John 12:42-50

Sunday Morning Bible Study

September 19, 2010


Do people see Jesus? Is the gospel preached? Does it speak to the broken hearted? Does it build up the church? Milk – Meat – Manna Preach for a decision

This is the last week of Jesus’ life.

A few days earlier, Lazarus was raised from the dead and there were a lot of people who in awe of Jesus and at His power.

We are at Sunday, the day of the “triumphal” entry into Jerusalem, people shouting “Hosanna”.

We are just days away from when Jesus is going to die for our sins.

Believe it or not

Last week we talked about the amazing phenomena of unbelief. Even though Jesus has done many amazing miracles, there are many people who do not believe.

In fact Isaiah prophesied that there would be unbelief of the Messiah.

This morning we’re going to look a little more at belief and how it works.

12:42-43 Closet Followers

:42 Nevertheless even among the rulers many believed in Him, but because of the Pharisees they did not confess Him, lest they should be put out of the synagogue;

:42 rulersarchon – commander, chief, leader

Who were these “rulers”?

It’s possible that these were members of the Sanhedrin, the governing body over Israel.
Early on in Jesus’ ministry, a man named Nicodemus came to Him:
(Jn 3:1 NKJV) There was a man of the Pharisees named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews.

We believe Nicodemus was one of these members of the Sanhedrin.

And now we’re told that “many” of these rulers believe in Jesus as the Messiah.

It’s my opinion that these “rulers” were kind of at the beginning stages of faith, but not to the point of really being saved yet (we’ll see in a minute)

:42 because of the Pharisees

The Pharisees were kind of the majority party in the Sanhedrin, and carried a lot of weight in public opinion.

:42 put out of the synagogueaposunagogos – excluded from sacred assemblies of Israelites, excommunicated

The Jews had two forms of “excommunication”.

The first stage was called “Niddui”, where you had to stay 6 feet away from everybody for a length of 30 days, as long as you repented. If you didn’t repent, it was stretched out for 60 days, and then to 90 days. If still no repentance, then you moved on to the next phase, which was more serious.
The heavy-duty excommunication was called “Cherem”, where you had curses placed on you, and were cut off from ever seeing anybody of your synagogue, even from anybody in the nation.
You were no longer employable, nor could anybody trade goods with you, except just enough to keep you alive.
It’s this second kind of excommunication that the Pharisees were threatening.
It’s this kind of excommunication that the man healed of blindness experienced. (John 9:22,34)

The word “synagogue” itself simply means “a gathering together”, and came to mean the groups of Jews that would gather together in a particular city to worship God.

Even though it carries the idea of Jewish excommunication, it could more broadly carry the idea of being put out of your group.  You are cut off from all your friends.
When you were in high school, and everybody in your group was wearing plaid bell-bottom pants and high heel platform shoes, and that was a guys’ group!
In order not to be “put out of the synagogue”, or “excluded from the group”, you dressed the same way too.

:42 confesshomologeo – to say the same thing as another, i.e. to agree with, assent; to profess; to declare openly, speak out freely

Warning: this “confess” has nothing to do with visiting a priest sitting in a little box in a church.

Can’t a person just avoid a lot of hassles and keep their relationship with God quiet?

After all, isn’t “religion” a “personal” kind of thing?

What’s the big deal here?


Salvation in what you say

Paul wrote a letter to the little church that had sprung up in Rome.
Paul wrote to the Romans in A.D.57, three years after a new emperor in Rome took over, a man named “Nero”.
This was at the beginnings of emperor worship in the Roman Empire.

Christians were put on trial for not worshipping the Emperor and not saying “Caesar is lord”.  Guilty people were burned in Nero’s gardens.

All the suspected Christian had to do was sprinkle a few sacrificial grains of incense into the eternal flame burning in front of the statue of the emperor. Since the punishments were so horrible and the means of escape so easy, many Christians gave in. Many did not and were burned alive, killed by lions in the arena, or crucified.

To this group in Rome, Paul wrote:

(Ro 10:9–10 NKJV) 9 that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.

Paul says that two things are important for a person to be saved:
1. Believe in your heart.

It’s not just a thing of your mind, what you agree in your brain.

It’s also a matter of your will, your soul, your feelings.

You must believe that:

You are a sinner in need of Jesus.

Jesus died to pay for your sins.

Jesus rose from the dead, proving that He had paid for your sins.

Jesus is your Lord.

It’s with this belief that God gives you the righteousness of Jesus Christ

(2 Co 5:21 NKJV) —21 For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.

2. Confess with your mouth.

Confession, or speaking with your mouth is one of the things that shows that your belief it real

One way of telling what’s going on in a person’s heart is to listen to what’s coming out of their mouth.

Jesus said:

(Lk 6:45 NKJV) A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart brings forth evil. For out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.

If your mouth is never telling people about your relationship with Jesus Christ, perhaps it’s because it’s not really in your heart.

Jesus said that it was pretty dangerous to be denying Him in front of people:

(Mt 10:32–33 NKJV) —32 “Therefore whoever confesses Me before men, him I will also confess before My Father who is in heaven. 33 But whoever denies Me before men, him I will also deny before My Father who is in heaven.
Jesus gives only two choices:
You’re either confessing Jesus or denying Him.
There doesn’t seem to be any middle ground.

Belief in Jesus starts the process.

Confession with your lips shows it’s real.

:43 for they loved the praise of men more than the praise of God.

:43 lovedagapao – to love, to feel and exhibit esteem and goodwill to a person, to prize and delight in a thing; love based on esteem.

In their lives, they placed a value on the “praise” of men.

:43 the praisedoxa – opinion, judgment, view, in the NT always a good opinion concerning one, resulting in praise, honor, and glory

(Jn 12:43 NAS) for they loved the approval of men rather than the approval of God.

They were concerned about the opinions of others.

They were concerned about the opinions that others held of them, wanting others to think well of them, to praise them.

This is the “root” cause of their fear of being put out of the synagogue.  They were concerned about what others thought of them.


Living for opinions

(Pr 29:25 NKJV) The fear of man brings a snare, But whoever trusts in the Lord shall be safe.
“Fearing man” might involve a threat to your life, but it might be as little as being afraid of what people will think of you.
(Jn 5:44 NKJV) —44 How can you believe, who receive honor from one another, and do not seek the honor that comes from the only God?
(Jn 7:13 NKJV) —13 However, no one spoke openly of Him for fear of the Jews.


Which opinion counts?

Are we looking for what people will think of us, or what God thinks of us?
Daniel was a man who learned to care about God’s opinion.
Daniel 6 – Daniel was an old man who had been promoted to a high position in the court of king Darius. His fellow rulers were jealous of him and hatched a plan to get Daniel fired. Their plan involved tricking King Darius into signing a decree that no one was allowed to pray to any god or man except Darius for thirty days. Anyone caught breaking the law would be thrown into the lion’s den.
(Da 6:10–27 NKJV) —10 Now when Daniel knew that the writing was signed, he went home. And in his upper room, with his windows open toward Jerusalem, he knelt down on his knees three times that day, and prayed and gave thanks before his God, as was his custom since early days.
Does Daniel seemed more concern about what God thought of him or what these other guys at work thought of him?
11 Then these men assembled and found Daniel praying and making supplication before his God. 12 And they went before the king, and spoke concerning the king’s decree: “Have you not signed a decree that every man who petitions any god or man within thirty days, except you, O king, shall be cast into the den of lions?” The king answered and said, “The thing is true, according to the law of the Medes and Persians, which does not alter.” 13 So they answered and said before the king, “That Daniel, who is one of the captives from Judah, does not show due regard for you, O king, or for the decree that you have signed, but makes his petition three times a day.” 14 And the king, when he heard these words, was greatly displeased with himself, and set his heart on Daniel to deliver him; and he labored till the going down of the sun to deliver him.
The king realized he had been tricked. He liked Daniel. He tried to rescue Daniel.
15 Then these men approached the king, and said to the king, “Know, O king, that it is the law of the Medes and Persians that no decree or statute which the king establishes may be changed.” 16 So the king gave the command, and they brought Daniel and cast him into the den of lions. But the king spoke, saying to Daniel, “Your God, whom you serve continually, He will deliver you.” 17 Then a stone was brought and laid on the mouth of the den, and the king sealed it with his own signet ring and with the signets of his lords, that the purpose concerning Daniel might not be changed. 18 Now the king went to his palace and spent the night fasting; and no musicians were brought before him. Also his sleep went from him. 19 Then the king arose very early in the morning and went in haste to the den of lions. 20 And when he came to the den, he cried out with a lamenting voice to Daniel. The king spoke, saying to Daniel, “Daniel, servant of the living God, has your God, whom you serve continually, been able to deliver you from the lions?” 21 Then Daniel said to the king, “O king, live forever! 22 My God sent His angel and shut the lions’ mouths, so that they have not hurt me, because I was found innocent before Him; and also, O king, I have done no wrong before you.” 23 Now the king was exceedingly glad for him, and commanded that they should take Daniel up out of the den. So Daniel was taken up out of the den, and no injury whatever was found on him, because he believed in his God. 24 And the king gave the command, and they brought those men who had accused Daniel, and they cast them into the den of lions—them, their children, and their wives; and the lions overpowered them, and broke all their bones in pieces before they ever came to the bottom of the den.
Just in case you might be thinking that the lions weren’t hungry when Daniel was put into their den, you’re wrong.
25 Then King Darius wrote: To all peoples, nations, and languages that dwell in all the earth: Peace be multiplied to you. 26 I make a decree that in every dominion of my kingdom men must tremble and fear before the God of Daniel. For He is the living God, And steadfast forever; His kingdom is the one which shall not be destroyed, And His dominion shall endure to the end. 27 He delivers and rescues, And He works signs and wonders In heaven and on earth, Who has delivered Daniel from the power of the lions.


Results from loving God’s opinion

Look at what happened to Daniel as a result of being more concerned about what God thought of him than what people thought of him.
1. Lions
Daniel was threatened with the lion’s den. And it actually happened.
It may be that there will be a negative consequence for putting the Lord more important in your heart than people.
It would be a lie for me to tell you there won’t be any negative consequences for doing the right thing.
2. Protection
Even though Daniel was in a lion’s den, he wasn’t alone.

(Ps 34:7 NKJV) The angel of the Lord encamps all around those who fear Him, And delivers them.

God says:

(Ps 91:14 NKJV) “Because he has set his love upon Me, therefore I will deliver him; I will set him on high, because he has known My name.

3. Clarity
We have a message to share with people about who God is and what God does. Instead of the message being muffled or distorted through our fear of people, it comes through loud and clear.
Darius got the message. He even passed it along:

(Da 6:26 NKJV) …For He is the living God, And steadfast forever; His kingdom is the one which shall not be destroyed, And His dominion shall endure to the end.

At times there may be a cost for caring about God’s opinion.  There may be lions.  But there will also be clarity.  People will understand the message better when they hear from someone who cares about God.

12:44-50 Believe Him

Back in verse 36 we read:

(Jn 12:36) …These things Jesus spoke, and departed, and was hidden from them.

I mentioned at that time that this was the last time that Jesus spoke openly in public. This next passage is part of that time, the last thing that John records Jesus saying publicly instead of just with His disciples.

One of the issues we’ve been looking at is “belief”.

Jesus is going to talk about how important it is for a person to believe in Him.

:44 Then Jesus cried out and said, “He who believes in Me, believes not in Me but in Him who sent Me.

:44 cried outkrazo – to croak; cry out aloud, speak with a loud voice

All along, Jesus has been claiming that He was sent from God the Father.

God had a plan to bring lost mankind back to Himself, and it involved sending His Son.

If a person rejects this idea, they’re not just rejecting Jesus, they are rejecting God's one plan for salvation, God’s plan for man to be made right with God.

:45 And he who sees Me sees Him who sent Me.

:25 see Him

:45 seestheoreo – to be a spectator, look at, behold; to view attentively, take a view of, survey; to see; but of one who looks at a thing with interest and for a purpose; would be used of a general officially reviewing or inspecting his army


Picture perfect

On Thursday night we were looking at God’s command in Deuteronomy:
(Dt 4:15–16 NKJV) —15 “Take careful heed to yourselves, for you saw no form when the Lord spoke to you at Horeb out of the midst of the fire, 16 lest you act corruptly and make for yourselves a carved image in the form of any figure…

The problem that comes when man starts making an “image” of God, or tries to capture a picture of what he thinks God is like, it always falls short.

God looks nothing like a fish.  He isn’t made of stone.

On the other hand, Jesus is the image of God we need to look to.

(Col 1:15 NKJV) He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation.

Jesus will say to Thomas in a few days:

(Jn 14:8–9 NKJV) —8 Philip said to Him, “Lord, show us the Father, and it is sufficient for us.” 9 Jesus said to him, “Have I been with you so long, and yet you have not known Me, Philip? He who has seen Me has seen the Father; so how can you say, ‘Show us the Father’?

Are you curious what God is like? You need to look at Jesus. He’s the only image of God that you need.
Some people think that God is rough, harsh, demanding, and always forcing people do things His way.

Was Jesus like that?

(Mk 10:42–45 NKJV) —42 But Jesus called them to Himself and said to them, “You know that those who are considered rulers over the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them. 43 Yet it shall not be so among you; but whoever desires to become great among you shall be your servant. 44 And whoever of you desires to be first shall be slave of all. 45 For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.”

Some people focus on the difficulties of life so much they start thinking that God doesn’t care about them.

Was Jesus like that?

(Mt 14:14 NKJV) And when Jesus went out He saw a great multitude; and He was moved with compassion for them, and healed their sick.

(Mk 6:34 NKJV) And Jesus, when He came out, saw a great multitude and was moved with compassion for them, because they were like sheep not having a shepherd. So He began to teach them many things.

We may not understand a lot about why God does things, but when you get confused, look at Jesus. Look at who Jesus is.

:46 I have come as a light into the world, that whoever believes in Me should not abide in darkness.

:46 have comeerchomai – to come

Perfect tense

:46 abidemeno – to remain, abide

Jesus came to bring light into our lives. He came to help blind people to see.


A woman named Rose Crawford had been blind for 50 years. “I just can’t believe it!” she gasped as the doctor lifted the bandages from her eyes after her recovery from delicate surgery in an Ontario hospital. She wept for joy when for the first time in her life a dazzling and beautiful world of form and color greeted eyes that now were able to see. The amazing thing about the story, however, is that 20 years of her blindness had been unnecessary. She didn’t know that surgical techniques had been developed, and that an operation could have restored her vision at the age of 30. The doctor said, “She just figured there was nothing that could be done about her condition. Much of her life could have been different.”

:47 And if anyone hears My words and does not believe, I do not judge him; for I did not come to judge the world but to save the world.

:47 I did not come to judge … but to save …

:47 wordsrhema – that which is or has been uttered by the living voice, thing spoken, word; subject matter of speech, thing spoken of

:47 judgeskrino – to separate; to approve; to judge

Jesus said much the same thing in:

(Jn 3:17 NKJV) For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.

:17 condemnkrino – to separate; to approve; to judge

Jesus’ purpose was not to come and send people to hell. His purpose was to come and rescue people, to save them from hell.

That’s not to say that judgment or condemnation isn’t going to happen.

Condemnation will happen based on what you do with God’s rescue plan.

:48 He who rejects Me, and does not receive My words, has that which judges him— the word that I have spoken will judge him in the last day.

:48 the word I have spoken will judge him

:48 rejectsatheteo (“away” + “to put”) – to do away with, to set aside, disregard; to thwart the efficacy of anything, nullify, make void, frustrate; to reject, to refuse, to slight

:48 wordsrhema – that which is or has been uttered by the living voice, thing spoken, word; subject matter of speech, thing spoken of

:48 judgeskrino – to separate; to approve; to judge

:48 the wordlogos – a word, uttered by a living voice, embodies a conception or idea; what someone has said; discourse; doctrine, teaching


No excuse

In other words, Jesus isn’t going to sit there on the final judgement day and say, “Well, you really hurt my feelings, and that’s why I’m sending you to hell!”
The judgment will come because you have not received the words of the gospel and rejected God’s rescue plan, Jesus Christ.
You will not be able to stand before God and say, “But I didn’t hear that there was a way out! I never had the chance to be saved!”
If you try to pull that one on God, I think God will say something to you like, “Gabriel, roll the tape”, or probably, “Gabriel, play the DVD”.

And there you are in Sunday School, listening to George Shade telling you about how Jesus died for your sins.

Or there you are dodging water balloons from Daniel Grant as he’s telling you about Jesus.

Or there you are sitting in the high school hearing Dan Looney carefully explain the gospel message.

Or here’s the file playing of today as I’m standing before you telling you that you must believe in Jesus to be saved.

I don’t know how it might play out with other people, but if you are here in church today, you are without excuse.

The Bible says that our sins have separated us from God.

(Ro 6:23 NKJV) For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

The Bible says that God loved you so much, He sent His Son to take your place and die on a cross in order to pay for your sins.

(2 Co 5:21 NKJV) For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.

The Bible says that you must believe in Jesus in order to be saved.

(Jn 3:16 NKJV) For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.

When you’ve heard the message, you’re responsible to respond to it - with no excuses. And you now have no excuses.

:49 For I have not spoken on My own authority; but the Father who sent Me gave Me a command, what I should say and what I should speak.

:49 saylego – to say, to speak; affirm over, maintain

:49 speaklaleo – to utter a voice or emit a sound; to speak

:49 commandentole – an order, command, charge, precept, injunction; a commandment

The two words used here for “say” and “speak” are two different Greek words, and there seems to be a little bit of a difference between them.

The word translated “say” seems to carry a stronger idea of the content of what is said (DBL, RWP).

It’s the actual words that are spoken.

The word translated “speak” seems to carry more the idea of the action of speaking itself, and so the idea of more the manner in which things are spoken.

It’s not just what is said, but how it’s said.

NIV: “what to say and how to say it”

(RWP) “Meyer and Westcott take eipô to refer to the content and lalêsô more to the varying manner of delivery. Possibly so.”


How you say it

Solomon taught us that it’s not just what you say, but that how you say something is also important:
(Pr 15:1 NKJV) —1 A soft answer turns away wrath, But a harsh word stirs up anger.
Shortly after her marriage to Prince Albert, Queen Victoria had a quarrel with her new husband. Albert walked out of the room and locked himself in his private apartment. Victoria hammered furiously on the door. “Who’s there?” called Albert. “The Queen of England, and she demands to be admitted.” There was no response, and the door remained locked. Victoria hammered again. “Who’s there?” The reply was the same, and still the door remained shut. More fruitless and furious knocking was followed by a pause. Then there was a gentle tap. “Who’s there?” Albert asked. “Your wife, Albert,” the Queen replied. The prince opened the door at once!
When it comes to sharing the truth of the gospel, it’s important that we get the content correct.
It’s also important that we say it in the right manner as well.

:50 And I know that His command is everlasting life. Therefore, whatever I speak, just as the Father has told Me, so I speak.”

:50 commandentole – an order, command, charge, precept, injunction; a commandment

:50 speaklaleo – to utter a voice or emit a sound; to speak


It’s time to believe

The Chilean miners
Have you heard about the miners that have been trapped in Chile? On August 5, there was a collapse in their mine and 33 men have been trapped a half mile below the ground.
Play Chilean Miners video
The goal of those at the top of the mine is to save them. Their goal is to drill a shaft big enough to bring the men out.  They think they might finish the rescue tunnel by November, possibly December.
They just unveiled the rescue capsule they’ll use to bring the men back to the surface, one man at a time. The capsule is only 21 inches wide. The trip up the shaft will take each man an hour, and it will take several days to get all the men out.
If a miner refuses to ride the rescue capsule up to the top, he will not be “saved”.
If the drilling goes well, then the fate of each miner will depend on what he chooses to do. Will he trust the rescuers, or will he stay in the mine?
Jesus didn’t come to condemn the world. That would be like someone standing at the top of the mine yelling at the trapped miners for being trapped.
Jesus came to save us. He drilled the rescue tunnel when He died on the cross to pay for our sins.
The issue is will I trust Him? Will I step into His “rescue capsule”?