John 12 Part 1: Who Is Yeshua?

Yeshua is the Most Important Man Who Ever Lived. He also brought the world the Most Important Message, a message that must be believed for human beings, who are alienated from God and headed to Hell, not Heaven, to death, not life, to be reconciled to their Creator and live forever.

Not only is Yeshua the Most Important Man, He is also the risen Messiah, who is alive now, and seated at the right hand of God the Father, where He rules as the Lord of Heaven and Earth.

We want to be aware of Messiah, close to Him, connected to Him, learning from Him, directed by Him.

We want to understand as much as we possibly can about the Most Important Man and His Most Important Message. We want to line up our thoughts and our lives with the Most Important Man and His Most Important Message. We want to tell as many people as we can about the Most Important Man and His Most Important Message.

The book of John helps us do that. It’s one of the greatest books ever written. It’s divinely inspired; accurate; true, reliable; trustworthy.

It is one of the most widely read books ever written.

It is one of the most loved books ever written.

It was written by John, a man of the Chosen People, and one of Yeshua’s closest disciples. John was one of Messiah’s inner circle. So, this book was written by someone who was very close to Yeshua and an eyewitness of these amazing events.

The book of John was written in the first century, probably between 45 and 90 AD.

It was written to help us believe that Yeshua is the Messiah and the Son of God; and by knowing that Yeshua is the Messiah and Son of God, and by becoming loyal to Him, we are able to gain eternal life.

To help us believe, John records a number of “signs” – miracles that point to Yeshua and tell us something about who He is.

To help us believe, John includes some “I Am” statements: I am the Bread of Life. I am the Light of the World. I am the Door. I am the Good Shepherd. I am the Resurrection and the Life. I am the Way, the Truth and the Life. I am the Vine. Before Abraham was, I Am.

To help us believe, John gives us titles for Yeshua which enable us to better understand who He is. He is the Word; He is God; He is the Light; He is Rabbi; the Messiah; the King of Israel; the Lamb of God; the Savior of the world; He is the Son of Man; He is the Son of God; He is Lord.

The book of John was written chronologically, using the holidays of Passover, Sukkot and Chanukkah.

It was written using simple, yet profound words.

It was written using contrasts – between God and Satan, good and evil, light and darkness, love and hate, life and death, flesh and spirit, slavery and freedom, truth and lie.

It was written quoting Yeshua’s use of everyday physical things that were easy for people to understand – like wind, bread, leaven, salt, food, water, birth, seeds and sowing and reaping, darkness and light – to help people understand spiritual realities, which very often they didn’t initially understand.

It was written with an emphasis on Yeshua’s deity and His humanity, showing that Yeshua is fully God and fully man and therefore uniquely able to end the alienation between a holy God and sinful humanity.

We are getting toward the end of the earthly phase of the life of the greatest man who ever lived. Yeshua lived a perfect, sinless, God-honoring life. God the Father had enabled Yeshua to do many great miracles, including raising Lazarus from the dead. In spite of that, the Sanhedrin had met. The high priest had given his decision. The leaders were in agreement. It was essential to kill Yeshua. The stage is now set for the final act – Yeshua’s death and resurrection in Jerusalem at Passover – two of the most important events in human history. The events connected to Yeshua’s death and resurrection take up the rest of John’s book.

Six days before the Passover, Yeshua came to Bethany, where Lazarus lived, whom Yeshua had raised from the dead. Raising Lazarus from the dead was one of the greatest miracles in human history, letting us know that Yeshua is the resurrection and the life. He is the only one who can bring the dead back to life and give them eternal life. Here a dinner was given in Yeshua’s honor – which was the right thing to do, since it’s appropriate to thank those who help us, especially if they go out of their way to help us, and Yeshua had helped Lazarus in a great way, and had gone out of His way to do so.

Not only was a dinner given to honor Yeshua, John lets us know that Lazarus’ sisters each did something to honor Yeshua in their own way. Martha served, while Lazarus was among those reclining at the table with Him. Martha honored Yeshua by serving Him and their guests their food. And Mary, the other sister, did something extraordinary to honor the young Rabbi.

Then Mary took about a pint of pure nard, an expensive perfume; she poured it on Yeshua’s feet and wiped His feet with her hair. And the house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume. Mary did what a servant would do – wash the feet of a guest, but instead of using water, she washed Yeshua’s feet with very expensive perfume, about $30,000 worth in today’s money; and instead of using a towel to wipe His feet, she used her hair. This was an extravagant gesture which revealed the depth of her love for the One who meant so much to her and who brought her brother back to life.

Those of us who know who Yeshua is and what He has done for us, is doing for us and will do for us know that He is worthy of extravagant gestures of our love. And, we are happy when He is highly honored. However, not everyone at that dinner felt that way. But one of His disciples, Judas Iscariot, who was later to betray Him, objected, “Why wasn’t this perfume sold and the money given to the poor? It was worth a year’s wages.” He did not say this because he cared about the poor but because he was a thief; as keeper of the money bag, he used to help himself to what was put into it.

Yeshua had many followers. Judas was one of the twelve who were closest to Him. Judas did miracles along with the other eleven. Is it possible for someone to be very close to Yeshua and even do miracles, and turn out to be a traitor? Yes.

Is it possible for someone to use religion or charity in order to steal? Yes.

Is it possible for a person, even someone who appears to be deeply religious, to violate the most trusted position, in order to enrich himself? Yes.

What Mary did was very special. And it was appropriate. Who better to use this expensive perfume on than the One who done so much for her and her family, who was also the One made all things, including wonderful smells? Yeshua intervened and protected her from Judas’ criticism. “Leave her alone,” Yeshua replied. “It was intended that she should save this perfume for the day of My burial – showing that Yeshua knew He was about to die. And since the use of spices and perfumes were part of the burial customs of that day, this perfume could be considered as part of His burial preparations.

Yeshua gave another reason why it was appropriate to use this very expense perfume on Him: You will always have the poor among you, but you will not always have Me.” Yes, the perfume could have been sold and the money given to the poor – but after than was done, there would still be a lot of poor people in Israel. The truth is that humanity is so dysfunctional and so selfish that we will never end world poverty. Only Yeshua can do that – and He will, when He returns. That doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t try to end poverty – but the truth is that no matter how hard we try, we won’t be able to. Yeshua knew that it was right to honor Him and He would only be available to be honored by those who loved Him for a short time, while the poor would always be around to help. What Mary did was exemplary and she should not be criticized for it.

Many people, especially religious people, are attracted to reports of miracles, and the report of a very great miracle – Yeshua raising Lazarus from death, was circulating through that area. Meanwhile a large crowd of Jewish people found out that Yeshua was there and came, not only because of Him but also to see Lazarus, whom He had raised from the dead. They were impacted positively by this miracle.

But not everyone was impacted positively. The highest religious leaders, who should have known Yeshua the best and been the most loyal to Him, and who already planned to kill the troublesome Rabbi from Nazareth, intensified their opposition even more because of this miracle. And, they made another dreadful decision. So the chief priests made plans to kill Lazarus as well, for on account of him many of the Jewish people were going over to Yeshua and believing in Him. Can people, even religious leaders, be so far from God, so deluded that they don’t know who the Messiah is and are willing to kill Him and someone He raised from the dead – thinking they are serving God? Yes. Human nature is that damaged, that confused, that far from God and truth.

In contrast to the spiritual blindness of the leaders was the was the spiritual sight of many ordinary Israelis. The next day the great crowd that had come for the holiday (and there could have been hundreds of thousands of people in Jerusalem for Passover) heard that Yeshua was on His way to Jerusalem. They took palm branches (waving the lulav is an expression of joy, and a way to honor someone) and went out to meet Him, shouting (using the words of Psalm 118), “Hosanna!” (please save!) “Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!” “Blessed is the king of Israel!” This crowd was full of joy because they believed that God sent Yeshua to help them; that He could help them like no one else could; that Yeshua was the true king of Israel.

Who is Yeshua? God’s Representative. The king of Israel. The fulfillment of the great messianic salvation predicted in Psalm 118.

Then Yeshua did something that fulfilled another prophecy, the prophecy of Zechariah 9 about the arrival of a humble, victorious king. Yeshua found a young donkey and sat on it, as it is written: “Do not be afraid, Daughter Zion; see, your king is coming, seated on a donkey’s colt.” 500 years before it happened, Zechariah predicted that King Messiah would enter His capital city in a very unusual way – not on a great stallion, but on a humble donkey, reflecting the humility of Israel’s greatest king.

Who is Yeshua? The fulfillment of the humble, victorious king of Zechariah 9; the suffering Messiah of the first coming.

Yeshua was riding triumphantly into Jerusalem on a donkey, fulfilling the prophecy of Zechariah. John informed us that the disciples didn’t understand that they were seeing great prophetic events unfolding before their eyes – until later. At first His disciples did not understand all this. Only after Yeshua was glorified did they realize that these things had been written about Him and that these things had been done to Him.

It was only after Yeshua’s resurrection that the pieces of the puzzle came together for the disciples and they were able to understand how the ancient Messianic prophecies were fulfilled in the life and death and resurrection of Yeshua. This means that the disciples were not plotting to make these prophecies happen – as some skeptics have alleged. No, God was working behind the scene, orchestrating these great prophetic events which validate the messiahship of Yeshua.

Now the crowd that was with Him when He called Lazarus from the tomb and raised him from the dead continued to spread the word. Many people, because they had heard that He had performed this sign, went out to meet Him. So the Pharisees said to one another, “See, this is getting us nowhere. Look how the whole world has gone after Him!” And since their various ways of opposing Yeshua had been ineffective and Yeshua was still growing in popularity, the leaders of the Pharisees will cooperate with the priests and Sadducees and implement a final solution to their Yeshua problem.

In contrast to the opposition of the chief priests and Pharisees was the interest of some Greeks. Now there were some Greeks among those who went up to worship at the holiday. They came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida in Galilee, with a request. “Sir,” they said, “we would like to see Yeshua.” Philip went to tell Andrew; Andrew and Philip in turn told Yeshua. What’s happening here is very significant. John wanted us to know that some Greeks knew about the miracle working Rabbi and wanted to get closer to Him. But, in order to get closer to Yeshua, they approached some of Yeshua’s representatives.

This is a foreshadowing, a prophecy of the apostolic mission that will begin after Yeshua’s resurrection. The Jewish apostles will take the message of the risen Jewish Messiah to the Greeks, and to other nations, and many will see Him and be saved. Which is of course, exactly what happened.

It seems that Yeshua ignored the request of these Greeks to see Him. Why? Yeshua knew His ministry was to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. He knew it wasn’t the right time for Him to reach out to other peoples. That would happen through His disciples. Now was the time for Him to prepare Himself to suffer and die, and prepare His disciples to carry on and expand His mission; and prepare His disciples to suffer and die.

Yeshua is the one man who didn’t need to die. But He would choose to die, and His death would bring Him even more glory. Yeshua replied, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified – referring to His sacrificial death that brought Him so much honor and made salvation available to humanity.

Yeshua understood that He needed to die. He knew that if He didn’t die, no human being could be reconciled to God and live forever with Him; and if he did die, many fallen men and women would become the sons and daughters of God. Very truly I tell you, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds.

Yeshua understood that He needed to die. He also understood that the lives of His followers need to be characterized by dying – dying to the pursuit of a safe and comfortable and materialistic life. Anyone who loves their life will lose it, while anyone who hates their life in this world will keep it for eternal life.

Yeshua rejected that kind of life, and so must everyone who follows Him. Whoever serves Me must follow Me – by rejecting a life lived for safety and comfort and wealth, and instead choosing the path of serving God that included suffering, even death – like He chose.

Everyone who chooses that path will be rewarded by being in the Son of God’s presence and honored by His Father. And where I am, My servant also will be. My Father will honor the one who serves Me. That’s some incentive to choose the path of suffering and a life dedicated to serving God – don’t you think?

What path have you chosen? A life of safety, comfort, going along with the majority – or have you chosen a life dedicated to serving God and proclaiming the Good News to those outside Messiah’s Community of Salvation and building the Community of the Redeemed from within?

Yeshua knew His Father was asking Him to be crucified. Did He look forward to dying, even though it would make eternal life possible for us? No. He was a man, a real man, and dreaded what God was asking Him to do. And He could have chosen to say no and spare Himself. But He wanted to do what God wanted Him to do even more. And so He made His decision: In spite of humiliation, torture, and death, He would submit to what God want Him to do. And the result would be that God would be honored. Now My soul is troubled, and what shall I say? ‘Father, save Me from this hour’? No, it was for this very reason I came to this hour. Father, glorify Your name!

God the Father responded in a very special way to Yeshua’s prayer, letting Him know that Yeshua would honor Him with His death. Then a voice came from Heaven, “I have glorified it, and will glorify it again.”

It’s rare for God to speak from Heaven. It’s a very special honor for God to speak to a human being in that way. This heavenly voice shows that God was pleased with Yeshua’s decision to do what the Father was asking Him to do – to suffer and die and fulfill His mission to rescue human beings from Satan and the demons, sin and the sin nature, death and Hell. Yeshua fulfilling His mission honored the Father who sent Him on that mission.

And this voice from Heaven can also be understood to mean that it’s God’s plan to continue to use Yeshua to bring the Father more honor. I have glorified My name (through Yeshua) and will glorify it again (through Yeshua). Yeshua’s incarnation, and His perfect life and miracles and wisdom and suffering and death and resurrection advanced God’s plans to redeem human beings and brought honor to God the Father. And God is not finished with Yeshua. It is the Father’s will for Yeshua to continue to do things that will advance God’s plans and bring the Father additional honor.

Yeshua had prayed a short prayer: Father, glorify Your name. He prayed out loud, with a crowd present. God responded to Yeshua’s prayer and spoke audibly to Him. Yeshua understood exactly what God said to Him, but others there didn’t understand. The crowd that was there and heard it said it had thundered; others said an angel had spoken to Him.

Who are we? Creatures who have difficulty understanding what God says. Who is Yeshua? Someone who is always able to hear God speaking.

Yeshua responded to their confusion. He made it clear that it wasn’t thunder and it wasn’t an angel who had spoken to Him. God Himself had spoken to Him in an audible way so that they would know that He was close to God; that God approved of Him. Yeshua said, “This voice was for your benefit, not Mine.”

Yeshua submitted to the will of God. He knew He would die in a few days. And He knew that His death would radically change the world. Now is the time for judgment on this world; now the prince of this world will be driven out. When Adam and Eve, who were the princes of the Earth, joined the rebellion of the fallen angels, they lost dominion of the Earth. Satan became the prince of this world. Yeshua is teaching us that His death is the beginning of the end of the demonic dominion of planet Earth. His death provides the basis for Yeshua to reclaim Earth and for Satan to be removed from his position as the prince of this world.

And His death provides the basis for salvation to be available to humanity. And I, when I am lifted up from the Earth, will draw all people to Myself.

Salvation can be understood in various ways. One way it can be understood is Yeshua bringing a human being who was far from Him, close to Himself. Because we joined the rebellion of the fallen angels, Satan had been able to draw all people to himself. Yeshua’s death makes it possible for Him to draw human beings to Himself. Being able to leave the prince of darkness and come close to the Prince of Life is salvation.

So, when a human being understands that Yeshua is the Messiah and the divine Son of God, and that He died and God raised Him from the dead, so that He is the risen and living Lord, and that human being commits himself to follow Yeshua, that person is drawn to Yeshua. He comes into the presence of the Prince of Life. He is close to Yeshua who is close to God the Father, and that man, that woman, will live forever.

John wanted us to know that Yeshua knew exactly how God wanted Yeshua to die. He said this to show the kind of death He was going to die. Yeshua knew that God was asking Him to undergo a horrible death, death by crucifixion – and knowing that, Yeshua was still willing to submit to the will of God.

Think about that if you sense that God is asking you to do something difficult. If Yeshua was willing to do the difficult thing God asked Him to do, can’t you do what God is asking you to do?

Let’s pray: Father, thank You for sending Yeshua, and that He was willing to fulfill His mission to save human beings.

Thank You that we can know that Yeshua fulfills Psalm 118, that He is the true king of Israel who comes in Your name as Your Representative; and that He can save us.

Thank You that we can know that Yeshua fulfills the prophecy of Zechariah 9 – that He is the humble, victorious king and the

suffering Messiah of the first coming.

Thank You that Yeshua was willing to reject an easy life, and was willing to live for You and die for You. Work in us so we are like Him – willing to live for You and die for You.

Help us to be more like Martha and Mary, serving You who have done so much for us, with our love and devotion.