What Christ’s Death Accomplished


“Now is the judgment of this world; now will the ruler of this world be cast out. And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.” (John 12:31-32)

Read: John 12:20-36

What did Jesus accomplish on the cross? You can spend your whole life contemplating this question and never plumb the depths of it. Christ is the cornerstone, it is his work on the cross that is the linchpin of redemptive history, and the saints will be singing his praises for all eternity for what he accomplished there on that hill outside Jerusalem (Rev 5:9-10, 22:3). The full measure of the wondrous things he’s done we can scarcely comprehend, but Jesus reveals to us a portion of that wonder in John’s gospel.

In John 12:20-21, a group of Greeks come up to Philip and make a request to see Jesus. Why they want to see Jesus we’re not told, but when Philip and Andrew tell Jesus about this request it causes him to declare: “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified” (v. 23). The fact that now even Gentiles are starting to inquire about him has signaled to Christ that it is now time for him to finish his earthly mission and accomplish the will of his Father, so that “everyone who looks on the Son and believes in him should have eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day” (6:40).

As Christ continues to teach the crowd and the disciples about this hour—which extends from his suffering and death on the cross to his ascension—he reveals that it will produce three events: The judgment of the world, the casting out of the ‘ruler’ of this world, and the drawing of all people to himself.

First, this hour will bring about the judgment of the world. While Christ was on earth, perfectly fulfilling the Father’s plan, the world thought that it was judging him. “Who is Jesus? How can he do the things he does? Is he really the Messiah? Who is his Father?” (2:18; 6:30, 42; 7:3, 15, 25-27, 40-43; etc.). Jesus, however, reveals that when he completes his redemptive work, he will instead judge the world.

While the final judgment is still in the future, it was the completion of his earthly mission that determined the outcome of the final judgment. At the moment a person puts their full trust in the work of Christ—that he lived the sinless life they couldn’t, that he died covered in their sins and absorbing fully the wrath of God against them, that he was buried, that he rose from death in victory, and that he ascended into heaven where he now sits at the right hand of God interceding specifically for them—they are given Christ’s righteousness and are justified, which means that they are declared fully righteous before God. Why? Because their record of debt was nailed to the cross (Col 2:13-15). If, however, a person never puts their faith in the only name that can save (Acts 4:12), they remain covered in the guilt of their sins, and on the last day they will be declared guilty and cast into the lake of fire where their sins will be paid for all eternity (Rev 20:15).

Secondly, this hour brings with it the defeat of the ruler of this broken and sinful world. Who does the world, that loves darkness and rejects the God of light (John 3:19), follow? Though they should be subject to God, they follow their father the devil (John 8:44). Though Satan no doubt thought he had convinced Judas to betray Christ and that the God of life was slain on the cross (John 13:2), in reality Satan sealed his own doom. For three days later, Christ rose from the dead in victory over Satan, sin, and death. In this hour the power of sin and death over believers was undone, and thus we were delivered from the one who wields these two weapons (Heb 2:14-15). Though Satan is still a fearsome foe against whom we must be on guard (Eph 4:17; 1 Pet 5:8), he is a defeated enemy whose days are numbered. This truth should give us great hope!

Though Satan is still a fearsome foe against whom we must be on guard (Eph 4:17; 1 Pet 5:8), he is a defeated enemy whose days are numbered.

Finally, Christ tells us that through this hour he will draw all people to himself. As it is this very hour that will judge the world, with some going to eternal life and others to eternal death, the ‘all people’ cannot refer to every single human, but must refer to his sheep who he, as the Good Shepherd, will gather into his one fold (10:14-16). And there is a dual “lifting up” referenced here: As Christ was physically lifted up off the earth on the cross, all those who look on him hanging there for them are saved and drawn to the Father. Similarly, at the ascension, Christ was literally lifted up out of the world and days later sent the Holy Spirit to dwell within his disciples to empower them to fulfill Christ’s Great Commission (Matt 28:19-20). And through the spread of Christ’s gospel, his sheep hear his voice, follow him, and are led to life eternal (John 10:7-16).

These are but three things that this hour has brought, and yet they are so magnificent that even if they were the only three things, we could glory in our great Savior for all eternity.

Discuss and Pray Together: Reflect on the cross and how each one of the above three things that were accomplished there should impact your lives. For example, how does knowing that Satan was defeated at the cross help a believer deny temptations in their life? Finish by praying for one another and give praise to the Father for the wondrous work of his Son.

Related Articles