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Verse-by-Verse Bible Commentary

John 12:41

These things Isaiah said because he saw His glory, and he spoke of Him.
New American Standard Version

Bible Study Resources

Nave's Topical Bible - Blindness;   Jesus, the Christ;   Quotations and Allusions;   The Topic Concordance - Praise;   Unbelief;   Understanding;   Torrey's Topical Textbook - Christ Is God;   Excellency and Glory of Christ, the;  
American Tract Society Bible Dictionary - Bethany;   Bridgeway Bible Dictionary - Glory;   Jesus christ;   Baker Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology - Knowledge of God;   Charles Buck Theological Dictionary - Jehovah;   Judgment, Last;   Holman Bible Dictionary - Fulfill;   Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible - John, Gospel of;   Martha;   Philip;   Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament - Attributes of Christ;   Betrayal;   Death of Christ;   Glory (2);   Isaiah;   Mystery ;   Promise (2);   Transfiguration (2);   The Hawker's Poor Man's Concordance And Dictionary - Bethany;   Holiness;   Martha;   Passover;  
International Standard Bible Encyclopedia - Servant of Yahweh (the Lord);  
Daily Light on the Daily Path - Devotion for November 27;  

Adam Clarke Commentary

Verse 41. When he saw his gloryIsaiah 6:1, c. I saw Jehovah, said the prophet, sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up, and his train filled the temple. Above it stood the seraphim and one cried unto another, and said, Holy, holy, holy, is Jehovah, God of hosts; the whole earth shall be full of his glory! It appears evident, from this passage, that the glory which the prophet saw was the glory of Jehovah: John, therefore, saying here that it was the glory of Jesus, shows that he considered Jesus to be Jehovah. See Bishop Pearce. Two MSS. and a few versions have Θεου, and του Θεου αὑτου, the glory of God, or of his God.

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These files are public domain.
Bibliographical Information
Clarke, Adam. "Commentary on John 12:41". "The Adam Clarke Commentary". 1832.

Bridgeway Bible Commentary

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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These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Flemming, Donald C. "Commentary on John 12:41". "Brideway Bible Commentary". 2005.

Coffman Commentaries on the Bible

These things saith Isaiah, because he saw his glory; and he spake of him.

Isaiah did indeed see the glory of the coming Redeemer and was especially effective in the portrayal of Messiah's dual nature. Christ as God and Christ as man were prophesied and presented throughout Isaiah as the one Messiah. Thus he was hailed as "Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace" (Isa.9:6), and by the same prophet as "Despised ... rejected ... put to grief ... bruised ... chastised ... having no beauty ... in travail ... cut off out of the land of the living," etc. (Isaiah 53:1ff). Not the least of Isaiah's great prophecies of Jesus was that of his rejection by the chosen people.

Copyright Statement
Coffman Commentaries reproduced by permission of Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. All other rights reserved.
Bibliographical Information
Coffman, James Burton. "Commentary on John 12:41". "Coffman Commentaries on the Bible". Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. 1983-1999.

Albert Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible

When he saw his glory - Isaiah 6:1-10. Isaiah saw the Lord (in Hebrew, יהוה Yahweh) sitting on a throne and surrounded with the seraphim. This is perhaps the only instance in the Bible in which Yahweh is said to have been seen by man, and for this the Jews affirm that Isaiah was put to death. God had said Exodus 33:20, “No man shall see me and live;” and as Isaiah affirmed that he had seen Yahweh, the Jews, for that and other reasons, put him to death by sawing him asunder. See Introduction to Isaiah, Section 2. In the prophecy Isaiah is said expressly to have seen Yahweh John 12:1; and in John 12:5, “Mine eyes have seen the King Yahweh of hosts.” By his glory is meant the manifestation of him - the Shechinah, or visible cloud that was a representation of God, and that rested over the mercy-seat. This was regarded as equivalent to seeing God, and John here expressly applies this to the Lord Jesus Christ; for he is nor affirming that the people did not believe in God, but is assigning the reason why they believed not on Jesus Christ as the Messiah. The whole discourse has respect to the Lord Jesus, and the natural construction of the passage requires us to refer it to him. John affirms that it was the glory of the Messiah that Isaiah saw, and yet Isaiah affirms that it was Yahweh; and from this the inference is irresistible that John regarded Jesus as the Yahweh whom Isaiah saw. The name Yahweh is never, in the Scriptures, applied to a man, or an angel, or to any creature. It is the unique, incommunicable name of God. So great was the reverence of the Jews for that name that they would not even pronounce it. This passage is therefore conclusive proof that Christ is equal with the Father.

Spake of him - Of the Messiah. The connection requires this interpretation.

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These files are public domain.
Bibliographical Information
Barnes, Albert. "Commentary on John 12:41". "Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible". 1870.

Calvin's Commentary on the Bible

41. These things spoke Jesus. Lest readers should think that this prediction was inappropriately quoted, John expressly states, that the prophet was not sent as a teacher to a single age, but, on the contrary, that the glory of Christ was exhibited to him, that he might be a witness of those things which should take place under his reign. Now the Evangelist takes for granted, that Isaiah saw the glory of Christ; and hence he infers, that Isaiah accommodates his instruction to the future state of Christ’s kingdom.

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These files are public domain.
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Calvin, John. "Commentary on John 12:41". "Calvin's Commentary on the Bible". 1840-57.

Chuck Smith Bible Commentary

Chapter 12

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, 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. "

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Copyright © 2014, Calvary Chapel of Costa Mesa, Ca.
Bibliographical Information
Smith, Charles Ward. "Commentary on John 12:41". "Chuck Smith Bible Commentary". 2014.

Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable

The explanation of Israel’s unbelief 12:37-43

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These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Constable, Thomas. DD. "Commentary on John 12:41". "Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable". 2012.

Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable

7. The unbelief of Israel 12:37-50

This section of the Gospel contains the writer’s explanation of the significance of the events so far in Jesus’ ministry. John first explained the conflict between belief and unbelief, and then He recorded Jesus’ final appeal for decision. This is the final climax of the decision theme before Jesus’ passion. The key word in this section is "believe," which appears six times.

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These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Constable, Thomas. DD. "Commentary on John 12:41". "Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable". 2012.

Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable

In the vision that Isaiah recorded in Isaiah 6, the prophet wrote that he saw God’s glory (Isaiah 6:3). Now John wrote that Isaiah saw Jesus’ glory and spoke of Jesus. Obviously John regarded Jesus as God (cf. John 1:18; John 10:30; John 20:28; Colossians 2:9). Isaiah had spoken of Jesus in that he had revealed many messianic prophecies. Earlier Jesus had claimed that Moses had written about Him (John 5:46).

These quotations justify interpreting the Old Testament servant of the Lord passages as referring to the Messiah. There has long been a debate within Judaism and liberal Christianity about whether these passages refer to a personal Messiah or only to Israel.

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Constable, Thomas. DD. "Commentary on John 12:41". "Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable". 2012.

John Gill's Exposition of the Whole Bible

These things said Esaias,.... Concerning the blinding and hardening of the Jews:

when he saw his glory, and spake of him; when he saw, in a visionary way, the glory of the Messiah in the temple, and the angels covering their faces with their wings at the sight of him; and when he spake of him as the King, the Lord of hosts, whom he had seen, Isaiah 6:1, from whence it is clear that he had respect to the Jews in the times of the Messiah. The prophet says in Isaiah 6:1 that he "saw the Lord": the Targumist renders it, "I saw", את יקרא דיי, "the glory of Jehovah"; and in Isaiah 6:5 he says, "mine eyes have seen the King", Jehovah, Zebaot, the Lord of hosts; which the Chaldee paraphrase renders, "mine eyes have seen", את יקר, "the glory" of the Shekinah, the King of the world, the Lord of hosts. Agreeably to which our Lord says here, that he saw his glory, the glory of his majesty, the glory of his divine nature, the train of his divine perfections, filling the temple of the human nature; and he spoke of him as the true Jehovah, the Lord of hosts; and which therefore is a very clear and strong proof of the proper divinity of Christ. And it may be observed from hence, that such persons who have a true, spiritual, and saving sight of Christ, of the glory of his person, and the fulness of his grace, cannot but be speaking of him to others, either in private, or in public, as Isaiah here did, and as the church in Song of Solomon 5:10; and as the apostles of Christ, John 1:1; and indeed, should they hold their peace, the stones would cry out; such must, and will speak of his glory in his temple, Psalms 29:9.

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Bibliographical Information
Gill, John. "Commentary on John 12:41". "The New John Gill Exposition of the Entire Bible". 1999.

Matthew Henry's Complete Commentary on the Bible

The Unbelief of the People.

      37 But though he had done so many miracles before them, yet they believed not on him:   38 That the saying of Esaias the prophet might be fulfilled, which he spake, Lord, who hath believed our report? and to whom hath the arm of the Lord been revealed?   39 Therefore they could not believe, because that Esaias said again,   40 He hath blinded their eyes, and hardened their heart; that they should not see with their eyes, nor understand with their heart, and be converted, and I should heal them.   41 These things said Esaias, when he saw his glory, and spake of him.

      We have here the honour done to our Lord Jesus by the Old-Testament prophets, who foretold and lamented the infidelity of the many that believed not on him. It was indeed a dishonour and grief to Christ that his doctrine met with so little acceptance and so much opposition; but this takes off the wonder and reproach, makes the offence of it to cease, and made it no disappointment to Christ, that herein the scriptures were fulfilled. Two things are here said concerning this untractable people, and both were foretold by the evangelical prophet Isaiah, that they did not believe, and that they could not believe.

      I. They did not believe (John 12:37; John 12:37): Though he had done so many miracles before them, which, one would think, should have convinced them, yet they believed not, but opposed him. Observe,

      1. The abundance of the means of conviction which Christ afforded them: He did miracles, so many miracles; tosauta semeia signifying both so many and so great. This refers to all the miracles he had wrought formerly; nay, the blind and lame now came to him into the temple, and he healed them, Matthew 21:14. His miracles were the great proof of his mission, and on the evidence of them he relied. Two things concerning them he here insists upon:-- (1.) The number of them; they were many,--various and of divers kinds; numerous and often repeated; and every new miracle confirmed the reality of all that went before. The multitude of his miracles was not only a proof of his unexhausted power, but gave the greater opportunity to examine them; and, if there had been a cheat in them, it was morally impossible but that in some or other of them it would have been discovered; and, being all miracles of mercy, the more there were the more good was done. (2.) The notoriety of them. He wrought these miracles before them, not at a distance, not in a corner, but before many witnesses, appearing to their own eyes.

      2. The inefficacy of these means: Yet they believed not on him. They could not gainsay the premises, and yet would not grant the conclusion. Note, The most plentiful and powerful means of conviction will not of themselves work faith in the depraved prejudiced hearts of men. These saw, and yet believed not.

      3. The fulfilling of the scripture in this (John 12:38; John 12:38): That the saying of Esaias might be fulfilled. Not that these infidel Jews designed the fulfilling of the scripture (they rather fancied those scriptures which speak of the church's best sons to be fulfilled in themselves), but the event exactly answered the prediction, so that (ut for ita ut) this saying of Esaias was fulfilled. The more improbable any event is, the more does a divine foresight appear in the prediction of it. One could not have imagined that the kingdom of the Messiah, supported with such pregnant proofs, should have met with so much opposition among the Jews, and therefore their unbelief is called a marvellous work, and a wonder,Isaiah 29:14. Christ himself marvelled at it, but it was what Isaiah foretold (Isaiah 53:1), and now it is accomplished. Observe, (1.) The gospel is here called their report: Who has believed, te akon hemon--our hearing, which we have heard from God, and which you have heard from us. Our report is the report that we bring, like the report of a matter of fact, or the report of a solemn resolution in the senate. (2.) It is foretold that a few comparatively of those to whom this report is brought will be persuaded to give credit to it. Many hear it, but few heed it and embrace it: Who hath believed it? Here and there one, but none to speak of; not the wise, not the noble; it is to them but a report which wants confirmation. (3.) It is spoken of as a thing to be greatly lamented that so few believe the report of the gospel. Lord is here prefixed from the LXX., but is not in the Hebrew, and intimates a sorrowful account brought to God by the messengers of the cold entertainment which they and their report had; as the servant came, and showed his lord all these things,Luke 14:21. (4.) The reason why men believe not the report of the gospel is because the arm of the Lord is not revealed to them, that is, because they do not acquaint themselves with, and submit themselves to, the grace of God; they do not experimentally know the virtue and fellowship of Christ's death and resurrection, in which the arm of the Lord is revealed. They saw Christ's miracles, but did not see the arm of the Lord revealed in them.

      II. They could not believe, and therefore they could not because Esaias said, He hath blinded their eyes. This is a hard saying, who can explain it? We are sure that God is infinitely just and merciful, and therefore we cannot think there is in any such an impotency to good, resulting from the counsels of God, as lays them under a fatal necessity of being evil. God dams none by mere sovereignty; yet it is said, They could not believe. St. Austin, coming in course to the exposition of these words, expresses himself with a holy fear of entering upon an enquiry into this mystery. Justa sunt judicia ejus, sed occulta--His judgments are just, but hidden.

      1. They could not believe, that is, they would not; they were obstinately resolved in their infidelity; thus Chrysostom and Austin incline to understand it; and the former gives divers instances of scripture of the putting of an impotency to signify the invincible refusal of the will, as Genesis 37:4, They could not speak peaceably to him. And John 7:7; John 7:7. This is a moral impotency, like that of one that is accustomed to do evil, Jeremiah 13:23. But,

      2. They could not because Esaias had said, He hath blinded their eyes. Here the difficulty increases; it is certain that God is not the author of sin, and yet,

      (1.) There is a righteous hand of God sometimes to be acknowledged in the blindness and obstinacy of those who persist in impenitency and unbelief, by which they are justly punished for their former resistance of the divine light and rebellion against the divine law. If God withhold abused grace, and give men over to indulged lusts,--if he permit the evil spirit to do his work on those that resisted the good Spirit,--and if in his providence he lay stumbling-blocks in the way of sinners, which confirm their prejudices, then he blinds their eyes, and hardens their hearts, and these are spiritual judgments, like the giving up of idolatrous Gentiles to vile affections, and degenerate Christians to strong delusions. Observe the method of conversion implied here, and the steps taken in it. [1.] Sinners are brought to see with their eyes, to discern the reality of divine things and to have some knowledge of them. [2.] To understand with their heart, to apply these things to themselves; not only to assent and approve, but to consent and accept. [3.] To be converted, and effectually turned from sin to Christ, from the world and the flesh to God, as their felicity and portion. [4.] Then God will heal them, will justify and sanctify them; will pardon their sins, which are as bleeding wounds, and mortify their corruptions, which are as lurking diseases. Now when God denies his grace nothing of this is done; the alienation of the mind from, and its aversion to, God and the divine life, grow into a rooted and invincible antipathy, and so the case becomes desperate.

      (2.) Judicial blindness and hardness are in the word of God threatened against those who wilfully persist in wickedness, and were particularly foretold concerning the Jewish church and nation. Known unto God are all his works, and all ours too. Christ knew before who would betray him, and spoke of it, John 6:70; John 6:70. This is a confirmation of the truth of scripture prophecies, and thus even the unbelief of the Jews may help to strengthen our faith. It is also intended for caution to particular persons, to beware lest that come upon them which was spoken of in the prophets,Acts 13:40.

      (3.) What God has foretold will certainly come to pass, and so, by a necessary consequence, in order of arguing, it might be said that therefore they could not believe, because God by the prophets had foretold they would not; for such is the knowledge of God that he cannot be deceived in what he foresees, and such his truth that he cannot deceive in what he foretels, so that the scripture cannot be broken. Yet be it observed that the prophecy did not name particular persons; so that it might not be said, "Therefore such a one and such a one could not believe, because Esaias had said so and so;" but it pointed at the body of the Jewish nation, which would persist in their infidelity till their cities were wasted without inhabitants, as it follows (Isaiah 6:11; Isaiah 6:12); yet still reserving a remnant (John 12:13; John 12:13, in it shall be a tenth), which reserve was sufficient to keep a door of hope open to particular persons; for each one might say, Why may not I be of that remnant?

      Lastly, The evangelist, having quoted the prophecy, shows (John 12:41; John 12:41) that it was intended to look further than the prophet's own days, and that its principal reference was to the days of the Messiah: These things said Esaias when he saw his glory, and spoke of him. 1. We read in the prophecy that this was said to Esaias, Isaiah 6:8; Isaiah 6:9. But here we are told that it was said by him to the purpose. For nothing was said by him as a prophet which was not first said to him; nor was any thing said to him which was not afterwards said by him to those to whom he was sent. See Isaiah 21:10. 2. The vision which the prophet there had of the glory of God is here said to be his seeing the glory of Jesus Christ: He saw his glory. Jesus Christ therefore is equal in power and glory with the Father, and his praises are equally celebrated. Christ had a glory before the foundation of the world, and Esaias saw this. 3. It is said that the prophet there spoke of him. It seems to have been spoken of the prophet himself (for to him the commission and instructions were there given), and yet it is here said to be spoken of Christ, for as all the prophets testified of him so they all typified him. This they spoke of him, that as to many his coming would be not only fruitless, but fatal, a savour of death unto death. It might be objected against his doctrine, If it was from heaven, why did not the Jews believe it? But this is an answer to it; it was not for want of evidence, but because their heart was made fat, and their ears were heavy. It was spoken of Christ, that he should be glorified in the ruin of an unbelieving multitude, as well as in the salvation of a distinguished remnant.

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Henry, Matthew. "Complete Commentary on John 12:41". "Matthew Henry Complete Commentary on the Whole Bible". 1706.

Spurgeon's Verse Expositions of the Bible

Israel And Britain. A Note of Warning

June 7, 1885




"But though he had done so many miracles before them, yet they believed not

on him: that the saying of Esaias the prophet might be fulfilled, which he

spake, Lord, who hath believed our report? and to whom hath the arm of the

Lord been revealed? Therefore they could not believe, because that Esaias

said again, He hath blinded their eyes, and hardened their heart; that they

should not see with their eyes, nor understand with their heart, and be

converted, and I should heal them. These things said Esaias, when he saw his

glory, and spake of him."-John 12:37-41 .

The blindness of Israel concerning our Lord was sadly remarkable. It was a

blindness of the eyes, for they saw his many miracles, and yet believed not:

their ears also seemed to be stopped, for they heard his words and did not

understand them; and their hearts also were heavy, for they did not relent

under the plaintive admonitions of a Saviour's love. Their hearts were cruel

towards the Messiah; they hated him without a cause. No door was open to the

heart of Israel; they had hardened their heart, they had shut their eyes,

they had stopped their ears, and even he that spake as never man spake gained

no access to their souls. They went so far as to crucify him, and cried as

they did so, "His blood be on us, and our children,"-words so sadly verified

when Jerusalem was destroyed, and her children slaughtered, sold as slaves,

or scattered to the four corners of the earth. It was indeed, a terrible

blindness which happened unto Israel.

Her rejection of the Lord Jesus is the more amazing because Isaiah gave so

clear an account of the Messiah, and so clearly pictured Jesus of Nazareth.

Descriptions of him could not have been more explicit than were the

prophecies of Isaiah. It would be very easy to construct an entire life of

Christ out of the book of Isaiah, beginning with "a virgin shall conceive and

bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel," and ending with "he made his

grave with the wicked and with the rich in his death." Isaiah spake of John

the Baptist as the "voice crying in the wilderness, prepare ye the way of the

Lord, make straight in the desert a highway for our God," and he foretold our

Lord's ministry by the way of the sea beyond Jordan in Galilee of the

Gentiles, where the people who sat in darkness saw great light. The prophecy

portrayed his Lord as "despised and rejected of men, a man of sorrows and

acquainted with grief." Clearest of all is he upon his vicarious sufferings,

concerning which he uses a variety of most definite expressions, such as,-

"The chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are

healed." Isaiah saw so clearly the day of our Lord Jesus that he spake rather

as an evangelist than as a prophet; as an eyewitness, rather than as one

foretelling a far-off event. Yet all this clearness was lost upon the men of

his generation, and upon those who followed after. The nation had so long

been fickle towards God, and had trifled so long with God's truth, that it

was at length given up to a judicial hardness of heart, so that it could not

understand or perceive. They refused the plainest messages of grace, and were

so confirmed in unbelief that all their prophets cried with one plaintive

voice, "Who hath believed our report? and to whom is the arm of the Lord


Nor was it alone grievous that Israel sinned against the light which shone in

Isaiah's testimony; but, alas, she closed her eyes against the meridian

splendour of our Lord's own life. Jesus bore his own witness in his person,

teachings, works, and gifts. A sad wonder lies in the fact, that they did not

know the Lord of glory although they saw his miracles, which were sure

witnesses to his claims. He wrought among them works which none other man

did. There is about our Lord a likeness to God: in all that he does the

Godhead shines forth. He is so pure that he can say, "Which of you convinceth

me of sin?" How like to him who is saluted as "Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord God of

Hosts!" His teaching is so full of tenderness and gentleness that since God

is love, we conclude that Christ is God. His many miracles touch upon every

point in the great circle of omnipotence. What is there that God can do which

the Christ did not do? Was he not multiform and multitudinous in his works of

power and grace? Herein lay the wonder, that though he did so many miracles

before them, not in secret but actually before their eyes; though he fed them

with bread which they could see, and handle, and eat; though he healed the

sick and raised the dead, they yet believed not on him. How sadly far can men

go in unbelief, prejudice, and hardness of heart! How dim can human eyes

become when men refuse to see! How darkened the understanding when men are

unwilling to comprehend! Let us tremble at this, lest ourselves by imitating

the chosen people in their unbelief should fall into like bondage to

prejudice and ignorance, lest we by tampering with truth should come at last

to be incapable of perceiving it, lest we also by rejecting the testimony of

God should be given up to our own willfulness, to believe a lie and refuse

the truth. Such, then, as Isaiah had foreseen, was the state of Israel in our

Lord's day: never clearer evidence, and never more obstinate refusal to see

it; never truth more plain, and never rejection so determined. Woe to those

who close their ears; for the day cometh when they shall no longer hear! Woe

to those who shut their eyes to the light, for they shall ere long be made

blind! Isaiah was informed that such would be the outcome of his ministry:

the Lord bade him say to the people, "Hear ye indeed, but underststand not;

and see ye indeed, but perceive not." This must have been a very sad business

for so generous and tender-hearted a man of God. It was painful to him to be

so clear and yet to be so little understood. He was the Paul of the Old

Testament; to him belonged fulness of knowledge, clearness of vision,

plainness of speech, and faithfulness of spirit, and yet none of these things

could make the people understand his message and receive it into their

hearts. He was sublime in thought, attractive in word, and affectionate in

spirit, and yet they did not believe his testimony; so that he must often

have been astonished and heart-broken as he spake in vain to a people who

were determined that they would not hear.

This morning I shall draw certain lessons for ourselves from the great

evangelical prophet, his ministry, and the people to whom he ministered so

vainly. Our first meditation shall be concerning Isaiah and his ministry: and

our second shall be concerning the people to whom he spake. Alas! I fear that

we who speak in the name of the Lord in these last days have also to deal

with hearts that are gross, ears that are heavy, and eyes that are dimmed.

Upon this generation also there is falling a measure of judicial withdrawal

of light and discernment; and we also have to cry, "Who hath believed our

report? and to whom is the arm of the Lord revealed?"

I. First, then, let me speak with you CONCERNING ISAIAH AND HIS MINISTRY. Oh,

that the Spirit of God may speak with power through me. Our text says two

things of Isaiah: first, that "he saw his glory," and secondly, that "he

spake of him."

The first statement is that Isaiah saw. Isaiah was a great seer: his prophesy

begins thus,-"The vision of Isaiah the son of Amoz, which he saw concerning

Judah and Jerusalem." All prophets were more or less seers, and saw what they

foretold; but Isaiah above others was endowed with the seeing and foreseeing

faculty. He had the clearest sight, and for that reason he had the clearest

speech. When a man speaks so that you cannot understand him, the usual reason

is that he does not understand himself; and when a man speaks so as to be

readily comprehended, it is because the thought in his own mind is well

defined. He that would speak well must see well. Mark the two things in the

text-"When Isaiah saw his glory, and spake of him."

In what sense is Isaiah said to have seen that which he spake? Does it not

mean that he realized his thoughts? that they stood out vividly, so as to

make a deep impression upon his own mind? Things to come were already come in

his apprehension: he beheld what he believed, he felt what he foretold. He

was not a dreamy person, maundering about half-fashioned, undeveloped

thoughts; but he was a person who knew, and perceived, and felt what he

preached. He saw with his soul what he set forth with his lips.

But what did he see? It is a most important thing that in these days you and

I should see the same, for the same work lies before us among a people who

are a repetition of that disobedient and gainsaying nation. Read, then, with

care the sixth chapter of Isaiah. Open your Bibles and refer to the passage

verse by verse.

First, what Isaiah saw was the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted

up. When the prophet went abroad among the people he heard them speaking

against the Lord God; some contending for our deity and some for another;

some leaning upon an arm of flesh, and others despising the promise of

Jehovah the God of Israel. All this, I say, he saw out of doors, and he was

troubled. But when he went into the sanctuary of God he saw the Lord sitting

upon a throne : still reigning, still glorious, undisturbed by opposition. He

must then have felt like David when he said, "Why do the heathen rage, and

the people imagine a vain thing? The kings of the earth set themselves, and

the rulers take counsel together against the Lord, and against his anointed.

He that sitteth in the heavens shall laugh: the Lord shall have them in

derision. Yet have I set my king upon my holy hill of Zion." As David saw

Christ upon the throne amid the strirvings of the people, so did Isaiah see

the Lord Jesus, not only upon the lowly mercy-seat, but upon a throne high

and lifted up. I pray you, brethren, settle this in your hearts: our Lord is

highly exalted as Lord of all. When you see evil occurrent, do not imagine

that it defeats the eternal purposes of Jehovah: when you hear blasphemy and

your blood runs cold, do not think that Christ has lost his glory: when men

riot in sin, do not dream that the reins of affairs are out of Jesus' hands;

for still he is "God over all, blessed for ever." My heart exalts this day,

as, by undoubting faith, I am assured that he who died on Calvary is now

exalted on high, far above all principalities and powers. "Thou art the King

of glory, O Christ!" To thee our spirits ascribe infinite honour, world

without end. Though the earth be removed, and the mountains be carried into

the midst of the sea, yet the Lord reigneth. He that died upon the tree is

crowned with majesty, and all the angels of God worship him. "He must reign

till he hath put all enemies under his feet." Let us have no question about

this; for if we have, we shall not be prepared to speak in the Lord's name

with this evil generation. Amid the anarchy of the ages we see the glorious

high throne of our redeeming Lord unmoved, unmovable: this is the rock of our

refuge when the unsettled times rage about us like the waters of the troubled

sea. We cannot be afraid, for Christ is on the throne.

Observe that in Isaiah's vision he not only saw the Lord "upon a throne high

and lifted up," but he saw that "his train filled the temple." so that in

that temple there was room for no one else. The robes of this great King

filled all the holy place; and neither priests nor offerers could there find

standing room. It is a great thing to see how Jesus fills the heavenly

places; in him dwelleth all the fullness of the Godhead. Let it be

acknowledged to be so in heaven, for the glory of our Redeemer fills every

street of the upper city, every mansion of the Father's house. In the church

below, which is also his temple, among his spiritual people, the glory of the

Lord Jesus engages and occupies every heart. They feel that there is none

other in whom they can trust, none other whose words they will receive, none

other in whom they glory; the Lord Christ is all in all to us, and we know no

other Master or Saviour. His train fills the temple. I trust it is so among

us. From Sabbath to Sabbath the one glory of this Tabernacle is the person

and work of Jesus. What a glory hath God put upon the Only Begotten Son, whom

he hath raised from the dead that he should be head over all things to his

church, which he fills with his life, light, and love. Nor may we forget that

all the things that exist are in a sense his temple, and the whole universe

is filled with his train; for "he hath ascended up far above all heavens that

he might fill all things." Glory be unto our ascended and reigning Lord.

In this vision Isaiah saw the flaming spirits that wait upon Christ of God.

He calls them "seraphims." The best interpretation we can give is "burning

ones:" they burn in the sense of consuming. They burn up that which ought to

be consumed, namely, all kinds of evil. There are powers around our Lord

which will destroy evil. You ask me to tell you something about these

seraphim; how can I? They have covered their faces, and covered their feet.

Since nothing is to be seen, what can I tell you? Neither would it be right

for us to speak concerning them, for manifestly it is their desire to be

hidden. Who will violate their wish to be concealed? They covered their

faces, they covered their feet, and therein they did as good as they say,

"Look not on us, but look on him who sits upon the throne, whose attendants

we are." This much is all we know,-exalted intelligences are in waiting upon

our Lord, and are able to fly swiftly at his bidding. Tremble not concerning

this error, or that, it shall be burnt up by those agencies which are at the

command of our exalted Lord. Spirits from God shall run to and fro, and

smite, as with the fire of God, those powers of darkness which now oppress

our race. God himself is a consuming fire: who can dwell with him but those

that are like him? He maketh his ministers a flame of fire. Around our Lord

are the chariots of God, which are twenty thousand, even thousands of angels.

His power knows no limit. His word runneth very swiftly; he speaks, and it is

done; he commands, and it stands fast. Glory be unto thee, O Christ! We will

not fear nor be discouraged, since these thy servants are ready to flame

forth at thy bidding. Truly thou art Jehovah of hosts.

This vision of the body-guard of the Prince of peace was enough to strengthen

Isaiah: thus comforted, he would calmly confront that rebellious generation.

If the prophet, when he opened the young man's eyes strengthened his heart by

making him see horses and chariots of fire round about Elisha, shall not we

be comforted as we behold legions of burning ones surrounding our King, and

standing ready to fulfil his decrees?

Further, we find that Isaiah saw in that vision the perpetual adoration which

is rendered unto Christ concerning his holiness. Those bright spirits had

never tasted of his mercy, for they had never sinned: they understood nothing

of his grace, for they had not been guilty; but being pure in heart they

gazed on the Lord with opened eye and adored his holiness. Their whole souls

were filled with the contemplation of that one all-embracing attribute; and

in responsive song they said each one to his fellow, "Holy, holy, holy, is

the Lord of hosts." They emphasized their words by repeating them three

times; and perhaps they alluded also to the Trinity in Unity as they cried,

"Holy, holy, holy." This is the supreme glory of Christ, that in him is seen

the holiness of God. Oh my friends, let us be like these seraphim, ravished

with the holiness of the atonement, awe-struck with the justice of God in the

great sacrifice. Reflect with reverence that God when he willed to save his

elect would not commit a breach upon his laws; though he would redeem them

from going down into the pit, yet he would not violate his word, nor change

that most righteous penalty of death, which is the due desert of sin. Rather

than stain his holiness he spared not his own Son, but freely delivered him

up for us all. Consider the great love of holiness which must have been in

the heart of the Father, that he would give up his Son to bleed sooner than

his law should be dishonoured; and think of the great holiness of Christ,

that he would rather give his back to the smiters and his cheeks to them that

pluck off the hair, yea, rather stretch out his hands to the nails and expire

forsaken of his God, than suffer sin to go unpunished. God would not even for

mercy's sake issue an unjust pardon to the souls he loved.

As I stand here this morning I also have visions of God, and the cross seems

to me transformed into a burning throne, whereon justice is high and lifted

up to the uttermost, as I see God himself in Christ Jesus bowing his head to

death, that he might be just, and yet the Justifier of him that believeth.

Around that cross I see troops of angels gathering, and I hear one crying

unto another and saying, "Holy, holy, holy, is Jehovah Jesus, the great

sacrifice for sin." Do you not unite in their reverent homage? If you do you

will go forth and tell of pardon bought with blood, and of the atonement

finished once for all. With hallowed confidence you will tell it out among

the people that the holy Lord reigneth from the tree, until all creatures

fall down and worship him that was slain, because his holiness was thereby

revealed in noonday splendour.

This was not all that was revealed to the prophet; for he heard the seraphim

say, "Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord of Hosts; the whole earth is full of his

glory." Even when men rejected Christ, even when hearts were fat, and eyes

were dim, and ears were heavy, even then the whole earth was full of the

glory of Christ. When scientists tell us that they cannot see God, I am

amazed. To me it is impossible not to see him. Though I cannot pry with the

scalpel into the anatomy of the human frame, yet when I look upon the mere

skin of the human countenance I see the handiwork of God. Though I cannot dig

into the lower strata of the earth and disentomb the fossil and decipher its

stone preserved memorial, yet to me rock, and clay, and sand, and relic of

the past, bear the sure hieroglyph of God. Though I cannot inform you of all

the interesting details of insect life, or descant upon the secrets of

botany, yet to me bees bring honeyed thoughts of God, and flowers breathe the

perfume of his love. Where is God? Say rather, Where is he not? Not with

these grosser senses, but by higher faculties I see and hear my God; yea, he

doth surround me, and my faith embraceth him. I am no fool for this; the best

authority declares that he is the fool who saith in his heart "There is no

God." Yes, the whole earth is full of the glory of Christ, and above the

earth in every cloud it is seen, and above the cloud every star shines out

concerning him. Alas, for the blind-eyes that cannot see that which is

evidently set forth in every place. Alas for the ears which cannot hear when

earth, and sea, and heaven, and hell, are all echoing to the tread of the

Omnipotent Christ of God. Oh brethren, have you ever seen this vision, have

you ever seen God's glory filling the whole earth? If so, you are prepared

for the times that are and are to be times of gloom, and darkness, and sin,

and blasphemy-and yet your heart does not tremble for the ark of the Lord.

When all this was seen of the prophet, he noted that the posts of the doors

moved. If I am rightly informed, there were two huge columns before the

temple called Jachin and Boaz. These were made with singular skill, and were

the wonder of the age. They were of brass, cast by Solomon; but in the course

of ages they had no doubt mellowed into bronze, and there they stood, two

tremendous erections, upbearing massive doors. We are told, I know not

whether it be correct, that the gates that swung upon these columns required

at least twenty men either to open or to shut them; but as the prophet saw

that vision he noticed that these massive columns trembled, and thus did

obeisance to the God who was within their gates. Our Revised Version reads

it, "The foundations of the thresholds were moved." Even to its foundations

the house trembled with solemn awe of the divine presence. Brethren, heaven,

and earth, and hell, and all created things reflect the glory of the Lord,

and thus adore him. Oh Lord Jesus, thou art worthy of all honour. "All the

earth doth worship thee." If it was so with posts and doors, shall not our

hearts rejoice with trembling? shall not our souls be moved in the presence

of the Most High? and will we not fall down before the glorified Christ, as

John did, who wrote, "When I saw him I fell at his feet as dead?" Everything

is filled with awe in his majestic presence, save only man, the impious rebel

who dares defy his God.

Then came the best part of the vision for Isaiah. At the glorious sight, he

felt, "Woe is me, for I am undone, I am stricken dumb. I can never speak

again, for my lips are unclean, and I dwell among an unclean people." Then,

swift as lightning flew a seraph, bringing a coal more burning than himself

from off the altar of sacrifice, wherewith he touched the prophet's lip.

Beloved, this is what we need. We need to feel the atonement laid home to us,

to feel the power of the great sacrifice of Christ, to hear a voice saying

within our spirit, "Thine iniquity is put away, and thy sin is purged."

Though that live coal must have blistered the lip which it covered, yet it

made it eloquent. Common fire would destroy the organs of speech, but the

fire of sacrifice does not so, but it unlooses a grateful tongue, and helps a

grateful heart to tell the love immense, unsearchable, which offered itself

upon the altar of sacrifice, that holiness and love might save the sinner.

Our peace comes from the Holy, Holy, Holy One, who is just, and yet forgives

his people's sin. Brother, if you are to proclaim the glory of your Lord, you

must feel the sacrificial coal applied to the place where your impurity is

most seen, even to your lips; you must know that you are forgiven; for your

conviction that you are clean before God will give you confidence in telling

out to others the story of the cross. This is what Isaiah saw.

Listen for a minute to that further word that follows:-Isaiah when he saw his

glory "spake of him." He that hath seen this sight must speak.

He spake in deep humility. Never braver man than Isaiah, but never one who

walked in lowlier reverence before his God. He never forgot to his dying day

that "woe is me! for I have seen the King, the Lord of hosts."

Yet, observe that he spake with very willing obedience. "Here am I," he said,

"send me." He offers himself to be God's mouth to the people, whatever the

message may be. He seems to say, "Here am I in the entirety of my being,

purchased to thee by thy great pardoning love; use me as thou wilt, and send

me where thou wilt." He continued to report his Lord's message under constant

rebuffs, and despite the ceaseless obduracy of Israel. Though he cried, "Who

hath believed our report?" yet he continued that report. That chapter which

begins with his complaint, has in it not only a continuation of the report,

but a fuller version of it than he had ever given before. He was sad but

resolute, grieved yet persevering, broken in heart, but not broken down in

constancy. Brethren, it needs great grace to go upon a fruitless errand. One

had need see the glory of the Lord to be enabled to fight a losing battle. I

am sometimes afraid that I have to do this myself; but if it be so, it is not

ours to bargain for success, but to yield implicit obedience. It is ours to

abide faithful to our commission, whether men will hear or whether they will

forbear. Brethren, be it ours to serve the Lord gladly, and testify to what

we have seen, even though no man should receive our witness.

But then it is said of Isaiah that he "spake of him," that is, of our Lord

Jesus Christ. In all that Isaiah said he had an eye to Christ. It was all his

business among men to speak of the glories of the coming Son of God. May the

Lord give us such a sight of Christ in his glory that from this day forth we

shall be absorbed in glorifying him. May our life be a perpetual ministry

concerning Christ. Remember that word concerning John the Baptist, "John did

no miracle, but all things that John spake of this man were true." If we can

do no miracle and achieve no success, let us at least cry without ceasing.

"Behold the Lamb of God." Though we decrease, it matters not so long as he

doth increase; we are glad to disappear, as the morning star is lost at the

rising of the sun. It is our delight to imitate the seraphim, and with veiled

face and covered feet to attend about the throne of Jehovah Jesus our Lord.

II. I now ask your kind attention to the second part of my subject, which is


terrible sin lay in this, that they were willingly blinded by the light which

ought to have been to them a help to see Christ, and they were hardened by

those very truths which ought to have melted them. They became more and more

adverse to Christ through beholding in him such a character as ought to have

won their hearts. To the prophet's teaching they were entirely dead. A

specimen of this we find in the succeeding chapters of Isaiah. Israel and

Syria attacked Ahaz, whose reign followed those of Uzziah and Jotham. The

prophet came and said to Ahaz, "Take heed, and be quiet; fear not, neither

fainthearted for the two tails of these smoking firebrands." Ahaz was assured

that God would help him if he would but trust in him; but instead of doing

so, the king determined to petition for the help of the great king of

Assyria, with the result in the long run that "the king of Assyria came unto

him and distressed him, but helped him not." Isaiah, to confirm his message,

bade the king choose any sign either in the depth or in the height above; but

the infidel king replied, "I will not ask, neither will I test Jehovah." He

had so defiantly cast off allegiance to the true God that he would not even

accept a sign, though it was left to his own choice. Thus Isaiah's message

was rejected though put in the most winning form, for the hearts of the

people were blinded and hardened so as to choose the way of destruction.

Ultimately, as you know, the Assyrians carried the whole people away; for

they had rejected God's message willfully, and wrath came upon them. What a

grievous task to be called to preach to such a people!

They went on from bad to worse as a nation; they turned aside grievously, but

not in heart, so that when Christ came they were unable to discern him, for

had they known him they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. This

blindness was in part a punishment for their long rebellion. If men willfully

shut their eyes, do you wonder that they become blind? If men will not hear,

do you wonder that they grow deaf? He that perverts truth shall soon be

incapable of knowing the true from the false. If you persist in wearing

glasses that distort, everything will be distorted to you.

"Hear the just law, the judgment of the skies!

He that hates truth shall be the dupe of lies."

But although this blindness was a punishment for former sin, it was itself a

sin. They willfully rejected the testimony of God against themselves; they

refused the self-evident Christ who would so greatly have blessed them. This

wilful rejection was carried out so effectually that it became impossible to

convert and heal them; they could not be instructed, or reformed, and

therefore they were given over to destruction. Nothing remained but to allow

the Romans to burn the temple and plough the site of the city. It was a

dreadful thing that they should deliberately choose destruction, and

obstinately involve themselves in the most tremendous of woes. Poor Israel,

we pity thee! It was sad indeed to fall from so great a height! Yet we are

bound to admit that God dealt with thee justly, for thou didst choose thine

own delusions. The Lord cries, "Oh that my people had harkened unto me." Our

Saviour weeps and cries, "O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, how often would I have

gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under

her wings, but ye would not! Behold, your house is left unto you desolate."

What I have to say this morning is this-that I am growingly fearful lest our

own country should furnish a parallel to all this. Read the story of England,

beginning where you will, and see how gracious God has been to us. Note well

our great deliverances, from the destruction of the Spanish Armada to the

overthrow of Napoleon. Do not forget how often this little country has been

made victorious in wars against great peoples, who thought to swallow her up.

Then reflect how God sent the light to us; how the gospel spread all over

England, and how it has in many ways been rejected. How often since the days

of Cromwell Rome has been allowed to dim the light of our Protestantism, and

how it labours to do so still! See how this people have received the truth of

heaven, but again and again have proved false to it, turning at one time to

superstition and at another time to infidelity. At this moment we are rich,

and despite depression in business, we are less tried by it than any other

nation. And what comes of all this mercy but increased sin? Why, at this

moment we have sin rampant among us almost beyond precedent. Think how the

poor are oppressed and ground down with awful poverty in many parts of this

great city. Shall not God avenge the cry of starving women? Worse still, if

worse can be: those who dare walk our streets after sundown tell us that

Sodom, in its most putrid days, could scarce exceed this metropolis for open

vice. To our infinite disgust and horror, the names of certain of the

greatest in the land are at this hour openly mentioned in connection with the

filthiest debauchery. This is not the place for details, nor can I mention

the matter, or even think of it without feeling my very soul on fire.

Faithfulness requires plain speech; but it is a hideous evil that the dregs

of vice should be the chosen luxury of certain of our hereditary legislators

and rulers. Woe unto thee, Oh land, when thy great ones love the harlot's

house! Deep is our shame when we know that our judges are not clear in this

matter, but social purity has been put to the blush by magistrates of no mean

degree; yea, it is said that the courts of justice have lent themselves to

the covering and hushing up of the iniquities of the great. Shall not God be

grieved by such a nation as this? He who has read a certain story, which is

but too-well known, must have felt his ears tingle and his heart tremble.

What is coming over us? What horrible clouds are darkening our skies? There

were judges once who would not have suffered the laws to be trampled on by

the great, but would have dealt out equal justice to rich and poor: I cannot

persuade myself that it will be otherwise now, and yet I fear the worst. O

God, have mercy upon the land whose judgment-seats and palaces are defiled

with vice.

This is not all: a general indifference to all religion is creeping over the

country; at least over this vast metropolis. Ask those who visit from door to

door among our crowded populations, and they will tell you that never before

in their life-time were there so few persons attendant upon the means of

grace. Street after street of this city scarcely possesses more than one

regular attendant upon the preaching of the word. The Sabbath is no longer a

day of worship with millions. What continual efforts are made to rob us of

the Sabbath-day; to degrade it into a common work-day, and to make a slave of

the working-man. To-day the revelation of God is treated with indifference,

or talked of as if it deserved no reverence or credit. Unbelief has sapped

the foundations of the social fabric. Worst of all,-I must not hold back the

charge, many of the avowed ministers of Christ are no ministers of faith at

all, but promoters of unbelief. The modern pulpit has taught men to be

infidels. What truth is there which has not been doubted by divines,

questioned by doctors of divinity, and at length been denounced by the

priests of "modern thought?" Nothing remains upon which a certain school of

preachers have not spit their scepticism. The experience of the unbelief of

Germany is being repeated here. Among those who are ordained to be the

preachers of the gospel of Christ, there are many who preach not faith but

doubt, and hence they are servants of the devil rather than of the Lord.

Think not that I am aiming at the Church of England. With all my objection to

a state-church, I am not so unjust as to conceal my belief, that I see in the

Episcopal Church at this time less of unbelief than among certain Dissenters:

in fact, Nonconformity in certain quarters is eaten through and through with

a covert Unitarianism, less tolerable than Unitarianism itself. So frequently

are the fundamental doctrines of the gospel assailed, that it becomes

needful, before you cross the threshold of many a chapel, to ask the

question, "Shall I hear the gospel here to-day, or shall I come out hardly

knowing whether the Bible is inspired or not? Shall I not be made to doubt

the atonement, the work of the Holy Ghost, the immortality of the soul, the

punishment of the wicked, or the deity of Christ?"

I know I shall stir a hornet's nest by these honest rebukes but I cannot help

it. I am burdened and distressed with the state of religion; a pest is in the

air; no truth is safe from its withering infection. No signs can be more

alarming than the growing infidelity and worldliness which I see among those

who call themselves Christians. Does this nation really intend to cast off

the fear of God and the doctrines of Holy Scripture to follow the vain

imaginings of the sophists and the fashionable follies of the great? Are we

to see again unbelief and luxurious sin walking hand in hand? If so, there be

some of us who mean to take up our sorrowful parable, and speak as plainly as

we can for truth and holiness, whether we offend or please. Be it ours still

to thunder out the law of God, and proclaim with trumpet clearness the gospel

of Jesus, not bating one jot of firm belief in the revelation of God, nor

winking at sin, nor toning down truth, even though we fear that the only

result will be to make this people's hearts gross, and their ears heavy, and

their eyes blind. If it must be so, my soul shall weep in secret; but still,

Oh Lord, here am I, send me. Be of good courage, Oh my heart, for the

faithful have not ceased from among men; other voices will cry aloud and

spare not, if haply our land may be purged of its present defilement.

Hearken yet again while I press this subject personally home to you. Has not

this word a personal bearing upon some of you? Certain of you have heard the

gospel preached plainly and honestly, and yet you have never received it: is

there not creeping over you a fatal indifference? Are not your hearts turning

to stone? Possibly you are professors of religion, and yet you do not feel

the power of it; what does this mean? If you are not a praying people, nor a

holy people, and yet you are a professing people, what an awful doom awaits

you! Shall my ministry be a savour of death unto you? It may be that my voice

grows stale to you, and what I say seems common-place: but is this to be the

reason for your refusing Christ and his salvation, refusing the power of his

word, refusing holiness which we would work in you? Oh, shall it be so? Will

you die? Dear hearers, I should not like to meet one of you at that day of

judgment and have to feel that I preached you into a greater blindness than

you might have known. Oh, be converted! Turn ye, turn ye, why will ye die?

May God in infinite mercy speak to you that you may believe in Jesus now,

lest that should come upon you which is spoken of by the prophet, "Behold, ye

despisers, and wonder, and perish!"

Ere I have done, hear the sweet whisper which closes the sixth of Isaiah.

Notwithstanding all the terrible work that Isaiah had to do he was not left

without comfort; the Lord said to him, "In it there shall be a tenth." You

know how the prophet cried, "Except the Lord of hosts had left us a seed we

had been as Sodoma, and been made like unto Gomorrah." The Lord has his

sacred tithe and these he will not lose. The tree has lost its leaves, for it

is winter time; but still it is alive, and the sap will flow again, for its

substance is in it! The tree is leveled by the axe; but weep not despairing

tears, for it shall sprout again, for life is still in it. Even so the Church

must live; truth must be victorious; purity must conquer, the Christ must

reign. Behold, he cometh with clouds, and every eye shall see him. Reject

Christ if you will to-day, Oh ye who think yourselves so exceeding wise, but

there is a people who love him, a secret people who cling to him; and when he

comes, as come he must ere long, they will welcome him and partake in his

glory. As for you that refuse him this day, how will you stand when he

appeareth? Whither will you flee? You shall ask the hills to cover you, but

they will refuse. You shall bid the mountains hide you, but they will not

yield a cavern for your shelter. Be wise now, therefore, and no more resist

your Lord. "Kiss the Son lest he be angry, and ye perish from the way while

his wrath is kindled but a little. Blessed are all they that put their trust

in him!" May you and I and all of us be of that blessed number. Amen and


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Bibliographical Information
Spurgeon, Charle Haddon. "Commentary on John 12:41". "Spurgeon's Verse Expositions of the Bible". 2011.