Our Redeemer's Troubled Soul | John 12:27-34 | Dr. David Harrell
Each transcript is a rough approximation of the message preached and may occasionally misstate certain portions of the sermon and even misspell certain words. It should in no way be considered an edited document ready for print. Moreover, as in any transcription of the spoken word, the full intention and passion of the speaker cannot be fully captured and will in no way reflect the same style of a written document.
This morning it is my joy to be able to open up the word of God to you and we will be looking at John's Gospel, chapter 12, verses 27 through 34. I've entitled my discourse to you this morning "Our Redeemer's Troubled Soul." Follow along as I read our text beginning in verse 27 of John 12. Jesus speaking says,
27 "Now My soul has become troubled; and what shall I say, 'Father, save Me from this hour'? But for this purpose I came to this hour. 28 Father, glorify Thy name." There came therefore a voice out of heaven: "I have both glorified it, and will glorify it again." 29 The multitude therefore who stood by and heard it were saying that it had thundered; others were saying, "An angel has spoken to Him." 30 Jesus answered and said, "This voice has not come for My sake, but for your sakes. 31 Now judgment is upon this world; now the ruler of this world shall be cast out. 32 And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to Myself." 33 But He was saying this to indicate the kind of death by which He was to die. 34 The multitude therefore answered Him, "We have heard out of the Law that the Christ is to remain forever; and how can You say, 'The Son of Man must be lifted up'? Who is this Son of Man?"
May God add his blessing to his word that we have just read.
This morning we have another magnificent opportunity to do what few people get to do and that is to study the person and the work of the Lord Jesus Christ. There is no greater subject in all of the universe than this, to study the one who took on human flesh, our Creator, to suffer and to die as our substitute, the one who is coming to earth to take us unto himself and then return to earth to judge the nations, to establish his earthly kingdom, the millennial kingdom, the Messianic kingdom and that consummating bridge between human history and the eternal state. This is God's plan that he has set forth in his word but may I remind you that Satan also has a plan, a counterfeit plan, one that we see unfolding even today, one that includes the apostate forms of Christianity that are proliferating around the world and certainly the rise of Islam. Sadly, few Christians really comprehend who Jesus actually is. Of course, many of them really don't know Christ. Moreover, even fewer understand the prophetic word concerning his return.
So this morning I would like to weave these two topics together for your edification to understand more of the person and the work of Christ and to understand more of what is going to happen at the end of the age. Bear in mind that as we come to this text, Jesus has presented himself to Israel as her Messiah on the very day that Daniel prophesied some 600 years earlier in Daniel 9:24 and 25. He has now come and cleansed the temple. He has run out all of the crooks that were there and he has taken possession of it and in two days, he will go to the cross. Here we have, dear friends, a prelude of the kind of suffering that he will experience at Gethsemane and certainly on the cross. But we must understand that Daniel's prophecy went on to describe something else, something terrifying, something we see developing right before our eyes some 2,600 years after God sent Gabriel to answer Daniel's inquiry regarding the fate of his people Israel.
You may recall that in Daniel 9, Daniel acknowledged the fact that the 70 years of judgment that God brought upon Israel for her disobedience in the land was coming to an end, that time of Babylonian captivity. So as we look in that text, we see that Daniel prays for God to give him light regarding the future of his people and the future of the city, Jerusalem, where the King would come and establish his kingdom and he prays for restoration. He prays that God would bring back "your city, your sanctuary and your people." So through the angel Gabriel, God answers him.
In verse 24 of Daniel 9, he gives six prophecies that span from the time when the Persian king Artaxerxes decreed to rebuild Jerusalem all the way to the time when the Messiah will return and establish his kingdom. In Daniel 9:24, he says, "Seventy weeks have been decreed for your people and your holy city." These are weeks of years, in other words, 490 years have been decreed for your people and your holy city, "to finish the transgression, to make an end of sin, to make atonement for iniquity." We know that these first three prophecies were fulfilled in principle at his first coming and they will be fulfilled in full when he comes again. But then he gave three more prophecies. He speaks of, "bringing in everlasting righteousness, to seal up vision and prophecy," in other words, the king will bring about the complete fulfillment of all that he has promised, "and to anoint the most holy place," in other words, to consecrate the holy place in the millennial temple described in Ezekiel chapters 40-48, the center of worship during the Messianic kingdom. These three prophecies will be completed at his second advent.
Then he went on in verses 25 and following to divide these 70 weeks of years into three groups. Again, from the time Artaxerxes would "issue a decree to restore and rebuild Jerusalem until Messiah the Prince there will be seven weeks and sixty-two weeks," in other words, 7 sevens and then 62 sevens or 483 years. And we know from our past studies that this 483 years elapsed and that was precisely the time when Jesus entered into Jerusalem. Then in verse 26, he says, "Then after the sixty-two weeks the Messiah will be cut off and have nothing," this refers to Jesus' death and that time when nothing belonged to his regal glory upon the earth at that time. He goes on to say, "and the people of the prince who is to come will destroy the city and the sanctuary," and this speaks of the Romans that would come and destroy the city and the temple in AD 70 and the prince is ultimately a reference to a false messiah, a false messianic ruler that will come from that people. This will be the antichrist that will come from the ancient Roman Empire, previously described in Daniel 7 and other passages. Then he says, "And its end will come with a flood; even to the end there will be war; desolations are determined." Of course, this is consistent with all of the other prophecies concerning the time of the tribulation that we read in Scripture, also called "Daniel's 70th week."
But then in verse 27, he describes something that will happen during this final week of years, Daniel's 70th week, this final week of judgment that is yet future, this time pertaining to the antichrist, a time which, I believe, is right around the corner given the constellation of signs in Scripture as well as the current events that we see transpiring. He says this in verse 27, "And he," referring to this antichrist, "will make a firm covenant with the many for one week, but in the middle of the week he will put a stop to sacrifice and grain offering." In other words, at the halfway point of the final week of years or 3 ½ weeks into the pre-kingdom judgments of the tribulation, he's going to stop sacrifice in the temple and grain offering. Then he says, "and on the wing of abominations will come one who makes desolate, even until a complete destruction, one that is decreed, is poured out on the one who makes desolate."
So as we read this, we can see that eventually a temple is going to be built, probably right next to where the Islamic temple now stands and that temple is going to be the one that will ultimately be desecrated. And according to this text and a number of others, we read that the antichrist is going to rise to a place of incredible power and prominence in the space of 3 ½ years and he will be able to wield his terrible power over the world. Paul describes this in great detail in 2 Thessalonians 2:9-11. And as we look at other prophecies as well, we see that he's going to make a covenant of peace with Israel but then he will violate that covenant and demand that the world worship him but in the end, the false messiah will be defeated and destroyed by the true Messiah, the Lord Jesus Christ at his second coming.
Now, what is fascinating is that the biblical descriptions of the person and the work of the antichrist are precisely how the Muslims describe their redeemer in the Koran and the Sunnah, sometimes called the Hadith, which are the words and the practices spoken by Mohammed, the oral traditions. And it's also interesting according to their eschatology the Christian Jesus is their antichrist. Folks, bear in mind that all through redemptive history and all through Scripture, we see that Satan is the great deceiver. He is the master counterfeiter. Whatever God does, he will counterfeit. Muslims believe in Jesus as many times they will tell you, it's just not the Jesus of the Bible. The Muslim "Jesus" plays a crucial role in their eschatology. They teach that Jesus was not the second person of the Triune Godhead; he was not the Son of God but a mere man, a prophet. That he did not die but rather he just went to heaven like Elijah so he did not provide an atonement for sin. They teach that he's in heaven right now alongside Allah and he's waiting for Allah to send him back. And why will he come back? To correct all the Christians who have been misled. They teach that he will get married; he will have children; he will die; and he's going to be buried next to Mohammed.
Islamic eschatology is very revealing, especially if we look at the three characters that they present at the end of history. The first one is what they call the al-Mahdi or the Mahdi. This is the redeemer of Islam. He's sometimes called the Twelfth Iman and according to their eschatology, he is coming to slaughter all who will not worship Allah. He's coming to establish the everlasting world dominating kingdom of Islam, the final Caliphate, and he will have an army and this army will carry black flags and primarily on that black flag will be the word in Arabic "punishment." Today, if we look around, we see the Iranian army carrying this flag, Al Qaeda, all the Jihadists: ISIS, ISIL, whatever you want to call them, they carry this flag.
They claim that the Mahdi's ascendancy to power will be preceded by an army from the east that will be carrying these black flags or banners of war and the Hadith indicates that these black flags will come from a region known as Corazon which will signify the appearance of the Mahdi is nigh and this place is in Iran. Some scholars have said that this Hadith means that when the black flags appear from this region in central Asia which is the direction of the Corazon, then the appearance of the Mahdi is imminent. In fact, Mohammed said, "If you see the black flags coming from Corazon, join that army even if you have to crawl over ice for that is the army of the Iman al-Mahdi and no one can stop that army until it reaches Jerusalem."
According to Islamic eschatology, he will make a peace agreement with Israel and the west. Guess how long? For seven years. His reign will last seven years. He's going to come on a white horse and according to their sources, he will be loved by all the people. He will massacre the Jews and he will establish his rule on the Temple Mount. He will also discover hidden scriptures that will explain how the Torah and the Bible is all wrong.
It's interesting how all of the details that describe this person are precisely the details that we see that describe the antichrist in the Bible so the biblical antichrist may well be this Islamic Mahdi. Paul tells us in 2 Thessalonians 2, beginning in verse 7, "For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work; only he who now restrains will do so until he is taken out of the way." Isn't it interesting: it was already at work 2,000 years ago. "Then that lawless one will be revealed whom the Lord will slay with the breath of His mouth and bring to an end by the appearance of His coming; that is, the one whose coming is in accord with the activity of Satan, with all power and signs and false wonders, and with all the deception of wickedness for those who perish, because they did not receive the love of the truth so as to be saved." He goes on to say, "For this reason God will send upon them a deluding influence so that they will believe what is false, in order that they all may be judged who did not believe the truth, but took pleasure in wickedness."
According to Islamic eschatology, beyond the Mahdi they have another key figure which they call "Jesus." He's going to return as a prophet and, of course, the Mahdi is greater than "Jesus." They say that he will return as a radical Muslim arriving at a minaret near Damascus and he's going to come to help the Mahdi prove that the Christians and the Jews were wrong. He will worship, he will serve the Mahdi. He will establish sharia law. Their literature says that he will "shatter crosses," meaning he will destroy Christianity. So in other words, when this "Jesus" comes, he will refute all the truths of the Gospel, deny that Jesus was the Son of God, deny that he died for sinners, that he rose again, that he's coming back and all these types of things. Their literature says that he will kill the Islamic antichrist. You see, they have an antichrist too and guess who that is? That's the true Jesus that we worship. Biblically, all that the Muslim "Jesus" is and does parallels the person and the work of the false prophet that we read about in Revelation 13, Revelation 16 and Revelation 19, the beast that is coming out of the earth.
Thirdly, the true Jesus in their eschatology, the Son of God that we would argue, our Savior, our Lord and they call him Dajjal and he is the great deceiver. He is the antichrist for them. They say he will be blind in one eye. He will return on a mule. He will be an infidel, a false miracle worker and he will claim to be Jesus, the Son of God and he will attempt to stop the Mahdi and the Islamic "Jesus" but that Islamic "Jesus" will slaughter him.
You might say, "Well, do you mean to tell me that the United States could some day be under the authority of the black flag of Islam?" There is a high probability that that is the case. If we look at the liberal left today, we see the insanity of political correctness that is far more sympathetic with Islam than it is biblical Christianity. In fact, Bible believing Christians, especially those that believe in the prophetic Scriptures, are on their list of extremists that they consider a threat to the freedoms of the United States. Even now, we see our current administration sympathetic to Islam, refusing to stop Iran, antagonistic towards Israel. Europe is gradually being taken over by them. But we know, dear friends, that according to Scripture just before the pre-kindgom judgments of the tribulation, Daniel's 70th week, the true church is going to be snatched away in the rapture. We read about this in 1 Thessalonians 4:16 and following and 1 Corinthians 15, verse 51 and following. And at that time, Israel will once again be the focus of God's attention. Think about it: when the rapture of the church occurs and all the Christians are suddenly taken away, this country and many others around the world will be left in absolute shambles. God has also warned that just before Christ returns, Israel will be surrounded by her enemies which includes, according to Zechariah 12:3, all the nations of the earth will be gathered against Jerusalem. That will include the United States. A very different United States than we live in now.
So dear friends, the world is being prepared for the antichrist and for the beast that will come out of the sea, the most deceptive, demonic, powerful, violent world dictator the world has ever seen as well as the false prophet that will be his religious enforcer. Scripture says that there's going to be a one world government, a one world religion, a one world economy. Dear friends, I warn you as a minister of the Gospel that the storm clouds are gathering and you need to be ready. Satan doesn't care what you believe as long as it's a lie and one of the biggest lies of all is the satanic deception of Islam which is not a religion necessarily, it is a political ideology whose ultimate stated goal is world domination under sharia law. The world today is filled with so many phony Christians that have no idea who the real Jesus is and so they're going to be very vulnerable, easy prey for the antichrist and the false prophet to present a counterfeit. Satan's counterfeits are at work today, dear friends, and they're going to grow more and more convincing and this is why it is so very important for you to listen carefully as we study the word of the living God and understand more of the true Jesus and all that he has planned for those that he has saved.
So with this, we return to John 12. Consistent with the prophecies, Jesus has taken possession of the temple. Luke tells us that he was teaching daily in the temple. In fact, for a brief season, you need to understand that the Messiah King of Israel offered Israel a taste of millennial blessing when, according to Malachi 3:1, the King himself will occupy his own temple. When according to Isaiah 2, the word of the Lord will go forth in instruction from Jerusalem. A time when, according to Isaiah 35, the healing hand of the King will heal those who suffer from physical affliction. A time according to Ezekiel 34, where there will no longer exist any greedy shepherds to take advantage of the people. A time according to Psalm 8, when the children will cry "Hosanna!" in the temple. Israel got at taste of this but they could not see him as their Messiah.
So, let's look closely at this text and what is preoccupying the heart of our Savior. I want to look at this under four headings. We want to see the reason, the resolve, the reward and the rejection of his troubled soul. After Jesus responds to the inquiry of the Greeks and the listening multitude concerning his impending death and the role it's going to play in salvation he says this in verse 27, "Now My soul has become troubled; and what shall I say, 'Father, save Me from this hour'? But for this purpose I came to this hour." Beloved, here we look first at the reason for his troubled soul. As I said earlier, this is a prelude to the agonies he will face at Gethsemane and the hours to follow, especially as he hung upon the cross. The term "troubled" is very important to understand, it means literally "to shake," and it carries the idea of acute mental and spiritual anguish that would cause a person to literally tremble in horror. And because of the tense of the verb, we see that this was a chronic condition that plagued the Lord Jesus. It wasn't something that just happened to him here. But please understand: his soul was not troubled because of this physical suffering he would endure at the hands of men, it was not troubled because of the insults that would come, the blows, the scourgings, the crown of thorns, not even the nails that would pierce his wrists and his feet, nor the asphyxiation that is a part of the horrible torture of crucifixion because, indeed, he was greatly superior to all men in strength of body and mind and he excelled beyond all others in courage because of his unfallen body. But dear friends, what troubled the soul of the sinless Savior was the contemplation of having to drink the bitter cup of the Father's wrath, that time when he would hang upon the tree and take upon his body the sins of all that the Father had given him because, you see, it was the Father's will for him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf that we might become the righteousness of God in him, Paul tells us. He was the grain of wheat, as he said earlier, that must fall into the earth and die in order to bear much fruit.
You see, this vicarious suffering to be the propitiation for our sins was the hot iron that pierced his soul with such agonizing anguish. Beloved, this is a terror that we cannot even begin to fathom. You know, when we die in Christ, our souls vacate our body, they're instantly in paradise but what awaited the Savior was being made sin on our behalf and being forsaken by his Father. This would have been an excruciating pain for him. The revulsion that he had for sin is what tortured his holy soul.
I want you to notice how he responds to his own anguish. "What shall I say, 'Father, save Me from this hour'?" You see, here he expresses the raw emotion that he's feeling and he says, "But for this purpose I came to this hour." You see, there was no wavering in his spirit. His mind and his will was resolute. The very purpose for which he came to earth was to do the Father's will that the Father might be glorified and that sinners might be saved in that order of priority and he would not deviate from God's eternal plan of redemption.
Secondly, we see the resolve of his troubled soul. We see it in his simple prayer in verse 28, "Father, glorify Your name." Now, you must understand that this was not mere servile submission, this was not just sucking it up and just doing something out of duty. This was the passion of his soul. This was the desire of his being. And I also want you to notice he does not say, "Father, save sinners," because friends, that is secondary. His number one priority was to bring glory to his Father. Now, we might ask, "How could this happen in his death?" and the answer is: in the atoning work of Christ we see the amazing attributes of God put on display: we see his holiness; his justice; his love; his mercy; his grace; his faithfulness; his wisdom.
Let me focus for a moment on just one: think of his wisdom. Here was the dilemma: how can a holy God show mercy to sinful man because all sin must be punished? How do you resolve that? He cannot merely ignore sin and show sinners undeserved blessing because to do so would require him to abdicate his holiness. But what would appear to be an unsolvable dilemma was resolved on the cross of Calvary and the resolution was in the atoning work of the Lord Jesus Christ because atonement requires two things: it requires satisfaction, satisfaction of the offended holiness of God but that could only be accomplished, secondly, by an acceptable substitute, a substitute for the guilty party. So in his infinite wisdom, God comes along and he pays the penalty himself, causing mercy and justice to unite at the cross. For this reason, John says in 1 John 2:1, "And now if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous; and He Himself is the propitiation for our sins." In other words, he is the satisfaction of divine wrath. He is the one that placates or appeases the wrath of God. So indeed, Jesus' voluntary sacrifice would bring glory to the Father who conceived of such a marvelous plan to bring glory unto himself.
And Christ Jesus knew that his redemptive work would also initiate the new covenant of grace which the Father pledged would bring glory to his name. If we go back to Ezekiel 36, we read how God revealed his redemptive work through Christ that would make possible for rebellious Israel to one day glorify his name when he would renew their hearts and restore them to their land as he promised to do all the way back in the Abrahamic covenant at Genesis 12, a day yet future when Israel will someday trust Christ as their Messiah and Savior and that will happen, we know according to prophecy, on the eve of the Savior's return and the establishment of the kingdom. So in Ezekiel 36:22 we read this, God says to Ezekiel, "Therefore say to the house of Israel, 'Thus says the Lord GOD, "It is not for your sake, O house of Israel, that I am about to act, but for My holy name, which you have profaned among the nations where you went. I will vindicate the holiness of My great name which has been profaned among the nations, which you have profaned in their midst. Then the nations will know that I am the LORD," declares the Lord GOD, "when I prove Myself holy among you in their sight. For I will take you from the nations, gather you from all the lands and bring you into your own land."'" May I pause there for a moment and tell you that the amount of immigrants, of Jews coming into Israel today is unprecedented. They're coming in unbelief but God is bringing them back to their land.
Verse 25, "Then I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean; I will cleanse you from all your filthiness and from all your idols. Moreover, I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; and I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will be careful to observe My ordinances. You will live in the land that I gave to your forefathers; so you will be My people, and I will be your God." Friends, don't be deceived: the church has not replaced Israel. God still has a plan for his people.
So, with all of this in mind, Jesus prays, "Father, glorify Your name." You know, this should be our priority in prayer as well, should it not? Especially when our soul is troubled. What an example to follow, to come to the Lord and say, "Lord, in the midst of my agony, glorify your name in me. I pray that you will do with me what you will. I surrender myself to your will. I am dead to self. I am alive to Christ. My chief end is to glorify you and enjoy you forever. My agenda is out. I want to seek your kingdom but, Lord, I cannot do this on my own. I can only do it through Christ who strengthens me but by the power of the Gospel, this can happen. Father, glorify your name." Beloved, for this reason, the very first petition in the model prayer that Jesus gave us in Matthew 6 begins with a similar phrase that bears the same meaning. We are to pray, "Our Father in heaven, hallowed be thy name." "Our Father," which intimates origin, which denotes intimacy and relationship. "Our Father who is in heaven," that denotes his sovereign rule over all things. "Hallowed be thy name." To hallow his name means to confess his supreme holiness so as we come into the presence of God, we must do so with utmost reverence and praise, bowing before him, acknowledging his utter perfection and infinite glory. By the way, the next petition focuses on how his name will ultimately be exalted and what is that? He asks us to pray, "Thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven."
Jesus knew that none of this would be possible apart from his death upon the cross so he persevered through it all. But I want you to look thirdly at the reward for his troubled soul in verse 28, "Then a voice came out of heaven: 'I have both glorified it, and will glorify it again.'" This is the third time the Father has spoken audibly from heaven and in each case he did so in the context of Jesus' death. You will recall that he first thundered from heaven at Jesus' baptism which symbolized his death, his burial and his resurrection. He did it again on the Mount of Transfiguration when Moses and Elijah came and they spoke with him about his "departure" which he was about to accomplish in Jerusalem in Luke 9:31. And then now again, Jesus has just announced that the hour of his death has come so he says, "I have both glorified it," referring to my name, "and I will glorify it again." The Father acknowledges that the Incarnate Son has already glorified his name in that he is the Word that was made flesh, that revealed the glories of the Father in every way. Jesus said, "If you have seen me, you have seen the Father. I am Immanuel, God with you." Paul said he is the image of the invisible God. It was the Father's good pleasure for all the fullness to dwell in him. The writer of Hebrew says in Hebrews 1:3, he was and is "the radiance of His glory and the exact representation of His nature." You see, Jesus, the Son of God, is the perfect imprint, the exact representation of the nature and essence of God in time and space. Of course he glorified the Father and, indeed, while on earth, he did so and he would do so again yet future at his death and at his resurrection.
So it will not stop at his death. This is why God says, "I have both glorified it," in other words, in the past, "and I will glorify it again." Now, how did that happen? Well, what happened at Pentecost? Thousands of people came to a saving knowledge of Christ and begin to glorify God. What has happened down through the centuries? What has happened to us? Are we not here for that very purpose? Of course we are. Think of the final triumph when the glory of the Lord will cover the earth as the waters cover the seas as the prophets tell us. Think of the time as Paul describes in 1 Corinthians 15 when Christ Jesus delivers up the kingdom to the God and Father; when he has abolished all rule and all authority and power; when all things are subjected to him. Beloved, think of the day when all of the redeemed will gather around the throne of God and of the Lamb, when we will see our God face-to-face and worship him forever. Dear Christian, don't miss this: though his soul was troubled in ways that we cannot comprehend, he was resolute in bringing glory to the Father and he was also passionate to receive and enjoy all of the blessings, all of the joys of accomplishing the Father's will which would ultimately include him being exalted at the right hand of the Father where he currently is. It's for this reason that in Hebrews 12:2, we read, "for the joy set before Him Jesus endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God."
We will later see the passion of his soul expressed yet again in the garden of Gethsemane. You will recall in John 17 as he prays to the Father, in verse 1, we read that, "Jesus spoke these things; and lifting up His eyes to heaven, He said, 'Father, the hour has come; glorify Your Son, that the Son may glorify You, even as You gave Him authority over all flesh, that to all whom You have given Him, He may give eternal life. This is eternal life,'" he goes on to say, "'that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent. I glorified You on the earth, having accomplished the work which You have given Me to do. Now, Father, glorify Me together with Yourself, with the glory which I had with You before the world was.'" My friends, this would be the reward of his troubled soul. I might add that the hope of glory should be our medicine in times of trouble and distress.
Verse 29, "So the crowd of people who stood by and heard it were saying that it had thundered; others were saying, 'An angel has spoken to Him.'" Folks, here's a great example of how the natural man is absolutely unable to understand divine revelation. You know, Paul tells us that a natural man does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, they are foolishness to him and he cannot understand them because they are spiritually appraised, a term that literally means they cannot make a verdict when the obvious facts are presented before them. They cannot discern spiritual truth. We know that the unbelieving person is spiritually dead and unless God causes him to be born again, the words of the Bible, the words of Scripture are all just foolishness to him. We're all a bunch of knuckle-dragging Neanderthals as far as they are concerned and Satan also has blinded their minds so that they can't see the light of the Gospel and their hearts are just simply too hard to perceive spiritual truth apart from divine intervention, apart from regeneration.
By the way, this was also indicative of God's judgment upon the hardhearted Jews. Do you remember in Isaiah 6, Isaiah said, "Lord, I'll go for you," and so God says to him, "Okay, go and tell this people, 'Keep on listening but do not perceive. Keep on looking but do not understand.'" In other words, he's telling them that, "I have judged them for their refusal to believe the truth." He went on to say, "Render the hearts of this people insensitive, their ears dull and their eyes dim, otherwise they might see with their eyes, hear with their ears, understand with their hearts and return and be healed." Folks, that curse is still upon them even as it was in those days.
Now, the people knew that something supernatural had happened. Some thought that God had spoken through the thunder. Often the Jews thought this when they would hear thunder, they would think that God was speaking. Others thought that maybe an angel had spoken. But they were wrong on both counts so Jesus said to them in verse 30, "This voice has not come for My sake." In other words, there was no need for the Father to communicate to the Son that which he already knew, "but for your sakes." Not the unbelieving multitudes that couldn't hear but for the disciples that could, those that loved and trusted him. Certainly such a pronouncement must have bolstered the faith of the disciples, especially in the days to come for, indeed, his name was and will continue to be glorified again and again and again. This must have been a declaration that they rehearsed over and over and over when they saw Jesus hanging upon the tree.
Then Jesus says in verse 31, "Now judgment is upon this world; now the ruler of this world will be cast out. And I, if I am lifted up," meaning if I'm crucified, "if I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to Myself. But He was saying this to indicate the kind of death by which He was to die." Here he predicts three victories that would be accomplished at the cross: the world will be judged; Satan will be cast out; and he will draw all men to himself. What does he mean "the world will be judged"? Well, bear in mind that the world biblically is a Satanic system that is in rebellion against God and so the world's rejection of the Son is a rejection of God himself and this is a virulent form of evil that we see to this very day. So by rejecting the Son and his saving work on the cross, they forfeit all hope of salvation and all that is left is eternal judgment.
He also says, "Now the ruler of this world will be cast out." It's interesting that the grammar of this text indicates that the casting out will be a gradual process. To be sure, Satan's power over men and his hold upon the world, it was broken at the cross like the writer of Hebrews says in Hebrews 2:14, "Through his death, Jesus rendered powerless him who had the power over death, that is, the devil." But we know that he still has some power. We know that. Paul says in 2 Corinthians 4:4 that he is "the God of this world that blinds the minds of the unbelieving." Paul warns us to "put on the full armor of God that you might be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil." And Peter ones us "to be of sober spirit, be on the alert, your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion seeking someone to devour." And John tells us in 1 John 5:19, "the whole world lies in the power of the evil one."
So while Satan still exercises some measure of authority and influence in his domain in this world system, ultimately he is a toothless tiger because of what Christ did on the cross, because of his death and his exaltation. John tells us in Revelation 12:11 that believers "overcame him because of the blood of the Lamb." Moreover, we are indwelt by the Spirit, right? And "greater is he that is in you than he that is in the world." So Satan is ultimately defeated and yet he is a dangerous foe that is on the run. He is like a wounded bear. He will soon die but he is very, very vicious until he does. The Scripture teaches us that at the end of the tribulation, he will be cast into the bottomless pit for the duration of the millennium. He will be released for a little while and then at the end of the millennium, he will be cast into the lake of fire forever so there is the gradual casting out of Satan.
So Jesus celebrates these things and finally he says, "And I, if I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to Myself." By the way, the "all" here cannot refer to all of humanity otherwise all men would be saved but rather, it refers to all that the Father had given him as he had described in John 6, those whom the Father would draw unto himself. Remember, Jesus said in John 6:44 that, "No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him." He's saying, "If I am lifted up from the earth, I will draw all men to myself." By the way, it's the same word, the same "draw." The term in the original language means "to impel or to force an unwilling subject." What he's referring to here is the invincible power of God; the irresistible wooing of the Father; the irresistible grace of God to effectually draw an unwilling sinner to faith and repentance in Christ. So he's saying, "Through my cross, I will draw all the elect of God unto myself, those for whom I will die as their substitute." Oh, what love. All of this he considered the great reward for his troubled soul.
Then in conclusion, fourthly we see the rejection of his troubled soul in verse 34, "The crowd then answered Him, 'We have heard out of the Law that the Christ is to remain forever; and how can You say, "The Son of Man must be lifted up"? Who is this Son of Man?'" In other words, "Obviously, you are not describing our Messiah, the one who will remain forever. You're talking about dying? That means you can't be our Messiah." By the way, this is the very attitude that many Jews have to this very day. The Jews should have known that the Messiah would be cut off, Daniel 9:26. They should have known that he would suffer and die if they would have read Isaiah 53 and other passages. But like people today, they only heard what they wanted to hear.
Beloved, where would we be had Jesus retreated from the agony of the cross? Where would we be? May I challenge you to do this? May I challenge you to examine your heart and go before the Lord and ask the Spirit of God to help you see some new ways that you can glorify the Father in your life. And if that is truly the prayer of your heart, you will find that he will make that abundantly clear to you and when he does, decisively commit yourself to doing that. Then, not on your power but by the power of the Holy Spirit, watch your life begin to glorify the Father in some new ways and enjoy the blessing that will come from it. Will you do that? I want to challenge you to do that.
Let's pray together.
Father, thank you for these eternal truths. As always, I pray that our hearts will be receptive to them. Lord, I pray especially for those that may be within the sound of my voice that have never given their life to Christ, have never repented, have never asked Jesus to save them and to be their Savior. O God, they cannot do this apart from your work of grace. Cause them to be born again. Some of these are our children. Some of these are our family. Some of these are our friends, Lord. We beg you for Christ's sake to save them. And for those of us that know you, may the truths that we have examined today bear much fruit for our good and for your glory. In Christ's name. Amen.
We pray you have been edified by this presentation. You have been listening to Pastor, Bible Teacher and Author, Dr. David Harrell. For more information or for other messages from Dr. Harrell, please visit the Olive Tree Christian Resources website at otcr.org.