“Now is my soul troubled: and what shall I say? Father, save me from this hour: but for this cause came I unto this hour. Father, glorify thy name. Then there came a voice from heaven, saying, I have both glorified it, and will glorify it again. The people therefore, that stood by, and heard it, said that it thundered: others said, An angel spake to him. Jesus answered and said, This voice came not because of me, but for your sakes. Now is the judgment of this world: now shall the prince of this world be cast out. And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me. This he said, signifying what death he should die. The people answered him, We have heard out of the law that Christ abideth for ever: and how sayest thou, The Son of man must be lifted up? who is this Son of man? Then Jesus said unto them, Yet a little while is the light with you. Walk while ye have the light, lest darkness come upon you: for he that walketh in darkness knoweth not whither he goeth. While ye have light, believe in the light, that ye may be children of light. These things spake Jesus, and departed, and did hide himself from them. But though he had done so many miracles before them, yet they believed not on him: that the saying of Esaias the prophet might be fulfilled, which he spake, Lord, who hath believed our report? and to whom hath the arm of the Lord been revealed? Therefore they could not believe, because that Esaias said again, He hath blinded their eyes, and hardened their heart; that they should not see with their eyes, nor understand with their heart, and be converted, and I should heal them. These things said Esaias, when he saw his glory, and spake of him. Nevertheless among the chief rulers also many believed on him; but because of the Pharisees they did not confess him, lest they should be put out of the synagogue: for they loved the praise of men more than the praise of God. Jesus cried and said, He that believeth on me, believeth not on me, but on him that sent me. And he that seeth me seeth him that sent me. I am come a light into the world, that whosoever believeth on me should not abide in darkness. And if any man hear my words, and believe not, I judge him not: for I came not to judge the world, but to save the world. He that rejecteth me, and receiveth not my words, hath one that judgeth him: the word that I have spoken, the same shall judge him in the last day. For I have not spoken of myself; but the Father which sent me, he gave me a commandment, what I should say, and what I should speak. And I know that his commandment is life everlasting: whatsoever I speak therefore, even as the Father said unto me, so I speak.”
“Good morning. We are in John chapter 12, if you turn in your Bibles to John chapter 12 we’ll pick up with verse 27, where we left off last week. Just a few announcements for you…Also, the men’s retreat is this week, so please keep it in prayer. But if you like to bake, you’re welcome to cook up some goodies or snacks for the sixty or seventy guys that’ll be there at the retreat. We do have meals provided for us on Saturday, but there are different breaks, and what we did last year is we provided little snacks and goodies and things like that for the guys. It’s not just meant for this congregation, but other congregations too. So if you’d like to be part of preparing snacks and goodies, finger-foods and things like that, let me know, and let Mike know, and we’ll put you on a list and you can be part of that blessing too. We’re told in the Bible that Jesus said that his Church, the Temple, the Sanctuary, many different ones around the world today under different titles where Christians [and Messianic Jewish believers] gather, was to be a house of prayer. So we want to begin with a word of prayer as we look at John chapter 12. But there are hurting hearts today in this community, there always are, people in different places. We want to pray for the Leominster Fire Department, because of a tragedy that took place this week in their community, but also we want to pray for the Starsja family. I recently learned, you know, those four boys, their grandparents have adopted them, wonderful little boys that God is working in their lives. But they had a hard life initially. Some hard bumps and bruises, and the Lord worked it out that Wayne and Penny could adopt them, and we are just blessed to have them a part of our congregation. But this week, also, two of the boys, their real father died in a car accident, so we want to pray for Vinny and Bradley also, that this would be something that God would use in the difficulty to yet bring character and wisdom and light into their lives. So let’s say a word of prayer together. ‘Lord we thank you that we can come and study your Word together, and we thank you that we can come before you and lift our hearts to you, Lord. And lift our prayers and supplications to you, I thank you that you hear our voice, Lord, hear our hearts. In fact, you’re the discerner of hearts, you know the intents of our hearts. But Lord, we realize right now as we gather as a church here on Sunday morning, there are people in this community also that are wrestling with different things and people that are even suffering. We think of the Leominster Fire Department, things that have happened this week there, and we ask Lord that you’d comfort the firemen and their families, and you’d pour out just your blessing, and use even this time to draw our hearts to you Lord, as you do so often. But also we pray for the Starsja’s, Lord, we pray for Vinny and Bradley as little boys that maybe have questions, and things in their hearts and minds. We’d pray that you’d even use this time to instill in them a greater love for you. For it’s only in you that we find true hope, it’s only in you that we find true comfort, it’s only in you that we find true strength. So we pray that they would learn that even now. I thank you Lord that we can lift prayers to you, Lord. And even now as we look at your Word, we ask Holy Spirit that you’d be upon all of us, and even upon myself as we go through your Word, in Jesus name, Amen.’
How can someone reject Jesus Christ?
You know, being a Christian, I’ve been a Christian for a little while now, as I grow in the Lord, I find it hard to understand how a person can reject Jesus Christ. Understanding the good that he brings to a person’s life, seeing the clear purpose, meaning and direction that he can bring to an individual, also considering the hope that he can bring to a life, I do find it hard to find how a person can reject Jesus Christ, although we find that they certainly do. But these things and others make it hard to understand how people can reject him, even resist his love. But this is, in fact, something that the Prophet Isaiah even centuries ago prophecied would be. Isaiah chapter 53, verse 3, maybe you remember this verse about Jesus the Messiah. “He is despised and rejected by men. A man of sorrows and acquainted with grief, and we hid as it were our faces from him. He was despised and we did not esteem him.” Amazing, it’s a reality, a prophecy fulfilled that Jesus was and is despised, and was and is rejected by men and women, even today. Evidently these words of Isaiah also had a profound effect one particular day, one morning upon Handel, this great composer, this German born composer. While he was setting the words of his selection, “he was despised” to music, he was in that passage, an intimate friend evidently came by, and expecting to see Handel composing his stuff, but rather than composing, he was sitting their sobbing with tears on his face. And the reason why is he was considering that passage, Isaiah 53, verse 3, and that fact that Jesus was despised. Hard to imagine, hard to understand, that it even brought Handel to tears. Now as we’ve been studying through the Gospel of John, we have heard and even read about many people who rejected Jesus Christ, and this included even many in the religious establishment, even religious leaders. Very sad, but very true. These people rejected Jesus. Even those that had grown up in what was then the Church, the religious establishment even rejected him. And today as we continue through our study in John chapter 12, we’ll also continue to see this is true. The fact that Jesus touched and healed so many lives, and his very words give life, his very words give light, was still not enough for many hard hearts, still not enough to change those hard hearts, still not enough to have them turn to him for forgiveness and for salvation. And for that reason I wonder if Handel ever read this passage, how it must have effected him too, because there are some sad verses here as we’ll see as we go along. But not only this morning are we going to consider the reality that Jesus was despised and rejected by men, but we’re also going to be personally confronted with the truth, “Are we rejecting him?---Are we despising him?” Is Isaiah’s prophecy true of us also? Of course, this isn’t something to be taken lightly, not something to deal with nonchalantly, in fact, as we also study our text this morning, we’re going to see there are tremendous dangers associated with rejecting and despising Jesus Christ.
Well John chapter 12, verses 27-33, “‘Now my soul is troubled, and what shall I say? Father, save me from this hour, but for this purpose I came to this hour. Father, glorify your name.’ Then a voice came from heaven saying, ‘I have both glorified it, and will glorify it again.’ Therefore the people who stood by and heard it said that it thundered, others said ‘An angel has spoken to him.’ Jesus answered and said, ‘This voice did not come because of me, but for your sake. Now is the judgment of this world, now the ruler of this world will be cast out. And I, if I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all peoples to myself.’ This he said signifying by what death he would die.” Well John, unlike the other Gospel writers, doesn’t have that Gethsemane experience. He writes about Gethsemane, but not in the way the other Gospel writers do. And they tell us the time that Jesus had that great agony and anguish in his soul as he wrestled with that moment, the reality of what was just before him, the cross. You remember Jesus wrestling. We’re even told that he shed blood, I mean, blood came through his pores as he wrestled in such emotional anguish about the reality of the cross that was before him. John doesn’t have that Gethsemane experience, but he does include another moment in time, just a few days before, we’re just a couple days before the cross at this point, in which we do see him again wrestling, battling with the thoughts of what was just before him, again, the cross. If you remember, the words here in verse 27, they follow this visit of Phillip and Andrew, they had come to Jesus, and they had mentioned to him, ‘Hey there are some Greeks, some Gentiles that would really like to have a personal interview with you Jesus. What do you think?’ And instead of responding to their requests to have an interview with Jesus, that mere instance of having them come to him caused his heart to be stirred with great emotion back in verses 23 to 26. And rather than responding to that, he began to talk about really the cross, this time where he was going to be glorified, the Father was going to be glorified, by the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Jesus knew that this time had come. And he understood that this was the only way for the Greeks that had come to seek an interview with him, seek understanding with him, this was going to be the only way for them to ever have understanding, was for him to go to the cross, and to die for the sins of the world. If you remember too, Jesus then went directly on to sharing this parable of a grain of wheat, and how it needs to be planted in the ground, and then it needs to die, and that needs to happen in order for it to bring forth life. And he was sharing, that yes, he needs to die in order for there to be life now brought to other men, including these Greeks that had come seeking Jesus out. Well we see this moment of agony here, and this wrestling within Jesus’ mind and soul. But why such agony, though, over the cross? Why such wrestling, why’s he so troubled momentarily that even in verse 27 we see him raise up this request?---‘Father save me from this hour.’ Why such agony over this thought of the cross? Is Jesus afraid? Well I like what William Barkley, how he answered this question. “Real courage does not mean not being afraid, it means being terribly afraid, and yet to do the thing that ought to be done.” [That’s a military principle.] There’s no doubt there’s a sense of fear here with Jesus, his humanness, afraid of the cross. Yet in him is the desire and the will, perfectly, to go and accomplish what the Father asked of him. I am sure that Jesus as a man, I mean, he’s the Son of God, he’s God the Son, he’s God also, but as a man, there was this sense---of course, he was tempted in every way that we are---there was a sense of dread, of the physical aspect of the cross, the excruciating suffering and pain that would come with being crucified. The Romans had designed that execution for that very reason, to bring maximum amount of pain and suffering to those that were crucified and punished in that way. So there’s no doubt there was this sense of fear of the physical aspect, the physical suffering. Just recently I even had a little medical procedure, a real tiny little thing done to me, but it was one of those things, you know, as the doctor was preparing to do this little procedure, he said to me, you don’t like to hear these words from a doctor, but he said to me, he says, “I’ll just let you know, but as I do this, there’s one of those points ‘Woe, man, woe, man’ that you go through, just to let you know.” I’m thinking, ‘Oh great, that really makes me look forward to this.’ I was a little anxious, but you just created a little more anxiety in me now. And sure enough, just a few minutes later, I was going “Woe man!, Woe man!’ [laughter], it was just true. He was prophetic, I guess, you know. What he said was true. But he encouraged me earlier that it would pass quickly, and it did, the pain quickly subsided. But now having that experience, all the more I’m a little bit hesitant if any doctor ever brings up that he wants to do that to me, well, I don’t know about that. It isn’t pleasant. And that’s just me in a little medical procedure. We’re that way in our humanness. And Jesus knows, I mean, he’s going to be nailed to a cross. He’s going to be nailed to a cross for the sin of the world. So there is the physical fear of that, the humanness of recoiling from that for a moment. But not only is there the physical element, there’s also this wrestling with this spiritual element. And Jesus understood, and that’s why there’s this repulsing for a moment, repulsion to the hour. But he understood that he was going to the cross for a spiritual reason, and that was that he was going to be made sin on our account. He would become sin for us, so that we could be forgiven of our sin. So he was going to suffer spiritually, and in a sense for a moment, he was going to be separated from God the Father. So there was a real horror in that. That was repulsive to him, being made sin, being separated from God [the Father] for a moment. And with that there were these thoughts and emotional desires, I’m sure, going on, and he wanted to be spared of that for a moment. But yet in him was this desire, ‘Father, your will be done, your will be done.’ But also, he realized what would be accomplished through it. So that also, that love in his heart also compelled him to go on. So we see here, he understood this is why he came into the world, and with supernatural courage, and with a perfect will to do the will of the Father, he said “Father glorify your name”. ‘I know this is why I have come, so Father glorify your name.’ That’s a great example to you and I, when we endure times of tribulation and suffering that God allows into our lives. May we just in the same way find that courage which through the power of the Holy Spirit makes us say ‘Father through this suffering, Father through this pain, glorify yourself.’
A voice from heaven, heard two different ways---by two different groups of people
Well immediately after saying these words, we’re told that in verse 28 that suddenly a voice came out of heaven and said “I have glorified it, and will glorify it again.” Of course God glorifies his name, his name is so highly raised up. And he says “I’ve glorified it, and I’ll glorify it again.” Now we can conclude from those verses there that we read that this was an audible voice, in that not only Jesus heard the voice, but other people around him heard something. You can clearly see that from the passage. I can only imagine that within the crowd there, there were some jaws that dropped for a moment. There were some eyes that bulged out. There was a voice that they heard. There was something that came out of the heaven in response to what Jesus had said. And I’m sure some gasps that followed, and then people began to say excitedly “Did you hear that angel, did you hear that angel? Can you believe it, did you hear the angel?” And then there would be some who would respond, “No, but did you hear the thunder? Did you hear the thunder? Did you hear the noise?” Interesting, huh? Interesting response. Tells me a little bit. Why did not everyone hear the phrase “I have glorified it, and I will glorify it again”? And why was there confusion in discerning whether it was a voice of an angel or just noise or thunder? Certainly you’d think if a voice came out of heaven that people would have heard a voice, I mean it came out of heaven, they would have been able to discern the message. But we don’t know exactly why there is a different response. But I have a proposal. And I believe this is why, we don’t know for sure. But I believe there’s a statement in there that explains the different spiritual receptivity of the different people in the crowd. There’s a statement there. Those who had more spiritual discernment, those who had softer hearts towards God were more likely to discern the voice, and more likely to discern the message. And those who had less discernment, harder hearts, were more likely to hear noise, just to hear thunder. Some, because of their hearts, heard a voice, and they even thought it was an angel. And that’s a bit interesting if you know a little bit about the history of the time. The Jews had believed earlier in their history, you see this in the Old Testament, they believed that God could speak directly to people. There’s examples of that, like Samuel. You know, “Speak Lord, your servant is listening.” “Samuel, Samuel” he heard a voice [as a very little boy], physical voice. Elijah, there standing at the mouth of the cave, you know, it was that whisper, he heard the whisper, the Lord speaking to him. So they believed historically that God spoke to people at times. But then as history shows, as I guess people become more liberal in their thinking, as it happened in the day of Jesus’ time, they began to no longer believe that God spoke directly to people. But instead they believed in what was called the “Beth Qual” it was a Hebrew phrase which means “The daughter voice”, or “the daughter of a voice”. They believed that when the “Beth Qual” spoke, it quoted Scripture most often. But it wasn’t really the direct voice of God. It was what we might call ‘an echo of his voice’. A distant, a faint whisper, instead of a direct communication of God. So with that, you understand that some say “I heard something”, but at that time they believed ‘Well, God didn’t speak directly, it was just Beth Qual, an angel has spoken, this whisper, an echo of the voice of God.’ Well others though, because of their hearts, they don’t even hear anything audible, they only hear a noise, and it sounds to them like thunder. And I say that, because I think that principle is true even today. People will hear the Word of God, and some will, because of the condition of their heart, hear the Spirit of God speak to their hearts. But others, others will respond differently, they’ll hear something, maybe, when they hear the Word of God read or taught, or it comes through the radio or maybe a Christian song or tape. To them it’ll be more like nonsense, more like noise. They won’t have ‘Well the Spirit of God has spoken to me’, instead it’ll be ‘Well, that’s nice, but that’s just a bunch of nonsense and a bunch of noise.’ So, you’re at work there in the shop, you’ve got your Christian [or Messianic] music playing, got it playing, and suddenly this guy comes up to you and says “Turn off that noise, turn off that noise.” But then there’s this other gal here there working in the office, and it’s lunch break, so you turn on WFGL, and she breaks for lunch, and you notice that she doesn’t say anything, in fact she gets quiet, and it’s as if she begins to listen, listen in, not rejecting it, but listening in. Something is maybe ministering to her, something is maybe getting through to her. So she’s listening, maybe not showing you she’s listening, but you know she’s listening. To some it’s only noise, but others, others are able actually to discern the voice. So, with that, how about you today? How about you today? Where are you at? Can you hear, can you discern God’s voice? Do you hear the Spirit of God speak to you as you hear the Word of God, whatever the means might be, here now in this Bible study, through the radio, through a friend? Can you hear the voice of God? When you hear his Word, do you hear his voice? Or does it come across as more like nonsense to you, more like noise? Understand that if you hear his voice, it is important to respond, because if you don’t, you may not always be able to hear his voice. There is a danger of not responding to God’s voice. To not respond is, well, essentially as we’re told in the Scripture, is to reject his voice, it’s to despise Jesus, it’s to reject Jesus. And that can result in a hardness setting into a person’s heart. And if it continues on and on and on. There may be some in this crowd that say ‘I hear an angel’, but later, man, when these things happen, it was just thunder, it was just noise. And that happens, it happens. For awhile, some might hear. And because they don’t respond, later it just becomes noise, as a hardness sets into their heart. Verse 30, Jesus then explains to the crowd the voice came for their benefit, he says, not just for his benefit, but for their sake the voice came out of heaven. It was a sign to them of what was about to happen. They were at a critical, a vital and important time, they needed to understand, they needed to be able to comprehend what was going on. It was a matter of life or death for them. It is significant that God the Father, three times in Jesus’ ministry here on earth, three times there was an audible voice which came out of heaven in Jesus’ walk here on earth, three times. It’s interesting that you consider those three times. One was at his baptism, the beginning of his ministry. And in his baptism, being lowered down into the water, he was speaking about what his purpose was as he began his ministry. He came to die, to be buried, and to be raised to life. [That is what water baptism symbolizes, Romans 5.] So as he started, the voice came out of heaven, there recorded in Matthew chapter 3, verse 17, God said, God the Father, “This is my beloved Son in whom I’m well pleased.” So as he was baptized, the voice came out from heaven, God the Father speaking. Then the second time, Jesus as he began that final ascent there, that journey to Jerusalem, he went up to the mount of transfiguration with Peter, James and John, and there Moses and Elijah appeared to them, and we’re told in the Scriptures that they came and began to talk to Jesus about his death, his impending death, why he was going to Jerusalem, in a sense to encourage him. And it was there that we’re told a bright cloud overshadowed them, and suddenly a voice came out of the clouds saying “This is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased, hear him.” “Hear him.” Interesting, now, at the third time, we see here that the Father speaks to the Son, right there the voice comes out of heaven. So there are critical times, critical times when Jesus was considering his ministry, his purpose. But also, the voice came for me, it was an encouragement to the people around. As Jesus even says, this is for your sake. When you consider how vital and important this is, you would seek to comprehend what this is all about.
“Now is the judgment of this world, now shall the prince of this world be cast out”---what does that mean?
Well, verses 31, Jesus says they’re at a critical hour, they find themselves at a critical hour, and he says verse 31, “Now is the judgment of this world, now shall the prince of this world be cast out.” But it was also critical that Satan would now be cast out of the world. And maybe you then wonder, ‘Judgment of the world’? Went to the cross, judgment of the world, that doesn’t seemed to have happened yet. And Satan being cast out, that doesn’t seemed to have happened yet. What does that mean? Well, it does mean, on the cross Christ’s death was the ultimate judgment of the world, but also at the cross Jesus ultimately defeated Satan. But the reality of those things, they’re a done deal, but they’re happening gradually before us, it hasn’t completely been seen by us. But one day we’ll see completely, that yes, Satan was cast out of the world, and yes the world was judged. And it was there determined at the cross. So the fulfillment of those ultimately we’ll see happening before us later. [Comment: At Jesus Christ’s second coming those two events really take place in a major way, cf. Revelation 20:1-3 and Matthew 25:31-46; and then finally in Revelation 20:11-13, and then the meltdown and recreation of the heavens and the earth, Revelation 20:14-15 and 21:1.] But no doubt, Satan, he’s packing his bags, he’s forwarding his mail, he knows. [Comment: Satan and his demons are sort of like a “lame duck” administration, when a new leader has been chosen, elected, but the term of the old leader hasn’t expired yet, and the term for the new leader hasn’t started yet. Jesus’ term of office, which will be permanent when it occurs, starts at his 2nd coming.] He’s moving out. He knows that, it happened at the cross. He’s moving out. In fact in Revelation chapter 20 it states [verses 1-3] that he’s going to move out, he’s going to be cast into the bottomless pit, and then that’s just a temporary holding, a temporary place for him to stay, because after that, were told in Revelation 20, verse 10 he’s going to be cast into the lake of fire, into hell. So he knows, man, pack your boxes, you’ve got just a short time, forward your mail, you’re moving out. But we also read then in the book of Revelation that one day all men will stand before the judgment seat of God. And the basis for their judgment will be ‘What’d you do with the cross?’ ‘What’d you do with the Gospel?’ ‘What’d you do with the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ?’ That’ll be the basis for judgment, is ‘What’d you do with Jesus? What’d you do with my Son?’ You’re are a sinner, and because of your sin, the wages of sin is death before a Holy God. And sin separates you from God, so you can stay there, or could have stayed there, but you also had the opportunity to accept Jesus Christ. [Some denominations differ on belief as to whether all mankind has been given that opportunity to accept Jesus Christ during their normal lifetimes. See http://www.unityinchrist.com/plaintruth/battle.htm.] He came and died and was raised to life so that you could be forgiven of your sin, and you could have eternal life. So, the cross, in the cross is the judgment of the world. That’s the basis of it.
“And if I am lifted up from the earth, I will draw all people to myself”---two meanings
Jesus then said, verse 32, “And I, if I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.” ‘If I am lifted up’ referring to the cross. And the crowd understands when he says “lifted up”, he means the cross, you can tell by their response. He says “Will draw all peoples to myself”, what does that mean? Does that mean everybody is going to be saved? Does that mean universal salvation? I think, considering the context, you remember, Greeks have just come to him, and he says and he understands that in order for them to come to him, he needs to go to the cross. So “all peoples” meaning all people-groups, anybody, anywhere, anytime, because of what Jesus has done, can come and find salvation, can come to God and be forgiven of their sin and find eternal life, can have a relationship with God---anybody, anywhere in the world, because of the cross. It doesn’t mean all people will chose it, it’s clear. So many reject it. So many despise it. Isaiah prophecied that. He was [and continues to be] despised and rejected by men. But yet the cross does provide the basis for anybody to be saved, for anybody to have eternal life. Now, it is when he is lifted up, is when all things will come will come into the proper perspective, all history, man, it’s there at the cross. You know, history is his story, there at the cross, it determines all of history, it puts it all into light, all into perspective. Everything comes into proper light, there at the cross. [Comment: Also, because Jesus lives, even though it looks like man may destroy mankind and the planet, mankind will also be saved from ultimate annihilation by the returning Jesus Christ, in power and glory. He will be the capstone of history itself, drawing it to a proper conclusion. The very kingdom he will set up over mankind will show the very way to avoid wars that have plagued mankind since the beginning of his history. See http://www.unityinchrist.com/kingdomofgod/mkg1.htm. So Jesus, as he says in Revelation, is truly the Alpha and Omega, he was at the beginning of mankind’s history as Yahweh, and will be at the close of physical mankind’s history, as Revelation 21 and 22 show. All of prophecy shows God is in control, and Jesus is God, God the Son. And all prophecy, when fulfilled, ends up in the history books.] You know, with that, I think of a story. When the Athenians built the temple of Minerva, a statue to be placed at the very top was needed. Well, a poor mechanic competed for the prize against a wealthy sculpture. The day came for raising that stone statue. The sculpture’s piece was unveiled with much applause, but it was so small, that as it ascended to the top, it’s beauty disappeared. And when it reached the top, it seemed like a shapeless block. The statue of the mechanic was next unveiled, it seemed huge and uncouth, but as it ascended, its apparent deformity began to disappear, it grew more beautiful at a distance, and finally when it reached the top, it seemed animated with divine beauty and life. The mechanic won the laurel and was borne off amid the shouts of the multitude. But it was there, that everyone saw the beauty, and the whole thing was seen in the proper light. And that’s what Jesus is saying, is, when he is lifted up, when he’s up there, on the cross, all history, all of life is put into it’s proper perspective, and the glory of God is so clearly seen.
The Jews didn’t understand the Messiah was to have two separate comings, 1st & 2nd
Verses 34-36, “The people answered him, ‘We have heard from the law, the Christ remains forever, and how can you say the Son of man must be lifted up? Who is this Son of man?’ Then Jesus said to them, ‘A little while longer the light is with you. Walk while you have the light, lest darkness overtake you. He who walks in darkness does not know where he is going. While you have the light, believe in the light, that you may become sons of light.’ These things Jesus spoke and departed, and was hidden from them.” Well, they understand what he means by being lifted up. They understand at this point what that means, he’s referring to death on the cross. And that confuses them. He’s testified that he’s the Messiah and Christ. People are wrestling with that, some people are believing that he’s the Messiah. But now he’s saying that he’s going to die, that confuses them, because of some of the Old Testament Scriptures. Psalm 89, Psalm 110, Isaiah 9, Ezekiel 37, Daniel chapter 2, Daniel chapter 7, Micah chapter 4, all of these and others refer to the Christ coming and reigning eternally. So now there’s some confusion, because they didn’t understand all of the Scriptures, like Isaiah 53. They didn’t understand the two comings of the Messiah. [see http://www.unityinchrist.com/prophecies/1stcoming.htm for a more or less full listing and print-up of the prophecies dealing with Jesus Christ’s 1st coming.] First, so essentially you needed the suffering Messiah to come and die for the sins of the world, and then to come back [to save mankind from himself], as the reigning Christ, the King of kings, the Lord of lords. But they don’t understand that. But you know, Jesus doesn’t try to clarify that, so often. It wasn’t easy to come to him with a question, you know, because he didn’t necessarily answer it directly. [A lot of times he’d answer a question with a question of his own.] He always went to the heart. He always tried to shake people up.
“But although he had done many signs before them, they did not believe in him”
Verses 37-41, (and I think this verse must have brought some tears to Handel) “But although he had done so many signs before them, they did not believe in him. That the word of Isaiah the prophet might be fulfilled which he spoke, ‘Lord, who has believed our report? And to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?’ Therefore they could not believe, because Isaiah said again, ‘He has blinded their eyes and hardened their hearts, lest they should see with their eyes, lest they should understand with their hearts, and turn so that I should heal them.’ These things Isaiah spoke when he saw his glory, and spoke of him.” Interesting, that passage in Isaiah. Clearly, as you turn to it, Isaiah is there before God, Isaiah 6, on his throne. But then when John refers to the passage, he also says that it applies to Jesus, the glory of Christ. So, another passage, all through the Bible, speaking of the deity of Jesus Christ [and just who he is, Yahweh, the Great I AM]. Well, we see here that though he had incredibly performed many signs, and many acts of love, these people yet didn’t believe. Instead they rejected him, it said “they despised him.” So, I guess we should all understand this morning, that even with the greatest miracle, man, your need isn’t to see the heavens part, your need isn’t to see God physically appear before you, your need isn’t to see the Red Sea part, or whatever. That isn’t your need. Because even with that, even with miracles, even with Jesus physically there, people despised and rejected him. [Comment: The pre-incarnate Christ, Yahweh, the Great I AM, experienced the exact same rejection and lack of faith where in Numbers 14:11b Yahweh states “How long will they refuse to believe in me, in spite of all the miraculous signs I have performed among them?” The Israelites saw all Yahweh’s miracles, the ten plagues and the slaying of the firstborn in Egypt, the parting of the Red Sea, water gushing from a rock, the manna from heaven that fed them.] It’s all an issue at heart. It’s an issue of heart, it’s not an issue of intellect, it’s an issue of heart. So your greatest need is a heart need, it isn’t to see signs and wonders. May we understand, even with these verses, again this danger in rejecting the voice, rejecting the light, the voice of God, the light of Christ. As clearly seen in these verses, some day, if we reject it, and we continue to reject it, there will come a time when we will not be able to accept it. Now, as he quotes Isaiah, what is John essentially saying here in these verses? Is he saying in these verses, as he quotes the Prophet Isaiah, that God actually keeps people from believing in God, is that what he’s saying? [Comment: There are some few denominations that believe just that. They believe that God is not calling all to salvation in this present life, but that all that are not resurrected in the first resurrection to immortality, will be resurrected in one massive physical resurrection, back to physical life, and there for the period of one normal lifetime, those “unsaved dead”, now made alive, will be given their opportunity for salvation and eternal life. The literal interpretation of Ezekiel 37:1-14 does seem to point in this direction as Athol Dickson says in his very insightful book The Gospel According to Moses, chapter 13, pp. 245-260, with special attention to p. 256. So there are some differences of doctrinal belief here on this passage in Isaiah. See http://www.unityinchrist.com/plaintruth/battle.htm for more information on some alternate beliefs on this subject. Beliefs in some secondary areas of Scripture are not always ironclad, nailed down.] Well, my answer to that would be ‘Yes and no’, ‘Yes and no.’ He doesn’t initially, he doesn’t initially, but he does when people chose not to believe. [And that is true also. God right now is looking for a people that are looking for him, seeking him out.] Kind of like Pharaoh, Pharaoh hardened his heart, we’re told in the book of Exodus, then God came and hardened his heart even more. And that’s what Isaiah is speaking of here. When hearts reject him and continue to reject him, they become so hard, and will not believe, therefore, he makes it so they cannot believe. They will not, they won’t, so he comes and makes it to the point where they cannot believe. Well, you say, that’s not fare [but including the alternate interpretation, it’s entirely fair.] It is fair, because God is so powerful, but he doesn’t want to violate your free will. He respects the free will of man, so instead of violating the free will, if you chose not to believe, he’ll say “All right, I’ll help you stay there if you want to stay there, and I’m not gonna force you to believe.” That’s essentially what this is saying. So there is this point from Isaiah. Another writer puts it this way, “The more a man lets himself become fixed in his ways, the harder it is to jerk himself out of it.” And it’s true, man. We get set in our ways, and set in our ways, set in our ways, and that’s the way we become, and God says “All right, no more light, man, you’re not going to hear my voice anymore.” This is essentially what God said to Solomon in 1st Chronicles chapter 28, verse 9, “If you seek him, he will be found by you. But if you forsake him, he will reject you forever.” Same thing. Also Matthew chapter 12, this is what is called the blaspheming of the Holy Spirit. Jesus says “He who is not with me is against me”, so there’s also this danger of apathy. You can’t stand on the sidelines, you gotta make a decision. Jesus says “he who is not with me is against me, and he who does not gather with me scatters.” “And so I tell you, every sin and blasphemy will be forgiven man but the blasphemy against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven.” And to blaspheme the Holy Spirit is to continue to reject the Holy Spirit as God speaks to your heart. Well, then we should consider Isaiah 55, verse 6, and I guess you could take this verse and just put it over this whole passage and Bible study this morning. “Seek the Lord while he may be found. Call upon him while he is near.” So critical to do that.
Verses 42-43, “Nevertheless even among the rulers many believed in him. But because of the Pharisees they did not confess him, lest they should be put out of the synagogue. For they loved the praise of men more than the praise of God.” We’re told that even many of the leaders, the religious leaders, man, they’re watching Jesus. He so clearly fulfilled all the prophecies, I mean, this man has done things, he’s healed the paralytic, somebody born lame, somebody born blind, he’s done incredible things. And when he teaches and speaks, it’s with such authority and power, the wisdom is so clearly there, that the religious leaders and the rulers are even wrestling, and some, we’re told, were impacted in such a way that they began to believe in the message of Jesus Christ. But then we have this really sad commentary. Because they fear the Pharisees, these hard-hearted guys, these religious overseers, because they feared them they did not profess Jesus publicly, because they feared they’d be put out of the synagogue. But then we’re told that the reason why is they loved the praise of men more than the praise of God. They loved the praise of men more. Oh man, that just cuts to the heart, doesn’t it? Sad commentary, but it’s a reality. But man, is it ever dangerous. Secret disciples, man, not a good thing. Secret discipleship, it’s really a contradiction in terms. For either the secrecy kills the discipleship, or the discipleship kills the secrecy, eventually. You can’t be a secret disciple too long, because it will kill the discipleship, or the discipleship, the power of God will move your heart so much you’ll be saying ‘All right, all right.’ Like Jeremiah, ‘Man, I wanted to not say anything, but I couldn’t help it. I had to, it just burned in my bones and in my heart, I had to speak the Word of God.’ It is true wisdom and prudence to prefer the good opinion of God to the good opinion of men. It is always better to be right for eternity than to be right for a time. Well, may the fear of man, this love of the praises of men, not stop you and I from turning to Jesus this morning. May it not cause any of us from being deceived into thinking it’s OK to be a secret disciple. I read this recently, and I’ll read it to you, it’s a piece of poetry. “Jesus, and it shall ever be, a mortal man ashamed of thee? Ashamed of thee whom angels praised, whose glory shines through endless days? Ashamed of Jesus, soon or far, that evening blushed to own a star? He sheds the light divine, for this beknighted soul of mine. Ashamed of Jesus, that dear friend, on whom my hopes of heaven depend? No, when I blush, be this my shame, that I no more revere his name. Ashamed of Jesus, yes I may, when I have no guilt to wash away, no tear to wipe, no good crave, no fears to quell, no soul to save. Till then nor is my boasting vain, till then I boast to Saviour slain, and O may this glory be, that Christ is not ashamed of me.” The danger of being a secret disciple. [Comment: As the Messianic Jewish revival continues in Israel today, due to Rabbinic threats and persecution, a number of secret disciples exist. These Messianic Jewish believers having come to accept Yeshua, Jesus as their Savior, have kept the fact secret. Currently there are 100 known Messianic Jewish congregations within the nation of Israel. Like Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimathea they won’t be able to fence-sit too long. Do keep them in your prayers, that the winds blow them off the fence in the right direction.]
To reject Jesus is to reject God the Father
Verses 44-50, “Then Jesus cried out and said, ‘He who believes in me, believes not in me but in him who sent me. And he who sees me, sees him who sent me. I have come as a light into the world, that whoever believes in me should not abide in darkness. And if anyone hears my words and does not believe, I do not judge him, for I did not come to judge the world, but to save the world. He who rejects me and does not receive my words, has one that judges him, the word that I have spoken will judge him in that last day. For I have not spoken on my own authority, but the Father who sent me gave me a command, what I should say and what I should speak. And I know that his command is everlasting life. Therefore whatever I speak, just as the Father has told me, so I speak.’” Jesus, as we’re told there, he cries out, he says “He who believes in me believes not in me but in him who sent me.’ i.e. he who believes in me believes in God the Father. Clearly, Jesus, as he’s done so many times, he makes it very clear that the basis of his whole life, and the reality and claim of his whole life, is that in him men are confronted with God. In Christ men are confronted with God. To listen to him is to listen to God [the Father], to see him is to see God. In him God meets man and man meets God. That’s what he says here, “If you believe in me, you believe in God the Father.” He is God the Son. So right here, at Jesus is this meeting with God, confronting with God. So then, as you see in those verses, to reject Jesus is to reject God. So being under another title, religious title, whatever it means, there is an understanding in the Bible, and this is the teaching of Jesus Christ himself, to reject him is to reject God the Father. And then as we see in those verses, to reject him, the result of that is to be judged. Now, as Jesus says there, he says “I’ve come as a light into the world, whoever believes in me shall not abide in darkness”, and he says “If anyone hears my word and does not believe, I do not judge him.” Jesus didn’t come to judge, he came to save. We saw that earlier in the Gospel of John. It’s not the wrath of God that sent Jesus to men, it was his love that sent Jesus to men. Yet the coming of Jesus, as we have seen, inevitably involves judgment, it is the result. And why should that be? It’s basically like this. By a persons attitude to Jesus, a person shows what he is, and therefore judges himself. In responding to Jesus, I show you what I am, by how I respond. And that judges me, my response to him. And then as we see in these verses, verse 48, to reject Gods Word is ultimately to reject Jesus. You can’t say “Well I like Jesus, but some of that stuff, just kind of toss that out.” To reject his Word is to reject him. I mean, he is the Word, the beginning of the Gospel of John, he is the Logos. [see http://www.unityinchrist.com/john/john1-1-5.html.] And, as it has been said before, in hell, this will be the great realization, this will be the real horror. I mean, hell is suffering in the greatest degree. But one of the great sufferings will be the reality that it was the Word, it was available to people, it was there, they could have accepted it, but they didn’t. That’ll be a horror in hell, not just the lake of fire itself, but just this horror. “I heard it, but why in the world didn’t I accept it? Why was I so hard-hearted. How could it hurt to accept Christ?” It’s an awesome thought that unbelievers will face judgment for every bit of Scripture that they have ever read or ever heard. So the sinner is actually passing judgment on himself, not of the Lord. When you reject, you’re actually passing judgment on yourself, that’s what he’s saying. These are the words if Christ, they are not my words, they are the words of Jesus very clearly. “He who rejects me and does not receive my words, has that which judges him, the word which I have spoken will judge him in the last day.” And the more I hear, the more I am accountable for. And each time I reject it, my heart gets harder, and I have to understand that there’s only so much time until I get to a point where ‘OK, God will blind your eyes, God will harden the heart, because he sees that you will not accept him. So he says ‘All right, no more. I respect your own will.’ [Comment: My question, thinking of the alternate explanation about the 2nd resurrection is this, ‘How can someone who has not had his or her mind opened to understand Jesus’ Word be held accountable for what they hear and do not understand?’ Revelation 12:9 states that Satan has the whole world deceived. And if Revelation 12:9 says the whole world has been deceived, that would mean every man, woman and child who has not received the Lord into their life is deceived, and remains in a deceived state of mind and understanding. Because of this and other verses that should not be ignored, but incorporated into the subject of hell---the doctrine about hell, and who goes there, and when, is sort of open to many differing interpretations by many legitimate Christian denominations. It could very well be that those who rise in the giant physical resurrection, the 2nd resurrection, will have their eyes opened to understand Jesus’ Word, and then will respond favorably to it, when they stand face to face with Jesus, and the reality of having been resurrected from the grave. Like I said, this passage, coupled to others, can be taken in different ways. See http://www.unityinchrist.com/plaintruth/battle.htm.]
This is Jesus’, according to John they way he lays it out, this is his final public teaching. And it makes a strong thrust into the hearts of men. It should. From this point on, we’ve got more to study, but he’s going to now teach his disciples, prepare them for what is ahead. He’ll also stand before Pilate, and he’ll make a few comments then. But this is his last address to the people. Let’s close in prayer…[transcript of a sermon on John 12:27-50, given somewhere in New England.]