with Alan Bailey
Welcome to this Bible Study. Read what I have written slowly. If you have a Bible look up the reference verses given, and allow the Holy Spirit to minister to your soul through them.
We have reached the part of John’s Gospel that covers the final week of Christ’s ministry on earth. It is a week in which He gave much teaching by way of the spoken word and by His actions. There are many deep truths in the chapters leading up to Jesus’ crucifixion.
In our last study we saw Jesus entering the city of Jerusalem to the shouts of praise of those who crowded the roadside. But Jesus knew that ahead of Him were dark days in which He would be betrayed, tried and put to death. He refers to this death in chapter 12 verse 24. He is the grain of wheat that dies in order to produce a harvest of souls saved for eternity.
Verse 25 He who loves his life shall lose it, and he who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life.
Jesus tells us that death leads to life. He is not saying that we must despise our lives or harm ourselves but that we must deny our self-centred preservation of our comfortable existence. To follow Him calls for personal sacrifice along the lines of His own sacrifice. If we are willing to pay this cost, the rewards are great. In fact, the rewards are eternal.
Verse 26 If anyone serves Me, let him follow me; and where I am, there my servant will be also. If anyone serves Me, him My Father will honour.
The call to follow and serve the Lord is a challenge to leave our own plans and desires, and go where He goes. Such devotion will be seen by the Father who honours those who honour Christ.
Verse 27 Now is my soul troubled, and what shall I say? ‘Father, save Me from this hour’? But for this purpose I came to this hour.
The prospect of carrying the load of the world’s sins in His body on the cross is deeply disturbing. He could have prayed for a way of escape from the cross but He would not do it. He had come into the world in order to save it. Obedience to the Father’s will was paramount.
Verse 28 ‘Father, glorify Your name.’ Then a voice came from heaven saying, ‘I have both glorified it and will glorify it again.’
Jesus expresses His foremost desire — to honour and glorify the Father (even through His coming sufferings). His call was immediately answered in an audible voice. This is the third and last time the Father speaks from heaven. (Other occasions were His baptism and the transfiguration.) God affirms that His great purpose is on course.
Verses 29 & 30 Therefore the people who stood by and heard it said that it had thundered. Others said ‘An angel has spoken to Him.’ Jesus answered and said, this voice did not come because of Me, but for your sake.
The reaction of bystanders is interesting. Some went straight to a natural explanation, just as many do today, trying to explain away the supernatural. Others thought of a spiritual explanation which was a bit nearer the mark. But they had missed the point according to Jesus. He said that they were meant to understand what God had said and be assured of God’s great purpose.
Verse 31 Now is the judgment of this world; now the ruler of this world will be cast out.
Jesus now signals what this coming conflict at the cross is all about. Satan is the ruler or prince of this world. In a number of places the New Testament shows that the world system is in Satan’s hands. This is now to be challenged and overthrown by Jesus. It will take His suffering and death to do it. People will be delivered from the devil’s grasp through the shedding of His blood and then His rising from the dead. The Evil One will be dealt fatal blows that will forever change his role. He will become a defeated enemy.
No longer will he be able to aspire to rule over Adam’s race.
Verses 32 & 33 ‘And I, if I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all peoples to Myself.’
This He said, signifying by what death He would die. His death was to be by the Roman method of execution — crucifixion. He would be nailed to a cross in a public place. This is what He meant by being ‘lifted up’. Jewish execution was by stoning, but this was never going to happen to Jesus. Truly, people from all kinds of backgrounds from all around the world have been drawn to Christ crucified.
Also, as the message is proclaimed today, sinners are attracted to the Saviour.
Verse 34 The people answered Him, ‘We have heard from the law that the Christ remains forever; and how can You say, ‘The Son of Man must be lifted up’? Who is this Son of Man?’
Some of his hearers understood from the Old Testament that the coming Messiah would rule as king forever. How then can this claim about being lifted up fit in? (The title, Son of Man, is one that Jesus used of Himself frequently and must have used here at this point.)
There was obviously much unbelief and blindness behind their questions. The Old Testament also taught that Messiah would suffer before being exalted as king.
Verses 35 & 36 Then Jesus said to them, ‘A little while longer the light is with you. Walk while you have the light, lest darkness overtake you; he who walks in darkness does not know where he is going. While you have the light, believe in the light, that you may become sons of light.’ These things Jesus spoke and departed, and was hidden from them.
The answer Jesus gives is somewhat indirect. The discerning could see that He Himself is the light, or truth, and that He was shortly to depart this world. Without Him, there is only darkness. Today, people need to do what these people needed to do. To embrace the light, to obey it and thus to become lighted lamps themselves. But now we will see what is about to happen.
Verse 37 But although He had done so many signs before them, they did not believe in Him,
This reaction to the ministry of Christ is highlighted in the Gospel of John. He says in chapter one ‘He came to His own, and His own did not receive Him.’ Right through the book the resistance and unbelief of the Jews is seen in many contexts. Yet, undeniable evidence was put before them.
The signs they saw were; the blind made to see, the lame healed, even dead raised. Also, they saw a life that was perfect in every way, something never seen or known before or since. The people had no excuse for not seeing who Jesus was and trusting in Him.
Verse 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?’
These words were written by the prophet more than 700 years before Christ. They applied then but they applied in the present as well. God’s Word had constantly been greeted by refusal to believe and take heed.
Verses 39 & 40 Therefore they could not believe, because Isaiah said again: ‘He has blinded their eyes and hardened their hearts, lest they should see with their eyes, lest they should understand with their hearts and turn, so that I should heal them.’
The blindness and hardness spoken of here have come as a judgment of God. The people have had ample opportunity to repent of their ways and trust in God for forgiveness, but have chosen to despise His Word. God has then given them more of the same blindness and hardness. It is a dreadful thing to be dealt with like this.
Verse 41 These things Isaiah said when he saw His glory and spoke of Him.
The sixth chapter of Isaiah records a vision the prophet was given of ‘the Lord, high and lifted up whose train filled the temple’. It was a glorious view of God in His holiness and majesty. But John’s reference to it in this chapter is related to the people failing to believe in Jesus. This shows that Isaiah saw the Son of God in the vision. Another reference to the fact that Jesus is truly God.
Verses 42 & 43 Nevertheless even among the rulers many believed in Him, but because of the Pharisees they did not confess Him, lest they should be put out of the synagogue; for they loved the praise of men more than the praise of God.
John was in a position to know that some of the ruling religious men of Israel somewhat secretly believed in Jesus - apparently, quite a reasonable number of them. But for them to openly state their position, they would have been cut off, excommunicated from the life of the synagogue and the temple. So, unwilling to pay the price of being disciples of Christ, they chose to remain where they were. Shortly they would witness the trial and death of the One they knew was the Messiah.
It is a sad thing for John to have to record that men loved the approval of other men rather than the approval of God. But it is true to life today. Many are not prepared to come out into the open and name the name of Christ. We should never be ashamed of Jesus. If we are, He will be ashamed of us.
We have seen how Jesus and His words have the effect of dividing people. Some are for Him; others against Him. It is impossible to escape the need to consider Christ and where we stand in relation to Him. He is the man you can’t ignore. He said ‘He that is not with me is against Me.’
In this study the issues were shown in all their seriousness. Jesus is about to give His life for the world. Yet many in His audience have turned away from Him, choosing darkness. In another place Jesus says ‘You will not come to me that you might have life.’
So there is a warning. We must take the claims of Jesus seriously. He is the only Saviour. He loves us and wants us to come to Him, trust in Him and follow Him closely. He is ‘the Way, the Truth and the Life.’
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