Impartial Grace: John 12:23-32

Jesus answered them, “The time has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. Most certainly I tell you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains by itself alone. But if it dies, it bears much fruit. He who loves his life will lose it. He who hates his life in this world will keep it to eternal life. If anyone serves me, let him follow me. Where I am, there will my servant also be. If anyone serves me, the Father will honor him. Now my soul is troubled. What shall I say? ‘Father, save me from this time?’ But for this cause I came to this time. Father, glorify your name!”

Then there came a voice out of the sky, saying, “I have both glorified it, and will glorify it again.” The multitude therefore, who stood by and heard it, said that it had thundered. Others said, “An angel has spoken to him.”

Jesus answered, “This voice hasn’t come for my sake, but for your sakes. Now is the judgment of this world. Now the prince of this world will be cast out. And I, if I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.

(John 12:23-32, emphasis added)

Lee Salisbury and many others ask, “Did Jesus tell a lie when He said, ‘And I, if I be lifted up from the earth will draw all men unto me.'”?

Our Christ uses an analogy to describe how He will die and bring all men into reconciliation with God. Through Christ’s death and His resurrection God makes the way to reconciliation with Him complete. Christ’s obedience to death on the Cross saves all. He said He came to absolve the sin of the world. We read in these verses Christ’s admonition to set aside personal desires for the sake of meeting the needs of others. By our selfless service to others we bring glory to the Son. Serving others with a selfless heart brings heavenly blessings.

Jesus tells us His “soul is troubled.” He knows that soon He will be taken captive, persecuted, mocked, humiliated, beaten and convicted of crimes based in false testimonies from those He loves. Our Christ calls out to the Father. The Son acknowledges His purpose. Christ asks that the Father’s Name be glorified; not His own, but His Father’s Name be glorified. The Father audibly answers that indeed He has honored His Name and will do so again. Others with Jesus heard God’s response. Some tried to rationalize the voice of God as thunder or as the voice of an angel. Jesus sets them straight telling them that the Father spoke aloud for their benefit.

Christ goes on to declare that the Father’s judgment on the world is at hand. The Ruler of this world is not Satan as some suggest. The Ruler of this world is Christ Jesus and it is Christ Jesus being cast out. Men are rejecting Him and He is soon to be crucified and placed in a grave.

It is important to allow yourself to be a critical thinker. Do not be quick to follow the traditions of current and predominant theologies. Jesus says, “…if I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to Myself.” Does He say anything more than that? He was lifted up from the earth when He was hung on the cross to die. That part of the equation is satisfied. The second part of the promise is that He “will draw all men to Myself.” He does not say He will draw only a few. He does not say, “I will draw Augustinians (Calvinists) to Myself.” He does not say, “I will draw Arminians to Myself.” He does not say, “I will draw only believers to Myself.”

Charles Spurgeon is known as a great preacher and his sermons are highly respected. A sermon message entitled “Christ Lifted Up” 1 can be viewed in its entirety at the Blue Letter Bible website. Dr. Spurgeon opens this sermon remarking, “It was an extraordinary occasion upon which the Saviour uttered these words.” Dr. Spurgeon’s words are an understatement considering what is soon to transpire. Jesus is soon to be falsely accused. He is soon to be ridiculed and mocked. He is soon to suffer unimaginable indignities. Those who profess to love Him on one day will express their disgust of Him on another. Some will heap “Hosanna upon Hosanna” and in a few days will shout “Crucify Him!”

Dr. Spurgeon points us to verse 31 (John 12:31). “Now is the judgment of the world.” He points out that the Greek word for “judgment” here is better translated “crisis.” Jesus is declaring, “Now is the crisis of the world.” Dr. Spurgeon declares this to be the “great turning point of all the world’s history.” The sermon offered by Dr. Spurgeon exposes the truth of scripture and he teaches about Christ’s crucifixion. Christ is glorified in the crucifixion. The Father is glorified in the crucifixion. “Christ looked upon His crucifixion as the completion of all His work, and therefore looked upon it as an exaltation.” We are reminded that Jesus took the vinegar and said, “It is finished.” Dr. Spurgeon says, “And, then it was finished.”

His work is accomplished. It is finished. It is complete, but only for believers. Dr. Spurgeon was convinced unbelievers are to be eternally consciously tormented for their failure to believe. He preaches Christ’s love for all, but cannot bring himself to accept that Christ does indeed love all. It is folly to try to discern Dr. Spurgeon’s heart. There is conflict though. On one side is the need to preach God’s all-consuming love. On the other is the need to preach the price to be paid for rejecting His Gospel.

Dr. Spurgeon teaches Christ will draw men to Himself as a trumpet call. A call to alert. A call to come to hear the proclamation to be read aloud. “Now, my brethren, part of the attractive power of the gospel lies in the attracting people to hear it. You cannot expect people to be blessed by the preaching of the gospel if they do not hear it.”

It is Christ Jesus Who says, “And I…will draw all men to Myself.” Mr. Sprenger adds, “This is as clear a statement on the subject as any in scripture, a promise made by Christ Himself! These are the words of the Savior! He is describing the kind of death He will bear for the sake of the world. He is to be crucified. His blood is to be shed. This to ‘draw all men to…’ Himself.”

There are countless commentaries defining God’s Holy Word. Many men and institutions honorably strive to honestly treat interpretations of language and history. The “Pulpit Commentary” was produced in the late nineteenth century by renowned leaders of the Anglican Church. Their commentary describes this verse eloquently and passionately. They write, “He is ‘the greatest Person’ and influences the lives of all. He is the Son of God. He is the eternal Word. He is fully human and fully God.” 2 The Pulpit Commentary teaches that it is Christ Jesus Who is our means to the Father. It is Christ Jesus Who “makes the greatest sacrifice for all.” It is Christ Jesus Who “is the Incarnate Word Who lays down His life for our salvation.” Christ Jesus is proof that God is love. His “sacrifice is the greatest act of love by the greatest Person to have ever lived…. His sacrifice is the only sufficient way to reconciliation and it is the only efficient means to accomplish God’s plan for all.”

The drawing is complete. Its glory is overwhelming. The authors of this commentary conclude Christ’s sacrifice is “glorious triumph.” “The greatest sinners sunk in the deepest sin” are touched by Christ. These great sinners hold within them “the deadliest enmity against God and virtue.” These are sinners who are “backed up by the mightiest spiritual opponents of God….” Even so, Jesus says, “…I will draw all men….”

The Pulpit Commentary tells us that Christ’s act of love that draws all men to Himself is complete and whole. Men, including the most vile of men, are drawn “…unto faith in Him, unto his character and likeness, unto his position and society. The drawing will be most complete; hence the glory of the influence – his triumph.”

The commentary given by the Pulpit Commentary’s authors regarding John 12:32 is correct. It preaches all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. It preaches that the Christ’s sacrifice is perfect and in complete harmony with God’s infinite love. He is love. It is God’s will that no man perish. There is a judgment of fire, a refining fire. That fire is restorative not punitive. Christ’s sacrifice purposely draws all men to Himself. God, through Christ’s obedience, provides the Way to be saved and ultimately to be reconciled to Himself. This is God’s promise. His Son, Jesus, Whose Name means “God is salvation” will not lose even one of those given to Him by the Father.

Jesus was speaking to a crowd when God spoke for all to hear. Some heard God’s voice commending Jesus. Others heard thunder. Jesus explains that what the people heard was for their benefit. Then Jesus describes the manner of His death. He tells the people why. “And I, if I should be exalted out of the earth, shall be drawing all to Myself. (CLV)” There were no denominations then. No cries for reformation of the church are known to exist at the time Jesus said these words. There is nothing to contradict. When Jesus was lifted up on the Cross at Calvary He then drew all mankind to Himself. He didn’t draw just a few men who believed they were chosen. He didn’t draw just a few men who believed they had the foresight to choose to believe the Gospel. He “…will be drawing all to…” Himself. All men! This is Impartial Grace.

1 Charles H. Spurgeon. “A Sermon (No. 139).” Delivered on Sabbath Morning, July 5, 1857 Blue Letter Bible Web site. Date accessed: 04/01/2018.

2The Pulpit Commentary: John 12.” By Anglican Church, Study Light website. Publication date unknown. Date accessed: 04/01/2018.