Lesson 97: A Voice from Heaven
Mark:12:41-44, Luke 21:1-4, John 12:20-50
A Blending of The Four Gospel Records. Welcome to lesson # 97. Can you imagine the emotion of Jesus as he dismissed the multitude who listened to his last sermon in the temple on Tuesday? In Matt. ch. 23, Jesus denounced the scribes and Pharisees and told the people to do the best they could. Do as they say; but, don't do as they do. And through his seven "woes" Jesus told them some of the things to avoid. Then, in the last verses of Matt. ch. 23, Jesus expressed his anxiety; how he would have liked to gather to gather the Jewish nation, as a hen gathereth her chick under her wing. Jesus wanted to teach them about the heavenly Father and how to enter the kingdom. But, v.37 in that chapter ended with an exclamation; "ye would not!" John and Jesus both had warned of the wrath to come and the impending distress to be visited upon those who rejected the kingdom. Jesus pictured the Jewish nation and their religious system as a desolate house, forsaken by God. As that multitude moved on and Jesus was left with his disciples; it must have been a time of great grief realizing his work was almost finished upon this old planet called Earth. Realizing he must suffer as a sacrifice for all mankind; even those who rejected him. As he looked up, with that great burden upon his heart; he saw an object lesson for his disciples. Matthew doesn't record this. Mark ch. 12 ends with this scene. Please turn to Mark 12:41. We'll read the four verses at the end of Mark ch. 12. Are you ready? Beginning in v.41. "And Jesus sat over against the treasury, and beheld how the people cast money into the treasury: and many that were rich cast in much. And there came a certain poor widow, and she threw in two mites, which make a farthing. And he called unto him his disciples, and saith unto them, Verily I say unto you, That this poor widow hath cast more in, than all they which have cast into the treasury: for all they did cast in of their abundance; but she of her want did cast in all that she had, even all her living." Luke's record is four verses at the beginning of ch. 21. Please turn to Luke and let's get another account. Are you ready? Beginning in Luke 21:1, let's read. "And he looked up, and saw the rich men casting their gifts into the treasury. And he saw also a certain poor widow casting in thither two mites. And he said, Of a truth I say unto you, that this poor widow hath cast in more than they all: for all these have of their abundance cast in unto the offerings of God: but she of her penury hath cast in all the living that she had." Apparently, there were a number of chests located in the temple with openings for inserting money. In addition to the passover lamb and the other sacrifices that were offered; individuals were to make offering and tithes. This was required by the law of Moses. The chests or receptacles of the treasure mentioned here were probably for the benefit of the temple. As Jesus undoubtedly sat in silence and meditation for a moment after his mornings discourse and debate; he looks up just in time to see the poor widow tossing in her two meager coins. Jesus called the disciples to observe what he had just spotted. It must have been a pleasure for Jesus to suddenly see such a change in character; after wrangling with the Jewish committee and after having to give such a denunciation and scathing sermon on the evils of the scribes and Pharisees. It must have been a delight for him to observe the widow. Remember that Jesus saw the inner man. The widow's offering was not measured in quantitative terms. It was the quality of her heart; that must have motivated her to give all her living and place total dependence in God. C.E.W.Dorris in his commentary on the book of Mark, suggests that this widow may have been one of those robbed by some hypocritical scribe. At any rate, this scripture teaches us that Jesus is not indifferent to our actions and our attitudes, however small.
Let's turn to the book of John at this point and pick up in chapter 12, v.20. There's a fairly long section at the end of the John ch. 12; (to be quite frank, I don't know where it fits). The section begins in John 12:20 and continues to the end of ch. 12.,31 verses. Most of the commentators place this section AT THE TEMPLE right after the poor widow, i.e. sometime on Tuesday. However, I'm not convinced that's the proper sequence. John tells about SOME GREEKS which came to the passover feast that wanted to see Jesus, i.e. for an interview. I would tend to put this section on Wednesday; especially as NOTHING is recorded about Wednesday. Much is said about Tuesday; nothing about Wednesday. I see nothing in this section that proves absolutely that this took place at the temple. Although, most of the commentators see it as taking place IN THE TEMPLE. As I said, right after the poor widow made her temple contribution on Tuesday, we've just finished that. If you will analyze the words of Jesus; it seems to be within the last stressful hours of Jesus' life. This section is composed of about half quotation from Jesus and about half the statement of John. However, since we don't know for sure when this took place — and since the commentators place it on Tuesday — and because it fits well into our study at this point; we're going to cover it here. If you have turned to John 12:20, we'll read. We're going to finish ch. 12. Let's read. Starting in John 12:20! "And there were certain Greeks among them that came up to worship at the feast: the same came therefore to Philip, which was of Bethsaida of Galilee, and desired him, saying, Sir, we would see Jesus. Philip cometh and telleth Andrew: and again Andrew and Philip tell Jesus. And Jesus answered them, saying, The hour is come, that the Son of man should be glorified. Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone: but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit. He that loveth his life shall lose it; and he that hateth his life in this world shall keep it unto life eternal. If any man serve me, let him follow me; and where I am, there shall also my servant be: if any man serve me, him will my Father honor. Now is my soul troubled; and what shall I say? Father, save me from this hour: but for this cause came I unto this hour. 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. Jesus answered and said, This voice came not because of me, but for your sakes. Now is the judgment of this world: now shall the prince of this world be cast out. 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. 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. But though he had done so many miracles before them, yet they believed not on him: That the saying of Isaiah 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 Isaiah 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 Isaiah, 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. 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. And if any man hear my words, and believe not, I judge him not: for I came not to judge the world, but to save the world. He that rejecteth me, 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. For I have not spoken of myself; but the Father which sent me, he gave me a commandment, what I should say, and what I should speak. And I know that his commandment is life everlasting: whatsoever I speak therefore, even as the Father said unto me, so I speak."
Alright, back up to v.20 and let's re-hash a little. Who these Greeks were or why they wanted to see Jesus; we have no direct statement. They came to worship at the feast according to v.20; so, obviously they were proselytes to the Jewish religion. Jews who spoke the Greek language were usually referred to as Grecians. Thus, I would assume these were proselytes, i.e. converts to Judaism from Greece. They enquired of Philip about talking to Jesus. John points out this was Philip the apostle, whose hometown was Bethsaida in Galilee, the disciple that John told us about in John 1:43-44. Philip is a Greek name; but, whether that had anything to do with the Greeks enquiring through Philip, I'm not sure. Such proselytes were not permitted into the temple area. Philip wanted someone else to share in the responsibility; so, he prevailed upon his fellow apostle, Andrew. They conducted the Greeks to Jesus and arranged the interview. Jesus' speech begins in v.23 and continues down through v.28. I get the impression in reading this, that Jesus was touched because the Greeks in a humble way wanted to see Jesus and that was in stark contrast to the Jewish leaders that had rejected Jesus. Yet, the guidelines through God's council was that Jesus and the apostles were to go to the Jews first. The lost sheep of the house of Israel, as Jesus told the twelve in Matt. 10:6 in the limited commission. Yet, here are Greeks, humbly seeking Jesus. This in a sense, suggested to Jesus, the sooner his suffering the better for the world, i.e. such people as these Greeks could be evangelized. And, as you can imagine that was a very stressful though to Jesus. In his own parabolic way, Jesus explained THIS to the Greeks and to his disciples. Jesus said, "the hour is come, that the Son of man should be glorified." (v.23). Jesus pointed out that his life could only pass into the life of his disciples by his death. It was a situation similar to a grain of wheat, i.e. a CORN of wheat, the text says. This gives you an insight into how they used the word "corn." It was used the same way we use the word "grain." But, as long as a grain of wheat is preserved; no life comes from it. When it is planted in the ground, when the moisture, and temperature, and fertility become right; it then may bring forth thirty, sixty or a hundred fold, you remember, from the parable of the sower, i.e. life is multiplied. But, in the process of that multiplication the seed is left dead to its original form. Thus, Jesus was explaining his change from a human body to a glorified body, i.e. a spiritual body. The seed of the kingdom was the "word" (Luke 8:11). Jesus was (and is) the "Word", John 1:1. So, Jesus here in his own parabolic way; said that he was being planted so that the life IN HIM could be and would be passed into his disciples. V.25 carries through by showing the same plan is extended into the Christian life. The purpose of a Christian is to teach, make and nurture more Christians. Carrying through with the fruit idea as expressed here in v.24; Jesus said at a later time (John 15:8): "Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit; so shall ye be my disciples." But, as I said, this was a very stressful thought to Jesus. This he expressed in v.27, "Now is my soul troubled; and what shall I say? Father, save me from this hour: but for this cause came I unto this hour." Thus, Jesus proposes a prayer that he be delivered; but, he refuses to make such a prayer understanding it would be contrary to his Father's will and his eternal purpose. So, Jesus simply said, "Father, glorify thy name." Then in v.28-29, John explains that a voice came from heaven. The voice said, "I have both glorified it, and will glorify it again." This was similar to the voice that came when Jesus was baptized in the Jordan (Matt. 3:17) and later in the mount of transfiguration (Matt. 17:5). In v.30, Jesus explained that the voice came for their sake, i.e. as an aid to those standing by to cause them to believe on Jesus. It was miraculous assurance that Jesus was the messiah. Jesus' statement in v.31 is worthy of your serious study and consideration. The prince of this world in v.31 has reference to Satan. Thus, Jesus said in essence, his suffering and his death would, in effect, SHOW who is going to rule the world. Satan will be "cast out." Make a mental note of that! Christ's kingdom was ready to dawn. It was dependent at that moment upon Jesus' being raised from the dead and that was eminent. V.32 Jesus said, "And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me." Then John explained that Jesus was speaking of his death on the cross. But, the people did not understand this; even as the disciples and apostles did not understand this at that time. So, someone asked the question in v.34, "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?" They understood what Jesus meant by being "lifted up." They understood that Jesus made reference to his death. But, how could he be the Christ, if he died? It relates to the question Jesus asked the Jews, about David's son. How could the messiah be both David's Son and David's Lord? Notice the way Jesus answered their question (v. 35-36). "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 whiter he goeth. While ye have light, believe in the light, that ye may be the children of light." So, we learn here where John got his personification of Jesus as light in John 1:7. Then John explained that Jesus departed from the group and went and hid himself, i.e. Jesus was seen no more by the people until he was arrested. However, it would appear, some of the things which Jesus said on this occasion were not brought out in those verses before v.44; so, John quotes more of Jesus' statements on this occasion in v.44-50. Some of the simplest language, and yet some of the profoundest words in the N.T. with reference to our salvation. Jesus affirms in these verses (#1), that Jesus' words were from God, v.49-50. (#2) The words that Jesus spoke will be the criteria by which we are judged in the last day, i.e. at the judgment. (#3) Jesus' purpose in coming WAS NOT to condemn the world, as he told Nicodemus in John 3:17; Jesus' purpose was to "to save the world." (v.47). (#4) In this sense, Jesus is the light of the world (v.46), i.e. the one element that can convey complete understanding, i.e. the light that bringeth salvation. Also, (#5), Jesus said in v.45 that when you see him you see God. I suggest you re-read this section again! Until our next study, have a good day.