John 12:27-36 examines the meaning of the key verse in this passage -- John 32, "And I, if I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to Myself." This verse provides another vantage point for understanding what Jesus accomplished by His death on the cross, which is the meaning of the phrase "lifted up" in this passage.
This portion of the 12th chapter of the Gospel of John explores the expansion of the Gospel beyond the boundaries of Judaism with the arrival of some "Greeks" (i.e. non-Jews) seeking an audience with Jesus, the Jewish Messiah and Savior of the whole world. The passage can be broken down into two main parts: (1) The Greeks come to Philip seeking to see Jesus (vv.20-21); and (2) Jesus' response and His teaching on the impact of His impending death (vv.22-26).
This study of the Christian Gospel as defined in 1 Corinthians 15:1-8 was transitional from the teaching on the importance and responsibility for personal evangelism on the part of every believer (which was the focus of our Wednesday night Bible study during July and August in conjunction with our emphasis on the My Hope for America with Billy Graham campaign), and our return to the study of the Book of Revelation on September 18, 2013. Although it was originally presented on September 11, it was posted as of 10/21/2013 in the podcast sequence because of its relevance for the message of the Gospel in our series on the Gospel of John.
Two Key Points of the Gospel -- 1 Corinthians 15:1-8
1. Christ died on the cross for our sins (v.3a)
- Two proofs
(1) It was promised in the Old Testament (v.3b ; cf. Isaiah 53:5-8; Psalm 22:1,14-18)
(2) He was buried (v.4a; cf. Isaiah 53:9-12)
2. Christ rose from the dead on the third day (v.4b)
- Two proofs
(1) It was promised in the Old Testament (v.4c; cf. Psalm 16:10-11; Acts 13:35-37)
(2) He was seen by many eyewitnesses who died rather than deny that the resurrection was real.
(vv.5-8; cf. John 20:26-29; Acts 1:1-3)
Note: The resurrection of Christ is the proof of the Christian faith (Romans 1:1-4; 1 Corinthians 15:12-14)
This second message from the 12th chapter of the Gospel of John is a key turning point in the historical narrative of the Lord's life and ministry on earth. It brings to the forefront the misconceptions of the people concerning the person and purpose for which Jesus came. The fact that the Israelites understood the Old Testament prophecies of their messiah as a political deliverer helps us understand how their joyous reception of Jesus as He entered Jerusalem could so quickly change to shouts of "crucify Him!" in just one short week.
I. The reception of Jesus (vv.12-15)
II. The response of the people (vv.16-19)
John 12:1-11 contains the important account of one simple act of honest, heart-felt worship--the story of Mary of Bethany's anointing of Jesus' feet with an extremely costly perfume. This passage is significant because it--or one like it--occurs in all four gospels (cf. Matthew 26:6-13; Mark 14:3-9; Luke 7:36-50; John 11:1-2; 12:1-11). In one very similar account Jesus specifically highlights this kind of sacrificial worship as an example for all future generations of believers (cf. Matthew 26:13). A comprehensive examination of the relationship between these similar accounts is beyond the scope of this message, but each one starts from the fundamental precept that proper priorities are an important key to a balanced and fulfilling life. This passage in John 12:1-11 can be outlined as follows: (1) the introduction in verses 1-2 which provides the geographical and historical setting, once again reminding us of how careful John is to keep us oriented to the big picture of the unfolding of God's overall plan in the gospel accounts of Jesus' life and ministry, even as we focus and reflect on the individual vignettes, or specific parts of His story; (2) the account of Mary's act of worship in anointing Jesus feet is found in verse 3; (3) Judas' interesting reaction is found in verses 4-6, and his hypocrisy stands in stark contrast to Mary's simple, honest expression of worship; (4) Jesus' response to Judas and the other disciples in verses 7-8 reminds us of the key concept of balance in our lives--we have a God-given responsibility to care for the poor, but balanced by an equal responsibility to give sacrificially directly to God's work, especially as it is connected to genuine, heart-felt worship; and (5) once again we see the polarized response of the people and the religious leaders in the conclusion in verses 9-11. Expanding on the main concept in this passage--the importance of true worship as a reflection of proper priorities in our lives--we will seek to develop the corresponding concept of balance by drawing upon the Lord's balanced observation concerning the poor, by showing that the approach we have taken in America today is unbalanced and is actually exacerbating the problem of poverty. The primary purpose of this excursion is to demonstrate the wisdom and practical value in the balanced precepts and principles in God's Word, which we depart from at great risk of national and personal adverse consequences.
"The die is cast" is a well-known expression which indicates a precipitating decision or action which irrevocably initiates a series of reactions leading to an inevitable although often unknown conclusion--at least as far as human beings are concerned. This passage in John 11:47-57 serves as the primary pivot point in the progression of God's ultimate plan to provide His own costly sacrifice for man's sin through the death of His only Son on the cross in Jerusalem just a few months from this point in John's narrative. The most amazing thing God reveals in this passage is the complex relationship between the sovereignty of God and the free will of man in the outworking of His plan for mankind and all of human history. In verse 54 we find further evidence that Jesus was in complete control of the timing of His own death in order to meet His divine appointment in Jerusalem at Passover as God's Passover Lamb. He once again initiated public discourse with the people in order to give them an opportunity to believe in Him, even though He knew it would stir up greater animosity on the part of the religious leaders. But then He would withdraw from public ministry before it came to a head in order to 'turn down the heat' until just the right time according to God's perfect timetable. It should be comforting to every believer today--especially those who are going through a time of tribulation or suffering--to know that God has a plan and a good purpose for allowing His children to suffer, and that His timetable is always perfect. The other side of the coin relating to the free will of man is found in verse 53 which serves as the primary pivot point, not only of this passage, but for the whole Gospel of John: "So from that day on they planned together to kill Him (i.e. Jesus)." The fact that this was completely a free-will act on the part of the Jewish religious leaders--and Caiaphas in particular--is evident from the fact that Caiaphas was not even aware of the eternal significance of his own words, and yet they were completely consistent not only with his human understanding of the circumstances, but also at the same time with the sovereign plan of God! (cf. vv.49-52). There is no indication in this passage that "not...on his own initiative" means that God actively took control of Caiaphas' thoughts or speech, even though his thoughts and speech were completely consistent with His plan and purpose. However, God did passively allow Caiaphas to reject the Christ and the sign miracles which inevitably led to this crucial decision. One final point is worthy of note on this communion Sunday. This ordinance was instituted by Christ specifically as a reminder that God has a perfect plan for dealing with man's sin--past, present and future. Hopefully this passage will shed additional light on how God works in our lives and deepen our appreciation of the significance of this celebration at the Lord's table as well.
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