************ Sermon on John 12:33 ************
By: Rev. Adrian Dieleman
This sermon was preached on March 7, 2021
John 12:23-24, 27-34
"Three Responses to Jesus' Glory"
I Glory by Crucifixion
A Jesus said, "when I am lifted up from the earth" (Jn 12:32). Is He talking about His resurrection? No. Is He talking about His ascension into heaven? No. Verse 33: "He said this to show the kind of death he was going to die."
Our Lord was speaking of His crucifixion. Back then, when the Jews executed someone, they threw them to the ground and stoned them to death. When the Romans executed someone, they lifted them from the ground and crucified them. The Romans did this to thousands of people in Israel and elsewhere. So everybody knows to be lifted up is to be crucified.
B Go back to the opening two verses of our Bible reading this morning. Jesus said, "The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified" (Jn 12:23). Then immediately Jesus talks about a kernel of wheat dying and producing many seeds (Jn 12:24).
Do you hear what Jesus is saying? He is saying He is going to be glorified. How? He is going to be glorified by dying. More specifically, He is going to be glorified by being lifted up for crucifixion.
How opposite this is to the ways of the world. The world glorifies a sports star with a one hundred and twenty million dollar contract. Movie stars are glorified with money and followers and academy awards. Rock stars are glorified with sold out concerts and songs that hit the top ten and grammy awards. Politicians are glorified with office and position and authority. Artists are glorified, usually after they are dead, with people spending millions for their work. Successful CEOs are glorified with stock options and business jets and vacation homes. But Jesus, the King of kings and Lord of lords, is glorified by dying.
C Isn't this why Jesus came? At His birth He was called Jesus because He would save His people from their sins. As Jesus Himself put it, "the Son of Man came to seek and to save what was lost" (Lk 19:10). How was He going to save? Jesus knew salvation was to be through His death. He knew He was going to be lifted up. He knew He was the Lamb of God. He knew "the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many" (Mk 10:45). He was born to die. He knew that.
This was always the plan. From eternity to eternity this was the plan. As Revelation 13:8 puts it, He is "the Lamb that was slain from the creation of the world." Before He came into the world He knew He was going to be killed.
He came to this earth to die. He didn't come to be a good teacher. He didn't come to be a miracle worker. He didn't come to be a wise man or philosopher. He didn't come to get rid of Judaism. He didn't come to start Christianity. Though all of this was the result of His ministry. He came to earth to die.
And, during the last week, Jesus came to Jerusalem to die. The Jewish people expected Him to attack the Romans. Instead, He attacked and cleared the Temple (Jn 2:12 ff; Lk 19:45 ff). He called it "a den of robbers. Why did He do this? So that the angry leaders would kill Him and glorify Him.
D Jesus spells out for us the glory of the cross in three different statements. First, "now is the time for judgment on this world" (Jn 12:31). By world, Jesus doesn't mean planet, the round globe in space. Rather, He means those who oppose and hate Him and the gospel. It looked like Jesus was the one being judged but in reality it was the world and its sin that was being judged. Who was being judged? The Jewish people who rejected Him, the leaders who hated Him, Judas who betrayed Him, the Roman soldiers who mocked and crucified Him, Pilate who allowed a miscarriage of justice -- those are the ones who were judged. That's the glory of the cross.
Second, "now the prince of this world will be driven out" (Jn 12:31). Jesus is talking about Satan. Satan was defeated at Calvary's cross. It only looked like Satan won. In reality, Christ crushed Satan's head so Satan was finished, done for. That's the glory of the cross.
Third, "but I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to myself" (Jn 12:32). By "all" Jesus does NOT mean every person who ever lived. Rather, He means from every nation, tribe, people, and language. It isn't just Jews who are God's people. All of God's elect throughout history and from all over the earth are gathered to Him. That's the glory of the cross.
E Glorified by dying. That's why in the church we glorify and praise Jesus because of the cross. That's why there is a multitude of crosses in our church building. We have a cross at the end of the pews. We have a cross on the cover of our hymn book. We have a cross on the front of the pulpit.
It only makes sense that we also have a cross on the Lord's Supper table and baptismal font. In baptism we proclaim the death of Jesus: we believe as surely as water washes away the dirt from the body, so certainly His blood and Spirit wash away all our sins. In the Lord's Supper we proclaim the death of Christ: we believe as surely as we see with our eyes the bread of the Lord broken for us and the cup given to us, so surely His body was offered and broken for us and His blood poured out for us on the cross. Every baptism and every celebration of the Lord's Supper glories in the cross.
We often sing about the cross in worship. Did you know there is even singing about the cross in heaven? I think especially of Revelation 5:12 -- one of my favorite verses:
Revelation 5:12 (NIV84) — 12 In a loud voice [the angels] sang: “Worthy is the Lamb, who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and strength and honor and glory and praise!”Praise and glory to Jesus on earth as well as in heaven because of His cross.
Now, let us look at three responses to the glory of the cross: the response of Jesus, the response of the Father, and the response of the crowd.
II Jesus is Troubled
A The first response is that of Jesus. Jesus says His heart is troubled.
John 12:27–28 (NIV84) — 27 “Now my heart is troubled, and what shall I say? ‘Father, save me from this hour’? No, it was for this very reason I came to this hour. 28 Father, glorify your name!”
Troubled. The word is used of King Herod when he was told there was born a king of the Jews (Mt 2:3). It is used of the disciples when they saw Jesus walking towards them on the water (Mt 14:26) and when Jesus appeared to them in the upper room (Lk 24:38). It is used of Zechariah when the angel of the Lord appeared to Him (Lk 1:12). The Greek word literally means to shake up, stir up, great mental distress, anguish, disturbed.
B We are told Jesus was troubled at the death of His good friend Lazarus (Jn 11:33). We are told Jesus was troubled as He thought of His betrayal by one of the Twelve (Jn 13:21). Now He is troubled again. Why would Jesus be troubled? Isn't He above all of this? Didn't He say to the disciples, "Don't let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God" (Jn 14:1)?
C Understand, Jesus is not troubled by the physical. In this case, He is not troubled by the physical pain and suffering of the betrayal, the arrest, the beating, the spitting, the yelling, the whipping, the crown of thorns, the nails of the cross, the thirst. I am not saying He did not feel all of this. He felt every pain, every strike of the whip, every thorn on His head, every nail in His hands and feet. He felt every gasp for breath, every drop of blood, the parched throat, the naked shame. He knew it was coming. But this was not what troubled Him.
So what troubled Jesus? What troubled Jesus was sin and the results of sin. What troubled Jesus was the cup of divine wrath He prayed about in the Garden of Gethsemane (Lk 22:42). It troubled Jesus that the wrath of God against the sin of the whole human race would be placed upon Him. It troubled Jesus that He would be forsaken by the Father He loved. Remember what He cried out from the cross? "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?" (Mt 27:46). It troubled Jesus that He would suffer unspeakable anguish, pain, and terror of soul. It isn't physical pain that troubled Jesus. It is the spiritual pain.
D Jesus is troubled. Yet, His cry is, "Father, glorify your name!" (Jn 12:28). Glorify your name. How? Through the crucifixion. Through the cross. Through Jesus being lifted up from the earth.
"Father, glorify your name!" Realize, it isn't only Jesus who is glorified by dying. The Father, too, is glorified at the death of Jesus.
How? How does the crucifixion glorify the Father? The crucifixion shows the Father's grace, the Father's justice, the Father's holiness. The crucifixion is how the Father redeems a people for Himself, a people who praise Him and live for His glory.
III The Father's Answer
A Jesus prays, "Father, glorify your name!" And there is an immediate answer.
John 12:28 (NIV84) — 28 Then a voice came from heaven, “I have glorified it, and will glorify it again.”
"I have glorified it." When did the Father already glorify His name through the Son? Remember the voice of the Father at Jesus' baptism? "This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased" (Mt 3:17). The Father glorified Jesus after Jesus took the sinner's place by undergoing John's baptism of repentance. Remember also the voice of the Father at Jesus' transfiguration? Again God's voice from heaven said, "This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased" (Mt 17:5). The Father glorified Jesus after Jesus predicted His suffering and death. Both times the glory of the Son is also the glory of the Father. In our passage we hear the Father speaking again. Again, the glory of the Son is the glory of the Father.
"I have glorified it." How else did the Father glorify His name through the Son? Do you remember what was written about Jesus' first miracle when He changed water into wine?
John 2:11 (NIV84) — 11 This, the first of his miraculous signs, Jesus performed at Cana in Galilee. He thus revealed his glory, and his disciples put their faith in him.Did you hear that? His miracles reveal His glory. Every one of them: water into wine, healing the official's son, healing at the pool, feeding the five thousand, walking on water, healing the man born blind, the raising of Lazarus. We see power over demons, power over disease, power over nature, power over death. The glory of the Son is the glory of the Father. As Jesus said to His disciples, "It is for God's glory so that God's Son may be glorified" (Jn 11:4). And, as Jesus said to Martha at the raising of Lazarus, "Did I not tell you ... you would see the glory of God?" (Jn 11:40).
B The voice from heaven said, "I have glorified it, and will glorify it again" (Jn 12:28). When will God glorify it again? When Jesus is lifted up to die. When Jesus is crucified. And, we can look beyond the death and say the Father will also be glorified by the Son's resurrection and by the salvation of those who believe in the Son.
So the Father has been glorified in the past by the Son's life and miracles. He will be glorified again in the future through the Son's death and resurrection.
IV The Crowd Speaks
A Did you notice to whom the Father is speaking in our passage? Jesus said to the crowd, "This voice was for your benefit, not mine" (Jn 12:30).
God spoke for the benefit of the crowd. Yet, they dismissed it as thunder. They said the voice of God was a coming storm. Often in the Old Testament thunder is the voice of God but the crowd thought it meant a storm. They weren't thinking God at all.
Some others had a different idea. They said it was a supernatural event: "an angel [has] spoken to him" (Jn 12:29). They too were wrong.
We see here the truth of what Paul says to the church at Corinth:
1 Corinthians 2:14 (NIV84) — 14 The man without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned.The natural man, the man without Christ and the Spirit of Christ, cannot understand or accept the things of God.
So the Father spoke, He thundered, for the benefit of the crowd. But they didn't understand that death brings glory to Jesus.
B Now listen to the final and climatic statement from the crowd:
John 12:34 (NIV84) — 34“We have heard from the Law that the Christ will remain forever, so how can you say, ‘The Son of Man must be lifted up’? Who is this ‘Son of Man’?”Here we come to the heart of the matter. Who is the Son of Man? Is He someone who is glorified by the cross? Or, is He someone whose glory comes from an earthly throne? Remember what Paul said:
1 Corinthians 1:22–24 (NIV84) — 22 Jews demand miraculous signs and Greeks look for wisdom, 23 but we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, 24 but to those whom God has called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God.
Is Jesus the Son of Man? On Palm Sunday they want to crown Him. By the end of the week they are yelling for His blood and Jesus gets lifted up to die. By the end of the week Jesus is glorified by dying.
Who is the Son of Man? On this Preparatory Sunday we need to answer this question. We need to believe that Jesus, the Son of Man, is glorified by dying. We need to believe He was lifted up to die. We need to glorify Him for His cross.
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