Prepared by Dr. John E. Marshall
John 12:42 (Holman) Nevertheless, many did believe in Him even among the rulers, but because of the Pharisees they did not confess Him, so they would not be banned from the synagogue.
The Lord=s message is powerful. Some of the leaders did believe, despite intense pressure otherwise.
The Gospel often has a firmer grip on people=s consciences than we realize. Elijah thought he was alone, but there were 7000 quiet others. Many in our day silently admire the precepts of our faith.
This having been said, we hasten to say there is cause to question the validity and efficacy of a faith afraid or ashamed to reveal itself. Those who truly believe with the heart are to prove it by publicizing it with the mouth (Romans 10:10).
Many pray and read the Bible, but shrink from any public declaration of a relationship with Christ. These good, but mute, lives let the world think their virtues are self-produced. As a result, an unbelieving onlooker might think the Christian life can be led without Christ. Our silence about the power source of our lives subtly takes glory from God and places it on us.
If we took credit for someone else=s masterful painting, we would be called a liar and a cheat. The same could be said of the ethical, moral lives we live. By our silence, we are taking credit for the work God has done.
Since silence is a dangerous road to walk, these leaders were wrong in trying to be secret disciples. Silent discipleship will prove to be fruitless, for secrecy will kill the discipleship, or discipleship will kill the secrecy.
These leaders feared they would lose much by following Jesus. It is tragic how often people misplace their priorities. Important, Godly causes are often neglected because they interfere with less vital interests.
Joan of Arc, realizing she was totally forsaken, said, AYes, I am alone on earth. I have always been alone. My father told my brothers to drown me if I would not stay to mind his sheep while France was bleeding to death; France might perish if only our lambs were safe.@
Joan of Arc=s father preferred safe sheep over a safe France. These rulers made a similar misjudgment. They refused to follow God=s anointed and chose to be loyal to the synagogues, places from which God=s glory was departing.
John 12:43 For they loved praise from men more than praise from God.
Receiving praise from people, in and of itself, is not evil. We are right to want the praise of good, wise people. The problem in our text was, they loved praise from people more than they loved praise from God.
Nothing is wrong in receiving people=s praise if we seek it after doing our duty, and it is not our dominant motive. If love for human praise is our primary goal in life, we will be a hypocrite when religion is in fashion, and an apostate when it is in disgrace. Our service must overwhelmingly be for God=s praise, not people=s.
We tend to follow the crowd. Henry Ward Beecher illustrated how easy it is to come down on the popular side. AAs long as slavery was an accredited fact and not to be disturbed, it was a very ungracious thing to stand up for human liberty; but no sooner was the public sentiment changed than men sprang up thicker than asparagus and cried, >Oh, the preciousness of emancipation=.@
Our natural desire for human applause can backfire, as was shown in a humorous incident from John Wesley=s ministry. Michael Fenwick, who traveled with Wesley as a helper and learner, complained that the famous preacher never inserted his name in Wesley=s published Journals. Wesley heard the complaint and wrote in the next edition: AI preached at Clayworth. I think none were unmoved but Michael Fenwick, who fell fast asleep under an adjoining haystack.@
Seeking human praise can become a silent slavery. Earthly applause tends to produce golden shackles binding us so that we cannot freely do our duty.
Mr. Smith, before making a decision, watches to see what Mr. Jones intends to do. Ironically, Mr. Jones is watching Mr. Smith for the same reason.
Whenever a heroic voice rises to stand against the crowd, many other reluctant ones can be drawn from their obscurity and attach themselves to it.
Many will sing if someone will begin the tune. A whole family or church can be swayed if one of its members will speak a decisive word. May the Lord enable us to be right, and bold in the doing of it.
John 12:44-47 Then Jesus cried out, AThe one who believes in Me believes not in Me, but in Him who sent Me. And the one who sees Me sees Him who sent Me. I have come as a light into the world, so that everyone who believes in Me would not remain in darkness. If anyone hears My words and doesn=t keep them, I do not judge him; for I did not come to judge the world but to save the world.@
Many of the religious leaders were afraid to applaud Jesus publicly, but He had courage to speak openly. He bravely told them their reaction to Him was sealing their own doom.
People show what they really are and judge themselves by their attitude to Jesus. No one needs to be surprised at what their verdict will be on Judgment Day. Our attitude toward Jesus in this life accurately predicts the outcome then.
John 12:48 AThe one who rejects Me and doesn=t accept My sayings has this as his judge; the word I have spoken will judge him on the last day.@
There will be a last day. God is going to intervene, and end the existing order. Tomorrow shall eventually cease to be.
On that day, unbelief will be punished. It is the condemning sin, for nothing is worse than patience abused, and grace trampled on.
The evidence leveled against unbelievers will be the words of Christ they heard, but did not accept. A rejection of His words is a rejection of Him.
Delay is dangerous. Every missed opportunity to receive Christ will be incriminating evidence at the great assize.
God=s words live, lasting forever in any heart they enter. Memory will preach old sermons, and teach past lessons, over and over again forever.
An author in the 1700s ended his book with an appeal for salvation. He warned, if the reader disregarded the invitation, condemnation would follow, Aand so much the more because thou hast read this book.@
Jesus= words can be refused, but not banished. They cling to their hearers as Judge and jury.
John 12:49 AFor I have not spoken on My own, but the Father Himself who sent Me has given Me a command as to what I should say and what I should speak.@
Jesus said only what He was told to say. He obeyed His Father. Christ learned obedience Himself before He taught us to obey.
Jesus took no credit for His oratory. He did not claim His words were flashes of His own genius. He said He was not their originator, but their channel. No person is a true spiritual teacher unless they are conscious the thoughts they utter are not their own, but God=s.
John 12:50 AI know that His command is eternal life. So the things that I speak, I speak just as the Father has told Me.@
What benefit accrues to us from Jesus= obedience to the Father? Everlasting life for all who receive His words.