Having heard the voice of the Father from heaven, the crowd gathered around Jesus during the last week of His earthly ministry then learned from our Savior that the voice was for their benefit. To hear from God audibly is to bear witness to an epochal advancement in His plan of salvation. Just as the Lord spoke from heaven when Israel was constituted as a nation and given the law of Moses (Ex. 19:1–20:21; Heb. 12:18–21), God spoke during the week of Christ’s passion, which paid for the sin of His people fully and finally.
In today’s passage, Jesus elaborates on His passion and what it accomplished. Speaking only days before His death, He says, “Now is the judgment of this world; now will the ruler of this world be cast out” (John 12:31). Here Jesus is speaking of the world in a negative sense, talking about it as the fallen created order that is set in opposition to God. His death is a judgment on the world because it marks the point at which He is decisively rejected by sinners. There is no greater way to reject someone than to kill him, and the world’s conspiring to kill Jesus shows how much the world hates Jesus and thus the God who sent Him. The world’s killing Jesus is a judgment on them because it shows most clearly how people have loved darkness and not the light (3:19). Though Christ came to save the world and not to condemn the world, condemnation is the inevitable result for all who reject Him (vv. 16–18). That the world puts Jesus to death shows that the fallen order is condemned already; that wicked act confirms the judgment that is already on its head.
Our Lord’s death is also the point at which “the ruler of this world” is cast out (John 12:31). Christ refers here to Satan, who is the head of the fallen world’s rebellion against its Creator (see, for example, Matt. 4:8–9), so He is talking about the defeat of the devil on the cross (see Col. 2:15). It might seem strange that Jesus considers the crucifixion the point at which the devil is defeated, for after all, Jesus dies at Calvary, and the victor in a battle is not normally the one who dies. But as we know, Jesus does not stay dead. At the cross, Satan throws everything he has at our Savior, and it is not enough. Though Jesus dies, He rises again, proving that the devil has no power over Him. Passing through death, Jesus is resurrected, defeating death and Satan.
In judging the world and defeating Satan, however, Jesus actually draws “all people” to Himself (John 12:32). All who trust in Christ alone pass through death with Him and are raised to eternal life.