John: The Son of Man
John • Sermon • Submitted • Presented • 39:13
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What do you believe in? And I don’t mean in the sense of coffee being better than tea, or Holden being better than Ford, or dogs over cats. We’re not talking about preferences, I’m asking what are your operating assumptions about the world?
What beliefs drive you to live the way you do?
Whether they are true or not, we all hold beliefs about how things work and how we should live. These beliefs drive our choices around everything from what type of bathroom cleaner we use, to how we educate our children, all the way to what moral choices we make.
In some sense we become what we believe. We fit ourselves for the way we think the world is. We train ourselves into a mould based on how we think.
So what you believe in matters. It shapes you and makes you into who you are. But it also matters because the wrong belief can seriously mess you up. Just think of those folks who become convinced that Jesus is coming back on a particular day, and so they sell their house and their belongings, they quit their job and tell everyone they know that the end is nigh! And then in the end their belief is proven wrong. It was unfounded nonsense.
Our beliefs need to be founded on reality, and on truth because our life may depend on it.
What we believe about the afterlife and spiritual things could have an eternal effect.
There are bad, or wrong beliefs. This can be unpopular to say! But we don’t live in a world where every viewpoint is valid and equal. If you believe that, you’re kidding yourself! Yes we are kind and loving to all people, but that does not make every belief valid. There are plenty of people who will have believed in vain, only to be proven their trust was poorly placed.
SO what should you believe? That’s what we’re looking at here today.
You may think it arrogant to say such things so plainly. You would prefer that I try to win you over with compelling arguments and stroke your ego so that it feels good about what i have to say.
This is more important than that! This is more important than tickling your ears with feel good sentiments.
I need to tell you what you must believe. And it is not me who is the authority for this, it is the LORD God of the universe who has spoken through this word that we are looking at today.
In John, who wrote so that the people who read this book could believe in Jesus and find real, true, ever-lasting life.
Across the first half of the book, we’ve seen highs and lows. Moments where things seem to be going great, with heaps of people believing Jesus was the promised Messiah,
But when things would seem to be building to a climactic moment, Jesus would say “My hour has not yet come” or we would say, “It’s not time yet”. Then the lows would come, with people deserting Jesus and him going into hiding because there was an assassination order out for His head.
This passage is continuing on from the highs of the triumphant entry, where Jesus had come up to Jerusalem and people threw a parade for Him. Heralding Jesus as their new King. There was an upcoming festival called Passover that was starting soon. The intensity is building to see what will happen with Jesus over the coming days.
Will he be installed as the new King? Will he finally be assassinated by the incumbent leadership?
Will the followers now stick with Jesus, or will they abandon him like last time?
In this passage, Jesus tips us off to what will happen in the coming days.
I’ve divided the text into 3 points. A good bread and butter structure for us this morning!
3 points that each summarize the main thrust of the three parts of this passage. It is also three things that everybody needs to know.
Three things that every person needs to know.
Lets look at it!
The first thing that every person alive needs to know, is:
1. Jesus Came to Die
1. Jesus Came to Die
Last time in John, we had a group of gentiles, Greeks specifically, who were seeking Jesus. This was the trigger for the “hour” that Jesus had been waiting for. The time has come! No more waiting, the climactic point of Jesus ministry was dawning.
Off the back of this announcement, Jesus teaches those listening what this “hour” would look like, starting with it’s purpose. Lets read:
“Now my soul 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. Father, glorify your name!” Then a voice came from heaven, “I have glorified it, and will glorify it again.”
Jesus asks some rhetorical questions.
Jesus was fully human as well as being fully God, and he feels the enormity of the task ahead of him. In that sense he is “troubled”.
So how should he respond to the way he feels? Should he ask for a way out? No way!
Jesus came for this very “hour”, it was the whole reason he came into the world as a man. It was the end point of his ministry of teaching and miracles. Everything was leasing to this coming moment.
All of it is for God’s Glory! And so Jesus prays “Father, glorify your name!”
The Father responds: “I have already, and I’ll do it again!”
The greatest thing in the world that any body or anything can aspire to, is to glorify God. This is what the world exists for, and even though it was derailed by sin and death, God is working to make even the insurrection of humanity something that glorifies Himself and is good for us.
That’s why we say, “What is the chief end of man? to Glorify God and Enjoy Him forever!”
Say it with me! “What is the chief end of man? to Glorify God and Enjoy Him forever!”
Jesus came to glorify God in the mission that the Father had given him. And the Father had answered from heaven to back-up what Jesus was saying.
Jesus knows that this voice from heaven was for the benefit of those listening, so that they could know for certain that Jesus was on track doing the Father’s work. And they would need that confirmation, because it would not be long before many people would be questioning Jesus and his actions.
Jesus then starts to illuminate what the mission will be heading toward. It is unconventional, and unexpected.
Now is the time for judgment on this world; now the prince of this world will be driven out. And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.” He said this to show the kind of death he was going to die.
The judgement of the world is here, not Judgement day, but rather the “ruler” of this world, that is Satan or the Devil, is going to be overthrown. He is the de-facto king of this world, because everybody has defected to his side. There are only two sides in life - with God or against Him. There is no neutral middle. If you are content to just coast through life and not think to hard about religion, just trying to live a good life, be a good person, then you are doing exactly what Satan wants. You are playing right into his hand and sitting comfortably outside God’s kingdom. But I digress...
The mission of Jesus is to dethrone this pretender king. He will be judged and overthrown. How though?
Jesus will be “lifted up” a euphemism for the crucifixion that would soon take place. Jesus would be lifted up on a cross and suffer for the sins of people trapped under Satan's power. Like a lawyer, Satan stands before God pointing out how many crimes, or sins, you have committed against God. Satan points out that you have no business being God’s people because you are a treasonous scoundrel.
Yet, Jesus came to deal with those sins, those crimes, that treason in your heart. He suffered the penalty on that cross on behalf of his people. Now all people can come to God through Jesus Christ. Including those Greeks that had just come to see Jesus a few paragraphs earlier!
Now Satan will have no leg to stand on, because all your sins can be washed away! What power is there in accusing people of crimes that have been atoned for?
Jesus came to die. Jesus came to cast out the devil with his death Now Jesus draws all the nations to himself so that they can come to God.
But the people listening to Jesus are a little confused, they are trying to reconcile what they have read in the Bible with what Jesus is saying to them. How can these things go together?
The crowd spoke up, “We have heard from the Law that the Messiah will remain forever, so how can you say, ‘The Son of Man must be lifted up’? Who is this ‘Son of Man’?”
They’re on the right track. They have understood that the figure of the Son of Man from Daniel 7 is the Messiah or Christ that they are looking for who is the descendant of David who will rule forever. How can this everlasting kingdom become a reality if their messiah was about to die?
Jesus kind of sidesteps their question and basically says: I’m only here for a little while and you need to get on board...
Then Jesus told them, “You are going to have the light just a little while longer. Walk while you have the light, before darkness overtakes you. Whoever walks in the dark does not know where they are going. Believe in the light while you have the light, so that you may become children of light.” When he had finished speaking, Jesus left and hid himself from them.
Why didn’t Jesus answer them directly? Presumably it wasn’t the time. It would all become evident in the future.
It was important for those hearers to pay attention and stick with him a bit longer so that they could become “children of light” - those who belong to God in a world of darkness.
This shows us the path of salvation - Believe in this “light” then become “children of light”. We take on the character of the object of our belief.
For them, they were about to face the darkness of loosing Jesus soon, but thankfully the HS has brought the light of Jesus to us this very day. However, the pressure still remains - there is a time to become a child of light, and one day the opportunity will be lost. Believe now while you have the chance!
After this, Jesus goes into hiding. Then John gives us a little aside, which is...
The second thing that every person alive needs to know, is:
2. Many won’t Believe in Jesus
2. Many won’t Believe in Jesus
Despite the obvious evidence, there were a bunch of people who just wouldn’t believe in Jesus. He had shown them over the course of years that He was the promised messiah.
This fit the pattern from Isaiah 53, where people doubt the messiah, then despise and reject him, and so we’re given a cross reference to illustrate the point.:
Even after Jesus had performed so many signs in their presence, they still would not believe in him. This was to fulfill the word of Isaiah the prophet: “Lord, who has believed our message and to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?”
These people, just like our neighbors and colleagues who reject God, can’t even believe when faced with the evidence before their very eyes..
This proves the point that evidence is often a secondary issue when it comes to matters of faith. Now evidence matters, but the issue is often not the evidence itself, because the evidence is right there. There is something going on in the heart that prevents people from trusting in Jesus even though the evidence is in front of their eyes.
Even in our own day, the evidence for the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ is overwhelming, but there are people who are unwilling to hear the message. Or, even if they consider the evidence they can never find enough evidence to satisfy their own made-up standards of truth. after all, if they did take on faith in Jesus, they would have to lay down their life - something that the selfish sinner in us is loathe to do until we are brought to the end of ourselves.
Remember the parable? Even if a man should return from the dead, people will not believe. Many will stand back, refusing to trust in Jesus because they have not got sufficient proof. But no proof will ever be enough, if someone makes themselves the judge of God.
John goes on here to make a closely related point. Not only are they rejecting the messiah, and ignoring the evidence. There is a real sense in which they cannot believe. Their eyes are blind and their hearts are hard.
This is another Isaiah prophecy:
For this reason they could not believe, because, as Isaiah says elsewhere: “He has blinded their eyes and hardened their hearts, so they can neither see with their eyes, nor understand with their hearts, nor turn—and I would heal them.” Isaiah said this because he saw Jesus’ glory and spoke about him.
It’s no use saying to a blind man - “see” or saying to a deaf man “hear” or saying to a dead man “live”. They are incapable of seeing or hearing or living.
They need an outside force to overcome the impediment.
This part of Isaiah is quoted in several places across the NT. This demonstrates that it is a key passage in understanding the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
The crux of it is, that those who reject Jesus - God has hardened hearts so that they cannot believe.
As is obvious throughout all of John’s gospel: people have agency, and they are held accountable for what they do with their life. Yet, God is also sovereignty ordaining everything that happens. So yes, everything that happens is fated to happen, and yet you are bringing that “fate” into reality with your choices under God.
This is a biblical teaching that many people struggle with, and it has been the subject of many debates over the years. These truths do not take away from the love and mercy of God, but only serve to highlight it.
This passage opens up lots of questions around predestination and double predestination. All of which are great things to think and talk about, but I’m not going to flesh those out here.
It can be a struggle to believe this at times, especially when we trace these truths to their logical conclusions. If you would like some help sorting through this, my door is open.
Remember this: God is not turning away people who wish they could come to God if only he would let them. There is a torrent of people running away from him, and he reaches out and turns people around. Anyone who turns to the Lord is saved! Anyone who repents is healed of the sicknesses of sin & death that pervade humanity.
Many, if not most people will reject Jesus, and God will harden their hearts against the truth. But there will be some who hear and believe, as John points out:
Yet at the same time many even among the leaders believed in him. But because of the Pharisees they would not openly acknowledge their faith for fear they would be put out of the synagogue; for they loved human praise more than praise from God.
So there are several undercover believers. Some who actually have seen Jesus, seen the signs, heard the message and they have believed in Jesus.
This fits what John said in Ch 1 - many rejected, but some would believe.
Yet these are not 100% on board yet. They are hiding for fear of their life.
This is evidence that they are not fully sold out to Jesus …yet.
They seem to be on the way, but they are still more concerned for their reputation, or their status, to openly say “I believe in Jesus.” It is good that they believe, but they have further to go.
The third thing that every person alive needs to know, is:
3. You must Hear and Believe Jesus
3. You must Hear and Believe Jesus
Having spoken about those who don’t believe, We return from our little aside to Jesus teaching about those who do believe. He teaches that this belief is not just some arbitrary trust in some invisible force.
Some people talk about faith in these terms. You gotta believe in yourself, or have faith that things will all work out in the end. Empty platitudes - you can’t even stick to your new year’s resolution, why would you have faith in yourself? And who says it will all turn out? There’s plenty of tragic stories of loss and suffering.
We need something beyond ourselves - we need power from outside ourselves.
Jesus says that when we believe in Him, we are believing in God.
Then Jesus cried out, “Whoever believes in me does not believe in me only, but in the one who sent me. The one who looks at me is seeing the one who sent me. I have come into the world as a light, so that no one who believes in me should stay in darkness.
No -one can see God, he is is spirit and immaterial. Yet in Jesus we can see God. If we have “seen” Jesus we have “seen” God.
Jesus came to save people from the darkness, and anyone who puts their loyalty and trust in Jesus will not be left hanging. They will not be left in the darkness.
But this is not just an option held out for you, as if you could take or leave it. This is a moral obligation. You must respond to the words of Jesus and believe in Jesus. Otherwise Jesus words will be judgment on you in the end:
“If anyone hears my words but does not keep them, I do not judge that person. For I did not come to judge the world, but to save the world. There is a judge for the one who rejects me and does not accept my words; the very words I have spoken will condemn them at the last day.
Jesus didn’t come to judge the first time around. He was here with the Gospel, and to accomplish the work of Salvation. Now all men everywhere are called to repent and receive this salvation.
If you reject this salvation you are rejecting God. You are saying, “No thanks, I’ll hold onto my own sin and try my luck”
Jesus says that his own words will be the standard by which you are judged on Judgment Day. The means listening to Jesus is a life or death matter!
And Jesus isn’t just spouting off. As we heard before, he got back-up from heaven. He’s on mission, as he says:
For I did not speak on my own, but the Father who sent me commanded me to say all that I have spoken. I know that his command leads to eternal life. So whatever I say is just what the Father has told me to say.”
Jesus did exactly what God wanted. The God of the world is not some impersonal force, but one who sent Jesus into the world to reveal Himself through Jesus. Jesus said what God wanted him to say. The God of the world speaks to you through these words calling on you to trust in Jesus and receive eternal life!
Jesus Came to Die
Many won’t Believe in Jesus
You must Hear and Believe Jesus
Simple message of what you must beleive. There is a moral requirement for you to beleive in Jesus.
Not here to manipulate you into beleiving with stirring chords and abient lighting and slick words. Neither am I laying on you piles of guilt in order to shame you into belieiving. Neither am I making empty promises of helath or wealth to try and bribe you into faith.
This is a simple message of Good News that comes from God, and he calls you here this day to beleive these things, and by so doing, to trust in Him and receive eternal life, to the Glory of God.
Carson’s Pillar Commentary on John.
Hutcheson’s commentary on John
Hendrickson’s commentary on John
Sermons by Richard D. Philips,
Sproul, R. C., ed. The Reformation Study Bible: English Standard Version. Orlando, FL; Lake Mary, FL: Ligonier Ministries, 2005.
Phillips, Richard D. John. Edited by Richard D. Phillips, Philip Graham Ryken, and Daniel M. Doriani. 1st ed. Vol. 1 & 2 of Reformed Expository Commentary. Phillipsburg, NJ: P&R Publishing, 2014.