April 5: A Final Appeal (John 12:44-50)
We hope that you will find this guide helpful as you worship alone or together with others.
Call to Worship
We come now to worship the God who created the heavens and the earth. He is worthy of worship because he created all things. He said, "Let there be lights in the heavens" (Gen 1:14) and it was so. The sun, moon and stars came forth at his bidding.
And Paul points out that the God who created light, has shone spiritual light into our hearts. "For God, who said, 'Let light shine out of darkness,' has shined in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ" (2 Corinthians 4:6).
We worship him not only for his creative power, but also for his redeeming goodness.
[For more resources on Palm Sunday and Holy Week, see the blog post Preparing for Easter 2020: A Guide for Holy Week]
Father, you are the only uncreated one, who created all things. You spoke light into darkness, and you have brought to us the light of the knowledge of your glory in the person of Jesus Christ. We give thanks to you for your great power and your great goodness.
A Mighty Fortress
Dear Refuge of My Wear Soul
All to Us
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O great God, you are exalted in your glory above all things. Righteousness and justice are the foundation of your throne. Your lightnings light up the word; the earth sees and trembles. The mountains melt like wax before you, Lord of all the earth. The heavens proclaim your righteousness and all the people see your glory. You are most high over all the earth, exalted far above all gods. We rejoice in you, Lord, and give thanks to your holy name (Psalm 97:1-6, 9, 12).
But while you are all righteousness, we are all wickedness, corrupt in every part of our being. “I was brought forth in iniquity and in sin did my mother conceive me” (Psalm 51:5). We confess that even in our good works, our best works, we are stained with selfish-ambition and would rather have the glory that comes from man than the glory that comes from God. Our transgressions have come in many colors, anger and resentment, lusts and impurities, laziness and indifference to spiritual things.
We see these sins and we are sorry. Yet at the same time we appeal to you on account of the blood of Jesus. His blood is the fountain opened to cleanse us from sin and uncleanness (Zechariah 13:1). He said that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins (Matthew 9:6). He said, “Whoever comes to me, I will never cast out” (John 6:37). He said that he came to save the world. Save us now for Christ’s sake. “Create in me a clean heart of God and renew a right spirit within me” (Psalm 51:10). Thank you for liberating joy of a conscience cleansed by his unfailing forgiveness. There is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.
You tell us to let our requests be made known to you, believing that you hear our prayers, and that you do not withhold but rather delight in answering. And so we ask.
Father would you please bless the people of Trinity Bible Church. Please make them fruitful in good works and prepare them for the day they see Christ. Strengthen and give wisdom to their pastor Joe Henson to lead them effectively during these days apart.
We ask that you would loosen Islam’s grip over the Uyghur of China. Bring them the light of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Use your laborers who are already among them such as Steve and Kristi to sow the seeds of the gospel, and would you bring fruit from those labors thirty, sixty and a hundred-fold.
We ask that you bring an end to this global viral outbreak. We are saddened and sobered by our frailty and mortality. May it teach us wisdom, may it lead sinners to you, may your kingdom expand and grow. Do your good work in the midst of this great crisis. But we cannot help but ask you to heal the sick and end the spread of this disease. Your will be done.
As we look forward to celebrating the resurrection of Jesus on Easter, we feel acutely the pain of being apart from your people and ask that you would bring us together soon. At the same time, we ask that these days apart would be days of growing in faith, progressing in prayer, practicing love and showing all patience.
[Consider who you might pray for specifically, provision for someone in our church, salvation for someone in your neighborhood, healing for someone in your family, discernment for a friend making a significant decision, etc.]
And finally, we ask that you would give us ears to hear as we listen to the preaching of your word. We give thanks for Tom and his study, your Spirit’s work in and through him, and we want to be eager hearers and obedient doers of your word. So give us attentive hearts.
All these things we bring to you in the name of Jesus, whose blood cleanses us and bring us into your presence. Amen.
Read the Bible
John 12:44–50,  And Jesus cried out and said, “Whoever believes in me, believes not in me but in him who sent me.  And whoever sees me sees him who sent me.  I have come into the world as light, so that whoever believes in me may not remain in darkness.  If anyone hears my words and does not keep them, I do not judge him; for I did not come to judge the world but to save the world.  The one who rejects me and does not receive my words has a judge; the word that I have spoken will judge him on the last day.  For I have not spoken on my own authority, but the Father who sent me has himself given me a commandment—what to say and what to speak.  And I know that his commandment is eternal life. What I say, therefore, I say as the Father has told me.”
Watch the Sermon
Summary: This passage contains the last words of Jesus’ public ministry before he prepares for his last supper with his disciples and then his crucifixion. It can be seen as a summation of his entire ministry even though it is only at the midpoint of the gospel. It is a summation because the themes in this passage run all the way through the gospel of John. As Jesus began his ministry, he proclaimed that he was one with the Father and that he was the light that had come into the world to bring salvation to God’s people. Yet the nation to which he came rejected his claims and purposes. While this was prophesied by Isaiah hundreds of years before, John does not let their rejection be the last word. In his final appeal to the people, Jesus raises his voice to call the people to believe. Jesus with a heart full of compassion declares his identity, reminds them of his purpose, and offers a word of hope.
Father, we give thanks for your word. It is like a mirror that reveals our inmost selves, like a sword that pierces in conviction, and yet like a rain that refreshes and produces fruit. Through your word we have come to know your Son and we give thanks for the word that we have heard from the gospel of John. May we be those who believe in the Son and are saved by him unto eternal life. Amen.
Review and Apply
Must a person believe in the Trinity to be saved? Why or why not?
What does Jesus mean that he has come as the light so that whoever believes in him will not remain in darkness?
Why does Jesus repeat that he was sent by God? What implications does this have for the church?
What is the evidence of genuine faith in v. 47? How do you see this in your life?
How do we understand Jesus saying, "I did not come to judge the world but to save the world?" See John 3:17.
What is the commandment that is eternal life? How have you obeyed this command?