Bundle To Be Saved
Progressive Insurance has been using Flo for many years to help sell insurance. One of their advertising campaigns features Flo with a young couple who is expecting a child.
Flo says to the couple, “We have another way to help you save.”
The man says, “Oh, really, how?”
“By bundling,” Flo says. “If you get your Homeowners and Auto Insurance together, we give you even more savings.”
“Ooh!” the man says
“A big bundle,” Flo announces
Flo begins to make comparisons, “Home and Auto together, it’s like peanut butter and jelly.”
The husband says, “Oh, like burgers and fries.”
The wife says, “Or, pickles and ice cream.”
Flo responds with, “Unicorns and glitter, [pause], No?”
Bundling is important in the insurance industry, and it’s not exclusive to one insurance company
Bundling our insurance
The insurance company we use for our renters, auto, and liability insurance, gives us discounts
Because we have multiple insurance policies with them, it helps us to save
Bundling our trips to town
My boys will tell you that Judy and I bundle our trips to town
We don’t normally go to town for just one item or for one purpose
We wait until there is a need to visit multiple locations for various purposes
On Wednesday of this week we needed to go to town for various reasons
The online mobile banking service was unavailable and I had a paycheck that needed to be deposited
There were certain items that Judy was not able to get with online ordering and mobile pickup from the grocery store – certain items were listed as in-store only purchased, even though we were able to add them previously to our mobile order
I had some prescriptions that were ready at the pharmacy
And since we were shopping close to Chick-fil-A, we had to place a mobile order there, as well
Perhaps you’ve bundled your insurance, so you can save money
Maybe you’re like Judy and I and you bundle your trips to town
The verses today conclude chapter 12 of John, but they also conclude the major section on Jesus’ message and ministry. The remainder of the book will focus on Jesus’ death and resurrection. In Jesus’ summary of His message, He once again makes it clear that He and the Father are one. Jesus is divine. He has come from the Father. John wants us to understand from this passage that . . .
BIG IDEA – To be saved we have to believe that Jesus is God.
This is what sets Christianity apart from all other religions of the world – what we believe about who Jesus is and why He came to earth.
GOD (John 12:37-50)
Jews (vv. 37-42)
Unbelief (vv. 37-41)
We see that miraculous signs do not always produce faith in Jesus
John tells us that his whole purpose in recording the miraculous sings, that he did in this Gospel, was with the hope that we may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing we may have life in His name (John 20:31)
For some, it was just what they needed to take the step of faith
For the Jews, specifically in this passage, and for us, generally, miraculous signs are not enough, and John gives us the reason why
Quotes the prophet Isaiah
John now interprets Isaiah’s prophecies about the Israelites of his day, and how it applies to Jesus and the 1st Century Jews and our culture today
Read Isaiah 53:1-6
It’s not hard to see how Isaiah was prophesying about Jesus
We see the fulfillment of Isaiah’s prophecy in John’s Gospel
The Jews didn’t believe Jesus’ words, that He was the Messiah, that He was sent from God, that He was God – they rejected the verbal message (Isaiah says, message)
They also rejected the miraculous signs
In Isaiah, the arm of the Lord, is referring to His miraculous signs, manifested through Jesus
Here are the miraculous signs that God had performed through Jesus, up through chapter 12
Jesus turned water into wine (John 2:1-11)
Jesus heals the government official’s sons (John 4:46-54)
Jesus heals the lame man at the Pool of Bethesda (John 5:1-18)
Jesus feeds five thousand, plus people (John 6:1-14)
Jesus heals the man who was born blind (John 9:1-12)
Jesus raises Lazarus from the dead (John 11:38-44)
So what we see is that Jesus, through God, has power over the elements (water, bread, fish); over sickness and conditions that develop after birth; over genetic mutations that happen prior to birth; and over death itself
God’s words and works, through Jesus, were not enough to convince the Jews that Jesus was the Messiah, sent from God
To be saved we have to believe that Jesus is God.
Why weren’t His words and works enough?
Is God not sovereign, is He not all-powerful?
We have to remember that there are two things in tension here
Human responsibility (our free will)
Those two attributes will help us to understand the next passage that John quotes from Isaiah
John tells us that they could not believe, and quotes Isaiah 6:10 as the reason why
Read Isaiah 6:1-10
John doesn’t say anything about the Jews’ ears, probably because he is focusing on the fact that the 1st Century Jews rejected Jesus’ words and works – they didn’t believe the miraculous signs and His words didn’t transform the part of the them that thinks and feels (their heart)
He also reverses the order of the eyes and heart (there’s really no significance to that reversal)
There is lots of discussion about what John is trying to say here
Is John talking about predestination?
The short answer is, No
At some point in church history, the idea of predestination took a turn, that I believe was never intended or taught in Scripture
Most people hear the term predestination and immediately think that God has chosen some people to be saved and others to be condemned to hell
That doesn’t seem to fit with God’s desire, that all people be saved (Read 1 Timothy 2:1-7; 2 Peter 3:8-9, and John 3:16)
I believe we have misinterpreted or not defined predestination correctly, as God sees it
I don’t want to spend too much time talking about this, because it is not the main point of this passage
I believe that D.A. Carson does an excellent job of explaining God’s heart as it pertains to what John says about the reason the Jews could not believe
“If a superficial reading finds this harsh, manipulative, even robotic, four things must constantly be borne in mind: (1) God’s sovereignty in these matters is never pitted against human responsibility (cf. notes on v. 38); (2) God’s judicial hardening is not presented as the capricious manipulation of an arbitrary potentate cursing morally neutral or even morally pure beings, but as a holy condemnation of a guilty people who are condemned to do and be what they themselves have chosen; (3) God’s sovereignty in these matters can also be a cause for hope, for if he is not sovereign in these areas there is little point in petitioning him for help, while if he is sovereign the anguished pleas of the prophet (Is. 63:15-19) – and of believers throughout the history of the church – make sense; (4) God’s sovereign hardening of the people in Isaiah’s day, his commissioning of Isaiah to apparently fruitless ministry, is a stage in God’s ‘strange work’ (Is. 28:21-22) that brings God’s ultimate redemptive purposes to pass. Paul argues rather similarly in Romans 9:22-33.” [Carson, The Pillar New Testament Commentary, The Gospel According to John, 448-49]
John tells us that Isaiah said this because he saw Jesus’ glory and spoke about it (Isaiah 6:1-4)
PRINCIPLE #1 – God’s desire is that His people believe in His words and works.
It’s amazing when someone believes God’s Word without having to experience His works (the supernatural/miraculous)
“Miracles don’t produce faith. Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God (Romans 10:17). The only path to faith is to be in the Word and to grab hold of the Word.” [Courson, Jon Courson’s Application Commentary, New Testament, 543]
In John 10:25-30, Jesus tells the religious leaders that He already told them that He was the Christ, but they didn’t believe Him
The miracles He did in His Father’s name speak for Him, but they didn’t believe those either
The reason they didn’t believe, is because they weren’t His sheep – part of God’s family
Thomas missed seeing Jesus, after His resurrection, when He appeared to the disciples the first time
Thomas said He wouldn’t believe unless he could see the nail marks in Jesus’ hands and put his finger in the nail marks and place his hand in the spear hole in Jesus’ side
The second time Jesus appears to them Thomas is there
Jesus encourages Thomas to do just what he said, but Thomas didn’t have to
Then Jesus told Thomas, “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” (John 20:29)
If someone needs to see God’s miraculous signs, in addition to hearing His words, in order to believe, it’s certainly better than not believing at all
My Next Step Today Is To: Believe in Jesus’ words and works as proof that He is the Messiah.
PRINCIPLE #2 – God will not force anyone to believe in Him.
Psalm 81:11-12, “But my people would not listen to me; Israel would not submit to me. So I gave them over to their stubborn hearts to follow their own devices.”
Paul explains in Romans 1:18-32 about God’s wrath against mankind, because they would not submit to Him, but rather followed the ways of the world – He gave them over to their sinful desires
“God used George Whitefield in a way seldom seen in this world. He was the main instrument in the spiritual revival known as the Great Awakening, which sept across the United States in the mid-1700s. Whitefield was also good friends with Benjamin Franklin. Their friendship began when Whitefield came to Philadelphia in 1739 and lasted until his death in 1770. During the course of this thirty-one-year friendship, Franklin was the primary publisher of all of Whitefield’s sermons and journals. Forty-five times Whitefield’s sermons were reprinted in Franklin’s newspaper, The Pennsylvania Gazette, and eight times the sermons filled the entire front page. Franklin published ten editions of Whitefield’s journals and sold thousands of reprints of Whitefield’s sermons.
Their relationship extended beyond a business relationship. On more than one occasion when Whitefield came to Philadelphia, he stayed with Franklin in his home. When some of the religious elite criticized Whitefield in another local paper, Franklin wrote a rebuttal. His support for Whitefield, along with a regular correspondence between the two, continued for the next thirty years. Despite their friendship and Whitefield’s continued presentation of the gospel, Franklin never responded in faith. In his autobiography Franklin wrote about Whitefield: ‘He used sometimes to pray for my conversion, but never had the satisfaction of believing that his prayers were heard’ (quoted in Isaacson, Benjamin Franklin, 113).” [Carter & Wredberg, Christ-Centered Exposition: Exalting Jesus in John, 253]
Romans 1:20, For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities – his eternal power and divine nature – have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse.
No one in all humanity can say to the Lord on the last day, “I didn’t know!”
It’s a matter of whether or not we have rejected Him
John tells us that while some didn’t believe, there were many that did believe
Belief (vv. 42-43)
It’s fascinating that while some didn’t believe, John tells us that, at the same time, many believed
Those who believed also included some of the religious leaders (members of the Sanhedrin or Jewish Council)
Would not confess
They were “secret” followers of Jesus
We’re familiar with two secret followers, Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimathea
Eventually, they confessed their allegiance to Jesus when they asked Pilot for His body, so they could bury it properly
Put out of the synagogue
This was serious business for the religious leaders
Their entire social, economic, and religious worth were wrapped up in being a part of the synagogue
They weren’t about to sacrifice that in order to publicly confess Jesus
Loved praise from men more than praise from God
Being a part of the Sanhedrin or Jewish Council probably brought prestige and recognition from the general Jewish population
They rather enjoyed the attention they received as part of that governing body
Not willing to sacrifice
“The church has always had people who remain borderline believers, unwilling to confess openly their attachment to Jesus because of all sorts of pressure.” [Borchert, The New American Commentary, John 12-21, 66]
Perhaps that’s where some of us are today
We say we believe in Jesus when we’re with a certain group of people, but we would never openly say that around coworkers, friends, or neighbors
We’re afraid that if those groups find out, they’ll think we’re not cool
We’re afraid they’ll exclude us from their group
It happens even within the church
We’re afraid that if we truly go all in for Jesus, that some of the people in the church will not accept us
If we raise our hands in worship or clap during a song, that other people will think getting caught up in emotionalism
If we talk too much about sharing the Gospel with our family and friends that people in the church will feel uncomfortable
If we give a testimony every week, because we’re grateful for the Lord’s working in our lives, that someone will criticize us for always sharing
Counting the cost of truly following Jesus
Truly following Jesus is often very costly
It may cost us relationships with family, friends, neighbors, and coworkers
It could cost us our job, as we publicly confess Jesus to our coworkers
It could affect the social, economic, and religious areas of our lives – as it should
“Genuine belief brings radical, complete, and lasting transformation of the whole person from the inside out . . . Jesus has no secret followers.” [Carter & Wredberg, 259]
“John provides models of excellent discipleship.” [Burge, The NIV Application Commentary, John, 349]
John 1:35-51 (calling of the first disciples)
John 4:1-42 (Women at the well the Samaritan people from her city)
PRINCIPLE #3 – God is pleased when His people publicly confess their faith in Him.
When is the last time you’ve done that?
Do your family, friends, neighbors, and coworkers even know that you’re a follower of Jesus Christ?
My Next Step Today Is To: Love the praise from God more than the praise from men.
My Next Step Today Is To: Stop following Jesus in secret and publicly confess my faith in Him to my family, friends, neighbors, and coworkers.
Don’t just make the commitment to this next step in your heart and mind
Write out names of people that you are going to share your faith with and when you plan to do it
Share that list with another believer and ask them to pray for you and hold you accountable
All of this leads to Jesus’ summary of His message
His message is for all humanity
All Humanity (vv. 44-50)
Belief (vv. 44-46)
Jesus says that when a person believes in Him they are affirming that they believe in God
PRINCIPLE #4 – Jesus is God.
Jesus says it two ways here
When we believe in Jesus we’re not only believing in Him, but also in the One who sent Him – God the Father
When we look at Jesus, we also see the One who sent Him – God!
Jesus had told the religious leaders this on multiple occasions, as we see in the Gospels
This wasn’t new information for them
To be saved we have to believe that Jesus is God.
Again, Jesus states His purpose for coming to earth
He came as a light
John 8:12, When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”
When we believe in Jesus, we no longer have to stay in darkness
The darkness that Jesus is referring to is the darkness of sin (Rom. 3:23)
Sin separates us from God (Isa. 59:2)
1 John 1:5-7, This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all. If we claim to have fellowship with him yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live by the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin.
God and Jesus are perfect, no darkness in them, no sin
Jesus willingly took our punishment for sin when He died on the cross
He made a way for us to pass from darkness to light and to have our sins purified, so that God sees us a righteous
My Next Step Today Is To: Believe in Jesus and have my sins purified, so I no longer have to live in darkness.
Jesus not only addressed those who believe, but also those who don’t believe
Unbelief (vv. 47-50)
Faith comes from hearing
Jesus doesn’t even mention miraculous signs at this point
He says that the person who hears His words but does not keep them, but rather rejects His words, will be judged
But Jesus isn’t the One who is going to judge them, because He came to save (John 3:17)
God’s word brings judgment on unbelievers
The same words that Jesus had used while on earth will be what is used to judge unbelievers
Jesus and God are one as we see from His explanation that He didn’t speak on His own, but He only spoke what God commanded Him to say – God gave Him the words to say and also the understanding about how to say it
God’s command leads to eternal life
We have the Bible today, which is God’s words to us – His command
His Word is trustworthy and true
If we want to know if God is real, then we need to spend time in His Word
He will reveal Himself to us when we genuinely seek Him
As we spend time in His Word, it will lead us to eternal life
Do you believe that Jesus is the Messiah, because of His words and the miraculous signs that John has recorded for us?
Have you been following Jesus in secret and are you ready to publicly confess Him?
Are you ready to believe in Jesus and have your sins purified, so you can have eternal life?
We need to support one another as we begin to publicly confess Jesus to our family, friends, neighbors, and coworkers
Just imagine the impact on our communities as we boldly confess Jesus as Lord, instead of following Him in secret
There is an openness right now to spiritual things as we face the COVID-19 pandemic – let’s not miss this incredible opportunity!
“English author H. G. Wells, famous for science fiction novels like The Time Machine, The Invisible Man, and The War of the Worlds, once wrote a short story called ‘The Country of the Blind.’ It's about an inaccessible, luxurious valley in Ecuador where, due to a strange disease, everyone is blind. After 15 generations of this blindness there was no recollection of sight or color or the outside world at all. Finally, a man from the outside—a man who could see—literally fell into their midst. He had fallen off a high cliff and survived, only to stumble into their forgotten country.
When he realized that everyone else was blind, he remembered the old adage: ‘In the country of the blind, the one-eyed man is king.’ Wells writes:
He tried at first on several occasions to tell them of sight. ‘Look you here, you people,’ he said. ‘There are things you do not understand in me.’ Once or twice one or two of them attended to him; they sat with faces downcast and ears turned intelligently towards him, and he did his best to tell them what it was to see.
But they never believed him. They thought he was crazy. The man fell in love with a girl there and the girl's father, Yacob, went to talk to a doctor about him. A conversation ensued:
[The doctor said]: ‘I think I may say with reasonable certainty that, in order to cure him complete, all that we need to do is a simple and easy surgical operation—namely, to remove these irritant bodies [his eyes!].’
‘And then he will be sane?’ [they asked].
‘Then he will be perfectly sane, and a quite admirable citizen.’
‘Thank Heaven for science!’ said old Yacob.
Wells goes on to point out that the man would not be allowed to marry Yacob's daughter unless he submitted to an operation that would blind him. So what would the man do? Wells writes:
He had fully meant to go to a lonely place where the meadows were beautiful with white narcissus, and there remain until the hour of his sacrifice should come, but as he walked he lifted up his eyes and saw the morning, the morning like an angel in golden armour, marching down the steeps…
It seemed to him that before this splendour, he and this blind world in the valley, and his love and all, were no more than a pit of sin. And the man who could see escaped the country of the blind with his life.
That is where we live—in the country of the blind that is proud of its science, sure of its health, oblivious to the light. It is not only pitiful; it is deadly. Jesus said, "Men love darkness rather than light because their deeds are evil." Jesus had his own name for "the country of the blind." He called it "the world." In his last words to his disciples before going to the cross, Jesus warned them of the hostility they would face—just as he had—in this blind world. Yet rather than pulling his beloved followers out of this blind and hostile world, Jesus sent his own Spirit into his people to convince this world of its blindness.
Lee Eclov, Vernon Hills, Illinois; source: www.online-literature.com/wellshg/3/.