The Word that Gives Life and that Judges on the Last Day
The Gospel of John might be titled, “Believe in the Contrasts.” John’s Gospel highlights that Jesus is fully God. It is a book of “Jesus Encounters.” Individuals and groups were confronted by the Person and works of the Man of Nazareth, who claimed to be the Son of God.
Throughout the book, people form opinions about Jesus. A line of demarcation forms between those who conclude that Jesus is the Christ (Jn 6:69; 11:27), even Savior of the world (Jn 4:42), and those who reject Him in unbelief. In the end, John has not hidden his purpose for writing (Jn 20:31). He wants his readers to believe that Jesus is truly the Son of God, and thus, manifest God-given faith that assures them of eternal life (Jn 3:15, 16, 36; 4:14, 36; 5:24, 39; 6:27, 40, 47. 54. 68; 10:28; 12:25, 50; 17:2–3).
In terms of the works performed by Jesus, and highlighted by John, the climax is Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead (Jn 11). The greater works of the cross, resurrection, ascension, and enthronement will be understood, later. In the chapter that follows this event, John illumines the victory parade. Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem (Jn 12:12–19). Something is terribly wrong, however.
Mary has anointed Jesus for burial (Jn 12:1–8). Those in opposition to Jesus are highlighted by John, as a foil for the exuberant crowd (Jn 12:4–6, 19, 34, 37–41, 48). Speaking of foils, the Greeks at Jerusalem want to see Jesus (Jn 12:20–26). The doubters (Jn 12:27–36) and unbelievers (Jn 12:39–43) cannot grasp Jesus of Nazareth being the Christ of heaven sent by God His Father (Jn 3:16; 6:29; 12:44).
John 12 closes with Jesus’ final public statements. He opts for the topic of His union with God His Father. He is making His closing remarks to the ongoing trial of public opinion. John has been selective with a series of “I am” claims that furnish the vertebrae for the spine of the book. John might pose the question to us, “What are you going to do with the claims of the Nazarene?”
Beginning at John 13, the apostle provides an intimate view of Jesus’ teaching His disciples right up to the hour of His arrest. Their Teacher assures His disciples that they will be hated by men of the world (Jn 15:18–19). It will be tribulation, but they will overcome because Jesus overcomes (Jn 16:33). Jesus prays for His own, not for the world (Jn 17:9). His prayer is one of union.
Fear of man, coupled with the fleshly lust for the glory of man (Jn 12:43), serve as formidable challenges, but Jesus promises that His giving them His Spirit will cause His sheep to become bold witnesses for Him in the hostile world (Jn 14:26; 15:26; 16:13). They will have the power of God and the wisdom of God with them at all times and in every situation (Acts 1:8; 1 Cor 1:24; Heb 13:5).
They had seen this wisdom and power at work in Him for some three years. The key was union with Him. For apart from Christ, no one can do anything of value for the kingdom (Jn 15:5). Union with Christ is mutual indwelling. The believer testifies, “Christ lives in me by the Spirit sent to me (Gal 2:20), and I am positioned in Christ (Eph 1:3; 2:6). His Spirit in me is greater than he that is in the world (1 Jn 4:4).” The faith in Christ, granted to us (Phil 1:29), as the gift of God (Eph 2:8–9), by His indwelling Spirit (Jn 14:17; Rom 8:9, 11) is what identifies the Christian as an overcomer (1 Jn 5:4).
Darkness is overcome (Jn 12:46), for those who believe in the Light and walk in the Light (Jn 12:35–36). Jesus is the Light (Jn 8:12; 9:5), and He lives in His chosen people, as their marvelous light (1 Pet 2:9). His light illumines them for others to see (Mt 5:16).
Men love darkness, and they walk in darkness (Jn 3:19; 12:35). They are lost. Jesus spoke to them with Words of truth. He did many signs and wonders before them, yet they were not believing in Him (Jn 12:37).
Men are blinded from seeing Jesus, the Gospel of God (2 Cor 4:4). God willed this blindness and hardening for Pharaoh of Egypt, in order to display His power of deliverance for His chosen, captive people (Ex 14).
Even the typical people of God in the Old Testament, the Israelites, incessantly demonstrated that, “Not all Israel is Israel (Rom 9:6).” Rather, God had graciously chosen a remnant to be saved (Rom 11:5). He has predestined, before the foundation of the world, adopted children from every nation, tribe, and tongue (Rom 8:15, 23, 30; Eph 1:4–5; Rev 5:9; 13:8; 17:8). This Gentile inclusion in the Israel of God serves as an affront to unbelieving Jews, who were made jealous by God’s love, mercy, and grace toward ungodly, unrighteous, unholy, unclean Gentiles.
The judgment of God had exiled Adam and condemned His offspring (Jn 3:18; Rom 6:23; Heb 9:27). Salvation was a progressive light, as the morning star. Regardless of how bright the noonday sun of righteousness shines upon the blind, they remain blind. His warmth has no effect on cold, hardened hearts (Is 6:9–13; Jn 12:40–41).
Nevertheless, or stated another way, “But God…” has chosen some for salvation (2 Thess 2:13), “many even of the rulers believed in Him (Jn 12:42).” He has opened their hearts to receive the Spirit and the Word (Jn 6:63; Acts 16:14), so as to have the life of God implanted in them (Jas 1:21), even as God had appointed them for this before Creation (Acts 13:48).
Believers in Jesus, having been born again of God (Jn 3:1–8; 1 Pet 1:3), walk in the Light (Jn 12:35; Eph 5:8; 1 Jn 1:7), and God works His eternal good pleasure in them, according to His sovereign free will (Phil 2:13). Believers see Jesus, in the Spirit. They hear Jesus’ voice when the Word of God is preached, by the Spirit. They know whom they have believed (2 Tim 1:12). They know that God has given them eternal life, for it was commanded by God and spoken by Jesus (Jn 12:49–50).
Believers speak what we believe, as people spiritually raised from being dead in sin (Eph 2:1). Having passed from death to life, we have a Gospel to proclaim (Mt 24:14; Mk 16:15; Col 1:28), which declares our inseparable union with Christ, who is in union with God the Father and the Holy Spirit for eternity. The Word of God gave us life, by His grace, but it (He) will be the judge of every unbeliever on the last day of judgment (Jn 5:28–29; Eph 6:17; 2 Tim 4:1; Heb 4:12; 1 Pet 4:5; Rev 6:10; 19:11–21; 20:11).
Spokane Valley, Washington
February 13, 2021