The chiefest ruler was a Sadducee (Acts 5:17), so the “chief rulers” (John 12:42) probably were too. “Many” suddenly believed because the Lord just raised Lazarus from the dead, breaking the back of this religious system that said “that there is no resurrection” (Mt.22:23).
But even though these believers were “rulers,” they didn’t confess Him because they feared the Sadducees. Does that give you any idea of the power of religious intimidation? Rulers have always feared religious leaders, as when Henry IV, the king of France waited outside in the snow three days before Pope Gregory VII forgave him. If these Saducees hadn’t kept silent, it might have brought an end to the Sadducee heresy, and if we don’t keep silent about the grace message, it might bring an end to a lot of other heresies.
The fear of man brought them a snare (Pr.29:25), but knowing the Word (Isa.66:5) would have helped them. As it was, if they never confessed Christ, they paid the ultimate price (Mt.10:32,33). No wonder the “fearful” will end up in the lake of fire (Rev.21:8). If leaders seek the praise of men, they’ll never find the truth (John 5:44).
In reminding them that the Father sent Him (John 12:44), He was reminding them who they should really fear! In reminding them that if they saw Him they’d seen the Father (v.45), He was reminding them that He was the image of the Father (Col. 1:13-15; Heb. 1:3), something He’d told them before (John 1:18). He also repeated Himself in Verse 46 (cf.John 8:12). Why so much repeating? He was a prophet like unto Moses (Deut.18:15), and in his last public address, Moses preached the gospel (Deut.30:15-19), and this was Christ’s last public address, so He did too.
As far as prophecy goes, the Lord “came into the world” to save Israel (Mt.1:21) but to save Israel, He had to save the world (Jo.12:47). The “treasure” in Matthew 13:44 was Israel (Ex. 19:6), the field was the world (Mt.13:38), and the Lord was the man who sold all (gave His life), but to buy Israel He had to buy the world. In order to become a Jew to die for Jews, He had to become a man to die for men. So He came “to save the world” (John 12:47).
He didn’t come to judge men (12:47) or accuse them (5:45). But if He didn’t come to judge men, why do we read that God committed all judgment to Him (5:22)? He was making a dispensational statement. He didn’t come to judge the world in His first coming, but He will in His Second Coming (Rev.19:11).
Notice the Lord will judge men “in the last day (John 11:48). There will be a last day. That doesn’t mean that everything will cease to exist, for God existed (Ps.90:2) before “the first day” (Gen.1:5), and so things can exist after the last day. “The last day” is associated with resurrection (John 6:40,44,54; 7:37; 11:24). Believers will be rewarded on their last day day, and unbelievers will be judged on their resurrection day (Rev.20:11,12).
What “word” did the Lord speak that judged men (John 12:48)? Well, He goes on to say “for I have not spoken of Myself” (v.49). Since He spoke about Himself plenty, He was saying the words He spoke were wordswhich the Father “commanded” He speak (v.49), and that this commandment gave “life everlasting” (v.50). He was talking about the words of the gospel, and the words of the gospel that gave eternal life in the kingdom program were “Jesus is the Christ” (John 6:67-69).
But the gospel that must be obeyed in this dispensation isn’t “Jesus is the Christ,” it is “Christ died for our sins” (ICor.15:1-4). That’s why Paul says that God will judge the secrets of men according to his gospel. That’s the word that men will be judged by in this dispensation.
Believing the gospel is a commandment to be obeyed (IJo.3:23). This is an interdispensational truth, for they had to be obedient to the faith under the kingdom program (Acts 6:7) as well as under the grace program (Romans 1:5). If the gospel is not obeyed, men will be judged (IIThessalonians 1:8).