Sunday, December 29, 2019

Follow Jesus to the Father; John 13:36-14:7

Follow Jesus to the Father
John 13:36-14:7, Remsen Bible Fellowship, 12/29/2019

Introduction:

During the early stages of praying and planning a church plant in Remsen, one of the things I worked on was a mission statement. What I settled on, at least for now, though I’m always open to improving it, is the following: We (Remsen Bible Fellowship) exist to help people become followers of Jesus and grow in likeness to him, for their joy and for God’s glory. 

While that statement isn’t perfect, I do feel like it captures the essence of what we desire to see in the establishing of a new church here in town. We recognize that there are many people who aren’t believers in Jesus, aren’t following him, aren’t committed to him heart and soul-and we want to see that change. Not to try and be some cool new thing, or to get people to be like us. I’ve been around me too long to want other people to be like me. But because apart from Jesus there is no lasting hope, no lasting peace, no lasting joy, no lasting life. Jesus is the only way. The only way to life abundant, the only way to God. 

As we look at our text this morning, we are going to look at why we need to follow Jesus. Before we can help anyone else to see their need for him, we must first see our need. And as we look at this text, we are going to see one sobering truth, followed by two comforting truths. 


Following Jesus is Beyond Your Natural Ability, v36-38 

Remember that our context is the last supper. Just a few verses earlier, Jesus has predicted that he will be betrayed by one of the 12, and though he actually tips everyone off to the fact that it is Judas, they seem to miss his hint. But they ae disturbed by this idea, that one of their own number could turn betray their Teacher, their Master, their Lord. 

Jesus has turned, in v31, and begun to give instruction as to how he wants his disciples now to live. He explains that the Son is to be glorified in the Son through this hour which has come upon them, and in v34-35 he issues a “new commandment”: to love in the same self-sacrificing, putting others first to the extreme, manner that Jesus had loved them. But tucked in right before that command is v33, Little children, yet a little while I am with you. You will seek me, and just as I said to the Jews, so now I also say to you, ‘Where I am going you cannot come.’ 

In v36, Peter jumps in, and is less interested in the incredible challenge which Jesus has just issued, and seems far more interested in the matter which is currently disturbing him: where in the world is Jesus going? The answer is two-fold. First of all, Jesus is about to head to the cross, where he will lay down his life for the sheep (John 10:11, 15). Will you die for me? Jesus asks Peter. There is irony here, because Jesus is the one betrayed into the hands of sinful men, suffering a violent crucifixion, and doing so in the place of sinners. Sinners like Peter. Sinners like you and me. And because he goes there in our place, he suffers not only physical agony, but the full cup of the wrath of God is poured out upon him. And he drinks it down to the end. So where is Jesus going? He is going to be Peter’s substitute. 

Jesus is also going back to the Father, as seen in the John 7 passage which Jesus alludes to in v33, and which we examined last week. This same destination is alluded to in 14:2. So Jesus is going to the cross, and on the other side of the cross, he is returning to the Father. Neither of these are currently options for Peter, he can’t be a substitute and he cannot yet go to the Father. And so we read Jesus words in v36b. 

Peter isn’t pleased with this answer. Notice what he says. Why can I not follow you now? Peter is convinced he does have what it takes to follow Jesus. He has the power, the determination. I will lay down my life for you! Is Peter lying here? I doubt it. There is no doubt that Peter means every word which crosses his lips. But he fails to see the absolute foolishness of his self-confidence. I think it was James Boice in his sermon on this passage who noted that we are often aware of our weaknesses. We watch those areas, guard them, put up guardrails. But our strengths can be what get us in trouble. Peter’s devotion to Christ is genuinely amazing. The guy gets out of a boat to walk across a storming sea to be near Jesus, offers to build a tabernacle on the mount of transfiguration to honor Jesus, chops off a dude’s ear to protect Jesus. Yet his devotion is precisely where we will see Jesus predict Peter’s fall. Truly, truly, I say to you, the rooster will not cow until you have denied me three times. Peter is confident in his own capacity to follow Jesus, and he will be a massive failure. 

Have you ever been there? Doesn’t it seem like every time you make a big commitment to really give it your all for Jesus, that those are the moments when you fall flat on your face? The turning of the calendar from one year to the next is when many of us make resolutions for all the ways we’re going to change in the New Year. However, researchers say that over 805 of those resolutions fail by February. That can be depressing if your goal was to make better financial choices, eat healthier, exercise more, or read more books. But when those resolutions are spiritual, say sharing the Gospel more frequently, praying more than you check Facebook, or reading the Word daily-when we fail at these things we can feel like we’re failing God. Which gives a level of shame and disappointment that eating more chips than intended doesn’t quite reach.

What was true for Peter is just as true for us: following Jesus in our own power is an impossible task, doomed to failure. This, as we will see, is because Jesus didn’t just come to break trail-he did that, to be sure, as we talked about last week. But if just look at Jesus as a trailblazer, or a role model, or an example, what we are going to find is an example that we always fall short of. Jesus didn’t just make the way. He is the way. So we can take hope. 

And that hope glimmers even in his sobering interaction with Peter. Peter is told that you cannot follow me now, but you will follow me afterward. Peter can’t follow Jesus into death at this moment, but where do we find him 35 years later? Crucified upside down, tradition tells us. He follows his Lord, even in the manner of death he dies (cf John 21:18-19). But more importantly, he will be able to follow Jesus to the Father- through Jesus. Will you lay down your life for me? Jesus asks it as a question. He doesn’t deny it that Peter will die for him. Peter will, in fact, do so one day. But in the meantime, Jesus wants Peter to question his big-headed feelings of self-assurance. Trusting self is doomed to fail. There is only One who is worthy of our trust. 


Trust Jesus Because He is Trustworthy, v1-3

Jesus recognizes the fact that his disciples are disturbed. Again, they have been told that one of them is a betrayer, and Peter has just been told he will deny Christ three times by morning. If Peter can’t stand, who can? 

When we read in v1 that the disciples are troubled, our minds run back to 12:27 & 13:21, where Jesus tells us that his soul is troubled. Yet, while his being troubled is obviously without sin, Jesus here commands the disciples to put fear away. Let not your hearts be troubled. Is this because there is nothing in life worthy of dreading? They seem to have a pretty rough few days, indeed, a rough life ahead of them. Is Jesus telling them to pretend that’s not there, is he asking them to live in some sort of plaster-on-a-smile-and-pretend-life-is-okay fashion? Hardly. Jesus doesn’t just see their troubled faces. He sees their troubled souls. He knows their hearts. And he knows that their root problem isn’t the circumstances they face. It’s that they are depending on good circumstances and their own abilities. The solution, then, is to reorient their trust.  

What is Jesus solution for troubled hearts? Believe in God, believe also in me. Why would this make any difference? Because in knowing Christ, in trusting him, in trusting the Father, we are placing our confidence in the God who controls each and every circumstance. James Montgomery Boice put it this way, “Christians are realists. They are realists about all life’s problems. At the same time, however, we must add that they are realists about the power of God and his promises.”

Jesus then offers more reason to trust. He gives them more promises to cling to. I want to look at three promises to trust that we see in verses 2 & 3. 

  1. There is room for you. In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? Jesus has promised to prepare a place for them. Which means that they are perfectly safe. Maybe not physically safe, bad things can happen. But they are ultimately safe, because God has room for all of those who trust in him. In my Father’s house are many rooms, many dwelling places. Older translations say mansions here, and that’s because how this word was translated into Latin and how the Latin then influenced early English translations. The idea, though, isn’t a disconnected dwelling. It’s all part of the Father’s house. 

Tied to the mansions idea is the expectation many have of the poshness of heaven. Which, of course, is probably not a wrong expectation. No one will get to heaven and be upset about the accommodations. But that is not the point in this text. The point of this text is not to say hey, heaven’s sweet! Rather, it is to encourage these troubled diciples: in the Father’s house, he has room for you. God has not forgotten you, you are not too small and insignificant for him to bother with, trust him-he’s provided a place for you.

  1. The second promise is that Jesus will prepare a way. Again, these disciples will all fall away over the course of this night. They will all fail. We all stumble and fall, we all are continually finding ourselves indulging our sinful desires. How can we, these walking embodiments of failure, be brought into the house of the Holy God? How can the Righteous Judge make room for us in his eternal house? Because Jesus, the Son sent by the 
Father, has prepared the way and made a place. 

I think Jesus is probably referring to his cross-work when he says this. Can I be right with God on my own? No. But Jesus goes to the cross and absorbs the punishment due to me, and will clothe me in his righteousness if my faith is in him. That is, I can go from being one under the sentence of death for treason, to being one wrapped in the Father’s loving arms, and given a place of honor at the dinner table. Do I deserve a place? Nope. But a place has been made for me by Christ on the cross. 

  1. The third and crucial promise we see here is that Christ will receive his own to himself. There is debate over these verses as to just what Jesus is talking about when he says I will return to take you to myself. Is this the moment of death, a rapture at the end of the church age, the second coming in glory? I lean toward that middle option as the main reference, but the point of the text is not a timeline. The content of the promise is not mark your calendars, the content of the promise is mark my words: I’m not leaving you. There is a sense is which he doesn’t leave at all because of the gift of the Spirit. But even in the sense of his physical presence, his absence is temporary. He will come and receive his own. He’s been telling them that he has a place for them, but in this statement the emphasis shifts from place to person. He is coming for them. He will receive them. He is the one who will take hold of them, that where he is they may be also. 

Do you hear that promise for yourself this morning? Do you feel alone? Do you feel troubled in soul? Do your circumstances overwhelm you? He is coming for you. This is obviously true at the end of the age, but even in death it is strikingly true for the believer. At the end of Acts 7, Stephen has just finished his defense before the council, and he sees a vision of Christ at the Father’s right hand, and upon being stoned he prays, Lord Jesus, receive my Spirit. Who is waiting for Stephen at death? Jesus. Jesus is there to receive him.

Following Jesus is built, fundamentally, upon trusting him. And to trust him is to trust the Father (12:44). Fear not, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom. Luke 12:32


Follow Jesus, Because He is the Only Way to the Father, v4-7

In v4, Jesus tells the disciples that they know the way to where he is going. Thomas then asks the obvious question: if we don’t know where you’re going, how on earth can we know the way? 

Before we head out on a road trip, I tend to obsess over roads and routes, possible ways to get from here-to-there. I do have a bit of a freewheeling side that I’m not sure Andie appreciates, because I love taking new roads and seeing different sites. But I want to at least have mapped out our general route. But which roads we take are very much determined by one fact: where are we headed? If we’re going to Missouri, we’re going to take a different set of roads than if we’re headed to Idaho. 

Should the disciples know where Jesus is going? He has just told them that he is going to prepare a place for them in the Father’s house. However, we can probably understand Thomas’ predicament. Have you ever heard some shocking news and had everything that comes after that disappear into the ether of your mind? Probably not much different for the disciples in this case. But no matter, because even if they don’t grasp the destination at the moment, they still do know the way there. Because he is the way. 

I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. We come here to the sixth of Jesus’ I am statements, and this one is actually threefold. Jesus is the way, which is the point being directly made in conversation here with the disciples. But he is not just a way, not any old way. He is the way to the Father

Do you realize that your greatest need is God? This is part of where I get concerned with the emphasis some people put on v2, as if the point of this text were heaven as some abstract place that it would be nice to visit, or even live in. The reason heaven is appealing, the reason heaven is wonderful, is because God is there. God, in all of his spectacular glory, brilliance, and holiness. The God who Moses could not see lest he die will be seen and known by us, and we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is. 1 John 3:2. We need to be with the Father because, as those made by him in his image, we can only know ourselves, experience true and lasting joy, and be who we were created to be if we are reconciled to him. Our sin cuts us off from God. We need a Savior. We need a way to the Father. 

And thus, Jesus enters. The eternal word from the Father takes on flesh, and dwells among us, revealing his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father. He is the Way, because no one else could pay the price. He is the Way, because he is the Divinely appointed Messiah. He is the Way, because only he has authority to bring sinners near, by the blood of his cross. He is the door to the sheepfold, the only way into God’s flock (John 10:7, 9).

He is the truth, the very self-expression of the Father. Every word he speaks carries the weight of Divine Authority, and his very being provides the definition of what is true. Pilate asks later in John, “what is truth?”, not knowing that he was looking truth right in the face. God revealed himself in the past at many times and in many ways, but in these last days he has spoken by His Son. His Word. His truth. Very God of Very God, made manifest to men. 

He is life. The life of God himself, made visible to humanity. In him was life (John 1:4). He is the resurrection and the life (11:25). This life, the life that he offers to all who trust in him, is the life he has shared with the Father since before the world began (John 17). 

The medieval writer Thomas a Kempis put it this way, “Follow thou me. I am the way and the truth and the life. Without the way there is no going; without the truth there is no knowing; without the life there is no living. I am the way which thou must follow; the truth which thou must believe; the life for which thou must hope. I am the inviolable way; the infallible truth, the never-ending life. The straightest way; the sovereign truth; life true, life blessed, life uncreated.”

This is the Christ who beckons us to come. Had the disciples better understood the Father, they would have grasped who he was at an earlier state. But even though they were slow to grasp, he was patient. He says from now on, I think speaking of his coming death, resurrection, and exaltation, you do know him and have seen him. This is a stunning claim Jesus makes. That in Christ the Father has made himself known, not just intellectually, revealing truths, but personally. You have seen him and know him. Do you know that you can know God in this way? You can see him in Christ. You can know him through Christ. Jesus has not simply made a way to God. Jesus is the way to God. Trust him, believe him, follow him.

Sunday, December 8, 2019

Will You Receive the King? John 12:12-43

Will You Receive the King?
John 12:12-43, 12/01/2019, Remsen Bible Fellowship

Introduction:

Have you received Jesus as your king? Many people consider “believing in Jesus” to be something that you do to be rescued from hell whereas choosing to surrender your life to him is an optional add on. That difference, between believing and obeying, exists in Scripture, indeed, we will see it in our text this morning. But we must ask, can such belief save (James 2:14)? In John’s gospel, and indeed, in the whole Bible, what we see is that genuine faith receives the whole Christ. We can’t have Savior Jesus who rescues us without King Jesus who rules us. Only a mighty king is equipped to do the saving work we need. Perhaps that strikes you as abrasive. But what we will see in our text this morning is that true joy-indeed, true glory-can only be found in gladly recognizing, following, glorifying, and receiving the One True King. 

Read: John 12:12-19

Recognizing the King

As we enter our text, we are just the morning after the text we examined a couple weeks ago. Saturday evening there had been a dinner party thrown in Jesus’ honor in Bethany at the home of Simon the Leper. Here is a man likely healed by Jesus, and present as his honored guests were Lazarus and his sisters. Cutting into this joyous seen is the very conspicuous act of Mary, who anoints Jesus with costly perfume, and kneels down to then wipe his feet with her hair. The next morning, the smell of the perfume still clinging to his clothes and his body, Jesus decides to head into Jerusalem. 

Upon hearing of his coming, we are told in v12-13, the large crowd comes out to meet him, and they meet him waving branches of palm trees. It is interesting that they bring palm branches, even though the only feast where palm branches are part of the celebration as described in the Old Testament would be the Feast of Tabernacles. Here we are at Passover. At the time of Jesus palm had become something of a national symbol for the Jewish people. Coins minted in this area around this timeframe often have palms on them. In 141 bc, after driving the Syrians out of Jerusalem, Simon Maccabee had been received by the people with music and the waving of palm branches. So it seems there may have even been an association or palm with a great deliverer of the people.

This would make sense with the cry in v13, Hosanna! Or we might say, save us now! Remember that the Jewish people have been waiting for a Messiah, a Son of David to rise up even since the death of Solomon and the split of the kingdom. That is nearly a thousand years in the past when Jesus enters Jerusalem. There have been military victories, such as those delivered by the Maccabees. But they never lasted, and they never instituted the perfect peace promised by the prophets. Yet maybe this Jesus is different. He can feed the multitudes, heal the sick, he can even raise the dead! What better person to lead an invincible army to overthrow our oppressors than one who is more powerful than death? The crowd, with their shouts of hosanna, are also quoting the words of Psalm 118:26, Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!

The crowd ascribe the blessing of God to Jesus, and they are at least tacitly recognizing what he has said before and what Rich preached to us from the end of this chapter last week: Jesus is from the Father. He comes in the name of the Lord, he comes as the perfect representation of the Father, the exact imprint of his nature (Hebrews 1:3). They then put a messianic interpretation of that Psalm in their last line, even the king of Israel. Jesus is being recognized, if ever so briefly, by this crowd as the rightful king. 

It is interesting that we call this the triumphal entry, as Jesus doesn’t come in riding a war horse triumphantly leading this crowd. Instead, he fulfills the words of the prophet Zechariah, Behold, your king is coming, riding on a donkey’s colt. It doesn’t seem very kingly. But also notice, Jesus doesn’t contradict the cries of the crowd, or flee from them. Remember John 6:15 where Jesus perceives that the people are about to take him by force and make him king? What does he do? He withdraws. In Matthew 16 where Peter confesses Jesus as the Christ, Jesus strictly charges the disciples in v20 to not tell anyone who he is. All of this is because the time has not yet come for him to be revealed. But as we will see momentarily, that time has arrived. 

Jesus comes, and accepts the praise of the people. But he doesn’t act the way they expect. He comes as the prince of peace, but he is going to be bringing a peace that they don’t recognize they need: a peace with God. Do you realize that you can only have peace with God through Jesus, his Son? He is the one who comes from the Father, he is the one who is able to save.

V16 tells us that this all went over the disciples heads in the moment. They missed the fulfilled prophecy, they missed the significance of Jesus riding in as the prince of peace. But when he was glorified, they realized. Their eyes were open. In v17-18 we learn that the crowds came out because those who saw Lazarus raised wouldn’t keep quiet. They kept speaking of what Jesus had done. This gathering of the people worries the Pharisees, who in v19 lament, You see that you are gaining nothing. Look, the world has gone after him. They are speaking from a pretty small point of view, but they speak more truth than they know. Eventually the world will flock toward Jesus, and we see a taste of that in the following verses. But before we jump there: this crowd recognized Jesus as the king, if only for a few days, because they heard of or saw his miracle working power. Have you recognized him as the one who has power to raise your soul from death? To lead you in newness of life? Recognition is only the beginning. But it is a necessary beginning. You must see him as your rightful king. 

Read: John 12:20-26

Following the King

At this feast we people from all over, including these Greeks. And they approach Phillip, whom we are told is from Bethsaida in Galilee in order to gain an audience with Jesus. Sir, we wish to see Jesus is the request we have recorded. In the context of the Zechariah passage already quoted, we find another prophecy being fulfilled in this action. 

Zechariah 8:20-23 (pew bible pg 748), “Thus says the Lord of hosts: Peoples shall yet come, even the inhabitants of many cities. The inhabitants of one city shall go to another, saying, ‘Let us go at once to entreat the favor of the Lord and to seek the Lord of hosts; I myself am going.’ Many peoples and strong nations shall come to seek the Lord of hosts in Jerusalem and to entreat the favor of the Lord. Thus says the Lord of hosts: In those days ten men from the nations of every tongue shall take hold of the robe of a Jew, saying, ‘Let us go with you, for we have heard that God is with you.’”

These men probably God-fearing Gentiles, who although not Jewish have been attracted to the monotheism of Judaism. And here they are in the city for the feast, and they hear the stir about this Jesus character. And they wish to see him. We aren’t told whether Jesus grants this audience or not. Phillip tells Andrew, and together they go to Jesus. Jesus’ response shifts the book. 

V23, the hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. We have been used to reading for his hour had not yet come. But now the hour is here. Jesus, the Son of Man, the Messianic figure to whom the Ancient of Days has granted rule and authority (Daniel 7:13,14) will now be glorified in the eyes of men. But there is another inversion. He has come to be glorified, he has come to bring peace, but how?

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. Jesus plucks, as it were, an analogy straight out of agriculture. To transpose from wheat to something we’re more familiar with here, corn, consider how small one seed it. While a kernel of corn is fairly large as seeds go, it is insignificant. It might last for years on its own, allowing to to look at it, to marvel at it. But it’s not much to marvel at. Set that seed across this room and it would be hard to see. But if you stick that thing in the ground, and it dies: germinates, becomes something totally different than it currently is-it bears a yield far greater than its own life ever amounted to. 600-800 kernels of corn can be produced by that one being planted. 

Jesus is about to be glorified, not by riding his war horse in to conquer via military power. He has come to lay his life down for the sheep (John 10:15), to be planted that great harvest of salvation may come. It is better that one man should die for the people, than that all should perish (John 11:50). Jesus demonstrates his power, his majesty, his glory by laying down his life. You can have life this morning because of what Jesus has done. You can receive his work on your behalf and become one brought near to God by the blood of his Son. Jesus laid down his life for you.

But there is also a message which Jesus gives to these Greeks seeking an audience. He unfolds for them the nature of what it means to be a Jesus-follower, or what we might call the true nature of Christianity. As our Savior displays his glory through dying for us, so we as his people receive life through death to ourselves. His death is substitutionary, paying the penalty of our sins. But it is also exemplary, setting the pattern for our walk with him. 

V25, Whoever loves his life loses it, and whoever hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. Hates his life? What does that mean? Jesus uses here a Jewish idiom found often in Scripture of love/hate to express preference. It is not hate in an absolute sense, but it is to value the love so highly that hate might seem a fit description for how you feel about the other thing. So Jesus isn’t saying curse the daylight when you wake up, but he is saying to have eternal life is to have your values radically re-centered. Some of us are so wrapped up in grabbing all the gusto we can, or finding experiences that will fulfill us, or making relationships with certain people the center of our orbit, so concerned with our careers or our families that we miss something important: this is all fleeting. Your life is but a breath, here and gone. Our values need to be centered on and guided by the eternal. Do you make decisions based on what you feel is best for your earthly existence; what will make you most comfortable, what will bring you the most financial or emotional benefit, be that over the next six hours or six decades? Or have you been gripped by the reality of eternity, of the hundreds and thousands and millions of years to come after this life is through. The only way to enjoy life in the long run-the real long run-is to hate your life in this world, and value the next beyond all else. What does that look like?

If anyone serves me, he must follow me; and where I am, there my servant will be also. If anyone serves me, the Father will honor him. V26. Loving eternal life means we then use this life to follow Jesus. Where has Jesus just told us he is going? To death, to the cross. The Christian life is a cruciform life. A life of dying to self. That might mean allowing a career dream to die. It might mean accepting a lower standard of living so that you can invest your resources of time and money into those things which God values, the spread of the gospel, loving your neighbor, encouraging other believers, helping the needy. And dying to self ultimately is the best decision we can make for ourselves. If anyone serves me, the Father will glorify him. 
Read: John 12:27-36a

Freed by the King 

We’re going to move speedily through these next two sections, but that isn’t for lack of material. We see in v27 that the approach of the hour has Jesus troubled. How could it not? He looks forward and sees enormous physical suffering, and more than that, the weight of all our sin. God was about to make him who knew no sin to be sin for us (2 Corinthians 5:21). Jesus would bear the scourge of sin and the wrath of God against sin when he ascended Calvary’s hill. That would be troubling. Yet he looks forward resolutely, because For this purpose I have come to this hour. Father, glorify your name. Jesus coming to earth, his work on our behalf has two purposes: the glory of God and the salvation of sinners. You cannot separate the two in Scripture. God is chiefly concerned with the end of making himself appear as he is: glorious. And yet he displays that glory by humbling himself and saving rebellious sinners like you and like me. 

The Father peaks from heaven and confirms that he has glorified his name and will do so again. Jesus says that this voice from heaven is for the benefit of the crowd, though the crowd seems not to understand what has happened. Jesus then issues a stunning statement. The world is judged, the ruler thrown down, and all drawn to himself. V33 tips us off that this all refers to his death.

To say that the world is judged in the cross of Christ, I think, means this: the condition of mankind is so desperate and so damned that apart from the Son of God himself taking on human flesh to bear the penalty of our iniquity, there would be no hope. The world is judged in the necessity of the cross. The cross also judges by acting as a dividing line. Those who embrace Christ and him crucified can have forgiveness because in him their sins have already been paid for on the cross. Their judgement no longer remains, no longer can they be condemned. But for those who reject him, the cross stands as yet one more piece of evidence as to their hardness of heart. 

Any time there is mention of Satan being cast down there is debate as to the meaning, but here I think the meaning is tied closely to the previous point. The power of the accuser (Revelation 12:10) lies in the truthfulness of his accusations. But if God has seen my sin and imputed it to Christ on the cross, then the power of Satan is gone. He is cast down. He may have some form of power yet, prowling around like a roaring lion, but he no longer can wield lethal accusations in the courtroom against those who are in Christ. The cross destroys that power. 

Jesus also says that his being lifted up will draw all to himself. The word “people” is inserted by our English translators. I’m not sure it’s helpful here. I think the “all” referred to here are those whom the Father draws (6:44), the sheep who belong to Jesus (10:27). It could also mean that he draws from all sorts of people, people of every tribe and tongue and nation. The key thing here is that what draws people to Jesus in a saving sense is not his miracle power, or even his teaching, as wonderful as the miracles were, and necessary as the teaching is. What draws people, men and women, boys and girls to Jesus is the cross. What brings us to worship the king is the display of his glory in meekness, his power shown through a voluntary weakness. 

This confuses the crowds. This isn’t the Messiah they expected. We might summarize Jesus response to them in v35-36 by quoting Isaiah 55:6, Seek the Lord while he may be found; call upon him while he is near. Darkness, death, will one day overtake you. Now is the time to respond to Jesus, to embrace his sacrifice and his sovereignty. His saving love, and his loving rule over your life. 

Read: John 12:36b-43

Conclusion: Hindrances to Receiving the King

In this final section we see both total unbelief, and a timid “private faith”. In reference to the former, total unbelief, v37 tells us that this is in spite of numerous opportunities to see and believe. Yet they steadfastly refuse. In doing so, they fulfill the words of Isaiah in Isaiah 53:1 and 6:1. Perhaps those quotations trouble you. How could God harden and blind people to the truth? We must realize that this is a judicial hardening. These people have chosen to reject God, and God in his justice hardens them in their unbelief. The lesson for us to draw is to not harden our hearts. Now, as you hear, you have the opportunity to receive Jesus as king. Do so, lest by continual rejection your heart solidifies against him. Humble yourself, receive him.

The other group are those who “believe”, but oh so timidly. They don’t speak of it openly because “what will others think?” Or worse, they know what others will think, and they’re afraid of those consequences. They refuse to die to self. V43 tells us they loved the glory that comes from man more than the glory that comes from God. The glory that comes from man can be acquired, in some measure, by loving this life and leveraging our money, skills, social standing, and gifts to benefit ourselves here and now. But that doesn’t last. There is a glory that comes from God. Jesus already said in v26 that it comes to those who serve him. It comes through dying to self and living for Christ. 1 Peter 5:6-7, Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that in due time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you. Don’t grasp for glory from men here and now. See this life for the passing vapor that it is. Receive Jesus as your King, as your Lord. You can trust him in that role because he has already displayed his love for you by dying for you, bearing the weight of sin on your behalf. John 1:11-13, He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him. But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh no of the will of man, but of God.

1 Samuel 4, God's Not Your Puppet

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