John 12:31 What Will Ye Do With Christ? 9/22/2013
· Judgment Day (Luke 19:14, Matt 27:25, 12:36, Gen 15:16, Dan 9:24-27)
#1. The Tenth Day of Nisan (Ex 12:14,1-6, Heb 3:18-19, John 1:29, 12:31)
#2. Now Is the Judgment of This World (John 3:16-17, 1John 2:15-17, 2Cor 5:19, John 17:9)
#3. The World of Fallen Man (John 12:31, Rev 17, John 12:23)
#4. What Will Ye Do With the Son of God? (Matt 22:42, Psalm 2:1-3, John 10:4, Heb 2:3)
Please open your Bible to Matthew chapter 12. This sermon concerns the passage of John 12:20-33. We need to be aware that there were and are three events in the history of this world which have to do with Judgment Day. Those three events are: The first Passover, the crucifixion of Christ, and the return of Christ. The first Passover was a real historical event. But God wrote up this event in such a way that it became a picture, or a shadow, of Judgment Day and it became a picture also of the last Passover, namely the Passover at the crucifixion of Jesus Christ.
· Judgment Day (Matt 12:36, Dan 9:24-27, Gen 15:16)
At that first Passover we see essentially two parties: The children of Israel and the Egyptians. Just like on the last day there are only two parties: there are the saints and there are those who hate God, essentially all the unsaved. All the Egyptians were under condemnation, just like on the last day all the unsaved are under condemnation. But God could not smite all the Egyptians to death, for they still had a function to fulfill in history. God smote all the firstborn of the Egyptians, for the firstborn were representing the whole. This is called a synecdoche, which is a figure of speech indicating that a fraction is representing the whole. In the Bible, God used this symbol of the firstborn many times and God uses a synecdoche many times. The leader of the Egyptians was Pharaoh, just like on the last day the leader of all the unsaved is Satan. Under instigation of Pharaoh, the Egyptians afflicted the children of Israel grievously, just like in the end time the saints will experience the final tribulation, whereas the unsaved do not even see that there is a final tribulation.
The children of Israel were a picture of God’s elect, just like on the last day the saints are actually God’s elect. Essentially the same promise may be given to the children of Israel on that first Passover, as well as to the elect of God on the last Passover, and just as well to the saints waiting for Christ’s return on the last day: “The blood of the Lamb shall make you free”. We see clearly on that first Passover that God is fighting for His people. But we also see this clearly on the last Passover, and on the last day, that Christ is fighting for us. We can see the judgment that fell on all the Egyptians in the fact that Pharaoh and all his army drowned in the Red Sea. Not one of them escaped, just like on the last day all the unsaved will be drowned in the Lake of Fire and not one of them shall escape.
We can also recognize that God made the last Passover to be the first judgment day, and the last day will be the second judgment day. On that first judgment day, on April 3 in the year AD 33, all the elect of God were judged in Christ, for Christ suffered in their place the equivalent of an eternity in Hell for all their sins. At the same time, however, all the non-elect were also destined to appear before the judgment seat of Christ, because the Lord Jesus Christ passed them by; their sins remain, for their sins were not paid at the cross. They have to give account of their own sins, for Christ is not their Redeemer, for in their lifetime they have rejected Christ. And the Lord Jesus said in Matt 12:36 that even in their smallest sin, like speaking an idle word, they shall have to give account thereof in the Day of Judgment. We read in Matt 12:36,
Mt 12:36 But I say unto you, That every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment
Therefore, at the cross essentially all mankind is already judged. But God could not end the world in AD 33, because those sins still had to be committed. History must continue to unfold “for the iniquity of the Amorites is not yet full” (Gen 15:16). And so we see that the first Passover was essentially a picture of the atonement of Christ in AD 33, at which time no further Passovers should be celebrated because the ceremonial law ceased at the cross. And so we also see that April 3, in the year AD 33, was the first judgment day, setting the stage for the second judgment day on the last day. In fact, many passages in the Old Testament speak of Christ’s atonement and immediately thereafter judgment day. We need to be aware of this when we read the Old Testament.
I have often been asked why I speak so categorically about April 3, in the year AD 33. The answer is very simple. In AD 33, the Passover fell on Friday, April 3. Why am I so sure that it was the year AD 33 and not AD 30? When we work through the prophecy of Daniel 9:24-27 we find that we must begin counting the 490 years to this date, remembering that there is no year zero, and we arrive at 33 AD exactly. It is the perversion of the Seventh Day Adventist movement to suggest that Christ was crucified in AD 30. They prefer that date, because in AD 30 the Passover fell on Wednesday, because they believe that Christ rose from the tomb on Saturday. But we will stay away from such preposterous assumptions, for these do not harmonize with the rest of the Bible. There are many more similarities that I could point out. But the one important accusation that we can level at the Egyptians at the first Passover, as well as on the last Passover and on Judgment day is this: “What have you done with Christ?” Therefore the title of this chapter has been chosen to reflect this sentiment: “What Will Ye Do with Christ?”
· The Hour Has Come (John 12:20-33)
Please open to the Gospel According to John, John chapter 12. The Lord Jesus made here the statement that the hour of His suffering had arrived. And what triggered this utterance of Jesus? It was the inquiry of Greeks that they wanted to talk to Jesus. They were Gentiles who had converted to Judaism some time ago, and now they had come to Jerusalem to fulfill one of the requirements of the Law of God that all the males should appear three times each year before the Lord:
#1, At the Passover feast; #2, at the feast of Pentecost; and #3, at the feast of Tabernacles.
And now they wanted to talk to Jesus. We read in John 12:20-33,
Joh 12:20 “And there were certain Greeks among them that came up to worship at the feast: 21 The same came therefore to Philip, which was of Bethsaida of Galilee, and desired him, saying, Sir, we would see Jesus. 22 Philip cometh and telleth Andrew: and again Andrew and Philip tell Jesus. 23 And Jesus answered them, saying, The hour is come, that the Son of man should be glorified. 24 Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone: but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit. 25 He that loveth his life shall lose it; and he that hateth his life in this world shall keep it unto life eternal. 26 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 honour. 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.”
The Greeks wanted to see Jesus. Philip and Andrew brought Him the message. And this triggered in the Lord Jesus the awesome response that He gave in verse 23, “The hour is come, that the Son of man should be glorified”. He is speaking about His crucifixion. Why did Jesus react to that news about the Greeks in this particular way? He is reminded of the fact that, in addition to the few Jews who are going to be saved, there are multitudes more of Gentiles who are going to be saved and whose sins must be paid for. The Lord Jesus is reminded of the enormous suffering He had to endure, and the Lord Jesus is reminded of the glory that is waiting Him after those sufferings have been endured. And then the voice of the Father was heard from heaven. This was very significant. Only three times, in the life of the Lord Jesus, was this voice of the Father heard: #1, at His baptism by John the Baptist where Jesus was commissioned for His ministry, #2, at the Mount of Transfiguration when Jesus was strengthened for His impending suffering and death, #3, and here in John chapter 12, four days before His crucifixion. What was so special about this day?
#1. The Tenth Day of Nisan (Ex 12:14,1-6, Heb 3:19, John 1:29, 12:31)
It was the tenth day of the first month. Put a marker here in John chapter 12, and turn to the Prophecy of Exodus, Ex 12:14. There we read about God’s ordinances concerning the feast of Passover. The exodus of the children of Israel out of Egypt was a grand picture of God’s salvation of His elect people out of their bondage to sin and Satan. It was only a picture, or a shadow of salvation. Most of them were not actually saved, because most of them died in the wilderness in unbelief (Heb 3:19). With unbelief in their hardened hearts it meant that they were not saved.
In Ex 12:14 we read, “And this day shall be unto you for a memorial; and ye shall keep it a feast to the LORD throughout your generations; ye shall keep it a feast by an ordinance for ever”. Did you see that? Forever! Did God mean what He said? Absolutely yes! Why don’t we celebrate the Passover today? It is because the Passover was a bloody feast: the Passover lamb was killed. After Christ shed His blood there may never be a bloody ceremony again. Therefore God established a new Memorial that replaced the feast of Passover, and that is the Memorial of the Lord’s Supper, which we are celebrating today. Let us read Ex 12:1-6,
Ex 12:1-6 “And the LORD spake unto Moses and Aaron in the land of Egypt, saying, 2 This month shall be unto you the beginning of months: it shall be the first month of the year to you. 3 Speak ye unto all the congregation of Israel, saying, In the tenth day of this month they shall take to them every man a lamb, according to the house of their fathers, a lamb for an house: 4 And if the household be too little for the lamb, let him and his neighbour next unto his house take it according to the number of the souls; every man according to his eating shall make your count for the lamb. 5 Your lamb shall be without blemish, a male of the first year: ye shall take it out from the sheep, or from the goats: 6 And ye shall keep it up until the fourteenth day of the same month: and the whole assembly of the congregation of Israel shall kill it in the evening.”
I want you to see the time references here. Verse 3: In the tenth day of the first month they had to select a particular lamb and set it aside to be the sacrificial lamb. This day marked the beginning of the Passover ceremony. Verse 6: On the fourteenth day of the first month they had to kill it, not in the evening, but the Hebrew text says “between the evenings”, which means between sundown and sundown. The Lord Jesus ate His last Passover supper with the disciples in the year AD 33, on Thursday evening, when the fourteenth day of the first month had just begun after sundown. Most other Jews killed their Passover lamb on Friday, which was still the fourteenth day of the first month until sundown, and they ate their Passover meal that evening. And thus, they killed their Passover lamb at the same time that the Lord Jesus Christ hung on the cross. From this apparent coincidence we see that it was ordained by God all along.
Christ is the true Passover Lamb who redeemed His elect people, out of the house of bondage to sin and Satan, and leads them out. That is why John the Baptist said in John 1:29, “Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world”. All the millions of Passover lambs killed during the fifteen centuries prior to Christ’s sacrifice were only pictures, signs and shadows of Christ’s ultimate sacrifice. And when was this Passover Lamb selected, or dedicated? It was on the tenth day of the first month. In AD 33 what day of the week was that? On the ninth day of the first month, on Sunday, was the triumphal entry of Jesus in Jerusalem, when all the people shouted, “Hosanna: Blessed is the King of Israel that cometh in the name of the Lord”. This was the ninth day of the first month.
Please turn to the Gospel according to John, John 12:20. The commotion of Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem lasted all Sunday. Then the next day, which is Monday, the tenth day of the first month, came the Greeks to see Jesus. This was also the day when the Father selected the Lamb of God for His Passover celebration. And thus, at the same time when the Jews made their selection of Passover lambs God the Father publicly announced His selection of His Passover Lamb. This tenth day of the first month marked the beginning of that last legitimate Passover feast. And that is why the Lord Jesus exclaimed in John 12:31, “Now is the judgment of this world: now shall the prince of this world be cast out”. It did not mean “Now, this instant”, but it meant “Now are the wheels set in motion to judge this world, and now are the wheels set in motion to cast Satan out of heaven”. Wherefore then, what does it mean that Jesus said,
#2. Now Is the Judgment of This World (John 3:17,16, 1John 2:15-17, 2Cor 5:19, Joh 17:9)
Did He not say that He did not come to judge the world but that the world through Him might be saved? Please turn back to John 3:17. The Lord Jesus said in John 3:17, “For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved”. Is Jesus contradicting Himself in John 12:31? Of course this is impossible. God cannot lie. But what is this world of which the Lord speaks? We must understand that the word “world” has many different meanings. We cannot quote the Bible at random on this point. Many people understand that the word “world” simply means “all men”. That is false. As we can see, to think that it means “all men” leads to contradictions, and thus it leads to declaring God a liar. And then the crucial question becomes, “What will ye do with Christ?” since the Bible determines who your Christ is. Will ye pick and choose the verses that ye like, or will we try to harmonize the whole Bible? Of course, what God desires is that we harmonize the whole Bible. And so it is that we must interpret the word “world” in different ways, depending on the context. Two major meanings of the word “world” stand out: One is “God’s world”, and the other is “fallen man’s world”.
#2a. God’s world is the world of God’s elect that Christ came to save, as we can read in John 3:16-17, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth 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”. This is the world that God loves, for this is the world God saves. God does not love the world of the wicked, for God will destroy that world, for that world shall be burned up. God does not love the wicked. God does not love those who are going to pay for their own sins in Hell. Nowhere in the Bible can we find a verse where God loves the reprobate. God bestows His love only on His elect, only on those who were in Christ from before the foundation of the world. God’s world encompasses only God’s elect. This is the world of His everlasting good pleasure, the world of His love, the world He purposes to save in Christ.
#2b. We read about the world of the reprobate in 1John 2:15-17, “For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever”. That is man’s world, the world of sinful man, motivated through and through by enmity against God, full of corruption and unrighteousness. And this world is not the object of the love of God, and may not be the object of our love. On the one hand we read about God’s world in 2Cor 5:19 “To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation”. On the other hand we read about man’s fallen world in John 17:9, “I pray not for the world”. These two worlds are temporarily one, just like the wheat and the chaff are one; since all are by nature in Adam, and thus all are under sin and under the wrath of God. But God saves His world out of the world of man, and God saves His world in the way of judgment and of justice.
#3. The World of Fallen Man (John 12:31, Rev 17, John 12:23)
When the Lord Jesus declared, “Now is the judgment of this world”, He spoke of “the world of fallen man”. Man was originally created king of this earthly creation, in order that with all things he might serve his God. But man rebelled against God, allied himself with the Devil, and ever since performed the will of the Devil and he subjects all things into the service of sin and the Devil. This is the world as it always has existed since the fall of Adam, and we can clearly see it in our day. It is a world that in all its power and might, in all its knowledge and presumed wisdom, in its commerce and industry, in its science and arts, always has been without God and in opposition to God. This world with its pride and self-exaltation, its trust in man and its trust in the wisdom of man, its hatred of God and of one another, its covetousness and lust for power only serves the glory of man. It is a world full of the lust of the flesh, full of idolatry and adultery, full of profanity and deceit, full of striving after pleasures and treasures, and also a world full of strife and debate, full of unrest and revolutions, and full of wars and destruction. And also it is a world where the self-righteousness and the self-asserted goodness of man, and its man-made religions are highly exalted as the noblest things of man.
For always that world, with all its iniquity and corruption, puts on a cloak of righteousness and goodness, and with all its hatred it speaks of love, and with all its injustice and shedding of blood it speaks of its own justice. That beautiful, and mighty, and powerful, and glamorous, and boasting, and self-righteous, and proud, and thoroughly corrupt world, is that painted and adorned harlot of Rev 17 whom the Lord has in mind when He said, “Now is the judgment of this world”. On the Last Day when all who still are in “the world of fallen man” will be cast into the Lake of Fire, not one of the saints will shed a tear, because that world has been serving Satan since its inception. When this world will be faced with the question, “What will ye do with the Son of God if He stands before you as a helpless man?” Then this world will answer with one accord, “We will surely kill Him!” I am not saying this without reason. Let us look at the record. When the Lord Jesus declared, in John 12:23, “The hour is come that the Son of man should be glorified”, He spoke of an hour of Judgment when this evil world was well represented.
You see, when the world rejects and kills the Son of God, He may not be killed by a tribe of ignorant cannibals, or by a ragtag band of savage criminals. On the contrary, the very best, the most just, the noblest and the wisest of mankind must be delegated to that court of justice where the world will judge the Son of God, but where in fact the world will be judged and condemned. The cross of Christ may not be erected in some forsaken corner of the world, but it must be exhibited in the very center of the world. That center of the world, in the fulness of time, was Jerusalem in the year AD 33. If anyone would have asked at that time, where do the wisest and most religious people live? They would answer: “In Jerusalem”, which is considered the center of the world.
Not in decadent Rome where even the senators are evil, and not in Greece where people adore prostitutes in idolatrous temples, but in Jerusalem which housed a magnificent temple specially dedicated to the worship of their one and only God. Look at the facts of history. Jerusalem, was the only place in the world where people had a monotheistic religion, which they practiced for fifteen hundred years. Jerusalem, where the wisest men live, and which has the capacity to send seventy wise men to Alexandria to translate the Hebrew Bible into Greek, and do it accurately. Jerusalem, where the scrolls of the wisest prophets were kept, prophets who had talked with God directly. How can you get any wiser than that? Jerusalem, it was there and then that the whole world of all ages appeared in all its culture and civilization, in its wisdom and human philosophy, in its power and human justice, in all the splendor of its natural light, but also as it stood in the pride of her rebellion against God. It was the world at its best. Was there ever a moment in the history of the world more favorable for the world to appear before the bar of highest justice? There were the chief priests, and elders, and scribes, and Sadducees, and Pharisees, the theologians of those days, the men that knew the Law of God and who scrupulously kept it. There was the official court of the Roman Empire, famous for its knowledge of what is just and true among men. There were Herod the Tetrach, and Pilate the Roman governor, the representatives of Roman justice. And there were the Jewish people, whose were the covenants, and the promises, and the lawgiving. For unto them were committed the oracles of God. And all these constituted “the world” of which the Lord Jesus speaks at this time, and that is about to be judged, and whose prince will be cast out.
#4. What Will Ye Do With the Son of God? (Matt 22:42, Psalm 2:1-3, John 10:4, Heb 2:3)
In what sense is the hour of Jesus’ condemnation by the world, and His suffering and death also the judgment of the world? You see, through the suffering of the Lord Jesus Christ the world was put on trial. In Matt 22:42 the Lord Jesus confronted the world with the question: “What think ye of Christ, Whose Son is He?” And then Jesus clearly showed that the Christ must be the Son of God. And through His entire public ministry, for three and a half years, the Lord Jesus clearly revealed that He was that Christ, and that He had come to witness the truth, and that He was the Light of the world in a world of darkness. And so, when this Christ, in the hour of His trial, stood before the world as a weak and helpless man, without power and without defense, the world faced the question, “What will ye do with God’s representative, with the Son of God, if He should stand before you in the form of a helpless man?” O, the council did not like this public trial. For it was their intention to kill Jesus secretly, without any formal trial or judicial procedure. And it must not be on the feast day. All publicity must be avoided. But this was not God’s plan. The Lord Jesus had to be tried publicly. For clearly and definitely they must answer God’s question: “What will ye do with the Son of God?”
And so, their plans were frustrated. What was the cause of their dilemma? There was the raising of Lazarus, and the resulting growing popularity of Jesus. There was, on Thursday evening, the Lord’s dismissal of the traitor Judas Iscariot, who was now forced to do quickly what he had sold himself to do, by the sudden exposure of his hypocrisy in the upper room. And thus God arranged it so that not in secret, but in the way of a public trial seen by all the world, not in a forsaken corner of the world, but in the most public place of all the world, Jerusalem, and on the choicest of all times, on the feast of Passover, the whole world was placed before the question: “What will ye do with the Son of God?” And all the world answered with one accord, “If we can ever get hold of God we will surely kill Him! Away with Him! Crucify Him! Crucify Him!”
Let me prove this again to you with an example of our times. As you know, this world loves to do away with God at any opportunity they can get a hold of. And so today they have invented the theory of evolution, whereby they assume that man has evolved from apes, and more specifically from chimpanzees. They claim that this evolution took millions of years, through a series of naturally occurring variations. This theory of evolution has been received with open arms all over the world with gladness and joy, for by this process of evolution, mankind has done away with God, and with sin, and with the Devil, and with conscience. And thus, Hell does not exist, and the final Judgment Day does not exist. Everyone rejoices, for they have killed God.
But then, what about Christ and His crucifixion in AD 33, and His resurrection? They have simply denied His resurrection, and in His crucifixion, He was the victim of the jealousy of the Scribes and Pharisees. And so, that world whose mask of culture and goodness had been torn off, and had been exposed in all its vileness and wicked enmity against the living God, on that world God poured out the vials of His wrath. According to the Bible, when the Lord Jesus Christ strove to the place of execution, He carried in His bosom His own whom the Father had given Him. It was His own world, of which He had been appointed the head from before the foundation of the world. It was a small world compared to the world of the reprobate, for it was only a remnant of mankind that desires the true Gospel.
Has the Good Shepherd not said to His own sheep, “he goeth before them, and the sheep follow him: for they know his voice” (John 10:4). This is how He goeth before them, to Calvary. And what does He accomplish there? To redeem His own, He, the Lamb of God, must take away the sin of His world. And there, on Calvary, He must bear all the suffering and the agony of the wrath of God to the full and bitter end. To justify the righteousness of God He must bear the equivalent of an eternity in Hell or else the payment would not be complete. He made that cross the altar upon which He brought the perfect sacrifice of Himself. “God was in Christ, reconciling His world to Himself”. And so, after His burial, and after His resurrection, the world of God’s eternal love in Christ Jesus our Lord emerged from the tomb of Joseph of Arimathaea. The world of all His people, a remnant from all the tribes and tongues and nations of the world, were redeemed at the cross, sins paid, and righteousness declared freely to cover all their sins. The payment for the liberation of God’s world was fully made. All their sins were judged in Christ, were paid by Christ, to the full satisfaction of God, and so their judgment was fully dealt with. God, the righteous Judge, has been satisfied.
But, what about the other world: “the world of fallen man”? The answer is that all those within “the world of fallen man” were also judged on that day for all the sins they were going to commit, sins whose guilt has not yet been paid to the full satisfaction of God’s infinite justice. And therefore, on the Last Day, every one of them has to face the questions: “What have I done with Jesus, who is called the Word of God? What have I done with the Bible?” And the answer comes without fail: “You have neglected the Bible, the Word of God. You have twisted the Word of God. You have neglected the real Jesus”. You have rejected Him who came offering a great gift to you. And God will say, Did you not read Heb 2:3? There you would have read, “How shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation; which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed unto us by them that heard him?” O yes! This world is certainly out to kill Jesus, if they can get a hold of Him. But they will kill His Word first. And already do we see that His Word is choked off by the distribution of New International Version (NIV) bibles, which are nothing else than Gnostic bibles, and by worship practices that are absolutely abominations in God’s sight, because God forbids them in His Word.
But to all who find themselves in the world of God’s elect, God assures us that the Lord Jesus Christ in His atonement fully satisfied for our sins, and obtained for us an eternal righteousness for that New World, whose eternal King He is. And by the power of the faith He gives unto us, we turn away from the world that is judged and condemned, and we are liberated from the bondage to the prince of the power of the air. And so, even now we have become servants of righteousness under the leadership of the Prince of Peace. Blessed are all they that put their trust in Him.
AMEN. Let us turn to the Lord in prayer.