Study Notes

John 12:34-50


Last week, we saw Jesus enter into Jerusalem riding on a donkey, just a few days before He will be arrested, tortured, and crucified.

As Jesus entered the temple, some Greeks wanted to see Him, but couldn't go farther in than the outer court of the gentiles. When Philip and Andrew told Jesus about them, Jesus basically said, "The and all men will be able to get to me once I am killed by being lifted up on the cross."

He said in verses 23 and 33,

John 12:23 And Jesus answered them, saying, "The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified.

John 12:32-33 "And I, if I be 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.

Now, as we pick up in verse 34, the multitude inquire about this statement.

12:34 Out Of The Law

Many were believing that Jesus was the Christ. But what they didn't understand was why He kept talking about being betrayed, about being killed, about rising from the dead. They tell Jesus, "According to the Law, the Christ is to remain forever." Where were they getting that? From Messianic prophecies like,

Ps. 45:6 Thy throne, O God, is forever and ever; A scepter of uprightness is the scepter of Thy kingdom.

Isa. 9:6-7 For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us; And the government will rest on His shoulders; And His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace. There will be no end to the increase of {His} government or of peace, On the throne of David and over his kingdom, To establish it and to uphold it with justice and righteousness From then on and forevermore...

Dan. 7:13-14 "I kept looking in the night visions, And behold, with the clouds of heaven One like a Son of Man was coming, And He came up to the Ancient of Days And was presented before Him. And to Him was given dominion, Glory and a kingdom, That all the peoples, nations, and men of every language Might serve Him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion Which will not pass away; And His kingdom is one Which will not be destroyed.

The people rightly understood that Messiah would have an everlasting kingdom. But what they didn't understand was that before this everlasting kingdom would be put in place, Messiah would first be killed. We see that clearly in other Messianic prophecies like:

Isa. 53:3-10 He was despised and forsaken of men, A man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief; And like one from whom men hide their face, He was despised, and we did not esteem Him. Surely our griefs He Himself bore, And our sorrows He carried; Yet we ourselves esteemed Him stricken, Smitten of God, and afflicted. But He was pierced through for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; The chastening for our well-being {fell} upon Him, And by His scourging we are healed. All of us like sheep have gone astray, Each of us has turned to his own way; But the LORD has caused the iniquity of us all To fall on Him. He was oppressed and He was afflicted, Yet He did not open His mouth; Like a lamb that is led to slaughter, And like a sheep that is silent before its shearers, So He did not open His mouth. By oppression and judgment He was taken away; And as for His generation, who considered That He was cut off out of the land of the living, For the transgression of my people to whom the stroke {was due?} His grave was assigned with wicked men, Yet He was with a rich man in His death, Because He had done no violence, Nor was there any deceit in His mouth. But the LORD was pleased To crush Him, putting {Him} to grief; If He would render Himself {as} a guilt offering, He will see {His} offspring, He will prolong {His} days, And the good pleasure of the LORD will prosper in His hand.

Before Messiah would reign forever, He would be killed in place of those who deserved it. This is where the multitude fell short in their understanding.

12:35-36 The Light

Jesus told His disciples back in chapter 9,

John 9:5 "While I am in the world, I am the light of the world."

So as He is talking about "the light," He is talking about Himself. He says, "I'm only here for a little while longer." Indeed, He would be put to death within just a few days. When would darkness come? When the light was shut off - when Jesus would be put to death.

These people had a limited amount of time to believe in the light, to become sons of the light. Each of us is in the same situation today. You see, today, if you haven't yet received Jesus Christ, haven't yet believed in Him, you only have a little while longer. "Nonsense," you may think. "I'm young and healthy. I've got years left!" Do you?

Prov. 27:1 Do not boast about tomorrow, For you do not know what a day may bring forth.

James 4:14 Yet you do not know what your life will be like tomorrow. You are {just} a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away.

Believe in the light, for you may have just a little while longer to decide.

12:37-41 Blinded Eyes

Jesus had cast out demons. He had healed all manner of diseases. Brought sight to people born blind. Even raised the dead! But still they were not believing in Him.

But John's comments here are difficult to understand, or at least difficult to accept. It almost sounds like God wouldn't allow them to believe.

On the contrary, these verses are just one of many places in Scripture that detail the parallelism of the sovereignty of God and the responsibility of man.

In a nutshell, John is saying that their unbelief and God's response to it was foretold by Isaiah the prophet. Isaiah says that ultimately, those who WILL not believe, CAN not believe.

You see, God will never violate the free will of a person. He'll never force you to believe in Him, and if you choose not to believe, He'll validate that choice. Remember when Moses brought the Word of the Lord to Pharaoh, we read over and over,

Exod. 8:15 But when Pharaoh saw that there was relief, he hardened his heart and did not listen to them, as the LORD had said.

Exod. 8:32 But Pharaoh hardened his heart this time also, and he did not let the people go.

Who made the choice to harden his heart? Pharaoh did. But then we read,

Exod. 9:12 And the LORD hardened Pharaoh's heart, and he did not listen to them, just as the LORD had spoken to Moses.

God didn't force Pharaoh to believe. When he hardened his own heart, God acknowledged that and hardened Pharaoh's heart.

So we see the parallel truths of man rejecting, and God validating.

12:42-43 Approval Of Men

Now, of course, it wasn't everybody who was rejecting Jesus. Many were in fact believing in Him - even some of the leading Pharisees - in the Sanhedrin. But they wouldn't admit their belief publicly or even verbally. Why?

John 12:42-43 ...lest they should be put out of the synagogue; for they loved the approval of men rather than the approval of God.

This is a very sad statement - especially because it continues to happen today. There's something inside of us that, even though we believe in Jesus Christ, keeps us from being vocal about it. Embarrassment, pride, fear, reputation. Why are you not more vocal about your belief in Christ?

I'd love to be able to reassure you and say, "Hey, God understands. You just keep on being that silent witness and let the evangelists do the verbal work." But I can't. You see, something that isn't discussed much in the church today is that the gospel from the very beginning has a prerequisite - verbal confession. Romans chapter 10 says,

Rom. 10:8-10 ...the word of faith which we are preaching, that if you confess with your mouth Jesus {as} Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you shall be saved; for with the heart man believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation.

And that should continue on in your life. Remember, even when Peter and John were arrested, beaten, and threatened not to preach Jesus, they said,

Acts 4:20 "...We cannot stop speaking what we have seen and heard."

Are you ashamed of your belief in the gospel? Are you embarrassed by your faith? Are you intimidated by people who don't believe? Don't be condemned - be convicted, and then solve the problem. You see, the solution is simple. Jesus said,

Acts 1:8 shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses...

If you need power to be a witness, ask God to fill you with His Spirit. He will, and then you will.

12:44-50 Him Who Sent Me

Jesus says here that if you reject Jesus Christ, it is the Word of God that will be your judge. Because the true commandment of the Bible is eternal life.

When you die and stand before God, you might try and defend your life, your attitudes and your actions. But the Word of God, the commandment of God, will prove you to be unworthy of salvation.

"But God, I was a good person!"

Rom. 3:23 ...All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God

"Okay, so I sinned. But not that often, and not that bad!"

Rom. 6:23 For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

"But Lord, I did a lot of good things!"

Isa. 64:6 ...All our righteous deeds are like a filthy garment...

"But Lord, how can you send me to hell just because I didn't believe in Jesus Christ? Just because I didn't respond to the Holy Spirit prompting my heart to Him?"

Mark 3:28-29 "Truly I say to you, all sins shall be forgiven the sons of men, and whatever blasphemies they utter; but whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit never has forgiveness, but is guilty of an eternal sin"

You see, there's not going to be any excuse for rejecting Jesus Christ. The Word will judge and condemn all who rejected Him. The Bible's command is clear:

Acts 16:31 ...Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you shall be saved...

John 3:16 ...whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life.

1John 5:11 ...God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son.

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