Mary of Bethany, the sister of Martha and Lazarus, anointed Jesus’s feet as a symbol of His impending death and burial. The next day Jesus made His triumphal entry into Jerusalem and foretold of His death. Despite His miracles, some people did not believe He was the Savior, the promised Messiah. He taught of the consequences of believing and of not believing in Him.
In your scripture study journal, draw a picture of or write about one of the Savior’s miracles recorded in the New Testament. Ponder how witnessing a miracle like that might influence your belief in the Savior.
As you study John 12, look for different ways in which people responded to the miracles of the Savior, as well as for truths that can help us understand their responses.
In John 12:1–9 we read that six days before the Passover, Jesus ate supper with some friends in Bethany, a small town outside of Jerusalem. Mary, the sister of Martha and Lazarus, anointed Jesus’s feet with expensive ointment. Judas Iscariot protested the use of this expensive ointment, saying the money could have been given to the poor (see John 12:4–5). His real motive, however, was “not that he cared for the poor; but because he was a thief, and had the bag” (John 12:6). The phrase “had the bag” refers to Judas’s role as the treasurer for those who traveled with the Savior.
Many people heard that Jesus was in Bethany, and they came to see Him and Lazarus, whom Jesus had previously raised from the dead. Remember that because Jesus had brought Lazarus back to life, Jewish leaders had begun planning how they might kill Jesus.
Read John 12:10–11, looking for what the chief priests wanted to do to Lazarus.
Why did the chief priests want Lazarus put to death?
The chief priests wanted to have Lazarus killed in order to destroy the evidence of the Savior’s miracle. How would you describe the different reactions of people who had witnessed or learned about Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead?
In John 12:12–16 we learn that the day after Mary anointed Jesus’s feet, He made His triumphal entry into Jerusalem. Read John 12:17–19, looking for what people who had heard about Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead did during the Savior’s triumphal entry into Jerusalem.
Notice in verse 19 the Pharisees’ response to what was taking place. They felt their efforts to prevent people from following Jesus had not succeeded. Why do you think some people who heard of Jesus’s miracles believed in and followed Him while others chose to reject Him?
In John 12:20–22 we learn that “certain Greeks” (John 12:20), possibly converts to Judaism who had come to Jerusalem to observe the Passover, requested to visit with Jesus. When Jesus learned of their request, He taught about His approaching suffering, death, and Resurrection.
Read John 12:23–24, looking for what Jesus taught about His death. You may want to mark what you find.
The Savior’s reference to the “corn [or grain] of wheat” needing to “fall into the ground and die” (John 12:24) in order to bring forth much fruit was a metaphor for His victory over death and sin. His Atonement would allow all people to be resurrected, and it would bring eternal life to all who have faith in Him, repent, and obey His commandments. In John 12:25–26 we read that the Lord encouraged all people to lose themselves in serving Him.
In John 12:27–31 we learn that, sensing the weight of His impending suffering, Jesus resolved to move forward in accomplishing His purpose. He prayed that the Father’s name would be glorified, and those listening heard a voice testify that it would be glorified. The Father’s statement reflected His full confidence in His Son to complete the Atonement.
Read John 12:32–33, looking for what manner of death the Savior spoke of suffering and what effect it would have on mankind.
After hearing Jesus’s teachings, people asked who the “Son of man” was who would be “lifted up” (John 12:34). In John 12:35–36 we learn that Jesus responded by referring to himself as “the light.” Jesus encouraged the people to walk in the light while He was with them.
These different reactions to the miracles Jesus performed show that miracles alone do not cause us to believe in Jesus Christ.
Although miracles alone do not cause us to believe in Jesus Christ, think about how they can influence our faith in Him.
In John 12:38–41 we learn that prophecies made by the prophet Isaiah (see Isaiah 6:9–10; 53:1–3) were fulfilled through those people who chose to not believe in Jesus. In spite of the Savior’s mighty works, some people chose to blind their eyes and harden their hearts against Him.
Elder Gerrit W. Gong of the Seventy testified of blessings that come from choosing to believe in and follow Jesus Christ:
“Belief is a choice [see Mosiah 4:9]. …
“When we choose to believe, we understand and see things in a different way. When we see and live that way, we are happy and joyful in a way that only the gospel can bring” (“Choose Goodness and Joy,” New Era, Aug. 2011, 44).
Think about Elder Gong’s statement that “belief is a choice.” In your scripture study journal, write about what this statement means to you.
Read John 12:42–43, looking for why some of the chief Jewish rulers did not openly acknowledge their belief in Jesus.
In your own words, explain what you think it means to love “the praise of men more than the praise of God” (John 12:43):
From these verses we can learn that caring more about pleasing others than pleasing God can prevent us from openly acknowledging our belief in Jesus Christ and His gospel. Consider writing this truth in your scriptures.
Answer one or more of the following questions in your scripture study journal:
What are some examples in our day of how concern for what others think prevents people from openly acknowledging their belief in Christ and His gospel?
What are some ways we can show that we care more about what pleases God than what pleases people around us?
What positive consequences can come from showing we believe in Jesus Christ and His gospel?
Think of an experience when you were in complete darkness. Think about how you felt. Did you feel you were in any potential danger? How would having light have helped you in that situation?
How is being in physical darkness similar to being in spiritual darkness?
What dangers can come from living in spiritual darkness?
Read John 12:44–46, looking for how those who believe in Jesus Christ can be blessed.
One principle we can learn from verse 46 is that if we believe in Jesus Christ, we do not have to live in spiritual darkness.
Consider how Jesus Christ is a light and how believing in Him can remove spiritual darkness from a person’s life.
Select one of the following topics, and then answer the two questions in your scripture study journal: the purpose of our physical bodies, entertainment and media, obtaining peace and happiness, marriage and family, life after death. If someone else is available, you could discuss these questions with this person and write about what you discussed.
What might people in spiritual darkness believe about this topic?
What light, or direction and clarity, do Jesus Christ and His gospel provide about this topic?
Think about how the principle taught in John 12:46 can help us understand why we might see certain topics and issues differently than other people. Remember that we might also see certain topics and issues similarly with people who belong to different faiths. There are those who do not have the gift of the Holy Ghost who still firmly believe in Jesus Christ and whose choices are enlightened by the light of Christ (see Moroni 7:16–19; D&C 88:7, 11) and by His teachings.
As recorded in John 12:47–50, Jesus explained that those who do not believe His words and who reject Him will be judged by the words He has spoken, which are the words Heavenly Father gave Him to speak.
Write the following at the bottom of today’s assignments in your scripture study journal:
I have studied John 12 and completed this lesson on (date).
Additional questions, thoughts, and insights I would like to share with my teacher: