The Lord’s Death in Relation to the World
As we consider further the Lord’s explanation of His death in John 12:23-33, we think of His statement in verse 31, “Now is the judgment of this world.”
Judgment of an Evil World
The Lord’s death on the cross was the final judgment upon an evil world, which because of sin is at enmity towards God. For over three years God’s Son moved in public service, showing nothing other than love, care, kindness, and compassion toward needful humanity, healing and feeding multitudes, casting out demons, raising the dead. He clearly did nothing that warranted an evil response, but at the end of His gracious ministry, evil men put Him upon a cross. In doing so, a line was crossed, a definitive sentence has been passed on this evil, Christ-rejecting world.
The World’s Choice
On the day of Christ’s death, Pilate offered the people a choice, to release Christ or Barabbas the murderer, and “they cried out all at once, saying, ‘Away with this, and release to us Barabbas’” (Luke 23:18). The world made an irreversible choice, “Away with Him, crucify Him” (John 19:15), and it has been judged finally on that basis. The whole world was represented at Calvary, and is thus implicated in the death of God’s Son (see Acts 4:27). Over the cross, His accusation, “Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews,” was written in Hebrew, Greek, and Latin. The Hebrew writing implicates the Jew, with all their religion and tradition, yet demanding the death of a sinless Man. The accusation in Greek implicates the Gentiles, with all their culture and human philosophy, “the princes of this world” (2 Cor 2:8) were represented at Calvary. The writing in Latin implicates the political superpower of the day; the Romans, with all their supposed justice, orchestrated the crucifixion of Christ. They were all prepared to watch a perfect and sinless Man be crucified; little wonder Calvary is the final judgment of this world.
The Believer’s Deliverance from the World
What the Lord states, “Now is the judgment of this world,” is something every believer must live in the good of. If we recognize that this world has been finally judged, then we will not be living for the things of a condemned world. Galatians 1:4 indicates that the will of God in saving us, and the motive for Christ in giving Himself for our sins, was “that He might deliver us from this present evil world, according to the will of God and our Father.” Our salvation was to deliver us from this evil Christ-rejecting world, and we must see this world the way God sees it, as finally judged, and thus recognize that there is absolutely nothing in such a corrupt world for any child of God.
The Believer Crucified to the World
“God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, whereby the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world” (Gal 6:14). This would be the personal application by the apostle of what the Lord says regarding the judgment of this world. The cross of Christ must be the end of the world for every believer, the final judgment of this world. There are many different ways the world makes its appeals to us, but we must all look to the cross of Christ, and see it all judged there, and say with Paul, “I am crucified unto the world.”
Hating our Life in this World
The Lord has just said in John 12:25, “He that loveth his life shall lose it.” For unbelievers, there is much unhappiness because of sin and its consequences in their lives. Yet many would state how much they love their life in this world; their entertainment, commerce, careers, leisure, sport, hobbies, etc. In 2 Timothy 3:2-4, last days are characterized by men who are “lovers of their own selves,” and “lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God.” In John 3:19, the Lord says that “men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.” Ungodly men love the darkness of their lives in this world; thus “He that loveth his life shall lose it,” all their pleasures and evil deeds will soon be eternally lost.
The Lord continues, “and he that hateth his life in this world shall keep it unto life eternal.” It may seem strange to talk of hating one’s life, but the statement is qualified: “he that hateth his life in this world shall keep it unto life eternal.” As believers, we must hate our life in this world, because we are in a world that still hates Christ and is at enmity against God. As we recognize the judgment of this world, we will hate our life associated with this world, and instead we must live in the enjoyment of “life eternal,” enjoying relationship with divine Persons (John 17:3).
Apostolic Commands Regarding the World
As we recognize the judgment of this world, we will fully agree with the consistent exhortations of the apostles. Paul says, “be not conformed to this world, but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind” (Rom 12:2). John writes “Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him” (1 John 2:15). Peter reminds us we have “escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust” (2 Peter 1:4). James is even more dogmatic, “know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? Whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God” (James 4:4).
If we as believers in the Lord Jesus want to honor God in our Christian lives, we must learn that this world, that crucified His sinless Son, was irreversibly judged at the place called Calvary.