Jesus at Bethany
1Six days before the Passover festival, Jesus went to Bethany, the village where Lazarus lived. He was the man who had been dead. But Jesus had raised him, to make him alive again. 2Some friends prepared a special meal there for Jesus. Martha gave out the food, and Lazarus sat among the visitors, with Jesus. 3Then Mary brought a pound of very expensive oil that had a very nice smell. The oil is called nard. She poured it over Jesus' feet and then she made his feet dry again with her hair. The nice smell of the oil filled the whole house.
4Judas Iscariot, one of Jesus' disciples, was there. He was the man who would sell Jesus to Jesus' enemies. 5Judas said, ‘We could have sold this oil for 300 coins. That is as much money as someone would get for a year's work. Then we could have given that money to poor people.’ 6He did not say this because he really wanted to help the poor people. No, he said it because he wanted the money himself. He kept the bag of money, and sometimes he took money from it for himself. 7But Jesus said, ‘Do not stop her! She has kept this oil safe until now. She wanted it for the day when they will bury my dead body. 8You will always have poor people with you. But you will not always have me with you.’
9By this time, a large crowd of Jews had heard the news that Jesus was at Bethany. So, they came there to see him. They came also to see Lazarus, because Jesus had made him alive again. 10So the leaders of the priests decided to kill not only Jesus, but Lazarus too. 11They wanted to do that because many Jews now refused to obey them. Instead, these Jews believed in Jesus because of what he had done for Lazarus.
Jesus goes into Jerusalem
12The next day, a large crowd of people were in Jerusalem for the festival. They heard the news that Jesus was on the way there. 13So, they took branches from palm trees and they went out to meet Jesus. They were shouting, ‘We praise you! Great is the king who comes with the authority of the Lord God. God is good to the king of Israel!’ 14Jesus found a young donkey, and he sat on it. This happened in the way that someone wrote in the Bible long ago:
15‘Do not be afraid, you people in Zion.
Look! Your king is coming.
He is riding on a young donkey.’ #12:15 See Zechariah 9:9.
16Jesus' disciples did not understand all this at that time. #12:16 Zechariah the prophet told Israel's people that their king would ride on a donkey. Jesus was showing the people that he was that king. They understood only after Jesus had returned to God in heaven. Then they remembered that someone had written these things about him in the Bible. And they remembered that these things had now really happened to him. 17The crowd who had been with Jesus before at Bethany, continued to tell people about Lazarus. They said, ‘Jesus told Lazarus that he should come out of the hole in the rock. He made Lazarus alive again after he had died and his body had been put in there.’ 18That is why many people came to meet Jesus. They had heard that he had done this miracle. 19So, the Pharisees said to each other, ‘This is not what we wanted. #12:19 Jesus was not the kind of king that they wanted. They wanted a leader who would send all the Romans away. They did not want a man who would help them to know God. Look! All the people in the world have left us to go with him!’
Jesus says that he will soon die
20There were some Greek people among the people at the festival. They also had come to worship God. 21These Greek people came to Philip, who was from a town in Galilee called Bethsaida. They said to him, ‘Please sir, we want to meet Jesus.’ 22Philip went and he told Andrew this. Then Philip and Andrew went to Jesus and they told him.
23Jesus said to them, ‘God will show how great the Son of Man is. It is now time for that to happen. 24I am telling you what is true. A seed of wheat continues to be only a single seed unless it falls into the ground. It must fall into the ground and then it must die. If it dies like that, it will grow to give a lot of seeds.
25Anyone who loves his own life will lose it. But anyone who hates his life in this world will have true life for ever with God. 26Anyone who wants to be my servant must follow me. Then he will be with me, where I am. My Father will praise anyone who is my servant. 27Now I have trouble in my mind. What will I say? I might say, “Father, save me from this time of trouble!” But this difficult time is the purpose for which I came to the world. 28So, I will say, “Father, show how great and how good you are.” ’
Then a voice spoke from heaven and said, ‘I have shown how great and how good I am. And I will do it again.’ 29The crowd of people who were standing there heard the sound of this voice. They said that it was like the noise of thunder in a storm. But other people said, ‘An angel spoke to him!’
30Jesus said, ‘When this voice spoke, it was not so that it could help me. No, it spoke so that it could help you. 31It is time now for God to judge the people in this world. Now he will throw out the ruler of this world. 32But when people lift me up from the ground, then I will bring everyone to myself.’ 33Jesus said this to show in what way he would soon die. #12:33 Jesus said that people would ‘lift him up’. He meant that they would lift him up on a cross of wood to die. The Romans were the rulers of Israel and of other countries when Jesus lived on the earth. They often punished people in that way.
34The crowd said, ‘The Bible tells us that the Messiah will continue for ever. So why do you say, “People must lift up the Son of Man”? Who is this Son of Man?’ 35Jesus answered, ‘The light will be with you for only a short time longer. So, continue to walk while you still have the light. Do that, so that the dark will not come over you. Anyone who walks in the dark does not know where they are going. 36While you still have the light with you, believe in that light. So then you will become children of light.’ When Jesus had said this, he went away. He hid himself from them.
Many people still do not believe in Jesus
37Jesus had done many miracles that the people themselves had seen. But even then, they still did not believe in him. 38This showed that the prophet Isaiah had spoken true words when he said: #12:38 See Isaiah 53:1.
‘Lord, has anyone believed our message?
You have shown how powerful you are,
but nobody has really understood.’
39Isaiah spoke also about why the people could not believe. #12:39 See Isaiah 6:10. 40He said:
‘God has made their eyes unable to see.
He has closed their minds.
So they cannot see with their eyes,
and they cannot understand with their minds.
They will not turn to me, so that I can make them well.’
41Long ago, Isaiah had seen how great Christ would be. That is why he said these things.
42But even at that time, many of the Jewish leaders did believe in Jesus. But they were afraid of the Pharisees. So, they did not tell people that they believed. They were afraid that the Pharisees would send them away from their meeting places. 43They wanted other people to praise them, more than they wanted God to praise them.
Jesus' message will judge people
44Jesus said in a loud voice, ‘Anyone who believes in me does not believe only in me. That person believes also in the one who sent me. 45Anyone who looks at me does not see only me. They see also him who sent me. 46I have come into the world to be a light for people. Everyone who believes in me will not remain in the dark. That is why I came. 47Not everyone who hears my words will obey them. I will not judge anyone who is like that. I did not come to judge the people in the world. I came to save them. 48But there is something that will judge people who refuse to believe in me. Those are people who do not accept my message. The message that I have spoken will itself judge people like that on the last day. 49The words that I have spoken did not come from me myself. They came from the Father, who sent me. He told me what message I must speak. He told me the words I must say. 50The message that the Father has given me causes people to have life for ever. I know that. So, I speak only those things that the Father has said to me.’