Sermon title:  THE ETERNAL CHRIST GIVES US EVERLASTING LIFE

 

John 12:37-50

Immanuel Baptist Church – Sunday, August 11, 2019

 

 

 

We’re continuing to look at

our Lord Jesus’ last week on earth—

the week leading up to his crucifixion at Calvary.

 

And in the 12th chapter of the Gospel of John,

beginning at Verse 37,

we find Jesus preaching and teaching

in the courtyards of God’s Holy Temple in Jerusalem.

 

He’s not preaching from a pulpit,

but rather out in the courtyards

where crowds of Jews have come together

during the week leading up to the Passover celebration.

 

Christ and his disciples are there,

mingling with the crowds.

 

From time to time,

Jesus speaks up and begins preaching

while people gather around to listen.

 

Then he stops and disappears into the crowd—

until the next time

that he steps forward

with another message

for the assembled crowds.

 

The religious leaders

have already given orders to arrest the Lord

and take him into custody,

but they’re afraid to do it

in front of the crowds at the Temple.

 

At this point Jesus has been ministering

in Galilee and around Jerusalem

for 3-1/2 years.

 

Besides preaching and teaching,

he has healed people of leprosy,

made the lame walk again,

given sight to the blind,

and even raised the dead back to life.

 

But John 12:37 tells us,

 

37 Even after Jesus had done

all these miraculous signs in their presence,

they still would not believe in him.

 

38 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?"

 

John quoted this from the 53rd chapter

of the Old Testament prophet Isaiah.

 

So, let’s take a look at the Book of Isaiah

beginning with Isaiah 53:1.

 

We’ll see how we know

that Isaiah was actually writing

about our Lord Jesus

some 700 years before

 Jesus was born in Bethlehem.

 

This whole 53rd chapter of Isaiah is a prophecy about Jesus

and his dying for our sins.

 

It begins by saying,

 

1 Who has believed our message

and to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?

 

That’s the verse quoted in John’s Gospel

at John 12:37.

 

Then Isaiah goes on to say

prophetically about Jesus,

 

2 He grew up before him

like a tender shoot,

and like a root out of dry ground.

 

He had no beauty or majesty

to attract us to him,

nothing in his appearance that we should desire him.

 

3 He was despised and rejected by men,

a man of sorrows,

and familiar with suffering.

 

Like one from whom men hide their faces

he was despised,

and we esteemed him not.

 

And that is how Jesus was viewed

by his nation.

But God also showed Isaiah

how Jesus would take our sins

upon himself.

 

Isaiah goes on to say prophetically about Christ,

 

4 Surely he took up our infirmities

and carried our sorrows,

yet we considered him stricken by God,

smitten by him, and afflicted.

 

5 But he was pierced for our transgressions,

he was crushed for our iniquities;

the punishment that brought us peace

was upon him,

and by his wounds we are healed.

 

Remember, Isaiah wrote this

more than 700 years before

Jesus actually came

to be pierced for our transgressions.

 

But the Holy Spirit caused him to see

centuries ahead of time

that Jesus would be “pierced for our transgressions”

and that we would be healed

by his wounds.”

Isaiah went on to say,

 

6 We all, like sheep, have gone astray,

each of us has turned to his own way;

and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all.

 

The iniquity of each one of us—

that means the sin of each one of us—

was going to be laid on Jesus.

 

Then Isaiah went on to describe

how Jesus would die for us

as the sacrificial Lamb of God:

 

7 He was oppressed and afflicted,

yet he did not open his mouth;

 

he was led like a lamb to the slaughter,

and as a sheep before her shearers is silent,

so he did not open his mouth.

 

8 By oppression and judgment he was taken away.

And who can speak of his descendants?

 

For he was cut off from the land of the living;

for the transgression of my people he was stricken.

 

It was for the sins or transgressions of God’s people

that Jesus would die.

 

9 He was assigned a grave with the wicked,

and with the rich in his death,

though he had done no violence,

nor was any deceit in his mouth.

 

Isaiah wrote this 700 years ahead of time,

and Jesus actually was

“assigned a grave with the wicked,

and with the rich in his death”

when his body was laid in a rich man’s tomb.

 

Isaiah continues,

describing how it would be God’s will

for Jesus to die

as a sacrifice for sin—“a guilt offering”:

 

10 Yet it was the Lord's will

to crush him and cause him to suffer,

and though the Lord makes his life a guilt offering,

he will see his offspring

and prolong his days,

and the will of the Lord will prosper in his hand.

 

So, Isaiah wrote that the Messiah

would die, but would live again—“prolong his days”,

and would have spiritual “offspring”—

all those who would be saved from their sins

and adopted as children of God

by being “born again.”

 

11 After the suffering of his soul,

he will see the light of life and be satisfied;

by his knowledge

my righteous servant will justify many,

and he will bear their iniquities.

 

Christ would “justify many”

and “bear” our “iniquities.”

 

That means that Christ would take our sins

and carry them himself.

 

So, when God the Father looks at us

we look like we aren’t carrying any sins.

 

That’s because Jesus is carrying our sins

instead of us being loaded down with them.

 

Isaiah goes on,

 

12 Therefore I will give him

a portion among the great,

and he will divide the spoils with the strong,

because he poured out his life unto death,

and was numbered with the transgressors.

 

For he bore the sin of many,

and made intercession for the transgressors.

 

The Apostle John in his Gospel

quoted only the first verse of this 53rd chapter of Isaiah,

but the whole chapter is about

how Jesus would make “intercession” for us sinners

and take our sins upon himself

even dying for us.

 

If you ever have opportunity

to share the Gospel with a Jewish person,

this 53rd chapter of Isaiah

is an excellent place to start.

 

Just read that whole chapter together,

and ask who did all those things.

 

Jesus was the only person in history

who died for the sins of others

to make intercession for them

and to bring them

justification before God—

despite being rejected by his own people.

-------------------------------------------------

 

Going back to John’s Gospel now,

we note that John goes on to say in John 12:39,

 

39 For this reason they could not believe,

because, as Isaiah says elsewhere:

 

40 "He has blinded their eyes

and deadened their hearts,

so they can neither see with their eyes,

nor understand with their hearts,

nor turn--and I would heal them."

 

41 Isaiah said this

because he saw Jesus' glory

and spoke about him.

 

The passage John quotes

is from the 6th chapter of Isaiah.

 

So, let’s turn there now.

 

John tells us,

 

41 “Isaiah said this

because he saw Jesus' glory

and spoke about him,”

 

and the Sixth Chapter of Isaiah.

does begin with a vision of Christ’s heavenly glory.

 

In Isaiah 6:1 the prophet starts off by saying,

 

1 In the year that King Uzziah died,

I saw the Lord,

 

History records that Uzziah,

also known by the name Azariah,

was king in Jerusalem

and died in the year 739 or 740 B.C.

 

So, it was more than 700 years before Christ.

 

1 In the year that King Uzziah died,

I saw the Lord,

high and exalted,

seated on a throne;

and the train of his robe filled the temple.

 

So, this was when Isaiah saw Christ’s glory.

 

Isaiah says, “I saw the Lord.

It was a vision of heaven,

with the Lord seated on a throne

“high and exalted” or “high and lifted up”

in the sky above the Jerusalem temple,

with the long train of his robe

filling the temple.

Isaiah then says,

 

2 Above him were seraphim,

each with six wings:

 

With two wings they covered their faces,

with two they covered their feet,

and with two they were flying.

 

We don’t know much about seraphim.

 

They are mentioned in the Bible

only here in the Sixth Chapter of Isaiah.

 

They appear to be angels

—angels hovering closely over God

at his throne in heaven.

 

“Seraphim” is the plural of the Hebrew word “seraph,”

which carries the thought of “burning fire.”

These angels were

glowing like a fiery flame.

 

That would be consistent

with other descriptions of angels in the Bible

as shining brightly.

 

Isaiah says next that

 

3 And they were calling to one another:

 

Holy, holy, holy is the Lord Almighty;

 

the whole earth is full of his glory.”

 

4 At the sound of their voices

the doorposts and thresholds shook

and the temple was filled with smoke.

 

5 “Woe to me!” I cried. “I am ruined!

For I am a man of unclean lips,

and I live among a people of unclean lips,

and my eyes have seen the King,

the Lord Almighty.”

 

Isaiah knew that he saw the Almighty God,

and John tells us that Isaiah saw Jesus’ glory.

 

This is one of the ways we know

that Jesus is Almighty God.

 

It’s part of the foundation

of our understanding that the Father is God,

the Son is God, and the Holy Spirit is God—

yet there is only one true God.

 

How that can be

is a mystery

beyond the ability

of our small human minds to comprehend.

 

But Isaiah’s vision

helps us grasp why

the Apostle John wrote,

 

41 “Isaiah said this

because he saw Jesus' glory

and spoke about him,”

 

Isaiah saw a heavenly vision of Jesus

“sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up,”

as the King James Version puts it.

 

Isaiah saw him in his divine glory

with angels proclaiming him to be “holy, holy, holy.”

---------------------------------------------------

 

Isaiah himself felt too sinful

and unworthy

to be in the presence of such a Holy God.

 

But he says in Verse 6,

 

6 Then one of the seraphim flew to me

with a live coal in his hand,

which he had taken with tongs from the altar.

 

7 With it he touched my mouth and said,

 

“See, this has touched your lips;

your guilt is taken away

and your sin atoned for.”

 

8 Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying,

Whom shall I send?

And who will go for us?”

And I said,

Here am I. Send me!”

 

9 He said, “Go and tell this people:

 

Be ever hearing,

but never understanding;

be ever seeing,

but never perceiving.’

 

10 Make the heart of this people calloused;

make their ears dull

and close their eyes.

 

Otherwise they might see with their eyes,

hear with their ears,

understand with their hearts,

and turn and be healed.”

 

And that’s the part

that the Apostle John quoted in his Gospel,

with this quote explaining

the Jews’ refusal to believe in Christ.

 

But, of course, there were some of the Jews who did believe.

 

All of the 12 Apostles were Jews.

 

And so were the thousands of early Christians

who filled the early Church:

they were all Jewish believers in Jesus

who accepted him as their promised Messiah.

 

John goes on to say, at John 12:42,

 

42 Yet at the same time

many even among the leaders believed in him.

 

But because of the Pharisees

they would not confess their faith

for fear they would be put out of the synagogue;

 

43 for they loved praise from men

more than praise from God.

 

Today, it is a terrible thing

to give in to fear of men—

to fail to embrace Christ,

due to peer pressure

and fear of losing friends and family.

 

I think people tend to act in a way

that will please other people

rather than act in a way

that will please God

when they fail to see God as real

and as directly involved in their lives.

 

That’s why, besides fellowship with other people at church

it’s so important

to spend personal time

alone with God in prayer.

-----------------------------------------------

 

John goes on to write,

 

44 Then Jesus cried out,

"When a man believes in me,

he does not believe in me only,

but in the one who sent me.

 

45 When he looks at me,

he sees the one who sent me.

 

Again, that goes right along

with Isaiah seeing Christ

and writing about him.

 

If you asked Isaiah who he saw in that vision

with angelic seraphim flying over his head

and calling out,

“Holy, holy, holy is the Lord Almighty!”

Isaiah would have answered

that he saw Yahweh, Jehovah, God Almighty.

 

But now Jesus says,

 

"When a man believes in me,

he does not believe in me only,

but in the one who sent me.

 

45 When he looks at me,

he sees the one who sent me.

 

Our Lord Jesus is mysteriously One with the Father in heaven.

 

Jesus is not just

a cool guy who lived long ago

and whose teachings

changed the world.

 

Jesus is that “King, the Lord Almighty”

who Isaiah saw in a glorious vision.

 

John 12:41 tells us,

“Isaiah said this

because he saw Jesus' glory

and spoke about him.

 

And that’s why it’s so important

to know Christ today

as our Lord and Savior—

for each one of us to know him personally

and to follow him,

obediently following his commands.

 

Jesus went on to say in Verse 46,

 

46 I have come into the world as a light,

so that no one who believes in me

should stay in darkness.

 

Choosing to follow Jesus

as your Lord and Savior

is like stepping out of the darkness

into the light of day.

 

Our way in life becomes clear and cheerful

like a bright, sunny day.

 

But, Isaiah wrote

that there would be people

who would refuse to believe in Jesus.

 

And our Lord went on here in John 12:47

to speak of those

who would refuse to obey his teachings:

 

47 "As for the person

who hears my words but does not keep them,

I do not judge him.

 

For I did not come to judge the world,

but to save it.

 

48 There is a judge

for the one who rejects me

and does not accept my words;

 

that very word which I spoke

will condemn him at the last day.

 

49 For I did not speak of my own accord,

but the Father who sent me

commanded me what to say and how to say it.

 

50 I know that his command leads to eternal life.

 

So whatever I say

is just what the Father has told me to say."

 

Jesus’ teachings and commands

come straight from Almighty God in heaven.

 

How foolish it would be to ignore him.

 

“His command leads to eternal life.”

 

It might seem like a very long time ago

when Isaiah wrote

and when Christ walked the earth.

 

But our Lord is the King of eternity:

past, present and future without end. 

 

When we believe in him and keep his words,

he gives us light

to guide us through this world,

and he gives us a wonderful future

of everlasting life in his heavenly Kingdom.

 

“When we've been there ten thousand years,

Bright shining as the sun,

We've no less days to sing God's praise.

Than when we first begun”

 

The Apostle John wrote at 1 John 2:24,

 

“See that what you have heard from the beginning

remains in you.

If it does,

you also will remain in the Son

and in the Father.

And this is what he promised us—-

eternal life.”