14711 W. Morrison Road, Morrison CO
Reaching Lakewood, Littleton
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The Close of Christ’s Public Ministry

John 12:20-50

Jesus came unto His own and His own received Him not (John 1:11), so He went to the Gentiles. The gospel was always intended for the whole world and soon it would be proclaimed to the nations. As we look at the conclusion of Jesus’ public ministry we see first, the Greeks come seeking the truth (20 – 37). One of the major themes of John’s Gospel is that Jesus is the Savior of the world, not just the redeemer of Israel. He is the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the whole world (John 1:29). God-fearing Greeks occasionally attended the synagogue and Jewish feasts. They were Gentiles who had renounced paganism and polytheism for the one true God. These Greeks sought an audience with Jesus so they came to Phillip who brought them to Andrew who brought them to Jesus. In contrast to the Jews refrain of “We want to see a sign!” (Matthew 12:38), these Greeks said, “We want to see Jesus.” We don’t know if Jesus talked with them, but He proclaimed a message about the Glory of God. Jesus was looking beyond the cross to the glory that would follow. He 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. A seed is small and useless until it is planted and dies – then it can bear fruit. God’s children are like seeds, small and useless, but with the life of God in them. That life cannot be fulfilled until we yield ourselves to God and allow Him to plant us. We must die to self to live unto God. Galatians 2:20 says, “I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live but Christ lives in me and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God who loved me and gave Himself for me.” We all must make the choice: hold onto our life or lose it in Christ? Jesus knew He was facing suffering and death and His humanity responded, troubled not because He questioned the Father’s will but because of what the cross involved. He didn’t say, “What shall I do?” He said, “What shall I say?” He couldn’t ask God for a way out because this was His purpose for coming into the world (27). Jesus prayed, “Father, glorify your name,” and received an immediate reply from heaven (28). God the Father spoke as He did at Christ’s baptism and at the transfiguration. The Son’s life and ministry had glorified the Father, and the Son’s suffering and death would glorify the Father. As always the Jews misunderstood this sign or explained it away. But Jesus now spoke openly about the cross. Satan would be judged (31) and although it would look like a victory for the Prince of this world, Christ’s death and resurrection would spell ultimate defeat for Satan. Christ being lifted up on the cross would draw all people to Him. Not everyone would be saved (universalism), but people from all races and nations would be saved. This reminds us that the task of the church is to take the gospel everywhere.

We also see the Jews reject the truth (37-50). The keyword in this section is ‘believe,’ used eight times. John explained their unbelief, quoting from Isaiah 53:1. They would not believe (37-38), they could not believe (39), and they should not believe (40-41). They had seen the signs, heard the truth and seen “the arm of the Lord revealed” (38). When a person resists Christ, over time something happens where He comes to the place where He cannot believe. Theologically speaking this is “judicial blindness” God permits it when people refuse to take the truth seriously. Isaiah 55:6: “Seek the LORD while He may be found, call upon Him while He is near.” Besides those who would not believe, there were those who would not openly confess Christ even though they had believed (42-43). Their fear of man was greater than their fear of God. They didn’t want to be excommunicated from the synagogue, so they remained “secret believers” wanting the best of both worlds but unable to enjoy either. This last section contains some of the major themes of John’s Gospel: God sent the Son; to see the Son is to see the Father; Jesus is the Light of the world; Jesus words are the very words of God; faith in Jesus brings salvation; to reject Jesus is to face eternal judgment.

Jesus came into the world to save sinners (47). Unbelievers at the judgment will face every bit of Scripture they have ever heard. The very Word they rejected will be their judge. Those biblical words point to the Living Word – Jesus Christ (1:14).

In conclusion, think about these questions. Are you more like the Greeks or Jews in this passage? Are you pursuing Jesus for more truth or ignoring what you already have? Have you come to the place in your Christian experience where you have surrendered your life and died to your desires so you might bear much fruit? Could you be in the service today on the precipice of “judicial blindness,” having heard the truth repeatedly only to reject it?