Sabbath, December 21, 2013
“I was shown that God’s people dwell too much under a cloud. It is not His will that they should live in unbelief. Jesus is light, and in Him is no darkness at all. His children are the children of light. They are renewed in His image, and called out of darkness into His marvelous light. He is the light of the world, and so also are they that follow Him. They shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life. The more closely the people of God strive to imitate Christ, the more perseveringly will they be pursued by the enemy; but their nearness to Christ strengthens them to resist the efforts of our wily foe to draw them from Christ.” –Testimonies for the Church, vol. 1, pp. 405, 406.
The voice from heaven
1. What did Jesus request of His Father right before His trial? How could the Father’s name be honored and glorified?
John 12: 28, 29 Father, glorify thy name. Then came there a voice from heaven, saying, I have both glorified it, and will glorify it again. The people therefore, that stood by, and heard it, said that it thundered: others said, An angel spake to him.
Thought question: How do my life and experience praise and honor the heavenly Father?
“ ‘Father, glorify Thy name,’ He said. As Christ spoke these words, a response came from the cloud which hovered above His head: ‘I have both glorified it, and will glorify it again.’ Christ’s whole life, from the manger to the time when these words were spoken, had glorified God; and in the coming trial His divine-human sufferings would indeed glorify His Father’s name.
“As the voice was heard, a light darted from the cloud, and encircled Christ, as if the arms of Infinite Power were thrown about Him like a wall of fire. The people beheld this scene with terror and amazement. No one dared to speak. With silent lips and bated breath all stood with eyes fixed upon Jesus. The testimony of the Father having been given, the cloud lifted, and scattered in the heavens. For the time the visible communion between the Father and the Son was ended.” –The Desire of Ages, pp. 624, 625.
2. What did Jesus say when the voice was heard confirming His request? What did it mean that the message was for the searchers’ sakes?
John 12:30 Jesus answered and said, This voice came not because of me, but for your sakes.
“ ‘The people therefore, that stood by, and heard it, said that it thundered: others said, An angel spake to Him.’ But the inquiring Greeks saw the cloud, heard the voice, comprehended its meaning, and discerned Christ indeed; to them He was revealed as the Sent of God.
“The voice of God had been heard at the baptism of Jesus at the beginning of His ministry, and again at His transfiguration on the mount. Now at the close of His ministry it was heard for the third time, by a larger number of persons, and under peculiar circumstances. Jesus had just spoken the most solemn truth regarding the condition of the Jews. He had made His last appeal, and pronounced their doom. Now God again set His seal to the mission of His Son. He recognized the One whom Israel had rejected. ‘This voice came not because of Me,’ said Jesus, ‘but for your sakes.’ It was the crowning evidence of His Messiahship, the signal from the Father that Jesus had spoken the truth, and was the Son of God.” –The Desire of Ages, p. 625.
The events surrounding His sacrifice
3. How did the Saviour consider the time of His suffering that was just ahead? What would be decided by His trial, death, and resurrection?
Luke 22:53, last part … But this is your hour, and the power of darkness.
John 12:31 Now is the judgment of this world: now shall the prince of this world be cast out.
“ ‘Now is the judgment of this world,’ Christ continued; ‘now shall the prince of this world be cast out. And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all unto Me. This He said, signifying what death He should die.’ This is the crisis of the world. If I become the propitiation for the sins of men, the world will be lighted up. Satan’s hold upon the souls of men will be broken. The defaced image of God will be restored in humanity, and a family of believing saints will finally inherit the heavenly home. This is the result of Christ’s death. The Saviour is lost in contemplation of the scene of triumph called up before Him. He sees the cross, the cruel, ignominious cross, with all its attending horrors, blazing with glory.” –The Desire of Ages, p. 625.
4. What does the Lord do for everyone who comes to Him? While the cross was the great test, what was its result for every believer?
John 6:44 No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him: and I will raise him up at the last day.
John 12:32, 33 And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me. This he said, signifying what death he should die.
“But the work of human redemption is not all that is accomplished by the cross. The love of God is manifested to the universe. The prince of this world is cast out. The accusations which Satan has brought against God are refuted. The reproach which he has cast upon heaven is forever removed. Angels as well as men are drawn to the Redeemer. ‘I, if I be lifted up from the earth,’ He said, ‘will draw all unto Me.’ ” –The Desire of Ages, p. 626.
The need of divine light
5. Did the hearers understand that the Messiah would be offered in sacrifice as the Lamb of God, rise from death, and ascend to heaven? Therefore, what invitation did He extend to them?
John 12:34-36 The people answered him, We have heard out of the law that Christ abideth for ever: and how sayest thou, The Son of man must be lifted up? who is this Son of man? Then Jesus said unto them, Yet a little while is the light with you. Walk while ye have the light, lest darkness come upon you: for he that walketh in darkness knoweth not whither he goeth. While ye have light, believe in the light, that ye may be the children of light. These things spake Jesus, and departed, and did hide himself from them.
“The people must be instructed that Christ is unto them salvation and righteousness. It is Satan’s studied purpose to keep souls from believing in Christ as their only hope; for the blood of Christ that cleanseth from all sin is efficacious in behalf of those only who believe in its merit, and who present it before the Father as did Abel in his offering.” –Gospel Workers, p. 162.
“ ‘Walk while ye have the light, lest darkness come upon you.’ John 12:35. Those who turn away from the light which God has given, or who neglect to seek it when it is within their reach, are left in darkness. But the Saviour declares: ‘He that followeth Me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.’ John 8:12. Whoever is with singleness of purpose seeking to do God’s will, earnestly heeding the light already given, will receive greater light; to that soul some star of heavenly radiance will be sent to guide him into all truth.” –The Great Controversy, p. 312.
6. While many of the chief rulers believed in Jesus, what did the leaders and people do, notwithstanding Jesus’ holy teachings, miracles, and manifestations of divinity?
John 12:37-43 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. Nevertheless among the chief rulers also many believed on 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.
“Innumerable signs had been given; but they had closed their eyes and hardened their hearts. Now that the Father Himself had spoken, and they could ask for no further sign, they still refused to believe.” –The Desire of Ages, p. 626.
“The scribes, Pharisees, and rulers were determined that they would not see the evidences of truth, and they evaded the most manifest conclusions. To justify their course of stubborn unbelief, they lost no possible opportunity of seizing upon anything in the teaching of Jesus that they could misconstrue, misapply, or falsify. When there was no possibility of misapplying the truth of Christ’s words, these men who rejected the counsel of God against themselves, started questions that had no reference to the matter in hand, so as to attract the attention of the people away from the lesson that Jesus sought to teach, and adroitly evade the truth. The Pharisees were not blindly opposing the doctrines of Christ; for the truth made deep impressions upon their minds; but they resisted truth, and went contrary to their convictions, closing their eyes lest they should see, hardening the heart, lest they should perceive, and be converted, and Christ should heal them.” –(Review and Herald, October 18, 1892) Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, vol. 5, p. 1120.
7. Whom do we trust when we believe in Jesus’ message? What will happen to those who trust Him?
John 12:44-46 Jesus cried and said, He that believeth on me, believeth not on me, but on him that sent me. And he that seeth me seeth him that sent me. I am come a light into the world, that whosoever believeth on me should not abide in darkness.
“Nevertheless among the chief rulers also many believed on Him; but because of the Pharisees they did not confess Him, lest they should be put out of the synagogue.’ They loved the praise of men rather than the approval of God. To save themselves from reproach and shame, they denied Christ, and rejected the offer of eternal life. And how many through all the centuries since have been doing the same thing! To them all the Saviour’s warning words apply: ‘He that loveth his life shall lose it’ ‘He that rejecteth Me,’ said Jesus, ‘and receiveth not My words, hath one that judgeth him: the word that I have spoken, the same shall judge him in the last day.’ John 12:48.” –The Desire of Ages, p. 626.
“By many, the words which the Lord sent will be rejected, and the words that man may speak will be received as light and truth. Human wisdom will lead away from self-denial, from consecration, and will devise many things that tend to make of no effect God’s messages. We cannot with any safety rely upon men who are not in close connection with God. They accept the opinions of men, but cannot discern the voice of the true Shepherd, and their influence will lead many astray, though evidence is piled upon evidence before their eyes, testifying to the truth that God’s people should have for this time.” –(Letter 1f, 1890) Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, vol. 4, p. 1147.