Harmony of the Gospels

 -Monday-
Jerusalem
(3) The Glory of His Sacrifice
(Is. 6:10) John 12:20-50


20 Now there were certain Greeks among those who came up to worship at the feast.
21 Then they came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida of Galilee, and asked him, saying, “Sir, we wish to see Jesus.”
22 Philip came and told Andrew, and in turn Andrew and Philip told Jesus.
23 But Jesus answered them, saying, “The hour has come that the Son of Man should be glorified.
24 Most assuredly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it produces much grain.
25 He who loves his life will lose it, and he who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life.
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 honor.
27 “Now My soul is troubled, and what shall I say? ‘Father, save Me from this hour’? But for this purpose I came to this hour.
28 Father, glorify Your name.” Then a voice came from heaven, saying, “I have both glorified it and will glorify it again.”
29 Therefore the people who stood by and heard it said that it had thundered. Others said, “An angel has spoken to Him.”
30 Jesus answered and said, “This voice did not come because of Me, but for your sake.
31 Now is the judgment of 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 peoples to Myself.”
33 This He said, signifying by what death He would die.
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?”
35 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.
36 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.
37 But although He had done so many signs before them, they did not believe in Him,
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?”
39 Therefore they could not believe, because Isaiah said again:
40 “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.”
41 These things Isaiah said when he saw His glory and spoke of Him.
42 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;
43 for they loved the praise of men more than the praise of God.
44 Then Jesus cried out and said, “He who believes in Me, believes not in Me but in Him who sent Me.
45 And he who sees Me sees Him who sent Me.
46 I have come as a light into the world, that whoever believes in Me should not abide in darkness.
47 And if anyone hears My words and does not believe, I do not judge him; for I did not come to judge the world but to save the world.
48 He who rejects Me, and does not receive My words, has that which judges him— the word that I have spoken will judge him in the last day.
49 For I have not spoken on My own authority; but the Father who sent Me gave Me a command, what I should say and what I should speak.
50 And I know that His command is everlasting life. Therefore, whatever I speak, just as the Father has told Me, so I speak.”


20 Now there were certain Greeks among those who came up to worship at the feast.

At the very moment when Jewish authorities were plotting to kill Him, Gentiles began to desire His attention. The Greeks who came to Jesus were Gentiles, not Grecian Jews, who had become converts to Judaism. The fact that they came up to worship at the feast shows that they were no longer carrying on the religious practices of their ancestors. Jewish custom restricted them to the Court of the Gentiles.

21 Then they came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida of Galilee, and asked him,
saying, “Sir, we wish to see Jesus.”

No reason is given for why they came to Philip. Perhaps his Greek name and the fact that he was from Bethsaida of Galilee made him attractive to those Gentile proselytes. Their request was a noble one indeed. “Sir, we wish to see Jesus.” We can commend these Greeks for their wanting to see Jesus. The Jews would say, “*we would see a sign,” but these men said, “We wish to see [have an interview with] Jesus." Their desire to see Jesus on this occasion pictures the fact that when the Jews rejected the Lord Jesus, the Gentiles would hear the gospel and many of them would believe. No one who has this sincere desire in his heart is ever turned away unrewarded.

When I enter the gates of heaven, I will say to whoever meets me first, “Sir, I wish to see Jesus.”

*Matthew 12:38     Then some of the scribes and Pharisees answered, saying, “Teacher, we want to see a sign from You." Despite all the miracles Jesus had performed, the scribes and Pharisees had the nerve to ask Him for a sign, implying that they would believe if He would prove Himself to be the Messiah! But their hypocrisy was transparent. If they had not believed after seeing so many wonders, why would they be convinced by one more? The attitude that demands miraculous signs as a condition for belief does not please God. As Jesus said to Thomas, “Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed” (John 20:29). In God’s judgment, seeing follows believing.

22 Philip came and told Andrew, and in turn Andrew and Philip told Jesus.

Perhaps Philip was not too sure as to whether the Lord would see these Greeks. Christ had previously told the disciples not to go to the Gentiles with the gospel, so Philip went to Andrew, and together they told Jesus.
Apparently, Jesus had gone into the temple. Since there was a court for the women and a court for the Gentiles, these Greeks cannot go in where Jesus is.

23 But Jesus answered them, saying, “The hour has come that the Son of Man should be glorified."

Why did the Greeks want to see Jesus? If we read between the lines, we can surmise that the wisdom of Jesus appealed to them; and they heard about Him, probably about His miracles and especially His raising Lazarus from the dead. Their philosophy was “Spare yourself,” but Jesus told them [the disciples.] that this philosophy was directly opposed to His way of thinking. He would be glorified in His sacrificial death and not by a comfortable life.

Jesus did not talk directly to the Greeks. He conveyed His message through Andrew and Philip. The hour does not refer to a sixty-minute period, but to the general time-period when the Son of man should be glorified. This glorification is explained in the next verse.

24 Most assuredly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it produces much grain.

Christ used this illustration to say that His death will produce a rich spiritual harvest. Seed never produces grain until first it falls into the ground and dies. The Lord Jesus here referred to Himself as a grain (or kernel) of wheat. If He did NOTdie, He would abide alone. He would enjoy the glories of heaven by Himself; there would be no saved sinners there to share His glory. However, if He died, He would provide a way of salvation by which many might be saved.

The same applies to us, as T. G. Ragland says: “If we refuse to be corns of wheat—falling into the ground, and dying; if we will neither sacrifice prospects, nor risk character, and property, and health; nor, when we are called, relinquish home, and break family ties, for Christ’s sake; then we shall abide alone. But if we wish to be fruitful, we must follow our Blessed Lord Himself, by becoming a corn of wheat, and dying, then we shall bring forth much fruit.”

25 He who loves his life will lose it, and he who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life.

Many people think that the important things in life are food, clothing, and pleasure. They live for these things. But, in loving their earthly lives, they fail to realize that the soul is more important than the body. By neglecting their soul’s welfare, they lose their lives. We need to be vigilant, because anything in life can become an idol including possessions, interests, and loves.

On the other hand, there are those who count all things loss for Christ. To serve Him, they forego things highly prized among men. These are the people who will keep their lives for eternal life. To hate one’s life means to love Christ more than one loves his own interests.

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 honor.

To serve Christ, one must follow Him. He wants His servants to obey His teachings and resemble Him morally. They must apply the example of His death to themselves. All servants are promised the constant presence and protection of their Master, and this applies not only to the present life but to eternity as well. Service now will receive God’s approval in a coming day. Whatever one suffers of shame or reproach here will be small indeed compared to the glory of being publicly commended by God the Father in heaven! The reward for following Christ is honor with the Father.

27 “Now My soul is troubled, and what shall I say? ‘Father, *save Me from this hour’? But for this purpose I came to this hour.

Increasingly, the Lord’s thoughts were upon the awfulness of the events that lay immediately before Him. He was thinking of the cross, and contemplating the time when He would become the Sin Bearer, and endure the wrath of God against our sins. In thinking of His “hour of heartbreak,” His soul was troubled. His soul stood in horror; He was aghast before the cross. Yet He had come into the world for the purpose of going to the cross and enduring the shame of it.  Paul says, “But God forbid that I should boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world” (Gal. 6:14). Jesus’ contemplation of taking on the wrath of God for the sins of everyone who would believe caused revulsion in the sinless savior *(2 Cor. 5:21).How should He pray in such a moment? Should He ask His Father to save Him from the hour? He could not pray for this because the purpose of His coming into the world was to go to the cross. He was born to die.

Save me.  Jesus saying to His Father, “save Me from this hour” does not imply disobedience or weakness on the part of Christ. A man may shrink from an experience, which he, nevertheless, wants to undergo, such as an operation. So it is also with Christ. Jesus’ request is a real petition, like the one in Gethsemane, “Let this cup pass from Me.”

*2 Corinthians 5:21    For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him. This verse gives us the doctrinal foundation for our reconciliation. How has God made reconciliation possible? How can He receive guilty sinners who come to Him in repentance and faith? The answer is that the Lord Jesus has effectively dealt with the whole problem of our sins, so now we can be reconciled to God.

There is a suffering connected with the cross of Christ that you and I cannot comprehend. He did not suffer at the hands of men only. That was bad enough, but He suffered beyond that. Your sin and my sin were put upon Him. There on the cross He was “…a man of sorrows, and aquainted with grief…” (Isa. 53:3). He bore the sin of the world, not His own sin. “Surely He has borne our griefs And carried our sorrows; Yet we esteemed Him stricken, Smitten by God, and afflicted” (Isaiah 53:4). Our sin was put upon him. He was made sin for us—not in some academic manner—He actually was made sin for us. “Yet it pleased the Lord to bruise Him; He has put Him to grief…” (Isa. 53:10). Although He was holy, undefiled and separate from sinners, He was made sin for you and me. This involved a suffering you and I cannot comprehend.

28 Father, glorify Your name.” Then a voice came from heaven, saying, “I have both glorified it and will glorify it again.”

Instead of praying that He might be saved from the cross, the Lord Jesus prayed that the name of His Father might be glorified. He was more interested in bringing honor to God than in His own comfort or safety. God now spoke from heaven, saying that He had glorified His Name and would glorify it again. The Name of God was glorified during the earthly ministry of Jesus. The 30 silent years in Nazareth, the three years of public ministry, the wonderful words and works of the Savior—all of these greatly glorified the Name of the Father. Still, greater glory would be brought to God through the death, burial, resurrection, and Ascension of Christ.
This is one of only three incidences during Jesus’ ministry when God spoke to Jesus from heaven; His baptism (Matt. 3:17), and His Transfiguration (Matt 15:5) are the other two.

29 Therefore the people who stood by and heard it said that it had thundered. Others said, “An angel has spoken to Him.”

Some of those standing by mistook the voice of God for thunder. Such people are always trying to put a natural explanation on spiritual things. Men who are unwilling to accept the fact of miracles try to explain the miracles away by some natural law. Others knew it was not thunder, and yet they did not recognize it as the voice of God. Realizing that the voice must have been superhuman, they could only conclude that it was the voice of an angel. God’s voice can only be heard and understood by those who are helped by the Holy Spirit. People can listen to the gospel over and over, and yet it is meaningless to them unless the Holy Spirit speaks to them through it.

30 Jesus answered and said, “This voice did not come because of Me, but for your sake.

The Lord explained to the listeners that this voice did not need to be audible in order for Him to hear it. Rather, it was made audible for the sake of those who were standing by, so that they would recognize Christ as God.

31 Now is the judgment of this world; now the ruler of this world will be cast out.

He said, “Now is the judgment of this world,” The world was about to crucify the Lord of life and glory. In doing so, it would condemn itself. Sentence would be passed upon it for its awful rejection of Christ. That is what the Savior meant here. Condemnation was about to be passed on guilty humanity. The ruler of this world is Satan. Actually, Satan was utterly defeated at Calvary. He thought he had succeeded in doing away with the Lord Jesus for the last time. Instead, the Savior had provided a way of salvation for men, and at the same time had defeated Satan and all his hosts. The sentence has not yet been carried out on the devil, but his doom has been sealed. He is still going through the world carrying on his evil business, but it is just a matter of time before he will be cast into the lake of fire.

32 And I, if I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all peoples to Myself.”

The first part of this verse refers to Christ’s death on the cross. He was nailed to a cross of wood and lifted up from the earth. The Lord said that if He were crucified, He would draw all peoples to Himself. Several explanations have been given for this. Some think that Christ draws all people either to salvation or to judgment. Others think that if Christ is lifted up in the preaching of the gospel, then there will be a great power in the message, and souls will be drawn to Him. Probably the correct explanation is that the crucifixion of the Lord Jesus resulted in all kinds of people being drawn to Him. It does not mean all people without exception, but people from every nation, tribe, and language.

33 This He said, signifying by what death He would die.

When the Lord Jesus spoke of being lifted up, He signified the kind of death He would die, that is, by crucifixion. Here again we have evidence of the all–knowledge of the Lord. He knew in advance that He would not die in bed or by accident, but that He would be nailed to a cross.

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?”

The people were puzzled by this statement of the Lord about being lifted up. They knew that He claimed to be the Messiah, and yet they knew from the Old Testament that the Messiah would live *forever. Notice that the people quoted Jesus as saying, “The Son of Man must be lifted up.” Actually, He had said, “I, if I be lifted up from the earth.” Of course, the Lord Jesus had referred to Himself many times as the Son of Man, and perhaps He had even spoken previously of the Son of Man being lifted up, so it was not difficult for the people to put the two thoughts together.

*The Messiah Would Live Forever
Isaiah 9:7      Of the increase of His government and peace There will be no end, Upon the throne of David and over His kingdom, To order it and establish it with judgment and justice From that time forward, even forever. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform this.
Psalms 110:4     The Lord has sworn And will not relent, “You are a priest forever According to the order of Melchizedek.”
Dan. 7:14      Then to Him was given dominion and glory and a kingdom, That all peoples, nations, and languages should serve Him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion, Which shall not pass away, And His kingdom the one Which shall not be destroyed.
Micah 4:7     I will make the lame a remnant, And the outcast a strong nation; So the Lord will reign over them in Mount Zion From now on, even forever.

35 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.

When the people asked Jesus who the Son of Man was, He spoke of Himself again as the light of the world. He reminded them that the light would only be with them for a short while. They should come to the Light and walk in the Light; otherwise, darkness would soon overtake them, and they would stumble around in ignorance.

The Lord seemed to liken Himself to the sun and to the daylight, it offers. The sun rises in the morning, reaches its peak at noon, and descends over the horizon in the evening. It is only with us for a limited number of hours. We should avail ourselves of it while it is here, because when the night comes, we do not have the benefit of it. Spiritually, the one who believes on the Lord Jesus is the one who walks in the light. The one who rejects Him walks in darkness and does not know where he is going. He lacks divine guidance, and stumbles through life.

36 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.

Again, the Lord Jesus warned His listeners to believe on Him while there was still opportunity. By doing so, they would become sons of light. They would be assured of direction through life and into eternity. After speaking these words, the Lord departed from the people and remained in obscurity for a while, probably in Bethany.

37 But although He had done so many signs before them, they did not believe in Him,

John paused at this time to express amazement that although the Lord Jesus had done so many mighty signs, yet the people did not believe in Him. As we have mentioned before, their unbelief was not caused by any lack of evidence. The Lord had given the most convincing proofs of His deity, but the people did not want to believe. They wanted a king to rule over them, but they did not want to repent.

Faithlessness  In His words and works, Jesus showed Israel the light, but they chose to walk in darkness. The praise of men meant more to them than the praise of God (5:44). Be careful what you do with His words because you will hear them again when you see the Savior (v. 48).

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?”

The irrational unbelief of the Jews was in fulfillment of the prophecy in *Isaiah 53:1. The question, “Lord, who has believed our report?” calls for the answer, “Not very many!” Since the arm in Scripture speaks of power or strength, the arm of the LORD speaks of the mighty power of God. God’s power is only revealed to those who believe the report concerning the Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, because not many accepted the announcement concerning the Messiah, the power of God was not revealed to many.

*Isaiah 53:1   Who has believed our report? And to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?
The repentant remnant of Israel recalls that when the report of the Messiah’s First Advent went forth, not many believed. Consequently the saving power of the LORD was not revealed to many either.

39 Therefore they could not believe, because Isaiah said again:

When the Lord Jesus presented Himself to the nation of Israel, they rejected Him. Repeatedly, He came back to them with the offer of salvation, but they kept saying “no” to Him. The more men reject the gospel, the harder it becomes for them to receive it. When men close their eyes to the Light, God makes it more difficult for them to see the Light. God causes them to be struck with what is known as judicial blindness, that is, a blindness that is God’s judgment on them for refusing His Son.

40 “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.”

This quotation was from *Isaiah 6:9, 10. God blinded the eyes of the people of Israel and hardened their hearts. He did not do this at first, but only after, they had closed their eyes and hardened their own hearts. Because of Israel’s stubborn and willful rejection of the Messiah, they cut themselves off from sight, understanding, conversion, and healing.

Blinded…hardened—God’s actions cannot be viewed as being deliberately planned to make faith impossible for those who want to believe. Rather, this is the answer of God to unbelief.

Isaiah 6:9, 10      9 And He said, “Go, and tell this people: ‘Keep on hearing, but do not understand; Keep on seeing, but do not perceive.’ 10 “Make the heart of this people dull, And their ears heavy, And shut their eyes; Lest they see with their eyes, And hear with their ears, And understand with their heart, And return and be healed.”

Isaiah was to declare the Word of the Lord to a people who would be judicially blinded and hardened through rejection of the message. Verses 9 and 10 do not describe the goal of Isaiah’s ministry, but its inevitable result. These verses are quoted in the New Testament to explain Israel’s rejection of the Messiah. Vine writes, “The people had so persistently perverted their ways that they had gone beyond the possibility of conversion and healing. A man may so harden himself in evil as to render his condition irremediable, and this by God’s retributive judgment upon him.”

41 These things Isaiah said when he saw His glory and spoke of Him.

In Isaiah 6, the prophet was described as seeing the glory of God. John now added the explanation that it was Christ’s glory, which Isaiah saw, and it was of Christ that he spoke. Thus, this verse is another important link in the chain of evidence that proves Jesus Christ to be God.

42 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;

Many of the rulers of the Jews became convinced that Jesus was the Messiah. However, they did not dare to share their conviction with the others for fear that they would be excommunicated. We would like to think that these men were genuine believers in the Lord Jesus, but it is doubtful. Where there is true faith, there will be confession of Christ, eventually. When Christ is really accepted as Savior, one does not hesitate to make it known, regardless of the consequences.

43 for they loved the praise of men more than the praise of God.

It was obvious that these men were more interested in the praise of their fellow men than they were in the praise of God. They thought more of man’s approval than of God’s. Can a person like this really be a genuine believer in Christ? The answer is found in *John 5:44. Jesus’ remark indicates the displeasure God had for their conduct at this time, and that He continues to have for similar conduct today.

*John 5:44    How can you believe, who receive honor from one another, and do not seek the honor that comes from the only God? Here the Lord gave another reason for the failure of the Jewish people to accept Christ. They were more interested in the approval of their fellow men than they were in God’s approval. They were afraid of what their friends would say if they left Judaism. They were not willing to endure the reproach and suffering which would be heaped upon them if they became followers of the Lord Jesus. As long as a person is afraid of what others will say or do, he cannot be saved. In order to believe on the Lord Jesus, one must desire God’s approval more than anyone else’s. He must seek the honor that comes from the only God.

44 Then Jesus cried out and said, “He who believes in Me, believes not in Me but in Him who sent Me.

Cried out means that He called out, not that He wept. It shows the importance of the issues before the nation. A paraphrase of verse 44 is as follows: “The one who believes in Me actually believes not only in Me, but also in My Father who sent Me.” Here again the Lord taught His absolute union with God the Father. He is the perfect magnification of God, the One who sent Him *(Heb. 1:3). It was impossible to believe in One without believing in the Other. To believe in Christ is to believe in God the Father. One cannot believe in the Father unless he gives equal honor to the Son.

*Hebrews 1:3     who being the brightness of His glory and the express image of His person, and upholding all things by the word of His power, when He had by Himself purged our sins, sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high,

45 And he who sees Me sees Him who sent Me.

In one sense, nobody can see God the Father. He is Spirit, and therefore invisible. However, the Lord Jesus had come into the world to let us know what God is like. By this, we do not mean that He lets us know what God is like physically, but morally. He has revealed the character of God to us. Therefore, whoever has seen Christ has seen God the Father.

The series of statements that conclude this chapter are Christ’s final public messages to Israel.

46 I have come as a light into the world, that whoever believes in Me should not abide in darkness.

The illustration of light was apparently one of our Lord’s favorites. Again, He referred to Himself as a light coming into the world in order that those who believe in Him should not abide in darkness. Apart from Christ, men are in deepest darkness. They do not have a right understanding of life, death, or eternity. However, those who come to Christ in faith no longer grope about for the truth, because they have found the truth in Him.

47 And if anyone hears My words and does not believe, I do not judge him; for I did not come to judge the world but to save the world.

The purpose of Christ’s First Coming was not to judge the world but to save. He did not sit in judgment on those who refused to hear His words or believe on Him. This does not mean that He will not condemn these unbelievers in a coming day, but that judgment was not the object of His First Coming.

48 He who rejects Me, and does not receive My words, has that which judges him— the word that I have spoken will judge him in the last day.

The Lord now looked forward to a coming day when those who rejected His words will stand before the judgment bar of God. At that time, the words or teaching of the Lord Jesus will be sufficient to condemn them. Believe me; we are going to be judged by the Word of God. We will not be judged by our little good works. We will not be judged by what we think religion is. No, we will be judged by the Word of God.

49 For I have not spoken on My own authority; but the Father who sent Me gave Me a command, what I should say and what I should speak.

The things He taught were not things He had made up Himself or learned in the schools of men. Rather, as the obedient Servant and Son, He had only spoken those things, which the Father commissioned Him to speak. This is the fact that will condemn men at the last day. The word that Jesus spoke was the Word of God, and men refused to hear it. The Father had told Him not only what to say but what He should speak. There is a difference between the two. The expression “what I should say” refers to the substance of the message; “what I should speak” means the very words which the Lord should use in teaching the truth of God, and His words are life everlasting.

50 And I know that His command is everlasting life. Therefore, whatever I speak, just as the Father has told Me, so I speak.”

Jesus knew the Father had commissioned Him to give everlasting life to those who would believe on Him. Therefore, Christ delivered the message as it was given to Him by the Father.

This ends our Lord’s public ministry. He will never appear publicly again until He comes to this earth to establish His Kingdom.

 

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