The Glory Has Departed

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Norma Boeckler, Artist-in-Residence

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I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men; For kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty. For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour; Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth. 1 Timothy 2:1-4

Friday, August 4, 2017

John 12:20ff - The Gospel Itself Is Far More Powerful than Man's Theories

Except a kernel of wheat fall into the ground and die,
it remains alone. But in dying it becomes fruitful.
John 12:24

John 12:20 And there were certain Greeks among them that came up to worship at the feast:
21 The same came therefore to Philip, which was of Bethsaida of Galilee, and desired him, saying, Sir, we would see Jesus.
22 Philip cometh and telleth Andrew: and again Andrew and Philip tell Jesus.

As Lenski writes in his commentary, there is a lot of fussing on this setting and motives. These Greeks are non-Jews attracted to Judaism and not yet complete converts to Judaism. The Greek Old Testament was a holy book that attracted the interest of those who found pagan religion stale, weird, empty, or revolting. This Septuagint was indirectly the result of Alexander the Great conquering the world of that time and making it Greek in culture, writing, language, and commerce. Alexander reversed the effect of the Tower of Babel and united peoples fragmented by tribal languages.

The details are what we find in eye-witness accounts, while a second-hand report would drop who said what to whom. The historical setting emphasizes the sermon of Jesus, not the disciples, not the Greek-speaking people. 

23 And Jesus answered them, saying, The hour is come, that the Son of man should be glorified.
24 Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone: but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit.
 The first miracle, changing water into wine,
was followed by cleansing the Temple, John 2.

The tipping point in the Gospel of John is the raising of Lazarus. We can easily see the reasons for the tensions being explosive at this point, because they started early with the Cleansing of the Temple, John 2, which followed a widely viewed and impossible to refute miracle of changing water into wine.
As noted before, Jesus raised Lazarus when the disciples were already anticipating their own deaths from the Jewish opponents. Before, as at the Wedding at Cana, the hour had not yet come. Now the hour has come.
The hour is the atoning death of the Messiah. From Isaiah 53 to this passage to Paul's letters, the central point is the crucifixion of Christ. 
The magicians of modernism want to mis-direct our eyes - the method of all false doctrine - from the Atonement to their universal declaration of forgiveness, grace, absolution without faith - aka Objective Justification.
Jesus is that seed of wheat that dies in the ground, that is, germinating so that the Gospel will be fruitful. Before the death of Christ, the Gospel was the Promise of Atonement, Isaiah 53. The glorification is the death of Jesus in payment for all sin. 
The modernists want to change the Atonement into universal grace, because that is the easy, lazy, and contrary way to make Christianity into a philosophy for Satan's earthly realm. Nothing really matters because everyone is forgiven, they say, ever so slyly. As one thick-headed pastor said about confession of sin and absolution, "You were forgiven before you came here." That means giving someone a powerful opioid to take away the pain but not the disease.
"The death of Christ was the death of the most fertile grain of wheat." Augustine. In the petition of these Greeks Jesus sees the great harvest that will go on and on as the product of the great Grain of Wheat (himself) which fell in the earth.

 Cleansing the Temple took place early in the public ministry of Jesus, so the hostility and fear continued to build among the Jewish and Roman officials as thousands came to Him.

He that loveth his life shall lose it; and he that hateth his life in this world shall keep it unto life eternal.
26 If any man serve me, let him follow me; and where I am, there shall also my servant be: if any man serve me, him will my Father honour.
From the fact of the glorification Jesus draws the lesson for these seekers of salvation. Being forgiven and saved means following Him on the way of the cross. Serving and following go together - not as titles like Bishop Jackson and Deacon Brett - but as the servant serving (text word play, servant as noun and as a verb). That means being where Christ is, which Luther described being among those weak and poor who needed this spiritual medicine. Not to be missed - the Father honors those who serve the Son.

27 Now is my soul troubled; and what shall I say? Father, save me from this hour: but for this cause came I unto this hour.
28 Father, glorify thy name. Then came there a voice from heaven, saying, I have both glorified it, and will glorify it again.

Jesus was deeply troubled, shaking and weeping at the grave of Lazarus. I interpret this as a special emphasis on allowing His friend Lazarus to die in order to complete the details for His own death and resurrection. In this age of grief for a few days, we overlook the powerful and lasting emotions of losing a loved one, so we also pass over Jesus' human reaction to the tomb of Lazarus. The sisters were correct - He could have rushed there to heal His friend. In fact, He could have commanded the healing from afar, as He did with the centurion's son.
If we look for the answers why, Jesus supplies them many times over - the Father commands and the Son works in complete harmony with Him. All the Old Testament Scriptures had to be addressed, because they are the foundation of the Promises fulfilled. If we take away those Promises from the Old Testament, as the rationalists do in their blind glee, the Old Testament makes no sense at all.
29 The people therefore, that stood by, and heard it, said that it thundered: others said, An angel spake to him.
30 Jesus answered and said, This voice came not because of me, but for your sakes.
The popcorn-and-soda crackpots of today, bragging about the numbers who come to be entertained and fed, do not want to hear about bearing the cross. Yet Jesus identified His glorification with the cross. As I understand the reaction. those sincerely seeking the truth were certain an angel spoke (the verb used for Jesus' solemn declarations - laleo). However, the bystanders dismissed it as thunder.
Likewise, when I ask Lutheran pastors if they teach Justification by Faith, they say, like smart-alecs, "Universally" and "Objectively!" - to make fun of the Chief Article they clearly reject. It is just distant thunder to them, old and irrelevant compared to their special sauce with the secret ingredients.

31 Now is the judgment of this world: now shall the prince of this world be cast out.
32 And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me.
33 This he said, signifying what death he should die.
34 The people answered him, We have heard out of the law that Christ abideth for ever: and how sayest thou, The Son of man must be lifted up? who is this Son of man?
John's Gospel is the Doctrinal Gospel because Jesus' sermons and teaching clarify any issues in advance. We can view the Fourth Gospel as a commentary on the Books of Moses, fulfilling everything promised or implied, such as the healing figured raised up to cure the Israelites of the toxic bites of the serpents.
From the bronze serpent to John 3:16 to John 12, it is one coherent and unified message. The Son must be lifted up on the cross to show the cost of sin and the payment made.
The class clowns of Lutherdom - and mainline apostasy - fail to see that the Bible has many synonyms for Jesus' Atonement - redemption, propitiation, ransom, etc. But - justification is not a synonym for the Atonement, but the result of preaching and teaching the Atonement. The Atonement shows our sin and Jesus' payment, and this Gospel Word implants and nourishes faith in the Promises.
Jesus did not directly answer "Who is this Son of Man?" but if He had offered an entire chapter on the topic, the rationalists would have dismissed it as well. When they are done paring away those passages that do not appeal to them, hardly anything is left. The Jefferson Bible is the OED in comparison. Yet we are supposed to gasp and coo when we hear the precious names of Barth, Bonhoeffer, Gerhard Forde, Tillich, Carl Braaten, and a tribe of lesser frauds. After all, Barth is the official theologian of Fuller Seminary, we should never forgive the Commie adulterer for that explosion of Dreck
Yes, Virginia (famous, old newspaper column) - Karl Barth was known as a Communist and as a flagrant adulterer, who - like Bishop Martin Stephan - moved a young woman into his home.

35 Then Jesus said unto them, 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.
36 While ye have light, believe in the light, that ye may be the children of light. These things spake Jesus, and departed, and did hide himself from them.

If we look for a passage that says "Everyone is forgiven and saved, whether they ever believe or not" - disappointment follows for the cultists.
Instead, the entire Gospel emphasizes the importance of faith in Christ, a faith so complete that people followed Him to death, as they did then and still do today.

37 But though he had done so many miracles before them, yet they believed not on him:
38 That the saying of Esaias the prophet might be fulfilled, which he spake, Lord, who hath believed our report? and to whom hath the arm of the Lord been revealed?
39 Therefore they could not believe, because that Esaias said again,
40 He hath blinded their eyes, and hardened their heart; that they should not see with their eyes, nor understand with their heart, and be converted, and I should heal them.
41 These things said Esaias, when he saw his glory, and spake of him.
42 Nevertheless among the chief rulers also many believed on him; but because of the Pharisees they did not confess him, lest they should be put out of the synagogue:
43 For they loved the praise of men more than the praise of God.
This explains the false teachers perfectly. I take doxa in verse 43 as glory, because that contrasts with "I have glorified it and I will glorify it again." Compare as contrast - the glory of God and loving (agape) the glory of men.
44 Jesus cried and said, He that believeth on me, believeth not on me, but on him that sent me.
45 And he that seeth me seeth him that sent me.
46 I am come a light into the world, that whosoever believeth on me should not abide in darkness.
47 And if any man hear my words, and believe not, I judge him not: for I came not to judge the world, but to save the world.
Jesus proclaimed faith in Him, so why should be teach unFaith? 
48 He that rejecteth me, and receiveth not my words [divine utterances - rhema], hath one that judgeth him: the Word that I have spoken, the same shall judge him in the last day.
To this day, the Word of God condemns those who reject, mock, and supplant Justification by Faith. The Gospel makes them bitter and hateful, so they seek refuge in their little essays and favorite false teachers.
49 For I have not spoken of myself; but the Father which sent me, he gave me a commandment, what I should say, and what I should speak.
50 And I know that his commandment is life everlasting: whatsoever I speak therefore, even as the Father said unto me, so I speak [solemnly declare - laleo].