Saturday, January 21, 2012

Jesus' Last Words to the Jews (Jn. 12:34-50)

This is my personal summary of Rev Dr Stephen Tong's sermon on 15 January 2012 in STEMI Expository Preaching at True Way Presbyterian Church. It was preached in Chinese with English translation.

Passage: John 12:34-50

“Even after Jesus had performed so many signs in their presence, they still would not believe in him.” (Jn. 12:37)

A preacher’s greatest sadness is that nobody wants to listen. But from God’s perspective this is the reverse. God is the sovereign one who gives opportunity to hear and hardens the heart. It is the Creator of all mankind who says this. As creatures made in the image of God, humans forget they have only the image and are not God.

Here is the conflict of sovereignty. We think we are sovereign we think we can choose God while actually it is God who choose. We live in a society that is man-centered. They think they have abandoned God but the Bible says that it is God that has abandoned them. They think they have the power to rebel against God but it is God who have left them to their own ways. Nothing happens outside of God’s will. He is the Lord of time and space, of humanity and nature, of history and geography. He declares that He is the Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, the One who started and finish His works. He is indeed the God of the universe. In His wrath He preserves some people. In His overwhelmeing love He rejects some people. This is frightening. Many people fall in the hands of the God of judgement but are not aware of how horrible that is. Who knows the power of His wrath? We ought to fear God and give glory to Him.

Often we only look at the exterior. We despise the uneducated and the poor. The Lord deliberately came poor and uneducated. The Jews could not recognise who Christ was. When they could not see the arm of the Lord, they could not see God’s message, they thought the work of God was hidden. However, Isaiah said it is in God’s sovereignty that these people did not believe and perish. There are a lot of opportunities for the Jews to listen to Jesus but they became more arrogant and resistant to Him.

Jesus was calm, He did not react but simply explained the truth to them. Jesus warned them, “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.” (Jn. 12:44-45)
The work of God is believing in the one He sent. The response to Christ is the greatest demand of God. The Jews did not realise the horrifying consequences of their unbelief.

Jesus said, “I have come into the world as a light, so that no one who believes in me should stay in darkness. 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. 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.” (Jn. 12:46-50)

Here Jesus addressed the Jews very clearly. This is the last preaching, the last opportunity, the last warning to the Jews. When men are ignorant of this, they think they abandon God but actually they abandon themselves. God removed the lampstand from Jerusalem and Athens, the two great cities at that time. Instead Galilee which was despised became the place where lasting influence came about. The disciples of Christ from Galiless have surpassed tje Greek philosophers. There are more people today with the names of Peter and John than those with the names of Aristotle and Plato.

True wisdom produces holiness, righteousness and is found in the salvation of God (1 Cor. 1:30). All true wisdom is found in the Word of God, which is fully revealed in Christ. Greek seek wisdom and Jews seek miracles but we preach Christ crucified. He was crucified because people judged Him based on what outward appearance. But this Nazarene has the greatest influence in the world. We must see the guidance of God with our eyes of faith.

This is the last time Jesus spoke to the Jews. There was no more opportunity after this. He spoke no more to them when He was on trial because their time was up. How many opportunities have we been given? We have to answer to all that on the last day.