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Sunday, December 30, 2018

posted Dec 30, 2018, 8:08 PM by Site Administrator




John 12:31-50

Key Verse 12:35


Then Jesus told them, "You are going to have the light just a little while longer. Walk while you have the light, before darkness overtakes you. The man who walks in the dark does not know where he is going.


First, “Walk while you have the light” (31-36). Look at verses 31 and 32.  Let’s read these verses together:


31Now is the time for judgment on this world; now the prince of this world will be driven out. 32But I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to myself."


As the Ruler, God could have forgiven people of their sins freely. But He didn't do that. Instead, He had his Son die on the cross to pay the price of the sin of all peoples on earth. When Jesus died on the cross, it was God who was judging the world for its sin. This shows us God's justice - God is just, and according to this character of God, sin must be punished. God's grace of forgiveness in Jesus Christ does not give us freedom to sin, but it teaches us to say "No" to sin and fight against it. 


Jesus says, Now the prince of this world will be driven out. Since Adam's transgression, the devil had been the ruler of the earth; he was the prince of this world. But Jesus saw that this would change through his death on the cross. His death on the cross would be the turning point in human history when the devil's kingdom was defeated and God's kingdom wasestablished in the world. When Jesus died on the cross and rose again, God's kingdom was planted in the hearts and lives of his disciples in Israel. That was the beginning of new history of victory and conquest. Since then, God's kingdom has been advancing and the devil has been driven out for the past 2,000 years, and this conquest will go on continually until the devil's kingdom is destroyed completely and God's kingdom covers the whole world. The whole earth will become God's kingdom and it will be given to his people forever. 


Jesus also says, “But I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to myself.” Historically, humans did not like God; even if God had blessed them and loved them, strangely, people didn't like God; they turned their back to God and ran away from God. That's what Adam and Eve did; that's what Noah's people did; that's what even Israel people did. Humans were rebellious; no one was righteous. But Jesus saw that this trend would change when he was lifted up. When he died on the cross, people would come back to God. Why? It was because, there at the cross, people would see how much God loved them despite their willful sins and rebellion; they would see that God was willing to sacrifice his Only Son for their sake; they would see God's intense love for them. There, they see that they are not alone, but God cares for them. Their hearts are touched by God's love. All these people who see God's love for them through Jesus' cross come back to God happily. We felt like we were all alone all the days of our lives and we felt like wounded wolves. We felt like we were abandoned. We yelled, "No one understands me!" But on the cross, we find God’s love for us, the love we cannot even imagine: that God sent His One and Only Son to die on the cross to bring us back to Him; God sacrificed his one and only Son to bring us back to him. When we look at Jesus who was hung on the cross, our hearts are moved until thanks fill our hearts and even our eyes are flooded with tears. So like metals are attracted to a magnet, we are attracted to Jesus who was hung on the cross for us. Knowing his love for us, we are proud to identify ourselves together with him on the cross. So attracted by his love for us, we are willing to say, "Yes, Sir!" at any command he issues. Even if the cross looks so rugged, it comes to us with great fragrance that makes us happy. The cross even sometimes sounds like heavenly music to our ears. Jesus’ death on the cross was not a failure but a focal point of God’s love for us. On the cross, God’s love for us is so well manifested that all men and women are attracted to him and love his cross. Jesus says, “But I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to myself.” Right before the cross, Jesus was not sad or fatalistic, but full of vision and a sense of victory. In order to acquire all these victories, he boldly took up his cross and fulfilled God’s mission.


Look at verse 34. When people heard the message of a kernel of wheat that fell to the ground and died, and the message of Jesus’ cross, they learned how they must live their lives so that they could be truly fruitful. But, instead of accepting the teachings of Jesus, they just brought up some theological issues. Instead of accepting Jesus and his teachings, they just wanted to talk and debate. It was because they did not want to change anything, and they did not want to live like a kernel of wheat that fell to the ground and died. They wanted to remain as their own men. What was Jesus’ response to them? Look at verses 35 and 36. Let’s read these verses together:


35Then Jesus told them, "You are going to have the light just a little while longer. Walk while you have the light, before darkness overtakes you. The man who walks in the dark does not know where he is going. 36Put your trust in the light while you have it, so that you may become sons of light." When he had finished speaking, Jesus left and hid himself from them.


Jesus did not argue with them; he didn't give them further explanation either. Instead, simply ignoring the questions they brought up, he challenged them to make a decision to accept his teaching right at that moment. Jesus is the light. As the light, Jesus showed them how to live their lives and what to do with their lives. Through Jesus’ teaching of a kernel of wheat that falls to the ground and dies, everything became very clear in their eyes. They could see very clearly how they should live their lives – if they loved their own lives and refused to die to themselves, they would remain as a single seed; then even if they secured their lives, they would lose it, becoming so empty and miserable. But if they died to themselves and lived for God’s purpose, like a kernel of wheat that falls to the ground and dies, they would produce many seeds, and their life would be really successful. Through Jesus’ teaching, they saw everything clearly about what to do, how to live their lives and what would be the outcome. The light was shining in them. It was indeed the best time for them to make the right judgment and the right decision. It was the best time they should walk, putting what they learned into practice. Now you see everything clearly. Then, just do it! Walk while you have the light!


But what will happen if they don’t walk when they can see everything clearly? Jesus says, “Walk while you have the light, before darkness overtakes you.” Soon, darkness will overtake them. If they don’t make a heart’s decision to live in the way Jesus describes, soon such confidence will be gone, and they will be in confusion again, saying, “I don’t know what God wants me to do.” “I don’t know how I must live my life.” Not only so, then they have to make a decision to do somethingwhen the light is gone from their hearts, when they don’t have any confidence. They will be the ones who walk not in the light, but in the dark. Jesus says, “The man who walks in the dark does not know where he is going.” How horrible it is to walk when you don’t have any confidence! Many students choose their major when they don’t have any confidence about it. Many people even jump into marriage relationship without having any confidence. They are driven by the situation that they have to pay the rent or by their own desire. They really don’t know where they are going. They don’t know that they will be disappointed and will have to choose another major; they don't know that pains and sorrows are waiting for them. They never imagine that they will watch TV 8 hours a day every day. They don’t know that complete emptiness and meaninglessness is waiting for them. They don’t know where they are going even though they are going to hell. They are children of darkness.


Many people came to Jesus and heard his message; they understood his message and enjoyed them; they saw everything clearly. Jesus never wanted them to walk in the dark. So he challenged them, saying, “Walk while you have the light, before darkness overtakes you.” 


Jesus says, “Put your trust in the light while you have it, so that you may become sons of light.” Jesus gave us his teaching of a kernel of wheat that falls to the ground and dies; Jesus showed us how we can live a truly fulfilling and fruit-bearing life. Now the question is: Do you trust in Jesus? Do you trust that what he says is really true? Those who put their trust in Jesus accept his teaching and live by it; they are the ones who walk while Jesus shines his light into them through his words. They are sons and daughters of light. They know where they are going and what they are doing; even if things grow rough and even if they have to lose so many things in this life, they know what they are doing and why they live that kind of life - they are the ones who trust in God; they are children of God, sons and daughters of light; they do not stumble. Do not become children of darkness only because of your mistrust and unbelief in God. Do not become children of darkness by rejecting the light that is shining in you only because of your own worldly desires. God's light is shining in you now; God has made everything clear to you through his words. Put your trust in the light. Walk while you have the light and become sons and daughters of light.


Second, “Lord, who has believed our message?” (37-43).Look at verse 37. “Even after Jesus had done all these miraculous signs in their presence, they still would not believe in him.” Jesus performed many miracles that could be done only by the power of God. Jesus changed the foot washing into choice wine; he healed the sick. When he commanded a dead man to come out of his tomb, the dead man rose and came out of the tomb alive. A Bible scholar, named Nicodemus, said to Jesus, “Rabbi, we know you are a teacher who has come from God. For no one could perform the miraculous signs you are doing if God were not with him.” (Jn 3:2) Once a former blind man whose eyes Jesus had opened, said, “We know that God does not listen to sinners. He listens to the godly man who does his will….If this man were not from God, he could not do anything.” (Jn 9:30-33) It was even obvious to a man born blind that Jesus was the Son of God, because that was the only logical conclusion. But even after seeing all these miracles Jesus had performed, the Jews still would not believe in him. The author John might have wondered a lot, but he solved this mystery in the book of Isaiah. He says in verse 37, “This was to fulfill the word of Isaiah the prophet: “Lord, who has believed our message and to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?”


This quotation is from Isaiah 53, where the prophet Isaiah prophecies about Jesus’ suffering, death, and resurrection. His message was that God’s One and Only Son would come into the world and be crucified to the cross for sinners. God’s efforts to help and save sinners were revealed to Israel people in their history very clearly. The entire Bible is the love story of God for the fallen mankind. Surely, the arm of the Lord has been revealed to the Jews. But they did not believe this message. They rejected Isaiah, and his message. Isaiah was hurt. He could not understand why people rejected such good news of God’s love for them. He sighed deeply, saying, “Who has believed our message, and to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?”


Now Jesus, the Son of God himself revealed God’s love to the Jews through his words, actions, and miracles. It was obvious that he was from God. But still, the Jews did not believe his message. So, the apostle John cries out, “Lord, who has believed our message and to whom the arm of the Lord has been revealed?” Today, God’s message is the same. God loved the world so much that He sent his One and Only Son so that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. Still God works hard to find the lost. He sends his servants to them and invites them to the kingdom. His arm of help has been revealed to many people. But still, people reject God’s love. Even if they are dying in their sins, their families are broken for their sins, and they cannot see any hope or vision for their future, still, they refuse to come back to God. Even though God’s judgment is approaching, they don’t care. As Isaiah cried, we cry, “Lord, who has believed our message, and to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?” They broke God’s heart by sinning, and now they break God’s heart by rejecting Jesus, rejecting God’s love. Even though God has made great efforts to help them and bring them back to himself, they still reject His will and instead, choose to walk in darkness.


Why then, couldn’t they believe in Jesus? Look at verse 40. Let’s read this verse together:


He has blinded their eyes and deadened their hearts, so they can neither see with their eyes, nor understand with their hearts, nor turn – and I would heal them.


This quotation is from Isaiah 6:10, where God foretold Isaiah the bad response of the Israel people to his message.Despite their worship of God, despite their belief in God, despite their knowledge of the Bible, in God's eyes, the Jews really had serious problems, spiritual health problems - their eyes were blind and their hearts were deadened. God wanted to heal them; that's why he sent his servant. But, the Jews thought that they were okay because they read the Bible and had worship service. Because of their knowledge of the Bible and because of their religious life, they thought that they were already good, and that they were children of God. So, even if God personally sent his servants to them over and over, they did not accept his message. Had they believed in his servant and accepted God's message, God would have healed them, opening their eyes to see everything clearly, and making their hearts soft and tender. Once their eyes were opened, they would see that all their righteousness, righteous acts and deeds, their knowledge of the Bible, were nothing but filthy rags and that they were standing before God as poor, wretched and pitiful sinners. Once their hearts were healed and became soft and tender, then, they would respond to every word of God with a fearful and trembling heart; once they were healed, instead of laughing and being proud, they would mourn, doggedly seeking God's mercy upon them. Then, God would help them, bless them and indeed, the kingdom of God would be theirs. But by relying on their Bible knowledge and their own righteous deeds, they rejected the message served by God's servants. They all rejected God's healing. Now God sent Jesus, His only Son to help them and heal them. But they were not even responsive to his message - they were really blind; their hearts were really deadened. All of them eventually turned out to be enemies of God.  


Their failure despite their zeal for the law of God and religious life is a great warning for all ChristiansMany people think that they are okay because they have zeal for God; but that's not all. Still many people think that they are okay as long as they live a moralistic life as Christians. But that's not all either. Even when we do righteous deeds zealously, our hearts can be deadened, and if our hearts are deadened and not responsive to God's word, then all our own righteousness does not mean anything. We must not rely on such things at all - we must not take any credit from what we do for God or what great knowledge of the Bible we have. Instead, while we do all those righteous deeds and while we develop great knowledge of the Bible, we must seek God. We must remember that Jesus said that the poor in spirit are blessed and theirs is the kingdom of God; when you mourn, you will be comforted by God. After doing all the things God asks us to do, we must say, "I am an unworthy servant. I have only done my duties."   


Now, the apostle John understood that the Jews did not accept Jesus because their eyes were blind and their hearts were deadened. But the author John goes one step further, seeing their failure from the view of God’s sovereignty, saying, “He has blinded their eyes and deadened their heart,… The Jews failed because of their pride and self-seeking desire, but even their failure served God’s purpose, showing that behind all things, there was God as the Sovereign Ruler. 


Look at verses 42 and 43. Now the apostle John talks about some leaders who believed in Jesus. Through his words, actions, and miracles, they could see that Jesus was the Son of God. It was their logical conclusion. But because of their fear that they would be kicked out of their community, they would not confess their faith in Jesus. They were afraid to lose their jobs, their position and their promising future. If they confessed their faith in Jesus even at the cost of losing their jobs, wealth, and promising future in the world, certainly, they would be loved and praised by God. But they loved praise from men more than praise from God. So they remained as Christians in the closet. 


This is the conclusion of the Jews’ response to Jesus, the Son of God. They failed terribly; collectively, as a nation, they rejected Jesus, and individually, they loved praise from men, more than praise from God. But the apostle John did not despair because he could see that behind all these things, God was working hard and fulfilling His purpose continually. Today, it seems that the whole world is going against God, and that darkness is prevailing. Wicked people are making many laws that pervert humanity. But we do not despair because we know that even today, God is working hard and fulfilling his world salvation purpose. God is the Sovereign Lord. May God strengthen and bless us that we may love praise from God and serve God’s purpose wholeheartedly. 


Third, “His command leads to eternal life” (44-50).Look at verses 44 through 46. Let’s read these verses together: 


44Then Jesus cried out, “When a man believes in me, he does not believe in me only, but in the one who sent me. 45When he looks at me, he sees the one who sent me. 46I have come into the world as a light so that no one who believes in me should stay in darkness.


Here, Jesus talks about “believing in him.” His purpose in coming to the world as a light is that no one who believes in him should stay in darkness. So, when you believe in him, you will not stay in darkness; instead, you will see everything clearly - who you are, what to do, and how to live your life; you can see what God wants you to do; when you believe in him, you will not live in darkness. Then, how come, so many people keep saying, "I don't know what God wants me to do"? When you believe in him, you will not stay in darkness. So, these people have to check out whether they really believe in him or not. The whole thing is whether you believe in him or not. What does it mean to believe in Jesus? Look at verses 47 and 48. Let’s read these verses together:


47"As for the person who hears my words but does not keep them, I do not judge him. For I did not come to judge the world, but to save it. 48There is a judge for the one who rejects me and does not accept my words; that very word which I spoke will condemn him at the last day.


Here, Jesus explains the meaning of believing in him as “hearing his words and keeping them” in verse 47. So the opposite is, “rejecting him and thereby, not accepting his words” in verse 48. Here, we see the connection between believing in Jesus and obeying his words. These are not two, but actually, one. If you believe in Jesus, you do what Jesus says, and obey his commands. When Abraham believed in God’s promise, he obeyed his command, and left his country, his father's house, and went to the place God showed him to go. When Simon Peter believed in Jesus, he obeyed his command, by leaving everything behind and following Jesus as his disciple. Faith is followed by the action of obedience. James says, “As the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without deeds is dead.” (Ja 2:26) We heard Jesus’ message of a kernel of wheatthat falls to the ground and dies. Jesus says, “Whoever loves his life will lose it, while the man who hates it will keep it for eternal life.” Jesus shows us that we must live as a kernel of wheat that falls to the ground and dies, because that is the only way of a truly successful life in the world. Now, the question is: Do you believe Jesus? Do you believe that what he says is really true? Do you trust him? When people truly believe, their life changes dramatically according to the word of God because they obey God’s word. A selfish man becomes sacrificial, and a sinful man becomes holy. But people say differently; instead of repenting their sins, they say, “We are saved by faith, not by works.” And they do not obey God’s words. It is because in the true sense, they do not believe in Jesus, but just want to enjoy the benefit – a free ticket to heaven. As a result, they stay in darkness. Those who believe in Jesus obey his words and live by them, so they do not stay in darknessBut what will happen to those who just hear his words but do not live accordingly? Jesussays that he will not judge them, because his purpose is not to judge people, but to save them. Then, what will happen to them? There is a judge for them. Jesus says, “that very word which I spoke will condemn him at the last day.” They will be condemned at the last day by the very word they heard and understood, but did not keep. Their conscience testifies against them. When we think about this carefully, we can see that, eventually each person stands before God alone. Whether obeying God’s words or not, it’s a matter between God and each person.


Look at verses 49 and 50. Let's read these verses together:


For I did not speak of my own accord, but the Father who sent me commanded me what to say and how to say it. I know that his command leads to eternal life. So whatever I say is just what the Father has told me to say.


Jesus says, I know that His command leads to eternal life.” This was Jesus' understanding and belief. His understanding about God's command is totally different than thatof many people today. They have an allergic reaction to the word, "command," or "order" or "obedience." They say, "We are free from the law in the New Testament." With this, they refuse any authority above them; instead, they want to serve God however way they feel right. But Jesus was different. Because he understood and believed that God's command would lead to eternal life, his whole struggle was to obey his commands absolutely even to the tedious point of "what to say and how to say it." Even though he was the Son of God, he lived the life of keeping God's command absolutely in detail. Thus, he enjoyed eternal life, zoe - he was powerful and his life was glorious; his life carried such meaning and purpose; he enjoyed truly a fulfilling life. “I know that his command leads to eternal life.” This is Jesus’ understanding of God’s command. What is your understanding of God’s command, God’s will?


This is Jesus’ final message for the crowd. He challenged those who just heard and enjoyed his messages, to obey his words so that they might have zoe, eternal life. Jesus says, “I know that his command leads to eternal life.” What we need is not the great knowledge of the Bible, but obedience to his command by faith in Jesus. Then, the command we obey will lead us to eternal life, changing our life completely, and making it truly fulfilling, meaningful and enjoyable. Jesus says, I know that his command leads to eternal life.” Do you believe this?May God bless us to believe in Jesus and obey his command.


One Word:His Command Leads To Eternal Life