“”Now is my soul troubled. And what shall I say? ‘Father, save me from this hour’? But for this purpose I have come to this hour. Father, glorify your name.” Then a voice came from heaven: “I have glorified it, and I will glorify it again.” The crowd that stood there and heard it said that it had thundered. Others said, “An angel has spoken to him.” Jesus answered, “This voice has come for your sake, not mine. Now is the judgment of this world; now will the ruler of this world be cast out. And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.” He said this to show by what kind of death he was going to die. 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?” 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. 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. Though he had done so many signs before them, they still did not believe in him,” (John 12:27-37 ESV)
Last week we ended with God’s statement that He has glorified His name and He WILL glorify it again. In fact, it was for this purpose that Jesus came. When the angels announced Jesus birth in Luke 2, they declared that God would be glorified and men would find peace. Jesus identified “this hour” as the focal point of His purpose and of God’s glory being displayed. The entire biblical story is focused on this moment. I would challenge you to read scripture, all of scripture – the law, the prophets, the psalms and poetry, everything – in light of the death and resurrection of Jesus, and see if it doesn’t give it new life, new meaning.
But now, I want you to notice what happens following this dramatic announcement. Jesus has declared he has come to this hour specifically for this purpose and asks the Father to glorify Himself through Jesus’ obedience. The Father declares, “I have and I will!” Notice how the crowd responds… they heard the very voice of God declaring His intentions and all they can say is “it must have been an angel or thunder.” What? God speaks and all you hear is RUMBLE, RUMBLE, RUMBLE? Something’s wrong. Desperately wrong. I wonder how often this happens in our lives? God speaks and all we hear is noise. So, what’s really wrong? Why do the disciples hear God and the crowd hears noise?
Years ago, I used to work in a factory making oil field parts. It has been almost forty years ago, now. I was a young man with a wife, a new baby and a good job. It was hard, hot work but I enjoyed it. It was also very loud. I ran a machine that made an awful noise. It was so bad, they moved us to a section of the plant where we wouldn’t affect the other workers. I’m now paying for that job. My hearing is suffering. It certainly wasn’t the only job that might have affected my hearing, but it was the worst.
I now have tinnitus in both ears, a constant high pitched ringing. Most days, it is bearable, but some days it is much worse. Now I have a lot trouble hearing conversations in a crowd. I can hear the sounds, but I can’t make out the words. It makes going to dinner with a group very difficult and not very enjoyable, especially if the restaurant is noisy.
I tell you this story about myself simply to illustrate what I think is happening in John’s story. John tells us the crowd heard God’s voice but only heard sounds like thunder or thought it was an angel speaking to Jesus. Sin destroys our ability to hear God clearly. In fact, it impacts all of our spiritual senses deeply. It affects our ability to see God, hear God, feel God, and even smell and taste God’s power and presence. This past week, we taught the kids during Vacation Bible School that they could see and sense God in the wonders of the universe He created.
We can see Him in the stars…
“The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky proclaims the work of His hands. Day after day they pour out speech; night after night they communicate knowledge. There is no speech; there are no words; their voice is not heard. Their message has gone out to all the earth, and their words to the ends of the world.” (Psalms 19:1-4a HCSB)
Or just look around you…
“You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body and knit me together in my mother’s womb. Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex! Your workmanship is marvelous—how well I know it. You watched me as I was being formed in utter seclusion, as I was woven together in the dark of the womb. You saw me before I was born. Every day of my life was recorded in your book. Every moment was laid out before a single day had passed.” (Psalms 139:13-16 NLT)
If you truly want to know God…
“You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart.” (Jeremiah 29:13 ESV)
I’m just going to leave that here as a question and a definitive response by God. Do you really want to know him? If so, seek Him with all your heart and you WILL find Him!
Next, Jesus tells the crowd that what they heard was for their sake, not his. God spoke for their sake and for our sake. God declared that He had been and would be glorified again, and then Jesus gives us insight into the meaning. Jesus tells us that God spoke for our sake and that judgment on the world was occurring, and that THE RULER was being cast out. That’s an important and vital clue as to the meaning of this story and God’s purpose and plan. Notice that Jesus declares, NOW is the judgment of this world… There are two ways I want us to consider the truths of this passage. We will look at one this week, and the other next week. Let’s take a look at the first one.
So often today, our culture rejects biblical morality and beliefs and then says, “don’t judge me. You don’t have any right to judge me. In fact, even the bible says you shouldn’t judge me.” Let’s see if we can clear this issue up a little bit. First, the usual verse cited for this “don’t judge me” reference is Matthew 7:1…
“Judge not, that you be not judged.” (Matthew 7:1 ESV)
At first glance, that verse seems to indicate we should just keep our mouths shut and let others do what they want. But, notice there’s a bit more to the verse than just “judge not.” In fact, let’s pull in the rest of that passage.
“”Judge not, that you be not judged. For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you. Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when there is the log in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.” (Matthew 7:1-5 ESV)
In context, this passage isn’t about NOT passing judgment on someone’s actions as being morally wrong but IS about using the same standard that we use when judging ourselves. So, the first principle of judgment is let’s be fair, impartial and use the same standard for everyone. Don’t be hypocritical in how you apply standards of morality or beliefs. If you have to play by these rules then I should, too. I think we would probably agree that’s a good starting point. But, how does this apply to our story in John?
Jesus says that “now is the judgment of the world.” The world is about to be judged and it will be by a fair and just standard. What is that standard? God’s perfect law written on the hearts of men, and in the Holy Scriptures. Jesus tells us there are two basic, core, or primary laws upon which everything else is based: 1) Love God with all of your heart, soul, mind and strength; 2) Love your neighbor in the same way you love yourself. If we are guilty of breaking these basic, core laws then we are guilty before God as a lawbreaker or sinner.
But why is that judgment NOW? Because one stands before us who has NOT broken that law. One who has upheld it perfectly. Jesus is the perfect fulfillment of God’s law and He has also filled it full of Himself. What exactly does that mean? Jesus filled the law full of himself? Let’s take a quick look…
One thing about law that we both love and hate, and it was evident in our Matthew passage we referenced above, it should be fair, impartial and objective. We want it applied to everyone the same, except… when it comes to us. When it is applied to our lives, we feel it is cold and harsh and doesn’t consider our circumstances. That’s why Jesus told us in that Matthew passage, the same measure you use on yourself should be used on others. When you begin to apply grace and forgiveness to others, then you are using that same measure on them that you apply to yourself. In other words, you are loving others in the same way you love yourself.
Jesus is capable of judging the world, and our lives, because He is both God and man. Not only did he prove it was possible to uphold God’s law, he is giving himself as the perfect sacrifice to redeem our inability to keep God’s law perfectly. Breaking the law demands that someone be held responsible. But why? Why can’t God just forgive everyone without all this dying, suffering, faith and cross stuff? If God can do anything, surely He can just make it possible for everyone to be declared innocent and then Jesus wouldn’t need to die, right?
Well, let me ask you a question… let’s say your son or daughter was brutally beaten and raped, and the perpetrator was caught and arrested and brought to trial. During the trial, he continually denies his guilt. But, not only was evidence presented that proved his guilt but your child identified him as the person who did it. Now, would you expect the judge and jury to hold him accountable? I’m not asking whether you could or would forgive him, I’m asking if you would expect our legal system to hold him accountable for his actions? I’m confident you would insist on it. In fact, I’m fairly confident it wouldn’t matter whose child it was, you would still expect and demand justice.
In the same way, we would expect and demand that God also hold this criminal accountable for his crime. Just as we would want our local judge to be just, we would want God to be just in dealing with this scumbag… and He has. Jesus life, death and resurrection are God’s declaration of judgment on sin. But, God is going to treat everyone in accordance with how they respond to Jesus.
We can… Admit our guilt, confess our sin, our need for forgiveness and our desire to change by turning away from those actions. That’s called repentance. Place our faith in who Jesus is and what he’s done through his death and resurrection. Commit our lives to following Him and obeying his teachings.
Or we can… deny our guilt, ignore the evidence, reject God’s love and refuse to love him. What will you choose?