By Tyson Thorne

August 21, 2019

John 38 Large

Some of our more astute readers emailed in and asked why we chose to stop yesterday's article at verse 30, right in the middle of Jesus' discussion about his upcoming glorification through his death and resurrection. Admittedly it was on odd place to leave off, but I did so because the article was already a bit longer than usual and verse 31 confused me. I needed more time to try and understand what Jesus was saying. I think I figured it out, though my understanding is not that of traditional commentaries. I'll lay it out for you, you decide who is right.

"Now is the judgment of this world; now the ruler of this world will be driven out."

There are two traditional theories concerning Jesus' statement above. The first, by Adam Clark and others, takes the statement to mean that the Jews have been judged for rejecting the Messiah and Satan's hold over the Gentile world was over. This explains why the temple and all of Jerusalem was destroyed in 70 AD, and why the Jesus movement spread so rapidly among the Gentiles. This doesn't sit well with me because Jesus states "Now is the judgment… now the ruler..." 70 AD, while close on the timeline of events, could hardly be considered "now".

Others state Jesus is referring to the future judgment before the Great White Throne. This is easy to dismiss for, unless we missed Judgment Day, this explanation cannot be correct.

Let's go back to the passage. In verse 34 the people argue with Jesus, stating their belief that the Messiah will remain forever. They show an understanding of the phrase "lifted up" (death on a cross) but not the phrase "Son of Man:. The Messiah is known from the book of Daniel as "the Son of Man," but in Daniel the Messiah's dominion was 'everlasting" (Daniel 7.13-14). Was Jesus differentiating between the Messiah and the Son of Man?" Who is the Son of Man?" they ask. Jesus doesn't answer this question, and carries on teaching that the light will in fact leave and darkness will continue to exercise it's power (without authority) until the Messiah returns. On this side of the cross we know that the Messiah comes to earth not once, but twice. At first he comes as the suffering servant to secure salvation, then later as the conquering king to establish his forever kingdom.

When we hear the word "judgment" it is natural for us to think the judgment of human people groups. In this case, however, I think the object of judgment is spiritual. When Jesus says "now the ruler of this world will be driven out", to whom is he referring? Certainly he is not talking about the Father. No, the one referred to as "the ruler of this world" is Satan. If true, then Jesus' death and resurrection resulted in a transfer of authority, Satan was judged (driven out of his position as ruler) and Jesus deemed victor.While Satan remains a powerful force for evil, he has effectively been driven out of authority.

How does this work out with other Scriptures and theology? After the resurrection Jesus tells the disciples that he has been given all authority in heaven and on earth (Matthew 28.18). Other changes occurred at that time as well. The Kingdom of Heaven has come (though not in its fullness), and the Holy Spirit permanently indwells God's people. It is also the beginning of the church, and the gospel goes out to Gentiles (leading to a rapid expansion of the Kingdom). Satan is deposed, driven out of his ruling role. All of these actions are kicked off the moment Jesus is "lifted from the earth". (verse 32).

I believe this is the best explanation for Jesus' words.

John ends this passage with an estimation of Jesus' ministry success. The picture he paints isn't a pretty one, stating the people were turning against Jesus. The bright side, if you could call it that, is that it had all been fortold by Isaiah.

There is one other surprising statement in this passage. In verse 42 we read, "Nevertheless, even among the rulers many believed in him, but because of the Pharisees they would not confess Jesus to be the Christ so that they would not be put out of the synagogue." Who are these rulers? Up to this point we've seen Jesus accepted by the people and rejected by the religious authorities. In this passage we see a rejection by the people and acceptance by these "rulers". From this brief passage we know that these rulers are not religious leaders, for they feared the Pharisees. It may be that these are Jewish political leaders, not Roman rulers since they feared being put out of the synagogue. One thing we know for certain, they prefer their praises to be sung in the here and now rather than the seet by-and-by. Seems like a politician to me.

Jesus then left the crowd, never meeting with the Greek God-fearers.

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