John 12:27-36 | The Victorious Death of Christ | Andrew Gutierrez
Topic: Worship Gatherings Passage: John 12:27–12:36
Please open your Bibles with me to John 12. Our text for the morning is John 12:27-36. As you’re turning there, I just want to say a couple words—highlight something that you know, and I just want to remind you of it. In your worship guide, we’re constantly putting resources in there—book recommendations, sermons to listen to from other gifted teachers, also some blogposts and things like that. We don’t do those things randomly. We do those things purposefully to shepherd you, the people that we love, throughout the week.
So I’d really draw your attention to the resource there. I think it’s on Saturday, this coming Saturday. You can listen to it whenever you want or read it whenever you want, but it’s a blogpost on the soft prosperity gospel. I’d really commend that to your attention, that blogpost in there, but I’d just highlight all of the worship guide as we seek to try to be a help to you throughout the week.
Well, this morning we come to John 12:27-36, and we’re in our series entitled “Jesus, Israel, and the World.” This time in the gospel of John and specifically in Jesus’ life where he starts to point his attention to not just the Jews as they are in the process of rejecting him, but then broaden his salvation focus and to make it shown clearly that he saves sinners from all over the world. And so that is the section we find ourselves in, and specifically this morning verses 27 through 36. So follow along, please, as I read. Jesus speaking, verse 27, says:
Now is my soul troubled. And what shall I say? “Father, save me from this hour”? But for this purpose I have come to this hour. Father, glorify your name. Then a voice came from heaven: “I have glorified it, and I will glorify it again.” The crowd that stood there and heard it said that it had thundered. Others said, “An angel has spoken to him.” Jesus answered, “This voice has come for your sake, not mine. Now is the judgment of this world; now will the ruler of this world be cast out. And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.” He said this to show by what kind of death he was going to die. So the crowd answered him, “We have heard from the Law that the Christ remains forever. How can you say that the Son of Man must be lifted up? Who is this Son of Man?” So Jesus said to them, “The light is among you for a little while longer. Walk while you have the light, lest darkness overtake you. The one who walks in the darkness does not know where he is going. While you have the light, believe in the light, that you may become sons of light.”
We’ll stop there. I’ve entitled this message the “Victorious Death of Jesus.” If you want to know how the world feels about Jesus, ask yourself this question: How does the world feel about Christians? We know, because of what our Lord told us, when they can’t get to him, they’ll go after us, really reflecting their disgust with him. Well, people mock Christ, mock Christians. People mock the Bible all over the place, at all times, always have.
But in this past year, there was a gambling company from the UK—Ireland to be specific—that really mocked Christ in a rather profound way, in a rather distasteful and disgusting way. It was around Easter time and they took out an ad. It was an email campaign. They took out this ad, which features the picture of a hand nailed to a piece of wood. Now, this is a company that’s asking for people’s money so they can become richer off the backs of people who would gamble it away. So there’s this email ad with this hand nailed to a piece of wood sent out over Easter weekend, and here’s what the text read:
In memory of the dearly departed JC, we’re offering you a sacrilegious bonus this Easter weekend, so don’t just sit there gorging your own bodyweight in chocolate. That’s disrespectful. Get on [this company’s website] and get your nailed on bonus, your guaranteed bonus.
Rather disgusting, isn’t it? Rather disgusting. You know, I’m not one to get caught up in petitions to ban this sort of thing or rally a bunch of my friends around to boycott. I hope my friends are boycotting the gaming sites anyway. But I’m not one to do that very much, because I expect the lost to act like they’re lost. Sinners to act like sinners. But what really concerns me is that they don’t understand the death of Christ. They don’t get the richness behind it. And if I had an audience with anyone that could do anything about this type of thing, I would want to explain that, not just I’ve signed this petition to get this off the internet. But can I tell you about the significance of the death of Christ? How his death is to be celebrated much more than any gaming or any other vice.
Really, my hope for this morning’s text is that we would see the death of Christ not necessarily in a new light, but we would see the richness of it, maybe even a little bit more than we did coming in here. See, if we had an audience with the world, I would hope that we could talk for more than 30 seconds about the significance of the death of Christ. If someone asked you, what did the death of Christ accomplish? And your answer is, he died for our sins. That’s a great answer, but it’s much deeper and richer.
Could we talk for hours on end about what the death of Christ accomplished? I hope so, and Jesus does in this passage, so let’s see him bring that out. Three victorious results stemming from the death of Christ. This death, make no mistake, is not a death to be mocked; it’s a death that’s victorious. We live because of this death. So this morning three victorious results stemming from the death of Christ.
1. The first victorious result stemming from the death of Christ: The Father will be glorified.
Here’s the first result: The Father will be glorified. Verses 27-30. The Father will be glorified, and that is so necessary and so profound. Listen to our Lord. Verse 27: “Now is my soul troubled. And what shall I say? ‘Father, save me from this hour’? But for this purpose I have come to this hour.” We’ve learned, haven’t we, recently that Jesus’ soul is troubled and John tells us that his soul has been troubled specifically a couple times in the last few chapters. And we’ll see in chapters 14 through 16 his soul is continuing to be troubled because he knows this is the hour of his death. He’s coming up on his death.
Remember when he stood by the tomb of Lazarus just one chapter ago, chapter 11, and he was weeping angrily because of death and sin. And his soul was said to be troubled when he saw the others standing around weeping. Jesus’ soul is troubled. It’s burdened at this time because he knows he’s getting closer to death and he sees the reality of sin leading to death and pain, and he’s going to absorb that. His soul is troubled.
Remember they threw a party in honor of him at Simon the leper’s house, chapter 11. They threw a party for him, and everyone’s celebrating Jesus. Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead. People were clamoring about that information and talking about it and then that’s where Mary anoints his feet with oil, but that was all because of what he had done. It’s a celebratory mood and Jesus is saying she’s anointing my feet because that’s what you do with dead people. It’s the time for my departure. It’s my hour. She’s anointing me for my burial.
Jesus is focused on his death. The crowd there was focused on what he did with Lazarus. The crowd here is saying save us now. Hosanna. Save us now. Free us from Rome. He’s focused on his death. Some Greeks come. They’ve heard his signs. They’ve seen some of his signs. They’re asking questions. They want to meet him. The Greeks are thinking about how great he is. He’s focused on his death. Jesus’ mind is all on his death during this time.
By the way, which shows he’s God. He’s knows exactly this coming weekend is the weekend where he’s going to die. He hadn’t even been captured yet, but he knew exactly the time of his death. And his soul is troubled, burdened. Listen to Calvin talk about this burdening of his soul:
From this we learn better the enormity of sin from which the heavenly Father exacted so dreadful a punishment from his only begotten Son. So we must learn that death was no pastime or game to Christ, but that he was cast into severest torment for our sake.
His soul is troubled, and he asks the question: What should I pray? Father, save me from this hour? And he says, well, that’s the whole reason I came—for this hour. That’s why I came. Verse 28. What does Jesus want? His soul is burdened. What does he want? “Father, glorify your name.” That’s his prayer request. The most severe trial, up to this point in his life, and his prayer request is “Father, glorify your name.”
Then a voice came from heaven: “I have glorified it, and I will glorify it again.” How about that for quick answered prayer? Sometimes we wait for a long time. He says, “Father, glorify your name.” I have and I will. Great. On to the next thing.
But this is what Jesus is consumed with. He’s troubled and his prayer request isn’t, I don’t want to do this God. I’m not going to do it. I’m out. He doesn’t make that statement. He’s troubled and he says glorify your name. I’m going through this for your glory.
What does glorify mean? That’s a common word in Christianity. You go to any youth group and ask any small group of junior high boys, hey, what’s your response to this text? How should we live according to this? Well, we should glorify God. Do you know what that means, Johnnie? To glorify God is a huge statement. We have to know what that means, to glorify or to render glory to him. To recognize him for who and what he is. To celebrate with praises, worship, adoration. One writer says to make much of him.
So Jesus is saying, Father, make much of yourself in this hour. Show yourself to be famous, good, glorious. Put your character on display for everyone to see. That’s his prayer. That’s what he’s asking in this time of soul trouble. Jesus is willing for his soul to be troubled if the Father would be glorified. You see how this desire for God’s glory grips Jesus? He’s willing to go through anything for the glory of God.
A voice comes from heaven, and this would have happened before, right, in Jesus’ earthly ministry. It happened at his baptism. It happened at the transfiguration. One to a large group and another to a small group. But a voice would come from heaven to communicate something, not just to Jesus, but to those listening in. The voice from heaven was really meant for those around those circumstances.
Jesus knew that God would glorify his name. Jesus knew he would care for him. Jesus knew all this. The voice is really for those listening, and it even extends down to us. It shows that heaven agrees with what Jesus is doing. Heaven approves of what Jesus is doing. The will of the Father and the will of the Son are united. They’re the same.
He says, I have glorified it. Now, when did God glorify his name up to this point? Well, recently in John we’ve heard of a couple places. Remember the man born blind? Jesus answers the question about why was he born blind. Did he sin or his parents? And Jesus says, you don’t even understand. He was born blind for the glory of God. And Jesus heals the man born blind, and we see the glory of God put on display. God is great. He can do that.
And then we see the glory of God put on display in John 11 when Jesus raises Lazarus from the dead. God has the power over death. Jesus, God in human flesh, has the power over death. That’s why Jesus said when the messenger came, the one you love is sick. You gotta come quick. Jesus said, this sickness does not lead to death. It’s for the glory of God.
So God has glorified his name and will glorify his name. What’s he talking about? What’s the future events where his name will be glorified? The death of his Son. Death of his Son. How do we know that? The Holy Spirit reveals that to us in Philippians 2. Speaking of the death of Christ and specifically the death of Christ on a cross, Philippians 2:9-11 says, “Therefore God has highly exalted him …” Because of the cross, because of his incarnation and how he died, “Therefore God has highly exalted him.” It’s almost as if Jesus is glorified. Yes, that’s what’s happening.
“God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord [listen], to the glory of God the Father.” The cross of Christ glorifies God the Father. The cross of the Son of God glorifies God the Father. Why? It’s the Father’s plan for the cross to happen. It’s the Father’s plan to save sinners through the cross of Christ and then to resurrect his Son and put his Son higher than any other king or queen or prince or anything in the world, and for all of those that have been won to him to sing his praises forever.
So the Father raises the Son. The Son points to the Father, and there’s this inter-Trinitarian love happening that we come into. The Father is glorified in the Son’s death. The Son’s death is not an accident. The Son’s death isn’t Satan winning. Oh, Jesus died. The Son’s death is predestined, predetermined, planned by God for his Son’s glory and for his.
Verse 29: “The crowd that stood there and heard it …” They heard this voice from heaven. Heard it and “said that it had thundered.” Of course. Psalm 29 talks about the voice of the Lord as thunder. The voice of the Lord thundered. “Others said, ‘An angel has spoken to him.’” Now, they’re not questioning what was said. They know what was said. The Father said, I’ve glorified my name and I will glorify my name. They’re not questioning what God has said. They’re questioning, was that really God, was it an angel, was it something else—good acoustics, someone behind a curtain? What was it?
They’re questioning the source of the statement, just like today. The Bible is crystal clear. The question is, is it really from heaven? The voice of the Lord thundered, and it spoke clearly. “Jesus answered”—Jesus gives the answer to the question about whether this is from heaven or not. “This voice has come for your sake, not mine.” Jesus knew this was God the Father. Jesus knew this was God the Father authenticating what he’s here to do.
Jesus said to the crowd, the voice has come for your sake, not mine. I didn’t need an audible answer, because I already knew the answer. You needed to hear the answer. So when I say, Father, glorify your name in this immediate hour when I’m going to die, you’ve just heard from heaven everyone that the Father has glorified his name and will glorify his name through my death. That’s what Jesus is saying.
What does Jesus and God the Father want the crowd to know? Why was it audible? Why did the crowd hear it? What do these two members of the Godhead want the crowd to know? They want the crowd to know that Jesus will go through suffering if it means the glory of God the Father.
You think of glory as maybe a mirror. God is light. God shines his light, his attributes down on the earth, and when we hold a mirror to light, when light hits a mirror, it reflects back, and you see really a reflection of who God is back to him so that people would know God.
You think about the World Trade Center in 2011 after it came down. For a time while they were building the new structure, they had beams of light going to the sky. Remember seeing these pictures? Or maybe some of you have been there. You see the beams of light.
That’s what it’s like to glorify God. We show his light back to where people can see. God is holy and good and just and loving. When we respond rightly in righteousness, we’re showing him off to the world. So the world, when we’re around the world, looks up and sees light, sees God, by knowing us better.
And Jesus is saying, God put light all over this world, so that people will know you and your characteristics, even in my death. So that’s what Jesus is praying—that God the Father would be glorified.
Now, I have an application point for you. What do we do with this truth? How does this affect tomorrow? And I have this application point in a sentence. I’ll read you the sentence. Glorify God the Father for his plan of redemption because he deserves all glory. Glorify God the Father for his plan of redemption because he deserves all glory. Glorify God the Father for his plan of redemption because he deserves all glory.
Listen, if you were paying attention when Jason read the passage earlier—Ephesians 1:3-14, one of the greatest sentences in all the world (that’s one sentence)—Ephesians 1:3-14 starts out with praising God for his plan of salvation that the Son carries out and that the Spirit guarantees. But it starts with praising God the Father. And remember the statement that the Holy Spirit gives us three different times in that one sentence: to the praise of his glorious grace. To the praise of his glorious grace. To the praise of his glory.
Our salvation is meant to cause us to look up to God the Father, specifically. Yes, God the Son and God the Spirit also, but specifically here to look up to God the Father and say, thank you for your plan. You knew me before I existed, and you planned that your Son’s death would cover my sin. I would get his righteousness. And you, by your Spirit, made that plan a guarantee forever. Praise God the Father. Praise God the Father.
Listen to Galatians 4:4-7:
But when the fullness of time had come, God [the Father] sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons. And because you are sons, God [the Father] has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!” So you are no longer a slave, but a son, and if a son, then an heir through God.
You see what God the Father has done for all of us? Because he loves us and has chosen us, he sent his Son to die the death that we should have died. And then he sends us his Spirit, so that we, when we think about God, we would no longer do this, but we would go, Father, Father. The God who has been offended by everybody on the face of the earth is now my father, by his own doing through his Son. To the praise of his glorious grace. That’s the application. Praise the Father. Glorify the Father for your salvation earned on the cross by the death of his Son.
God loved the world in this particular way, that he sent his Son to die for us. God is glorified most in the redemption of man, and the cross made this possible. This is God’s plan and one of the things the death of Christ does, one of the victorious things that the death of Christ does is it allows God the Father to be glorified, because he should be. He should be. So this is a victorious death, because we can glorify God as he should be.
2. The second victorious result stemming from the death of Christ: The adversary will be defeated.
Second reason this is a victorious death: The adversary will be defeated. Verses 31 through 34, Jesus says, “Now is the judgment of this world; now will the ruler of this world be cast out.” So it’s not just time for Jesus to die. It’s time for the ruler of this world to lose his power. Really, you could say, because Satan still does have power, doesn’t he? We know that from Ephesians 6. The whole argument about how to put on the armor of God is because Satan still has power. 2 Corinthians 4: Satan still blinds the minds of those who are perishing, not a believer’s mind, but the minds of those who are perishing.
Satan still has some power, but this, the cross, when the cross happened, this was the beginning of the end for Satan’s power. Because of the cross, because Jesus died to sin means that we’re no longer under the power of sin. Do we still sin? Yes. But do we have to sin? No. Someone who is not a follower of Christ has to sin. That’s who they are. Our hearts have been changed. We’re no longer under the power of sin. We’re under the power of the Spirit.
So this, the cross, is really Jesus saying, this is the beginning of the end for Satan. The judgment of this world has come. The ruler of this world will be cast out. We know Satan is currently not in the lake of fire. Satan’s not in hell right now. He’s not. He’s active. Again, I cited a couple places. 1 Peter 5:8 is another one. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion. That was written after the death and resurrection and ascension of Jesus. But one day he will be cast into the lake of fire. But his power is not at all what it once was, because we are new creations and we live to Christ now, where before we lived according to the prince of the power of the air.
Listen to Hebrews 2:14: “Since therefore the children share in flesh and blood, …” so since you’re all flesh and blood, since I’m flesh and blood, “he himself likewise partook of the same things,” came as flesh and blood; why? so “that through death he might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil.” Jesus came to take on flesh and blood because we’re flesh and blood and we die because of our sin. He came and took on flesh and blood so that he would die and destroy Satan’s power for us. For us.
The adversary will be defeated because of the death of Christ. Verse 32. Jesus goes on. “‘And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.’” He said this to show by what kind of death he was going to die.” Jesus prophesies that he will die on a cross. When I’m lifted up. That was the term given for dying on a cross. They lift them up on the cross and they suspend between heaven and earth. When I’m lifted up from the earth, I will draw all people to myself. People from every tribe, tongue and nation. People from all ethnicities he will draw to himself. He’s referring to the cross as the thing that draws people. Jesus’ death, he’s saying ahead of time, is going to be an appealing death, an attractive death, a drawing death.
Those of you who are married, do you remember when you first came into contact with your spouse, when you first met them, when you first dated them, when you first were in those moments of “I just want to be with them; I don’t care about anything else”? Yeah, but I gotta go to work. Yeah, but I might call in sick because I just want to be with them. Who they were drew you in so that you could really see nothing else. How was your day? Michelle. What are you excited about? Michelle. Hey, you wanna go to the game? Michelle. It just draws you in.
Jesus is saying his death gets people to look up and see him and follow him. His death, being on a cross, draws people in, and it has for 2,000 years all over the world. Why? Why does his death draw people in? Well, all people have sinned before a holy creator. Nobody deserves heaven. Nobody. Nobody deserves heaven. We all deserve eternal torment separated from the one that we offended, willingly. We’re all in trouble before this holy creator. But this holy creator, because he’s not just holy but also merciful, sent his Son to live the life we didn’t live, to take the sin that he didn’t commit for everyone who would ever believe.
Think of the worst sin you’ve committed and think of the torment that comes with it. Jesus absorbed that as if he did that. And not just your worst sin, but every sin you’ve ever committed and every sin that everyone who’s ever believed in him or will believe in him has ever committed. Jesus Christ was accused, took on, got the credit for all of that. And you got to be considered perfect. That’s why his death is appealing. That’s why we’ll lose everything for the sake of following him. That’s why we’re drawn to him.
This isn’t some false religion where we guilt people into coming to Christ. Mankind is guilty for their sins, but the Son of God came to earth, hung there dead on a cross and would later rise from the dead so that people would find him appealing and attractive and go to him. And this happens every single day because he said he will build his church and those who are in his church are drawn to him. That’s why we sing so many songs about his death. What else is there to sing about? We’re drawn to that truth because in it we find our life.
There’s a recent story about a professional soccer player in Italy who came to the knowledge of Christ. He was previously an atheist who would mock Christians. He had a Christian teammate on his soccer team—football team, if you will. And this Christian teammate gave him a Bible, and the only reason he took it was to find things in it to mock Christians all the more. The account of his salvation goes like this. His name is Simone.
After returning from an immoral night at the club, he would occasionally open the Bible to mock it, seeking more justification to look down at religious people. And then he read Romans 3. “This chapter punched a hole through everything I’d ever believed,” he explains. “I wanted to attack the hypocrisy in others, but no one had ever confronted me in my own sin. Romans 3 did that. And though I professed atheism at the time, I knew that this chapter spoke the truth. It wasn’t just religious hypocrites who were unrighteous. It was all mankind who stood condemned before God. I still remember the moment when the truth of the gospel finally struck me,” he recalls. “Sebastian [his teammate] and I were having a conversation about Jesus as the sacrificial substitute for sinful man [Jesus’ death], and it clicked that all there was to do was to trust in Christ alone.”
This man, seeking to mock Christians, and by extension then mocking Christ, reads about his own sinfulness, and by the way, the end of Romans 3 shows that you can be righteous. The whole world is sinful early in Romans 3. At the end of Romans 3, you can be righteous by having faith in his Son. And he saw his sin in the early part of Romans 3, and then he saw that he can be righteous through faith in Jesus Christ. How’d that happen? Because of the cross, Jesus took our sin. We got his righteousness. This man was drawn to Christ and his cross by reading Romans 3.
The adversary will be defeated. Christ has defeated sin and death and now we, as believers, have power through him. When Jesus died on the cross, he died so that we would be forgiven of sin, but he also died so that we would no longer have the power over sin dominate us. He gave us a new heart, new life, regeneration. We can now live, for the first time, to his glory. We’re alive in Christ. We’re no longer dead.
I want you, real quick, if you will, turn to Ephesians 2. It’s not just that technically we’re saved because Jesus died. We actually have the power now to be righteous, and because of that, Satan is defeated, even in our own lives. So every time you overcome temptation, that’s an example that Satan’s been defeated in your own life by the power of Jesus, whereas before you would have given into that temptation. Ephesians 2. Listen to what Ephesians 2:1-5 says.
“And you were dead in your trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience.” You know what that’s saying? We, at one time, did just what Satan wanted and just what Satan does. That’s not a pretty picture of man before Christ. Dead. Following exactly what the adversary wanted.
“[A]mong whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, just like the rest of mankind.” And by the way, because God’s a holy God, the period at the end of verse 3 could be the end of it. That’s it. You had your opportunity. He’s a holy God. He cannot look on sin.
Verse 4. He’s also a merciful God. “But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved.” The power of Satan was ended at the cross. And by the way, the power of Satan still is ended in our lives today. Every time we live and obey his word and honor him and glorify him, it shows the power of Satan still does not have a hold on us.
Notice verse 10 of Ephesians 2: “[W]e are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus.” By the way, we first, in the past, were created in Adam. Now we’re created in Christ Jesus. New life. New heart. “[C]reated in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.” You know what the good news about that is? We can actually obey that. We’re created for good works, and we can actually do them now and please him.
Later on in Ephesians, listen to this command. Ephesians 5:1: “Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children.” Be imitators of God. How’s that for a command? Hey you, you know what you should be like? Oh, like my boss, who’s a really good guy? Like my dad, a faithful guy? No. Be like God. Ohhh, I don’t know if I can be. Yes, you can. Yes, you can, because the power of Satan and sin is done away with at the cross of Christ because he overcame sin and death on the cross out of the empty tomb. And now you can have life. You can actually obey the commands of God.
When Christ died on the cross, in a sense he brought us back to the Garden of Eden before sin. We now have communion with him. We have the ability to obey him. We’re different now. In the death of Christ, the adversary is defeated. The adversary is defeated. Listen, think of that temptation, think of that sin that you hate that you still commit sometimes as a believer. And let me tell you this, based on the living word of God, you do not have to do it. If you weren’t in Christ, I couldn’t say that to you. It’s who you are. But in Christ you can always say no to the thing you shouldn’t do, and you can always say yes to the thing you should do, to the praise of his glorious grace, because you’ve got power and the adversary was defeated on the cross.
3. The third victorious result stemming from the death of Christ: The darkness will be overtaken.
The third victorious reality stemming from the cross: The darkness will be overtaken. Verse 34: “So the crowd answered him, ‘We have heard from the Law that the Christ remains forever. How can you say that the Son of Man must be lifted up? Who is this Son of Man?’” So here’s where a little bit of knowledge of the Bible can get you in trouble because there’s other knowledge that they don’t have that’s important to round this whole thing out.
They always read the Scriptures and thought, yeah, the Messiah lives forever. 2 Samuel 7. I will establish his kingdom forever. And remember, they’re thinking, hosanna. Save us now from Rome. You’re going to live forever somehow. But you’re talking about dying. We thought the Son of Man lived forever. What’s going on here? Ezekiel 37 says that his servant, David, will be a prince forever. The one who comes in the line of David, Jesus Christ, is supposed to be a prince forever. But he’s talking about his death. That’s a problem for them.
Now, are we really going to throw our entire hope into you if you’re going to die? I don’t know that I want to do that. I’m supposed to be waiting for someone that’s going to live forever, is what they would be saying. So they say at the end, who is this Son of Man? And they’re not really asking the question, okay, it’s not you, then who is he? That’s not really what they’re asking.
They know that he’s teaching something different about the Son of Man than they understand, because remember—and I talked about this last week—there are other places in the Old Testament that show that the servant of God, the Messiah, would suffer. Psalm 22. Isaiah 53. Psalm 16. But they just believed part of the truth. They didn’t understand how someone could die and still live forever. Cross. Empty tomb. They didn’t understand this.
They’re not asking, well, then who is it? It’s not you. They’re asking, well, then what is the Son of Man? We thought we had it all right. You’re implying that we don’t. The question they’re asking is kind of like, if I started going jogging in the morning two weeks in a row, at some point into that second week I’d come into the house and Michelle would look at me and say, who are you? Because I don’t jog. I hate it. And I’d say, it’s me, Andrew. Andrew Gutierrez, your husband. And she’d say, who is Andrew Gutierrez? I thought I knew him. Evidently, I don’t. Who even is Andrew Gutierrez?
That’s what they’re doing. You’re talking about the Son of Man dying. You’re saying you’re the Son of Man. You’re saying you’re going to die. Who even is the Son of Man? We’re missing something here. That’s what they’re asking.
Verse 35: “So Jesus said to them, ‘The light is among you for a little while longer.’” Now, this is the answer to their question: tell us more about the Son of Man. And then he tells them he’s only going to be here for a little bit. That’s what he says. He doesn’t bring them back to Psalm 22. He doesn’t bring them back to Isaiah 53. He doesn’t do that. He says, you’re time’s short.
“So Jesus said to them, ‘The light is among you for a little while longer. Walk while you have the light, lest darkness overtake you. The one who walks in the darkness does not know where he is going.’” So they’re saying, tell us more about the Son of Man. Evidently, we have to learn more. And he says, okay, here’s one for you: You don’t have very much time. Limited opportunity. Walk now. Live in the light now. Don’t be overtaken by the darkness because—and those of you who are Christians know—before you were in Christ, the darkness can overtake someone. In the Bible, darkness is sinister. Darkness is associated with the inability to find one’s way. Darkness is a place of terror. Darkness is a place of sin. Darkness is a place where stumbling happens. Darkness is a place of gloom.
How many of you can think back to your life before Christ and say, that’s right. Yes, it is. And some of you might be there now. You’re not in Christ. You’re not a follower of Christ. You don’t trust him. You don’t love him above anything else. Let me ask you the question, everyone in this room: Is your life characterized by light and joy or darkness and gloom? And be honest. Be completely honest.
Many of us here know the darkness of sin before Christ. The darkness can overwhelm light. This is Jesus calling people to trust in him. And by the way, what did he call himself? The light of the world. Calling people to trust in him so the darkness would not overtake them.
Verse 36: “While you have the light, believe in the light, that you may become sons of light.” I love that it says sons of light. Why? Because this isn’t just some spiritual transaction. Right that you believe these things on a piece of paper. We’ll stamp it. You’ll be fine. You’re a son. Believe in the light. You’re going to be a son of light. You’re going to be in a family where light radiates. Believe in the light while you have the light here, that you may become sons of light.
John 8:12: “Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, ‘I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness but will have the light of life.’” I find it interesting that in verse 35 he tells people as part of an evangelistic call to walk in the light. And in verse 36 he says believe the light. That’s kind of backwards in the timetable. Usually, it’s believe in the light and then you’ll go on walking in the light. But by saying walk in the light, he’s drawing out the importance that this needs to be your new lifestyle every single day. People who are in Christ—Christians—walk in the light. Why? Because they believed in the light. That’s what he’s saying here. Walk in the light. Believe in the light. Trust in the light every single day, so you may be sons of light.
And you know a lot of times in religions out there, there are a lot of statements you can make that sound really mystical. Just come to the light. What’s that mean? What’s that mean? I don’t want this to be mystical for us. It’s not mystical. It means acknowledge that you’re in darkness and know that you need to trust in Christ to give you righteousness. And when he speaks, it’s as if light is going on in a dark room, and you say, I need to follow that light.
So, it’s trust in Jesus Christ to forgive your sins, give you his righteousness, trust that he rose again on the third day, and obey what he says. It’s not mystical. It’s pretty plain. Jesus said, if you love me, you’ll obey my commandments. Walk in the light. What does walk in the light really mean? Read the Bible and obey it, because you can. Because you can.
I also find it interesting that when they ask about specific details of Old Testament prophecy, he talks to them about the time being short. There’s a time to ask questions about Christ, a time to study the Bible, understand the gospel. There’s certainly a time to do that. Jesus came teaching, drawing connections from the Old Testament to his life. He came doing that, but there’s a time where you need to respond. You need to respond. The time is short. There’s not infinite time.
J. C. Ryle in a book called Thoughts for Young Men, which I would—if you are a parent or grandparent of a young man or just a young person, this book—if you’re a young person yourself, buy this book. If you’re a young person in our congregation, buy this book. And I know it’s easy for me to say because I’ve got a full-time job, buy this book; and you’re like, I get an allowance for taking out the trash. I don’t have a lot of money. Come to me, we’ll buy the book for you. Thoughts for Young Men, J. C. Ryle. Listen to what Ryle says about the limited opportunity to respond to Christ.
I dare say, you are reckoning on late repentance.
So this was written to the young person and it applies to the old person, too, who’s not in Christ, but says, you know what, not right now. I don’t want Christ in my life right now. I don’t want to have to obey all this. I don’t want to do all that. I don’t want him to govern this area of my life. One day, when I’m on my deathbed, then I’ll turn to him. Oh, friend, there’s no guarantee of that. Sin hardens the heart more and more every day. There’s no guarantee. And by the way, you don’t control your own salvation. Ryle:
I dare say, you are reckoning on late repentance. You know not what you are doing.
You’re reckoning without God. You’re coming up with this plan without God.
Repentance and faith are gifts of God and gifts that he often withholds when they have been long offered in vain. I grant you true repentance is never too late. But I warn you at the same time late repentance is seldom true. I grant you one penitent thief was converted in his last hours that no man might despair. But I warn you, only one was converted, that no man might presume.
Who is the Son of Man? He’s only here for a little bit of time, was Jesus’ answer. Believe while you have the light. Walk while you have the light. Now we know Jesus is in heaven. How does the light get communicated today to people? Through his word. Through the declaration of the gospel message.
Today, as time has gone on, the call is, believe now because tomorrow is guaranteed to no one. Believe now. And here’s the beautiful part. I remember as an unbeliever going to church being disappointed with things I had done throughout the week—Friday, Saturday night, and Sunday comes, and you’re kind of like, okay, I’m going to clean myself up for God. God, I’ll never do what I did this week again. Fast forward to the next weekend, same prayer. Next weekend, same prayer.
Stop. Just stop. Stop thinking that’s how you’re made right with God. Fall to your knees because of your week and Friday and Saturday nights. Fall to your knees and say, I’m not righteous. I’m dead. I’m doing what the prince of the power of the air wants me to do. Be merciful to me. Take my sin; give me your righteousness. I believe in your death and resurrection. That’s when a life changes. That’s when the Lord saves. That’s when you come to the light. That’s the message. Time is short. We don’t have forever. Today, fall on your knees. Look up to the light.
Believers, we know the darkness is overtaken. We know Jesus died so that the light would permeate the darkness. What do we do as believers? We know that we no longer walk in these patterns of sin that we once did in the same way. We don’t do that. We have the light of the world that we follow.
Romans 13 I believe is a great passage about walking in the light as a believer. Listen to Romans 13:11-14:
Besides this you know the time, that the hour has come for you to wake from sleep. For salvation is nearer to us now than when we first believed. The night is far gone; the day is at hand.
So you once were in the night. The night’s far gone. That was in those previous years. Now the day’s here. You’re walking in the day if you’re a Christian. Daytime’s here. You don’t walk in the darkness. You walk in the light. The day is at hand.
So then let us cast off the works of darkness and put on the armor of light. Let us walk properly as in the daytime, not in orgies and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and sensuality, not in quarreling and jealousy. But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires.
Walk in the light. How do I walk in the light? Put on Jesus Christ. Wear Jesus Christ. What he does, you do. You ask yourself in every single situation: What would Christ do? Would Christ gossip? No. Put on Christ. Would Christ be jealous? No. Put on Christ. Would Christ get drunk or engage in sexual promiscuity? No. Put on Christ. Put on Christ. Put on Christ. And I’ll add, because of what I’ve been saying this whole time, because you can. Because you can. Put on Christ. You can walk this way because the darkness has been overtaken.
So if someone ever asks you, why’s the death of Jesus so important? Don’t just say, because he forgave our sins. Bring them deeper. Open up to John 12. Read them John 12. The reason the death of Christ is so precious is because the Father is glorified in the death of Christ. What in the world do you mean by that? I’m glad you asked. The Father is glorified in the death of Christ. The adversary will be defeated. The darkness will be overtaken. There’s deep, rich truths that happen because of the cross.
Speaking of victory, there’s a poem written by a Puritan called “The Victor of My Heart.” I’m going to read a few lines to you. Ralph Erskine is the author. He says this:
Let him who in my room and place did act the kindest part,
the God of love, the Prince of Peace, the victor of my heart.
I was among the traitorous crew, doomed to eternal fire,
when he to pay the ransom flew on wings of strong desire.
Jesus, the God with naked arms, hangs on a cross and dies.
Then mounts the throne with mighty charms to embrace me from the skies.
Praise God the Father, God the Son, God the Spirit
for this death because it is a victorious death.
Lord, your death is why we live. Your death allows us to overcome sin. Your death no longer means that we are considered rebels, but sons and daughters. The life you give us because of your death now allows us to walk in the light. We can obey. We can have joy. We can be invigorated. We can thrive. We can do all of these things because you died. You died to the sin and the power that was holding us.
Lord, may this church for many years and decades to come be a church that drinks deeply about the realities that happened at Calvary. We know what that event did. We constantly learn more. We constantly appreciate more. Lord, heaven sings to the slain Lamb. The theme of heaven is a cross and an empty tomb. May that be our theme while we’re here on earth. We pray this in your Son’s name. Amen.
More in Jesus, Israel, and the World
March 12, 2017John 12:44-50 | The Final Appeal | Andrew Gutierrez
March 5, 2017John 12:37-43| A Pathology of Unbelief | Andrew Gutierrez
February 12, 2017John 12:20-26 | Jesus Addresses the Intrigued | Andrew Gutierrez