(A) Introduction. (Read the reference)

It is evident from verse 36: And when he had finished speaking Jesus left and hid himself from them; that Christ had come to the end of his public ministry. Verses 44 to 50 are either Jesus' concluding words to the Jews or a summary by John of the chief points of his ministry.

(B) The summary of Jesus' ministry

(1) The authority by which it was undertaken.
(a) Jesus was sent from God. He said: "When a man believes in me, he does not believe in me only, but in the one who sent me." v44.

(b) Jesus was briefed or instructed what to say. "So whatever I say is just what the Father has told me to say." v50.

Moses could have made similar to claims to Jesus. God met with him at the burning bush and sent him back to Egypt. God also promised Moses that he would tell him what to say. However, the writer to the Hebrews tells us: Moses was faithful as a servant in all God's house, testifying to what would be said in the future. But Christ is faithful as a son over God's house. Heb3v5and6.

God could have no better spokesman than his Son. His was the authentic voice of God. He is the one to heed. See exposition on Heb1v1to3: God's spokesman.

(2) The substance of Christ's message.

(a) Jesus made God known. "When he (a man) looks at me, he sees the one who sent me." v45. Jesus shows by his words and actions what God is like. This is what John affirmed in his introduction to the gospel: No-one has ever seen God, but God the One and Only, who is at the Father's side, has made him known. John1v18. See my first exposition on John: John1v1to18.

What did Jesus make clear about God in the course of his ministry? There are at least four things:

  • God's chief problem was man's sin - especially the sins of the Pharisees and priests that keep men so effectively from their creator - hypocrisy, greed, pride and legalism.

  • God's interest in us. God not only knows all about us, the very number of the hairs on our head are numbered, but he sent Jesus, his Son, to earth on our behalf.

  • God's prime purpose is mankind's redemption. He desires to restore men to favour through their voluntary submission to his Son. This is entirely appropriate. Adam and Eve fell through lack of submission. The will that rebelled in Adam must submit to Christ if we are to be reconciled to God and adopted into his family.

  • God's overwhelming love for us. For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. John3v16.

    (b) Jesus enlightened darkened minds. He said: "I have come into the world as a light so that no-one who believes in me should stay in darkness." John12v46. This is a familiar theme of John's gospel. Jesus makes it clear what God's will is for us. He sets out plainly the Kingdom values. To please God we should:

      1. Be humble servants. After Jesus had washed his disciples feet he said: "You also should wash one another's feet." John13v14. He also taught: "The greatest among you will be your servant. For whoever exalts himself will be humbled and whoever humbles himself will be exalted." Mt23v11and12.

      2. Possess a generous spirit - a spirit that helps the needy, is slow to censure and ready to forgive. I love the charming books by Alexander McCall Smith about the No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency in Gabarone, Botswana, because the heroine, Precious Ramotswe and her fiancée, Mr J.L.B. Matekoni of Tlokweng Road Speedy Motors are both people of extraordinary generosity. Mr J.L.B. Matekoni spends much time at the orphan farm run by Mma Silvia Potokwani repairing anything that breaks down for nothing more than a slice of fruit cake. He even takes two orphans off Mma Potokwani's hands simply because she asks him to.

      Jesus tells us: "Give and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap."

      3. Be united in love with all genuine Christians. Jesus could not be clearer: "I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you." John17v20.
      "I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one." v22.

      Jesus expects us to be as one with all who believe in him - not just those who happen to agree with us! The late Dr Martyn Lloyd Jones was greatly admired by Grace Baptists for his expository preaching. Yet the sad fact is that if he had retired to a Suffolk village and attended one of our churches he would neither have been welcomed into membership nor allowed to take communion because of his views on baptism. Now Dr Martyn Lloyd Jones was in error about baptism but who can doubt that he was a believer. If he was a believer he should be welcomed into full fellowship with other believers. Jesus doesn't command us to love only those Christians who are without doctrinal error. Christian fellowship is conditional on only one thing - belief in Christ.

      4. Be persecuted for righteousness sake. In other words we should be the sort of person it is safe to persecute. On old farmer whom I visit, John C., told me a story that illustrates what Jesus is getting at in his final Beatitude. One evening John had gone to bed when there was a knock on the door. His wife answered it. A shamefaced George A. wanted to see Mr C.. His wife, Ethel, said no, he couldn't - her husband was feeling unwell and had gone to bed. George pleaded, "You just tell him it is me, I'm sure he will help." So Ethel went upstairs and informed her husband who it was that wanted him and told John in no uncertain fashion to send George away. But Mr C. didn't. He dressed, came down stairs and found out that two lady friends of George had missed the last bus back to Bury and needed a lift into town. Mr C., much to the annoyance of his wife, got out his car and drove off into the night on an errand of mercy. He acted the Good Samaritan. When he got home he found that his wife had locked him out!! Mr C. had to get a ladder from the barn and climb through his bedroom window.

      Mr C.'s wife only dared to take the action she did because of the sort of man John was - calm, kind and long suffering. If I had been her husband she would not have locked me out! Such is the fierceness of my temper it would have been very, very unsafe for her to do so. It takes a very special sort of man to turn the other cheek. See my exposition on Mt5v10.

    (c) Jesus came to save and give eternal life to all who believe on him. He said: "For I did not come to judge the world but to save it." v47. "I know his command leads to eternal life." v50. This is a wonderful positive message and should be greeted with gladness by all men. How can anyone raise objections to such a gospel?

    (3) The delivery of the message.

    Jesus delivered his message:

      Publicly. He did this until he hid himself to teach only his close disciples. See verse 36. For the most part Jesus was accessible to all. He taught in the open air or the temple courts and both friend and foe could hear what he had to say and ask questions or raise objections. Jesus was not like so many cult leaders - secretive and unapproachable. He wasn't fearful of exposure - a most un Christ like feature of the inner councils of some Christian groups.

      Fearlessly. Jesus said many things that antagonised the Jewish leaders. He wasn't like those who failed to openly support him because they wished to preserve their reputations. Jesus spoke the truth regardless of the consequences. I wonder whether we do?

      Earnestly. John describes Jesus' delivery by the words: Then Jesus cried out. v44. Jesus was desperately keen that his hearers believed what he had to say. He knew that their eternal destiny depended upon it. They would either believe for eternal life or disbelieve and perish.

      The great 19th century Baptist preacher, C.H. Spurgeon, has a lecture to his students entitled, 'Earnestness: its Marring and Maintenance.' He opened his lecture with these words: If I were asked - What in a Christian minister is the most essential quality for securing success in winning souls for Christ? I should reply, "Earnestness"; and if I were asked a second or a third time, I should not vary the answer, for personal observation drives me to the conclusion that, as a rule, real success is proportionate to the preacher's earnestness. Later in his lecture Spurgeon remarked: A blacksmith can do nothing when his fire is out.

      With certainty. Jesus asserted: "I know his command leads to eternal life." The message of Jesus recorded in John's gospel is straightforward and unequivocal: "For my Father's will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day." John6v40.
      "Now this is eternal life that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent." John17v3.

      We should be in no doubt what is needed for eternal life - to believe on him - not a set of doctrines, not in a version of the Bible, not in the church, not in a code of conduct, not in a great religious leader, not in ritual, tradition or forms of worship but in him.

    (4) The consequences of rejecting Christ's message.

    The warnings Jesus gave will condemn those who fail to heed them. "There is a judge for the one who rejects me and does not accept my words; that very word which I spoke will condemn him at the last day." v48.

    On some beaches in Britain there are warning notices telling holidaymakers not to bath in the sea when the red flag is flying because of dangerous currents. A father who allows his young son to play in the sea while the red flag flies and sees him swept away to perish is condemned by the very notices he has ignored.

    (C) Unsatisfactory responses to Christ's ministry.

    (a) Outright rejection.

    Even after Jesus had done all these miraculous signs in their presence, they still would not believe in him. v37.

    Almost every week in the Daily Telegraph newspaper there is evidence of men's outright rejection of Christ's message. A few days ago there was a report of Richard and Judy's interview with the eminent scientist Richard Hawking to discuss his new book, 'A Briefer History of Time.' Richard asked him, "Do you believe that there is any scientific evidence for the existence of an afterlife." Hawking replied, "Belief in an afterlife is just wishful thinking." This is not, of course, an answer to the question. There may be no scientific evidence for an afterlife and that would have been a reasonable response. However, there is other sort of evidence for life after death and Hawking, no theologian, thought he could dismiss that as wishful thinking. This is consummate arrogance and wholly dismissive of the life of Christ as recounted by John.

    Only a day or so later the following comment was made in a letter about the euthanasia debate: Misery relief should be undertaken when the opportunity arises, not left to the whim of some deity who supposedly is in charge of tsunamis, hurricanes and earthquakes. I wonder if the writer of that letter could actually design a planet without tsunamis, hurricanes and earthquakes that was habitable by man. I very much doubt it. However, the point I am making is that here once again is someone who rejects Jesus' teaching that God loves men.

    Why did so many reject Jesus? They were:

    (1) Blinded "He has blinded their eyes ... so they can neither see with their eyes ..... ." v40.

    The leaders of the Jews had those well-known planks in their eyes:

    • Prejudice. Early in his gospel John records: The Jews were amazed and asked, "How did this man get such learning without having studied." John7v14. This is a very poor translation. What the religious leaders were saying was: "How can this fellow know his subject without an education." They were being scornful rather than complimentary!

      The Pharisees were prejudiced against Jesus because he had not received the education that they had. Jesus had not been through the system. He was not one of them.

      A lot of prejudice against Christianity exists in our society. Born again Christians are spoken against as if they are a danger to the public - crazed, axe-wielding fanatics.

      Prejudice also exists within the church. There are undoubtedly a considerable number of individuals who disparage the efforts of those without a B.D. or B.Th. to teach what the Bible says. Charles Spurgeon mentioned in his lecture on, 'Earnestness,' the quaint evangelist who was wont to say that Christ hung crucified beneath Greek, Latin and Hebrew.

    • Bias. I don't imagine the Pharisees liked Jesus very much. He was an undistinguished Galilean with a blunt, confrontational approach and a free and easy lifestyle.

      What a curse the plank of bias is. If during my teaching career I had consistently given pretty girls higher marks than ugly ones I would have been roundly condemned for being unfair. Yet when girls go out into the world of employment the likeable, attractive females will be favoured. A man will not necessarily choose the best-qualified and most competent lady to be his secretary but the one he likes!

      Women are not without fault either. They will accuse a man they dislike of being sexist but forgive a real charmer almost anything.

      I am afraid that there are folk who just do not like Christians because they don't laugh at dirty jokes, go to church on Sundays and frown on sharp practices. A Christian is not one of the lads! Bias against Christians leads to rejection of Jesus.

      In my experience chapel people are themselves guilty of bias. They'll virtually swoon over a pastor they like and boycott preachers they find unattractive and abrasive.

    • Ignorance. Even a decent man like Nicodemus was ignorant of the nature of God's Kingdom and the qualifications for entry. The Jews as a whole were woefully ignorant of God's intention for the Messiah when he came. They did not expect him to die for the sins of the world!

      There is such ignorance about Christianity in Western Europe. People tell me that you have to be good to be a Christian. If you live a decent life you are a Christian. Others accuse the church of being all do's and don'ts. It exists to make you feel guilty. Christians are nothing but a bunch of kill joys. All these views, born of ignorance, keep men and women from Jesus.

    • Self-love. The Pharisees loved to be well thought of. They revelled in greetings in the market place and the best seats at feasts. Some of them, Christ's bitterest enemies, hated him because he was a popular rival for the people's esteem. Pilate was aware of this - For he knew it was out of envy that they had handed Jesus over to him. Mt27v18.

      Sadly there are husbands who reject Jesus because they are jealous of the love their wives have for him. The same could be said of parents who realise that they have a rival for their son's or daughter's affection.

    (2) Hard hearted. "He has .... deadened their hearts so they are neither .... nor understand with their hearts, nor turn - and I would heal them." v40.

    What hardens men's hearts against Jesus? The following:

    • Pride. The Jews did not think they had anything to learn from Jesus. The attitude of the Pharisees is revealed by the way they treated the man born blind whom they interrogated about Jesus. Finally they said to him:"How dare you lecture us!" And they threw him out. John9v34. If anything the chief priests were worse. Remember what they said to the Pharisees at the meeting of the Sanhedrin called to discuss the raising of Lazarus: "You know nothing at all!" John11v49.

      Pride so hardens hearts that they will never yield to the love of Christ.

    • Misplaced allegiance. The Pharisees loved their rules and regulations more than God. They were devoted to the system that they had worked out. Legalism and censoriousness hardened their hearts against Jesus. The Pharisees were so obsessed by Sabbath observance that they condemned God's Son for healing the sick on that day. Wherever religious men and women put the cause, the party, the denomination, the doctrinal distinctives or some weird obsession with versions of the Bible or forms of service first their hearts become hardened to the spirit of Christ.

    • Greed. The Pharisees loved money. On the occasion recorded in Luke when Jesus said: "You cannot serve both God and Money." The Pharisees who loved money, heard all this and were sneering at Jesus. Lk16v13and14. The ruthless pursuit of wealth coarsens and hardens hearts. A man finds he has no room in his life for anything else. No sacrifice is too great to acquire money with the power and status it confers.

    • Cynical self-interest. The Jewish leaders did not want to lose the influence granted them by the Roman occupying power. The Pharisees made this clear when they said in the Sanhedrin: "Here is a man performing many miraculous signs. If we let him go on like this, everyone will believe in him, and then the Romans will come and take away both our place and our nation." John11v48.

      If we consistently make our own interests our top priority it will harden our hearts to God's will. God's will is that we believe on the one he has sent.

    (b) Imperfect Commitment.

    Yet at the same time many even among the leaders believed in him. But because of the Pharisees they would not confess their faith for fear they would be put out of the synagogue; for they loved the praise of men more than the praise of God. v42and43.

    So some of the Jewish leaders did believe that Jesus was the Messiah but were unwilling to say so because they:

    (1) Were frightened of social exclusion. This is what excommunication from the synagogue involved. They would join the tax collectors and prostitutes as second-class citizens and social pariahs. This is the condition of Christians in parts of Pakistan and India today. A person who converts to Christianity in Pakistan is marginalized. It is a terrible price to pay and must deter many from turning to Jesus for salvation.

    (2) Wanted to be well thought of by others. The Pharisees loved popularity. They knew that a stigma attached to following Jesus and so kept quite about their belief in him.

    There is something of a stigma in Britain about being an evangelical Christian. This is evident from the ridicule heaped on George Bush by newspapers like the Independent and Guardian. The Daily Telegraph on Oct 11th 2005 carried an article entitled: 'Why is Bush's Christianity so risible?' The feature quoted Martin Amis: Bush is more religious than Saddam. Of the two presidents, he is, in this respect the more psychological primitive. This is the sort of snide remark being made all the time by liberal, godless journalists. (The Daily Telegraph was against attacking Bush for his religious beliefs.)

    Christians need to stand up to calumny in the media. We should not be ashamed of Jesus. He said: "If anyone is ashamed of me and my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will be ashamed of him when he comes in his Father's glory with the holy angels." Mk8v38.

              I am not ashamed to own my Lord,
              Or to defend His cause;
              Maintain the honour of his Word,
              The glory of His cross.

              Then he will own my worthless name
              Before his Father's face;
              And in the new Jerusalem
              Appoint my soul a place.