By Genuinely Trusting in Jesus

Dr. Rob Green June 27, 2021 John 12:27-50
Outline

John 20:31- …so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing you may have life in His name.

3 responses to the person and work of Jesus

I. Follow Jesus’ Mission to Glorify the Father (vv.27-32)

John 12:26 - If anyone serves me, he must follow me.

A. Even when it’s painful (v.27)

John 12:27a - Now my soul has become troubled…

Hebrews 4:15-16 - For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin. Therefore let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.

John 12:27b - …and what shall I say, “Father save me from this hour”?

Luke 22:41-44 - And He withdrew from them about a stone’s throw, and He knelt down and began to pray, saying, “Father, if You are willing, remove this cup from Me; yet not My will, but Yours be done.” Now an angel from heaven appeared to Him, strengthening Him. And being in agony He was praying very fervently; and His sweat became like drops of blood, falling down upon the ground.

B. Believing in God’s timing (v.27)

John 12:27 - And what shall I say? “Father, save me from this hour?” But for this purpose, I came to this hour.

C. Looking with an eye to the bigger picture (v.28, 30-32)

John 12:28 - Father, glorify your name.

John 12:30-32 - Jesus answered and said, “This voice has not come for My sake, but for your sakes. Now judgment is upon 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 men to Myself.”

John 5:24 - Truly, truly, I say to you, he who hears My word, and believes Him who sent Me, has eternal life, and does not come into judgment, but has passed out of death into life.

John 10:15-16 - …I lay down My life for the sheep. I have other sheep, which are not of this fold; I must bring them also, and they will hear My voice; and they will become one flock with one shepherd.

II. Refuse to Doubt God Even When You Don’t Understand (vv.28b-43)

A. Because God knows more than you (vv.33-36)

John 12:33-36 - But He was saying this to indicate the kind of death by which He was to die. The crowd then 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?” So Jesus said to them, “For a little while longer the Light is among you. Walk while you have the Light, so that darkness will not overtake you; he who walks in the darkness does not know where he goes. While you have the Light, believe in the Light, so that you may become sons of Light.”

John 5:39 - You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; it is these that testify about Me.

John 12:37-41 - But though He had performed so many signs before them, yet they were not believing in Him. This was to fulfill the word of Isaiah the prophet which he spoke: “Lord, who has believed our report? And to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?” For this reason they could not believe, for Isaiah said again, “He has blinded their eyes and He hardened their heart, so that they would not see with their eyes and perceive with their heart, and be converted and I heal them.” These things Isaiah said because he saw His glory, and he spoke of Him.

B. Because God is bigger than our fears (vv.42-43)

John 12:42-43 - Nevertheless many even of the rulers believed in Him, but because of the Pharisees they were not confessing Him, for fear that they would be put out of the synagogue; for they loved the approval of men rather than the approval of God.

III. Choose to Obey the Words of Jesus (vv.44-50)

A. Because Jesus was sent by God (vv.44-45)

John 12:44 - He who believes in me does not believe in Me but in Him who sent me.

B. Because Jesus speaks only the Words of God (vv.47-50)

John 12:49 - For I did not speak on My own initiative, but the Father Himself who sent Me has given Me a commandment as to what to say and what to speak.

C. Because there is a judgment for rejecting Jesus’ words, but life for accepting them (vv. 48,50)

This morning we are concluding the first major half of the Gospel of John. The book as a whole was written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing you may have life in His name. “ (John 20:31) And so as we approach this last section of the first half, its important to keep in mind that this section was written for that same purpose…so that we might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that by believing we might have life in his name.

There are things in this passage of Scripture that are hard to swallow. There are truths in this passage that cut against the grain of our pride. There are truths in this passage that strain our understanding and intellect. But they are inspired Words of God, written by the apostle John because he and the Lord want you to know that Jesus is in fact the Christ.

This section supports that very purpose.

Our annual theme is Enjoying Life in His Name…which even the hard and challenging parts of the gospel of John, like our text this morning, are designed to help us with.

2 weeks ago, Pastor Folden preached on the first half of John 12…we’ll be in the last half of John 12 today. But as a reminder, in chapter 11 Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead. And the raising of Lazarus was just too much for the Jewish leaders and Pharisees to handle.

And out of the mouth of the Pharisees we get to see why this was too much for them:

John 11:47–48 47 Therefore the chief priests and the Pharisees convened a council, and were saying, “What are we doing? For this man is performing many dsigns. 48 If we let Him go on like this, all men will believe in Him, and the Romans will come and take away both our place and our nation.”

They couldn’t handle everyone believing in Him…and the corollary to that is not believing in the Pharisees so much anymore. And they are concerned that the Romans will take away their place and their nation.

So the solution to their problem is to kill Jesus. In chapter 12, Mary anoints Jesus’ feet with very expensive perfume, which Jesus connects with preparation for his death. But right after this Jesus enters Jerusalem to a large crowd of people shouting and welcoming him into Jerusalem with palm branches. This crowd had heard about Jesus raising Lazarus and had gathered to seem and the palm branches, as Pastor Folden mentioned are a symbol of victory…a stark contrast to the scene before where Jesus sees Mary’s anointing of his feet as preparation of his death. And then right after the triumphal entry a couple Greeks want to see Jesus, and this event triggers Jesus to say, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified.” In other words, the time for his crucifixion has come.

So as we pick up our text this morning, crowds of people have high expectations of Jesus and are seeking him, including Greeks. They are seeking a victorious, powerful messiah, of which raising Lazarus is proof of Jesus’ power.

It’s against that backdrop that Jesus’ final public words are set, and against which he’ll make his exit from the public.

Follow along with me in John 12:27, as I read through the end of the chapter.

[Read John 12:27–50]

The title of the message this morning, is Enjoying Life in His Name by Genuinely Trusting in Jesus.

With the time remaining we are going to organize our thoughts around 3 Responses to the Person and Work of Jesus

The first response is to

Follow Jesus’ mission to glorify the Father (vv.27–32).

We didn’t read v.26, but Jesus has just said, “If anyone serves me, he must follow me.” (v.26).

In vv.27–28 we get to see what we are following Jesus in. Jesus clearly communicates that it is for “this hour” that he has come. And what’s the point of “this hour”? It’s v.28—“Father, glorify your name.”

That’s the mission of Jesus—to glorify the Father’s name. That’s the mission that we are to follow. To glorify the name of the Lord.

And we see in the opening line of v.27 that we are to follow Jesus in bringing glory to the Father even when it’s painful.

Even when it’s painful (v.27)

John 12:27a - “Now is my soul has become troubled…”

I think it’s very easy for us to miss the emotion that is in this passage.

  • One because it is said so succinctly.
  • Two, because I think it’s easy for us to think that because Jesus is God, that, yes he might be troubled but because he’s God he’s always resolute and never “struggles.”

But the word for troubled here is a very strong word. I’m nowhere near a Greek scholar, and when I was studying the text the tense of the verb caught me by surprise. So I thought I better check some commentaries to make sure I wasn’t the only one thinking that the tense of the verb seemed like a big deal and a little surprising.

John MacArthur in his commentary says this about the word “troubled”:

(τετάρακται) - The verb is a strong verb that communicates revulsion, horror, anxiety and agitation. Furthermore, this verb in in the perfect tense, indicating that Jesus’ trouble was not just for a moment, but an ongoing burden he was carrying (cf. MacArthur, p.38)

An ongoing burden that he was carrying…does that ever sound like the “troubles” we have?

This is part of what makes Jesus such a wonderful help for us!

The author of Hebrews says,

Hebrews 4:15–16 15 For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin. 16 Therefore let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.

You see, if we don’t let the “troubled soul” of Jesus here in John 12:27, shake us out of the belief that Jesus was a stoic, somber, emotionless, robotic Savior, then we’re going to be sorely alone and lacking help and mercy when our mission to bring glory to the Father is painful and challenging.

Jesus goes on to say…

and what shall I say, “Father save me from this hour”? (v.27b)

  • - There is debate over whether this is a rhetorical question, or whether Jesus is making a legitimate plea to the Father.

I tend to see that Jesus is making a legitimate prayer and plea to the father here to be saved from the hour. When you consider the emotion that Jesus just expressed about his soul being troubled, I think a real prayer asking to be saved from the trouble makes the most sense.

This also isn’t the last time that Jesus will mention that his soul is troubled before “the hour” of his betrayal and crucifixion comes. So even in Christ’s resolve to glorify His Father, his soul is still in anguish. But because his greatest desire and purpose is to glorify his father by accomplishing the mission that he was given, he prays resolving to finish what he came here to do and asks his Father to glorify His father’s name.

I see this as a precursor to what happens in the garden of Gethsemane right before Judas betrays him.

Luke 22:41–44 41 And He withdrew from them about a stone’s throw, and He knelt down and began to pray, 42 saying, “Father, if You are willing, remove this cup from Me; yet not My will, but Yours be done.” 43 Now an angel from heaven appeared to Him, strengthening Him. 44 And being in agony He was praying very fervently; and His sweat became like drops of blood, falling down upon the ground.

Do you see the “trouble” of Jesus in this passage? Do you see Jesus’ prayer for rescue from the cup, referring to the judgment that he is about to endure from God on our behalf on the cross? This prayer doesn’t look like mere rhetoric, it looks like an honest, agonizing cry for help. But yet, he desires his Father’s will and His Father’s glory more than His own, and so he prays to that end…not my will be done but yours be done.

Carson, commenting on this passage writes:

Jesus can no sooner pray to be spared this hour, to escape this cup, than he must face again his unswerving commitment to adhere to his Father’s will (5:19ff.; 6:37ff.; 8:29; so, rightly, Hendriksen, pp. 198–200, though for doubtful reasons). That is why Jesus is so troubled. ‘The horror of death, and the ardour of His obedience, were meeting together’ (Bengel, 2. 408).[1]

One of the main emphases of biblical counseling, is helping people understand from Scripture how progressive sanctification works. The goal of progressive sanctification is to bring glory to God by becoming more like Christ.

  • - In this passage we see that if we are going to become more like Christ, then we can expect to have times where anguish and obedience meet. Where the desire for rescue and relief have to be submitted to the desire to obey the Lord and bring him glory.

So in your pursuit to glorify the Lord, don’t be surprised by difficulty and pain that is found in the path of obedience. Jesus showed us that they can go together.

So, I’d ask you to jot down any ways that you know that Christ wants you to follow him and glorify the Lord, but that you’ve been slow to do, or that you’ve refused to do because it’s uncomfortable and maybe even painful.

  • - Perhaps you know that there is someone you need to loving confront, but confrontation is the most unpleasant thing in the world to you.
  • - Maybe it’s change in your schedule or entertainment choices. You know that living for God’s glory would mean making those changes, but you also know how hard it would be to persist in those changes.
  • o Don’t miss how Jesus’ troubled soul wasn’t just for a moment…
  • - Whatever it is write those down in your notes, and then go over those this afternoon and pray the way Jesus prays. Be honest with the difficulty, but also ask God to help you seek his glory more than anything else and resolve to change for God’s glory.

Notice also the emphasis on “the hour.” Jesus is not going to accomplish what his Father had for him, at the time he felt like accomplishing it…rather, he’s believing in God’s timing for “the hour.”

Believing in God’s timing (v.27)

John 12:27 – “And what shall I say? ‘Father, save me from this hour’? But for this purpose, I came to this hour.”

We know from studying the gospel of John that Christ’s purpose for coming to earth has been quite clear. In the prologue of John we are told Jesus came into the world, “He came to His own, and those who were His own did not receive Him. 12 But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God” (John 1:11-12).

We see in John 2, when Jesus turns water to wine, that Jesus says, “My hour had not yet come.” (John 2:4b).

But now in our text, Jesus announces that “the hour” has come. This “hour” is referring to the events of his betrayal, death, burial and resurrection. However, “the hour” seems to have a special emphasis on the crucifixion even more than the resurrection in John. We get a hint of that even in our text this morning, where Jesus references “being lifted up”, which John interprets for us saying this was “to indicate the kind of death by which He was to die.”

So what’s the point…the timing of Christ’s obedience matters. The timing of brining God glory through His death matters. And Jesus was resolved not only to obey and bring His Father glory through his death, but to obey at the right time.

This was a point that Pastor Viars’ made a few weeks when he preached on John 11 and the raising of Lazarus…God’s timing is often different than our timing. If we’re going to follow Jesus by seeking to bring the Father glory through our obedience, then we must believe in God’s timing rather than our own.

Now, if you’re thinking carefully about this, perhaps your objection or challenge to this might be, “But Jesus is God and he knew the future! He knew the hour! How am I supposed to know when I’m supposed to obey?”

That in and of itself could be a whole sermon. But I’ll give a short answer with Christ’s own words that come up later in this text…v.35 – Jesus says, “For a little while longer the Light is among you. Walk while you have the Light so that darkness will not overtake you.”

  • The point is, follow the Light…follow Jesus to the degree that you know and see him, and that will protect you from getting off mission and off course. You don’t need to know the future, you just need to be obedient in what God is asking you to do “this hour.”

For example, “why did God choose to take one of my only days to sleep in and put church on that day?” Well, you don’t need to know everything, you just need to know that Sunday mornings you get out of bed and go to church because you want to glorify God more than you want to sleep.

[more examples?]

So we need to follow Christ to glorify the Father, even when it’s painful, in God’s timing, and also looking at the bigger picture.

Looking with an eye to the bigger picture (v.28, 30–32)

Part of the bigger picture here for Jesus is summed up in what we’ve already talked about…it’s v.28.

John 12:28 – “Father, glorify your name.”

But we also see a number of statements about what Jesus is about to accomplish through his death that give more detail to the grandness and bigness of the what Jesus is about to accomplish.

In vv.30–32 we find out that “this hour” is a whole lot more than just “trouble” for Jesus’ soul.

John 12:30–32

30 Jesus answered and said, “This voice has not come for My sake, but for your sakes. 31 Now judgment is upon this world; now the ruler of this world will be cast out. 32 And I, if I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to Myself.”

First, Jesus says, “NOW is the judgment upon this world.” “This hour” also signals the judgment…and don’t miss Jesus’ emphasis on NOW.

  • - You might say, “I thought judgment happened at the end of history?” In one sense yes, but Jesus clearly states that his death takes care of the judgment now.
  • - And this is part of what makes the death of Jesus Christ such good news!
  • In John 5:24 Jesus says, “Truly, truly, I say to you, he who hears My word, and believes Him who sent Me, has eternal life, and does not come into judgment, but has passed out of death into life.”
  • When do we pass from judgment and death into life? Jesus says, “At his death is when that judgment happens.”
  • As believers in Jesus Christ, the judgment is already done. When we place our faith and trust in Jesus, his death on the cross becomes our death and our judgment. And since he paid the price for our sins and was judged in our place, we can rejoice knowing that our judgment is over!

John Piper puts it this way,

In other words, the death of Jesus becomes the decisive dividing line between the condemned and the vindicated. If you trust Jesus, you are united to him and his death is your death (Galatians 2:20), and his condemnation is your condemnation (Romans 8:3). And if you never trust Jesus, you stand condemned both by your sin, and by your rejection of the offer of forgiveness.[2]

I hope that you’ve chosen the correct side of the dividing line…I hope that you’ve chosen to confess and repent of your sins and trust in Jesus’ sufficient sacrifice on your behalf so you can be free forever of your condemnation and then joyfully live for God’s glory.

In addition to the judgment being taken care of, Jesus as says, “NOW, the ruler of the world will be cast out.”

  • The death of Jesus removes the one weapon that Satan had against us…condemnation because of our sin. That fell totally and completely on Jesus.
  • Satan is still active in the world today. We know that from other New Testament passages. But the power of Satan has been mortally wounded in crucifixion of Jesus.

And finally, Jesus says, “If—or probably better to say, when—I am lifted up from the earth, I will draw all people to myself.”

  • The point is not that every single person will be saved. But that the death of Jesus Christ is what makes the drawing of all of his sheep to himself possible.

In John 10:15–16 Jesus said that “I lay down My life for the sheep. 16 I have other sheep, which are not of this fold; I must bring them also, and they will hear My voice; and they will become one flock with one shepherd.”

So, the anguish and trouble of Jesus was set into a much bigger picture than just “the hour.” What Jesus was going to do was about so much more than just one moment.

This is a constant theme throughout Scripture. God is up to so much more than what we can perceive and see in our own little world. We need to follow Christ and seeing the bigger picture and how God is indeed working everything together for a marvelous and glorious plan that will bring him glory and be for our good.

We’re going to see in the rest of our passage, that many people would refuse to follow Jesus in this way, and refuse to see the bigger picture. They were far too concerned about the current trouble of right now.

So the first response is positive…follow Jesus. The second response to the person and work of Jesus is to refuse to doubt God even when you don’t understand.

Refuse to doubt God even when you don’t understand (vv.28b–43)

This current point is going to contain some of the more challenging parts of the text to swallow. So I just want to remind us again, that all the difficult, dark, hard sayings are in this gospel ultimately for our benefit and joy. Jesus tells his disciples in the next few chapters of John some very challenging things. But Jesus tells them in John 15:11, “These things I have spoken to you so that My joy may be in you, and that your joy may be made full.So Jesus and John do not tell us sad things simply to leave us sad. The sad things are spoken for a much better purpose.

The painful and hard things are spoken for the sake of comfort. And the sorrowful things are spoken for the sake of joy.

Don’t forget that as we move through this section.

So, why should we refuse to doubt God even when we don’t understand? Because God knows more than us!

Because God knows more than you (vv.33-36)

Look carefully at the text…

John 12:33–36 But He was saying this to indicate the kind of death by which He was to die. 34 The crowd then answered Him, “We have heard out of the Law that bthe Christ is to remain forever; and how can You say, ‘The Son of Man must be lifted up’?? Who is this Son of Man?” 35 So Jesus said to them, “For a little while longer the Light is among you. Walk while you have the Light, so that darkness will 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, so that you may become sons of Light.”

Take note of a couple things:

First, the crowd seems to understand what Jesus is saying. They understand that Jesus is speaking of dying.

Secondly, the crowd actually has some pretty good theology. Notice how they connect “the Christ” and the “Son of Man.”

  • The Christ, is equivalent with the Messiah, and the Son of Man is the prophesied figure in Daniel 7 who is given “dominion and glory and a kingdom that all peoples, nations, and languages should serve him; and his dominion is an everlasting dominion which shall not pass away and his kingdom one that shall not be destroyed.”
  • The fact that they connect this two figures is accurate, but also theologically insightful.

The point I’m trying to make is that the crowd isn’t just a bunch of ignorant Neanderthals. They have some pretty good insight.

And yet, for all their insight, they have some serious short comings that require trusting in someone other than themselves…trusting in God who knows a whole lot more than them.

So, what on face value seems like a straightforward, honest inquiry about who the “Son of Man is”, turns out to be a mocking question that is more of a conclusion that an inquiry.

The crowd understands that Jesus is talking about his death…and they apparently understand his claim to be the Christ and the Son of Man. So they say, “We know from the Law/Scriptures that the Christ is to remain forever; so how can you say, “The Son of Man must be lifted up?” Do you hear the incredulity in the question? So when they ask “Who is this Son of Man?” They are essentially saying, “What KIND of Son of Man are you?” It’s a rejection of Jesus, not an honest question trying to reconcile what Jesus has said about himself and about his upcoming death.

The crowd is expecting a victorious Christ and a Son of Man to come set up dominion now. And so they refuse to accept what Jesus is saying.

Now, if we only focus on this one little snippet of the text, we might begin to think that their doubt in Jesus is understandable. After all, they are appealing to the Scriptures! They believe that the Christ will remain forever, which does in fact come from Scripture! They appeal to the “Son of Man” which as we just saw is about a person who will have dominion and glory and an everlasting kingdom! So aren’t they right to cling to the Scriptures?

Yes, they are right to cling to the Scriptures, but they have selectively chosen which Scriptures to cling to, rather than clinging to all of them.

In John 5:39 Jesus tells the people, You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; it is these that testify about Me.”

You see, they were only holding onto the Scriptures that helped support their view of the world and their view of God. Jesus came to reveal and explain the Father fully to them, but they couldn’t accept it.

Like Nicodemus who struggled to understand that he needed to be born again to see the kingdom of God, these people are struggling to see why they need a Christ and Son of Man to die.

Jesus’ answer to the crowd probably comes across a little cryptic. I remember when I first read this passage in preparation for this message I initially found Jesus’ response confusing. It seemed like Jesus should have responded to their question of, “Who is the Son of Man?” with, “Me! I am!”?

Well, as I’ve just explained and I saw on closer examination of the text, they weren’t really asking who the Son of Man was…they were incredulously mocking the “kind” of Son of Man he was claiming to be.

So instead of answering the question directly—which readers of the gospel of John already know Jesus has answered the question throughout his public ministry with the miracles and with his teaching—instead, he says to walk with Jesus while he’s still here and to believe in Jesus while he’s still with them.

His point is, even if you don’t understand why I have to die, even if you’re struggling to reconcile how the Scriptures can say ‘the Christ remains forever’ but I’m saying I’m going to die, even in that kind of uncertainty just trust me and follow me because ‘I’m the Light.’” In other words, I see what you cannot see. I know what you don’t know.

Friends, this can be really hard for us. This is really hard for people that are wrestling with the claims of Jesus and the claims of the Bible. I’ve worked with counselees who refused to trust in Jesus because they couldn’t totally understand everything. But I want you to know whether you’ve trusted in Jesus already or whether you’re still seeking, not knowing everything is okay. Do not doubt God because you don’t understand something…cultivate humility and understand our lack of understanding is one of the reasons we need God in the first place!

Consider v.30 for a moment…Jesus says, “This voice—the voice of God that just responded to the prayer of Jesus saying, “I have glorified it and I will glorify it again—this voice has not come for my sake, but for your sakes.”

The crowd heard the voice of God. They are a bit confused about what happened. Some in the crowd just heard something thundering, and others made out a voice and attributed to the voice of an angel. Either way, the miraculous voice from heaven should have clued the crowd into the fact that they should really pay attention to what Jesus is saying. The voice from heaven was to give them confidence in Jesus! But instead, they refuse the benefit that God had intended and reject Jesus.

And the last half of v.36 is a sad fulfillment of what Jesus had just warned them about.

v.36b “These things Jesus spoke, and He went away and hid himself from them.”

Do not follow the crowd into the darkness of doubt that overtakes them. Follow the Light—trust in Jesus so that you may become sons of Light.

The next section ramps up the warning of doubting God, and also explains how it could be that so many people disbelieved in Jesus. A real challenge to the claims of Jesus and all his miracles might be that if he really claimed to be the Messiah and he actually did all these miracles, then how is it that so few Jews actually trusted in him?

The answer is because Scripture has forewarned us of the consequences of unbelief.

Because Scripture has forewarned us of the consequences of unbelief (vv.37-41)

John 12:37–41 37 But though He had performed so many signs before them, yet they were not believing in Him. 38 This was to fulfill the word of Isaiah the prophet which he spoke: “Lord, who has believed our report? And to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?” 39 For this reason they could not believe, for Isaiah said again, 40 “He has blinded their eyes and He hardened their heart, so that they would not 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.

Have you ever thought, or ever spoken with someone who said something like, “If God would just show me a sign then I’d believe?”

This section makes it clear, that there is no amount and no kind of miracle or sign that guarantees someone will turn and believe in God.

The fact that so few trust in Jesus even though they saw the countless miracles that Jesus did does not need to shake our faith, because their unbelief was prophesied by God hundreds of years earlier by the prophet Isaiah.

The prophet Isaiah was called to prophesy to the people of Israel, but he got a rough job assignment. His assignment was to go speak to the people of Israel and call them to repentance, but no one is going to listen. That’s what v.40 is harkening back to. That’s a quote from Isaiah 6:10.

v.38 is a quote from Isaiah 53:1, which Isaiah 53 is the great prophetic chapter of the Suffering Servant, who is going to die for our iniquities and will be crushed for our transgressions. Even in Isaiah 53:1, the question “Lord, who has believed our report?” has an answer of no one has believed. The next question of “and to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?” The answer, incredibly is to the people who haven’t believed.

This generation that Jesus is speaking to is fulfilling this haunting prophecy. No other generation got see miracles like the generation that Jesus walked with…and yet even in spite of all the miracles and “the arm of the Lord” being clearly shown to them, they refused to believe in Jesus remained in doubt and unbelief.

This is challenging for us because this passage clearly teaches about the judicial hardening of hearts that God does. V.39 says, “For this reason they could not believe.” They couldn’t believe because God prophesied that they would not. Their unbelief is the fulfillment of Scripture.

That is really hard to swallow…this is where the point that we are talking about really comes into play…do not doubt God even when you don’t understand. This can be hard to wrap our brains around. But even this was written so that we might know that Jesus is the Son of God and by believing might have life in his name.

So the judicial hardening of many, as challenging as that is, should give us confidence in God yet again, because like the previous subpoint says, “he knows A LOT more than us!”

Because God is bigger than our fears (vv.42–43)

And finally we shouldn’t doubt God, because he is bigger than our fears.

John 12:42–43 42 Nevertheless many even of the rulers believed in Him, but because of the Pharisees they were not confessing Him, for fear that they would be dput out of the synagogue; 43 for they loved the approval of men rather than the approval of God.

Even though the people’s unbelief is a fulfillment of Isaiah’s prophecy, that God has blinded their eyes and hardened their hearts, what we see here is that they feared people more than they feared God. They chose to fear losing the praise of man more than losing the approval of God. So although John says, many “believed” in him…the belief they have here is a futile faith.

It’s a faith that seems to believe the truthfulness of Jesus and the miracles of Jesus, but not value Christ enough to base decisions off of that truth.

For example, I can believe that Mitch Daniels is the president of Purdue, and believe in the direction and decisions that he is leading the University in, but ultimately those facts are not valuable to me in the least as I think about how I order my schedule. Mitch Daniels has zero impact on my entertainment choices, or how budget my money.

  • - The point John is making in vv.42–43, is that if your belief in Jesus is like my belief in Mitch Daniels, then that belief is not genuine saving faith.

It’s one thing to care about what people think of you and to desire a good reputation. But if you make choices to prioritize a good reputation over seeking God’s approval, then that’s idolatry.

It’s one thing to desire to provide for your family and to work hard to do so. But if you prioritize making money over seeking God’s approval, then you need to heed the warning and repent of fearing success and money more than fearing the Lord. And to fear the Lord, means to orient your entire life around God.

Friends, a passage like this can be unsettling, because it clearly shows that there is a “belief” in Jesus that isn’t enough. But this passage isn’t here simply to leave you unsettled, it’s here to help you do 1 of 2 things: first, maybe it’s to help you recognize for the first time, that genuine saving faith is more than a belief in the mere facts of Christ and the gospel, and the response is to move into a genuine saving faith in Jesus Christ. Or secondly, maybe it’s to you recognize misplaced fears that need to be repented of and replaced with a greater fear of the Lord and seeking His approval.

So, let this passage work its good work in you, to move you more into trusting in God rather than more into doubt.

Choose to obey the words of Jesus (vv.44–50)

What follows in this final paragraph in vv.44–50 seems to be a summary section of Jesus’ teaching. At the end of v.36, Jesus left the crowd and went and hid himself. Now in v.44 Jesus is crying out again, but there is no time marker or historical marker that brings Jesus back onto the scene. So the present placement seems to be the apostle John placing a final summary of Christ’s teaching to draw his public ministry to a close.

The themes in the paragraph are familiar themes to us at this point in the gospel. The main thrust of the summary is that we should choose to obey the words of Jesus.

Because Jesus was sent by God (vv.44–45).

The first ground for why we should obey the words of Jesus is because Jesus was sent by God.

John 12:44 – He who believes in me does not believe in Me but in Him who sent me.

Because Jesus speaks only the Words of God (vv.47–50)

The second ground for why we should obey the words of Jesus is because Jesus only spoke the Words that God commanded him.

John 12:49 - 49 For I did not speak on My own initiative, but the Father Himself who sent Me has given Me a commandment as to what to say and what to speak.

Because there is a judgment for rejecting Jesus’ words, but life for accepting them. (vv. 48,50)

So what follows is that because Jesus was sent by God and he speaks the words of God is that there is a judgment for rejecting Jesus’ words, but life for accepting them.

Jesus says in v.47 that he didn’t come into the world to judge the world, but to save the world. However, the message of salvation and the words from the Father through Jesus that bring life and forgiveness are also the same words and message that bring judgment for all who reject.

Christian friend, I’d ask you to consider, what your commitment and love for Jesus words are. Jesus said in v.50, “I know that His commandment is eternal life.” Is that your view of the words of Christ? Do you cherish his words seeing them as your very life?

Or is your view of Christ’s words more like advice. Sometimes you take it, sometimes you leave it. Sometimes you turn to Jesus because you’re in a pinch and other times you set Christ’s word and the bible aside because you’re doing fine.

I’d encourage you, let this passage cultivate a greater love and greater commitment to ALL the words of Jesus in your life.

Non-Christian friends, can I implore you not to pass up the message of life that Jesus delivered to us in word, and ultimately through his death, burial, and resurrection?

  • There is a judgment coming. For those that reject Christ’s Words, it will be a terrible judgment day.
  • V.48 says, “He who rejects Me and does not receive my sayings, has one who judges him…”

Don’t follow the crowd that rejected the true Christ and Son of Man. Don’t be like the rulers that believed Jesus, but only superficially. Follow Jesus and His word. After all, one of the reasons Christ was lifted up was to draw people to himself…if God is working in your heart to draw you to himself, don’t resist.

The Lord is not obligated to keep working on your heart to draw you to himself. Jesus warned the people in this passage to follow the Light as long as he was with him. In the same way, follow the promptings of the Lord now, because there is no guarantee that he’ll continue to prompt you in the future if you don’t respond today.

Well, that wasn’t exactly a light and fluffy text this morning. But choosing how to respond to the person and work of Jesus isn’t a matter to take lightly. So let’s pray that the Lord would help us respond to Christ correctly by following him, not doubting him and obeying his word.


[1] D. A. Carson, The Gospel according to John (The Pillar New Testament Commentary; Leicester, England; Grand Rapids, MI: Inter-Varsity Press; W.B. Eerdmans, 1991), 440.

[2] John Piper, Sermons from John Piper (2000–2014), “For this Purpose I Have Come to This Hour” (Minneapolis, MN: Desiring God, 2014).

Authors

Dr. Rob Green

Roles

Pastor of Counseling and Seminary Ministries - Faith Church

MABC Department Chair, Instructor - Faith Bible Seminary

Bio

B.S. - Engineering Physics, Ohio State University
M.Div. - Baptist Bible Seminary
Ph.D. - New Testament, Baptist Bible Seminary

Dr. Rob Green joined the Faith Church staff in August, 2005. Rob’s responsibilities include oversight of the Faith Biblical Counseling Ministry and teaching New Testament at Faith Bible Seminary. He serves on the Council Board of the Biblical Counseling Coalition and as a fellow for the Association of Certified Biblical Counselors. Pastor Green has authored, co-authored, and contributed to 9 books/booklets. Rob and his wife Stephanie have three children.

Read Rob Green's Journey to Faith for the full account of how the Lord led Pastor Green to Faith Church.