Jesus knew that He would be crucified in Jerusalem during the Passover festival in just a few days. He had already predicted His death on several occasions to His disciples, but now He wanted them to begin to understand the purpose of His death.
First of all, Jesus didn’t consider His death to be an end, but a beginning. He said, “The time has come for the Son of Man to enter into his glory” (John 12:23). That is, it was time for Him to go to heaven. The death of any Christian should also be viewed as a beginning. However, Christians enter into God’s glory when they die, not their own glory, as did Jesus.
Second, Jesus’ death was not an accident or twist of fate. It was God’s intention that He die. In fact, it was the main reason Jesus became a human being and lived on the earth (see John 12:27).
Third, the result of His death would be new life for a lot of people. Jesus compared Himself to a kernel of wheat that dies and is planted in the ground. The result is new life for many more kernels of wheat that grow from that single seed.
Fourth, Jesus explained what we must do to reap the benefits of His death, saying, “Those who love their life in this world will lose it. Those who despise their life in this world will keep it for eternal life” (John 12:25). Before a person can be saved, he must come to the place of despising his life, recognizing that he is a sinner trapped in his sins, and is displeasing to God. Then and only then will he be motivated to come sincerely to Jesus, repenting of his sins and seeking a new life that is pleasing to God.
Fifth, Jesus’ death would glorify God (see John 12:28) because it would reveal the greatness of His love for humanity.
Sixth, Jesus’ death would be the beginning of the end of Satan’s rule over the millions of sinful people in the world (see John 12:31). The reason is because God has allowed Satan to hold everyone who is a sinner in captivity. But once the penalty for people’s sins was paid, those who were made righteous by believing are released from Satan’s captivity. Moreover, one day only righteous, redeemed people will be living on the earth, and then Satan will have no authority whatsoever. He himself will ultimately be cast into hell. And it will be due to Jesus’ sacrificial death.
Seventh, Jesus’ death would, more than anything else He did, draw people to Him as they learn of His great sacrifice on their behalf (see John 12:32). His death on the cross is the central part of the gospel.
Q. People often “accept Jesus” for different reasons. For example, some people hope God will give them a better edge in their business or enhance their relationship with others. Are these valid reasons for becoming a Christian?
A. No, according to Jesus, they’re not. A person must despise his life in this world if he wants eternal life. People who supposedly “accept Jesus” to help them become more successful in life aren’t meeting the requirements Jesus laid down. They are those, who, as Jesus said, love their lives in this world, and don’t recognize their pathetic condition—rebellious, lost, and hell-bound.
Q. We read today about God speaking in an audible voice to Jesus so that the crowd who was listening to Jesus heard it. Everyone heard the same thing, but not everyone who heard God’s voice agreed about what they’d heard. Why do you suppose they disagreed?
A. Because everyone in the crowd was more or less receptive to the truth, either believing or doubtful. The less receptive ones didn’t want to admit that anything supernatural had happened, so they explained God’s voice by saying it was thunder. The more receptive ones thought an angel had spoken. However, all of them knew that Jesus had just addressed His Father in prayer, but none of them were apparently receptive enough to believe that God Himself had spoken.
Application: The problem is not that people can’t believe, it’s that they won’t believe because of the hardness of their hearts. Here is a modern example of the same kind of unbelief Jesus encountered, found in an article in Popular Mechanics magazine that explains how Jesus was able to raise Lazarus from the dead:
“Dr. Gerald A. Larue, professor emeritus of biblical history and archeology at the University of Southern California and president of the Committee for the Scientific Examination of Religion (CSER), a secular humanist organization, says it’s possible Lazarus was either in a coma or a catatonic state….Larue says that a person in a catatonic state shows few signs of a heartbeat or breathing. The biblical account leads him to suspect Lazarus was actually in a coma, since in this condition hearing is often the last sense lost. “Assuming Jesus had a loud voice, and he called out ‘Lazarus,’ the man may have heard him and come out of the coma,” Larue says. (Popular Mechanics, Vol. 173, No 12, p. 42).
What do you think?