Sapphire Sky

July 13, 2015

The Final Message

Filed under: encouragement, theology — Tags: , — Steve Knaus @ 1:52 pm

John-12-24

 

For public speakers, what would you say in your final speech?

For writers, what would you write in your final letter? In your final article?

For pastors, what would you preach in your final sermon?

It is now late Tuesday of Jesus’ final week on earth. He entered the city of Jerusalem on Sunday (see here), and He has been teaching in the temple through both Monday and Tuesday.

The Jews had been listening to Jesus when a group of Greeks came to the temple, requesting an audience with the Lord. With these Gentile followers looking to hear from him, Jesus declared some of his most startling words:

 

“You need to die”

A grain of wheat is alone and useless unless it is planted. But when it is put into the earth and it “dies”, it will grow and become fruitful.

This message is personally about Jesus. Jesus had said several times earlier that his time had not yet come (John 2:4; John 7:30; John 8:20), but now the time had come. It is only a few days before he is going to die. Yet he will be glorified through his death as he saves mankind.

This message is also about his followers. When we set aside the value and control of our own lives, Jesus promises us life forever with him and honor from God the Father.

 

“Even the horror brings glory to God”

Jesus was horrified by the anticipation of his death on the cross (the English word, “troubled”, is not strong enough). The horror was not the physical pain, torture, and death of the crucifixion. The real terror for Jesus is that He would be torn apart from God the Father. The Father and the Son existed for all eternity in total union and intimacy (John 5:19-23). Now, the Son must stand alone to take the punishment for mankind.

But His encouragement through all of this was that God would be glorified. This was why he came. For only the third time in his ministry, God the Father gave an audible response — His death would bring glory to God.

 

“The enemy is defeated”

Satan is the ruler of this world, but his power is broken by Jesus’ death on the cross. He, and all in the world who follow him, will be judged on the last day. They are now on death row, awaiting their execution.

 

“Believe while you still can”

Jesus gave this invitation to his listeners, but it is the same for all people. You have only two choices: you can follow the Light or you can follow the ruler of this world into his judgement. Jesus is the light (John 1:4-5; John 8:12) and he is making one more call to believe in Him.

But beware! The invitation will not last forever. If you keep refusing to believe in him, the time will come when you will no longer be able to believe. The more you refuse him, the less chance you have to come to believe in him. You have only a “little while longer”!

 

Then Jesus left.

 

Sadly, many people refused to believe. They would rather have the blindness so God gave the blindness to them. They stayed in their unbelief for so long that they were no longer able to believe.

 

Previous post: The King has Come!


John 12:20-50

Now among those who went up to worship at the feast were some Greeks. So these came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida in Galilee, and asked him, “Sir, we wish to see Jesus.” Philip went and told Andrew; Andrew and Philip went and told Jesus. And Jesus answered them, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. 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. Whoever loves his life loses it, and whoever hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. If anyone serves me, he must follow me; and where I am, there will my servant be also. If anyone serves me, the Father will honor him.

“Now is my soul troubled. And what shall I say? ‘Father, save me from this hour’? But for this purpose I have come to this hour. Father, glorify your name.” Then a voice came from heaven: “I have glorified it, and I will glorify it again.” The crowd that stood there and heard it said that it had thundered. Others said, “An angel has spoken to him.” Jesus answered, “This voice has come for your sake, not mine. Now is the judgment of this world; now will the ruler of this world be cast out. And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.” He said this to show by what kind of death he was going to die. So the crowd answered him, “We have heard from the Law that the Christ remains forever. How can you say that the Son of Man must be lifted up? Who is this Son of Man?” So Jesus said to them, “The light is among you for a little while longer. Walk while you have the light, lest darkness overtake you. The one who walks in the darkness does not know where he is going. While you have the light, believe in the light, that you may become sons of light.”

When Jesus had said these things, he departed and hid himself from them. Though he had done so many signs before them, they still did not believe in him, so that the word spoken by the prophet Isaiah might be fulfilled:
“Lord, who has believed what he heard from us,
and to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?”
Therefore they could not believe. For again Isaiah said,
“He has blinded their eyes
and hardened their heart,
lest they see with their eyes,
and understand with their heart, and turn,
and I would heal them.”

Isaiah said these things because he saw his glory and spoke of him. Nevertheless, many even of the authorities believed in him, but for fear of the Pharisees they did not confess it, so that they would not be put out of the synagogue; for they loved the glory that comes from man more than the glory that comes from God.

And Jesus cried out and said, “Whoever believes in me, believes not in me but in him who sent me. And whoever sees me sees him who sent me. I have come into the world as light, so that whoever believes in me may not remain in darkness. If anyone hears my words and does not keep them, I do not judge him; for I did not come to judge the world but to save the world. The one who rejects me and does not receive my words has a judge; the word that I have spoken will judge him on the last day. For I have not spoken on my own authority, but the Father who sent me has himself given me a commandment—what to say and what to speak. And I know that his commandment is eternal life. What I say, therefore, I say as the Father has told me.”


 

Now among those who went up to worship at the feast were some Greeks. So these came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida in Galilee, and asked him, “Sir, we wish to see Jesus.” Philip went and told Andrew; Andrew and Philip went and told Jesus.

We are not given the exact time when this event occurred, but the context from John’s account shows that it must have been at the close of Jesus’ public teaching in the temple — probably Tuesday afternoon. Jesus had been teaching in the Temple on Monday and Tuesday, amidst challenges by the Pharisees and the Sadducees, when the disciples were approached by some Greeks.

The term “Greek” can directly refer to a native of Greece or it can also broadly refer to a foreigner. Either way, these Greeks were God-fearing Gentiles who had come to the Passover to worship with the Jews. The events of that week had interested them enough that they sought out an audience with Jesus.

There is a lot of conjecture regarding why the Greeks approached Philip. Philip was one of the two disciples with a Greek name (also Andrew) and it is of interest that John specifically mentions here that Philip was from Bethsaida. There may have been a local or a cultural connection that brought them to Philip, or Philip may have simply been on duty nearest to where the Greeks approached. Philip told Andrew and together they brought the news to Jesus.

 

And Jesus answered them, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. 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. Whoever loves his life loses it, and whoever hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. If anyone serves me, he must follow me; and where I am, there will my servant be also. If anyone serves me, the Father will honor him.

The remaining part of John 12 is Jesus’ final public remarks. After these statements on Tuesday, he will leave the crowd and not appear again publicly until he is being arrested on Friday morning (John 12:36).

The first statements by Jesus are about his approaching death. Jesus had announced several times before that “my time has not yet come” (John 2:4; John 7:30; John 8:20). But now his time has come. The time has come for Jesus the Messiah to die, to give his life as a sacrifice for the world.

By the context, these statements seem to be prompted by the Greeks wanting to see Jesus. What was significant about the arrival of the Greeks? Jesus used their presence to draw out a higher principle. Whatever they were going to ask Him (which was never recorded), Jesus tells them what is going to happen and what it will take to be His disciple. The fact that they are Gentiles is no longer an issue, as he will draw all men to himself (John 12:32).

Jesus used the paradox of a seed as an illustration. By itself, the seed is alone and unfruitful. It is not until it dies (is planted) that it is fruitful. This has two implications. First, He must die in order to cast out the ruler of this world and draw all men to himself (John 12:31-33). There cannot be the Kingdom of God unless He dies.

Secondly, his disciples must also give up their lives, “whoever hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life”. We put aside our physical lives in order to gain eternal life. This is not a command for self-hatred, but rather that we should consider our own lives as worthless in comparison to the glory of eternal life, the fellowship with Jesus Christ, and the honor from God the Father.

“If you want to have a flourishing life, you need to be willing to die” – Stephen Davey [1]

 

“Now is my soul troubled. And what shall I say? ‘Father, save me from this hour’? But for this purpose I have come to this hour. Father, glorify your name.” Then a voice came from heaven: “I have glorified it, and I will glorify it again.” The crowd that stood there and heard it said that it had thundered. Others said, “An angel has spoken to him.” Jesus answered, “This voice has come for your sake, not mine.

Now is my soul troubled.” The English translation is not strong enough. Jesus was horrified as he anticipated the cross. The word for “troubled” here signifies horror, anxiety, and agitation [2]. This is the same word used for Jesus as he stood at the grave of his friend Lazarus (John 11:33). It was the same word to describe the terrified disciples when they saw Jesus walk on the water (Mark 6:49-50).

Jesus was terrified at the thought of his crucifixion. It was not the extreme torture and physical suffering that brought such horror, but the separation from God that the cross would require. Jesus would take on the punishment for the sins of the world.

But Jesus took comfort in what is most important. It was for God’s glory that he waited for his friend Lazarus to die before coming to heal him. This is the same thing that now that compels Him to go all the way to the cross, enduring the separation and the agony of his sacrifice. God’s glory was most important!

For the third time in Jesus’ life on earth, God the Father speaks directly from Heaven (see Matthew 3:16-17 and Matthew 17:1-6 for the other two occasions). God’s name has been glorified and it will be glorified. God will be glorified through Jesus’ death on the cross.

“To him it bore the assurance, which had all along been the ground of His claims, as it was the comfort in His Sufferings, that, as God had in the past glorified Himself in the Son, so would it be in the future in the perfecting of the work given Him to do.” – Alfred Edersheim [3]

 

Now is the judgment of this world; now will the ruler of this world be cast out. And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.” He said this to show by what kind of death he was going to die. So the crowd answered him, “We have heard from the Law that the Christ remains forever. How can you say that the Son of Man must be lifted up? Who is this Son of Man?”

By going to the cross, Jesus would pronounce judgement on this world and cast out its ruler. Satan has been ruling the world since Adam’s rebellion (Genesis 3), but his power has been broken by the cross. The judgement has not been executed yet, but the world now sits under the sentence.

“The world is like one condemned to die, but still permitted to live on until that sentence will be executed. Soon the day of God’s red heavens will come; soon the vials of the wrath of God will be poured out upon this world, and then indeed will men know its judgment to the full.” – H.A. Ironside [4]

He will draw all people to himself. The world will be judged and all people will be compelled to bow to Jesus Christ (Philippians 2:9-11; Romans 14:11). All will bow but not all people will be saved. Jesus immediately continued with the warning to believe in him while they still have a chance (John 12:35-36). As discussed in the post here, Jesus warns the people that “Unless you believe that I AM you will die in your sins” (John 8:21-24).

This is the also the third time that Jesus said that he would be “lifted up” (see also John 3:14-15; John 8:28-29). The earlier references were a foreshadowing of the cross, but this statement was very clear. The people of his day readily understood the term “lifted up” as being placed on a cross. Jesus would die by crucifixion [5].

But the people also knew that the Messiah would rule over an everlasting kingdom (Daniel 7:13-14). Therefore, how could he be the Messiah if he was about to die?

 

So Jesus said to them, “The light is among you for a little while longer. Walk while you have the light, lest darkness overtake you. The one who walks in the darkness does not know where he is going. While you have the light, believe in the light, that you may become sons of light.”

This is Jesus’ final appeal to unbelievers. He will be among them for only a short time and then he will be gone. There is little time remaining to believe in the one who is the light.

If you reject the light, you have only one alternative — darkness! [6]

“We only have a little while longer in which to be faithful to the Lord who saved us. Let us yield ourselves wholly to Him to walk in the light while we have the light. ‘The night is coming, when no one can work’ (John 9:4).” – H.A. Ironside [4]

 

When Jesus had said these things, he departed and hid himself from them. Though he had done so many signs before them, they still did not believe in him, so that the word spoken by the prophet Isaiah might be fulfilled:
“Lord, who has believed what he heard from us,
and to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?”
Therefore they could not believe. For again Isaiah said,
“He has blinded their eyes
and hardened their heart,
lest they see with their eyes,
and understand with their heart, and turn,
and I would heal them.”

This passage teaches a much more sobering principle. God urges people to believe, but their time is limited. For those who keep refusing to believe, the time will come when they are no longer able to believe. You have limited chances to believe!

This message is confirmed by two references from Isaiah. The first reference (Isaiah 53:1) tells about the coming Messiah. He will suffer and be rejected, and they refuse to believe Him.

The second reference (Isaiah 6:9-10) shows that God punished their unbelief by allowing the people to have their delusion. They had spent too bunch time refusing to believe and now they could not believe.

This was Jesus’ last public appeal. After he said these things, he left and they could no longer find him.

“But we read though He had done so many miracles, yet they believed not on Him. Miracles alone will never convince if people refuse the Word. No signs, no wonders, no miracles, will ever reach their consciences if they are determined to go on in their sins and refuse to repent.”

“He had pleaded with them to give Him the first place in their hearts as the one true and living God. They turned away. He sent His prophets to call them back, but the testimony was spurned, and the time came when the message had no effect upon their consciences at all. So God gave them up to hardness of heart because they themselves preferred it. They chose to disobey God.” [4]

 

Isaiah said these things because he saw his glory and spoke of him. Nevertheless, many even of the authorities believed in him, but for fear of the Pharisees they did not confess it, so that they would not be put out of the synagogue; for they loved the glory that comes from man more than the glory that comes from God.

The glory that Isaiah saw (Isaiah 6) was Jesus Christ himself.

Even some of the ruling Jews believed in him. We know of two of them — Nicodemus and Joseph (John 19:38-39). Although they believed, they were too afraid of the Pharisees to publicly declare their belief.

“I believe that many people today, deep in their hearts, believe in Christ and in their homes tell Him they love and trust Him, but they are not honoring Him by making confession before men. They do not have the joy and victory in their lives that they might have if they came out openly and let others know.” – H.A. Ironside [4]

 

And Jesus cried out and said, “Whoever believes in me, believes not in me but in him who sent me. And whoever sees me sees him who sent me. I have come into the world as light, so that whoever believes in me may not remain in darkness.

Jesus had already left the crowd (John 12:36). Most commentators believe that these final statements at the end of the chapter are collected by John as a summary. The first 12 chapters of John’s gospel account give the presentation of Jesus Christ to the world. The rest of the book (starting at chapter 13) give the presentation of Him to his own disciples.

You cannot separate the Son from the Father. If you believe in Jesus then you are believing in the Father. When you see Jesus you see the Father.

 

If anyone hears my words and does not keep them, I do not judge him; for I did not come to judge the world but to save the world. The one who rejects me and does not receive my words has a judge; the word that I have spoken will judge him on the last day. For I have not spoken on my own authority, but the Father who sent me has himself given me a commandment—what to say and what to speak. And I know that his commandment is eternal life. What I say, therefore, I say as the Father has told me.”

Jesus came into the world with a message of mercy to save the world. But for those who do not believe him, these same words of Christ will be their condemnation at the last day. Those who refuse his message of mercy will get his message of judgement (John 3:18).

“If you reject His first message of salvation, his last message will be of judgement.” [6]

 


[1] Stephen Davey, Here Am I, Lord . . . Bury Me, John 12:22-33

 

[2] John MacArthur, The Perplexities of the Cross, John 12:27-34

 

[3] Alfred Edersheim, The Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah, Book V, CHAPTER III. THE THIRD DAY IN PASSION-WEEK – THE EVENTS OF THAT DAY – THE QUESTION OF CHRIST’S AUTHORITY – THE QUESTION OF TRIBUTE TO CAESAR – THE WIDOW’S FARTHING – THE GREEKS WHO SOUGHT TO SEE JESUS – SUMMARY AND RETROSPECT OF THE PUBLIC MINISTRY OF CHRIST

 

[4] H.A. Ironside, Address 39, “WALK WHILE YE HAVE THE LIGHT”, John 12:29-36

 

[5] The Jews had attempted to stone him several times, but Jesus had determined that he would die by crucifixion. Crucifixion validated Jesus’ claims in ways that would not be possible by stoning:

  • Crucifixion demonstrated that the claims against him were totally false. The Roman crucifixion was used for seditionists, yet Jesus was cleared of all charges of sedition (John 19:6-7). He went to the cross because he claimed to be the Son of God.
  • Crucifixion was public and visible for everyone to see. Jesus was clearly visible to everyone while on the cross. Stoning was quick and could have been done privately. Jesus was able to publicly speak while on the cross.
  • Crucifixion validated Jesus’ death with absolute certainty. The Romans verified that the victim was absolutely dead. Therefore, there was no question that Jesus was dead when He rose on the third day.

Source: Doug Bookman, If I Be Lifted Up…, John 3:14

 

[6] Stephen Davey, Children of the Night, John 12:34-50

 

5 Comments »

  1. […] Previous post: The Final Message […]

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  2. […] in Jesus Christ, do not hesitate any longer! This may be your last chance to believe in Him (see here). Be warned, but come to him before you are thrown out like the useless […]

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  3. […] Jesus is comforted by the fact that the cross will bring glory to Him and to God the Father (see here). He also looks past the cross to when He will return to the Father. Jesus Christ has been the […]

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  4. […] Jesus contemplated his upcoming death on Tuesday. The thought about what he was going to suffer horrified him, but Jesus refused on Tuesday to ask the Father to save him (see here). […]

    Pingback by The Garden | Sapphire Sky — October 10, 2015 @ 10:12 pm

  5. […] Greeks request to see Jesus; Jesus delivers His final public message (John 12:20-50) […]

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