We are looking this morning at the final verses of chapter 12. Lazarus sums up our Lord's public ministry in Jerusalem, which is the final week of His life, by drawing together three separate incidents in chapter 12. 1. The story of Mary's extravagant worship of Yeshua by anointing Him with very costly perfume in preparation for His burial verses 1-8. 2. Our Lord's entry into Jerusalem in verses 9-19. 3. The request of the Greeks to see Yeshua is dealt with in verses 20-50.
Some writers have called these first 12 chapters of the Gospel the "Book of Signs" because it features seven miracles Yeshua performs as proof that He is the Son of God. As I'm sure you know by now these signs were given so that we might believe. But Israel for the most part was blinded:
Though he had done so many signs before them, they still did not believe in him, John 12:37 ESV
The readers of this Gospel will read only of the seven signs that Lazarus has chosen to include in this Gospel. But the Jews to whom Yeshua is speaking have seen these signs along with many other signs, and they have seen them with their own eyes. They saw Him heal the lame man, give sight to the blind man and raise the dead after four days in the tomb, they heard the voice of God speaking to His Son, but they did not believe in Yeshua. Israel didn't believe because they couldn't believe because Isaiah had prophesied their unbelief:
Therefore they could not believe. For again Isaiah said, John 12:39 ESV
They couldn't believe because Yahweh had not revealed Himself to them, He had not given them an understanding heart. The unbelief of Israel was God's plan. He willed to make their unbelief the means by which He would provide salvation for the world.
So Lazarus says, "they still did not believe in Him" in verse 37, and then he says, "Therefore they could not believe" in verse 39. Then in verse 42 says this:
Nevertheless, many even of the authorities believed in him, but for fear of the Pharisees they did not confess it, so that they would not be put out of the synagogue; John 12:42 ESV
The majority of Jews did not believe because they could not believe, they were blinded, But in contrast to that unbelief, "Nevertheless many even of the authorities believed in Him." He is contrasting these authorities who believe with those who do not believe. But despite this contrast many Scholars and commentators say these authorities did NOT believe in Him. Commenting on this verse John MacArthur writes, "So they believed them, but believing them alone doesn't save then or now."
But the text of the Word says they did believe and because they believed:
Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes has eternal life. John 6:47 ESV
Let's go over this again because this is really important. How can "many even of the authorities believed in Him," (John 12:42) mean the same thing as, "…they still did not believe in Him." (John 12:37) and "they could not believe"? How can Lazarus say that some believed and some did not, but really mean none believed? If these authorities really didn't believe why does he say they did? He could have said that, Some pretended to follow Him. But he didn't, he said that many of the authorities fulfilled the purpose of this Gospel and believed in Him.
Let me remind you that the only reason that these authorities believed in Yeshua was because Yahweh had chosen and called them.
All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out. John 6:37 ESV
They believed in Yeshua because they were given to Him by the Father.
No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him. And I will raise him up on the last day. John 6:44 ESV
To come to Him is to believe in Him:
Yeshua said to them, "I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst. John 6:35 ESV
So no one can come to/believe in Yeshua unless they are drawn by the Father. And all the Father draws believe in/come to Him and are given eternal life.
Why do people think that they weren't really believers? The reason they question the faith of the authorities is because the authorities didn't perform the way that they think a Christian should. John Gill states, "The many here spoken of seem to have had only an historical faith in Him, as appears by what follows." So the second half of the verse cancels out the first half of the verse?
Nevertheless, many even of the authorities believed in him, but for fear of the Pharisees they did not confess it, so that they would not be put out of the synagogue; John 12:42 ESV
So these new believers feared the Pharisees so they didn't confess their faith in Christ. Let me just say here that the word "fear" is not in the text, the Greek here is hina me, which is a purpose clause. The KJV has, "but because of the Pharisees they did not confess Him, lest they should be put out of the synagogue." I think the idea of "fear" is implied and so the translators add it. The word "fear" is used in 9:22 about the blind man's parents being afraid to confess Him because they didn't want to be put out of the synagogue. So the words confess and synagogue are used in both texts and since fear is used in 9:22 they added it to 12:42. Let's look at 9:22
(His parents said these things because they feared the Jews, for the Jews had already agreed that if anyone should confess Yeshua to be Christ, he was to be put out of the synagogue.) John 9:22 ESV
The reference to being put out of the synagogue in 12:42 is same Greek word used in here. The Sanhedrin had passed a law that anyone who confessed Yeshua to be the Messiah was to be put out of the synagogue. The Greek word used here is aposynagogos. It means: "expelled from the synagogue." It appears only in this Gospel in the entire New Testament and only three times in this Gospel. By the time this Gospel was written that word was being used to describe Christians who had been expelled from worshiping God at the synagogue.
The 1st century AD Jewish historian, Flavius Josephus reported that Jerusalem had 130 synagogues, many of which were formed around trade communities like the Baker's Synagogue, the Mason's Synagogue, etc. Membership in one of the faith communities not only provided spiritual nourishment in the study of sacred Scripture, but provided a community support group, an extended family that made life easier in difficult times. A permanent expulsion from the synagogue resulted in a curse on the offender that left him or her completely isolated from the community. The excommunicated member could not participate in the religious services in the synagogue and was to be shunned when passed on the street. Since it was both a spiritual and economic boycott the person who was excommunicated was essentially "dead" to the community—a very fearful condition.
So hopefully you can see that to be desynagogued was a big deal in that day. So these new believers kept their mouths shut to keep from being kicked out.
So because they didn't confess their faith, many say they therefore are not really saved, they didn't really believe. That makes confession a condition of salvation. Which means that Lazarus really messed up. He wrote this Gospel to bring men to faith in Christ, but left out a necessary ingredient. This word confess is used four times in this Gospel, twice of John the Baptizer who confessed that he was not the Christ. Once in John 9:22 of the Pharisees warning not to confess Him, and here in our text. Never is it connected with faith or salvation.
John MacArthur writes, "If you do not believe in Jesus Christ and confess Him as Lord and acknowledge His resurrection and give Him your whole heart, submitting to Him as your master, you do not believe in Him, then you do not believe in the one who sent Him. You have no faith in God." So how many of you can say that you have totally submitted to Christ as your master and have given Him you whole heart? So none of you are saved I guess.
Steven Cole writes, "Unless they later became willing to confess Christ whatever the cost, I contend that their faith was not saving faith." So these guys make confession and many other things conditions for salvation.
But Lazarus says that they DID believe, but they DIDN'T confess. So confession must not be necessary for salvation. Now hopefully some of you Bereans are thinking, "But doesn't Paul teach that we need to confess with our mouths in order to be saved?"
because, if you confess with your mouth that Yeshua is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved. Romans 10:9-10 ESV
These are two of the most famous and familiar verses in the Word of God. If you have ever taken a course on evangelism these verses were most likely used.
"Confess"—is from the Greek word homologeo, which means: "to say the same thing." To confess that Yeshua is Lord is to say the same thing about Him that Yahweh does, and the Bible does.
The question is, Do we have to publicly confess Christ to be saved? Some will say, "Yes" because the text says, "If you confess with your mouth." They say that that means you do it publically. Does this mean that you can believe in Christ but you are not saved until you publically confess Him? How many people do you have to confess Him to? One? One Hundred? Unfortunately, there are many who have come to think that the way to be saved is to believe in your heart, and then in the presence of a group of people make a public profession of faith by raising our hands in the meeting, coming down front, and acknowledging in front of people that we have believed in the Lord Yeshua the Christ. This is not what Paul is talking about. He didn't know anything about a church meeting in which "Just as I Am" was sung at the end of the meeting, and people invited forward to confess publicly their faith in Christ.
The reason for the emphasis upon belief and confession is related to the quotation from Deuteronomy 30:14 in:
But what does it say? "The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart" (that is, the word of faith that we proclaim); Romans 10:8 ESV
Here both the mouth and the heart are mentioned. To the Jews the mouth had to do with meditation. The Hebrew word for "meditate" is hagah. Hagah means: "emit a sound, murmur, mutter, speak in an undertone." For the Hebrews, meditation was not silent. Several texts clearly support this contention that meditation was normally verbal, that is, expressed in spoken words:
My mouth shall speak wisdom; the meditation of my heart shall be understanding. Psalms 49:3 ESV
The Hebrew parallelism indicates that what is spoken with the mouth is the same as "meditation."
Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O LORD, my rock and my redeemer. Psalms 19:14 ESV
Here "words of my mouth" parallels "meditation of my heart." This idea is further seen in the words of Joshua:
This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success. Joshua 1:8 ESV
In this context "meditate" is defined by the command, "The Law shall not depart from your mouth." This negative way of speaking implies a strong positive.
These passages give insight into what meditation involves. Meditation is the outward verbalizing of one's thoughts before God, of the pouring over His teaching and works. It means to articulate thoughts of worship, wonder, and praise.
Can you be saved if you do not confess Christ?
For the Scripture says, "Everyone who believes in him will not be put to shame." Romans 10:11 ESV
Notice that it doesn't say, Whoever believes in Him and confesses Him will not be disappointed.
If you say that "confess" means to agree with what God says about Christ, then I would say you must confess Christ to be saved. But if you say that confess means to publically acknowledge Christ, then I would say, "Yes, you can be saved and not confess Christ."
So why wouldn't these new believers confess their faith? Why were they afraid of be kicked out of the Synagogue? The problem was their faith was weak. The Scriptures speak of; little faith, great faith, weak faith, strong faith, lacking faith, perfect faith, dead faith, full faith, growing faith, and increasing faith. There are degrees of faith. All believers don't have the same amount of faith. Some believers are weak in faith:
No unbelief made him waver concerning the promise of God, but he grew strong in his faith as he gave glory to God, Romans 4:20 ESV
Abraham didn't have "weak" faith, his faith was "strong." This shows that there are degrees of faith. Our Lord charges the disciples in general, and Peter in particular, as having "little faith." They had faith, but unlike Abraham's, it was deficient in strength:
Yeshua immediately reached out his hand and took hold of him, saying to him, "O you of little faith, why did you doubt?" Matthew 14:31 ESV
As Peter focused on the circumstance around him instead of on Christ, his faith grew weak. I'll bet that most of you can relate to this can't you? When you are focusing on the circumstances, doesn't your faith grow weak? Those rulers of Israel who believed in Yeshua were not yet ready to suffer with Yeshua, the Messiah.
Statistics tell us that only one out of 20 professing Christians shares his faith. We are not so different from the "rulers" Lazarus speaks of, are we? We believe in Yeshua as our Savior, and yet we keep it a secret. We don't share our faith with the lost. So let's not be too quick to judge these rulers.
Notice that Lazarus doesn't just say, many believed in Him. He says, "many even of the authorities believed in Him." "Authorities" here is archon, which probably indicates members of the Sanhedrin. Can you name two men of power and influence who may have been in this category of believers who would not confess Christ? Nicodemus, the Pharisee (see John chapter 3) and Joseph of Arimathea; both men are Pharisees and members of the Sanhedrin.
After these things Joseph of Arimathea, who was a disciple of Yeshua, but secretly for fear of the Jews, asked Pilate that he might take away the body of Yeshua, and Pilate gave him permission. So he came and took away his body. John 19:38 ESV
Mark tells us that Joseph was a member of the Sanhedrin:
Joseph of Arimathea, a respected member of the council, who was also himself looking for the kingdom of God, took courage and went to Pilate and asked for the body of Yeshua. Mark 15:43 ESV
So think about this, these members of the Sanhedrin were probably in a position to put a stop to the arrest, trial, and crucifixion of our Lord. But they didn't and they didn't even confess Him. This silence, while cowardly and a demonstration of weak faith, was part of the divine plan. It was this silence which allowed Yeshua to be arrested, tried, and executed. Notice what Peter says:
this Yeshua, delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, you crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men. Acts 2:23 ESV
Their not confessing Christ was part of Yahweh's eternal plan for their redemption.
Lazarus goes on to say:
for they loved the glory that comes from man more than the glory that comes from God. John 12:43 ESV
The Greek noun for "glory" here is doxa. At first the verb meant: "to appear" or "to seem," and then in time the noun doxa, that came from it, then meant: "an opinion." In time the noun was used only for having a good opinion about some person and the verb came to mean: "the praise" or "honor" due to one of whom a good opinion was held. So these new believers loved the praise, honor, opinion of man more than the glory of God.
This is sad. They were more concerned what men thought of them then what God thought of them. You ever been there?
In seeking to prove that these authorities were not believers many appeal here to:
"How can you believe, when you receive glory from one another and you do not seek the glory that is from the one and only God? John 5:44 NASB
I think that the second "glory" in this verse refers to Christ, the glory of Yahweh. This verse says that they couldn't believe, our verse 42 says they did.
What if? The second glory in our text refers to Christ as it does in 5:44? How many times in this Gospel does Yeshua say that He came from God? They loved the opinion/praise of men more than they loved Christ. At times have you ever loved human praise more than you loved Christ?
And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.' Mark 12:30 ESV
Do you always love God with all your being? How is it evident? What shows our love for God? How is it demonstrated? Yeshua said,
"If you love me, you will keep my commandments. John 14:15 ESV
Our love for God is not just a warm fuzzy feeling, it is obedience to Him. I think our love, like our faith, can be weak or strong:
I will most gladly spend and be spent for your souls. If I love you more, am I to be loved less? 2 Corinthians 12:15 ESV
Here Paul talks about loving more and less.
So what I see going on in our text is that these new believers loved the praise, honor, opinion of their fellow men MORE than they loved Yeshua. The words "more than" are from the Greek word mallon, which is a comparative, it means "to a greater degree." Have you ever kept your mouth shut about Christ because you were worried of what people may think of you? Well these rulers were worried about much more than that. By confessing Christ they run the risk of losing their places of honor and their jobs and their friends and coming under the disgrace and contempt of men. Their faith was weak and their love for Christ was less than their love of man's approval.
Okay let's move on to the last section. Back in verse 36, Lazarus tells us that , "When Yeshua had said these things, He departed and hid Himself from them." Then in verses 37-43 we have Lazarus' words, explaining Israel's unbelief. Then verses 44-50 are our Lord's words that Lazarus uses to sum up the message of Yeshua' public ministry in these first 12 chapters. Lazarus doesn't tell us when these words were spoken by the Lord. He doesn't tell us the place where they were spoken. But these are His last words to unbelieving Israel before He was crucified.
There's nothing new in these verses, they are a repetition of what has been said many times before, they are a summation.
And Yeshua cried out and said, "Whoever believes in me, believes not in me but in him who sent me. And whoever sees me sees him who sent me. John 12:44-45 ESV
The first verb here literally means "to cry out" as the ESV has it. It was often used for the proclamation of a prophet. Lazarus used this verb of Yeshua when He cried out in the Temple at the Feast of Dedication (John 7:28, 37).
All through this Gospel Yeshua claimed to be God's Representative, and so closely connected with God, that to believe in Yeshua constituted believing in God, to see Yeshua was to see Yahweh.
I and the Father are one." John 10:30 ESV
Yeshua told the Jewish leaders. Then He said:
If I am not doing the works of my Father, then do not believe me; but if I do them, even though you do not believe me, believe the works, that you may know and understand that the Father is in me and I am in the Father." John 10:37-38 ESV
Remember what Yeshua said in chapter 5?
that all may honor the Son, just as they honor the Father. Whoever does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent him. John 5:23 ESV
The Tanakh teaches us that Yahweh will not share His honor with another (Isaiah 42:8). So for Him to share His honor with the Son must mean that the Son and the Father are one in essence. What man or what created being could say that we should honor Him just as we honor the Father? Clearly, Yeshua is claiming to be Yahweh!
This message needs to be given to all Jewish people. They say you believe in the God of Scripture, but they reject Yeshua the Messiah. Which means they don't know God. Rejecting Christ is rejecting the Father. If you don't have Yeshua as your Savior, you don't have God as your Father.
No one who denies the Son has the Father. Whoever confesses the Son has the Father also. 1 John 2:23 ESV
This does not mean what those who hold to modalism teach, that Yeshua and the Father are merely different modes of the same God. There is both a distinction between the Son and the Father in their subsistence, and a unity between them in their essence.
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. John 1:1 ESV
The words "was with God" distinguishes Him from the Father. This "with" infers a relationship, an interface, an interaction, between two distinct persons. There is a distinction. The Son, the Word, is distinct from the Father. But the statement that "the Word was God" shows that Yeshua is fully God.
Yeshua plainly said that those who see Him see God because He is God. If you want to know what God is like you must study the person, the words, and the works of Yeshua of Nazareth in the Gospels. And none of the Gospels has a higher view of Christ and the deity of Christ than the Gospel of John. No book in the New Testament is as emphatic as Lazarus that the role of Christ is to reveal the Father.
I have come into the world as light, so that whoever believes in me may not remain in darkness. John 12:46 ESV
This verse picks up on a theme that has been common in Yeshua's preaching. He is the light of the world a truth that has been repeated throughout this book.
In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. John 1:4-5 ESV
Yeshua is called the true light:
The true light, which gives light to everyone, was coming into the world. John 1:9 ESV
John 3:19-21 refers to Yeshua as the Light and in chapter 8 Yeshua states:
Again Yeshua spoke to them, saying, "I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life." John 8:12 ESV
Then in chapter 9, just before He opened the eyes of the man born blind, Yeshua said:
As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world." John 9:5 ESV
Then He illustrated this in the healing of the man who had been born blind. The light metaphor is steeped in Old Covenant allusions." Psalm 27:1 declares, "The Lord is my light and my salvation…" Yeshua dispelled the darkness by revealing God. And everyone who receives Yeshua moves from the darkness of ignorance to the light of truth and fellowship with God.
If anyone hears my words and does not keep them, I do not judge him; for I did not come to judge the world but to save the world. The one who rejects me and does not receive my words has a judge; the word that I have spoken will judge him on the last day. John 12:47-48 ESV
Rhema, "my words" is a reference to the spoken sayings of Yeshua, including the "I am" statements of the Fourth Gospel. Because His mission is to reveal the Father rejection of Yeshua means rejection of God. God is the judge who will judge anyone who disbelieves.
"Will judge him on the last day"—the phrase "last day" is used 7 times in this Gospel, it is used once of the "last day" of the feast, it is used 5 times for the resurrection on the "last day" and once of the judgment on the "last day." The resurrection, judgment, and second coming are all concurrent events.
According to the Bible, when was the judgment to take place? The Scriptures testify that the time of the judgment was to be at the last day of the Old Covenant age. We know this to have happened in A.D. 70 with the destruction of the Jewish Temple. The disciples knew that the fall of the Temple and the destruction of the city meant the judgment of God, the end of the Old Covenant age and the inauguration of a New Age.
For I have not spoken on my own authority, but the Father who sent me has himself given me a commandment—what to say and what to speak. And I know that his commandment is eternal life. What I say, therefore, I say as the Father has told me." John 12:49-50 ESV
All that Yeshua says, and even how to say it, has been commanded by the Father, and God's command, which stands behind the revelation Yeshua is and brings, leads to eternal life. The commandment Yeshua requires His disciples to keep is to believe in His ability to grant eternal life.
H. Harris writes, "Note that Yeshua does not say here that keeping the Father's commandment leads to eternal life, but that the commandment itself is eternal life. This is the commandment concerning what He is to say (verse 49) that the Father has given to Yeshua. The words and works of Yeshua that result from the commandment the Father has given Him are the source of eternal life in the world."
So the themes introduced in the Prologue and repeated through this Gospel are repeated in this summer of Yeshua's last words to Israel. Here He again goes over the themes of Faith: The need for belief in Yeshua the Messiah. Yeshua's relationship to God the Father: Christ the Incarnate Word is One with the Father. Yet even though the Father and the Son are united as One they are also distinct from one another: the Father commands and sends the Son and the Son is sent and obeys. The Light: Yeshua is the Light and the Life of the world. Judgment: Judgment will fall on all men in accordance with whether they accept or reject the Son of God.
This brings to the public ministry of Yeshua to a close. Nothing more is said by Yeshua to the people at large. The majority of the remainder of the Gospel concerns Yeshua's words to His disciples in the Upper Room in preparation for His departure and return to the Father and the account of His arrest, trials, crucifixion, and resurrection.