Now this world is judged (John 12.31)


It is often said that World War II was won at the Russian victory at Stalingrad or the western victory at El Alamein and then the beach landings in Normandy. From then on victory was assured, although fierce fighting still lay ahead and even some defeats.
Jesus declares in the context of his death on the cross where he was glorified (cf. 12.23, 28/29) that ‘now is the judgement of this world’ and ‘now the ruler of this world will be cast out’.
The repeated ‘now’ underlines the reality that the last days with the fall of Satan and the judgement of this world have now already started. The battle has been won. Victory is achieved through Jesus’ death for the sin of the world. Now Jesus’ followers can live with confidence in the assured hope of his kingdom. We now have eternal life and Jesus is Lord. Satan and sin may still appear to have tremendous power in this world, but we know that the devil’s days are numbered. Jesus now reigns and even death has lost its sting.
This world
We have seen before that ‘he who hates his life in this world will keep it unto eternal life’ (12.25). So Jesus assures us that the judgement of this world has begun. How sadly true his words are! As this world rejects and opposes Jesus and his followers, so sin prevails with its terrible consequences. Pride and violence lead to what we see all around us today – the fearful sufferings of war, water shortages, ecological tragedies, man-made natural disasters, broken relationships, wide-spread child abuse, marital breakdown, loneliness, alcohol and drug abuse. . . . The horrifying list of this world’s sufferings typifies the judgement of this world.

So we are not surprised to find that Satan is still called ‘ruler’ of this world. The Greek word for ‘ruler’ has the same root that we find in the English ‘mon-arch‘ or ‘olig-arch‘, which signifies authority. It is Satan who has authority in this world, but his authority is always subject to the King of kings, Jesus himself. We can observe this in the Book of Job where Satan can only afflict and tempt Job with the permission of God. But as we look out onto this world around us, we can only shudder at the authoritative power of Satan and sin. However, we need at the same time to recollect the greater truth that despite his apparent authority Satan will be cast out. Literally the word used in 12.31 means ‘throw out’. It is a violent word which was used in those days of throwing smelly rubbish out as far as possible from one’s house. Inoffensive rubbish was dropped delicately from the window, but for evil-smelling stuff one’s muscles were flexed to throw it as far away as possible. This verb is used when Jesus exhorts us to ask God to ‘send out’ (literally ‘throw out’) labourers into his harvest fields (e.g. Luke 10.2). Just as Satan is unwilling to lose power in this world, so also Christians are very hesitant to be sent out for Jesus’ sake into the world’s harvest fields. In both cases Jesus uses the rather violent word ‘throw out’.
The end times have begun. Satan is defeated. This world’s judgement is already here. We have eternal life. In his death for us Jesus is already glorified. Let us thank God for the immense privilege of being sent out into his harvest fields so that Jesus may indeed be honoured as he deserves.
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