Final Rejection: Unbelief!
The coming of the Greeks (Gentile) to Jesus marks the climax of Jesus’ ministry to the Jews, and closes the first major section of the Fourth Gospel, which dealt with primarily with Jesus’ public ministry of performing miracles and teaching the people.
Jesus Predicts His Death
Some Greeks who had come to Jerusalem for the Passover celebration paid a visit to Philip, who was from Bethsaida in Galilee. They said, “Sir, we want to meet Jesus.” Philip told Andrew about it, and they went together to ask Jesus.
John 12:20-22 (NLT)
The original text indicates that these Greeks “were accustomed to come and worship at the feast.” They were not curious visitors or one-time investigators. No doubt they were “God-fearers”.
These men “kept asking” Philip for the privilege of an interview with Jesus. Philip finally told Andrew (who was often bringing people to Jesus), and Andrew gave the request to the Lord. No doubt there were many people who wanted private interviews with the Lord, but they were afraid of the Pharisees (John 9:22). Being from out of the country, the Gentile visitors either did not know about the danger, or did not fear the consequences.
There is no record that Jesus did talk with these men, but the message that He gave in response contains truths that all of us need.
Jesus (to Philip and Andrew): The time has come for the Son of Man to be glorified.
John 12:23 (VOICE)
The central theme of this message is the glory of God. We would have expected Jesus to say, “The hour is come, that the Son of man should be crucified.” But Jesus saw beyond the cross to the glory that would follow (see Luke 24:26; Heb. 12:2). In fact, the glory of God is an important theme in the remaining chapters of John’s Gospel (see John 13:31-32; 14:13; 17:1, 4-5, 22, 24).
I tell you the truth; unless a kernel of wheat is planted in the soil and dies, it remains alone. But its death will produce many new kernels—a plentiful harvest of new lives.
John 12:24 (NLT)
Jesus used the image of a seed to illustrate the great spiritual truth that there can be no glory without suffering, no fruitful life without death, no victory without surrender. Of itself, a seed is weak and useless; but when it is planted, it “dies” and becomes fruitful.
There is both beauty and bounty when a seed “dies” and fulfills its purpose. If a seed could talk, it would no doubt complain about being put into the cold, dark earth. But the only way it can achieve its goal is by being planted.
God’s children are like seeds. They are small and insignificant, but they have life in them, God’s life. However, that life can never be fulfilled unless we yield ourselves to God and permit Him to “plant us.” We must die to self so that we may live unto God (Rom. 6; Gal. 2:20). The only way to have a fruitful life is to follow Jesus Christ in death, burial, and resurrection.
Anyone who loves his life loses it, but anyone who hates his life in this world will keep it to life eternal. [Whoever has no love for, no concern for, no regard for his life here on earth, but despises it, preserves his life forever and ever.]
John 12:25 (AMP)
This is not only true for us, but this was also true for Jesus. He was speaking of His death. If He had put self-preservation ahead of His love and sacrifice for us, then He would have lost His eternal soul as Adam did. He would have become a part of the problem instead of the solution.
In these words, Jesus challenges us today to surrender our lives to Him. Note the contrasts:
- loneliness or fruitfulness;
- losing your life or keeping your life;
- serving self or serving Christ;
- pleasing self or receiving God’s honor.
Love Is Servant-Spirited
Anyone who wants to serve me must follow me, because my servants must be where I am. And the Father will honor anyone who serves me.
John 12:26 (NLT)
Love is servant–spirited. The world-mind will never understand or accept this call. As servant is one who accepts and acknowledges a place beneath those whom he serves, one willing to forsake the systems of social status on our human scale of values.
Servants are viewed as performing the unworthy tasks considered beneath those whom they serve. But Jesus says that the heavenly Father will honor those who function as His servants–serving the world in His name. The One whom they serve and who has promised them honor for that service will ultimately honor every true servant!
If we follow and serve our King, in that act of service we are elevated to a place of honor.
“Now My soul is troubled. What should I say—Father, save Me from this hour? But that is why I came to this hour.
Father, glorify Your name!” Then a voice came from heaven: “I have glorified it, and I will glorify it again!”
John 12:27-28 (HCSB)
Our Lord knew that He was facing suffering and death, and His humanity responded to this ordeal. His soul was troubled, not because He was questioning the Father’s will, but because He was fully conscious of all that the Cross involved. Note that Jesus did not say,
“What shall I do?”
Because He knew what He was ordained to do. He said,
“What shall I say?”
In the hour of suffering and surrender, there are only two prayers we can pray, either “Father, save me!” or “Father, glorify Thy name!”
Comfortable or Conformable: that is the question. If we are looking for comfortable lives, then we will protect our plans and desires, save our lives, and never be planted. But if we yield our lives and let God plant us, we will never be alone but will have the joy of being fruitful to the glory of God.
“If any man [Jew or Greek] serve Me, let him follow Me.”
The prayer, “Father, glorify Thy name!” received a reply from heaven! God the Father spoke to His Son and gave Him a double assurance: the Son’s past life and ministry had glorified the Father, and the Son’s future suffering and death would glorify the Father.
It is significant that the Father spoke to the Son at the beginning of the Son’s ministry (Matt. 3:17), as the Son began His journey to Jerusalem (Matt. 17:5), and now as the Son entered the last days before the Cross. God always gives that word of assurance to those who willingly suffer for His sake.
The crowd standing there heard it and said it was thunder. Others said that an angel had spoken to Him.
Jesus responded, “This voice came, not for Me, but for you.”
John 12:29-30 (HCSB)
All of these people heard the same voice, yet they had different perceptions about what had happened but did not know the message that had been conveyed.
Yet if the voice was for their sakes and they could not understand it, what good was it?
In that the voice assured Jesus, who was to die for their sakes, the voice was for their good. They heard Him pray and they heard a sound from heaven in response to that prayer. That should have convinced them that Jesus was in touch with the Father. We might translate John 12:30, “The voice was for your benefit, not mine.”
Our way of thinking influences the way we hear and perceive. Those who are hardened toward God will find a way to disbelieve regardless of what they see or hear, as was evidenced by some people’s reaction to the raising of Lazarus from the dead (John 11:45-46). Miracles only persuade those of sincere heart who were already open to the Lord to some degree.
Now is the judgment of this world (the organized Satanic system that is opposed to God and hostile to Jesus and His followers; it also refers to the non-Christian culture including governments, educational systems and businesses). Now the ruler of this world will be cast out.
John 12:31 (HCSB)
Jesus then openly spoke about the Cross. It was an hour of judgment for the world and for Satan, the prince of the world. The death of Jesus Christ would seem like a victory for the wicked world, but it would really be a judgment of the world. On the cross, Jesus would defeat Satan and his world system (Gal. 6:14).
Even though he is permitted to go to and fro on the earth, Satan is a defeated enemy. As we serve the Lord, we overcome the wicked one (Luke 10:17-19). One day Satan shall be cast out of heaven (Rev. 12:10), and eventually he will be judged and imprisoned forever (Rev. 20:10).
And I, if and when I am lifted up from the earth [on the cross], will draw and attract all men [Gentiles as well as Jews] to Myself.
John 12:32 (AMP)
We have met the phrase “lifted up” before (John 3:14; 8:28). Its basic meaning is crucifixion, but it also carries the idea of glorification. “Behold, My servant will prosper, He will be high and lifted up, and greatly exalted” (Isa. 52:13). The Son of man was glorified by being crucified!
The phrase “all men” does not suggest universal salvation. It means “all people without distinction,” that is, Jews and Gentiles. He does not force them; He draws them (see John 6:44-45). He was “lifted up” that men might find the way (John 12:32), know the truth (John 8:28), and receive the life (John 3:14).
The cross reminds us that God loves a whole world and that the task of the church is to take the Gospel to the whole world.
He said this to indicate how he was going to die.
The crowd responded, “We understood from Scripture that the Messiah would live forever. How can you say the Son of Man will die? Just who is this Son of Man, anyway?”
John 12:33-34 (NLT)
The people did not understand what He was teaching. They knew that “Son of man” was a title for Messiah, but they could not understand why Messiah would be crucified!
The scribes and Pharisees often asked Jesus to tell them plainly who He was. He replied by saying, “I have already told you.” Here the people affirm what Jesus said. They knew He claimed to be the Christ and therefore asked Him why He was speaking of death.
Jesus replied, “My light will shine for you just a little longer. Walk in the light while you can, so the darkness will not overtake you. Those who walk in the darkness cannot see where they are going. Put your trust in the light while there is still time; then you will become children of the light.”
After saying these things, Jesus went away and was hidden from them.
John 12:35-36 (NLT)
But that was no time to be discussing the fine points of theology! It was an hour of crisis (see John 12:31, where the Greek word krisis means judgment) and an hour of opportunity. The light was shining and they had better take advantage of their opportunity to be saved! We have met this image of light and darkness before (John 1:4-9; 3:17-20; 8:12; 9:39-41). By a simple step of faith, these people could have passed out of spiritual darkness and into the light of salvation.
This marked the end of our Lord’s public ministry as far as John’s record is concerned. Jesus departed and hid Himself. It was judgment on the nation that saw His miracles, heard His messages, and scrutinized His ministry, and yet refused to believe on Him.
DECLARATION OF FAITH
Jesus is exalted and glorified in my life. He used His own life as if it were a seed sown into the earth. By dying, He has produced many others like Himself- a rich harvest of sons and daughters of God. I am one of those son/daughters.
I have given my life [every part of it] to Jesus. In Him, my life is preserved for all of eternity.
I serve Him wholeheartedly; conforming wholly to His example and doing things He has instructed me to do.
Wherever I am, Jesus is.
Because of my love for Jesus and commitment to serve Him, my Father honors me and considers me to be of great value in His kingdom.
The prince of this world (Satan) has been expelled from my life. Jesus stripped him of all of the power and authority that he had over me. I need never fear him again.
I pray this declaration of faith in Jesus’s name, Amen.
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