Lesson 72: John 12

“Lesson 72: John 12,” New Testament Seminary Teacher Manual (2016)

“Lesson 72,” New Testament Seminary Teacher Manual

Lesson 72

John 12


Mary of Bethany, the sister of Martha and Lazarus, anointed Jesus’s feet as a symbol of His impending burial. The next day Jesus made His triumphal entry into Jerusalem and foretold of His death. Despite Jesus’s miracles, some people did not believe in Him. He taught of the consequences of believing and of not believing in Him.

Suggestions for Teaching

John 12:1–19

Mary anoints Jesus’s feet, and Jesus makes His triumphal entry into Jerusalem

Invite several students to draw on the board a depiction of one of the Savior’s miracles recorded in the New Testament. After each student finishes drawing, invite the class to guess the miracle depicted. Ask the student who drew it to explain why he or she chose to depict this miracle.

Ask students to ponder how witnessing one of these miracles might influence their belief in the Savior. Invite them to look as they study John 12 for different ways in which people may respond to the miracles of the Savior, as well as for truths that can help us understand these responses.

Summarize John 12:1–9 by explaining that six days before the Passover, Jesus ate supper with some friends in Bethany. Mary, the sister of Martha and Lazarus, anointed Jesus’s feet with expensive ointment. Many people heard that Jesus was in Bethany and came to see Him and Lazarus, whom Jesus had previously raised from the dead.

Invite a student to read John 12:10–11 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for what the chief priests wanted to do to Lazarus. You may need to point out that raising Lazarus had been indisputable evidence that Jesus Christ had power over death.

  • What did the chief priests want to do to Lazarus? Why?

  • How do these verses help us understand the wickedness of these chief priests and Pharisees? (You may want to remind students that these Jewish leaders also wanted to kill the Savior [see John 11:47–48, 53].)

Summarize John 12:12–16 by explaining that the day after Mary anointed Jesus’s feet, He made His triumphal entry into Jerusalem. (The initial details of the triumphal entry were taught in Matthew 21:1–11.)

Invite a student to read John 12:17–19 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for what people who had heard about Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead did during the Savior’s triumphal entry into Jerusalem.

  • What did these people do during the Savior’s triumphal entry into Jerusalem?

  • According to verse 19, how did the Pharisees respond to what was taking place?

John 12:20–36

Jesus foretells His death

Summarize John 12:20–22 by explaining that “certain Greeks” (verse 20)—possibly converts to Judaism—had come to Jerusalem to observe the Passover and requested to visit with Jesus. When Jesus learned of their request, He taught about His approaching suffering, death, and Resurrection. Invite students to read John 12:27–33 silently, looking for what Jesus taught about His Atonement. You may want to invite students to mark what they find.

  • According to verse 27, what was Jesus willing to do even though His “soul [was] troubled”? (Even though He sensed the weight of His impending suffering, Jesus resolved to move forward in accomplishing His purpose.)

  • According to verse 28, what did Jesus pray for? How did Heavenly Father respond? (Explain that “I … will glorify it again” reflects Heavenly Father’s full confidence in His Son that He will complete the Atonement.)

  • How do Jesus’s words recorded in verse 32 relate to His Atonement?

Explain that after hearing Jesus’s teachings, people said that they had learned from the scriptures that the Messiah would never die, and they asked who the “Son of man” was who would be “lifted up” (John 12:34).

Invite a student to read John 12:35–36 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for how Jesus answered their question.

  • What did Jesus say in response to the people’s questions? (The Savior referred to Himself as “the light.”)

John 12:37–50

Jesus teaches the consequences of believing in and not believing in Him

Direct students’ attention to the drawings on the board depicting some of Jesus’s miracles. Invite one student to read John 12:11 aloud and another student to read John 12:37 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for different ways people responded to the miracles Jesus had performed.

  • How did people respond to Jesus’s miracles?

  • What truth can we learn from these different reactions about the relationship between miracles and believing in Jesus Christ? (Students may use different words, but make sure it is clear that miracles alone do not cause us to believe in Jesus Christ.)

  • Although miracles alone do not cause us to believe in Jesus Christ, how can they influence our faith in Him?

  • Why do you think some people believe in Jesus Christ after seeing or learning of His miracles when others do not?

Summarize John 12:38–41 by explaining that the fact that some people chose to not believe in Jesus fulfilled prophecies made by the prophet Isaiah (see Isaiah 6:9–10; 53:1–3). In spite of the Savior’s mighty works, some people chose to blind their eyes and harden their hearts against Him.

Invite a student to read John 12:42–43 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for why some of the Jewish leaders who did believe in Jesus did not “confess” (verse 42), or openly acknowledge, their belief.

  • Why did some chief rulers not openly acknowledge their belief in Jesus?

  • What does it mean to love “the praise of men more than the praise of God”? (verse 43).

  • What principle can we learn from these verses? (Help students identify a principle similar to the following principle: Caring more about pleasing others than pleasing God can prevent us from openly acknowledging our belief in Jesus Christ and His gospel.)

To help students understand this principle, ask:

  • What are some examples of this principle in our day?

  • What are appropriate ways to show we believe in Jesus Christ and His gospel?

  • What positive consequences can come from showing we believe in Jesus Christ and His gospel?

To prepare students to identify a principle taught in John 12:44–46, ask them to think of a time when they could not see because of physical darkness (for example, a time when they were inside a dark room or were outside at night). Invite a few students to describe their experiences, including how they felt, whether they were in any potential danger, and how having light would have helped them.

If appropriate, turn off the lights in the room but still provide some light. Point out that physical darkness can help us understand what spiritual darkness can be like.

  • How is being in physical darkness similar to being in spiritual darkness?

  • What dangers can come from living in spiritual darkness?

Invite a student to read John 12:44–46 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for how those who believe in Jesus Christ can be blessed.

  • According to John 12:46, how can those who believe in Jesus Christ be blessed? (After students respond, turn on the lights in the room if you turned them off earlier. Using students’ words, write the following principle on the board: If we believe in Jesus Christ, we do not have to live in spiritual darkness.)

  • How is Jesus Christ a light? How can believing in Him remove spiritual darkness from a person’s life? (See also D&C 50:23–25; 93:36–39.)

To help students understand how Jesus Christ dispels spiritual darkness by providing light (or direction and clarity) in our lives, divide students into groups of two or three. Provide each group with a copy of the following handout:

New Testament Seminary Teacher Manual

Jesus Christ Dispels Spiritual Darkness by Providing Light

New Testament Seminary Teacher Manual—Lesson 72

For each of the following topics, discuss the following questions:

  • What might people in spiritual darkness believe about this topic?

  • What light do Jesus Christ and His gospel provide about this topic?


  • The purpose of our physical bodies

  • Entertainment and media

  • Obtaining peace and happiness

  • Marriage and family

  • Life after death

As a class, discuss one of the topics listed on the handout, using the accompanying questions. Then invite students to take several minutes to discuss the remaining topics using these questions. (You may want to replace some of these topics with ones that are more relevant to your students.)

After sufficient time, invite a student from each group to select one of the handout topics and report on the group’s discussion of this topic. Then ask the class:

  • How can the principle we identified in verse 46 help us understand why we might see certain topics and issues differently than other people?

  • In what situations has the light provided by Jesus Christ and His gospel helped you?

Invite a student to read aloud the following statement by Elder Gerrit W. Gong of the Seventy, in which he testified of blessings that come from choosing to believe in and follow Jesus Christ:

Gong, Gerrit W.

“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).

Summarize John 12:47–50 by explaining that Jesus taught 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.

Share your testimony of the blessings you have experienced as a result of choosing to believe in Jesus Christ and His gospel. Invite students to write in their class notebooks or scripture study journals how they will apply one of the principles they have learned. Encourage students to choose to believe in Jesus Christ.

Commentary and Background Information

John 12:11, 37. How miracles can influence our faith in Jesus Christ

President Brigham Young taught how miracles can influence our faith in Jesus Christ:

“Miracles, or these extraordinary manifestations of the power of God, are not for the unbeliever; they are to console the Saints, and to strengthen and confirm the faith of those who love, fear, and serve God, and not for outsiders” (Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Brigham Young [1997], 254).

John 12:27–34. “For this cause came I unto this hour”

Elder Neal A. Maxwell of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles taught about how the words of the Savior recorded in John 12:27 reflect His submissiveness as He approached the Atonement:

“When the unimaginable burden began to weigh upon Christ, it confirmed His long-held and intellectually clear understanding as to what He must now do. His working through began, and Jesus declared: ‘Now is my soul troubled; and what shall I say? Father, save me from this hour.’ Then, whether in spiritual soliloquy or by way of instruction to those about Him, He observed, ‘But for this cause came I unto this hour.’ (John 12:27.)” (“Willing to Submit,” Ensign, May 1985, 72).

John 12:46. Being protected by the light Jesus Christ gives

Elder Robert D. Hales of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles taught about the protection made available by the light Jesus Christ provides:

“We are engaged in a battle between the forces of light and darkness. …

“The Lord is our light and, literally, our salvation (see Psalm 27:1). Like the sacred fire that encircled the children in 3 Nephi (see 3 Nephi 17:24), His light will form a protective shield between you and the darkness of the adversary as you live worthy of it. You need that light. We need that light. Carefully study the scriptures and For the Strength of Youth and listen to the teachings of your parents and leaders. Then, by obedience to wise counsel, learn to claim the protective light of the gospel as your own” (“Out of Darkness into His Marvelous Light,” Ensign, May 2002, 70).

For more about the “light of Christ” see D&C 88:7–13. In his talk “The Light of Christ” (Ensign or Liahona, Apr. 2005), President Boyd K. Packer of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles taught the difference between the Holy Ghost and the “light of Christ” (D&C 88:7). The light of Christ is another source of inspiration that each person possesses. It is sometimes called an inner light or knowledge of right and wrong, a moral sense, or a conscience.