INDIFFERENCE TO THE CROSS
Biblical Research Monthly June, 1977
By Dr. David L. Cooper
The question is often asked: What about the great masses of humanity who have heard the preaching of the Cross but remain unconcerned and indifferent to its claims?In the Shadow of the Cross
The force of any testimony depends upon the attitude and desire of those who hear and see it. "Convince a man against his will, and he is of the same opinion still." Perhaps the most dramatic illustration of this principle is presented on the last day of our Lord's appearance during His public ministry. Certain Greeks who had come to the Temple at Jerusalem approached Philip, asking that they might see Jesus. Together with his fellow disciple Andrew, Philip came to Jesus and reported the desire of the Greeks (John 12:20-22).
This incident brought before Jesus' vision, anew and in an overwhelming manner, the purpose for which He had come into the world. Up to this point, our Lord's vision had been confined almost exclusively within the boundaries of Israel. Standing in the shadow of the Cross--it being only three days ahead of Him--Jesus thrilled to see these Greeks coming as a token of the fulfillment of Isa. 65¹: "I am inquired of by them that asked not for me; I am found of them that sought me not" (vs. 1a). Looming before His mind and heart was the price He would have to pay in bringing myriads of seeking Gentiles to God. Jesus could see that as a nation His own beloved people had turned from Him, determined to go their own way, as predicted by Isaiah in vss. 1b-7. This sad fact dealt a crushing blow to His heart. Naturally from the human standpoint He would shrink from the horrible experience of being alienated from God and from the suffering and excruciating pain of the crucifixion. His spirit was therefore troubled. From the beginning, however, His attitude of soul had been, "For I am come ... not to do mine own will, but the will of him that sent me" (John 6:38).
Jesus' Meditation of the Cross (John 12:23-30)
The necessity of the Cross with all that it involved came anew to His soul: "Except a grain of wheat fall into the earth and die, it abideth by itself alone; but if it die, it beareth much fruit." Applying to Himself the principle He laid down for others, Jesus continued, "He that loveth his life loseth it; and he that hateth his life in this world shall keep it unto life eternal."
Thus His soul was stirred to the very depths and He addressed the question to Himself: "And what shall I say? Father, save me from this hour." Without a moment's hesitation, He refused to pray that God would deliver Him from the coming ordeal, declaring, "But for this cause came I unto this hour." Looking by faith into the face of God, in utter submission He prayed, "Father, glorify thy name." Instantly a voice came from heaven declaring, "I have both glorified it [in Jesus' ministry to the Jews], and will glorify it again," indicating that God would still glorify His name among the Gentiles of the world--the Greek's desire to see Jesus on this occasion being the token of that fact.
To some in the multitude standing by, the voice from heaven was mere thunder--no more than a noise. To others it was the voice of an angel speaking in audible language, but--not having spiritual insight or sufficient desire for truth--they failed to recognize it as the voice of God the Father, speaking to His Son. Any who may have understood the import of this voice are not mentioned.
"This voice hath not come for my sake," said Jesus, "but for your sakes." The message was intended to be understood by the multitudes, just as it was when God spoke to the Son at His baptism. But unless hearts are open to the truth and unless people have the courage of their convictions, the testimony of God to Jesus Christ His Son will be no more than thunder, even though it should be the voice of God Almighty, the One in whom we live, move and have our being.
The Cross--Basis for Judgment
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 myself. But this he said, signifying by what manner of death he should die." (John 12:31-33)
These three verses constitute the greatest proclamation the world has ever seen. Here is Jesus' declaration regarding the judgment of the world; His prediction that the prince of this world is to be cast out; and the prediction that the world is to have a new Sovereign.
The word judgment here cannot mean pronouncement of condemnation upon the entire world, as we can see in John 3: For God sent not the Son into the world to judge the world; but that the world should be saved through him. He that believeth on him is not judged: he that believeth not hath been judged already (vss. 17-18a; see vss. 16-21).
The basis for judging the world was laid in the events of Messiah's execution. Those who look to Him, believing that He is what He claimed to be--the Saviour of humanity and the Messiah--King of Israel--accept Him, obtain eternal life and never come into judgment (John 5:24).
Yet great masses of humanity pass before the Cross with indifference and unconcern, refusing to accept His atoning work in their behalf. In doing so, judgment is passed upon them unto condemnation. Thus the judgment of the world began on that Friday when Jesus was crucified. Fifty days later, at Pentecost, the significance of the judgment of that fatal day became known as men endued with the power of the Holy Spirit publicly proclaimed it in the city of Jerusalem. Forty years later the stroke of judgment fell upon God's chosen people who, as a nation, had rejected their long-expected Messiah.
The final scene of the judgment will occur at the conclusion of the Millennial reign of our Lord, when all the lost will be brought before the judgment of the Great White Throne for the pronouncement of their eternal doom (Rev. 20:11-15).
He that rejecteth me, and receiveth not my sayings, hath one that judgeth him: the word that I spake, the same shall judge him in the last day. (John 12:48)
¹ I am inquired of by them that asked not for me; I am found of them that sought me not: I said, Behold me, behold me, unto a nation that was not called by my name. 2 I have spread out my hands all the day unto a rebellious people, that walk in a way that is not good, after their own thoughts; 3 a people that provoke me to my face continually, sacrificing in gardens, and burning incense upon bricks; 4 that sit among the graves, and lodge in the secret places; that eat swine's flesh, and broth of abominable things is in their vessels: 5 that say, Stand by thyself, come not near to me, for I am holier than thou. These are a smoke in my nose, a fire that burneth all the day. 6 Behold, it is written before me: I will not keep silence, but will recompense, yea, I will recompense into their bosom, 7 your own iniquities, and the iniquities of your fathers together, saith Jehovah, that have burned incense upon the mountains, and blasphemed me upon the hills: therefore will I first measure their work into their bosom (Isa. 65:1-7).
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