John 12, and we're gonna be reading verse 37 to the end of the chapter. 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.
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. 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 that they would be put out of the synagogue for they love human praise. More than praise from God.
Then Jesus cried out. Whoever believes in me does not believe in me only but in the 1 who sent me. The 1 who looks at me is seeing the 1 who sent me. I have come into the world as a light, so that no 1 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 1 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. This is the word of the lord.
Thanks. Thank you God. Ben. I've preached to us. Okay.
Well, good evening, everyone from me. My name is Ben. I'm 1 of the pastors here at the church. It's good to be together. Really good.
It was great this morning, wasn't it? Welcomeing those new members, giving thanks to Lord for a little Ruben. And it's great to meet together again and sit under the words. Of God. This is what breathes life into us.
If you're a Christian, you need you need the breath of God in you every day, man cannot live on bread alone, but from every word, comes from the mouth of God. And that's what we're going to do now. We're going to hear from from the lord, so let's pray for his help. Ask for ears that can hear, and eyes that can see, hearts that can receive and love. Let's pray for that.
Father, we thank you so much for your word. We thank you that you have decided to breathe life into us. Though we were dead, though we don't deserve, though we never would come to you on our own terms and listen, you have cried out in the Lord Jesus, and you've spoken to us And as you speak, you breathe life into us. And I pray you would do that again tonight, pray for those who are dead here in their sins, breathe life into them. Father, those who who love you and follow you, but need the breath of life in us to refresh us, would you do that again?
And we ask this in Jesus' name, amen. Our men. Okay. We've reached a bit of a milestone in John's gospel. We've been plotting through for a long time.
And we're here now in John chapter 12. And John's gospel can broadly, very broadly be sort of divided into 2 acts. You've got act 1, which is Jesus' public ministry. So he's out and about. He's speaking to the crowds.
He's dealing with the pharisees. He's teaching his disciples, and crowds come to him. He he speaks, he performs miracles, there are signs, he explains these things. That's Act chapter 1, that's his public ministry. In chapters 1 to 12.
And then chapters 13 to 21 is sort of a private ministry. This is act 2. Jesus is not speaking publicly anymore. He just deals with his disciples, and there's the long farewell discourse that he gives them before he goes to the cross. And ultimately his death and resurrection.
And that's act 2. Now the narrative of the first act, chapters 1 to 12, finishes here Well, actually, just before, in verse 36, with Jesus hiding himself. After he's just said, walk in the light while you have the light. So he's almost warning these people. Look, the act the first act is closing.
The curtains are about to come together, and the light is gonna be put out for you. So walk in it while you have it. He's basically saying, listen while I'm here, while I'm speaking. Listen. And then we read When he had finished speaking, Jesus left and hid himself from them.
That's very interesting that line. When he had finished speaking, now on the 1 hand, he's just said a sentence. So when he had finished speaking that sentence, he left and hid himself. But also, I think there's a there's a there's a there's when he had finished speaking, he left and hid himself from them. There's a kind of this is the end of his public speaking.
You know, in the House of Commons, when the Prime Minister is giving their speech, I think they can be interrupted at various points. But When they finish, they say, and I commend this statement to the house. And then they sit down, and they're done. Well, this is Jesus saying, and I commend this statement The first act, chapters 1 to 12, I commend this statement to the house. And he's finished speaking.
And then he hid himself from them. And again, I don't think this just means he hid himself now. Like, he's just finished speaking, he goes and hides, but there's a withdrawing that happens now. Remember he literally just warned them, walk in the light while you have the light? I commend this statement to the house.
And then he hid himself from them. He doesn't appear to them publicly anymore until he's on the cross. So now he's withdrawing. He hides. And so that's where the narrative ends of acts are the first act.
I mean, I need to stop myself saying acts chapter 1. Because that's what I see in front of me. It's act 1, the first chapter the first act in John's gospel. Let's not get confused. So that's where the narrative of that first act ends.
And here, in these verses in between, chapter 12 versus 37 to 50, we get a sort of summary of this first act. I think this is a summary of everything that's come before. So the curtain has gone down, but before the interlude, you can go and get your ice creams, go to the toilet. Before the curtain comes up on the second, the narrator comes out, and he says, this is everything that's just gone on. And so that's my first point here tonight that I want us to see.
This is the summary of act chapter 1. Not chapter 1. The first act. You know what I mean? If I say act, chapter 1, just ignore me.
Got Mark's gospel in my head, got ax in my head. Right. And it begins this summary in verse 37. This is the summary of the first act even after Jesus had performed so many signs in their presence They still would not believe in him. Kerry and I are watching Welcome to Rexon at the moment.
Anyone else watching that? Yep. Who said that? You said that? Welcome to Rexon.
It's a documentary following Ryan Reynolds, who's a famous actor and a blessed famous actor Rob McEleni. They have purchased, in real life, Rexon Football Club, who are, like, languishing down in not even the football league, they're in, like, the conference, I think, or that second or something. So they're doing okay. But this is this is on Disney Plus, I think. It's a documentary following what happened since they they took over this this football club, and it's really entertaining.
But it's absolutely made for an American audience. And there are lots of clues and hints throughout the documentary as to why that is, so I see Erica laughing. It's made for you, Erica. It is. Okay.
You've if you've seen it, you have. Okay. Great. So you'll you'll be able to verify this. How much about soccer did you know before you came to the UK?
Very little. Okay. Brilliant. Good. I thought you're about to ruin my explanation there.
No. Okay. So Americans, generally, the the sport of football is is growing over there, and they're they're loving it more But I think it's absolutely made for people who don't really know how football works. Because if you watch match of the day and you watch highlights on match of the day of a football There's sort of a progressive order. You see you the camera's out here.
You see the pitch. You see the movement of the team. You see the passes being threaded through. You see the strike is running. You can orientate yourself in the match, and you can see, oh, I can see which team is in the ascendency here.
But when you're watching this documentary, what's really funny is they don't because Americans won't know what's going on. They just take the dramatic moments like snapshots of the match and put them in slow motion and you have no idea what's going on. It's like a slide tackle here, ahead of there, it's like, what is going on? A throw in here, none of it makes any sense. But what they've done is they've chosen these moments to piece together a narrative and a story.
And so they put this music behind that builds, and you see the slow motion header. And then it cuts to another shot. It's closed up, and it's a brutal tackle. And then you see the ball that goes into the back of the net, and the music goes, yeah. And they're trying to tell you it was a tense game.
And then they scored the goal. That's what they're doing. They've chosen specific moments. And now, I think that's what the first act of John's gospel has been. It's been a highlight reel that John has chosen to tell a story He actually says it explicitly in in John chapter 20.
He says this, Jesus performed many other signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not recorded in this book, but these are written. I've chosen these, that you may believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the son of God, and by believing you may have life in his name. So this is a highlight reel that John has selected to show Jesus is the Messiah, And these are the miracles, the signs. Sorry. The signs that he selected.
These have written that we might believe. Turning water into wine, cleansing the temple, healing the nobleman's son, healing the lame man, feeding the multitude, healing the blind man and then raising lazarus from the dead. And so what story do we get from director John who's picked this highlight reel to show us something about Jesus, where we see Jesus is transforming. We see Jesus is cleansing. We see Jesus is healing the sick.
He's making the lame walk He's causing the blind to see. He's feeding the hungry, and he's raising the dead. And there are 7 signs, you might have noticed, numbered them. 7 is a biblical number, and it means completion. It means wholeness.
It means perfection. And so John, director John, when he's picking his highlights, is not just going which 1 shall I put in. He's going how many should I put in? I know I will put in 7 to show that Jesus has performed the fullness of signs. There's no lack of signs that Jesus has given us.
He could not have performed more than he did, and the way that John demonstrates this is by putting 7 in. And you'll notice these these signs that we've gone through are all leading up to and culminating in the greatest sign of all, aren't they? The 1 that perfects and completes and just glorifies all the rest of them, is the raising of a dead man to life from the grave. So when when we see all of these signs, we should be left with no other conclusion that Jesus is the Messiah, the son of God, and we can have resurrection life in his name. That's what we should conclude when we see the signs that he's given us.
However, John summary of Jesus' public ministry is even after Jesus had performed so many signs in their presence, they still would not believe in him. So my second point tonight is would not, becomes, could not, In verse 38, we see that the word of Isaiah the prophet was fulfilled. Lord, who has believed our message, and to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed. And the lamp in Jesus' public ministry has been on the lampstand. He's been shining out.
He's spoken really clearly. If you've been following us, you'll know. He said some of the clearest things ever, and people are still like, they still don't get it. He's been clear. The message has shown out.
And yet, who's believed is the question after all of this? And the answer is nobody. Nobody's belief to whom is the arm of the lord being revealed. I mean, the arm of the lord has been revealed. But who's seen it?
Who gets it? No 1. Even after seeing a dead man walking around, lazarus is walking around, They know he wrote he was risen from the grave because they try and kill him again. They say we need to we need to kill this man who who had been raised from the dead. And so they they they they've seen with their eyes, but they refuse to believe.
And so the point being made by John here is even if these people, even if the world, saw a thousand signs. They would always refuse, actively decide not to believe. It's not that just time ran out like, oh, Jesus' ministry was only 3 years. Imagine if it was 5 years or 6 years or 10 years, then he could have done all sorts of other stuff. Then maybe more people would have written about him.
Maybe then more people would have turned to him. It's not the case. After seeing the fullness of 7 signs, They still would not believe. And so what does God do to eyes that refuse to see? It's quite a shocking thing that we see here.
It's not very popular even in the Christian world. What does God do to eyes that refuse to see? He blinds them. So they cannot see. What does God do to hearts that will not love his son?
He hardens them, so they cannot love his son. What does God do to people who turn away when he draws near to them. He makes them unable to turn back. Verse 37, says they still would not believe verse 39. For this reason, they could not believe.
Because as Isaiah says elsewhere, he has blinded their eyes hardened their hearts. So they can neither see with their eyes nor understand with their hearts nor turn. And I would heal them. God would heal even those who had turned away from him. He would heal those even who had not believed, if only they would turn.
And by the way, this is an encouragement. If you're a sinner like me, and you've turned to God, God will heal you. And he said so because if you turn to him, he will heal you. It's what he says. Through Isaiah the prophet.
The Lord never rejects a sinner who turns back to him. And so if you're battling away, if you know your sin, if you've come here tonight and you know your stained. If you turn to the Lord Jesus Christ, if you can do that, if you can if you can do that, he'll heal you. Because he said it here in his word. But these people, because these people would not turn The horror of the reality of their refusal is that in the end, they could not turn.
This is pretty clear throughout scripture. There are serious consequences for rejecting the son of god. The bible paints a picture that Our unwillingness to believe is the wooden frame in which God pours the cement of blindness. And hardness into. The letter of rejection that we write God and and we write with our own hand, I do not want to follow you, we hand to God, and he signs in permanent ink.
As we exit the building of God's house, he closes the door behind us. And we get to see an example of this immediately in verse 42. 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 love human praise, more than praise from God.
So here are the people who believe with their eyes, They've seen lazarus. They can't deny it. There's a bloke walking around. He was dead. He was in the tomb, and now he's alive.
Okay? We believe it. And yet their hearts still remain against Jesus. They feared losing their place in the synagogue, more than they feared losing Christ. You gave them the option.
What do you wanna lose? You can only keep 1. Your job in the synagogue or Jesus? And they feared losing their job in the synagogue more than they feared losing Jesus. They loved human praise, more than they loved praise from Christ.
Who do you want who do you wanna stand up and and talk about how great you are? Who do you wanna stand up and say, I love you? I wanna I wanna I wanna be with you. Is it Christ or is it people? Well, these people chose people.
And so they don't openly acknowledge their faith. And I know that there are Christians around the world who can't openly acknowledge their faith. Because they're in places where they might lose their life or something very serious. And we are told as Christians to be as wise as serpents. And as innocent as doves.
And so there is a time not to confess publicly. But for these leaders, it was not their life that was at stake. It was cheaper than that. It was their status and their job. It was the feeling of self righteousness they got from the praise of humans.
That was the 30 shekels of silver that they were happy to trade Jesus in for. I'd rather have my job and my mates saying good things about me. Than Jesus. It wasn't even their lives. It was just their position in society.
And so because these people would not turn, In the end, they could not turn. The doors to their soles were locked from the inside. I want praise for my mates. I want to keep my job. I don't want you that much, Jesus.
So I wonder, what's the cost for us today to follow Jesus? I know many of us here have actually given up things to follow him. Some of us have given up jobs. Literally, we've given up our jobs. We've gone.
I actually prefer Christ than this job. Some people have given up friendships I've lost some friendships over the years because of Christ. Some people perhaps have even lost family members because they've decided to follow the lord Jesus. I mean, you have to swallow your pride to follow Jesus, don't you? You have to give up your idea of being in charge of your own life and having your own ambitions and wanting to run things your own way.
You're likely to lose the respect of people, perhaps at work. You might have a ceiling. You might only be able to progress so far. Well, maybe you haven't confessed Christ yet. Perhaps he's not actually won your yet.
You know, you might be like these people. You believe him. Yeah. I see lazarus walking around. In fact, I see this church.
I see all these people who were dead walking around. There's life in these people. You see that. Maybe you see that, and you believe that. But you don't wanna confess him.
You don't wanna get baptized. Oh, I don't wanna oh, I don't want my family to know. Oh, I don't wanna have to invite my mates from work. Though I don't wanna have to commit to anything. What is the price for you that is more valuable than Christ?
What is your 30 shekels of silver that you'd rather have than Jesus? What are you holding on to? Christ is saying, you have to leave that part of your life behind to follow me, but you're holding on to it. What is that thing? Jesus tells this parable.
He says this, the kingdom of heaven is like a treasure hidden in the field. When a man found it, He hid it again. And then, in his joy, went and sold all he had to buy that field. Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant looking for fine pearls. When he found 1 of great value, He went away and sold everything he had and bought it.
So is that us? Is that you? You're gonna sell everything you have and claim Christ? Would you go with great joy in your heart? And give up everything.
Don't know about you, but I feel the hardness of my own heart here. So thirdly, words of eternal life. What is God's response to a world of blindness and hardness? Is there actually any hope for us? Romans says we've heard from Romans today, Roman says, we have all turned away.
We've all turned away. So what hope is there for us? What is Jesus gonna do? What did Jesus do with the cement filled frames of our hearts? That refused and didn't wanna see.
What did Jesus do? Well, verse 44, have a look at it. Then Jesus cried out. Jesus cried out. And now this crying out seems to come from nowhere.
Remember, I told you at the start, the narrative is over. We've sort of we've stopped the progression of story. We're not you know, there's no context here. We're not told where we are. We're not told who's with us.
We're just told Jesus cried out. And so 1 says, it doesn't actually where he is, who he's speaking to when he said it, instead, I think John wants to give the impression, really, that everything said in act 1 of John's Gospel, was really just a loud cry. Jesus is just crying out. That's his public ministry. Jesus cried out.
You see that in Proverbs. Wisdom is crying out in the public square. That's Jesus. So he's not crying out anything new here. He's this is a summary of everything that he's done, and and the word cried out here in the Greek is this word Ekraxton.
It were it cracks in. And it's kind of a guttural earthy shriek, actually. It's not just Calling out loudly. It's a guttural shriek. It's something that you do, that that that that you do, you can't help it when you've been provoked by something.
When you see something morally provocative, and something comes out of you. So if you see something that's unjust, if someone came in here now and dragged someone out. You would yell at them. You would shriek at them. You would say, stop.
If you saw someone you love about to cross a road and a car was coming, you yell. You can't help it. You don't think. You don't go, what would be the most helpful thing for me to tell this person I love? Just think about that.
You go you go, wait, stop. That's a crack scene. That's what Jesus does. When he sees the hardness of our hearts, and he knows where our hard hearts would lead us. He cries out.
Now, if I cry out, which I just did, doesn't do an awful lot. But when Jesus cries out, he brings life and light into blind and dead hearts because his words are full of life. This is actually a trinitarian work of salvation here. Let me show you. So look at verse 49.
See what Jesus says here. 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. Did you know that? Every word Jesus says in the Gospels, his father told him to say it. But 50.
I know that his command leads to eternal life. So whatever I say is just what the father has told me to say. So as Jesus speaks, really the father is speaking through him, you have the father speaking to us, through Jesus, and earlier in John chapter 6. Jesus said this, the words I have spoken to you are full of the spirit. And so what we see in John's gospel is the father speaking eternal life into dead hearts through the spirit out of the mouth of the sun.
The words Jesus speaks are full of the spirit, and they're from the father, and they bring eternal life. Jesus says, I know that my father's commands bring eternal life, and so that is how God the father is drawing people to his son. That is what he does in response to our hard hearts and a dead world. He proclaims the word of eternal life. And as he does so, life is breathed into you.
In Genesis, God picks up Adam who's a lump of flesh dead, and he breathes life in. And then Adam comes to life. That is what God is doing through the crack of the lord Jesus Christ as he speaks. And Jesus' disciples knew this. When everyone left Jesus, and Jesus says to his disciples, are you gonna leave me They say, where else can we go, Lord?
You have the words of eternal life. And so should should we despair when we see hardness of heart out there in the world? Should we despair? Does God despair at the blindness at the cement, at the death, maybe Jesus failed in his public ministry. Has he failed?
Because no 1 believed in him even after so many signs. Does Jesus fail? The answer is no. Because in his sovereignty and power, God has a plan to save his people. He is the father is going to draw his people to himself through the sun as he speaks spirit filled words.
That's the plan. That's God's plan for salvation, and that's exactly what the Lord Jesus Christ. Was doing. In fact, Jesus says this, no 1 can come to me unless the father who sent me draws them. Everyone who was heard, the father, and learned from him, comes to me.
And so that's the summary of Jesus' ministry in the first act of John's gospel. It's an ecraxon to a dead world, to raise his people to life. In fact, this cried out, this crack scene, shares the same root word for when Jesus called out in a loud voice lazarus come out. And he raised him to life. That's the same root word.
It's kind of an ecraxid. And so here's the picture of Jesus' ministry He's standing in front of a closed tomb and he's screaming, shrieking, shouting, saying in a loud voice, Come out. That's the Ministry of Jesus. That's what he's doing, as he cries out. And as he speaks, that's what his word does.
It calls us out from the grave. It causes us to live. It breaks the unbelieving heart It breaks the blocked up ear. Lazarus come out, and to be honest, as I hear the words of Jesus preach and I sit where you are, and I sat under the word of God. What I hear is Ben.
Come out. Come to life. Come and live. And so that's what you should be hearing. Not as I speak, not as Tom speaks, but as you hear the words of Jesus, you should hear get right.
Come out. Come out me. Come to life. And that's what Jesus is doing. He's a crackling, commanding you to come out, come to life.
And so here are the words that lead to eternal life. This is what Jesus is calling us from the grave. I wanna read these to you slowly. Let's let's read the words of Jesus. Us hear him call us out from the grave.
Verse 44, then Jesus cried out. Whoever believes in me does not believe in me only, but in the 1 who sent me. The 1 who looks at me is seeing the 1 who sent me. I have come into the world as a light so that no 1 who believes in me should stay in darkness. Come out.
Do you hear? Come out. Come to life. Verse 47. 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 1 who rejects me and does not accept my words. The very words I have spoken will condemn them at the last day. Why? Why is it the words we'll condemn them at the last day?
Because the words are come out. And if you refuse to come out, Those words will condemn you. You didn't come out. Verse 49, 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, that is the accretion of Jesus. That is the desperate cry. To breathe life into your soul. And so do you hear his voice calling you? Do you feel the pull of the father drawing you to his son?
You cannot come to the son unless the father draws you Has he drawn me? Are these words come out? Going to be salvation for you, or will they 1 day be your judge? Let's take a moment just to just to ponder that question in our own hearts and to perhaps go back to that passage and just quietly read that guttural cry of the Lord Jesus at the end of this public ministry calling out to the world, to leave behind our hardness of hearts and to listen to him. Let's take a moment to reflect personally on those words.
Father, we've heard this evening about those who despite all that Jesus said and did, would still not believe in him. And therefore, the time came where they could no longer believe in him. And we're rightly shaken by that. And we don't want that to be true of us. We don't want to despise and scorn the opportunities that you give us week by week as we sit under your word.
We don't want to grow so hard that you're living words becomes nothing to us, just bounces off us. And so please, Lord, where where we have started to be like that. We'd pray that in in your mercy, you would please come and soften our hearts again. That we might really listen. And believe in you as you speak to us through your through your living word.
We thank you, Jesus, for your immense compassion upon us. That despite our hardness of hearts, you still look out and call out with that guttural cry to the world. That they would come and that we would come and believe in you. And we thank you that that that is your your greatest heart. So to speak, that you you do not desire that a sinner should die in his or her ways.
You do not desire that we should perish, but rather that we should turn and forsake our sins and live. And we pray that you would help us to do that perhaps for the first time this evening or for the thousandth time and we ask it in Jesus' name amen.