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Nave's Topical Bible - Jesus, the Christ; Jesus Continued; Salvation; Thompson Chain Reference - Attraction; Attractiveness of Christ; Christ; Divine; I Will's of Christ; Spiritual; The Topic Concordance - Government; Sacrifice; Torrey's Topical Textbook - Death of Christ, the;
Verse 32. I - will draw all men unto me. — After I shall have died and risen again, by the preaching of my word and the influence of my Spirit, I shall attract and illuminate both Jews and Gentiles. It was one of the peculiar characteristics of the Messiah, that unto him should the gathering of the people be, Genesis 49:10. And probably our Lord refers to the prophecy, Isaiah 11:10, which peculiarly belonged to the Gentiles: "There shall be a root of Jesse which shall stand for an ENSIGN of the people, to it shall the GENTILES seek, and his rest shall be glorious." There is an allusion here to the ensigns or colours of commanders of regiments, elevated on high places, on long poles, that the people might see where the pavilion of their general was, and so flock to his standard.
Instead of παντας, the Codex Bezae, another, several versions, and many of the fathers, read παντα, all men, or all things: so the Anglo-Saxon, [A.S.], I will draw all things to myself. But παντα may be here the accusative singular, and signify all men.
The ancients fabled that Jupiter had a chain of gold, which he could at any time let down from heaven, and by it draw the earth and all its inhabitants to himself. See a fine passage to this effect in Homer, Iliad viii. ver. 18-27.
Ειδ' αγε, πειρησασθε θεοι, ἱνα ειδετε παντες,
Σειρην χρυσειην εξ ουρανοθεν κρεμασαντες·
Παντες δ' εξαπτεσθε θεοι, πασαι τε θεαιναι. κ. τ. λ.
"Now prove me: let ye down the golden chain
From heaven, and pull at its inferior links,
Both goddesses and gods: but me your king,
Supreme in wisdom, ye shall never draw
To earth from heaven, strive with me as ye may.
But I, if willing to exert my power,
The earth itself, itself the sea, and you,
Will lift with ease together, and will wind
The chain around the spiry summit sharp
Of the Olympian, that all things upheaved
Shall hang in the mid heaven. So much am I,
Alone, superior both to gods and men.
By this chain the poets pointed out the union between heaven and earth; or, in other words, the government of the universe by the extensive chain of causes and effects. It was termed golden, to point out, not only the beneficence of the Divine Providence, but also that infinite philanthropy of God by which he influences and by which he attracts all mankind to himself. It was possibly in allusion to this that our Lord spoke the above words. Should it be objected that it is inconsistent with the gravity of the subject, and the dignity of our Lord, to allude to the fable of a heathen poet, I answer:
1. The moral is excellent, and, applied to this purpose, expresses beautifully our Lord's gracious design in dying for the world, viz. That men might be united to himself, and drawn up into heaven.
2. It is no more inconsistent with the gravity of the subject, and his dignity, for our blessed Lord to allude to Homer, than it was for St. Paul to quote Aratus and Cleanthes, Acts 17:28, and Epimenides, Titus 1:12; for he spoke by the same Spirit.
So justice was sometimes represented under the emblem of a golden chain, and in some cases such a chain was constructed, one end attached to the emperor's apartment, and the other hanging within reach; that if any person were oppressed he might come and lay hold on the chain, and by shaking it give the king notice that he was oppressed, and thus claim protection from the fountain of justice and power. In the Jehangeer Nameh, a curious account of this kind is given, which is as follows. The first order which Jehangeer issued on his accession to the throne (which was A.H. 1014, answering to A.D. 1605) was for the construction of the GOLDEN CHAIN of Justice. It was made of pure gold, and measured thirty yards in length, consisting of sixty links, and weighing, in the whole, four Hindostany maunds (about four hundred pounds avoirdupois.) One end of the chain was suspended from the royal bastion of the fortress of Agra, and the other fastened in the ground near the side of the river. The intention of this was, that if the officers of the courts of law were partial in their decisions, or dilatory in the administration of justice, the injured parties might come themselves to this chain, and, making a noise by shaking the links of it, give notice that they were waiting to represent their grievances to his majesty. Hist. of Hindostan, p. 96, Calcutta, 1788. Such a communication, prayer and faith establish between the most just and most merciful GOD, and the wretched and oppressed children of men. "And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me." O thou that hearest prayer, unto thee shall all flesh come! Psalms 65:2.
Clarke, Adam. "Commentary on John 12:32". "The Adam Clarke Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/acc/john-12.html. 1832.
137. Final message to the Jews (John 12:27-50)
Jesus trembled as he thought of the suffering that awaited him, but he was determined to finish the work he had come to do. He prayed that through his death he would glorify his Father, and his Father responded in a voice from heaven that the prayer would be answered (John 12:27-29). As the startled onlookers were wondering what they had heard, Jesus told them that the time for Satan’s defeat was approaching. Through Jesus’ crucifixion, people of all nations would be delivered from Satan’s power and brought into the liberty of the kingdom of God (John 12:30-33).
The people were puzzled at Jesus’ statement. He spoke of himself as ‘the Son of man’, but if he used this expression to mean ‘the Messiah’, how could the Messiah die on the cross? They thought the Messiah would live for ever. Jesus had no more time to reason with them, but urged them to believe in him immediately and so walk in the light while he was still on earth. Otherwise the darkness would come upon them and they would be lost eternally (John 12:34-36).
Most of the Jewish people were stubborn in their unbelief, as Isaiah had prophesied. Any who believed in him were afraid to say so openly, for fear of being put out of the synagogue (John 12:37-43). In his final words to the crowd, Jesus explained that to believe in him was to believe in God; to reject him was to reject God (John 12:44-46). Jesus came to save people, not to condemn them, and the words he spoke were the words of God. But in the day of judgment those same words would be a witness for the condemnation of those who rejected them (John 12:47-50).
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Flemming, Donald C. "Commentary on John 12:32". "Brideway Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bbc/john-12.html. 2005.
And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto myself. But this he said, signifying by what manner of death he should die.
As Dr. Baxter wrote:
It is difficult to realize the tremendous faith which this expression reflects. We hear these words through nineteen centuries of Christian history which followed them; but, when Jesus made the statement here, there was little visible evidence to make anyone believe that these words might literally come true. It must have seemed to those who heard it the most presumptuous statement ever made.
Lifted up ... See under John 3:14. The primary reference of this is to Jesus' death by being lifted up upon the cross; but the words suggest other truth also. Christ was lifted up from the grave; he was lifted up into heaven; he has been lifted up in the hearts of men by the preaching of the gospel in all ages since then.
Draw all men unto myself ... He draws men in that he alone loved men sufficiently to die for them, in that he is the only true revelation of God, in that he is the only perfect soul who ever lived on earth, and in that he alone is the satisfaction of the soul's deepest desires.
The glorious manner in which the daring words of this prophecy have been fulfilled defies explanation. Jesus of Nazareth is the most conspicuous and the mightiest of all the personalities ever to make themselves known on earth; and, in the last decade alone, there have been more beautiful buildings constructed and dedicated to the honor and worship of Jesus Christ throughout the world than have been constructed and dedicated to any one hundred of the greatest kings and rulers who ever lived; and still Jesus marches on!
Coffman Commentaries reproduced by permission of Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. All other rights reserved.
Coffman, James Burton. "Commentary on John 12:32". "Coffman Commentaries on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bcc/john-12.html. Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. 1983-1999.
Be lifted up - See John 3:14; John 8:28.
Will draw - John 6:44. The same word is used in both places.
All men - I will incline all kinds of men; or will make the way open by the cross, so that all men may come. I will provide a way which shall present a strong motive or inducement - the strongest that can be presented to all men to come to me.
Barnes, Albert. "Commentary on John 12:32". "Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bnb/john-12.html. 1870.
32. If I be lifted up. Next follows the method by which the judgment shall be conducted; namely, Christ, being lifted up on the cross, shall gather all men to himself, in order that he may raise them from earth to heaven. The Evangelist says, that Christ pointed out the manner of his death; and, therefore, the meaning undoubtedly is, that the cross will be, as it were, a chariot, by which he shall raise all men, along with himself, to his Father. It might have been thought, that at that time he was carried away from the earth, so as no longer to have any interests in common with men; but he declares, that he will go in a very different manner, so as to draw upwards to himself those who were fixed on the earth. Now, though he alludes to the form of his death, yet he means generally, that his death will not be a division to separate him from men, but that it will be an additional means of drawing earth upwards towards heaven.
I will draw all men to myself. The word all, which he employs, must be understood to refer to the children of God, who belong to his flock. Yet I agree with Chrysostom, who says that Christ used the universal term, all, because the Church was to be gathered equally from among Gentiles and Jews, according to that saying,
There shall be one shepherd, and one sheepfold, (John 10:16.)
The old Latin translation has, I will draw all things to me; and Augustine maintains that we ought to read it in that manner; but the agreement of all the Greek manuscripts ought to have greater weight with us.
Calvin, John. "Commentary on John 12:32". "Calvin's Commentary on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/cal/john-12.html. 1840-57.
Then Jesus six days before the passover came to Bethany, where Lazarus was which had been dead, whom he had raised from the dead. They made him a supper; and Martha served [typical of Martha]: but Lazarus was one of them that sat at the table with him. Then took Mary a pound of ointment of spikenard, very expensive, and anointed the feet of Jesus, and wiped his feet with her hair: and the house was filled with the aroma of the ointment ( John 12:1-3 ).
Typical of Mary, worshipping; Martha, working...it takes all types. God has built into our characters these very qualities. Martha, busy serving; Mary, busy worshipping.
Then said one of his disciples, Judas Iscariot, Simon's son, who would betray him, Why didn't they sell this perfume for three hundred pence, and given the money to the poor? ( John 12:4-5 )
Actually, it was very expensive. A pence was a day's wage for a laboring man. So you've got almost a year's wages involved here that this perfume could have been sold for.
This he said, not that he cared for the poor; but because he was a thief, and he held the purse, and he was stealing out of the money in the purse ( John 12:6 ).
Now, it's unfortunate that in the betrayal of this whole scene in "Jesus Christ, Superstar" they try to make Jesus a very lavish kind of a person, living in opulence, no care for the poor. And Judas turns out the hero; he's the social reformer and the man who's concerned for the poor and all. And they don't really do justice to the text, and that, you have to assume, is deliberate. Because it's right there. Judas didn't really care for the poor, as he would be made out that marvelous man with social concern. He was a thief. He was holding the purse and had been stealing the money out of the purse. That's the only reason he wanted the perfume sold and the money put in the purse. He was not that kind of a person that they tried to portray him.
Then said Jesus, Get off her case: against the day of my burying has she kept this. For the poor always you will have with you; but you will not always have me ( John 12:7-8 ).
So He made Judas leave her alone.
Many of the Jews therefore knew that he was there: and they came not only for Jesus' sake, but they wanted to see Lazarus also, whom he had raised from the dead. But the chief priests ( John 12:9-10 )
And notice how evil men they are.
they consulted how that they might put Lazarus to death also; because by reason of him many of the Jews went away, and believed on Jesus ( John 12:10-11 ).
So they're going to try and destroy the evidence by killing Lazarus.
The next day many people that were come to the feast, when they heard that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem, took branches off the palm trees, and they went forth to meet him, and cried, Hosanna: Blessed is the King of Israel that comes in the name of the Lord ( John 12:12-13 ).
And so, knowing that Jesus was going to be coming from Bethany, having to come down from the Mount of Olives, they went over to the path that comes from Bethany, down the Mount of Olives, into the Kidron valley to Jerusalem. And as Jesus was coming, they greeted Him, waving the palm branches. And so, we have Palm Sunday, the Sunday before the crucifixion. And they were crying the 118th Psalm, "Hosanna!" "Save now" is what the word means in Hebrew. "Blessed is the King of Israel that comes in the name of the Lord!"
Jesus, when he had found a young ass, sat thereon; as it was written, Fear not, daughter of Zion: behold, thy King cometh, sitting on an ass's colt. These things understood not his disciples at the first: but when Jesus was glorified, then they remembered that these things were written of him, and that they had done these things unto him ( John 12:14-16 ).
Now, John is very honest and very frank here. He said, "You know, we didn't think about it until after He was glorified, and then we thought, 'Oh, wow, remember how we waved the palm branches and He was riding on a donkey? Isn't that what Zachariah said? "Rejoice greatly, O daughters of Jerusalem, behold thy King cometh unto thee, but he is lowly, he is sitting on a donkey, the foal of an ass." Wow!'"
In other words, he is saying, "We weren't trying to deliberately set the stage. We didn't say, 'Now what does the Bible say is supposed to have next? Let's work it out this way.'" It wasn't a deliberate conspiracy to set the stage. It was something they just did, and afterwards they realized, "Wow! We were fulfilling prophecy." And the realization came, but not until after Jesus was glorified. So it wasn't a deliberately staged event as far as the disciples were concerned.
And the people therefore that were with him when he called Lazarus out of the grave, and raised him from the dead, they bare record ( John 12:17 ).
They were telling everybody about it.
For this cause the people also met him, for that they had heard that he had done a great miracle ( John 12:18 ).
I mean, it had really been buzzed, this miracle of the raising of Lazarus from the dead. And so everybody was excited.
The Pharisees therefore said among themselves, Hey, do you realize how we're not prevailing? the whole world is going after him. There were certain Greeks among them that came up to worship at the feast ( John 12:19-20 ):
They could worship from the court of the Gentiles; they could not come in.
And the same came therefore to Philip, who was of Bethsaida of Galilee, and they desired of him, saying, Sir, we would like to see Jesus. And Philip came and told Andrew: and Andrew and Philip came and told Jesus. Jesus answered them, saying, The hour is come, that the Son of man should be glorified. Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abides alone: but if it dies, it brings forth much fruit ( John 12:21-24 ).
What a beautiful picture! You have a little grain of wheat. You set that little grain of wheat here on the pulpit, and you can come back a year from now, and it's still one little grain of wheat sitting there on the pulpit. Come back ten years from now, still one little grain of wheat sitting there on the pulpit. But if you put that little grain of wheat into the ground, it dies. But out of the death comes a new form, a new body, comes the stalk, comes the new kernel or corn of wheat, they call it. And many wheat seeds. And the potential of one wheat seed is tremendous. I read somewhere that if you would take a kernel of corn and plant it, and then take from that one kernel of corn all of the seeds that came off the kernels that grew from the one, plant them. I think it is in ten years that you would have enough corn seed to plant every acre of ground on the face of the earth with corn. Just each year planting everything that came from the one. You see, when God created the plants and all, He said, "Be fruitful, multiply. Fill the earth." And surely, the potential is there. And so, Jesus is using a neat little illustration here, referring to His death. "Look, unless it dies, it stays by itself. But if it dies, it brings forth much fruit." Talking of His death. Through His death, He was going to bring forth much fruit. You included, tonight. Part of the fruit.
And he that loves his life shall lose it; but he that hates his life in this world shall keep it unto life eternal ( John 12:25 ).
He had said earlier, "He who seeks to save his life will lose it; he who will lose his life for My sake, the same will find it or save it." Much the same, loving life. You're going to lose it anyhow. But if you are looking forward to that new life, life eternal.
If any man serve me, let him follow me; and where I am, there shall also my servant be: if any man serve me, him will my Father honor. Now is my soul troubled; what shall I say? Father, save me from this hour: but for this cause came I unto this hour ( John 12:26-27 ).
You remember He kept saying, "My hour is not yet come, My hour is not yet come"? Now He's approaching the hour. And as He's approaching the hour, He's beginning to go through this inner turmoil. "My soul is troubled; what shall I say? 'Father, save me from this hour'?" He's already beginning to enter into some of the agony of the garden. These are the last days; He knows it. In the garden He prayed, "Father, if it's possible, let this cup pass from Me. Nevertheless, not My will, but Thy will be done." Now, even before then, He's going through that turmoil. "Father, save Me from this hour. Yet, it's for this hour that I came into the world. For this cause, that's why I'm here."
Father, glorify thy name ( John 12:28 ).
Oh, this is just as powerful as the prayer in the garden when He said, "If it is possible, let this cup...nevertheless, not My will, Thy will be done." How glorious it is when we submit our ways to God. "God, save Me from this hour; but yet, not so, Lord, You just glorify Your name."
There came a voice from heaven, saying, I have both glorified it, and will glorify it again. And the people therefore that were standing around, and heard it, said that it thundered: others said, No, an angel spoke to him. And Jesus said, This voice did not come for my sake, but for your sake ( John 12:28-30 ).
I don't need this kind of a spectacular demonstration to make Me believe. It wasn't for My sake that this voice came, it was for your sakes.
But now is the judgment of this world: now shall the prince of the world be cast out ( John 12:31 ).
You see, they'd just been saying, "Save now," and He says, "No, it's the judgment of the world; for the prince of the world himself is going to be cast out. He is to be despised and rejected of men."
And I, if I be lifted up ( John 12:32 )
The corn of wheat died, it will bring forth much fruit. If I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me."
This he said, signifying what death he should die ( John 12:33 ).
When He said, "If I be lifted up" He was talking about, "I'm going to be lifted up on a cross. I'm going to die on the cross." And the lifting up was only signifying death on a cross. Unfortunately, many ministers and Christians take this term, "If I be lifted up" as meaning exalting Jesus. "If we just hold Jesus up before people, if we just exalt Jesus, if we just lift Him up before people, He's going to draw everyone unto Him. So, what we must be doing is exalting Jesus before the people and lifting up Jesus before the people, so that all the people will be drawn to Him." That's not what Jesus is saying! And there's even some chorus that is almost blasphemous if you think of it. And it's, "Let's lift Him higher, let's lift Him higher, that all the world might see." You know, He's only talking about death on the cross. The corn of wheat falling into the ground, that it might bring forth much fruit. And not exalting Jesus or lifting Him up before the world. Not referring to that at all, and that's an unfortunate understanding many people have taken, because they didn't read the next verse. They just take this statement of Jesus, "If I be lifted up, I'll draw all men unto Me." "Oh, well then, let's lift Jesus up." No, He's talking about the cross. If I say, "Well, let's lift Jesus up," I'm saying, "Well, let's put Jesus on the cross." So,
This he said, signifying what death he should die. The people answered him, Now we've heard out of the law that the Messiah abides forever: how come you are saying that you've got to be crucified? who, then, is the Son of man? ( John 12:33-34 )
You say, "I'm going to be crucified." Wait a minute! The scriptures say that the Messiah is going to abide forever. "For unto us a child is given, unto us a Son is born, the government shall be upon His shoulders. And the name shall be called 'Wonderful, Counselor, the Mighty God, the Everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace;' and of the increase of His government and peace there shall be no end, the Messiah abides forever." Upon the throne of David to order it and establish it in righteousness and judgment, from henceforth, even forever. For the zeal of the Lord of Hosts shall perform this. How come you say you're going to be crucified if the Messiah abides forever?'
And Jesus said unto them, For a little while the light is with you. Walk while you have the light, lest darkness come upon you: for he that walks in darkness does not know where he's going. While you have the light, believe in the light, that you may be the children of light. And these things spake Jesus, and departed, and did hide himself from them ( John 12:35-36 ).
Now the Pharisees are out to get Him for sure. But yet, He is in control of the events. The crucifixion must take place on Passover in order that He might fulfill in His sacrifice all of the symbolisms of the Passover; the blood of the lamb slain in Egypt on the doorpost, bringing life for those condemned to die. So, it was necessary that the crucifixion take place on Passover, and thus, He hid Himself.
But though he had done so many miracles before them, yet they did not believe on him ( John 12:37 ):
Now, there is a common misconception that if a person could just see a miracle, surely they would believe. Not so; they saw many miracles and they did not believe. In fact, it was a little worse than that. We are told in verse John 12:38 they could not believe.
That the saying of Isaiah the prophet might be fulfilled, which spake, Lord, who hath believed our report? and to whom hath the arm of the Lord been revealed? ( John 12:38 )
Then there in thirty-nine,
Therefore they could not believe, because Isaiah said again, He hath blinded their eyes, and hardened their hearts; that they should not see with their eyes, nor understand with their heart, and be converted, that I should heal them. These things said Isaiah, when he saw his glory, and spoke of him ( John 12:39-41 ).
So, Isaiah prophesied that he would be despised and rejected. "A man of sorrows, acquainted with grief." "Therefore they could not believe." Why could they not believe? That's an interesting statement: "Therefore they could not believe." Even though they saw the miracles, they could not believe.
Jesus warned in the other gospels concerning the unpardonable sin, that of the continual rejection of the Holy Spirit's conviction upon your heart. A person can reject Christ so many times that believing becomes an impossibility. There is a certain law of metaphysics. Our brains are an interesting instrument, and we can create brain patterns, so that a repeated action can create such a pattern in our brain that it's difficult and, at times, impossible to change the pattern that you've established there.
You watch a woman learn to knit and the needles just seem to go everywhere and it's slow, it's tedious. But as she continues to persist, you find that what's happening is you're patterning the brain, you're establishing grooves up here. Until finally, if you've worked with the needles long enough, you see the needles just flying. And she can be talking, watching television or something, and the needles will just be flying. Because the grooves have so planted in the brain that she doesn't really have to think about it. She can just turn on the mode up there..."knit one pearl, two"...and it just goes, and the pattern is set. And so with many things that a repeated action creates the pattern in the brain, and it becomes a very simple thing.
Now, that's why some of you old people have such a problem with Pac Man. You know, you're just too old to get any new grooves going. But you take this little kids--my little grandson, man is he a whiz at Pac Man! You know, he just sits there and he can . . . and I won't even put a quarter in the thing for myself, I give him the quarter and watch him do it. But I'm lousy at that game. But his, I mean, is just automatic response, that little guy's come down and the little Pac Man is going and he can just turn that little guy around and in, and his reflects are just tremendous. The brain has been patterned so well for that stuff. You watch these kids, and it becomes an automatic kind of a response that they have. I mean, they just get into the machine, almost, into the whole thing. And you can pattern your brain so that it gets established in a set.
Now, unfortunately, a person can do that in regards to believing in Jesus Christ. You see, the first you were faced with the claims of Jesus Christ, and you thought, "I wonder, could this be true? Could He really be the Son of God? Can I really have eternal life by believing? Well, I don't know." And it was a tough decision. I mean, it wasn't easy to say "no" to Jesus. It was a very hard decision for you to make. But ultimately, you said, "Well, no, I don't think so, not tonight anyhow."
Now, the next time you were faced with it, you see, by your saying "no" you started a groove. You planted that in your brain and it becomes a permanent part. So the next time you were faced, it was a little easier to say, "Well, I don't think so, not tonight." The groove got a little deeper. And every time you said "no," the groove became deeper and deeper and deeper, until you can be faced now with indisputable evidence, but you can't overcome that brain groove.
This is the condition the Pharisees were in. Here's a man raised from the dead. Evidence they can't deny. They might try to get rid of it by killing him, but they can't deny it. But yet, they could not believe; they had gone too far. They couldn't reverse it at this point.
It is extremely significant that nine-tenths of the decisions that are made for Jesus Christ are made when a person is a teenager. You see, before you get that groove set too deep. Nine-tenths of the decisions are made during the teen ages. As you get older, that old brain groove gets deeper and deeper until, actually, salvation, statistically, becomes an impossibility. But God is a God of grace, and so, we see many times these eighty or ninety-year-old people coming to Jesus. That's a miracle! Statistically, it's impossible, but God isn't bound by statistics. Mathematically, you can show the impossibility of a seventy-year-old person accepting Jesus Christ. But that happens, what can you say? God is a God of miracles. Salvation is a miracle. "But they could not believe."
Now, you remember when Pharaoh hardened his heart. Then finally, God took over and He hardened his heart. God will confirm you in your position. And so, God confirmed them in their positions. They wanted to blind their eyes, they didn't want to see; alright, then God blinded their eyes. They didn't want to believe; alright, then God made firm their decision, He hardened their hearts, that they should not see with their eyes, nor understand with their hearts and be converted, and that they should be healed. So, "These things said Isaiah when he saw His glory and he spoke of Him."
Nevertheless among the chief rulers also many believed on him; but because of the Pharisees they did not confess, lest they should have been put out of the synagogue ( John 12:42 ):
And here is a tragic verse of scripture,
For they loved the praise of men more than the praise of God ( John 12:43 ).
That has been the nemesis of many a person. What a tragedy when it is said of a person, "Well, he loved the praise of men more than the praise of God." You know, "They might not understand me at the club if I spoke out for Jesus Christ." And they loved the praise of men more than the praise of God. What a sad, sad commentary on many people's lives. "I'm more concerned with what people will think of me than I am what God will think of me. I'm more interested in man patting me on the back than I am God patting me on the back. I'm more interested that men should praise me than that God should praise me." They love the praise of men more than the praise of God. That is a very sad case to be in.
And Jesus cried and said, He that believes on me, believes not on me, but upon him who sent me. And he that sees me sees him that sent me ( John 12:44-45 ).
Philip said, "Lord, just show us the Father, we'll be satisfied." And Jesus said, "Philip, have I been so long a time with you, have you not seen me? He who has seen me, has seen the Father. How is it that you say, 'Show us the Father'?" We'll get that next week. "He that sees Me sees Him that sent Me," or sees the Father.
I am come a light into the world, that whosoever believeth on me, should not abide in darkness ( John 12:46 ).
Now, Paul the apostle said, "You are not the children of darkness that the day of the Lord should take you as a thief by surprise, but you're children of the light, therefore walk as children of the light" ( 1 Thessalonians 5:4-5 ) making reference to the statement of Jesus here in John, chapter 12.
If any man hear my words, and believe not, I do not judge him: for I came not to judge the world, but to save the world ( John 12:47 ).
How many times has He said this? "He that believeth not is condemned already. I didn't come to condemn the world, but that the world through Me might be saved." Now, He's referring again. That was at the beginning of His ministry, to Nicodemus in John, the third chapter. "God so loved the world He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved. And he that believeth is not condemned." ( John 3:16-18 ). "I didn't come to judge the world. If a person doesn't believe in Me, I don't judge him. I didn't come to judge, I came to save." Oh, His glorious mission. Not to bring condemnation, not to bring judgment, but to bring salvation to men.
Now, He is coming again, and when He comes again, it will be to judge. But His first coming, the mission was salvation.
He that rejects me, and receives not my words, has one who judges him: and it is the word which I have spoken, the same will judge him in the last day ( John 12:48 ).
When you are judged, you will be judged by the Word of God. Your not believing it, that's what is going to judge you. God has given the witness; you didn't believe it, so the Word of God will judge you. Jesus said, "I'm not going to judge you, the Word that I have spoken, that's what is going to judge you."
For I have not spoken of my own; but the Father which sent me, he gave me a commandment, what I should say and what I should speak. And I know that his commandment is life everlasting: whatsoever I speak therefore, even as the Father said unto me, so I speak ( John 12:49-50 ).
So, "My words that I have spoken, they have come from God, they are going to be the things that judge you. I know that they're true; I know that God has given to me life everlasting." And that's what is going to judge you; you'll be judged by God's Word.
Next week we'll go on into chapters 13 and 14. The fourteenth chapter, in my estimation, is one of the most important chapters in the Bible. Years ago when I was in seminary, I had a professor who said that the fourteenth chapter of John was perhaps one of the most important chapters in the Bible. He said, "You all memorize it." So, I went home and memorized it. And it is an outstanding chapter, and you should commit it to memory. And it's one that's just so full, so rich. We'll be getting into that next week.
And now, may the hand of the Lord be upon your life, to watch over you, to guide you, and to strengthen you for the things that you'll be facing this week. May you just again be open to the things of the Spirit, that God might lead you in His way of righteousness and truth. May the blessings of the Lord be upon you through all of your activities, as you walk with Him in an ever-increasing faith, fellowship and love. In Jesus' name. "
Copyright © 2014, Calvary Chapel of Costa Mesa, Ca.
Smith, Charles Ward. "Commentary on John 12:32". "Chuck Smith Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/csc/john-12.html. 2014.
6. Jesus’ announcement of His death 12:20-36
One example that Jesus was attracting people from other parts of the world follows. These individuals contrast with the Pharisees.
"This rather curious incident is rather peculiar to John. I say ’rather curious’ because it is unusual that we encounter Greeks in a narrative of events at Jerusalem, because the other Evangelists do not mention the incident, and because the Greeks simply say, ’Sir, we would like to see Jesus’ and then disappear from the narrative. Clearly John regards their coming as significant but he does not treat their presence as important. Jesus recognizes in their coming an indication that the climax of his mission has arrived. Immediately when he hears of them he says, ’The hour has come,’ and goes on to speak of his glorification and of death. In this Gospel we see Jesus as the world’s Savior, and evidently John means us to understand that this contact with the Greeks ushered in the climax. The fact that the Greeks had reached the point of wanting to meet Jesus showed that the time had come for him to die for the world. He no longer belongs to Judaism, which in any case has rejected him. But the world, whose Savior he is, awaits him and seeks for him." [Note: Morris, p. 524.]
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Constable, Thomas. DD. "Commentary on John 12:32". "Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/dcc/john-12.html. 2012.
The importance of believing now 12:27-36
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Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Constable, Thomas. DD. "Commentary on John 12:32". "Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/dcc/john-12.html. 2012.
Jesus’ passion would constitute a judgment on the world. The Jews thought they were judging Jesus when they decided to believe or disbelieve on Him. Really their decisions brought divine judgment on themselves. By crucifying Jesus they were condemning themselves. Jesus was not saying that this would be the last judgment on the world. He meant that because of humankind’s rejection of Him God was about to pass judgment on the world for rejecting His Son (cf. Acts 17:30-31).
Jesus’ passion would also result in the casting out of the ruler of this world. This is a title for Satan (John 14:30; John 16:11; cf. Matthew 4:8-9; Luke 4:6-7; 2 Corinthians 4:4; Ephesians 2:2; Ephesians 6:12). The death of Jesus might appear to be a victory for Satan, but really it signaled his doom. The Cross defeated Satan. He only functions as he does now because God permits Him to do so. His eternal destruction is sure even though it is still future (Revelation 20:10). God will cast him out of His presence and out of the earth into the lake of fire forever (cf. Matthew 8:12; Matthew 22:13; Matthew 25:30).
Jesus’ passion would involve His enemies lifting Him up on a cross but also His exaltation to God’s presence. The Cross would bring people to faith in Him, and His exaltation would involve others coming into God’s presence around Him. Jesus’ death, resurrection, and ascension would draw all people without distinction, not all without exception, to Himself.
"Jesus is not affirming that the whole world will be saved; he is affirming that all who are saved are saved in this way. And he is speaking of a universal rather than a narrowly nationalistic religion." [Note: Morris, pp. 531-32.]
All these things would happen "now," not in the eschatological future. They are all the immediate consequences of Jesus’ work on the cross.
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Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Constable, Thomas. DD. "Commentary on John 12:32". "Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/dcc/john-12.html. 2012.
And I, if I be lifted up from the earth,.... The death of Christ is here signified by his being "lifted up from the earth", in allusion to the lifting up of the brazen serpent on the pole; and shows, that his death would not be natural, but violent, and would be public, and not private; and fitly expresses his mediation between God, and men, being lifted up between the heavens and the earth; and points out the death of the cross, as is intimated in the next verse: and the "if" here does not suppose that his death, and the manner of it, were uncertain, for it was determined by God, agreed to by himself, predicted in the Scriptures, signified by types, and foretold by himself, and was necessary for the salvation of his people; but it designs the time of his drawing persons to himself, which is afterwards expressed, and may be rendered, "when I am lifted up", as it is by the Syriac, Arabic, and Persic versions: now when this will be, Christ says,
I will draw all men to me; which is not to be understood of the concourse of people about him, when on the cross, some for him, and others against him, some to bewail him, and others to reproach him; but rather of the gathering of the elect to him, and in him, as their head and representative, when he was crucified for them; or of the collection of them, through the ministry of the apostles, and of their being brought to believe on him for eternal life and salvation: and this drawing of them to him, in consequence of his death, supposes distance from him, want of power, and will, to came to him, and the efficacious grace of God to bring them, though without any force and compulsion; and this is to be understood not of every individual of human nature; for all are not drawn to Christ, or enabled to come to him, and believe in him. There were many of the Jews who would not, and did not come to him for life; and who instead of being drawn to him in this sense, when lifted up on the cross, vilified and reproached him; moreover, in the preceding verse, "a world" is spoken of, whose judgment, or condemnation, was now come; and besides, there was at this time a multitude of souls in hell, who could not, nor never will be, drawn to Christ; and a greater number still there will be at the last day, who, instead of drawing to him in this gracious way and manner, will be bid to depart from him, as having been workers of iniquity. Christ died indeed for all men who are drawn unto him; but this is not true of all men, that are, were, or shall be in the world. Add to this, that the word "men" is not in the text, it is only παντας, "all": Beza's most ancient copy, and some others, and the Vulgate Latin version read παντα, "all things"; and by "all" are meant, all the elect of God, all the children of God, "that were scattered abroad"; the Persic version reads, "I will draw my friends to me"; it designs some of all sorts of men, of every state, condition, age, sex, and nation, Gentiles as well as Jews, and especially the former; which agrees with the ancient prophecy, Genesis 49:10, and with the context, and the occasion of the words, which was the desire of the Greeks, that were come to the feast, to see Jesus; and which was a specimen of the large numbers of them, that should be drawn to Christ, through the preaching of the Gospel, after his death: the Jews say, that in the time to come, or in the days of the Messiah, all the proselytes shall be גרורים, "drawn", shall freely become proselytes e. The allusion here, is to the setting up of a standard or ensign, to gather persons together. Christ's cross is the standard, his love is the banner, and he himself is the ensign, which draw souls to himself, and engage them to enlist themselves under him, and become his volunteers in the day his power; see
e T. Bab. Avoda Zara, fol. 24. 1. & Gloss. in ib.
The New John Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible Modernised and adapted for the computer by Larry Pierce of Online Bible. All Rights Reserved, Larry Pierce, Winterbourne, Ontario.
A printed copy of this work can be ordered from: The Baptist Standard Bearer, 1 Iron Oaks Dr, Paris, AR, 72855
Gill, John. "Commentary on John 12:32". "The New John Gill Exposition of the Entire Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/geb/john-12.html. 1999.
|The Divine Attestation to Christ; Christ's Discourse with the People.|
27 Now is my soul troubled; and what shall I say? Father, save me from this hour: but for this cause came I unto this hour. 28 Father, glorify thy name. Then came there a voice from heaven, saying, I have both glorified it, and will glorify it again. 29 The people therefore, that stood by, and heard it, said that it thundered: others said, An angel spake to him. 30 Jesus answered and said, This voice came not because of me, but for your sakes. 31 Now is the judgment of this world: now shall the prince of this world be cast out. 32 And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me. 33 This he said, signifying what death he should die. 34 The people answered him, We have heard out of the law that Christ abideth for ever: and how sayest thou, The Son of man must be lifted up? who is this Son of man? 35 Then Jesus said unto them, Yet a little while is the light with you. Walk while ye have the light, lest darkness come upon you: for he that walketh in darkness knoweth not whither he goeth. 36 While ye have light, believe in the light, that ye may be the children of light. These things spake Jesus, and departed, and did hide himself from them.
Honour is here done to Christ by his Father in a voice from heaven, occasioned by the following part of his discourse, and which gave occasion to a further conference with the people. In these verses we have,
I. Christ's address to his Father, upon occasion of the trouble which seized his spirit at this time: Now is my soul troubled,John 12:27; John 12:27. A strange word to come from Christ's mouth, and at this time surprising, for it comes in the midst of divers pleasing prospects, in which, one would think, he should have said, Now is my soul pleased. Note, Trouble of soul sometimes follows after great enlargements of spirit. In this world of mixture and change we must expect damps upon our joy, and the highest degree of comfort to be the next degree to trouble. When Paul had been in the third heavens, he had a thorn in the flesh. Observe,
1. Christ's dread of his approaching sufferings: Now is my soul troubled. Now the black and dismal scene began, now were the first throes of the travail of his soul, now his agony began, his soul began to be exceedingly sorrowful. Note, (1.) The sin of our soul was the trouble of Christ's soul, when he undertook to redeem and save us, and to make his soul an offering for our sin. (2.) The trouble of his soul was designed to ease the trouble of our souls; for, after this, he said to his disciples (John 14:1; John 14:1), "Let not your hearts be troubled; why should yours be troubled and mine too?" Our Lord Jesus went on cheerfully in his work, in prospect of the joy set before him, and yet submitted to a trouble of soul. Holy mourning is consistent with spiritual joy, and the way to eternal joy. Christ was now troubled, now in sorrow, now in fear, now for a season; but it would not be so always, it would not be so long. The same is the comfort of Christians in their troubles; they are but for a moment, and will be turned into joy.
2. The strait he seems to be in hereupon, intimated in those words, And what shall I say? This does not imply his consulting with any other, as if he needed advice, but considering with himself what was fit to be said now. When our souls are troubled we must take heed of speaking unadvisedly, but debate with ourselves what we shall say. Christ speaks like one at a loss, as if what he should choose he wot not. There was a struggle between the work he had taken upon him, which required sufferings, and the nature he had taken upon him, which dreaded them; between these two he here pauses with, What shall I say? He looked, and there was none to help, which put him to a stand. Calvin observes this as a great instance of Christ's humiliation, that he should speak thus like one at a loss. Quo se magis exinanivit gloriæ Dominus, eo luculentius habemus erga nos amoris specimen--The more entirely the Lord of glory emptied himself, the brighter is the proof of the love he bore us. Thus he was in all points tempted like as we are, to encourage us, when we know not what to do, to direct our eyes to him.
3. His prayer to God in this strait: Father, save me from this hour, ek tes oras tautes--out of this hour, praying, not so much that it might not come as that he might be brought through it. Save me from this hour; this was the language of innocent nature, and its feelings poured forth in prayer. Note, It is the duty and interest of troubled souls to have recourse to God by faithful and fervent prayer, and in prayer to eye him as a Father. Christ was voluntary in his sufferings, and yet prayed to be saved from them. Note, Prayer against a trouble may very well consist with patience under it and submission to the will of God in it. Observe, He calls his suffering this hour, meaning the expected events of the time now at hand. Hereby he intimates that the time of his suffering was, (1.) A set time, set to an hour, and he knew it. It was said twice before that his hour was not yet come, but it was now so near that he might say it was come. (2.) A short time. An hour is soon over, so were Christ's sufferings; he could see through them to the joy set before him.
4. His acquiescence in his Father's will, notwithstanding. He presently corrects himself, and, as it were, recalls what he had said: But for this cause came I to this hour. Innocent nature got the first word, but divine wisdom and love got the last. Note, those who would proceed regularly must go upon second thoughts. The complainant speaks first; but, if we would judge righteously, we must hear the other side. With the second thought he checked himself: For this cause came I to this hour; he does not silence himself with this, that he could not avoid it, there was no remedy; but satisfies himself with this, that he would not avoid it, for it was pursuant to his own voluntary engagement, and was to be the crown of his whole undertaking; should he now fly off, this would frustrate all that had been done hitherto. Reference is here had to the divine counsels concerning his sufferings, by virtue of which it behoved him thus to submit and suffer. Note, This should reconcile us to the darkest hours of our lives, that we were all along designed for them; see 1 Thessalonians 3:3.
5. His regard to his Father's honour herein. Upon the withdrawing of his former petition, he presents another, which he will abide by: Father, glorify thy name, to the same purport with Father, thy will be done; for God's will is for his own glory. This expresses more than barely a submission to the will of God; it is a consecration of his sufferings to the glory of God. It was a mediatorial word, and was spoken by him as our surety, who had undertaken to satisfy divine justice for our sin. The wrong which by sin we have done to God is in his glory, his declarative glory; for in nothing else are we capable of doing him injury. We were never able to make him satisfaction for this wrong done him, nor any creature for us; nothing therefore remained but that God should get him honour upon us in our utter ruin. Here therefore our Lord Jesus interposed, undertook to satisfy God's injured honour, and he did it by his humiliation; he denied himself in, and divested himself of, the honours due to the Son of God incarnate, and submitted to the greatest reproach. Now here he makes a tender of this satisfaction as an equivalent: "Father, glorify thy name; let thy justice be honoured upon the sacrifice, not upon the sinner; let the debt be levied upon me, I am solvent, the principal is not." Thus he restored that which he took not away.
II. The Father's answer to this address; for he heard him always, and does still. Observe, 1. How this answer was given. By a voice from heaven. The Jews speak much of a Bath-kôl--the daughter of a voice, as one of those divers manners by which God in time past spoke to the prophets; but we do not find any instance of his speaking thus to any but to our Lord Jesus; it was an honour reserved for him (Matthew 3:17; Matthew 17:5), and here, probably, this audible voice was introduced by some visible appearance, either of light or darkness, for both have been used as vehicles of the divine glory. 2. What the answer was. It was an express return to that petition, Father, glorify thy name: I have glorified it already, and I will glorify it yet again. When we pray as we are taught, Our Father, hallowed be thy name, this is a comfort to us, that is it an answered prayer; answered to Christ here, and in him to all true believers. (1.) The name of God had been glorified in the life of Christ, in his doctrine and miracles, and all the examples he gave of holiness and goodness. (2.) It should be further glorified in the death and sufferings of Christ. His wisdom and power, his justice and holiness, his truth and goodness, were greatly glorified; the demands of a broken law were fully answered; the affront done to God's government satisfied for; and God accepted the satisfaction, and declared himself well pleased. What God has done for the glorifying of his own name is an encouragement to us to expect what he will yet further do. He that has secured the interests of his own glory will still secure them.
III. The opinion of the standers-by concerning this voice, John 12:29; John 12:29. We may hope there were some among them whose minds were so well prepared to receive a divine revelation that they understood what was said and bore record of it. But notice is here taken of the perverse suggestion of the multitude: some of them said that it thundered: others, who took notice that there was plainly an articulate intelligible voice, said that certainly an angel spoke to him. Now this shows, 1. That it was a real thing, even in the judgment of those that were not at all well affected to him. 2. That they were loth to admit so plain a proof of Christ's divine mission. They would rather say that it was this, or that, or any thing, than that God spoke to him in answer to his prayer; and yet, if it thundered with articulate sounds (as Revelation 10:3; Revelation 10:4), was not that God's voice? Or, if angels spoke to him, are not they God's messengers? But thus God speaks once, yea twice, and man perceives it not.
IV. The account which our Saviour himself gives of this voice.
1. Why it was sent (John 12:30; John 12:30): "It came not because of me, not merely for my encouragement and satisfaction" (then it might have been whispered in his ear privately), "but for your sakes." (1.) "That all you who heard it may believe that the Father hath sent me." What is said from heaven concerning our Lord Jesus, and the glorifying of the Father in him, is said for our sakes, that we may be brought to submit to him and rest upon him. (2.) "That you my disciples, who are to follow me in sufferings, may therein be comforted with the same comforts that carry me on." Let this encourage them to part with life itself for his sake, if they be called to it, that it will redound to the honour of God. Note, The promises and supports granted to our Lord Jesus in his sufferings were intended for our sakes. For our sakes he sanctified himself, and comforted himself.
2. What was the meaning of it. He that lay in the Father's bosom knew his voice, and what was the meaning of it; and two things God intended when he said that he would glorify his own name:--
(1.) That by the death of Christ Satan should be conquered (John 12:31; John 12:31): Now is the judgment. He speaks with a divine exultation and triumph. "Now the year of my redeemed is come, and the time prefixed for breaking the serpent's head, and giving a total rent to the powers of darkness; now for that glorious achievement: now, now, that great work is to be done which has been so long thought of in the divine counsels, so long talked of in the written word, which has been so much the hope of saints and the dread of devils." The matter of the triumph is, [1.] That now is the judgment of the world; krisis, take it as a medical term: "Now is the crisis of this world." The sick and diseased world is now upon the turning point; this is the critical day upon which the trembling scale will turn for life or death, to all mankind; all that are not recovered by this will be left helpless and hopeless. Or, rather, it is a law term, as we take it: "Now, judgment is entered, in order to the taking out of execution against the prince of this world." Note, The death of Christ was the judgment of this world. First, It is a judgment of discovery and distinction--judicium discretionis; so Austin. Now is the trial of this world, for men shall have their character according as the cross of Christ is to them; to some it is foolishness and a stumbling-block, to others it is the wisdom and power of God; of which there was a figure in the two thieves that were crucified with him. By this men are judged, what they think of the death of Christ. Secondly, It is a judgment of favour and absolution to the chosen ones that are in the world. Christ upon the cross interposed between a righteous God and a guilty world as a sacrifice for sin and a surety for sinners, so that when he was judged, and iniquity laid upon him, and he was wounded for our transgressions, it was as it were the judgment of this world, for an everlasting righteousness was thereby brought in, not for Jews only, but the whole world, 1 John 2:1; 1 John 2:2; Daniel 9:24. Thirdly, It is a judgment of condemnation given against the powers of darkness; see John 16:11; John 16:11. Judgment is put for vindication and deliverance, the asserting of an invaded right. At the death of Christ there was a famous trial between Christ and Satan, the serpent and the promised seed; the trial was for the world, and the lordship of it; the devil had long borne sway among the children of men, time out of mind; he now pleads prescription, grounding his claim also upon the forfeiture incurred by sin. We find him willing to have come to a composition (Luke 4:6; Luke 4:7); he would have given the kingdoms of this world to Christ, provided he would hold them by, from, and under him. But Christ would try it out with; by dying he takes off the forfeiture to divine justice, and then fairly disputes the title, and recovers it in the court of heaven. Satan's dominion is declared to be a usurpation, and the world adjudged to the Lord Jesus as his right, Psalms 2:6; Psalms 2:8. The judgment of this world is, that it belongs to Christ, and not to Satan; to Christ therefore let us all atturn tenants. [2.] That now is the prince of this world cast out. First, It is the devil that is here called the prince of this world, because he rules over the men of the world by the things of the world; he is the ruler of the darkness of this world, that is, of this dark world, of those in it that walk in darkness,2 Corinthians 4:4; Ephesians 4:12. Secondly, He is said to be cast out, to be now cast out; for, whatever had been done hitherto towards the weakening of the devil's kingdom was done in the virtue of a Christ to come, and therefore is said to be done now. Christ, reconciling the world to God by the merit of his death, broke the power of death, and cast out Satan as a destroyer; Christ, reducing the world to God by the doctrine of his cross, broke the power of sin, and cast out Satan as a deceiver. The bruising of his heel was the breaking of the serpent's head, Genesis 3:15. When his oracles were silenced, his temples forsaken, his idols famished, and the kingdoms of the world became Christ's kingdoms, then was the prince of the world cast out, as appears by comparing this with John's vision (Revelation 12:8-11), where it is said to be done by the blood of the Lamb. Christ's frequent casting of devils out of the bodies of people was an indication of the great design of his whole undertaking. Observe, With what assurance Christ here speaks of the victory over Satan; it is as good as done, and even when he yields to death he triumphs over it.
(2.) That by the death of Christ souls should be converted, and this would be the casting out of Satan (John 12:32; John 12:32): If I be lifted up from the earth, I will draw all men unto me. Here observe two things:--
[1.] The great design of our Lord Jesus, which was to draw all men to him, not the Jews only, who had been long in a profession a people near to God, but the Gentiles also, who had been afar off; for he was to be the desire of all nations (Haggai 2:7), and to him must the gathering of the people be. That which his enemies dreaded was that the world would go after him; and he would draw them to him, notwithstanding their opposition. Observe here how Christ himself is all in all in the conversion of a soul. First, It is Christ that draws: I will draw. It is sometimes ascribed to the Father (John 6:44; John 6:44), but here to the Son, who is the arm of the Lord. He does not drive by force, but draws with the cords of a man (Hosea 11:4; Jeremiah 31:3), draws as the loadstone; the soul is made willing, but it is in a day of power. Secondly, It is to Christ that we are drawn: "I will draw them to me as the centre of their unity." The soul that was at a distance from Christ is brought into an acquaintance with him, he that was shy and distrustful of him is brought to love him and trust in him,--drawn up to his terms, into his arms. Christ was now going to heaven, and he would draw men's hearts to him thither.
[2.] The strange method he took to accomplish his design by being lifted up from the earth. What he meant by this, to prevent mistake, we are told (John 12:33; John 12:33): This he spoke signifying by what death he should die, the death of the cross, though they had designed and attempted to stone him to death. He that was crucified was first nailed to the cross, and then lifted up upon it. He was lifted up as a spectacle to the world; lifted up between heaven and earth, as unworthy of either; yet the word here used signifies an honourable advancement, ean hypsotho--If I be exalted; he reckoned his sufferings his honour. Whatever death we die, if we die in Christ we shall be lifted up out of this dungeon, this den of lions, into the regions of light and love. We should learn of our Master to speak of dying with a holy pleasantness, and to say, "We shall then be lifted up." Now Christ's drawing all men to him followed his being lifted up from the earth. First, It followed after it in time. The great increase of the church was after the death of Christ; while Christ lived, we read of thousands at a sermon miraculously fed, but after his death we read of thousands at a sermon added to the church. Israel began to multiply in Egypt after the death of Joseph. Secondly, It followed upon it as a blessed consequence of it. Note, There is a powerful virtue and efficacy in the death of Christ to draw souls to him. The cross of Christ, though to some a stumbling-stone, is to others a loadstone. Some make it an allusion to the drawing of fish into a net; the lifting up of Christ was as the spreading of the net (Matthew 13:47; Matthew 13:48); or to the setting up of a standard, which draws soldiers together; or, rather, it refers to the lifting up of the brazen serpent in the wilderness, which drew all those to it who were stung with fiery serpents, as soon as ever it was known that it was lifted up, and there was healing virtue in it. O what flocking was there to it! So there was to Christ, when salvation through him was preached to all nations; see John 3:14; John 3:15. Perhaps it has some reference to the posture in which Christ was crucified, with his arms stretched out, to invite all to him, and embrace all that come. Those that put Christ to that ignominious death thought thereby to drive all men from him; but the devil was outshot in his own bow. Out of the eater came forth meat.
V. The people's exception against what he said, and their cavil at it, John 12:34; John 12:34. Though they had heard the voice from heaven, and the gracious words that proceeded out of his mouth, yet they object, and pick quarrels with him. Christ had called himself the Son of man (John 12:23; John 12:23), which they knew to be one of the titles of the Messiah, Daniel 7:13. He had also said that the Son of man must be lifted up, which they understood of his dying, and probably he explained himself so, and some think he repeated what he said to Nicodemus (John 3:14; John 3:14), So must the Son of man be lifted up. Now against this,
1. They alleged those scriptures of the Old Testament which speak of the perpetuity of the Messiah, that he should be so far from being cut off in the midst of his days that he should be a priest for ever (Psalms 110:4), and a king for ever (Psalms 89:29, c.), that he should have length of days for ever and ever, and his years as many generations (Psalms 21:4; Psalms 61:6), from all which they inferred that the Messiah should not die. Thus great knowledge in the letter of the scripture, if the heart be unsanctified, is capable of being abused to serve the cause of infidelity, and to fight against Christianity with its own weapons. Their perverseness in opposing this to what Jesus had said will appear if we consider, (1.) That, when they vouched the scripture to prove that the Messiah abideth for ever, they took no notice of those texts which speak of the Messiah's death and sufferings: they had heard out of the law that Messiah abideth for ever; and had they never heard out of the law that Messiah should be cut off (Daniel 9:26), and that he should pour out his soul unto death (Isaiah 53:12), and particularly that his hands and feet should be pierced? Why then do they make so strange of the lifting up of the Son of man? Note, We often run into great mistakes, and then defend them with scripture arguments, by putting those things asunder which God in his word has put together, and opposing one truth under pretence of supporting another. We have heard out of the gospel that which exalts free grace, we have heard also that which enjoins duty, and we just cordially embrace both, and not separate them, nor set them at variance. (2.) That, when they opposed what Christ said concerning the sufferings of the Son of man, they took no notice of what he had said concerning his glory and exaltation. They had heard out of the law that Christ abideth for ever; and had they not heard our Lord Jesus say that he should be glorified, that he should bring forth much fruit, and draw all men to him? Had he not just now promised immortal honours to his followers, which supposed his abiding for ever? But this they overlooked. Thus unfair disputants oppose some parts of the opinion of an adversary, to which, if they would but take it entire, they could not but subscribe; and in the doctrine of Christ there are paradoxes, which to men of corrupt minds are stones of stumbling--as Christ crucified, and yet glorified; lifted up from the earth, and yet drawing all men to him.
2. They asked hereupon, Who is the Son of man? This they asked, not with a desire to be instructed, but tauntingly and insultingly, as if now they had baffled him, and run him down. "Thou sayest, The Son of man must die; we have proved the Messiah must not, and where is then thy Messiahship? This Son of man, as thou callest thyself, cannot be the Messiah, thou must therefore think of something else to pretend to." Now that which prejudiced them against Christ was his meanness and poverty; they would rather have no Christ than a suffering one.
VI. What Christ said to this exception, or rather what he said upon it. The objection was a perfect cavil; they might, if they pleased, answer it themselves: man dies, and yet is immortal, and abideth for ever, so the Son of man. Therefore, instead of answering these fools according to their folly, he gives them a serious caution to take heed of trifling away the day of their opportunities in such vain and fruitless cavils as these (John 12:35; John 12:36): "Yet a little while, and but a little while, is the light with you; therefore be wise for yourselves, and walk while you have the light."
1. In general, we may observe here, (1.) The concern Christ has for the souls of men, and his desire of their welfare. With what tenderness does he here admonish those to look well to themselves who were contriving ill against him! Even when he endured the contradiction of sinners, he sought their conversion. See Proverbs 29:10. (2.) The method he takes with these objectors, with meekness instructing those that opposed themselves,2 Timothy 2:25. Were but men's consciences awakened with a due concern about their everlasting state, and did they consider how little time they have to spend, and none to spare, they would not waste precious thoughts and time in trifling cavils.
2. Particularly we have here,
(1.) The advantage they enjoyed in having Christ and his gospel among them, with the shortness and uncertainty of their enjoyment of it: Yet a little while is the light with you. Christ is this light; and some of the ancients suggest that, in calling himself the light, he gives a tacit answer to their objection. His dying upon the cross was as consistent with his abiding for ever as the setting of the sun every night is with his perpetuity. The duration of Christ's kingdom is compared to that of the sun and moon, Psalms 72:17; Psalms 89:36; Psalms 89:37. The ordinances of heaven are unchangeably fixed, and yet the sun and moon set and are eclipsed; so Christ the Sun of righteousness abides for ever, and yet was eclipsed by his sufferings, and was but a little while within our horizon. Now, [1.] The Jews at this time had the light with them; they had Christ's bodily presence, heard his preaching, saw his miracles. The scripture is to us a light shining in a dark place. [2.] It was to be but a little while with them; Christ would shortly leave them, their visible church state would soon after be dissolved and the kingdom of God taken from them, and blindness and hardness would happen unto Israel. Note, It is good for us all to consider what a little while we are to have the light with us. Time is short, and perhaps opportunity not so long. The candlestick may be removed; at least, we must be removed shortly. Yet a little while is the light of life with us; yet a little while is the light of the gospel with us, the day of grace, the means of grace, the Spirit of grace, yet a very little while.
(2.) The warning given them to make the best of this privilege while they enjoyed it, because of the danger they were in of losing it: Walk while you have the light; as travellers who make the best of their way forward, that they may not be benighted in their journey, because travelling in the night is uncomfortable and unsafe. "Come," say they, "let us mend our pace, and get forward, while we have day-light." Thus wise should we be for our souls who are journeying towards eternity. Note, [1.] It is our business to walk, to press forward towards heaven, and to get nearer to it by being made fitter for it. Our life is but a day, and we have a day's journey to go. [2.] The best time of walking is while we have the light. The day is the proper season for work, as the night is for rest. The proper time for getting grace is when we have the word of grace preached to us, and the Spirit of grace striving with us, and therefore then is the time to be busy. [3.] We are highly concerned thus to improve our opportunities, for fear lest our day be finished before we have finished our day's work and our day's journey: "Lest darkness come upon you, lest you lose your opportunities, and can neither recover them nor despatch the business you have to do without them." Then darkness comes, that is, such an utter incapacity to make sure the great salvation as renders the state of the careless sinner quite deplorable; so that, if his work be undone then, it is likely to be undone for ever.
(3.) The sad condition of those who have sinned away the gospel, and are come to the period of their day of grace. They walk in darkness, and know neither where they go, nor whither they go; neither the way they are walking in, nor the end they are walking towards. He that is destitute of the light of the gospel, and is not acquainted with its discoveries and directions, wanders endlessly in mistakes and errors, and a thousand crooked paths, and is not aware of it. Set aside the instructions of the Christian doctrine, and we know little of the difference between good and evil. He is going to destruction, and knows not his danger, for he is either sleeping or dancing at the pit's brink.
(4.) The great duty and interest of every one of us inferred from all this (John 12:36; John 12:36): While you have light, believe in the light. The Jews had now Christ's presence with them, let them improve it; afterwards they had the first offers of the gospel made to them by the apostles wherever they came; now this is an admonition to them not to out-stand their market, but to accept the offer when it was made to them: the same Christ saith to all who enjoy the gospel. Note, [1.] It is the duty of every one of us to believe in the gospel light, to receive it as a divine light, to subscribe to the truths it discovers, for it is a light to our eyes, and to follow its guidance, for it is a light to our feet. Christ is the light, and we must believe in him as he is revealed to us; as a true light that will not deceive us, a sure light that will not misguide us. [2.] We are concerned to do this while we have the light, to lay hold on Christ while we have the gospel to show us the way to him and direct us in that way. [3.] Those that believe in the light shall be the children of light; they shall be owned as Christians, who are called children of light (Luke 16:8; Ephesians 5:8) and of the day, 1 Thessalonians 5:5. Those that have God for their Father are children of light, for God is light; they are born from above, and heirs of heaven, and children of light, for heaven is light.
VII. Christ's retiring from them, hereupon: These things spoke Jesus, and said no more at this time, but left this to their consideration, and departed, and did hide himself from them. And this he did, 1. For their conviction and awakening. If they will not regard what he hath said, he will have nothing more to say to them. They are joined to their infidelity, as Ephraim to idols; let them alone. Note, Christ justly removes the means of grace from those that quarrel with him, and hides his face from a froward generation,Deuteronomy 32:20. 2. For his own preservation. He hid himself from their rage and fury, retreating, it is probable, to Bethany, where he lodged. By this it appears that what he said irritated and exasperated them, and they were made worse by that which should have made them better.
These files are public domain and are a derivative of an electronic edition that is available on the Christian Classics Ethereal Library Website.
Henry, Matthew. "Complete Commentary on John 12:32". "Matthew Henry Complete Commentary on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/mhm/john-12.html. 1706.
Christ Lifted Up
July 5, 1857
C. H. SPURGEON (1834-1892)
Revised Text copyright © Tony Capoccia, 1999
"I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to myself."- John 12:32
This sermon, preached by Tony Capoccia, is now available on Audio CD or MP3:
It was on an extraordinary occasion when the Savior uttered these words. It was the crisis of the world. We very often speak of the "present crisis of the world," and it is very common for persons of every period to believe their own age to be the crisis and turning point of the whole world's history. They correctly imagine that very much of the future depends upon their present exertions; but they wrongly stretch the thought, and imagine that the period of their existence is the very hinge of the history of the world: that it is the crisis.
Now, however it may be correct, in a modified sense, that every period of time is in some sense a crisis, yet there never was a time which could be truly called a crisis, in comparison with the time when our Savior spoke. In the 31st verse, immediately preceding my text, we find in the English translation, "Now is the time for judgment on this world" but we find in the Greek, "Now is the crisis of this world." The world had come to a solemn crisis: now was the great turning point of all the world's history. Should Christ die, or should he not? If he would refuse the bitter cup of agony, the world is doomed, if he would continue onward, do battle with the powers of death and hell! and come off a victor, then the world is blessed, and her future will be glorious. Will he succumb? Then is the world crushed and ruined beneath the trail of the old serpent. Will he conquer? Will he "lead captives in his train and give gifts to men?" Then this world will yet see times when there will be "a new heaven and a new earth, where righteousness will dwell." "Now is the crisis of this world!" "The crisis," Jesus says, "is two-fold. Dealing with Satan and men. I will tell you the result of it. 'The prince of this world be driven out.' Do not fear that hell will conquer. I will cast him out; and, on the other hand do not doubt that I will be victorious over the hearts of men. 'I, when I am lifted up, will draw all men to myself.'" Remembering the occasion upon which these words were uttered, we will now proceed to a discussion of them.
We have three things to notice:
1. Christ crucified, Christ's glory. He calls it a lifting him up.
2. Christ crucified, the minister's theme. It is the minister's business to lift Christ up in the gospel. 3. Christ crucified, the heart's attraction. "I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to myself."
His own glory-the minister's theme-the heart's attraction.
I. I begin then: CHRIST'S CRUCIFIXION IS CHRIST'S GLORY.
He uses the word "lifted up" to express the manner of his death. "I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to myself. He said this to show the kind of death he was going to die." But notice the choice of the word to express his death. He does not say, I, when I am crucified, I, when I am hung on the tree; no, but "I, when I am lifted up:" and in the Greek there is the meaning of exaltation. "I, when I am exalted-I , when I am lifted up on high." He took the outward and visible fashion of the cross, it being a lifting of him up, to be the type and symbol of the glory with which the cross would give to him. "I, when I am lifted up."
Now, the cross of Christ is Christ's glory.
We will show you how. Man seeks to win his glory by the slaughter of others-Christ by the slaughter of himself: men seek to get crowns of gold-he sought a crown of thorns: men think that glory lies in being exalted over others-Christ thought that his glory lies in becoming "a worm, and not a man; a reproach of men, and despised of the people." He stooped when he conquered; and he counted that the glory lay as much in the stooping as in the conquest.
Christ was first glorified on the cross, because love is always glorious.
If I might prefer any glory, I should ask to be beloved by men. Surely, the greatest glory that a man can have among his fellows is not that of mere admiration, when the throngs stare at him as he passes through the street, riding in his triumph; no the greatest fame, the greatest glory of a patriot is the love of his country-to feel that men and women, young and old, are prepared to fall at his feet in love, to give up all they have to serve him who has served them. Now, Christ won more love by the cross than he ever won elsewhere. O Lord Jesus, you never would have been so much loved, if you had sat in heaven forever, as you are loved now since you have stooped to death. No cherubim, or seraphim, or angels dressed in light, could ever have loved with hearts so warm as your redeemed above, or even your redeemed below. You won more abundant love by the nail than by your scepter. Your open side brought you the fullness of love, for your people love you with all their hearts. Christ won glory by his cross. He was never so lifted up as when he was cast down; and the Christian will bear witness, that though he loves his Master for all that He has done, yet nothing moves his heart to rapture and passion of love, like the story of the crucifixion and the agonies of Calvary.
Again: Christ at the cross won a great deal of glory by fortitude.
The cross was a trial of Christ's fortitude and strength, and it was a garden in which his glory was planted. The laurels of his crown were sown in a soil that was saturated with his own blood. Sometimes the ambitious soldier pants for battle, because in days of peace he cannot distinguish himself. "Here I sit," he says, "and my sword rusts in my scabbard, and I win no glory; let me rush to the cannon's mouth; though some call honor a faded trinket, it may be so, yet I am a soldier, and I want it" and he pants for the encounter that he may win glory. Now, in an infinitely higher sense than that poor glory which the soldier gets, Christ looked upon the cross as being his way to honor. "Oh!" he said, "now will be the time of my endurance: I have suffered much, but I will suffer more, and then will the world see what a strong heart of love I have; how patient is the Lamb, how mighty to endure." Christ would have had such joyous songs of praise and such songs of honor, if he would have avoided the conflict, and the battle, and the agony. We might have blessed him for what he is and for what he wished to do; we might have loved him for the very longings of his heart but we could never have praised him for his strong endurance, for his intrepid spirit, for his unconquerable love, if we had not seen him put to the severe test of crucifixion and the agonies of that awful day. Christ did win the glory by his being crucified.
Again: Christ looked upon his crucifixion as the completion of all his work, and therefore he looked upon it as an exaltation.
The completion of an enterprise is the harvest of its honor. Though thousands have perished in the arctic regions, and have obtained fame for their intrepid conduct, yet, my friends, the man who finally discovers the passage is the one honored most of all; and though we will forever remember those bold men who pushed their way through winter in all its might, and dared the perils of the deep, yet the man who accomplishes the deed wins more than his share of the glory. Surely the accomplishment of an enterprise is just the point where the honor hangs. And, my listeners, Christ longed for the cross, because he looked for it as the goal of all his exertions. It was to be the place upon which he could say, "It is finished." He could never say "It is finished" on his throne: but on his cross he cried it out. He preferred the sufferings of Calvary to the honors of the multitude who crowded around him; for, preach as he might, and bless them as he might, and heal them as he might, still his work was not finished. He was restricted; he had a baptism to be baptized with, and he was restricted until it was accomplished. "But," he said, "now I pant for my cross, for it is the crowning achievement of my labor. I long for my sufferings, because they will be the completion of my great work of grace." Brethren, it is the end that brings the honor; it is the victory that crowns the warrior rather than the battle. And so Christ longed for this, his death, that he might see the completion of his labor. "Yes," he said, "I am crucified, I am exalted, and I am lifted up."
And, once again, Christ looked upon his crucifixion with the eye of firm faith as the hour of triumph.
His disciples thought that the cross would be a degradation; Christ looked through the outward and visible, and beheld the spiritual. "The cross," Jesus said, "the gallows of my doom may seem to be cursed with shame, and the world will stand around and hiss at the crucified; my name will be forever dishonored, by the world, as one who died upon the cross of shame; and critics and scoffers may forever throw this in the teeth of my friends that I died with criminals; but I do not look not at the cross as they do. I know its disgrace, but I do not despise the shame-I am prepared to endure it all. I look upon the cross as the gate of triumph, as the portal of victory. Oh, let me tell you what I will see upon the cross?-just when my eyes are swimming with the last tear, and when my heart is throbbing with its last beat; just when my body is torn with its last pain of anguish, then my eyes will see the head of the dragon broken, it will see hell's towers dismantled and its castle fallen. My eyes will see my elect ones eternally saved, I will see the prisoners of sin and death ransomed and coming from their prisons. In that last moment of my doom, when my mouth is just preparing for its last cry of 'It is finished;' I will see the year of my redeemed come, I will shout my triumph of the delivery of all my beloved! Yes, and I will see then, the world, my own earth conquered, and usurpers all dethroned, and I will see in a vision the glories of the last days, when I will sit upon the throne of my father David and judge the earth, attended with the pomp of angels and the shouts of my beloved!"
Yes, my brothers and sisters, Christ saw in his cross the victories of it, and therefore he panted and longed for it as being the place of victory and the means of conquest. "I," said Jesus, "if I am lifted up, if I am exalted," he puts his crucifixion as being his glory. This is the first point of our text.
II. But, now, secondly, CHRIST HAS ANOTHER LIFTING UP, not disgraceful, but truly honorable; there is a lifting of him upon the pole of the gospel, in the preaching of the Word.
Christ Jesus is to be lifted up every day; for that purpose he came into the world: "Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the desert," even so Jesus might by the preaching of the truth be lifted up, "that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life."
Christ is THE MINISTER'S GREAT THEME, in opposition to a thousand other things which most men choose. I would prefer that the most prominent feature in my ministry should be the preaching of Christ Jesus.
Christ should be most prominent, not hell and damnation.
God's ministers must preach God's terrors as well as God's mercies; we are to preach the thunder of God's law. If men will sin, we are to tell them that they must be punished for it. If they will transgress, woe to the preacher who is ashamed to say, "The Lord will come and punish." We would be unfaithful to the solemn charge which God has given us if we were to wickedly stifle all the threats of God's word. Does God say, "The wicked will be thrown into hell, with all the nations that forget God?" It is our business to say so. Did the loving Savior talk of the pit that burns, of the worm that never dies, and of the fire that can never be extinguished? It is ours responsibility to speak as he spoke, and not to minimize the threat. You do not show mercy to men by hiding their doom.
But, my brethren, terrors never ought to be the prominent feature of a minister's preaching. Many great old preachers thought they would do a great deal of good by preaching like this. I do not believe it. Some souls are awakened and terrified by such preaching; they however, are but few. Sometimes, the solemn and sacred mysteries of eternal wrath must be preached, but more often let us preach the wondrous love of God. There are more souls won by wooing than by threatening. It is not hell, but Christ, we desire to preach. O sinners, we are not afraid to tell you of your doom, but we do not choose to be forever dwelling on that mournful theme. We would rather love to tell you of Christ, and him crucified. We want to have our preaching full of the frankincense of the merits of Christ than of the smoke, and fire, and terrors of Mount Sinai, we have not come to Mount Sinai, but to Mount Zion-where milder words declare the will of God, and rivers of salvation are abundantly flowing.
Again, the theme of a minister should be Christ Jesus in opposition to mere doctrine.
Some of my good brethren are always preaching doctrine. Well, they are right in doing so, but I would not care myself to have as the characteristic of my preaching, doctrine only. I would rather have it said, "He preached mostly upon the person of Christ, and seemed most pleased when he began to tell about the atonement and the sacrifice. He was not ashamed of the doctrines, he was not afraid to declare the coming wrath, but he seemed as if he preached the wrath with tears in his eyes, and the doctrine solemnly as God's own word; but when he preached of Jesus his tongue was set free, and his heart was at liberty."
Brethren, there are some men who preach only doctrine, and they end up damaging God's church rather than bringing it a blessing. I know of men who have set themselves up as umpires over all spirits. They are the men. Wisdom will die with them. If they were taken away the great standard of truth would be removed. We do not wonder that they hate the Pope, two of a trade never agree, for they are far more of a Pope than he, they consider themselves infallible. I am afraid that very much of the soundness of this age, is but a mere sound, and is not real; it does not enter into the center of the heart, nor affect the person. Brethren, we would rather preach Christ than election. We love election, we love predestination, we love the great doctrines of God's word, but we would rather preach Christ than preach these. We desire to put Christ over the head of the doctrine, we make the doctrine the throne for Christ to sit on, but we dare not put Christ at the bottom, and then press him down, and overload him with the doctrines of his own word.
Again, the minister ought to preach Christ in opposition to mere morality.
How many ministers in London could preach as well out of Shakespeare as out the Bible, for all they want is a moral saying. These ministers never thinks of mentioning regeneration. They sometimes talks of moral renovation. They do not think of talking about perseverance by grace. No, continuance in doing good is his perpetual cry. They do not think of preaching "believe and be saved." No; their continual exhortation is, "Good Christian people, say your prayers, and behave well, and by these means you will enter the kingdom of heaven." The sum and substance of their gospel is that we can do very well without Christ, that although certainly there is a little wrong in us, yet if we just mend our ways in some little degree, that old text, "except a man be born again," need not trouble us.
If you want to be become drunkards, if you want to be become dishonest, if you want to be taught every vice in the world, go and hear a moral preacher. These gentlemen, in their attempts to reform and make people moral, are the very men that lead the people away from morality. Listen to the testimony of that holy minister Lavington, "We have long been attempting to reform the nation by moral preaching. With what effect! None. On the contrary, we have skillfully preached the people into downright infidelity. We must change our voice; we must preach Christ and him crucified; nothing but the gospel is the power of God unto salvation."
And yet one more remark. The minister ought to preach Christ in opposition to some who think they ought to preach knowledge.
God forbid we should ever preach against knowledge. The more of it a man can get, the better for him; and the better for his listeners if he has grace enough to use it well, but there are some who have so much of knowledge, that if in the course of their readings they find a very hard word, out comes the pencil: they jot it down, to be glorified in the next Sunday morning's sermon. Do they find some outlandish German expression, which, if pulled to pieces, would mean nothing, but which looks as if it must be something wonderful, that must always come out, even at the expense of the gospel. You ought to pray to God that they may never be allowed to read anything but their Bibles all week long, because then you might hear something you could understand: but this would not suit him, if he could be understood, he would not be a great preacher, for a great preacher, according to the opinion of some, is a man who is called intellectual-that is to say, a man who knows more about the Bible than the Bible knows about itself, a man who can explain all mysteries by mere intellect, who laughs at zeal or passion, or the influence of God's Spirit as being nothing but mere fanaticism. Intellect with him is everything. You sit and hear him, you go out, "Dear me, what a remarkable man he is. I suppose he made something out of the text, but I did not know what it was. He seemed to me to be in a fog himself, although I admit it was an extremely luminous haze." Then people will go again to hear him, because they say he is such a clever man. The only reason is because they cannot understand him.
The other day I was reading a book that was giving advice to ministers, I found it stated, and very seriously too, by some good old tutor of a college, "Always have one part of your sermon which the common people cannot comprehend, because in that way you will have a name for knowledge, and what you say that they can understand, will impress them even more, for by putting in a sentence or two which is incomprehensible, you at once strike their minds as being a superior man, and they believe in the weight and the authority of your knowledge, and therefore, give credence to the rest which they can comprehend."
Now, I contend that is all wrong. Christ does not want us to preach knowledge, but to preach the Word of God in the simplest possible manner. Why, if I could only get the highly refined and educated to listen to me, by preaching to them so that they alone could understand me, well I wouldn't do it. I desire to preach so that the maidservant can understand, that the common laborer can understand, that the poor and illiterate may eagerly listen and gladly receive the word. And note this, there never will be much good come to the ministry until it is simplified, until our brethren learn one language, which they do not seem to know. Latin, Greek, French, Hebrew, and twenty other languages they know. There is one I would recommend to their very serious study-it is called Anglo-Saxon. If they would just try and learn that, it is astonishing what a mighty language they would find it to move the hearts of men. Saxon before every language in the world. When every other has died out for lack of power, Saxon will live, and triumph with its iron tongue, and its voice of steel. We must have the common, plain language in which to address the people. And note this, we must have Christ lifted up, Christ crucified, without the trinkets and trivialities of knowledge, without the trappings of attempted eloquence or rhetoric. If Christ Jesus is seriously preached he will draw all men to himself.
III. NOW WE GO TO THE THIRD POINT, WHICH IS, INDEED, THE ESSENCE OF THE TEXT, THE ATTRACTIVE POWER OF THE CROSS OF CHRIST.
If Christ is preached, fully held up, simply proclaimed to the people, the effect will be, he will draw all men to himself. Now, I will show the attracting power of Christ in various ways. Christ draws like a trumpet attracting men to hear the proclamation. Christ draws like a net bringing men out of the sea of sin. Christ draws, also, with bonds of love. And in the next place, Christ attracts like a banner, bringing all the soldiers around him, and, in the last place, Christ draws like a chariot. "I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to myself."
First, I said that Christ draws as a trumpet.
Men have often sounded a trumpet to attract an audience to the reading of a proclamation. The people come from their houses at the well-known sound, to listen to what they are to know. Now, my brethren, part of the attractive power of the gospel lies in attracting people to hear it. You cannot expect people to be blessed by the preaching of the gospel if they do not hear it. One part of the battle is to get them to listen to its sound. Now, the question is asked in these times, "How are we to get the working-classes to listen to the word?" The answer is, Christ is his own attraction, Christ is the only trumpet that you need to trumpet Christ. Preach the gospel, and the congregation will come by themselves. The only infallible way of getting a good congregation, is to do this. "Oh!" said a liberal and false preacher once, to a good Christian minister, "I cannot figure it out; my church is always empty, and yours is always crammed full. And yet I am sure that my sermon are more rational in doctrine than yours, and you are not by any means so talented a preacher as I am" "Well," said the other "I will tell you the reason why your church is empty, and mine is full. The people have a conscience, and that conscience tells them that what I preach is true and that what you preach is false, so they will not listen to you."
Brethren, you can look through the history of Christianity ever since the beginning of the days of Protestantism, and I will dare to say, without fear of contradiction, that you will almost in every case find that the men who have attracted the greatest mass of people to hear them, have been men who were the most evangelical-who preached the most about Christ and him crucified. What was there in Whitfield to attract an audience, except the simple gospel preached with a fervent passion. Oh, It was not his ability to preach, but the gospel that drew the people.
There is a something about the truth that always makes it popular. For if you tell me that if a man preaches the truth, that his church will be empty, well, Sir, I defy you to prove that. Christ preached his own truth, and the common people gladly listened to him, and the multitude flocked to listen to him. My good fellow minister, have you got an empty church? Do you want to fill it? I will give you a good receipe, and if you will follow it, you will, in all probability, have your church full to the doors. Burn all your manuscripts, that is No. 1. Give up your notes, that is No. 2. Read your Bible and preach it as you find it in the simplicity of its language. And give up all your hard to understand English phrases. Begin to tell the people what you have felt in your own heart, and beg the Holy Spirit to make your heart as hot as a furnace for zeal. Then go out and talk to the people. Speak to them like their brother. Be a man among men. Tell them what you have felt and what you know, and tell it energetically with a good, bold face; and, my dear friend, I do not care who you are, you will get a congregation. But if you say, "Now, to get a congregation, I must first buy an organ." That will not serve you a bit. "But we must have a good choir." I would not care to have a congregation that comes through a good choir. "No," says another, "but I really must alter my style of preaching a little." My dear friend, it is not the style of preaching, it is the style of feeling. People sometimes begin to mimic other preachers, because they are successful. Why, the worst preachers are those who mimic others, whom they look upon as standards preach naturally. Preach out of your hearts just what you feel to be true, and the old soul-stirring words of the gospel will soon draw a congregation. "Where the body is, there the eagles will be gathered together."
But if it ended there, what good was it? If the congregation came and listened to the sound, and then went away unsaved, what was the use it? But in the next place,
Christ acts as a net to draw men to himself.
The gospel ministry is, in God's Word, compared to the fishing industry; God's ministers are the fishermen, they go to catch souls, as fishermen go to catch fish. How will souls be caught? They will be caught by preaching Christ. Just preach a sermon that is full of Christ, and throw it to your congregation, as you throw a net into the sea-you needn't look where they are, nor try to fit your sermon to different cases; but, throw it in, and as sure as God's Word is what it is, "it will not return to him empty, but will accomplish what he desires and achieve the purpose for which he sent it."
The gospel has never been unsuccessful, when it was preached with the demonstration of the Spirit and of power. It is not fine speeches made at the death of princes, or the movements of politics which will save souls. If we wish to have sinners saved and to have our churches increased in number; if we desire the spread God's kingdom, the only thing which we can hope to accomplish the end, is the lifting up of Christ; for, "I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to myself."
In the next place, Christ Jesus draws just like the ropes of love.
After men are saved, they are still apt to go astray; they need a rope to reach all the way from the sinner to heaven; and it needs to have a hand pulling at him all the way. Now, Christ Jesus is the hand of love that draws the saint to heaven. O child of God, you would go astray again if Jesus did not hold you tightly; it he did not draw you to himself you would still, still wander. Christian people are like our earth. Our world has two forces, it has one tendency to run off at a tangent from its orbit; but the sun draws it by a centripetal power and attracts it to itself, and so between the two forces it is kept in a perpetual circle. Oh! Christian, you will never walk rightly, and keep in the orbit of truth, if it were not for the influence of Christ perpetually attracting you to the center. You feel it, and if you do not always feel it, it is still there-you feel an attraction between your heart and Christ, and Christ is perpetually drawing you to himself, to his likeness, to his character, to his love, to his bosom, and in that way you are kept from your natural tendency to fly off and to be lost in the wide fields of sin. Bless God, that Christ lifted up draws all his people to him in that fashion.
And now, in the next place Christ Jesus is the center of attraction; even as a banner is the center of gathering.
We want unity in these days; we are now crying out, "away with sectarianism." O for unity! there are some of us who truly pant after it. We do not talk about an evangelical alliance; alliances are made between men of different countries. We believe that the phrase "Evangelical Alliance" is a faulty one-it should be "Evangelical Union"-knit together in Union. Why! I am not in alliance with a brother of the Church of England; I would not be in alliance with him if he was truly a good man! I would be in union with him, I would love him with all my heart, but I would not make a mere alliance with him. He never was my enemy, he never will be; and, therefore, it is not an alliance I want with him-it is a union. And so it is with all God's people, they do not care about alliances; they love real union and communion with one another. Now, what is the right way to bring all the churches to union? "We must revise the prayer book," says one. You may revise it, and revise it as long as ever you like, you will never bring some of us to agree to it, for we hate Prayer Books as such, however near perfection. "Well then, we must revise the doctrines, so that they may satisfy everyone." You cannot; that is impossible. "Well then, we must revise the disciplines." Yes, do that. And then after that, the mass of us will stand as distant as ever. "No," says another, "The answer lies in each of us making mutual concessions." No, that won't do, for if we have to make mutual concessions, who can guarantee that I won't have to concede a part of what I believe to be true? And that I cannot do, nor can my brother on the opposite side.
The only standard of union that can ever be lifted up in England, is the cross of Christ. As soon as we will begin to preach Christ and him crucified, we will be all one. We can fight anywhere except at the foot of the cross-for it is there that the order goes out, "put away your swords;" and those that were bitter combatants before, come and prostrate themselves there, and say, "You dear Redeemer, you have melted us into one." Oh! my brethren, let us all preach the mighty gospel, and there will be union. The only means of unity we will ever get will be all of us preaching Christ crucified; when that is done, when every minister's heart is in the right place, full of anxiety for souls-when every minister feels that, no matter what he is called-all he wants to do is to glorify God and win souls to Jesus, then, my dear friends, we can maintain our denominational distinctions, but the bigotry and division will have ceased and schism will no longer be known. I anxiously pray for that day, may God send it in his own time. As far as I am concerned there is my hand for every minister of God in creation, and my heart with it, I love all them that love the Lord Jesus Christ. And I feel persuaded that the nearer that all of us come to the one point of putting Christ first, Christ last, Christ middle, and Christ without end-the nearer we will come to the unity of the one Church of the Living Christ in the bond of holy permanence.
And now I close by noticing the last sweet thought-"I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to myself." Then Christ Jesus will draw all his people to heaven; he says he will draw them to himself. He is in heaven;
Then Christ is the chariot in which souls are drawn to heaven.
The people of the Lord are on their way to heaven, they are carried in everlasting arms; and those arms are the arms of Christ. Christ is carrying them up to his own house, to his own throne; and in time his prayer-"Father, I want those you have given me to be with me where I am," will be completely fulfilled. And it is being fulfill even now, for he is drawing his children in the chariot of the covenant of grace unto himself. Oh! blessed be God, the cross is the plank on which we swim to heaven; the cross is the great covenant transport which will weather out the storms, and reach its desired haven. This is the chariot, its pillars are made of pure gold, and the bottom of it of silver, it is lined with the purple of the atonement of our Lord Jesus Christ.
And now, poor sinner, I pray to God that God Christ would pardon you. Sinner, remember his death on Calvary, remember his agonies and bloody sweat-all this he did for you; if you feel yourself to be a sinner. Doesn't this draw you to him?
"Though you are guilty he is good,
He'll wash your soul in Jesus' blood."
You have rebelled against him, and revolted, but he says, "Return, faithless people; I will cure you of backsliding." Won't his love draw you? I pray that both his blood and his love may have their power and influence, that you may be drawn to Christ now, and in the end be drawn to heaven. May God give a blessing for Jesus' sake. Amen.
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Spurgeon, Charle Haddon. "Commentary on John 12:32". "Spurgeon's Verse Expositions of the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/spe/john-12.html. 2011.
the Week of Proper 25 / Ordinary 30