhaps explained by the fact that he ‘was of Bethsaida of Galilee,’ and had probably come into contact with these Greeks in the neighbouring Decapolis, on the other side of the lake. Philip’s consultation of his fellow-townsman, Andrew, who is associated with him in other places, probably implies hesitation in granting so unprecedented a request. They did not know what Jesus might say to it. And what He did say was very unlike anything that they could have anticipated.

The trivial request was as a narrow window through which Jesus’ yearning spirit saw a great expanse-nothing less than the coming to Him of myriads of Gentiles, the ‘much fruit’ of which He immediately speaks, the ‘other sheep’ whom He ‘must bring.’ The thought must have been ever present to Him, or it would never have leaped to utterance on such an occasion. The little window shows us, too, what was habitually in His mind and heart. He, as it were, hears the striking of the hour of His glorification; in which expression the ideas of His being glorified by drawing men to the knowledge of His love, and of the Cross being not the lowest depth of His humiliation, but the highest apex of His glory-as it is always represented in this Gospel-seemed to be fused together.

The seed must die if a harvest is to spring from it. That is the law for all moral and spiritual reformations. Every cause must have its martyrs. No man can be fruit-bearing unless he sacrifices himself. We shall not ‘quicken’ our fellows unless we ‘die,’ either literally or by the not less real martyrdom of rigid self-crucifixion and suppression.

But that necessity is not only for Apostles or missionaries of great causes; it is the condition of all true, noble life, and prescribes the path not only for those who would live for others, but for all who would truly live their own lives. Self-renunciation guards the way to the ‘tree of life.’ That lesson was specially needed by ‘Greeks,’ for ignorance of it was the worm that gnawed the blossoms of their trees, whether of art or of literature. It is no less needed by our sensuously luxurious and eagerly acquisitive generation. The world’s war-cries to-day are two-’Get!’ ‘Enjoy!’ Christ’s command is, ‘Renounce!’ And in renouncing we shall realise both of these other aims, which they who pursue them only, never attain.

Christ’s servant must be Christ’s follower: indeed service is following. The Cross has aspects in which it stands alone, and is incapable of being reproduced and makes all repetition needless. But it has also an aspect in which it not only may, but must, be reproduced in every disciple. And he who takes it for the ground of his trust only, and not as the pattern of his life, has need to ask himself whether his trust in it is genuine or worth anything. Of course they who follow a leader will arrive where the leader has gone, and though our feet are feeble and our progress devious and slow, we have here His promise that we shall not be lost in the desert, but, sustained by Him, will reach His side, and at last be where He is.

John 12:12-16. On the next day — On Sunday; much people that were come to the feast — From different parts of the country, particularly from Galilee; took branches of palm-trees, &c. — So that this multitude consisted chiefly, not of the inhabitants of Jerusalem, but of persons from other places. See this story explained at large, Matthew 21:1-16; Mark 11:1-10; Luke 19:29-40. And Jesus, when he had found a young ass — Called by the other evangelists, a colt. But the Greek here, ευρων δε ο Ιησους οναριον, may be better translated, Now Jesus, having found a young ass; sat thereon, &c. — For the evangelist does not mean that Jesus was saluted by the multitude before he mounted, but his meaning is, that Jesus was riding when they saluted him. As it is written — Namely, Zechariah 9:9; Fear not, daughter of Sion — For his meekness, as well as the end of his coming, forbids fear; behold thy king cometh, sitting on an ass’s colt — We shall easily see the propriety of applying Zechariah’s prophecy to this transaction, if we remember that, in the East, riding on horses was anciently reckoned the greatest ostentation of magnificence. It was, therefore, becoming the meekness of the lowly Jesus, that in his most public entry into the capital city, he chose to ride on an ass. At the same time, there was nothing mean or ridiculous in it, asses being the beasts which the eastern people commonly made use of in riding. These things understood not his disciples, &c. — They did not at that time know what their Master designed by this entry, or by any of the circumstances of it. Probably they considered it as the first step of his exaltation to the throne. But when Jesus was glorified, then remembered they, &c. — After his ascension, recollecting the prophecies concerning the Messiah, they remembered how exactly they had been fulfilled in him, and found their faith greatly strengthened thereby. In like manner, the design of God’s providential dispensations is seldom understood at first. We ought, therefore, to believe, though we understand not, and to give ourselves up to the divine disposal. The great work of faith is, to embrace those things which we know not now, but shall know hereafter.

12:12-19 Christ's riding in triumph to Jerusalem is recorded by all the evangelists. Many excellent things, both in the word and providence of God, disciples do not understand at their first acquaintance with the things of God. The right understanding of spiritual nature of Christ's kingdom, prevents our misapplying the Scriptures which speak of it.See this passage explained in the notes at Matthew 21:1-16. Also Mark 11:1-11; Luke 19:29-44.Joh 12:12-19. Christ's Triumphal Entry into Jerusalem.

(See on [1838]Mt 21:1-9; and Lu 19:29-36).

12. On the next day—the Lord's day, or Sunday (see on [1839]Joh 12:1); the tenth day of the Jewish month Nisan, on which the paschal lamb was set apart to be "kept up until the fourteenth day of the same month, when the whole assembly of the congregation of Israel were to kill it in the evening" (Ex 12:3, 6). Even so, from the day of this solemn entry into Jerusalem, "Christ our Passover" was virtually set apart to be "sacrificed for us" (1Co 5:7).

Ver. 12-15. This whole history is much more largely reported by the other evangelists; See Poole on "Matthew 21:1", and following verses to Matthew 21:16. See Poole on "Mark 11:1", and following verses to Mark 11:10. See Poole on "Luke 19:29", and following verses to Luke 19:40.

On the next day, much people that were come to the feast,.... Of the passover; and they were much people indeed, that came yearly to this feast, from all parts of the nation; for all the males in Israel, were obliged to appear at this time; and though the women were not obliged, yet multitudes of them came, and the fame of Jesus might bring the more; add to which, that there was now a general expectation of the Messiah's coming, which brought the Jews from all parts of the world, to Jerusalem; so that this might be called indeed, , "a crowded passover": and though the following account is a stretching it too far, yet it may serve to illustrate this matter:

"would you desire to know what multitudes were at Jerusalem of the priests, you may know, as it is written, 1 Kings 8:63, and the tradition is, that an ox was offered for twenty four, and a sheep for eleven.--King Agrippa sought to know what was the number of the multitude, which were in Jerusalem; he said to the priests, lay by for me one kidney of every passover lamb; they laid by for him six hundred thousand pair of kidneys, double the number of those that came out of Egypt: and there is never a passover lamb, but there are more than ten numbered for it (m), &c.''

Now the day following the supper at Bethany, and which seems to be the first day of the week, this multitude of people,

when they heard that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem; from Bethany, which was soon known, it being so near.

(m) Echa Rabbati, fol. 42. 3, 4.

On the next day much people that were come to the feast, when they heard that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem,
John 12:12-13. Τῇ ἐπαύρ.] after the day designated in John 12:1, consequently Sunday (Palm Sunday), not: after the deliberation mentioned in John 12:10-11 (Ebrard and Olshausen, Leidensgesch. p. 36).

ὄχλ. πολ. κ.τ.λ.] Unprejudiced pilgrims to the feast, therefore not Ἰουδαῖοι again.

ἀκούσαντες] perhaps from the Ἰουδαῖοι in John 12:11 who had returned as believers.

τὰ βαΐα τ. φ.] as a symbol of joy. The article τῶν (not τά) contains the element of definiteness; the branches of the palm-trees standing on the spot. On βαΐον comp. 1Ma 13:51; Symm. Cant. i. 8; Sturz, Dial. Al. p. 88. The expression: the palm branches of the palms, is similar to οἰκοδεσπότης τῆς οἰκίας, and the like, Lobeck, Paralip. p. 536 f. The thing itself has in other respects nothing to do with an analogy to the Lulab at the feast of Tabernacles (Leviticus 23:40). Comp. however, 1Ma 13:51.

ὑπάντησιν αὐτῷ] see Buttmann, Neut. Gr. p. 156 [E. T. p. 320].

ὡσαννά, κ.τ.λ.] See on Matthew 21:9.

βασιλεὺς τ. .] without the article (Lachmann has it; Tischendorf, καὶ ὁ): the King of Israel who comes in the name of the Lord.

John 12:12-19. The triumphal entry into Jerusalem.

12–18. The Enthusiasm of the People

12. On the next day] From the date given John 12:1, consequently Nisan 9, from Saturday evening to Sunday evening, if the chronology given on John 12:1 is correct. S. John seems distinctly to assert that the Triumphal Entry followed the supper at Bethany: S. Matthew and S. Mark both place the supper after the entry, S. Matthew without any date and probably neglecting (as often) the chronological order, S. Mark also without date, yet apparently implying (John 14:1) that the supper took place two days before the Passover. But the date in Mark 14:1 covers only two verses and must not be carried further in contradiction to S. John’s precise and consistent arrangement. S. John omits all details respecting the procuring of the young ass.

much people] Not ‘Jews’, as in John 12:9, but pilgrims without any bias against Christ. Here and in John 12:9 the true reading perhaps is, the common people.

John 12:12. [315]Ὁ ἐλθών, coming [that were come]) They must therefore have been Galileans, rather than inhabitants of Jerusalem.—ἀκούσαντες, hearing [when they heard]) The less that Jesus’ coming had been expected, the more in proportion was it now eagerly welcomed.

[315] τῇ ἐπαύριον, on the following day) All that is related from this verse down to ver. 50, constitutes the proceedings of one day, which certainly was a day most abundant in important incident.—Harm., p. 450.

Verses 12-19. -

3. The triumphal entry into Jerusalem. Christ's challenge of the authorities, and its results. (On the differences between John's account of this transaction and that of the synoptic narrative, cf. commentaries, Matthew 21:1-11; Mark 11:1-10; Luke 19:29-44.) On the precise order of events it is difficult to speak with absolute decision. The main difference between the synoptists and John is in the break at Bethany of the journey from Jericho to Jerusalem, to introduce a feast, which is related afterwards by the synoptists, though not limited by them to any later chronological position. It should be observed, moreover, that the synoptic narrative contains numerous references to the residence in Bethany during several days of the week (cf. Mark 11:12; Matthew 21:17) which followed. John adds important details, and while he omits the great discussions in the temple, the withering of the fig tree, the cleansing of the temple, the parables of the judgments on scribes and Pharisees, and the prophecy of the future, he portrays the inner life of the Lord, and records his most gracious esoteric teaching and sublime prayer. The current tradition of the Church, the distinct note of time for Christ's arrival at Bethany (six days before the Passover), make the triumphal entry take place on Sunday afternoon (cf. ver. 1) of Passion week. Verses 12, 13. - The next day (on the morrow) must be the day after the feast. We have seen that that feast probably took place on the evening of the sabbath. The events that happened are far more abundantly described in Matthew, Mark, and Luke - the excitement in Jerusalem, the method in which the triumph was carried through, the mode adopted to secure "the young ass," the weeping ever Jerusalem from the summit of the hill; none of these circumstances are inconsistent with this account. Brief, however, as our narrative is, it adds some features which are peculiar and highly historic. A vast crowd that had come to the feast, when they heard that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem. These that had come from the country, and had already encamped near or in Jerusalem, came group after group to Bethany to escort him into the city. The synoptists, not mentioning the pause of the sabbath at Bethany, and not clearly indicating where and when the feast at Bethany took place, naturally connect the journey from Jericho with the entrance into Jerusalem. John explains, in addition, that there were of the Jerusalemites themselves certain who had been led to go to Bethany and throw in their lot with the Lord. The early pilgrims mentioned in John 11:55, 56, also came forth from the city to hail and welcome his approach. Took branches of the palm trees, and went forth to meet him. The synoptists had mentioned that the triumphant host had cut "branches," κλάδους (Matthew 21:8), from the trees, and Mark (Mark 11:8) had said στιβάδας, fragments of trees, grass, small branches, that could be strewn in the way. Luke (Luke 19:35) simply mentions the garments thus strewn - a fact mentioned also by Mark and Matthew. Our narrative gives greater definiteness, and even adds a new feature, by speaking of τὰ βαία τῶν φοινίκων, "the palm branches of the palm trees," which they waved probably in triumph, as they had been accustomed to do in token of the approach of a conqueror (cf. 1 Macc. 13:51, where Simon's return to the city was celebrated with "thanksgiving and βαι'´ων and with harps and cymbals," etc.). The use to which the branches of the well-known palm trees were put, differs from, but does not exclude, the use to which κλάδοι and στοιβάδες were also put. Bethany (see note, John 11:1) was "the house of dates," and the palm branches for the Feast of Tabernacles, on its first celebration after the Captivity (cf. Leviticus 23:40), Were fetched from the mount (Nehemiah 8:15). The palm tree was a sacred symbol for Israel "Tamar," a palm tree, was a favorite name for a woman. The Maccabaean coins were decorated with the palm and vine. The medal struck by Titus represented a captive sitting under a palm. Throughout their history, in their gorgeous temple ritual, it continually reappears, and at the last the Apocalypse represents the victorious songs of triumphant elders accompanied by the waving of the palm. If we compare the four accounts of the demonstration, we shall see again how in combination they vividly represent the whole scene. The multitude cry, according to - Matthew 21:9: "Hosanna to the Son of David: Blessed be he that cometh in the Name of the Lord; Hosanna in the highest." Mark 11:9, 10: "Hosanna; Blessed be he that cometh in the Name of the Lord: Blessed be the coming kingdom of our father David: Hosanna in the highest." Luke 19:38, remembering the angel's song: "They praised God with a loud voice.... Blessed be the King that cometh in the Name of the Lord: in heaven peace, and glory in the highest." John says they went forth to meet him, palm branch in hand, and cried, Hosanna: Blessed be he that cometh in the Name of the Lord, and (blessed be) (even) the King of Israel. These differences show how various groups used with freedom the tones and sentiment of the hundred and eighteenth psalm, adopting the welcome with which the priests were accustomed to greet the pilgrims to the festival. But each account demonstrates that, on this occasion, there was a general ascription to our Lord of Messianic honor. He is hailed by the people as King of Israel, as the Head of the coming kingdom of their father David, and as giving glory to God. The Name of the Lord is the manifestation and compendium of all the perfections of the Lord. For centuries the gracious hope had rung forth in the sacred liturgy, and now the people see that the hope is on the point of realization. John 12:12A great multitude (ὄχλος πολὺς)

Some editors add the article and render, the common people.

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