John xii.

Notes & Commentary:

Ver. 1. On the tenth day of the month the Jews were accustomed to collect the lambs, and other things in preparation for the ensuing great feast. On this day, likewise, they generally had a small feast, or treat for their friends, at which time Jesus coming to Bethania, joined his friends in their entertainment. This was most likely in the house of Lazarus, Martha and Mary. Martha served at the table herself, thinking herself happy in waiting on Jesus, whom she considered as her Lord and God. Lazarus was one of them that were at table, to shew himself alive, by speaking and eating with them, and thus confounding the inexcusable incredulity of the Jews. And Mary too shewed her loving attachment to Jesus, by anointing his feet with her precious ointment. (Theophylactus, St. Augustine, and St. Chrysostom)

Ver. 6. Judas did not then begin to be wicked: he followed Christ, not in heart, but in body only. This our Master tolerated, to give us a lesson to tolerate the bad, rather than divide the body. (St. Augustine, in Joan. tract. 50.)

Ver. 8. Me you have not always with you. He speaks of his corporal presence; for by his majesty, by his providence, by his ineffable and invincible grace, he ever fulfils what he said, (Matthew xxviii.) Behold I am with you all days, even to the consummation of the world. (St. Augustine, tract. 50 in Joan.)

Ver. 10. To kill Lazarus. A foolish thought, says St. Augustine, as if Christ who had raised him to life from a natural death, could not also restore him to life, when murdered by them. (Witham) — O foolish thought, and blinded rage! As if you could, by putting Lazarus to death, take away power from the Lord; as if Christ, who had already raised one that had died, could not as easily have raised one that was slain. But, lo! he has done both. Lazarus dead, he hath restored to life, and himself slain, he hath raised to life. (St. Augustine, tract 50. in Joan.)

Ver. 19. Do you see that we prevail nothing?[1] Thus said the Pharisees, being vexed that so many followed Christ, even after they had ordered, that whosoever owned him, should be turned out of their synagogues; and after they had employed men to apprehend him, but to no purpose. (Witham)

Ver. 20. Gentiles … came up to adore. These either were proselytes who had been Gentiles, and now had embraced the Jewish law: or they were such among the Gentiles, who owned and served the one true God, as Cornelius did, (Acts, chap. x.) but did not submit themselves to circumcision, and all the other Jewish rites and ceremonies. These could only enter into that part of the temple, called the court of the Gentiles. (Witham)

Ver. 24. Unless the grain of wheat. The comparison is this, that as the seed must be changed, and corrupted in the ground, before it fructify, so the world would not be converted but by Christ’s death. (Witham) — By this grain of corn our Saviour means himself, who was to die by the infidelity of the Jews, and be multiplied by the faith of the Gentiles. (St. Augustine, tract. 51. in Joan.)

Ver. 26. We must minister to Jesus by seeking not our own things, but the things of Christ; that is; we must follow him, we must walk in his footsteps, we must perform the corporal works of mercy, and every other good work, for his sake, till we come to put in practice the most perfect act of charity, the laying down of our lives for our brethren. Then will he crown us with this greatest of rewards, the happiness of reigning with him. And where I am, there shall my minister be. (St. Augustine, tract. 51. in Joan.)

Ver. 27. Now is my soul troubled. Christ permitted this fear and horror to come upon his human nature, as he did afterwards in the garden of Gethsemani. Father, save me from this hour; yet he presently adds, but for this cause I came unto this hour; that is, I came into this world for this end, that I might die on a cross for all mankind. In like manner, when he had said in the garden, let this cup pass from me, he presently joined these words: but not my will, but thine be done. (Witham) — Lest the disciples, upon hearing our Saviour exhorting them willingly and courageously to suffer death, should think within themselves, that he could well exhort them to these things, being himself beyond the reach of human misery, he assures them in this place, that he himself is in agony, and yet does not refuse to die for them. (St. Chrysostom, hom. lxvi. in Joan.)

Ver. 28. Father, glorify thy name, by my sufferings and death, as well as by many miracles that shall follow. A voice came from heaven, and so loud, that some there present compared it to thunder: and at the same time these words were heard: I have glorified it, thy name, and I will glorify it again, by a number of ensuing miracles at Christ’s death, at his resurrection and ascension, as well as by all those miracles, which the apostles and disciples wrought afterwards. (Witham)

Ver. 30. As the soul of Christ was troubled, not on his own account, but for the sake of the people; so this voice came from heaven, not for his sake, but for that of the people. What it announced was already known to him; the advantage and instruction of the Jews was its end, object, and motive. (St. Augustine, 52. tract. in Joan.)

Ver. 31. Now is the judgment of the world:  Their condemnation, says St. Chrysostom, for not believing. — The prince of this world, that is, the devil, shall be cast out from that great tyranny, which he had over mankind, before Christ’s incarnation. (Witham) — By these words Christ informs the Gentiles that wished to see him, that soon he would punish the incredulous Jews, and cast off their synagogue, for their malice and insatiable hatred against him; and that the prince of this world, that is, the worship of idols, should be destroyed, and all called to the true faith. (Calmet)

Ver. 32. And I, if I be lifted up from the earth: that is, on the cross. See the same expression, John iii. 14. and viii. 28. — I will draw all things, all nations, to myself by faith. (Witham)

Ver. 34. How sayest thou the Son of man must be lifted up? By these words of the people, Christ, in this discourse must have called himself the Son of man, though it is not here mentioned by the evangelist. The people also tell him, they had heard that their Messias was to abide for ever: which was true as to his spiritual kingdom of grace, not as to such a glorious temporal kingdom, as they imagined. (Witham)

Ver. 35. Yet a little while,[2] that is, for a very few days, I, who am the light of the world, am with you. (Witham) — How much do the Jews now do, and yet they know not what they do: but like men that are walking in the dark, they think they are in the right way, when alas! they are quite the contrary. (St. Chrysostom, hom. lxvi. in Joan.)

Ver. 39. They could not believe,[3] that is, they would not, says St. Augustine, or it could not be, considering their wilful obstinate blindness. (Witham) — But where then is the sin, if they could not believe? They could not believe, because they would not. For as it is the glory of the will of God, that it cannot be averse to its own glory, so it is the fault of the will of man, that it cannot believe. (St. Augustine, tract. 53. in Joan.) They could not believe. Since the prophet has foretold it, and he cannot but say the truth, it is impossible that they should now believe. Not but they had it in their power to believe; and had they believed, the prophet would never have foretold the contrary. (St. Chrysostom, hom. lxvii. in Joan.)

Ver. 40. He hath blinded their eyes, &c. See Matthew xiii. 14. (Witham) — God blinded the Jews, not by filling them with malice, but by refusing them his graces, of which they had made themselves unworthy, and which they before abused and despised. It was their perverse will, their pride, presumption, and obstinacy, that brought on them this judgment. (St. Augustine)

Ver. 43. For they loved the glory of men. This was one of the chief obstacles of their belief: yet many even of the chief of them believed in him; but durst not own it for fear of being disgraced, and turned out of their synagogues. Do not human considerations, and temporal advantages, hinder men from seeking out, and embracing the truth?

Ver. 45. He that seeth me, seeth him that sent me. In what sense these words are true, see John xiv. ver. 9. where they are repeated again, and with other expressions to the same sense. (Witham)

Ver. 47. I do not judge him. To judge here, may signify to condemn. St. Augustine expounds it in this manner: I do not judge him at this my first coming. St. Chrysostom says, it is not I only that judgeth him, but the works also that I do.


[1] Ver. 19. Quia nihil proficimus. In most Greek copies, and also in St. Chrysostom, we read: you see that you prevail nothing; as if these words had been spoken by some of Christ’s friends, to make his adversaries desist. Theoreite oti ouk opheleite ouden.

[2] Ver. 35. Adhuc modicùm lumen in vobis est, eti mikron chronon, to phos meth umon esti. They mistake, who take modicum for an adjective, that agrees with lumen.

[3] Ver. 39. Non poterant credere. St. Augustine, (tract. 53.) Quare autem non potuerunt, si a me quæratur, citò respondeo, quia nolebant.

Bible Text & Cross-references:

The anointing of Christ’s feet. His riding into Jerusalem upon an ass. A voice from heaven.

1 Now *six days before the Pasch, Jesus came to Bethania, where Lazarus had been dead, whom Jesus raised to life.

2 And they made him a supper there: and Martha served, but Lazarus was one of them that were at table with him.

3 Mary, therefore, took a pound of ointment of right spikenard, of great price, and anointed the feet of Jesus, and wiped his feet with her hair: and the house was filled with the odour of the ointment.

4 Then one of his disciples, Judas Iscariot, he that was about to betray him, said:

5 Why was not this ointment sold for three hundred pence, and given to the poor?

6 Now he said this, not because he cared for the poor; but because he was a thief, and having the purse, carried what was put therein.

7 But Jesus said; Let her alone, that she may keep it against the day of my burial.

8 For the poor you have always with you: but me you have not always.

9 A great multitude, therefore, of the Jews knew that he was there: and they came, not for Jesus’s sake only, but that they might see Lazarus, whom he had raised from the dead.

10 But the chief priests thought to kill Lazarus also:

11 Because many of the Jews, by reason of him, went away, and believed in Jesus.

12 And on the next day a great multitude, that was to come to the festival day, when they had heard that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem;

13 Took branches of palm-trees, and went forth to meet him, and cried: Hosannah, blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord, the king of Israel!

14 *And Jesus found a young ass, and sat upon it, as it is written;

15 Fear not, daughter of Sion: behold, thy king cometh, sitting on the colt of an ass.

16 These things his disciples did not know at the first: but when Jesus was glorified, then they remembered that these things were written of him, and that they had done these things to him.

17 The multitude, therefore, gave testimony, which was with him, when he called Lazarus out of the grave, and raised him from the dead.

18 For which reason also the people came to meet him: because they heard that he had done this miracle.

19 The Pharisees, therefore, said among themselves; Do you see that we prevail nothing? Behold, the whole world is gone after him.

20 Now there were certain Gentiles among them, that came up to adore on the festival day.

21 These, therefore, came to Philip, who was of Bethsaida, of Galilee, and desired him, saying; Sir, we wish to see Jesus.

22 Philip cometh, and telleth Andrew: again Andrew and Philip told Jesus.

23 But Jesus answered them, saying; The hour is come that the Son of man should be glorified.

24 Amen, amen, I say to you, unless the grain of wheat falling into the ground, die,

25 Itself remaineth alone. But if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit. *He that loveth his life, shall lose it: and he that hateth his life in this world, keepeth it unto life everlasting.

26 If any man minister to me, let him follow me: and where I am, there also shall my minister be. If any man minister to me, him will my Father honour.

27 Now is my soul troubled. And what shall I say? Father, save me from this hour. But for this cause I came unto this hour.

28 Father, glorify thy name. A voice, therefore, came from heaven: I have both glorified it, and I will glorify it again.

29 The multitude, therefore, that stood and heard, said that it thundered. Others said; An Angel spoke to him.

30 Jesus answered, and said; This voice came not for mine, but for your sake.

31 Now is the judgment of the world: now shall the prince of this world be cast out.

32 And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all things to myself.

33 (Now this he said signifying what death he should die.)

34 The multitude answered him: We have heard *out of the law, that Christ abideth for ever: and how sayest thou, The Son of man must be lifted up? Who is this Son of man?

35 Jesus, therefore, said to them; Yet a little while, the light is among you. Walk whilst you have the light, that the darkness overtake you not: and he that walketh in darkness, knoweth not whither he goeth.

36 Whilst you have the light, believe in the light, that you may be the children of light. These things Jesus spoke, and he went away, and hid himself from them.

37 And whereas he had done so many miracles before them, they believed not in him:

38 That the saying of Isaias, the prophet, might be fulfilled, which he said; *Lord, who hath believed our hearing? And to whom hath the arm of the Lord been revealed?

39 Therefore they could not believe, for Isaias said again;

40 *He hath blinded their eyes, and hardened their heart, that they should not see with their eyes, nor understand with their heart, and be converted, and I should heal them.

41 These things said Isaias, when he saw his glory, and spoke of him.

42 However, many of the chief men also believed in him: but because of the Pharisees, they did not confess it, that they might not be cast out of the synagogue.

43 For they loved the glory of men, more than the glory of God.

44 But Jesus cried out, and said; He that believeth in me, doth not believe in me, but in him that sent me.

45 And he that seeth me, seeth him that sent me.

46 I am come a light into the world; that whosoever believeth in me, may not remain in darkness.

47 And if any man hear my words, and keep them not, I do not judge him: for I came not to judge the world, but to save the world.

48 He that despiseth me, and receiveth not my words, hath one that judgeth him.* The word that I have spoken, the same shall judge him in the last day.

49 For I have not spoken of myself; but the Father who sent me, he gave me commandment what I should say, and what I should speak.

50 And I know that his commandment is life everlasting. The things, therefore, that I speak, even as the Father said unto me, so do I speak.



1: Matthew xxvi. 6.; Mark xiv. 3.

14: Zacharias ix. 9.; Mark xi. 7.; Luke xix 35.

25: Matthew x. 39. and xvi. 25.; Mark viii. 35.; Luke ix. 34. and xvii. 33.

34: Psalm cix. 4. and cxvi. 2.; Isaias xl. 8.; Ezechiel xxxvii. 25.

38: Isaias liii. 1.; Romans x. 16.

40: Isaias vi. 9.; Matthew xiii. 14.; Mark iv. 12.; Luke viii. 10.; Acts xxviii. 26.; Romans xi. 8.

48: Matthew xvi. 16.