Pastor James J. Barker

Text: JOHN 12:31-36


  1. One hundred years ago, evangelist R.A. Torrey said, "There is nothing else that draws like the uplifted Christ. Movies may get a crowd of empty-headed and empty-hearted young men and maidens, and even middle-aged folks without brains or moral earnestness, for a time, but nothing really draws and holds the men and women who are worthwhile like Jesus Christ lifted up."
  2. And now, 100 years later, preachers and churches are still resorting to worldly gimmicks and entertainment, rather than preaching the crucified and risen Lord Jesus Christ.
  3. The apostle Paul said, "But we preach Christ crucified" (I Cor. 1:23).



  1. Our Lord had already made similar statements (cf. 3:14; 8:28).
  2. "But this he said, signifying by what manner of death he should die" (John 12:33). Jesus predicted His being lifting up on the cross, in order to die as our Substitute.
  3. John the Baptist introduced our Lord by saying, "Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world" (John 1:29).
  4. When our Lord came, the world was judged, and the "prince of this world" (Satan) was judged (12:31).
  5. The world's doom was sealed when they rejected the sinless Son of God.  F.B. Meyer said, the spirit of worldliness is "imperious in compelling obedience; haughty if disobeyed; virulent and deadly in its hate."   And it was judged at the cross (John 12:31).
  6. The "prince of this world" (Satan is referred to as "the god of this world" in II Corinthians 4:4) received his just sentence, though he has not yet been cast off into the lake of fire and brimstone (Rev. 20:10).
  7. That is still future. Our Lord said, "Now shall the prince of this world be cast out" (John 12:31).
  8. Our Lord said "now" because Satan’s hold over this world was broken at the cross. Referring to our Lord's death on the cross, Colossians 2:15 says that Christ "spoiled principalities and powers, having made a show of them openly; triumphing over them."
  9. Hebrews 2:14 says that by His death on the cross, Christ destroyed him "that had the power of death, that is, the devil."
  10. The Greek word translated "destroy" in Hebrews 2:14 means, "bring to naught" (Scofield margin).
  11. Strong's Concordance says the word means, "to render idle, inactivate, inoperative; to deprive of force, influence, and power."
  12. Satan is a defeated foe.  He was defeated at the cross (John 12:31).
  13. Because of the cross, Satan is a defeated foe and we have victory over sin.
  14. In John 12:32, our Lord said, "And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me."
  15. It is the crucified Christ who draws all men to Himself.
  16. It is the crucified Christ who meets the deepest needs of the heart of all mankind.
  17. It is the crucified Christ who is our only God and Savior, who atones for the sins of men by His substitutionary death.
  18. It is the crucified Christ who alone saves sinners from the holy wrath of an infinitely holy God.
  19. John 12:32 means our Lord draws "all men" regardless of their nationality -- Jew and Gentile, black and white, and every shade between, from all over the world.
  20. Our Lord draws "all men" -- all kinds and conditions and ranks of men.
  21. Evangelist R.A. Torrey said, "He is a universal Savior, and true Christianity is a universal religion. Mohammedanism, Buddhism, Confucianism, and all other religions, but Christianity, are religions of a restricted application. Christianity, with a crucified Christ as its center, is a universal religion that meets the needs of all mankind. It meets the needs of the European as well as the needs of the Asiatic, the needs of the Occident as well as the needs of the Orient, the needs of the American Indian and the needs of the African Negro; and so our Lord said, 'And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto myself.'"
  22. The Gospel message has been preached all over the world, and no matter where it goes sinners respond and are converted to Christ, because the cross draws "all men" everywhere.



  1. The people were puzzled by our Lord's prophecy, and they responded by asking Him two important questions (12:34).
  2. The first question was doctrinal.  They knew the Old Testament ("the law") taught that Christ (the Messiah) would come, but they could not understand how He could be lifted up to die.
  3. The Jews knew that "Christ abideth for ever" (12:34), so how could He be lifted up to die?
  4. For example, that great Messianic prophecy, Isaiah 9:7, says, "Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end."
  5. Referring to Christ, Psalm 45:6 says, "Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever" (quoted in Hebrews 1:8).
  6. The Jews expected the Messiah to rule and reign forever as a mighty monarch. They did not expect Him to be lifted up to die on the cross.
  7. However, Isaiah 53:8 says, "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 stricken."
  8. Daniel 9:26 also says that the Messiah would "be cut off."
  9. Their second question was more personal -- "Who is this Son of man?" (12:34b).  In John 8:28, our Lord said, "When ye have lifted up the Son of man, then shall ye know that I am he."
  10. And here in John 12:32, our Lord says, "And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me."
  11. Two thousand years later, people are still asking the same question -- "Who is this Son of man?"
  12. Unfortunately, they are getting the wrong answer from some people.
  13. None of the cults believes that Jesus Christ is the sinless Son of God who died on the cross for our sins.
  14. The Jehovah's Witnesses teach that Michael the archangel and Jesus Christ are the same person.  They teach that Jesus is a created being, not the eternal Son of God.
  15. The Mormons teach that Jesus and Satan are brothers.
  16. The Muslims teach that Jesus was the last prophet sent by God (who they refer to as "Allah").
  17. Jews teach that Jesus was a "false messiah."
  18. In Matthew 16:15, our Lord asked his disciples, "But whom say ye that I am?"
  19. "And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God" (Matt. 16:16).



  1. Our Lord's words here in John 12 conclude His public ministry.  John 13--16 are devoted to His last private meeting with His disciples -- He washed their feet; He predicted His betrayal; He predicted Peter's denial; and He told them of the Comforter.
  2. Then in Chapter 18, our Lord is arrested and led to judgment.
  3. Our Lord ended His public ministry with a warning (12:35, 36).  Those who refuse the light while it is present, may find out too late that the light has been withdrawn.
  4. Our Lord said, "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" (12:35).
  5. This is one of the great themes of Scripture.  Ephesians 5:8 says, "For ye were sometimes darkness, but now are ye light in the Lord: walk as children of light."
  6. First Thessalonians 5:5 says, "Ye are all the children of light, and the children of the day: we are not of the night, nor of darkness."
  7. First John 1:5 says, "God is light, and in him is no darkness at all."
  8. Our Lord said in John 8:12, "I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life."
  9. "Walk while ye have the light, lest darkness come upon you" (12:35).  This was an urgent warning.  Soon their opportunity to get saved would be gone.
  10. Soon the darkness would overtake them.   John 3:19 says, "Men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil."
  11. Our Lord warned them, "Walk while ye have the light, lest darkness come upon you" (12:35).
  12. Soon, they would come to arrest our Lord.  He said to those who came to arrest Him, "This is your hour, and the power of darkness" (Luke 22:53).
  13. But here in John 12, there was still time for them to get right with God.  "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" (12:35).
  14. Throughout Scripture, particularly in the Gospel of John, we see a great conflict between light and darkness (cf. John 1:5).
  15. Our Lord said. "He that walketh in darkness knoweth not whither he goeth" (12:35).  Those who reject the Gospel walk in darkness and ignorance.
  16. Our Lord said they know not whither they go.  They stumble through life like a drunken man, bumping into things, confused and disoriented.
  17. The key is believing (12:36, 46).
  18. This is why the warning is so urgent: first sinners will not believe.  Then after a while they cannot believe (cf. 12:36-40).



  1. There is a great urgency emphasized in Scripture.
  2. Four times in Scripture we read these words, "To day if ye will hear his voice, harden not your hearts" (Psalm 95:8; Hebrews 3:8, 15; 4:7).
  3. The great evangelist D. L. Moody said this, “I say Christ is drawing men.  He is drawing men, but they will not come.  God was in Christ reconciling the world unto Himself, and drawing men into Him.  That drawing is going on now, but many a heart is fighting against the strivings of the Spirit. God is drawing men heavenward, and the devil is drawing them hellward.
  4. Let me conclude by sharing two true stories, both told by a preacher who worked closely with Moody, the great evangelist RA Torrey.
  5. Both these stories remind us that we do not know how much time God will give us.  Both stories illustrate our Lord's warning in John 12:35 and 36.
  6. The first story is about a young lady Torrey knew when he was pastoring a church in Minnesota.
  7. He said, "One night, preaching in my own church in Minneapolis, the whole choir stayed for the after-meeting. The leading soprano was an intelligent young woman, but she was living a worldly life. She remained with the rest. In the after-meeting, her mother arose in the back of the church and said, 'I wish you would pray for the conversion of my daughter.' I did not look around but knew instinctively that her cheeks were flushing, and her eyes were flashing with anger. As soon as the meeting was dismissed, I hurried down so that I would meet her before she got out of the church. As she came toward me I held out my hand to her. She stamped her foot, and with flashing eyes cried, 'Mr. Torrey, my mother knows better than to do that. She knows it will only make me worse.' I said, 'Sit down, Cora.' She sat down, and without any argument I opened my Bible to Isaiah 53:5, and began to read, '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.' She burst into tears, and the next night accepted Jesus Christ. I had to go to Duluth for a few days, and when I returned I found that she was seriously ill. One morning her brother came hurrying up to my home and said that she was apparently dying, that she was unconscious and white from the loss of blood. I hastened down. As I entered the room, she lay there with her eyes closed, with the whitest face I ever saw on one who was not actually dead. She was apparently unconscious, scarcely breathing. I knelt by her side to pray, more for the sake of the mother who stood beside the bed than for her, for I supposed that she was beyond help or hearing. But no sooner had I finished my prayer, than in a clear, full, richly musical tone she began to pray. These were about her words, 'Heavenly Father, if it be Thy will, raise me up that as I have used my voice for myself and only to please myself, I may use my voice for Thy glory, but if in Thy wisdom Thou seest that it is best for me not to live, I shall be glad to go to be with Christ,' and she went to be with Christ."
  8. That young lady died unexpectedly and was saved in the nick of time.
  9. The second story illustrates the foolishness of refusing the Gospel.
  10. RA Torrey said that in his first pastorate he tried to get a man to come to Christ, but the man stubbornly held to liberal theology and denied that he needed to be born again.
  11. He did not wish to listen to Dr. Torrey, and refused to see him. But the hour came when death drew nigh. A cancer was eating its way through his scalp and skull and into his brain.
  12. Then he cried out to those about his dying bed, "Send for Mr. Torrey." RA Torrey hurried to his side. The man was in despair.
  13. "Oh!" he said, "My doctor tells me that I have but a short time to live, that as soon as this cancer gets a little further and eats through the thin film of skull and touches the brain I am a dead man. Tell me how to be saved."
  14. Dr. Torrey tried to make the way of salvation as plain as he knew how, but the man had waited too long, and he could not grasp it. Torrey stayed with him. When night came on, he said to the man's family, "You have been up night after night with him, I will sit with him tonight."
  15. They instructed him what to do, how to minister to him. Later, Torrey wrote this about the man's final night on earth: "Time after time during the night I had to go to another room to get some nourishment for him, and as I would come back into the room where he lay, from his bed in the corner there would rise the constant cry, 'Oh, I wish I were a Christian. Oh, I wish I were a Christian. Oh, I wish I were a Christian.' And thus he died."
  16. Consider Jeremiah 8:20, which says, "The harvest is past, the summer is ended, and we are not saved."

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