1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20

John 12 – Skeptic's Annotated Bible answered

A response and reply to the notes on John 12 in the Skeptic's Annotated Bible (SAB).

King James Version

SAB comment

My comment

1 Then Jesus six days before the passover came to Bethany, where Lazarus was which had been dead, whom he raised from the dead.

2 There they made him a supper; and Martha served: but Lazarus was one of them that sat at the table with him.

3 Then took Mary a pound of ointment of spikenard, very costly, and anointed the feet of Jesus, and wiped his feet with her hair: and the house was filled with the odour of the ointment.

(12:3-8) Mary wastes expensive ointment on Jesus' feet, rather than selling the ointment and giving the money to the poor. But Jesus thinks his feet are more important, saying that poor people will always be around, but he and his precious feet won't be. (According to the New Oxford Annotated Bible, 300 denarii would be nearly a year's wage for a laborer.)
You cannot let people spend their own money, can you? That should be centrally controlled, because they might spend it on the wrong things!
But perhaps the author of the SAB should have a good look at who was so concerned about the poor: it was Judas Iscariot (verse 4). And why?

This he said, not that he cared for the poor; but because he was a thief, and had the bag, and bare what was put therein.

That happens often today as well. The people who care for the poor seem to do rather well out of it. And after all that helping, the poor remain just as poor.

4 Then saith one of his disciples, Judas Iscariot, Simon’s son, which should betray him,

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

6 This he said, not that he cared for the poor; but because he was a thief, and had the bag, and bare what was put therein.

7 Then said Jesus, Let her alone: against the day of my burying hath she kept this.

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

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

10 But the chief priests consulted that they might put Lazarus also to death;

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

12 On the next day much people that were come to the feast, when they heard that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem,

13 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.

14 And Jesus, when he had found a young ass, sat thereon; as it is written,

(12:14) "And Jesus, when he had found a young ass, sat thereon."
On what did Jesus ride into Jerusalem?

15 Fear not, daughter of Sion: behold, thy King cometh, sitting on an ass’s colt.

(12:14-15) "As it is written"
This verse claims that Jesus fulfils the prophecy in Zechariah 9:9. But this cannot be since the person referred to in Zechariah (see verses 10-13) was both a military leader and the king of an earthly kingdom.

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

17 The people therefore that was with him when he called Lazarus out of his grave, and raised him from the dead, bare record.

18 For this cause the people also met him, for that they heard that he had done this miracle.

19 The Pharisees therefore said among themselves, Perceive ye how ye prevail nothing? behold, the world is gone after him.

20 And there were certain Greeks among them that came up to worship at the feast:

21 The same came therefore to Philip, which was of Bethsaida of Galilee, and desired him, saying, Sir, we would see Jesus.

22 Philip cometh and telleth Andrew: and again Andrew and Philip tell Jesus.

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

24 Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone: but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit.

25 He that loveth his life shall lose it; and he that hateth his life in this world shall keep it unto life eternal.

"He that loveth his life shall lose it; and he that hateth his life in this world shall keep it."
You must hate your life in order to keep it. (If you love your life, you'll go to hell after you die.)
I wonder why the author of the SAB doesn't mention his “what must you do to be saved” list. Doesn't this text clearly say you have to hate your life? And we also have the text “love thy neighbor as thyself (Luke 10:27)”, so a clear contradiction as well!
But perhaps not. Jesus subject is here that sometimes people might have to die for their faith. Christians shouldn't value life more than standing firm even in the face of persecution. And if we die for Christ's sake, the world might think they have won, but they have not.

26 If any man serve me, let him follow me; and where I am, there shall also my servant be: if any man serve 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 came I unto this hour.

(12:27) "What shall I say? Father, save me from this hour: but for this cause came I unto this hour."
Did Jesus ask God to save him from crucifixion?
It is clear that all the verses the author of the SAB mentions as a contradiction say the same thing. All four evangelist quote Jesus first saying during this time:
  1. “ Father, save me from this hour”
  2. “O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me,” Matthew 26:39;
  3. “Father, all things are possible unto thee; take away this cup from me,” Mark 14:36;
  4. “Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup from me,” Luke 22:42.
And all immediately follow this with:
  1. “but for this cause came I unto this hour”;
  2. “nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt,” Matthew 26:39;
  3. “nevertheless not what I will, but what thou wilt,” Mark 14:36;
  4. “nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done,” Luke 22:42.
The last three quotes are on the night of the passover, in the garden of Gethsemane. The quote found in this verse is four days before the passover. In all Jesus acknowledges that his suffering was beyond what a human could endure. We must realise that Jesus was fully human, as much as we are. But he immediately acknowledges that God's will be done, and Jesus came to do God's will. chapter 6:38:

For I came down from heaven, not to do mine own will, but the will of him that sent me.

So I do not see the contradiction here, just the same thing said in slightly different words.

28 Father, glorify thy name. Then came there a voice from heaven, saying, I have both glorified it, and will glorify it again.

29 The people therefore, that stood by, and heard it, said that it thundered: others said, An angel spake to him.

30 Jesus answered and said, This voice came not because of me, but for your sakes.

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

(12:31) "Now shall the prince of this world be cast out."
Who is the Lord of the earth?
BOM: 3 Nephi 27:14
If we compare the verses the author of the SAB has listed, we will see that God is never called the prince of this world, only Satan is. Also Satan is never called Lord, only God is. It is already clear that the author of the SAB compares apples and oranges here, because as long as the king lives, a prince is not called king, if we would just be talking about a human kingdom.
But a prince could still be called an heir, if his father is king. On the other hand, we also know of people who have the title of prince, but who will never be king. For example Holland had the prince of Orange, which wasn't simply a precursor to being a king. As Wikipedia explains:

In this sense, a ruler of a territory which is sovereign, or quasi-sovereign, i.e., exercising substantial (though not all) prerogatives associated with monarchs of independent nations

It is in this sense that we have to take this title. And we have to realise it is not a given title, but a taken title. As John Gill explains:

and is so called, not because he has any legal power and authority over the world; but because he has usurped a dominion over it, and has great power and efficacy in the hearts of the children of disobedience, who yield a voluntary subjection to him, as if he was their proper lord and sovereign

32 And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me.

33 This he said, signifying what death he should die.

34 The people 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 Then Jesus said unto them, Yet a little while is the light with you. Walk while ye have the light, lest darkness come upon you: for he that walketh in darkness knoweth not whither he goeth.

36 While ye have light, believe in the light, that ye may be the children of light. These things spake Jesus, and departed, and did hide himself from them.

37 But though he had done so many miracles before them, yet they believed not on him:

38 That the saying of Esaias the prophet might be fulfilled, which he spake, Lord, who hath believed our report? and to whom hath the arm of the Lord been revealed?

39 Therefore they could not believe, because that Esaias 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.

"He hath blinded their eyes, and hardened their heart."
Does God want some people to go to hell?
Who forces non-believers to disbelieve?
We have to distinguish between the time of grace, and the time of punishment. As Peter says (2 Pet. 3:9): “not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.” But there is a time of judgment as well. For most it will begin after this life. For those who have heard the gospel, and willfully rejected it, that judgment can begin in this life. The blindness here is God's judgment upon those who have used religion to advance their own gain, and rejected religion as God defines it. This blindness is a curse, because of what they have done.

41 These things said Esaias, when he saw his glory, and spake of him.

42 Nevertheless among the chief rulers also many believed on him; but because of the Pharisees they did not confess him, lest they should be put out of the synagogue:

43 For they loved the praise of men more than the praise of God.

44 Jesus cried and said, He that believeth on me, believeth not on me, but on 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 on me should not abide in darkness.

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

(12:47) "I came not to judge the world, but to save the world."
Does Jesus judge people?
Jesus mentions here the reason why he came to this world. The topic is his first coming. Jesus will come a second time, but then as judge, verse 48. See also chapter 5:22.

48 He that rejecteth 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.

(12:48) "He that rejecteth me, and receiveth not my words, hath one that judgeth him."
If you don't believe in Jesus you are going to hell.
No, you're going to hell because of your sins! Jesus Christ is the means of escape, whereby God's righteous demands for your punishment are satisfied. And that satisfaction is freely offered to you. Those who reject this offer will have their words and actions testify against them. They have made God a liar, denying that Jesus Christ was God's Son and denying their need of him, despite God solemnly proclaiming these things in his own word.

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

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