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Introduction to John chapter 12
John chapter 12 is a pivotal chapter, marking as it does the transition from Christ’s dealings with His own, the nation of Israel, 1:11, and His disciples, also called His own in 13:1. He had come to His own land, as the True Isaac, His own throne, as the True David, and His own people, as the True Abraham. His claim to the land and the throne was undisputed, but His people refused His claims. As a result, God’s wider purpose towards the Gentiles was unfolded, and the Greeks of verse 20 are an earnest of this. We are presented with a series of contrasts at the beginning of the chapter. A contrast between the recognition that Mary gave to Christ, and the rejection of Him by the Jewish authorities. The latter plotted His death, whereas Mary believed He would soon rise from the dead, and therefore would not need elaborate embalming to preserve his body. Mary gave Him that which was precious, whereas Judas went out from that supper to ask the question, “What will ye give me?” Attitudes at the end of the public ministry of Christ have become polarised, with strong devotion to Him on the one hand, and outright rejection of Him on the other. This rejection, however, did not mean that Christ had relinquished His claim to be their king, so He rode into Jerusalem in that capacity, and thus fulfilled the prophecy of the scriptures, but also gave a foretaste of what would happen in the future when the whole nation rejoices, and blesses Him that comes in the name of the Lord, Matthew 23:39. It is in this context that John introduces us to certain Greeks, which will provide an opening for the Lord to set out the terms on which He is leaving the nation of Israel, and the terms, also, on which He will be willing to receive an individual, Jew or Gentile, who will come with personal faith to Him.
Structure of the passage
|(a)||Verses 20-33||The interest of certain Greeks cultivated.|
|(b)||Verses 34-41||The indifference of the nation of Israel condemned.|
|(c)||Verses 42-50||The individuals in the nation of Israel challenged.|
Structure of section (a) The interest of certain Greeks cultivated
|Verses 20-22||The desire to see Jesus.|
|Verses 23-24||The nearness of Christ’s death.|
|Verses 25-26||The results of Christ’s death.|
|Verses 27-28||The verdict on Christ’s life and death.|
|Verses 29-33||The consequences of His death.|
THE WORDS OF THE BIBLE, THE CHRISTIAN SCRIPTURES, AS FOUND IN THE GOSPEL OF JOHN CHAPTER 12, VERSES 20-33:
12:20 And there were certain Greeks among them that came up to worship at the feast:
12:21 The same came therefore to Philip, which was of Bethsaida of Galilee, and desired Him, saying, Sir, we would see Jesus.
12:22 Philip cometh and telleth Andrew: and again Andrew and Philip tell Jesus.
12:23 And Jesus answered them, saying, The hour is come, that the Son of man should be glorified.
12:24 Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone: but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit.
12:25 He that loveth his life shall lose it; and he that hateth his life in this world shall keep it unto life eternal.
12:26 If any man serve Me, let him follow Me; and where I am, there shall also My servant be: if any man serve Me, him will My Father honour.
12:27 Now is My soul troubled; and what shall I say? Father, save Me from this hour: but for this cause came I unto this hour.
12:28 Father, glorify Thy name. Then came there a voice from heaven, saying, I have both glorified it, and will glorify it again.
12:29 The people therefore, that stood by, and heard it, said that it thundered: others said, An angel spake to Him.
12:30 Jesus answered and said, This voice came not because of Me, but for your sakes.
12:31 Now is the judgment of this world: now shall the prince of this world be cast out.
12:32 And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto Me.
12:33 This He said, signifying what death He should die.
Verses 20-22 The desire to see Jesus
12:20 And there were certain Greeks- Solomon had prayed for those from the Gentiles who would come up to the temple, see 1 Kings 8:41-43. The greater than Solomon is now in its courts.
Among them that came up to worship at the feast- they associate with the Jewish worshippers, evidently impressed by the temple services. Have they also seen the Lord purge the temple, and been impressed by His courage? Greeks would appreciate courage and manliness. They have much more to learn about Christ, however.
12:21 The same came therefore to Philip, which was of Bethsaida of Galilee- Philip is a Greek name, and Bethsaida of Galilee was a city of the Decapolis influenced by Greek culture.
And desired him, saying, Sir, we would see Jesus- note their respectful tone, and their earnest request. Religious observance had failed to satisfy their search for God, even though the religion of the Jews was originally from God. This day is the fourth before the Passover, the day on which the Passover lamb was to be selected, and scrutinised until it was slain. Unwittingly, these Greeks were requesting to be part of the scrutiny of the true Passover Lamb, 1 Corinthians 5:7.
12:22 Philip cometh and telleth Andrew: and again Andrew and Philip tell Jesus- did Philip feel that he needed moral support from Andrew, (whose name is Greek too), because the Lord had said that He was not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel? He had instructed His servants not to go into the way of the Gentiles. Philip did not yet realise that God was going to reach out to Gentiles so that they might be blessed without becoming Jewish proselytes.
|Verses 23-24||The nearness of Christ’s death|
12:23 And Jesus answered them, saying- the answer was to Philip and Andrew, but indirectly to the Greeks. The time had not come for direct contact on Christ’s initiative; this would come after Pentecost, Ephesians 2:17; John 10:16.
The hour is come, that the Son of man should be glorified- the request of the Greeks brings the whole of God’s future purpose to Christ’s mind. Note that it is not just His death that is in view, but the whole process by which He would be glorified, including His death, but also including His resurrection, ascension, and return to earth as the Son of Man. This is typical of John’s gospel, where everything is seen in the light of what God’s glory demands. The title Son of Man relates Christ to the whole of mankind, not just to Israel. It tells that He is not only true man, but also the man of God’s choice to rule men. See Daniel 7:13,14.
12:24 Verily, verily, I say unto you- a formula unique to John’s gospel, emphasising the certainty of Christ’s word as the Son of God.
Except a corn ground fall into the ground and die- to the Greeks, death was the ultimate failure, so they must learn that God’s wisdom is contrary to man’s, for the death of Christ is the path of victory. See 1 Corinthians 1:17-25, written initially to Greeks. To the Jews, the death of their Messiah would be a failure, but in fact it is the path to the throne. Passover time was in the month Abib, which means “green ears”, for the corn was not yet fully ripe. Christ’s life, however, had run its full and true course. When corn starts to fall out of the ear and drop to the ground, it means the farmer has missed the window of opportunity to harvest his grain. So for Israel, the harvest was passing, the summer was ended, and they were not saved, Jeremiah 8:20. Note that the corn falls to the ground before it dies, signifying the way in which the nation of Israel would plot and effect His downfall.
It abideth alone- as long as a grain of corn remains in the ear, it is not in suitable conditions to grow and reproduce.
But if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit- note that the bringing forth of fruit depends on the dying, and not so much on the falling into the ground, although that is necessary. The treatment of Christ by men as they brought Him into the dust of death was secondary. The primary point is that He died, just as a seed dies once it finds itself in the darkness, warmth and moisture of the soil. The “much fruit” means the many who will come into salvation through the death of Christ. Only by this means can He reproduce Himself in others- it cannot happen only by His life, precious as that is to God. See Galatians 4:19. What men are naturally in Adam must be dealt with by His death, before new life can be granted.
|Verses 25-26||The results of Christ’s death|
12:25 He that loveth his life shall lose it- the principle that Christ laid down for those who would follow Him is now repeated, but with the implication that He is governed by this law too. He will allow men to take Him and crucify Him because He does not conserve His life, but gives it in the spiritual interests of others. The word for love is the one which means to be fond of, to like. The notion of hating one’s life would be completely contrary to Greek culture, so these Greeks are learning that what they are naturally is of no use to God. They could engage in religion in a natural state, but they cannot be Christians in that state. Believers who spend their life on self, will find that at the judgement seat of Christ all that is unacceptable to God in what they have done and been, will be consumed in the fire, and they will lose it all.
And he that hateth his life in this world shall keep it unto life eternal- those who live for God, and thus hate the idea of living for self, will find recompense in heaven in an enhanced appreciation of eternal life, which involves the knowledge of God.
12:26 If any man serve Me- so “seeing Jesus”, (which is what the Greeks wanted to do), is not a casual thing, but involves earnest commitment. The Greeks would perhaps prefer to be served, for that would indicate that they had made progress in life.
Let him follow Me- this will ensure that the eye is kept on Christ, and self’s interests will recede. By following Him we only go where He would be prepared to go.
And where I am, there shall also My servant be- wherever Christ chooses to be, those who follow Him will be at hand ready to serve Him in that situation. Compare Elisha’s servant, who left his master to run after Naaman for gain, 2 Kings 5:20-27. Gehazi loved his life, and lost it, for he was smitten with leprosy. Philip and Andrew, on the other hand, were available for Christ to use.
If any man serve Me, him will My Father honour– not only is there the privilege of serving Christ in the here and now, but there is the prospect of reward in the hereafter. Commitment to Christ has its eternal compensations.
|Verses 27-28||The verdict on Christ’s life and death|
12:27 Now is My soul troubled- the word for soul here is the same as life in verse 25. Christ is the perfect example of one who makes His own soul subservient to the service of God, and the needs of others. His commitment in this was total, even to the troubling of His soul as He anticipated the ultimate sacrifice, when His soul would be made an offering for sin, Isaiah 53:10.
And what shall I say? Father, save Me from this hour– He is still speaking to Philip and Andrew, giving them insight into the workings of His mind. Would they conclude from what they had seen and heard of Him during the previous three and a half years that He would consider for one moment seeking to avoid the cross?
But for this cause came I unto this hour- a Greek would want to be delivered from trouble, but Christ was conscious of His mission from the Father. The whole of His life was a coming to the hour. Even at His naming, the question of sins being dealt with came up, Matthew 1:21.
12:28 Father, glorify Thy name- this expresses the real response of Christ to the coming of His hour at Calvary. Even in such grim circumstances the glory of the Father was maintained and enhanced.
Then came there a voice from heaven- there were three words from heaven about Christ. At His baptism, giving the Father’s approval of His private years. This was for Him and for the people, as is clear from the different wording in Matthew, Mark and Luke. At the transfiguration, there was given the Father’s approval of His public years, and also anticipating the kingdom. And the third one here, which gives the seal of approval not only of the past, “I have…glorified it”, but also the future, “I will glorify it again”.
Saying, I have both glorified it, and will glorify it again- “He that speaketh of himself seeketh his own glory: but He that seeketh His glory that sent Him, the same is true, and no unrighteousness is in Him”, John 7:18. There never was a life so completely given over to the doing of that which glorifies God, as the life of Christ. he could say, “I do always those things which please Him”, John 8:29. We too are expected to do all to the glory of God, 1 Corinthians 10:31.
|Verses 29-33||The consequences of His death|
12:29 The people therefore, that stood by, and heard it, said that it thundered: others said, An angel spake to Him- The Lord Jesus had spoken for three and a half years, but they were still not able to recognise a voice from heaven. How sad that they think a mere clap of thunder, or an angel’s voice, is all that He deserved! Would an angel have answered, when Christ had spoken to His Father? Would an angel have announced that the Lord’s ministry had glorified the name of an angel? Would a thunderclap, a sign of judgement, (1 Samuel 7:10; Revelation 10:1-4), be an appropriate response to Christ who had come in grace? In any case, these people had never heard an angel, so how did they recognise the voice as such? All these considerations tell of a people ignorant of Divine communications, and who are in the dark as to what merits Divine approval. This is just another illustration of the fact that having ears, they heard not. A physical sound came to them, but they knew not the true nature of it.
12:30 Jesus answered and said, This voice came not because of Me, but for your sakes- The Lord Jesus was ever conscious of the approval of His Father, but He was given it nonetheless. The main point of the word from heaven was that the people, even at this late stage, might realize that they were in danger of`rejecting the One who had glorified the God of Israel in their midst. They are close to “treading under foot the Son of God”, Hebrews 10:29.
12:31 Now is the judgment of this world- this sign of ignorance on the part of the people shows that the climax of this world’s history is near. If the covenant people, blessed with Divine interventions of various sorts for centuries, is not able to understand a word from heaven, especially when it came expressly for them and to them, then there is no hope for the rest of the world. The word for judgement used here is “krisis”, the critical point at which a decision is made. The world would soon make its final decision about Christ, and God would give His final verdict on the world. Note the “now is”, and then the “now shall”; the judgement on the world was current, for the death of Christ would take place very shortly, but the casting out of the prince of this world, whilst based upon the victory of Christ at Calvary, would, in the wisdom of God, be delayed.
Now shall the prince of this world be cast out- at Calvary, the Lord Jesus deliberately put Himself into a position of vulnerability. He could say, “This is your hour, and the power of darkness”, Luke 22:53, and He was “crucified through weakness”, 2 Corinthians 13:4, at the mercy of those who arrested and condemned Him. It was at this point of apparent helplessness, that the Lord Jesus, faced with the vicious fury of the most evil force in God’s universe, gained His greatest triumph. When Satan, as the one who had the power of death, thought He was entirely in his grip, then Christ utterly defeated him. He did this by showing that He was able to go into death voluntarily, and not by force of circumstances. No other man has power in the day of death to retain his spirit, but Christ could not only retain His spirit, but dismiss it as well, for He had authority to lay down His life, John 10:18. He also demonstrated that the Devil was a defeated foe by rising in triumph from the dead, and ascending up far above all principalities and powers, Ephesians 1:20,21.
12:32 And I- having spoken of the world, and the prince of this world, Christ now speaks of Himself, with an emphatic “I”, emphasizing who it is shall effect the casting out of this world’s prince.
If I be lifted up from the earth- the lifting up from the earth is mentioned three times in John’s gospel, 3:14; 8:28, and here. John’s gospel presents the Lord Jesus as one who came to the world that He might leave it, having manifest God in it, so even His death is seen as a stage in His return to heaven. Verse 34 shows that the people understand He means His death.
Will draw all men unto Me- because He is lifted up as Son of Man, the event has significance for all men, and not just for Israel. The Greeks will be able to come into the good of what was done at Calvary. This is the answer to their request to see Him. Being lifted up implied death by crucifixion, which was a Gentile mode of execution. To the Greeks, such a death would be a disgrace, and utter defeat, so to them naturally it would be an act of folly to accept Him as a Crucified Saviour, and not as a Conquering Hero, see 1 Corinthians 1:23. The Greeks must see Him in that way, and by an act of faith come into the good of His death.
12:33 This He said, signifying what death He should die- the Lord makes it very clear that by “lifted up” He does not mean lifted up in exaltation to a throne of glory, but rather lifted up on a cross of shame. He is making the terms on which He is to be believed very clear. There were those at the beginning who only believed because of His miracles, John 2:23-25, but saving faith goes further, and believes Him as the crucified One.
THE WORDS OF THE BIBLE, THE CHRISTIAN SCRIPTURES, AS FOUND IN THE GOSPEL OF JOHN CHAPTER 12, VERSES 34-41:
12:34 The people answered Him, We have heard out of the law that Christ abideth for ever: and how sayest thou, The Son of man must be lifted up? who is this Son of man?
12:35 Then Jesus said unto them, Yet a little while is the light with you. Walk while ye have the light, lest darkness come upon you: for he that walketh in darkness knoweth not whither he goeth.
12:36 While ye have light, believe in the light, that ye may be the children of light. These things spake Jesus, and departed, and did hide Himself from them.
12:37 But though He had done so many miracles before them, yet they believed not on Him:
12:38 That the saying of Esaias the prophet might be fulfilled, which he spake, Lord, who hath believed our report? and to whom hath the arm of the Lord been revealed?
12:39 Therefore they could not believe, because that Esaias said again,
12:40 He hath blinded their eyes, and hardened their heart; that they should not see with their eyes, nor understand with their heart, and be converted, and I should heal them.
12:41 These things said Esaias, when he saw His glory, and spake of Him.
|(b)||Verses 34-41||The indifference of the nation of Israel condemned|
Structure of section (b)
|Verses 34-36||Jesus hides from the nation of Israel.|
|Verses 37-41||The nation of Israel hardens its heart.|
Verses 34-36 Jesus hides from the nation of Israel
2:34 The people answered him, We have heard out of the law that Christ abideth for ever: and how sayest thou, The Son of man must be lifted up? who is this Son of man?– the “we” is emphatic, and so is the “Thou” that follows. They are clearly setting their knowledge of the Messiah against His. They are also placing reliance on the Rabbis, for they say “We have heard”, and they also seem to make a difference between the Son of Man they read of in Daniel 7, and the Lord Jesus, who called Himself the Son of Man. As Caiaphas was to soon discover, they are one and the same, see Matthew 26:63-65.
12:35 Then Jesus said unto them, Yet a little while is the light with you- far from abiding for ever amongst them the time was soon coming when He would be absent from them. This should have jolted them into fresh thinking about Him. The abiding for ever was during the kingdom age, when the morning without clouds would have arrived, and the sun of righteousness had risen with healing in his wings, 2 Samuel 23:4; Malachi 4:2. The light of His grace towards them was to be withdrawn temporarily, during their national unbelief.
Walk while ye have the light- there was still the opportunity to walk in the light of His person and teaching.
Lest darkness come upon you- the darkness of national rejection after AD 70. See Isaiah 50 about walking in darkness.
For he that walketh in darkness knoweth not whither he goeth- they had heard things out of the law, but if they reject His light, they would be in the darkness of blindness of heart, Romans 11:10. The Sun of Righteousness must set in death, before a new day can dawn, based upon His resurrection. For the believer the darkness is past, and the true light now shineth, 1 John 2:8. He is a son of the day and a son of the light. The sun always shines, but it is not always day. So for the believer the sun is shining, but the day awaits Christ’s return to the earth.
12:36 While ye have light, believe in the light- this explains what walking in the light involves, even personal faith. They thought that the light of the Messiah would shine upon them simply because they were of the seed of Abraham.
That ye may be the children of light- believing in the light brings with it the responsibility of taking character from the light in terms of purity, holiness, and the shunning of evil.
These things spake Jesus, and departed, and did hide Himself from them- thus He gives them a brief interval when they may learn what it is like to not have Him amongst them, so that they may realise they cannot do without Him.
|Verses 37-41||The nation of Israel hardens its heart|
12:37 But though He had done so many miracles before them, yet they believed not on Him- the miracles He had performed were signs, illustrating doctrine, and therefore giving light as to His person. As always in the gospels, (except in John 5:24, where faith is in relation to the Father), the pronoun John uses is “eis”, meaning unto. His person held no attraction for them and they were not prepared to move to associate themselves with Him.
12:38 That the saying of Esaias the prophet might be fulfilled which he spake- the prophecy which is now quoted shows that the national rejection of Christ was wholly expected, so that their unbelief fulfilled the prophecy.
Lord, who hath believed our report?- the question is in the form that expects the answer, “Not many”. Isaiah was speaking for the Lord, and so the prophet’s testimony was God’s. This makes the unbelief of the nation all the more inexcusable. The prophet is writing as if the earthly ministry of Christ was over, and an assessment of its impact can be made. This makes the quotation particularly apt for this point in John’s gospel, where the Lord is about to leave the nation, His mission to them over for the time being. By describing his prophecy as a report, something heard to be passed on, Isaiah indicates that his prophecy is from God Himself, again justifying the insertion of the word Lord.
And to whom hath the arm of the Lord been revealed?- how few there are who have seen in Christ the power of God in action! Note the connection with the “many miracles” of verse 37.
12:39 Therefore they could not believe, because that Esaias said again- this inability to believe was a direct result of not believing the report that Christ gave of God. There was nothing else for God to bring forward to induce their faith. In the face of this fact, they could not believe, since, having rejected God’s ultimate revelation to them, there was nothing further to believe. That individuals had lost the capacity to believe is not the sense, for in the next verse we find Jews believing, and Paul and other Jews came to faith, a fact which the apostle uses in Romans 11:1,5. The point is that a far as God having dealings with the nation as a whole was concerned, He had nothing more to say for them to believe. Compare Isaiah 5:4, “What could have been done more to my vineyard, that I have not done in it?”
12:40 He hath blinded their eyes, and hardened their heart; that they should not see with their eyes, nor understand with their heart, and be converted, and I should heal them- this passage is quoted in other parts of the New Testament. In Matthew’s equivalent to John’s transitional passage, the emphasis is on refusing to see and hear, for the nation had rejected the miracles they could see, and the teaching they could hear, see Matthew 13:10-17. In Matthew, the judgement on their national unbelief took the form of the Lord beginning to speak in parables, thus hiding the truth from those who were not interested. I
n Acts 28:25-29, just two or three years before the rejection of the nation at the destruction of Jerusalem in AD 70, the apostle quotes Isaiah 6 to the Jewish leaders that came to him in such a way as to emphasise the closing of their eyes and ears to the truth, for they had had further opportunity to receive it. See the parable of the fig tree in the vineyard, Luke 13:6-9. In this place, however, the words are more severe, and the Lord is said to close their eyes and harden their heart, for the governmental anger of God was towards them because of the rejection of His Son. Compare the similar idea in Matthew 23 where, in the parable, when the beloved Son was rejected and killed, God sent His army to destroy their city. So the Roman army becomes God’s army to destroy Jerusalem because of their rejection of His Son.
12:41 These things said Esaias, when he saw His glory, and spake of Him- Isaiah saw the glory of the Lord as one who would sit in His Millenial temple as a king-priest, and the whole earth would be full of His glory, Isaiah 6:1-1-3. By rejecting Christ, the nation was rejecting their King. Isaiah also spake of Him, not only as a result of seeing the vision of chapter 6, but also because of what he foresaw in chapter 53 of his book with regard to the person of the Messiah. In Isaiah 6 He is glorified, in chapter 53 He is rejected, and Isaiah spoke of both things. By refusing Christ’s testimony, they became blind to Christ’s glory. If they had seen his glory, they would have confessed their sins, as Isaiah had done.
THE WORDS OF THE BIBLE, THE CHRISTIAN SCRIPTURES, AS FOUND IN THE GOSPEL OF JOHN, CHAPTER 12, VERSES 42-50:
12:42 Nevertheless among the chief rulers also many believed on Him; but because of the Pharisees they did not confess Him, lest they should be put out of the synagogue:
12:43 For they loved the praise of men more than the praise of God.
12:44 Jesus cried and said, He that believeth on Me, believeth not on Me, but on Him that sent Me.
12:45 And he that seeth Me seeth Him that sent Me.
12:46 I am come a light into the world, that whosoever believeth on Me should not abide in darkness.
12:47 And if any man hear My words, and believe not, I judge him not: for I came not to judge the world, but to save the world.
12:48 He that rejecteth Me, and receiveth not My words, hath one that judgeth him: the word that I have spoken, the same shall judge him in the last day.
12:49 For I have not spoken of Myself; but the Father which sent Me, He gave Me a commandment, what I should say, and what I should speak.
12:50 And I know that His commandment is life everlasting: whatsoever I speak therefore, even as the Father said unto Me, so I speak.
|(c)||Verses 42-50||The individuals in the nation of Israel challenged|
Structure of Section (c )
|Verses 42-46||Challenge to those who hesitate.|
|Verses 47-50||Challenge to those who believe not.|
Verses 42-46 Challenge to those who hesitate
12:42 Nevertheless among the chief rulers also many believed on Him- this shows that national blindness as described in previous verses does not prevent individual members of the nation from believing in Christ.
But because of the Pharisees they did not confess Him, lest they should be put out of the synagogue- the sanctions imposed on those who believed in Christ were severe. To be put out of the synagogue meant to be cut off from the economic, social and religious life of Israel. Their reluctance to confess Christ must be seen in this light, and does not necessarily indicate that their faith was not genuine. Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimathea were of this sort, and yet in the end came out openly, so it is to be hoped that the men of this verse did the same. The fact that these people are to an extent distinguished from the Pharisees may indicate that not all of them were of this party. If some were Sadduccees, then their professed faith is all the more remarkable.
12:43 For they loved the praise of men more than the praise of God- “the fear of man bringeth a snare”, Proverbs 29:25. John is not necessarily saying their faith was not genuine, but is giving the reason they did not confess Him. Accustomed to public adulation, (see Matthew 6:2; 23:5-7), they had not learnt the lesson of self-abasement.
12:44 Jesus cried and said, He that believeth on Me, believeth not on Me, but on Him that sent Me- the individual is addressed here, “he”, as opposed to the nation in verses 34-41. The fact that Jesus cried shows His strong feeling about the matter, and His desire that men realise the implications of believing in Him. If they did, they would openly confess Him. To believe on Christ is to believe on the Father who sent Him, for they are one in essence and nature. Because of this, to not believe is very serious.
12:45 And he that seeth Me seeth Him that sent Me- Isaiah’s experience is open to any who will look in faith to Christ. To see Him is to see the Father, 14:9. The special reference is to the miracles He performed, which unfolded who He was. This statement is not only an encouragement to faith, but also a warning against unbelief, for to reject Christ is to reject the God of Israel.
12:46 I am come a light into the world, that whosoever believeth on Me should not abide in darkness- in verse 35 the warning was to the nation, that if they rejected Him, then the darkness of God’s rejection of them as a nation would overtake them. Here the promise is to the individual, that the national darkness can be escaped through faith in Christ personally. Note the reference to the world, reinforcing John’s theme throughout his gospel that Christ is not just for Israel.
|Verses 47-50||Challenge to those who believe not|
12:47 And if any man hear My words, and believe not, I judge him not: for I came not to judge the world, but to save the world- a further encouragement to believe, for the previous words about rejecting Him and abiding in darkness might have sounded severe, as if there was no hope. There is space given to men to hear Christ and believe on Him, before the day of judgement comes. If in verse 45 it was a question of seeing, now it is a question of hearing, the two actions that Israel sinned about, for they closed their eyes and shut their ears, and therefore their hearts refused Christ.
12:48 He that rejecteth Me, and receiveth not My words, hath one that judgeth him: the word that I have spoken, the same shall judge him in the last day- just as to not respond to Christ’s miracles was to not see who He really was, so to not respond to Christ’s words was to not understand who He was. These words are spoken lest any should misunderstand the words, “I judge Him not: for I came not to judge the world, but to save the world”, of verse 47. There are consequences of not believing, but the carrying of them out awaits the day of judgement. Note that the one who judges is the word He spoke. So what Christ said and what He is are one, as John 8:25 had already indicated. The word spoken when Christ was here on earth will still have validity in the judgement day, some three thousand years later.
12:49 For I have not spoken of Myself; but the Father which sent Me, He gave Me a commandment, what I should say, and what I should speak- this statement highlights the extreme seriousness of not believing the words of Christ, for they are words He spoke in full harmony with His Father’s commandment to Him. As one who became subject to His Father when He became man, perfect obedience marked Him, and this should give us confidence to believe His words, for they are the Father’s words through him. The word “say” emphasises the meaning and substance of the words, whereas “speak” emphasises the words that convey the utterance. So not only were the thoughts given to Him by the Father, as Divine Persons communed together, but the right words to express those thoughts also.
12:50 And I know that His commandment is life everlasting: whatsoever I speak therefore, even as the Father said unto Me, so I speak- Christ was fully aware that what the Father communicated to Him were words that would impart eternal life to those who believed them, hence His care in speaking to the world those things which He had heard from the Father. He did this “even as” the Father said unto Him, so the transmission was accurate and therefore is to be relied upon. On the other hand, to reject these words is a serious matter, for Divine persons have spoken. How gracious of Christ to leave the nation whilst still offering them as individuals the great gift of eternal life.