John 12 Part 3

Resumed from part 2

Now, we go on to the next scene and we have here the Greeks who seek Jesus. In this scene there were some Greeks who were going up to worship at the feast. I might mention, Sepphoris was capital city of Galilee and it was a Gentile city of about 20,000. If you have ever been to Israel, I’ve heard it is well worth visiting to see the ruins of Sepphoris. There were many ‘God-fearers’ in that area and they were welcome to come to Jerusalem to celebrate that feast. However, they were only allowed to go to the Court of the Gentiles. They could not go through the dividing wall and into the Court of the Women or into the Court of the Jews.
So, it is significant, in Ephesians 2:14, where Jesus overcame the dividing wall between Jew and Gentile and it is referring to that barrier right there. In any case, these Jews “Then came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida of Galilee, and began to ask him, saying, ‘Sir, we wish to see Jesus’.” Now, it tells us, “Philip came and told Andrew; Andrew and Philip came and told Jesus. And Jesus answered them, saying, ‘The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified’.” Now, this is extremely important for us to see because the motif of the ‘hour’. Before, it was His ‘hour had not come’, His ‘hour had not come’. But, with the rejection of His own people it is now imminent.
Now, in this symbolic movement toward the ‘God-fearers’, who were wanting to see Jesus, it shows He is not a person just for the nation of Israel, but for persons of all the world. Christ came to save the whole world, and this message would be available to all who would receive.
For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek. Romans 1:16 (KJV)
So, that is why it tells us, “The hour has come.” He was there in the city where He knew He would be rejected because of the mounting opposition.
Now, it goes on to say, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone, but if it dies it bears much fruit.”
And, Jesus goes on to say, “He who loves his life loses it, and he who hates his life in this world will keep it to life eternal. If anyone serves Me, he must follow Me; and where I am, there My servant will be also; if anyone serves Me, the Father will honor him.”
So, He is using the idea of not only believing in Him, but also of following Him in terms, clearly, of discipleship.
So, my point is this; there is a contrast between loneliness and fruitfulness, between losing life and keeping life, between serving self and serving Christ, between pleasing self and receiving God’s honor in this text. In the life of God, the seed has to be buried, as you know, before it can fulfill its purpose. Unless it is buried it will not sprout. The life of God can not be fulfilled unless we yield ourselves to God and permit Him to plant us. You see the idea? There is a sort of death. We die of the self so that we can live to God. We see this in Romans six and in Galatians 2:20.
So, Jesus’ willingness was to be conformed to the Father’s will and we see this struggle. We don’t have the retelling of the Gethsemane account, but we do have this struggle that is illustrated in the next verses, when Jesus says, “Now my soul has become troubled,” and that word, ‘tarasso’, we saw earlier with Lazarus, and we will see it again when Judas betrays Him. “What shall I say, ‘Father save Me from this hour’? But for this purpose I came to this hour.” So He says, “’Father, glorify your name’. Then a voice came out of heaven: ‘I have both glorified it and will glorify it again’. So the crowd of people who stood by and heard it were saying that it had thundered; others were saying, ‘An angel has spoken to Him’. Jesus answered and said, ‘This voice has not come for My sake, but for your sakes’.” Now, I want to stress, then, that if we pursue our own comfort, we will never be planted, and if we are planted, God prunes, does it hurt? Yep!
But, if you understand that God’s desire is to cause us to bear lasting fruit, then we will be willing to submit our lives to Him rather than protecting them. My view here is that our idea of protecting our lives is actually moving us away from protection. The only thing that is safe is what you give to Him. In your quest to protect your life from God’s sovereign demands, actually those are the things you will never have. It is the things that we finally surrender to Him that ironically become our own. “Now judgment is upon the world; now the ruler of this world will be cast out.” The fact is that judgment, life and death, salvation, all of it has already begun. Waiting for the end times has already begun. The hour of judgment for the world, and for the adversary, “The ruler of this world will be cast out. And I, if I am lifted up from this earth, will draw all men to Myself.” He uses this euphemism of being lifted up, and He is speaking not only of the Cross, but beyond that to the ascension.
All of that is part of the glorification of Christ. His death, His burial, His resurrection, and His ascension really form a seamless unit and all are related to the glorification God has. We now see, “But He was saying this to indicate the kind of death by which He was to die.” As you know, the Jews would stone someone to death. The Romans are the ones who invented this particularly cruel form of punishment and torture and death. It was a very, very vicious thing, indeed. To be frank with you, the Gibson film pretty much had it right. I would have liked a few more flashbacks, but he certainly was not exaggerating what happened. It was gruesome and almost beyond belief. The point here is that He is indicating the kind of death, and it will be on the Cross.
So, “The crowd answered Him, ‘We have heard out of the Law that the Christ is to remain forever; how can you say, ‘The Son of Man must be lifted up’? Who is this Son of Man’?” What is happening there is they are confusing the son of David, the coming king, with Messiah, the son of Joseph, the suffering servant. Naturally, they are going to hope for the former and not the latter. “So, Jesus said to them, ‘For a little while longer the Light is with you. Walk while you have the Light, so that darkness will not overtake you; he that walks in the darkness does not know where he goes.”
So, He is giving them this urgent appeal. “While you have the Light,” because you won’t have it much longer, “believe in the Light, so that you may become sons of Light. These things Jesus spoke and then He went away and hid Himself from them.” John’s commentary in verse 37 is very telling, “Thought He performed so many signs before them, yet they were not believing in Him.” Remember Jesus’ words when He said, “If they don’t believe Moses and the Prophets, neither will they believe if someone rises from the dead.” So it is so.
A person is responsible for the life they have and no one is in complete darkness. God is illuminated, even in the general revelation. Where ever we are, the reality from the heavens, and the study of human nature, from the study of the exquisite design in this world, it points beyond itself to God, and our human hearts can not eradicate it, try though we might. When people use the problem of evil to condemn God, and I’m talking philosophy here, the ironic part is that they are appealing to condemn an absolute. The only way you can logically condemn Him is to appeal to Him. They can not get away from their self-refuting worldviews. Their promises are self-defeating. They can not believe and they don’t make coherent and logical sense.
So, they did not believe in Him through His signs and it is now a matter of will. The signs were there and they saw them and still chose not to believe in Him. They refuse to change his heart. He had pretty well made his decision. There is frightening thought, where a person can reach a point of no return. They can harden their heart so many times that God begins to do it in addition. That is the reality and that is why He says you have you have the opportunity to believe. Continuing, “This was to fulfill the word of Isaiah the prophet which he spoke: ‘Lord, who has believed our report? And to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed’?” In other words, in Isaiah 53, “Who has believed our message? To whom has the arm of the Lord,” which is His miracles, his message and His miracles have been rejected by the people, as Isaiah predicted. For this reason, they couldn’t believe. Isaiah said again, “He has blinded their eyes and hardened their hearts, so that they would not see with their eyes and receive with their hearts and be converted and I heal them.” Ultimately they are held accountable for their actions. “These things Isaiah said because he saw His glory and spoke of Him.” The glory that he saw, of Messiah, when did he see that glory? It is in chapter six, when he saw the Lord lifted up in the holy temple.
So, “Nevertheless, many even of the rulers believed in Him, but because of the Pharisees they were not confessing Him, for fear they would be put out of the synagogue; for they loved the approval of men rather than the approval of God.” We do discover, though, that two of them do come out of the closet after the Crucifixion. Who were they, these two rulers, and members of the Sanhedrin? Joseph of Aramethia and Nicodemus.
So, they do come out, but this is an important point, “They loved the approval of men rather than the approval of God.” You can’t play to both audiences. In verse 44, “Jesus cried out and said, ‘He who believes in Me, does not believe in Me, but in Him who sent Me. He who sees Me sees the One who sent Me’.” Strong words are these. “I have come as Light into the world, so that everyone who believes in Me will not remain in darkness.”
So, He concludes this theme, this motif, that goes throughout the Gospel, light and darkness; life and death; belief and disbelief; knowing the Father, rejecting the Father. All these motif are woven together. “If anyone hears My sayings and does not keep them, I do not judge him; for I did not come to judge the world, but to save the world.” This is an allusion to the commentary in John 3:17-18. “He who rejects Me and does not receive My sayings, has one who judges him; the word I spoke is what will judge him at the last day.” You will be accountable for the word that was spoken to you. “For I did not speak on My own initiative, but the Father Himself ho sent Me has given Me a commandment as to what to say and what to speak. I know that His commandment is eternal life; therefore the things I speak, I speak just as the Father has told Me.”
So, as we conclude this chapter, then, Jesus makes this last appeal. I have spoken to you; I have manifested the Father, when you believe in Me you are actually believing in the Father. When you see Me you are seeing the Father. When you entrust yourself to Me, you are entrusting yourself to the Father. When you are obeying Me, you are obeying Him. These are radical claims. Because, ‘I’ and the ‘Father’ are One. Again, I have to stress the mystery of the Trinity that is so utterly unique, and remember that we know when we look at God we see the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, and that the Holy Spirit is God. The Father is God. The Son is God.
But, we also see that the Father is not the Holy Spirit and that the Father is not the Son. The Son is not the Holy Spirit. That is a wonderful portrayal of Trinitarian truth. They are not each other, but they are God. It is not like you take a pie and divide it into three parts and then say each one is the pie. It is that each one exhaustively fulfills what it means to be God and not each other. I can not understand that, nor can you.
So, don’t even try. The point is that this deep mystery of the Trinitarian truth is the ultimate foundation for unity and diversity, for the One and the many, for the lover and the beloved, and the love that flows between them, for other-centric service, for being co-equal and co-eternal. We have this deep and profound mystery, where He has revealed the Father, and what is going to happen after revealing the Father, in John 14 and 16, He will talk about how now the Holy Spirit will come and will speak and point to Him.

 

 

Continued in part 4

3 Replies to “John 12 Part 3”

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