Pastor Scott L. Harris
Grace Bible Church, NY
August 27, 2000
At times we can make such an emphasis upon the deity of Jesus Christ that we downplay His humanity. Hebrews 4:15 tells us that Jesus is not a “high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as [we are, yet] without sin.” This morning we will see a glimpse into His humanity and how He overcame its weakness. We will also see the blindness of unbelief and it consequences as well as the results of having the fear of men instead of God. Turn to John 12.
It is the Feast of Unleavened Bread which occurs the week prior to Passover. Jesus has entered into Jerusalem in fulfillment of the prophecies concerning the Messiah coming riding on the foal of a donkey. The people have cried out, “Hosanna to the Son of David; Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord, even the King of Israel.” The religious leaders are jealous and disgusted with Jesus. They are still plotting how they might seize Him and kill him as well as Lazarus, but at the moment they are fearful of Jesus because it seems the “whole world has gone after Him” (vs. 19).
Indeed, during this week Jesus is approached by many people and multitudes listen to His teaching in the temple. In verse 20, John points out that even some Greek proselytes would like to talk with Jesus, so they come to Philip with their request. Philip then talks about it with Andrew and then they both go to Jesus to see if He would see these Greeks. The answer that Jesus gives Philip and Andrew is for them to take back to these Gentiles as well as for the benefit of the other people that were around Him at that time. We studied that section (vs. 23-26) last week.
In brief, Jesus’ answer let the gentiles and those around Him know where their hope must be placed. It would not be in a political Messiah that would through off the bondage of Rome, but in a Messiah that would take care of their sin problem by being their Substitutionary sacrifice. Jesus would die in their place and through this sacrifice and the resurrection He would be able to grant them eternal life. Jesus’ death would bring much fruit just has had been prophecied. Those that would believe, follow and serve Him would gain this precious promise and be honored by God the Father.
JESUS’ ANTICIPATION (12:27-33)
HIS TROUBLED SOUL (27)
It is while still giving this answer that Jesus gives a glimpse into His humanity, for the crucifixion is now only 2 or 3 days away. John 12:27 “Now My soul has become troubled; and what shall I say, ‘Father, save Me from this hour’? But for this purpose I came to this hour. 28 “Father, glorify Thy name.”
Jesus will display the same anguish of soul the night before the crucifixion while praying in the Garden of Gethesemane. His soul is troubled. The word (tarassw/tarasso) means to be “agitated,” “distressed” or “stirred,” as was the water in John 5:4. The verb tense here is a perfect passive indicating that this agitation in His soul had been present for some time. We do not commonly think that Jesus would be inwardly bothered by anything, but He was. Incredible as it may seem, Jesus is God, but He is also human and subject to the same frailties that we have.
What was troubling Him? Here He expresses it with the phrase, “this hour.” The “hour” is used in the figurative sense and refers to the cross and all the suffering associated with it that He would have to endure. That includes all the physical suffering. The lack of sleep. The scourging. The crown of thorns. The nails being driven through His hands and feet. The slow suffocation hanging on the cross. The natural human response is to be repulsed by the thought of having to endure such physical suffering. Hebrews 12:2 says that Jesus “endured the cross, despising the shame.” There was also the incredible shame. This is not just the rejection of men that He would suffer. Jesus had already endured much of that. This includes that unthinkable moment in time when Jesus would bear the burden of man’s sin and the Father would forsake Him. If it were you or I facing such suffering we would also be in agony of soul or much beyond that.
The grammar in verse 27 could be interpreted in a couple of different way, I take Jesus’ statement, “Father, save Me from this hour” as a rhetorical question that expresses both His own anguish of heart and a teaching device for those who were around Him. I believe His expression here is designed to point His disciples and those hearing to the purpose of His coming. Even though what was coming was causing His soul to be troubled, it was the very purpose of why He came. The reminder to Himself as to His purpose would calm His soul and keep Him focused on the goal that lay before Him to glorify the Father.
We need to follow Jesus example in this. There are times that we too have agony of soul because we are facing something that we know could be or will be unpleasant. However, trying to avoid unpleasant things is not the goal of the Christian. Our goal is do God’s will which includes walking in righteousness, obeying His commands and glorifying His name regardless of what negative consequences we may have in our earthly lives. The Bible is clear that we will have tribulation in this world (John 16:33) and that all who strive to live Godly in Christ Jesus will be persecuted (2 Tim. 3:12). We even expect people to lie about us and slander us for so the prophets and apostles were also treated (Mt. 5:11f). As we remind ourselves of our purpose for living and set our goal to glorify God in all things, then the troubles of life take on a new perspective and we are able to endure them. We have a purpose in living that transcends this life.
A poem by Charles Ross Weed gives some perspective on this.
Jesus and Alexander died at thirty-three,
One died in Babylon and one on Calvary.
One gained all for self, and one himself he gave.
One conquered every throne, the other every grave.
When died the Greek, forever fell his throne of swords,
But Jesus died to live forever Lord of lords.
Jesus and Alexander died at thirty-three.
The Greek made all men slaves, the Jew made all men free.
One built an throne on blood, the other built on love.
The One was born of earth, the other from above.
One won all this earth to lose all earth and Heaven.
The other gave up all that all to him be given.
The Greek forever died, the Jew forever lives.
He loses all who gets and wins all things who gives.
HIS GLORIFICATION (28-30) Jesus kept the correct perspective and so prays out loud in verse 28, “Father, glorify Thy name.” There came therefore a voice out of heaven: “I have both glorified it, and will glorify it again.” The multitude therefore, 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.
God the Father responds immediately to the prayer and confirms that it has been answered and will be answered. The Father had glorified Himself through the Son throughout Jesus’ life and He will do so again through Jesus’ death. The voice was audible and the people heard it, but much like when Jesus spoke to Saul when he was traveling to Damascus, those around did not understand the distinct words. The skeptics in the group claimed it was thunder of some kind. They had to find a natural explanation for the unusual event. Others recognized that this was something supernatural and concluded an Angel had spoken to Jesus.
Jesus confirms that this was supernatural and that it was given for their sakes. It was a confirmation that God answered Jesus’ prayer. Whether they understood the specific of what was said or not, they should have understood the nature of what was happening. Some did, but the skeptics found an alternative explanation.
Skeptics today continue to ignore the obvious to find an alternative so they will not have to believe the truth. Hence we have the speculation of evolution and liberal theology. Rather than give heed to our Creator and recognize His judgment on mankind in the past they hold on to foolish and contradictory theories so they can deny His warning of judgment in the future.
HIS PROPHECY (31-33). Jesus then goes on to give warning and declare what would happen in the future. John 12:31 (NASB) “Now judgment is upon this world; now the ruler of this world shall be cast out. 32 “And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to Myself.” 33 But He was saying this to indicate the kind of death by which He was to die.
Satan and those under his control would see Jesus death as a victory for themselves, but in truth, it would be their condemnation. It would seal their judgment for sin would be atoned for and death would then be conquered. Satan, the ruler of this world, would be cast out from his power over men and the nations. Certainly the devil does and will continue to have power on this earth until Jesus returns and he is physically bound for a thousand years, and then later, after a short release and consequential rebellion, he will be thrown into the lake of fire (Rev. 20). However, the seal of Satan’s doom is Jesus’ atonement, for in it is the redemption of mankind from sin and slavery to Satan.
Jesus has previously talked about “being lifted up” (John 3) in relationship to the manner of death in which he would die and in analogy to Moses lifting up the bronze serpent in the wilderness. Jesus would draw all men in faith to Himself. This was the hope the Greek’s were looking for when they came to Philip about seeing Jesus in the first place. What hope was the Messiah giving to them who were not part of the nation of Israel. The gentiles would be included in the hope of salvation. The were the “other sheep” that belonged to Jesus. However, the people did not understand.
THE MULTITUDE’S ANTICIPATION (12:34-43)
CONFUSION (34-36) John 12:34 (NASB) The multitude therefore answered Him, “We have heard out of the Law that the Christ is to remain forever; and how can You say, ‘The Son of Man must be lifted up’? Who is this Son of Man?”
The multitudes understood clearly that Jesus in using the terminology, “Son of Man,” (vs. 23) was claiming to be the Messiah, and that that the “lifting up” meant that Jesus was foretelling His death, but this confused them. They were still looking for the political Messiah that would throw off the yoke of Rome and restore Israel to her former glory under David and Solomon. How could the Old Testament prophecies match what Jesus was saying. Psalm 110:4 proclaimed the Messiah to be “a priest forever According to the order of Melchizedek.” Isaiah 9:7 said that there would “be no end to the increase of [His] government or of peace, On the throne of David and over his kingdom, To establish it and to uphold it with justice and righteousness From then on and forevermore. Daniel 7:14 (NASB) proclaimed that “to Him was given dominion, Glory and a kingdom, That all the peoples, nations, and [men of every] language Might serve Him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion Which will not pass away; And His kingdom is one Which will not be destroyed.”
They could not understand that Jesus would come twice. Once as the suffering servant and later as conquering Lord at which time the prophecies I already cited would be fulfilled. They did not understand such passages as Isaiah 53 which speaks of Messiah’s sorrows, scourging and being smitten of God for our transgressions. They did not understand Psalm 22 which speaks of Messiah being pierced and forsaken by God. They did not understand Zechariah 13:7 which predicted the Messiah being struck and the sheep scattered. Nor did they understand Daniel 9:24 and the Messiah being cut off. The information was there, but they did not understand it.
Jesus does not answer their question and give them another lesson in Biblical prophecy. Instead, Jesus simply points again to Himself. John 12:35 Jesus therefore said to them, “For a little while longer the light is among you. Walk while you have the light, that darkness may not overtake you; he who walks in the darkness does not know where he goes. 36 “While you have the light, believe in the light, in order that you may become sons of light.”
Jesus had already explained about Himself, His fulfillment of prophecy and declaration of God the Father’s words. He proved His claims with His many miracles. He would not be repeating them. He simply points out that He Himself is the true light that came into the world to enlighten every man (John 1:9). He would not be with them much longer, but if they would believe and walk in His teaching they would be sons of the light and not stumble in the darkness that was coming. They would know the truth that would set them free from sin.
FULFILLED PROPHECY (36-41). At the end of verse 36 John comments “These things Jesus spoke, and He departed and hid Himself from them.” This was the end of Jesus’ public ministry. The light and come and had shined brightly for them, but now the light was departed. Those that loved the light would follow Him. The rest would be left in darkness. John then goes on to explain why Jesus does this in fulfilment of Isaiah’s prophecy.
John 12:37 (NASB) But though He had performed so many signs before them, [yet] they were not believing in Him; 38 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?” 39 For this cause they could not believe, for Isaiah said again, 40 “He has blinded their eyes, and He hardened their heart; lest they see with their eyes, and perceive with their heart, and be converted, and I heal them.” 41 These things Isaiah said, because he saw His glory, and he spoke of Him.
Isaiah 53:1 predicted this response. The Messiah would perform many signs demonstrating that He was from the Father, but the people would not believe. The reason they could not believe was, as Isaiah 6:9,10 predicted, their eyes were blind and their hearts were hard. John does not quote the part of this section of Isaiah that spoke about hearing and ears because John’s emphasis was on their rejection of the signs they had seen Jesus do. Some have tried to argue using this passage from Isaiah that God is responsible for a person’s unbelief for “HE has blinded their eyes,” etc. The fault of a person’s blindness and hardness of heart does not belong to God. He is not some cruel being that delights in sending people to everlasting damnation. God is a God of love. He demonstrated it in that while we where yet sinners, Christ died for us (Rom. 5:8). He is not willing that any should perish, but that all come to repentance (2 Peter. 3:9). The fault lies with the human who rejects what God has said and done. Like Pharaoh of old who continually hardened his heart against all the miracles that Moses did by the power of God, there finally came a time when God confirmed him in that rejected and hardened his heart so that there could no longer be repentance (Exodus 7:13,22; 8:15;19; 32; 9:12). The same is true for these who had seen what Jesus had done and continued to reject Him.
The mechanism for this is seen in Romans 1 where Paul emphatically states that all people have a knowledge of God evident in creation itself so that they are without excuse. However, people willing suppress the truth in unrighteousness and as they do so, God confirms them in their rejection by God giving them over to their sin. God does not harden the heart by an action that He does, but rather the human heart is hardened without hope of change when God refuses to work in that persons life any longer. And without the work of the Holy Spirit, a person cannot come to repentance and salvation. A person is hardened in sin when God abandons them to their sin.
A person does not go to Hell because God is cruel. God did not prepare Hell for men, but for the devil and his angels (Mt. 25:41). People go to Hell because they do not know God and have not obeyed the gospel of our Lord Jesus (2 Thess. 8), and so their names have not been written in the Lamb’s book of life (Rev. 20).
FEAR (42-43). There are always those who reject God openly. There are others that are favorable to Jesus, but because their fear of man is greater than their fear of God, they never profess Him. Such was the case even among the religious leaders of Israel at the time of Jesus. There are consequences for them too, as we shall see in a few moments.
John 12:42 (NASB) Nevertheless many even of the rulers believed in Him, but because of the Pharisees they were not confessing [Him,] lest they should be put out of the synagogue; 43 for they loved the approval of men rather than the approval of God.
John probably found out about these people from Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimathea who made their profession of faith in Jesus publically known after Jesus’ crucifixion (Jn 19:38,39). Other Pharisees professed their belief after the resurrection (Acts 15:5). All of them were in danger at this point because of their desire to gain the approval of men rather than God. Jesus had just pointed out to them in verse 25 that those that loved their life would lose it. Undoubtably there were those that did suffer that consequence then just as there are those that suffer it now. How can I be so sure that a belief that hidden and not openly professed does not do a person any good?
First, Jesus said in Matthew 10:32,33, “Everyone therefore who shall confess Me before men , I will also confess him before My Father who is in heaven. 33 “But whoever shall deny Me before men , I will also deny him before My Father who is in heaven. This is stated in the positive and the negative. There is to be a positive confession of Jesus and no denial of Him. Otherwise, Jesus will not confess you before God the Father and instead will deny you.
Second, which is more important here because it is the immediate context, is Jesus’s commendation and condemnation given in verses 44-50 concerning belief and rejection of Him.
BELIEF AND REJECTION (12:44-50)
This section is a summary statement by John of Jesus’ teaching throughout His ministry. Verse 36 precludes this from being a later public address and the verb in verse 44 that Jesus “cried out” precludes it from being a private teaching to His disciples. Jesus first addresses belief in Him and then rejection and its consequences.
BELIEF (44-46) John 12:44 (NASB) And Jesus cried out and said, “He who believes in Me does not believe in Me, but in Him who sent Me. 45 “And he who beholds Me beholds the One who sent Me. 46 “I have come [as] light into the world, that everyone who believes in Me may not remain in darkness.
This is a repetition of Jesus’ teaching that He is from God the Father. This is a foundational aspect of belief in Jesus. To believe in Jesus is to believe in the Father who sent Him. To see Jesus is to see the Father who sent Him. As the writer of Hebrews put it, Jesus “is the radiance of His glory and the exact representation of His nature.” Or as Jesus told Philip in John 14:9, “Have I been so long with you, and [yet] you have not come to know Me, Philip? He who has seen Me has seen the Father; how do you say, ‘Show us the Father’?
Jesus came as the light of the world that those who believed would be saved out the darkness of sin. Those who practice the truth come to the light (John 3:21), but most people love the darkness and reject the light because their deeds are evil (John 3:19). That includes those that deny or minimize the deity of Jesus. They are not true Christians. They have a false God and will incur to themselves the judgement that Jesus explains in the next four verses.
REJECTION (47-50) John 12:47 (NASB) “And 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. 48 “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. 49 “For I did not speak on My own initiative, but the Father Himself who sent Me has given Me commandment, what to say, and what to speak. 50 “And I know that His commandment is eternal life; therefore the things I speak, I speak just as the Father has told Me.”
To hear the commandments of Jesus and not keep them is to reject Him and bring yourself under God’s judgement. No fence sitting is allowed. You either believe Jesus and follow what He says or you are rejecting Him. Jesus did not speak on His own, but only what God the Father gave Him to say.
The Father sent the Son to save the world and believing Jesus and following Him brings eternal life. But whoever rejects Jesus, is under God’s condemnation because when a person rejects Jesus they are also rejecting what God the Father has commanded. And again, it does not matter whether that rejection is active and defiant or passive in just refusing to make a decision. Refusing to make a decision to believe and obey Jesus is making a decision to reject and rebel against Him and God the Father. The consequence will be His judgment at the last day.
I know that most everyone here professes to know and believe on Jesus. There are a few that do not. There are also those of you who profess your belief here while you are among true Christians, but you do not profess your belief when you are among non-Christian co-workers, neighbors, school mates, etc. You are like the rulers that believed, but because of the fear of man you refuse to confess Jesus openly. For all of you who do not openly profess faith in Jesus, please take what Jesus says here seriously. You do not know when your last day will come. You may not have tomorrow. You may not even make it home this afternoon. Death can come suddenly and unexpectedly. If you died right now you would have to face God as someone who has rejected Christ and Him. Jesus came to save you from your sin. What is holding you back from believing and following Him? Only you can answer that question.
I plead with you to talk with myself or one of our church leaders. Let us help you with whatever it is you are struggling with. You can leave today with a right relationship with God, and there is no condemnation to all who are in Christ Jesus (Rom. 8:1).
If you are someone reading these sermon notes on our web site, our plea is to you too. We are available to help you too. Please contact us at our e-mail addresses listed on this site, or write us or call us at:
Grace Bible Church
158 Myers Corners Road
Wappingers Falls, NY 12590
Parents, you are responsible to apply God’s Word to your children’s lives. Here is some help. Young Children – draw a picture about something you hear during the sermon. Explain your picture(s) to your parents at lunch. Older Children – Do one or more of the following: 1) Count how many times the word “soul” is said. 2) Discuss with your parents Jesus’ troubled soul as He faced the cross. How did He overcome it?
THINK ABOUT IT!
Questions to consider in discussing the sermon with others.
Do you every downplay Jesus’ humanity? How does the truth of Heb. 4:15 affect you? How does Jesus’ soul being “troubled” affect your understanding of Him? Why was His soul troubled? How did He overcome it? How can you follow His example? Do you have to understand everything God says in order to believe He has spoken? How do you handle the foolishness of skeptics? What did the multitudes correct understand about Jesus? Why did it confuse them that the Son of Man would be lifted up and die? What Old Testament passages were they ignoring or misunderstanding? Why did Jesus end His public ministry a few days prior to the crucifixion? What prophecy did this fulfill and how did it fulfill it? Why were the people blind with hard hearts? What was their responsibility in this? What did God do to them as a result? Are those who “believe” but refuse to confess Jesus true believers? Why or why not? What do those who “believe” in Jesus believe and what do they gain? What to those who reject Him receive? What constitutes rejection of Jesus? Why did Jesus come? What do you b
Jesus would not be the _____________ Messiah they were expecting. He came to grant them ____________
JESUS’ ANTICIPATION (12:27-33)
HIS TROUBLED SOUL (27) “troubled” means: _________________________
HIS GLORIFICATION (28-30)
God the Father responds immediately to the prayer
Skeptics ignore the ___________ to find an alternative so they will not have to believe the ________.
HIS PROPHECY (31-33)
What Jesus would accomplish in the “hour” to come would seal Satan’s ___________ for sin would be atoned for and death would then be conquered.
THE MULTITUDE’S ANTICIPATION (12:34-43)
The multitudes understood that Jesus was claiming to be the ____________ and that He would _______
FULFILLED PROPHECY (36-41) – Isaiah 53:1; & 6:9,10
A person is hardened in sin when God ____________________________________________________
Matthew 10:32,33 – There is to be a ________________________ of Jesus and no denial of Him. Otherwise, Jesus will not confess you before God the Father and will instead _________ you.
BELIEF AND REJECTION (12:44-50)
To hear the commandments of Jesus and not keep them is to_________ Him. No fence sitting is allowed.
What do you believe about Jesus?
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