John 12:20-50 - Seeing Jesus

In this passage Jesus speaks about the significance of His imminant death and resurrection. The occasion is an enquiry from some Gentiles:Now there were certain Greeks among those who came up to worship at the feast. Then they came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida of Galilee, and asked him, saying, "Sir, we wish to SEE JESUS"(v20,21). These represent all men who in seeking after God were drawn to Jesus. They knew He was doing something important in God’s plan, and wanted to SEE and UNDERSTAND Him more. 

Let this be our prayer: “I want to SEE JESUS.” 
To see Jesus we must (1) see (understand) Who He is, (2) see His death, and (3) see His resurrection and ascension to heaven. All three together are necessary for a true understanding. Do you see Jesus bearing your sins on the Cross? Do you see Him risen as the victorious Lord of all, and do you see yourself in Him? Have you in faith seen the real Jesus yet, or are you blinded by unbelief? The Bible says there are dark spiritual forces trying to blind people from seeing Jesus, holding them in unbelief (2Cor 4:4-6, Gal3:1). The spiritual battle over us concerns our FAITH (which is our spiritual SIGHT). We must pray for God to open the eyes of our spiritual understanding concerning Jesus (Ephesians 1:17,18) for seeing (believing in) Who He is and what He did for us is vital for our life and eternal future. 

True FAITH in God is SEEING Jesus for Who He is: 
“Then Jesus cried out and said : 
"He who BELIEVES in Me, BELIEVES not in Me, 
but (BELIEVES) in Him who sent Me. 
 And he who SEES Me,
SEES Him who sent Me” (v44,45). 

Notice the parallelism between the 2 verses, where believing and seeing are synonymous.

Just as FAITH is SEEING the light (the true glory) of Christ, resulting in LIFE in the LIGHT, so UNBELIEF is BLINDNESS (inability and/or refusal to see the Light of Christ) resulting in DARKNESS. The way unbelief concerning Christ develops (the hardening of the heart) and the terrible results of this (darkness, lostness and judgement) are described in v34-50. 

But Jesus came that we might believe (see Him) and live in the Light: "I have come as a Light into the world, that whoever believes in(opens his eyes and sees) Me should not abide in darkness” (v46). 

"A little while longer the Light (Jesus) is with you. Walk (in the light, respond to the light) while you have the light, lest darkness overtake you (if you reject the light you have, you will go deeper into unbelief and darkness) he who walks in darkness does not know where he is going (you will finally lose your way completely). While you have the Light (and can see Jesus), believe (put all your trust) in the Light (Christ), that you may become sons of light (then you will be reborn and receive the light (nature of Christ) within, changing your nature to light, so that now you are sons of light shining His light, so others can see Jesus too)" (v35,36a). 

Therefore now Jesus taught them on the significance of His death, so that they could SEE Him (believe)

“Philip came and told Andrew, and in turn Andrew and Philip told Jesus (about the request of the Greeks to SEE Him, in v21)” (v22). 

This request sets the theme for His teaching: “But Jesus answered them, saying, "The hour has come that the Son of Man should be glorified (manifested,SEEN)” (v23). Whether or not Jesus granted this interview, He was saying that seeing Him in His ‘seed form’ (v24) was not essential, for the time had come for Him to be manifested for the world to see Him as He truly is. It was the appointed hour of His death and resurrection when He would be ‘glorified’ by God. This means He would be manifested and vindicated as to His true identity as the Son of God (who He really is and what He accomplished would now be seen). By raising Him from the dead, God would confirm all of His claims of Deity and declare that His blood had been accepted in Heaven for our forgiveness. 

That He would soon be glorified (v23) could sound as if God would miraculously deliver Him from suffering, but He quickly explained how He would be glorified: "Most assuredly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it produces much grain (many seeds)” (v24). 

It will be like a seed is glorified when it turns into a glorious flower. It has to die first. His earthly life was like a seed. You could touch Him, but all the glory and potential was hidden within. He could have held onto His natural life and not died, but He wanted to multiply Himself in us, giving us His pure, abundant, eternal life. When a seed is planted in the earth, its outer shell cracks open and it dies as a seed. It is buried and hidden from view. It seems like a loss, that its life is over. But wait, it is only the outer-shell that has died - within it is alive. Soon the seed will be glorified, and we will see the life (glory) that was hidden within. Jesus gave up His natural life unto death, the outward-shell of His body was broken. He was buried in the earth, planted as a seed and three days later He sprouted up, resurrected in power and glory. Through death and resurrection He produces many seeds. These are believers, new-creations in Christ, who have the same DNA as the original Seed! We are reborn through Christ’s death and resurrection. He died and rose again for us! He died for our forgiveness and rose to give us a new start and a new-life in Him (His life). To truly see Jesus we must see Him dying for our sins (Galatians 3:1) and rising again victorious (Heb 2:9) hence releasing His life to us. 

In 1Corinthians 15 our physical death and resurrection is described in this language. In v20 the risen Christ is ‘the firstfruits’ from the dead (v20). since He (the original New-Creation Seed) reproduces Himself in us, then His resurrection from death is the prototype for ours. In death we are sown as seed into the earth in hope of a glorious resurrection (v35-37). Within the ordinary looking outer shell (body) there is life and the blueprint for something glorious (in the spirit). The seed must be planted in the earth and the shell cracked for the resurrection life to spring forth. Even though our body is broken, our inner-life remains and in due time it is revealed in a new resurrected form far more glorious than the original seed (our present natural state). The life, potential and glory within will no longer be hidden but revealed. Our new glorious body will be brought forth by God from our reborn spirit (v38). The blueprint is within and we can’t imagine the result. It will be like the difference between a daffodil seed and a daffodil, between a terrestrial body (the earth) and a celestial body (the sun). Our heavenly body will be on a different level of glory, like a star in brilliance(v40), it is sown in corruption (subject to decay), dishonour and weakness but raised incorruptible (indestructible) in glory and power (v42,43).
It is sown a natural body but raised a spiritual body (v44-49). As natural bodies differ in the animal kingdom (v39), so our spiritual bodies will differ from each other in degrees of glory (v41). How you live now determines your eternal glory (Rom 8:18, 2Cor 4:16-18). The more you live to glorify God in this life, the more glory you will have to glorify Him in eternity. As we follow Him, we are building up glory within which will be revealed in the resurrection! “Therefore be steadfast, unmovable, 
always abounding in the work of the Lord, for your labour is not not in vain in the Lord” (v58).

This is what Jesus points out next in John 12: "He who loves his life will lose it, and he who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. If anyone serves Me, let him follow Me; and where I am, there My servant will be also (the servant must give up his own agenda and lay down his own natural life to follow the Lord). If anyone serves Me, him My Father will honour” (v25,26). Thus, this principle of death and resurrection applies to our soul-life also. Our natural life is like 
a seed, and the more you give it (our self-will) up to death (by choosing God’s will), the more His resurrection life will be revealed in us (both now and eternally). 

When we lose our own soul-life now to do God’s will, 
we will gain a higher life through the release of the spirit: 

“He who humbles himself will be exalted” (James 4:10, 1Peter5:6). 

“Whoever seeks to save his life (soul) will lose it, and whoever loses his (soul) life will preserve it” (Luke 17:33). 

“He who does not take his Cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me. He who finds his (soul) life will lose it, and he who loses his(soul) life for My sake will find it” (Matthew 10:38-39). 

This was the daily principle by which Jesus lived, and so He gave us this example to follow. We are called to follow in His footsteps by living in the same way. His laying down His natural life down in death on the Cross became the supreme demonstration of this principle of humility, as a result of which He received great exaltation (Philippians 2:5-11). 

Thus now the denial of ourselves and our life in this world in order to do God’s will (which involves suffering but which results in spiritual-life and eternal glory) is called ‘taking up our Cross’ after the ultimate example set by Jesus: 

"If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself (his independant soul-life), and take up his Cross (God’s will) Daily, and follow Me. For whoever desires to save his (soul) life will lose it, but whoever loses his (soul) life for My sake (and the gospel's) will save it. For what profits a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul (life)?” (Luke 9:23-25, Matt 16:24-26, Mark 8:34-36). 

The fact that we are to take up our Cross DAILY shows that it is the habitual laying down of our soul-life that is meant, not just our giving up our body (and natural life in this world) in martrydom for Christ (although this is the supreme example of taking up our Cross). When we do this we exchange a lower, temporary) life, for a higher, eternal life. 

"Now My soul is troubled (for He was facing the fact that in His death He would have to bear our sins and suffer their full penalty in our place, even the wrath of God) and what shall I say? ‘Father, save Me from this hour'? But for this purpose I came to this hour” (v27). 

Jesus had to deny Himself and resist the temptation to pull back and not take up His Cross. He realised that His whole life was the preparation for this hour of destiny and through it the whole purpose of His human life would be fulfilled. He had made His decision:"Father, glorify Your Name” (v28a). His motive was to glorify the Father by obeying Him, so He commits Himself to God’s will, just as He did again in Gethsemene). 

In giving up His life unto death, Jesus accomplished two Purposes
 (in His Kingdom and Salvation Programmes): 

(1) RESTORATION OF DIVINE AUTHORITY:He defeated satan, the ruler of the godless world-system:"Now is the judgement of this world; now the ruler of this world (satan) will be cast out” (v31). Jesus brought sin, satan and the world to judgement and removed their authority (right to rule) over God’s people. He then received the Name above all. 

(2) RESTORATION OF HUMAN SOULS: He demonstrated His love for us by being prepared to suffer so much for us. This sacrificial, unconditional, self-giving love is what draws us to Him to trust Him for our salvation: "And I, if I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all peoples to Myself." This He said, signifying by what death He would die” (v32,33). He held out His arms in the shape of a Cross, and was saying in effect: “This is how much I love you!”

Then a voice came from heaven (this was the third time? the Father publicly affirrmed His Son) saying: "I have both glorified it and will glorify it again" (v28) Through the miracles of Jesus the Father had been glorified, and now above all, by glorifying the Son in the resurrection, the Father would glorify Himself. 

“Therefore the people who stood by and heard it said that it had thundered. Others said, "An angel has spoken to Him" (v29). “Jesus answered and said, "This voice did not come because of Me, but for your sake” (v30). 
He already knew God would raise Him up. Unbelief can’t hear God.

Israel’s IGNORANCE and UNBELIEF is described as spiritual blindness (v34-50). 
The terrible development and consequences of unbelief concerning Christ are described in v34-50 (the hardening of the heart and increasing spiritual blindness resulting in judgement).

The people answered Him, "We have heard from the law that the Christ remains forever; and how can You say, 'The Son of Man must be lifted up'? Who is this Son of Man?" (
In their ignorance they ask: if He was the Son why did He have to die?

“Then Jesus said to them, "A little while longer the Light is with you (speaking of Himself). Walk (in the light) while you have the Light(while I am with you listen and respond to my teaching), lest darkness overtake you; he who walks in darkness does not know where he is going. While you have the Light, believe (put your trust) in the Light (Me), that you may become sons of light (the New-Birth, through faith you receive the Light within and it changes your nature, so that you now generate light)." These things Jesus spoke, and departed, and was hidden from them (prophetic action to Israel - judicial hardness)” (v35,36).

“But although He had done so many signs before them, they did not believe in Him, that the word of Isaiah the prophet might be fulfilled, which he spoke: "Lord, who has believed our report? And to whom has the arm of the LORD been revealed?" (v37,38). 

“Therefore they could not believe, because Isaiah said again: "He has blinded their eyes and hardened their hearts, lest they should see with their eyes, lest they should understand with their hearts and turn, so that I should heal them. These things Isaiah said (Isaiah 6)when he saw His glory and spoke of Him (Jesus Christ)” (v39-41). 

“Nevertheless even among the rulers many believed in Him, but because of the Pharisees they did not confess Him, lest they should be put out of the synagogue; for they loved the praise of men more than the praise of God” (v42,43). FAITH + UNBELIEF, see v36

"And if anyone hears My words and does not believe, I do not judge him; for I did not come to judge the world but to save the world. He who rejects Me, and does not receive My words, has that which judges him - the word that I have spoken will judge him in the last day”(v47,48).

"For I have not spoken on My own authority; but the Father who sent Me gave Me a command, what I should say and what I should speak. And I know that His command is everlasting life. Therefore, whatever I speak, just as the Father has told Me, so I speak" (v49,50).



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