31 Now is the judgment of this world; now will the ruler of this world be cast out. 32 And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.” 33 He said this to show by what kind of death he was going to die. – John 12:31-33
In our modern times we have heard of the vision of the humanists and globalists for a new world order. There are competing visions among them of what this new world order would look like. In their minds it is a new utopian world order, a world that is much better than the old world with more justice, equality, and progress that mankind has never been able to achieve being so divided. It’s a vision of a unified man, man perfectly synchronized with machine to achieve heights of advancement and productivity that could not have been achieved without this new world order.
But what they dream of as a new world order is actually an old world order. It is not anything new. It is simply Babel all over again. They are actually from the old world. It is something very old and archaic, a proven failure on many historical occasions. And that is because the fundamental foundation of the humanist’s morality is not a morality that leads to progress, advancement, or success. The morality of the progressives is not progress. It is regression back to the old world. There is nothing new about men seeking to be as gods and being their own determiner.
Correspondingly, the moral order that the progressives call “old fashioned,” or “fundamental,” or “conservative,” is actually the future of this world, so long as those things are in line with biblical standards. That is to say, as Christians, we are the new world order. We are new creations. And by “new” we mean new not strictly in terms of a progressive timeline, but in terms of being something of a different kind than before. Only the biblical moral structure is a foundation for progress, advancement, and growth.
I will come back to what I mean by the old and new world in a moment, but first a word about the order of things. In order to think clearly about the structural order of the world that these verses teach us about, we need to understand the structural order of these verses.
The Correspondence Structure
In verse 31-32 there is a structural correspondence with the phrases in these verses. There are four phrases in these two verses. The first corresponds to the last, and the two in the middle correspond to one another. The first phrase “now is the judgment of this world” corresponds with the last phrase, “will draw all people to myself.” The second phrase, “now will the ruler of this world be cast out,” corresponds with the third phrase, “when I am lifted up from the earth.” If that confused you, it is to say that the death of Jesus was the judgment of the world, but also the drawing of the world to salvation. His death was the casting out of the ruler Satan, and also His lifting up to rule. As the world is judged in the death of Christ, it is also saved. As Satan is cast out in the death of Christ, Jesus is raised up. The death of Jesus was a transition from the old world to the new world. The death of Jesus was a transition of power – one cast out, another lifted up. The death of Jesus truly changed the world.
“This World” v. 31, = old world
So again, what do I mean by “old world” and “new world?” In verse 31 Jesus says, “Now is the judgment of ‘this’ world; now will the ruler of ‘this’ world be cast out.” First of all we should notice that Jesus gives us time stamps for when this judgment and casting out takes place. He says “now.” What I believe the “now” is that He is talking about is His “hour” that is now upon Him. Jesus is saying that His time of suffering is also the time that “this” world will be judged and the ruler of “this” world will be cast out. So if the casting out of the ruler of “this” world took place during the hour of Christ’s suffering and being glorified, what is “this” world? Well, it is not the trading of one planet for another. It is a new world order. It is a new rule that comes upon the world. We have to know that the world was a very different place before the death and resurrection of Jesus. It was a pagan world with varying degrees of Jewish influence at different points in time. It was a world without the ratified New Covenant. It was a world full of animal sacrifice. It was a world full of idolatry. It was a world with much demon manifestation. It was a world without Christian institutions as we know them today such as churches, schools, missionary agencies, mercy ministries, media arms, and political influence. It was a world without the completed canon of Scripture. It was a world in which Jesus had not died and risen from the dead yet. It was a world that can be difficult to grasp. The death of Jesus judged that world and threw out its ruler. Now I obviously take this ruler to be Satan, and I take his being cast out, a casting out not from the world, but from his position of rule. Contrary to some theologies, Satan is not king of the earth. Satan does not rule here anymore. Jesus is king, and Jesus said after His resurrection that all authority in Heaven and on Earth has been given to Him.
The Foundation of the New World Order (v. 33)
In order to understand the new world rule that Jesus instituted we have to understand the kind of death that He died. Verse 33 explains what Jesus said and lays the foundation for it: “He said this to show by what kind of death he was going to die.” The new world order is based upon the type of death Jesus died. So to understand the world, we have to understand the death of Jesus. That is what we will look to for the remaining time.
His death was a “lifting up”
The death of Jesus is described as a “lifting up.” The primary thought here is his being lifted up on the Roman cross. He was nailed to the cross and then lifted up in the air for all to see His dying. This of course refers to the mode of His death, and while this is the primary thought here, you can’t help but also think of His continual ascendance. He was lifted up on the cross, lifted up out of the grave, and lifted up to the throne in Heaven.
Jesus’ being “lifted up” is significant beyond just the explanation of the mode of His death on a cross. This phrase should also bring back to mind what we saw in John 3:14 where Jesus said “…as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in him may have eternal life.” It is a lifting up for all to see, a lifting up to draw all eyes unto. It is a death you have to see. Psalm 121, “I lift up my eyes to the hills. From where does my help come from? My help comes from the LORD, who made heaven and earth.” Jesus was lifted up on a hill because salvation comes from somewhere where you have to look up, and look up from a hill. Salvation comes from above. This is one reason God made hills: so that Jesus could be lifted up on one and we could look up it to salvation. Salvation does not come from looking down at anything or anyone on earth. It does not come from looking inward to ourselves. It comes only from looking up off of ourselves, off of the things and people of this world, and looking to Christ lifted up on the cross at Calvary.
It is also interesting to note that Ephesians 2 calls Satan the “prince of the power of the air.” On the cross, Jesus was lifted up into the air. Athanasius in his book On the Incarnation makes the case that this is significant because Jesus had to be lifted up in the air to redeem the air and defeat the prince of the power of the air.
His Death, a Sacrificial Atonement
Also the death of Jesus was a death of sacrificial atonement that is extremely important to understanding the new order of things.. “That’s true,” you may say, “but where do you get that from the present text?” Numbers and symbolism are very important to understanding and interpreting the Bible. Obviously there are people who can go off into crazy land with misunderstanding numbers and symbolism. But that doesn’t negate the fact that there are awesome and incredible things revealed in the Bible when we understand them properly. So how was His death a sacrificial atonement? Jesus said that He would be lifted up, indicating He would die a death on a Roman cross. Now a Roman cross has four extremities or four “corners,” if you will. In the Old Covenant the altar had four corners upon which sacrifices for atonement would be made. So the cross of Christ, was, in one sense, the altar of sacrifice. It is the altar of the New Covenant where one, and one sacrifice only, was finally made for atonement of sins, lifted up to God.
Furthermore, the four corners of the cross, when it was lifted up above the earth, cast a new structure, shape, and pattern back down on the earth. In the Bible the earth is described as having four corners. That is not intended to be taken literally, but symbolically. When the four corners of the cross were lifted up it laid a new structure on the earth. It defined the four corners of the earth by new parameters. It defines it by the shape of the cross, that dripped blood back down onto the earth. The earth was symbolically given a new shape: the shape of the cross. Everything is defined and moved along by the death and resurrection of Christ.
The sacrificial-sin-atoning death of Christ set in motion the new world order. For now we live in a world, where, for the first time, animal sacrifices are no longer necessary. Indeed where they must not be made. There is no more sacrificial system to keep up with. The sacrificial atoning death of Christ ushered in reconciliation and peace with God. The sacrificial atoning death of Christ spilled blood that for the first and last time was and is potent and pure enough to atone for all our sins. It is a blood that refreshed the land and purifies the sinful man. And when the gospel has and goes to a land where the people sacrifice their children to their gods, it puts a stop to that as well, for it says no more sacrifice is accepted, only Christ.
His Death was an Effectual Death: “will draw…”
His death was and is also an effectual death. Jesus says, “And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.” He will draw them. This is important to the new world order of Christ, because in order to ensure the stability of this new rule of Christ, His death has to be a guarantee. It has to be effectual. It has to accomplish that which it sets out to do. And it does. The death of Christ effects it’s ends. All the peoples of the earth are drawn to Christ by His death. This is what we see in Isaiah chapter 2, that in the latter days the nations shall flow up to the mountain of God. The prophetic image shows us a divine effectual drawing up to Christ. In nature water does not flow up a mountain. It flows down a mountain. But through the death of Christ, the nations are drawn up the mountain to Christ. It is a divine, supernatural work of the Spirit made effective by the lifting up of Christ on the mount. And as we see in Isaiah 2 and here in John 12, the “all men” that are drawn to Christ, is not a universal salvation, or a prevenient grace of sorts, it conveys the idea that all types of men are drawn to Christ. This flows nicely with the context wherein Jesus has just had this conversation started by the fact that there are Greeks now wishing to see Jesus. They too, the Gentiles will be drawn to Christ.
This effectual drawing shows us that the world has a new center of power. The gospel of Christ is the most powerful thing in this world. It is more powerful than sin, more powerful than the devil, and more powerful than the flesh. Christ is the new center of power in the world. He is the central structure and power of the world. He holds the world together by the word of his power and draws all men to Himself. It may seem at times like there are nations, kingdoms, or evils more powerful and triumphing in the world. But they will soon fall and be forgotten. For the world flows from and toward Christ. History moves toward Jesus Christ. His death accomplished it.
In Revelation chapter 11, the seventh angel blew his trumpet and there were loud voices in heaven saying, what I believe was a statement made in the first century, a statement that began back then, when they said, “The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ, and he shall reign forever and ever.” This is Christ’s Kingdom now. The cross is an instituting of a new king and a new rule. At the cross, God deposed the ruler of the old world and set up His Son as rightful ruler and king.
When we sin we are acting like we live in a world where Christ is not the center. When we sin we are rejecting Christ as center and putting ourselves at the center. This is a false view of the world. When we sin we are defying the way of the world we live in (not a smart move). If we continue in sin and defiance against this world order, our end will be that of the ruler of the old world. We will be cast out into outer darkness, thrown off our imaginary thrones into eternal torment.
But the good news is that we also live in a world where atonement for sin has been made. We live in a world where God became man and died for sin. We live in a world where the blood of Jesus has been shed. We live in a world where the Lamb of God was slain for sinners, such as us. This means that we live in a world where our sin can be forgiven. Indeed, we live in a world where sin is forgiven. We live in world where rebel sinners are made God’s friends and become part of His rule, His new world order.
So where we are today, we stand in the shadow of the cross. The cross still reaches down through history to the present day and stands over us in both judgment and salvation. It tells us we are the sinners. It tells us we deserve the eternal wages of death for our sin. But it also tells us that a dying Savior held out His hands to save. It tell us we can be forgiven and made new. The only question is, what will you do?