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John 12:37-41

May 18, 2014

Were continuing with our verse-by-verse study of John and weve come near the
end of chapter twelve. The Greeks have asked for an audience with Jesus which
signifies the last hour of His earthly ministry. He knows that soon Hell go to the
cross, but He also knows Hell be resurrected. This is the way God has chosen to
give true life to His children, and anyone who follows Christ will also face death
but also has the same promise of resurrection and eternal life. So now Jesus
prepares His disciples for whats coming. Everything since the resurrection of
Lazarus has built up to this moment. They dont understand a lot of what He
means, but they do believe in Him. Theyve been with Him since the beginning
and seen all His miracles and they know Hes come from God. Many others,
however, arent convinced. These are the people in chapter twelve. He tells them
to walk by the light:

But though he had done so many miracles before them, yet they believed
not on him:
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?
Therefore they could not believe, because that
Esaias said again,
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.
These things said Esaias, when
he saw his glory, and spake of him.

Now, here were tempted to start talking about predestination and reprobation and
what natural men can and cant do with spiritual things, but remember that John
isnt trying to prove this. Im not saying this doesnt support those teachings, but I
am saying its not Johns main point and it wasnt originally a Doctrines of Grace
proof-text. The Jews had no trouble with election and predestination. Their big
problem is Johns main point: Jesus is the Christ and the Son of God. He wants us
to know for sure that He is the Messiah so we can believe on Him and have
eternal life. So the question we have to ask going into this text is how do the
quotations from Isaiah help us believe?

The first part of finding that answer is to recognize that it might be problematic
that so many Jews rejected Him. These are Gods chosen people. They know the
Scriptures. Shouldnt we respect their judgment as experts in this matter and at
least wonder about the authenticity of Christs claims? I mean, if so many experts
say no then its at least worth considering.

But this is exactly why John quotes these verses. The question is raised: Why do so
many Jews reject Him? Because, says John, thats whats been predicted. Lets
go back and read the prophecies:

Isaiah 52-53
The first quotation comes from Isaiah 53:1, but we need to start in chapter 52 to get
the context. The actual verse doesnt make much sense unless we get the whole
main idea of the passage. Well start in 52:1:

Awake, awake; put on thy strength, O Zion; put on thy beautiful garments, O
Jerusalem, the holy city: for henceforth there shall no more come into thee the
uncircumcised and the unclean.
Shake thyself from the dust; arise, and sit down,
O Jerusalem: loose thyself from the bands of thy neck, O captive daughter of Zion.
For thus saith the LORD, Ye have sold yourselves for nought; and ye shall be
redeemed without money.
For thus saith the Lord GOD, My people went down
aforetime into Egypt to sojourn there; and the Assyrian oppressed them without
Now therefore, what have I here, saith the LORD, that my people is taken
away for nought? they that rule over them make them to howl, saith the LORD; and
my name continually every day is blasphemed.
Therefore my people shall know
my name: therefore they shall know in that day that I am he that doth speak:
behold, it is I.
How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him that bringeth
good tidings, that publisheth peace; that bringeth good tidings of good, that
publisheth salvation; that saith unto Zion, Thy God reigneth!
Thy watchmen shall
lift up the voice; with the voice together shall they sing: for they shall see eye to
eye, when the LORD shall bring again Zion.
Break forth into joy, sing together, ye
waste places of Jerusalem: for the LORD hath comforted his people, he hath
redeemed Jerusalem.
The LORD hath made bare his holy arm in the eyes of all
the nations; and all the ends of the earth shall see the salvation of our God.
Depart ye, depart ye, go ye out from thence, touch no unclean thing; go ye out of
the midst of her; be ye clean, that bear the vessels of the LORD.
For ye shall not go
out with haste, nor go by flight: for the LORD will go before you; and the God of
Israel will be your rearward.

So, this first part of this prophecy focuses on the plight of Gods people and His
plan to save them. Theyve been oppressed and they howl to God and He hears
them and will come to their rescue. Take careful not of verse ten and think of what
it means in relation to our main verse from 53:1. In saving His people, God will
bare His arm. Who will He save? All the ends of the earth will see His salvation.
How exactly will He do this?

Behold, my servant shall deal prudently, he shall be exalted and extolled, and be
very high.

Now, obviously were talking about Christ here. God promised a servant who
would do what is right and be exalted for it. We know that God is well pleased in
His Son and that He raised Him up to a place above every other name. But, its
also predicted that men wont see things the same was as God:

As many were astonied at thee; his visage was so marred more than any man,
and his form more than the sons of men:
So shall he sprinkle many nations; the
kings shall shut their mouths at him: for that which had not been told them shall
they see; and that which they had not heard shall they consider.

Many are appalled at Him, but unless a corn of wheat dies it cant bear fruit, and
do He was marred and shed His blood. This blood is sprinkled on many nations for
their atonement. The arm of the Lord is revealed and the mouths of the kings are
shut. They see and consider something they hadnt been shown or told: Christ is
our Redeemer!

Now this is the prophecy, and this is the gospel. You could say it ends here, but
Isaiah has a little more to say, and thats when we begin chapter 53:

Who hath believed our report? and to whom is the arm of the LORD revealed?

Isaiah says, God will redeem the nations with His own servant. That servant will
be attacked and will shed His own blood. Hell die. But who believes me? Who
believes any of us? Certainly not Israel. God has shown them many things, but
they dont understand what Gods arm really is. They cant see this suffering
servant. Theyre looking for something else and theyre going to miss out when He

For he shall grow up before him as a tender plant, and as a root out of a dry
ground: he hath no form nor comeliness; and when we shall see him, there is no
beauty that we should desire him.
He is despised and rejected of men; a man of
sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he
was despised, and we esteemed him not.
Surely he hath borne our griefs, and
carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted.

Hes a nobody! When the Jews see Him hanging on that cross they cluck their
tongues because they know this is what God does to heretics. Jesus, they would
say, suffers for His own wrongdoing.

But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the
chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.
we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and
the LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.
He was oppressed, and he was
afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth: he is brought as a lamb to the slaughter,
and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he openeth not his mouth.
He was
taken from prison and from judgment: and who shall declare his generation? for he
was cut off out of the land of the living: for the transgression of my people was he
And he made his grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death;
because he had done no violence, neither was any deceit in his mouth.
Yet it
pleased the LORD to bruise him; he hath put him to grief: when thou shalt make
his soul an offering for sin, he shall see his seed, he shall prolong his days, and the
pleasure of the LORD shall prosper in his hand.
He shall see of the travail of his
soul, and shall be satisfied: by his knowledge shall my righteous servant justify
many; for he shall bear their iniquities.
Therefore will I divide him a portion with
the great, and he shall divide the spoil with the strong; because he hath poured out
his soul unto death: and he was numbered with the transgressors; and he bare the
sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors.

They failed to see that Jesus is our propitiation. The reason He suffered and died is
not because He was weak; rather, He was obedient and He made the way into the
Most Holy Place. It was prophesied that these people would not believe in Him,
and when the time came, they could not. The arm of the Lord had not been
revealed to them.

Now, theres a second quotation and it comes from Isaiah six:

Isaiah 6
In the year that king Uzziah died I saw also the LORD sitting upon a throne, high
and lifted up, and his train filled the temple.
Above it stood the seraphims: each
one had six wings; with twain he covered his face, and with twain he covered his
feet, and with twain he did fly.
And one cried unto another, and said, Holy, holy,
holy, is the LORD of hosts: the whole earth is full of his glory.
And the posts of the
door moved at the voice of him that cried, and the house was filled with smoke.

This is what John means in chapter twelve when he says, These things said
Esaias, when he saw his glory, and spake of him (v. 41).

Then said I, Woe is me! for I am undone; because I am a man of unclean lips, and I
dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips: for mine eyes have seen the King,
the LORD of hosts.
Then flew one of the seraphims unto me, having a live coal in
his hand, which he had taken with the tongs from off the altar:
And he laid it upon
my mouth, and said, Lo, this hath touched thy lips; and thine iniquity is taken
away, and thy sin purged.
Also I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, Whom shall I
send, and who will go for us? Then said I, Here am I; send me.

Now, this is the part of the verse that everyone knows. Youve surely heard this
preached as a missions verse. You know, Who will we send? Who will go?
Theres even a song based on these words. The general message is about taking
the love of Jesus and preaching His name all across the world. But I want you to
note carefully with me the next verses. God appoints Isaiah as His messenger, and
this is the message He gives him:

And he said, Go, and tell this people, Hear ye indeed, but understand not; and see
ye indeed, but perceive not.
Make the heart of this people fat, and make their
ears heavy, and shut their eyes; lest they see with their eyes, and hear with their
ears, and understand with their heart, and convert, and be healed.

Gods intention is to harden these people so that they will not be healed. Youre
going to see it and hear it, but it wont get into your calloused heart. Youll see, but
you wont perceive. Youll hear but you wont understand. That reminds me of
when the Father spoke from heaven about glorifying His name and the people
couldnt decide whether it was a clap of thunder or an angel.

And someone might say, But this verse applies directly to Isaiah and the nation of
Israel. Yes. Thats true. But do you see that John applies it to the Jews who reject
Christ? He does all these miracles. No man in his right mind could refute that the
case of Lazarus was amazing. No man could see all these signs and still reject. Ah.
God has blinded them and hardened their hearts. The more miracles He does the
more convinced they become that He must die. It is their part in history to murder
the Son of God, and they will not fail in it. It has been predetermined. Judas has
his part; they have theirs. The arm of the Lord has not been revealed to them, so
they will reject.

Then said I, Lord, how long? And he answered, Until the cities be wasted without
inhabitant, and the houses without man, and the land be utterly desolate,
the LORD have removed men far away, and there be a great forsaking in the midst
of the land.
But yet in it shall be a tenth,

Whats He saying? Harden their hearts and blind their eyes until the very last one
is gone. Only the remnant will remain.

and it shall return, and shall be eaten:

This is a prophecy of more trouble to come. Specifically, they would return from
Babylon only to be invaded by the Romans. The spiritual application could be that
we are at war with Satan, but look at the hope thats given:

as a teil tree, and as an oak, whose substance is in them, when they cast their
leaves: so the holy seed shall be the substance thereof.

Look at the oak tree. When the leaves fall off and the branches are made bare it
does not affect the substance of the tree. Its strength is not in its leaves but in its
core! So the holy seed shall be the substance thereof! Christ says to follow Him.
These people reject because God has blocked their paths. The message is that His
face is hidden from men until the last one is gone, but God has preserved a
remnant to receive the Promised Land because of their core. Jesus Christ is the
holy seed. He is the substance of His people.

Only a true Israelite will believe and confess and be saved.

Come quickly, Lord Jesus, our core.