God’s Win; Satan’s Loss
Prepared by Dr. John E. Marshall
John 12:27 (Holman) ANow My soul is troubled. What should I say B Father, save Me from this hour? But that is why I came to this hour.@
For Jesus, this was a foretaste of Gethsemane. Reflecting on the cross, He became troubled.
Jesus= inner struggle was not a sin. The dread of dying is natural because death was not part of our original existence. Our bodies were not created with death in mind. It is an intruder. Everything in us is repulsed at the thought of it.
The cross is made most beautiful by the fact Jesus had to squelch strong desires in order to go there. At this moment in Jesus= life, duty and desire clashed head on. The work He had committed to do was dreaded by the nature He had assumed. Fortunately, the momentary conflict gave way to a heroic decision.
Jesus= human nature had the first word, but love spoke the last. Our carnal nature has fast reflexes, often faster than our spiritual natures. Our selfish side may speak first, but we must quickly rouse the other side of us and listen to it.
Jesus= inner struggles teach us the war between good and evil in us is not sin. The battle may be intense, yet Christ can be glorified. Sin lies not in the conflict, but in defeat.
Certain martyrs appeared on the surface to be more heroic in death than Jesus was, but Christ=s death was unique, and cannot be compared to any other. His was an atonement, a substitution. Jesus dreaded sin-bearing. He knew His body was about to absorb sin, its sorrow, its punishment. The cross= chief agony was not its physical atrocities, though they were extreme. The worst pain was the bitterness of sin He bore, having to bear the intensity of its retribution. Jesus suffered under not only Jewish and Roman law, but also Divine law.
To enter the very heart of sin was unimaginable, a terrible agony. Jesus hated the thought, but knew it had to be done.
John 12:28a AFather, glorify Your name!@
This brief prayer is the highest, noblest request we can ask of God. For total unselfishness, this is the best prayer to offer. Have we prayed it recently?
The only thing about God we can essentially hurt or help is His glory B His reputation, as it were. The utmost accomplishment in prayer is to be able to honestly say, AGod, do anything with me that will enhance your reputation.@
This prayer is appropriate for all occasions. When in affliction, this is our best request. Cry it out to the Lord. Ask God to be glorified, whatever the cost. We must, making no stipulations, leave all to God.
When we can honestly pray this prayer, whatever conflict we are in is over. If we say the prayer sincerely, what happens to us in a given situation no longer matters. Once we ask Him to glorify His Name, and mean it, we can quarrel no more with how He deals with us. In a 1936 sermon, George W. Truett quoted this Van Dyke poem.
The Secret of Peace
With eager heart and will on fire,
I sought to win my great desire.
APeace shall be mine,@ I said,
But life grew bitter in the endless strife.
My soul was weary and my pride was wounded deep.
To Heaven I cried, AGod give me peace or I must die.@
The dumb stars glittered no reply.
Broken at last I bowed my head.
Forgetting all myself I said,
AWhatever comes, God=s will be done,@
And in that moment peace was won.
John 12:28b-30 Then a voice came from heaven: AI have glorified it, and I will glorify it again!@ The crowd standing there heard it and said it was thunder. Others said, AAn angel has spoken to Him!@ Jesus responded, AThis voice came, not for Me, but for you.@
Jesus= prayer received a thunderous response from the Father. Three times God=s audible voice sounded from Heaven in Jesus= ministry. One, at the beginning of Jesus= public ministry, when He was baptized by John. The Spirit of God descended on Jesus in the form of a dove, and a voice from Heaven said, AThis is My beloved Son, I take delight in Him@ (Matthew 3:16-17).
Two, near the middle of Jesus= public work, when He said He was headed for suffering (Luke 9:22). He was transfigured and a voice from Heaven said, AThis is My beloved Son. I take delight in Him. Listen to Him@ (Matthew 17:5).
Our text, the third time God the Father spoke out loud for Jesus, took place near the end of Jesus= days, when He needed strength. Some thought it was thunder; others called it the voice of an angel. He who had lived in the Father=s bosom recognized the voice. Hearing God depends on a pure heart, not good ears.
The Jews, feeling the glory days were past, believed God no longer dealt directly with people. They felt God was too far away now. At the same time they were bemoaning this plight, God=s highest manifestation stood among them.
We also tend to bad-mouth our own day, and seem to have fallen into despair, but abundant evidence proves God is still at work. The largest churches and Sunday Schools in history exist today. The man who has preached to more people than any other human being lives today (Billy Graham). Revival is sweeping China and Africa. More people are being won to Christ now than ever before. God has not forsaken us. A pure heart still hears Him.
John 12:31a ANow is the judgment of this world.@
Jesus= death judged this world by revealing people=s moral condition. Humans showed their true colors at Calvary. Our hearts harbor enmity toward God. What we did to Jesus in the flesh graphicly portrayed what we do to God in the spirit.
The whole world was present at Calvary. Religious, social, and political factions were represented by the Chief Priests, voices of the mob, and Pilate. They all agreed to condemn Christ. Thereby, the world pronounced its own condemnation. By killing the Just One, we proclaimed ourselves utterly unjust.
All of Jesus= life on this planet judges and rebukes our race. God came to earth. Look at the throne we set Him on (a cross), the crown (thorns) we gave Him, the scepter (a reed) we put in his hand, the palace (no home) we built Him. This is a strange and treasonous way to treat royalty.
John 12:31b ANow the ruler of this world will be cast out.@
Jesus knew His death would deal a death-blow to the Devil. At Calvary, Jesus won over Satan, the prince of this world. Due to the cross, Satan=s power can be overcome. He is not absolute.
The Devil was defeated in what appeared to be his greatest triumph, the crucifixion of God=s Son. No wonder Satan tried to sidetrack Jesus, to keep Him from the cross.
An ancient quarrel, waged from before time, climaxed at the cross. Eons earlier Satan had rebelled in Heaven. He repeated his treason in Adam=s fall, and in the overwhelming sin of Noah=s day.
Satan has been very successful. Jesus called Satan the prince of this world. Paul called him the god of this world. John the Beloved said the whole world lies in the wicked one. The Devil has a strong grip on people=s hearts and minds.
Satan=s dominion has always been an usurpation. He stole it from God. Jesus came to earth to show us who the real Ruler and King of the Universe is. Spotless Jesus took the full brunt of all the forces Hell could muster, entered their dominion, and then displayed their impotence through His resurrection.
Before the incarnation, Satan held almost absolute sway over Earth=s entire population. Even the one nation that was supposed to be God=s had hardened with sin. But since the cross, Christ has constantly encroached on Satan=s dominions.
After Calvary, Satan no longer had the advantage of an Aunglorified@ God. In the cross, the world witnessed God=s essential nature. Once people saw Jesus= love displayed, Satan=s work became greatly complicated.