Letters to the Prison - Week 144

Hello, everyone.  Last week, Jesus said something profound that we should examine more closely:
  • 31 Now is the judgment of this world; now will the ruler of this world be cast out. 32 And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.”     -John 12:31-32

It would take a long time to unpack everything Jesus has said here.  Here are a few key points:

“Now,” like Jesus’ use of the word “hour,” does not mean everything happens completely and instantly the way we might expect.  Many things about Jesus’ coming kingdom have an “already / not yet” sense.  This is one of them.  This world has been judged and its ruler will be cast out…  but we haven’t seen the execution of this judgment… yet.

What Jesus says about judgment here does not contradict what he says elsewhere and what he will say soon (John 12:47).  Jesus didn’t come to judge the world even though he is the supreme and ultimate judge.  No, the “world” (meaning the evil system on earth that denies and rebels against God and the people who participate in it) has already judged itself by its own refusal to believe and obey God.  Jesus will clarify this even further a bit later in the chapter (John 12:48).

Jesus being “lifted up” has numerous different implications:
oThe primary and imminent implication is that Jesus will be lifted up and crucified on the cross.  John confirms and affirms this in the very next verse:

He said this to show by what kind of death he was going to die.
-John 12:33
  • Jesus will also be “lifted up” from the grave when he is resurrected and thereby conquers death.
  • Jesus will be physically “lifted up” when he ascends back to heaven (Acts 1:9).
  • Jesus will be “lifted up” in glory as he sits at the right hand of the Father (Colossians 3:1).
  • Jesus will be “lifted up” –exalted and worshipped-- by those he draws to himself.

Speaking of which, Jesus, by being “lifted up” on the cross, will “draw all people to himself.”  This does not mean everyone is saved.  Not everyone rightly worships Jesus.
oJesus’ work on the cross atoned for the sins of all people, but obtaining the salvation provided there is still a matter of belief.  Those who believe that Jesus is who he says he is will be saved.  Those who don’t… won’t.  Jesus is about to make this very clear in only a few verses and we’ll see the outworking difference between people’s belief and unbelief as well.  So, let’s move on!

Immediately, we see one cause of the crowd’s unbelief:  They misunderstand Scripture:
  • 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?”-John 12:34

We will examine this question and Jesus’ answer next week.  Until then, ask yourself:  What do you believe about Jesus?  Why do you believe it?  We love you.  Pray that we would always work to reinforce our belief with a better understanding of God’s word.  

Dean A.

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