John 12:36-50 | Last Sermon
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36 While you have the light, believe in the light, that you may become sons of light.”
When Jesus had said these things, he departed and hid himself from them. 37 Though he had done so many signs before them, they still did not believe in him, 38 so that the word spoken by the prophet Isaiah might be fulfilled:
“Lord, who has believed what he heard from us, and to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?” 39 Therefore they could not believe. For again Isaiah said,40 “He has blinded their eyes and hardened their heart, lest they see with their eyes, and understand with their heart, and turn, and I would heal them.”
41 Isaiah said these things because he saw his glory and spoke of him. 42 Nevertheless, many even of the authorities believed in him, but for fear of the Pharisees they did not confess it, so that they would not be put out of the synagogue; 43 for they loved the glory that comes from man more than the glory that comes from God.
44 And Jesus cried out and said, “Whoever believes in me, believes not in me but in him who sent me. 45 And whoever sees me sees him who sent me. 46 I have come into the world as light, so that whoever believes in me may not remain in darkness. 47 If anyone hears my words and does not keep them, I do not judge him; for I did not come to judge the world but to save the world. 48 The one who rejects me and does not receive my words has a judge; the word that I have spoken will judge him on the last day. 49 For I have not spoken on my own authority, but the Father who sent me has himself given me a commandment—what to say and what to speak. 50 And I know that his commandment is eternal life. What I say, therefore, I say as the Father has told me.”
“While you have the light, believe in the light, that you may become sons of light.” When Jesus had said these things, he departed and hid himself from them.” Here in John 12:36, Jesus left and went away and hid himself. We don’t know where he went or exactly how long he was gone, but he came back.
Prophecy of disbelief – God’s Word will be fulfilled
Jesus was temporarily gone, but John takes a moment to fill us in on a few things in the interim. The first thing he tells us is that people will choose to not believe in Jesus regardless of the numerous signs he does. John 12:37-38 – “Though he had done so many signs before them, they still did not believe in him, so that the word spoken by the prophet Isaiah might be fulfilled:”
John is telling us that their disbelief is the fulfillment of prophecy. We need to recognize that Jesus was not plan B. God’s want’s us to see that Jesus was the plan from the beginning and that everything is about Jesus.
Here’s what my friend Phil said about this passage: “Love that end stuff where it says Isaiah prophesied that! God set things up so no one could argue about it, fact is fact.
John 12:41 – “Isaiah said these things because he saw his glory and spoke of him.” Isaiah, looking forward through the eyes of a prophet, saw the glory of Christ; he saw his grace and truth.
The glory that comes from man
John 12:42-43 – Nevertheless, many even of the authorities believed in him, but for fear of the Pharisees they did not confess it, so that they would not be put out of the synagogue; for they loved the glory that comes from man more than the glory that comes from God.
What we see are half-hearted believers. These guys had some level of belief in Jesus, but they were afraid to admit it. They probably acknowledged in their minds that he was God in flesh, that he was the Messiah, but they were afraid of the church leaders.
There was so much cultural pressure, in a religious way, that it divided people’s discernment from their decisions. These guys were saying , I know my church isn’t teaching the truth about Jesus, but to make decisions based on truth would ruin my standing in the community. They were afraid of getting kicked out of church if they went public with their understanding that Jesus was who he claimed to be.
It’s amazing to me that we can know and even believe the truth of Jesus, from an intellectual standpoint, and still reject it because of fear. This kind of fear is the love of man’s glory, but faith is the love of God’s glory.
John point out that they loved man’s glory more than God’s.
The last sermon
As we transition into verse 44, we notice that this is the last sermon Jesus preached publicly, according to John’s record. This is truly the end of Jesus’ public ministry.
I wonder how differently I would preach if I knew it was my last sermon. What would I want to communicate? What did Jesus want to communicate here in his last sermon? Here are a few things Jesus outlines in his final message:
Urgency- Jesus spoke with urgency
“And Jesus cried out and said…” (John 12:44a) Do you catch the sense of urgency. He’s not just saying these things haphazardly or nonchalant. He’s crying out, he’s pleading with the people.
Do we have an urgent message? Yes! We have the same message as Jesus, but too often we don’t live, speak it or believe it with urgency.
Jesus’ message was urgent.
To trust Jesus is to trust the Father
And Jesus cried out and said, “Whoever believes in me, believes not in me but in him who sent me. And whoever sees me sees him who sent me. (John 12:44-45)
To trust Jesus is to trust the Father. Jesus is the visible, self-expression of the Father. Col 1:15 states it this way, “He is the image of the invisible God”. He is God-the-Son. He is one God existing eternally (without beginning or end) in one essence as three co-equal persons: Father, Son & Holy Spirit. The three divine persons are in one another, yet remain distinct from one another. We experience salvation by being invited into the love, joy, and peace that the Father, Son, and Spirit have enjoyed from all eternity.
To see Jesus is to see God. To trust Jesus is to trust the God. And as stated in John 14:6, Jesus is the only way to the God. We cannot know God without knowing Jesus. We can’t come to God without coming to Jesus.
Jesus is the light of the world that dispels our darkness
I have come into the world as light, so that whoever believes in me may not remain in darkness. (John 12:46)
Jesus is clearly making spiritual analogy when he uses the terms light and darkness. So, what does he mean? Darkness is the absence of light. Without light we have a false sense of reality because we can’t see or understand what truly exists. We live a lie and imagine perils that don’t exist and we can’t perceive many of the dangers that actually exist. Living in darkness leads to unforeseen death.
Spiritually speaking, we live in a dark world. Spiritual darkness is the absence of spiritual light. Without spiritual light we have a false sense of spiritual reality; we live a spiritual lie. There are unforeseen spiritual perils that will lead to our spiritual death.
We need light, and Jesus is the Light of the world, dispelling our darkness! In him was life and, and the life was the light of men (John 1:4). Jesus is really all we need. In a dark world, he is light. In a world characterized by deception and lies, he is the truth. In a world where darkness leads to eminent death, he is life.
Jesus came to save us, not judge us
If anyone hears my words and does not keep them, I do not judge him; for I did not come to judge the world but to save the world. (John 12:47)
The reason Jesus didn’t come to Judge is because we stand judged already. Sin has already infected us and we stand condemned because of it. We are already guilty based on our own doing and disbelief. If we weren’t already judged as condemned, we wouldn’t need saved. Jesus came to save the world because it was already condemned!
But pardon is readily available. It’s a free gift. Jesus came to pardon sinners like me. That’s why it says, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16) Jesus came to pardon us from our sentence of perishing (eternal death) and grant us eternal life as a free gift!
Saddly, pardon is often rejected. People either totally dismiss it, or they try to pay their own pardon. You cannot pay your own pardon. Jesus didn’t just post your bail, he paid your entire sentence – a sentence that you could never afford to pay.
John 12:48 – The one who rejects me and does not receive my words has a judge; the word that I have spoken will judge him on the last day.
Jesus is saying that he came to save the world from judgement. Anyone who rejects the full pardon offered by Jesus will encounter the full penalty on the last day. At that time, the Jesus’ words will be realized as truth, but it will be too late.
An arresting officer reads people their Miranda rights: “What you say may be held against you in a court of law…” Jesus warns: “By rejecting my pardon, what you have said and done will be held against you.”
Jesus was not speaking the words of a mere human
John 12:49 – For I have not spoken on my own authority, but the Father who sent me has himself given me a commandment—what to say and what to speak.
Remember back in chapter ten when the people were going to stone Jesus? Do you remember why they were going to stone him? Jesus asked them for what good work where they stoning him for. They answered, “It is not for a good work that we are going to stone you but for blasphemy, because you, being a man, make yourself God.” (John 10:33)
I find it interesting that they were going to stone him for blasphemy – saying he was a mere man claiming to be God. The real blasphemy was that they were calling the Creator of the universe, the Almighty, a mere man. Even though Jesus was fully human he is still fully God.
Jesus is pointing out here in verse 49 that by rejecting his pardon you aren’t simply rejecting the words of a mere human, you are rejecting the words of God.
The heart of God is eternal life for mankind
John 12:50 – And I know that his commandment is eternal life. What I say, therefore, I say as the Father has told me.”
Jesus was sent by God the Father to speak the word of eternal life and to give himself on the cross to purchase eternal life for all who will believe. God’s desire is that none should perish, but that all would repent and embrace the grace of Jesus.
The same message that proclaims eternal life for the believers proclaims wrath for the unbelievers. People need eternal life to save them from their current position of eternal death.
The wrath of God isn’t a popular topic, but it’s clearly taught in scripture. Romans 5:9 – Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God. It is by the blood of Christ on the cross that we receive full justification and salvation from the wrath of God.
The only way to escape the wrath of God is by the grace of God. The heart of God is to call us into that grace; to embrace the full pardon offered by Christ.
- Is there a compartment of your life where you are not confessing Christ?
- What would your last message be to the world?
- Do you have a sense of urgency to share the gospel?
- Have you accepted the word of Christ and received eternal life?