John 12:37-50: The Glory of Jesus
November 21, 2021
TODAY'S BIBLE READING:
John, the author of the Gospel, now takes a step back to reflect theologically on what is happening in the life and ministry of Jesus. It is all fulfilling what Isaiah long ago, under God’s inspiration, predicted. They did not believe in Jesus in fulfillment of what Isaiah had said.
There is a strange comfort in this thought. The temptation is to manipulate people into salvation. Who would not want to do anything to save someone once the stark reality of eternity has settled into the mind? But the truth of the matter is that someone’s ability to be able to “see” and “hear” Jesus is not finally decided by human techniques or even human will. There is a spiritual revealing that must take place. This can alleviate the pressure to maneuver or manipulate people into conversion. We know that only God can convert anyway. It is our job to tell people, but it is God’s job to regenerate people.
This is also a great comfort if we do “see” Jesus for who he really is; only God could have opened our eyes, and therefore we can be assured that he is at work in us to will and to act to according to his good pleasure. Isaiah spoke like this because he saw Jesus’ glory. The Old Testament prophet Isaiah, seeing the Lord in the temple, saw Jesus—he saw his glory. The Old Testament can only be rightly understood as being fulfilled in Christ, for the human authors of the Old Testament (like Isaiah) spoke because they saw Jesus’ glory! The Bible is one book: it all points to Christ.
There were many people who did believe in Jesus even then, though they did not do so openly for they feared being thrown out of the synagogue. What this exposed was their ultimate desire: they loved the glory that comes from people more than the glory that comes from God. Is this not so often the root cause of our lack of boldness for Christ in the face of adversity? We want people to like us. We dress it up with complexities, psychologies, and situational analyses. But at root, we often pull back from courageous proclamation, for we have within us a desire for an outrageous reclamation of glory from other people. The solution? Contemplation of the glory of Jesus. Who, when they understand what it means to receive glory from Jesus, would ever quail in the face of human disapproval for following Jesus?
To emphasize the glory that Jesus offers, Jesus now teaches that to believe in him is not merely to believe in Jesus in a human sense but to believe in the one who sent Jesus—to believe in God. Indeed, even more startling, “whoever sees me sees him who sent me” (12:45). Let us consider that from both angles. If you see Jesus, you see God. And if you want to know what God is like, look at Jesus. Further: if you think God is not who Jesus is, then you are not worshipping the God of the Bible.
There will be a judgment for those who reject Jesus, but it will not be arbitrary, unjust judgment. Indeed, says Jesus, “the word that I have spoken will judge him on the last day” (12:48). Pay then especial careful attention to the Bible, and to the Jesus who is revealed in the Bible, for it is by his word that we live or die.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Josh Moody (Ph.D., University of Cambridge) is the senior pastor of College Church in Wheaton, IL., president and founder of God Centered Life Ministries, and author of several books including How the Bible Can Change Your Life and John 1-12 For You.
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