What does John 12:16 mean?
ESV: His disciples did not understand these things at first, but when Jesus was glorified, then they remembered that these things had been written about him and had been done to him.
NIV: At first his disciples did not understand all this. Only after Jesus was glorified did they realize that these things had been written about him and that these things had been done to him.
NASB: These things His disciples did not understand at the first; but when Jesus was glorified, then they remembered that these things were written of Him, and that they had done these things for Him.
CSB: His disciples did not understand these things at first. However, when Jesus was glorified, then they remembered that these things had been written about him and that they had done these things to him.
NLT: His disciples didn’t understand at the time that this was a fulfillment of prophecy. But after Jesus entered into his glory, they remembered what had happened and realized that these things had been written about him.
KJV: 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.
NKJV: His disciples did not understand these things at first; but when Jesus was glorified, then they remembered that these things were written about Him and that they had done these things to Him.
Verse Commentary:
In English, a common figure of speech is "hindsight is 20/20." This refers to a scale used to measure relative nearsightedness or farsightedness. Someone with clear, unaffected eyesight is said to have "20/20 vision." The point is that when we look to the past—hindsight—we do so knowing and understanding things we once did not. We can see and understand things that previously were unknown. Often, the problem is simply that we didn't interpret things correctly; now that we know the end result, we can "see" things we missed before.

In the days leading up to Jesus' crucifixion, the disciples are in that same situation. Like many in Israel, they are aware of Old Testament prophecies about the Messiah—some of which have been referenced during this triumphal entry into Jerusalem (John 12:13–15). But they are clouded by a traditional Jewish interpretation that this Promised One will be a political or military leader. Like most in the crowd, the disciples probably see this adoring response as further proof that Jesus will overthrow the Roman oppressors and restore Israel to independence.

Despite all Jesus has said and done to teach them (Mark 8:31; Luke 17:25), it won't be until after His resurrection that the disciples finally have the benefit of hindsight, it's improved perspective. That, and the teaching presence of the Holy Spirit (John 16:12–13).
Verse Context:
John 12:12–19 describes the triumphal entry: Jesus' celebratory parade into Jerusalem a few days before Passover. To this point, Jesus has been relatively quiet about His mission, even asking people not to proclaim Him. Now, He fulfills prophecy by riding into the city on a donkey, as people shout ''Hosanna'' and throw down coats and palm branches. This affirms the fears of local religious leaders, who worry Jesus' popularity will attract the anger of the Roman Empire. As it turns out, most of these people misunderstand Jesus' mission, thinking His plan is to overthrow the Romans to free Israel. This event is also described in Matthew 21:1–11, Mark 11:1–10, and Luke 19:28–40.
Chapter Summary:
Jesus is treated to an honorary dinner at the home of Lazarus, whom He has recently raised from death. At this dinner, Lazarus' sister, Mary, anoints Jesus with expensive oil. Jesus then enters Jerusalem to great fanfare, stoking fears that His popularity will attract the anger of the Roman Empire. That anger even inspires a murder plot against Lazarus. After being approached by non-Jewish seekers, Jesus offers a final plea for people to understand His ministry. In effect, these are the last public words spoken by Jesus in the gospel of John.
Chapter Context:
In the prior chapter, Jesus spectacularly raised Lazarus from death in front of a crowd of witnesses. This inspired local religious leaders to commit to having Him killed. Here, after a celebratory dinner where Jesus is anointed with oil, He will fulfill prophecy by riding into Jerusalem on a donkey, celebrated with shouts of ''Hosanna'' and a massive crowd. This leads to a group of curious non-Jews approaching Him. Christ then offers a final plea for belief in Him and His message. After this, His ministry will turn to preparing the disciples for His impending death and resurrection. The next several chapters of the gospel of John are almost entirely made up of his teachings to these men.
Book Summary:
The disciple John wrote the gospel of John decades after the gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke were written. The author assumes that a reader is already familiar with the content of these other works. So, John presents a different perspective, with a greater emphasis on meaning. John uses seven miracles—which he calls "signs"— to prove that Jesus is, in fact, God incarnate. Some of the most well-known verses in the Bible are found here. None is more famous than the one-sentence summary of the gospel found in John 3:16.
Accessed 5/26/2024 11:52:22 AM
© Copyright 2002-2024 Got Questions Ministries. All rights reserved.
Text from ESV, NIV, NASB, CSB, NLT, KJV, NKJV © Copyright respective owners, used by permission.
www.BibleRef.com