Bible Study - Son of Man Lifted Up

Back up a little bit to last week's lesson:

(John 12:32) And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.

  • Misinterpretations of this verse abound…

I am reminded of Jesus’ words in John 12:32.
“When I am lifted up, I will draw all people to myself.”
If we truly want to draw people in [to church]…to make them feel connected, then lift Jesus up.

  • By "lifting Jesus up" people mean singing about Him, talking about Him, praying to Him; all good things.
  • Jesus isn't saying that focusing on Him will magically work on peoples' hearts to bring them closer to God.
  • This audience knew exactly what being "lifted up" meant. Crucifixion.
  • In fact, John, anticipating the ambiguous language, clarifies what Jesus said:

(John 12:33) He said this to show by what kind of death he was going to die.
(John 12:34) So the crowd answered him, "We have heard from the Law that the Christ remains forever. How can you say that the Son of Man must be lifted up? Who is this Son of Man?"

  • Hindsight is always 20/20. There were prophecies that Christ would remain forever (Psa 89:4 Thy seed will I establish forever, and build up thy throne to all generations), but there were also prophecies that He would have to suffer and die.
  • They didn't want to hear that they needed a Savior, they had missed the point of the Law, which was to show them that no set of rules, no matter how all encompassing, it could not change them from the inside.
  • The people tended to see in prophecy what they wanted to see, and they didn't want a "suffering savior".

Jesus doesn't answer this directly:

(John 12:35) So Jesus said to them, "The light is among you for a little while longer. Walk while you have the light, lest darkness overtake you. The one who walks in the darkness does not know where he is going.
(John 12:36) While you have the light, believe in the light, that you may become sons of light." When Jesus had said these things, he departed and hid himself from them.

  • We don't really know true darkness. It's hard to escape at least some kind of electric lighting with our street lights, sky lights, head lights, search lights, night lights, and spot lights.
  • They understood the dangers of traveling in darkness. Potholes… Thieves…
  • The little oil lamps they had just wouldn't cut it, if you ventured out in the dark in a place you didn't know, you were lost.
  • Jesus says they have this unprecedented opportunity of knowing Him in the flesh, face to face for only a little while longer.
  • With Jesus gone, is there no longer light in the world? We are the light of the world.
  • This ends his meeting with the Gentiles. The next time He speaks in this chapter, we don't know exactly where He is, or who the exact audience is.

  • This section is a transitional point in John. The author takes a step back and gives a brief commentary on Jesus' ministry…

(John 12:37) Though he had done so many signs before them, they still did not believe in him,
(John 12:38) so that the word spoken by the prophet Isaiah might be fulfilled: "Lord, who has believed what he heard from us, and to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?"

  • "to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed"?
  • The arm = ? (God's power)
    • The people had seen many miracles, but not many had seen "God's power": salvation.

(John 12:39) Therefore they could not believe. For again Isaiah said,
(John 12:40) "He has blinded their eyes and hardened their heart, lest they see with their eyes, and understand with their heart, and turn, and I would heal them."
(John 12:41) Isaiah said these things because he saw his glory and spoke of him.

  • What does He mean?
  • Have we seen this type of situation before?

Exodus 4:21 And the LORD said to Moses, "When you go back to Egypt, see that you do before Pharaoh all the miracles that I have put in your power. But I will harden his heart, so that he will not let the people go.

  • How does God harden someone's heart?
  • Another way: Is it sin to harden your heart? And if so, can God directly cause you to harden your heart?

James 1:13-14 Let no one say when he is tempted, "I am being tempted by God," for God cannot be tempted with evil, and he himself tempts no one. But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire.

  • So, how did God harden peoples' hearts in our passage?
  • Answer: God just let people be people.

Romans 3:10-12 as it is written: "None is righteous, no, not one; no one understands; no one seeks for God. All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one."

Romans 1:24 Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves,

  • So God doesn't need to do anything to "harden our hearts", we are just fine by ourselves at that, thank you.
  • The amazing thing is that God can use even our bad decisions that we've made of our own free will in His perfect plan.

(John 12:42) Nevertheless, many even of the authorities believed in him, but for fear of the Pharisees they did not confess it, so that they would not be put out of the synagogue;
(John 12:43) for they loved the glory that comes from man more than the glory that comes from God.

  • The authorities "believed in him". Would this be what we would consider "saving faith"?
  • Jesus had just said in vs 25, "Whoever loves his life loses it, and whoever hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life."
  • V 43 is the key here, these guys were more concerned with what they would lose in this life verses what was to be gained by eternal life.

Romans 10:9 because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.

  • That's not talking about some magical thing that happens when you pray out loud, it's talking about living your faith, paying the price for following Christ, confessing Jesus before other people, and accepting the consequences.

These "authorities" weren't willing to do that.

Next Week: Bible Study - Jesus and the Father

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