Would you have missed Jesus? It's not that difficult to see why the Pharisees would have missed him because he came as a humble servant. Here in John 12, we see the humble king riding on the foal of a donkey, but one day will come on a war horse like the world has never seen. What kind of King are you looking for?
No Mean Love
The Sovereignty of God in the Sabotage of Judas
When Jesus Took Up the Towel and Loved us to the Uttermost
Israel and You: A Good Example or a Horrible Warning
For This Purpose He Came: Unveiling God's Glory in His Humiliation
John: Where We've Been and Our Intention Moving Forward
A Perfect Message if you "Wish to see Jesus"
King Jesus: Why the Leaders Missed Him, Why You Must Not
Albert: A Living Picture of Lazarus a Man Once Dead
Lazarus: A Dead Man Who Becomes a Picture of Life
The Pivot Point That Is Personal Belief and The Rightness of Radical Response
What Should and Shouldn't Matter To You
Jesus versus the Ultimate Predator
The Reason for Everything and How We are to Respond to It
The Identity of the Good Shepherd and the Attributes of His Sheep
The Good Shepherd: What He is Doing, Why He is Doing It, and How it's Going to Get Done
A Blind Man You'd Better See Yourself In
Sons, Slaves and Freedom Indeed
Hey, before I dive in on John, I get to take a second. Last week, at Connecting Point class, there was a guy, and it was great. He came up to me and said, "Hey, how do I give here?" We don't often talk about that. I forget about it often that you haven't been here for 10 or 12 years like the rest of us. We have always given in a way that we felt like really allows folks who are part of our body to do it without compulsion.
Obviously, everything we do, it takes resources, and a number of us count it a great privilege to invest deeply here. That's how this building got here. We've never done a building campaign. We've never done fundraising dinners and pyramids of so many people need to give this way and so many people need to give this way.
We've tried to create a compelling vision, and we believe God has already resourced us with what we need to do the things he needs us to do in this community, so it's a matter of growing our hearts to where we release what is his to what we believe he wants us to do, and folks have been doing that all along these last 12 years in terms of getting a property for us, in terms of bringing along the facilities that are now on this property that we can serve in, and even in terms of just keeping the mission going.
I want to just kind of tell you where we are. It's been four of five months since we've given you any kind of update, so we just want to do that right now because information is what helps people prayerfully figure out what to do next. Just behind me, I'm going to roll up a little video. You might remember that little tilt-wall building over there we put up in 2007. In 2007 we moved in for the very first time in this building over there. That's what it looked like over there. That was the very first Sunday we were in that other building.
It doesn't look like that anymore. It now looks like this. A lot of work is being done to make room for lots of children whom we can love and get them out of that tower, at least the youngest ones, and put them over there and really minister to them and families all throughout the week. That building will be used all throughout the week, by the way. There's already a great conversation going on amongst the staff about who's going to use it in what way throughout the week in order to serve folks. It's not just a Sunday building, and neither is this. We'll use it all the time.
Basically, here's the deal. In an amazing way, given the way that we've gone about this from the very beginning by just sharing information, we are in the very homestretch of developing the physical plant here. We'll always be growing the church here. That's you and me. We're going to have other ways to continue to unleash our resources throughout the world. You know, Fort Worth is going to take some resources that we're going to invest in together, but right here on our campus, we're down to where we need just $1.1 million.
That is a significant decrease from the last time five months ago we shared with you. It's almost half. People have been continuing to give, so I just want to share with you this. If you have been one of those folks who, every week, in addition to just normally supporting the work of the ministry, have been giving to make that a reality based on how you could carve back things each month (there's a number of you), way to go! I pray that God resupplies you. I pray God gives you more because I want faithful servants to have more opportunity.
Biblically, when you look, you know, what you see in the Scripture is that the reward for faithful services is the opportunity for more service. I believe the same is true with giving, that the more faithful you show yourself… At least in my economy, all I do is give guys on my team more opportunity, so I pray that God resupplies those of you who are living wisely and have been stewarding that for what we believe is going to advance God's purposes, fame, and raise up disciples, so way to go! Way to go!
I will tell those of you who have not yet really jumped in on this that this is your last chance. You're kind of closing the canon on this opportunity to specifically finish what's happening over there in that building, so now is the time, right now. Let's finish this thing. Everything we've done we've done it because of a cash basis, and we believe that God is going to unlock some more resources so we can keep working and finishing and move kids in there at the very end of this year or the beginning of next year. That's the plan.
If you haven't been a part, if you're not going to walk by that and know that part of you is invested there, now is your chance. Now is your chance. I love hearing stories of life change that comes from here because I'm investing here, and I know that it's credited to my account. Then I want to say this to some of you guys. Some of y'all like to finish. Some of you are really well resourced, and you kind of hold back because you don't want to just throw your money someplace, but you like to finish. Well, this is your chance. This is your chance to finish.
Let's finish this thing, so we can continue to ask God, "What do you want us to do?" There it is. Okay? We have about $1.1 million left to get this thing all behind us. Let me say this. If you're a guest, I'm not talking to you. We're doing this for you and your children. Your children matter to us, so that's why we've been going all along.
I just want to say this. Also, if you're a guest, you need to know something. We did not build this to be a place that you could come and really like and go, "Wow! This is cool. I really like this. I think I'll come and consume here again." This is not a Carnival cruise ship that we've built for you. This is a battleship where we're trying to raise up effective warriors for Christ and train them that you might use this incredible resource to accomplish God's mission. Information is our friend, sharing that information. Let me pray for you.
Father, first of all, thank you. Thank you for the way you have led many of us to steward our lives and resources here and that we see you're using it to create a sense of awe. You're adding to our number day by day those who are being saved. You have people here who are giving attention to the apostles teaching, to the breaking of bread, to fellowship and to prayer, to ministry, to loving one another, to coming alongside hundreds of single families in this community and being up here all day yesterday with creativity and energy and making sure they're ready to go to school in a way that maybe right now their life circumstance can't provide for them.
I thank you the way this community owns as much land in Africa as it does here, discipling and loving and caring for folks there. I thank you for the way this community is as invested in kids in West Dallas who don't have dads as much as they are here. I thank you for medical clinics that were involved with that. I thank you for all the things we're doing externally, but Lord, we know, if our external ministry is going to be effective, we have to be your people.
I pray we would be focused always, not on doing good, but on being deeply connected to the Good One, Jesus Christ, and that we would be conformed to his image and that you would use the resource of this facility to raise up generations of leaders, disciples, not do-gooders but Christ followers who necessarily will love as he loved and do as he did, and Father, that will be good, but help us to do it out a deep awareness of who you are. Would you use our time in the Word today to increase that?
Father, would you increase the opportunity for faithful people to be faithful again? Bless them. I don't even know how you'll do it, Father. I'm sure you'll one day bless them completely and fully, but I pray you even give them another chance right here, right now in a way that would bring them great joy and would further your purposes. Father, right now, we bring you our hearts, and we pray you would increase the keen awareness of our hearts into an understanding of who you are in all your fullness. We love you, amen.
Open your Bibles to John 12. If you're anything like me, you read the Bible sometimes, and you have an arrogant response. What I mean by that is I read the Bible, and I go, "How did they miss it? I mean, come on! Had I been there, I would've clued in. About the time he healed the blind guy who I knew had been blind his entire life; about the time that the lame guy got up and walked; about the time that he confronted people nobody confronted, the way he spoke with authority and power, the way all the Scriptures collapsed on him, the way he raised people from the dead, I would've gone, 'Come on, guys. Come on!'"
I have to tell you that I think I'm wrong. I think that's arrogant. I think, apart from the grace of God unlocking my eyes then, I would be just as confused as I was living on this side of the resurrection in seeing who Jesus was. I want to give you a little more empathy for the Pharisees today. You don't often get messages like that, but I'm going to give you a little empathy for them because I'm going to take you through some Old Testament Scripture, a lot of it, that sets up this little passage right here.
Let me tell you something. It would've been easy to miss Jesus, because Jesus came nothing like we expected him to come. He came very humbly. He was born in a very nondescript place from a nondescript region. He was led to Bethlehem, which was a big-time city. I mean, there were Scriptures that said the King's going to come from Bethlehem, but he kind of snuck his way in there. He's really from Nazareth, that no-account, compromised region in the North.
He was born into a borrowed manger, a place where animals eat. He didn't even own it. His mom and dad laid him in there with some straw around it. He rode a borrowed donkey when he became an individual who presented himself. He was buried in a borrowed grave. This does not sound like the King of Kings. Does it? A lot of us miss who he is because of how humbly he presents himself. I'm going to come back to that here at the end. We don't want to make that mistake. There's a reason he came that way, and it should really encourage you.
What we're about to do here is end Jesus' public ministry. Now what's really interesting is, if you take all four gospels, there are 89 chapters in the four gospels. Only four of them cover basically the first three years of his life. Think about that. Four chapters cover the first three years of his life, and then 29 chapters cover the last eight days. There's something about those last eight days that really mattered. A third…a third…of the Gospels talk about what happened during what we call the Passion Week which, in effect, begins here in John 12.
Now John is the most passionate about this, because John's whole purpose is to let you know that Jesus is God and God is not what you think he is. Isn't that a good thing? Most of us would create God in our own image, and if we made God in our own image, that means others had better do what we want them to do or we're not going to love them because that's largely the way we love people until God captures our hearts and really teaches us to love the way he loves and to be gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in lovingkindness.
That's not the way I would describe humankind. I would also not picture great world leaders the way the Bible talks about Jesus. We always think world leaders are going to be impressive and fantastic in their arrival. I'll give you an example here. When guys come in war who are great leaders along the way, they typically come riding this massive steed, this charger, this stallion. Alexander the Great is one who was like that. He rode a horse called Bucephalus.
This is in Skopje which is Macedonia, and there overlooking the city is this picture of Alexander on Bucephalus. Now I love that name. You go, "Why is he called Bucephalus?" Cephalus is where we get the idea of head. The word bous comes from like ox. This horse was so big and so massive that Alexander named him Ox-head.
When Hannibal came, he came riding on…what? Elephants, this massive animal. Hannibal and Alexander never really met. Here's a picture from the movie, Alexander, though, and it shows Bucephalus and Alexander taking on somebody warring against him who's riding an elephant. That's the way you would expect a king to come, right? They should come triumphantly, riding this massive animal.
That's not the way Jesus came. He came very meekly and very humbly, and I'm going to show you why he did that today, but don't mistake him for weak because he came this way. What you need to see is that he is loving, and there's a reason he came this way, but I'm about to show you this. I'm going to give you empathy for biblical scholars, Pharisees, guys who really studied the text.
Before I do that, let me just say this. We're about to pick a new leader for our country, and when you hear what leaders offer people, what our leaders want to offer them is prosperity. Right? It goes back very famously to during the Clinton campaign where Carville and other folks come around him and go, "It's the economy, stupid. The people want to be rich. The people want to be prosperous. Talk about the economy, stupid. Keep it focused on their pocketbook." Why?
It's because people love comfort. People love ease. People love prosperity, so men offer visions and pathways towards prosperity, and so did Jesus, except Jesus was not going to come and give economic prosperity. He wasn't even going to give political freedom. He was going to give something far more important. He was going to reconcile you to the one who is the source of all life, where true prosperity can come from.
Now can I tell you this? One of the guys I was grateful to get to spend some time with (y'all met him here) is Chuck Colson. Colson one time said that he was politically homeless, and I feel the exact same way. I just want to tell you this right now. I feel like I'm a man without a party. I've always been. I've never been a part of any particular party because I don't really serve… You know, we're not people of the donkey. We're not people of the elephant. We're people of the Lamb. That's who we follow. We follow the Lamb of Jesus Christ.
What Christ comes to offer us is something different than either party is really focused on, but what's happening is our nation is trying to figure out which guy is going to give us the kind of prosperity we want, which guy is going to give us the kind of land that we want, and where are we going to get real freedom. Now this is all an interlude to where we're going to go and give a sense of why you want to be humble when you read your Bible and why you want to be humble today and get Jesus for exactly who he is.
He is not somebody who, when you begin to follow him, is going to make everything sweet and wonderful and out goes cancer and in comes beautiful women and in comes major deals and in comes health, wealth, and prosperity. He doesn't promise you that. He promises you that he's going to deal with a world that isn't anything like the world he intended because you have left him.
We are all dead in our trespasses and sins. We don't follow God. Therefore, we don't follow goodness, and because we don't follow goodness, we reap what we sow, and because we sow self-love, self-advancement, self-protection, and self-pleasure into each other's lives, there is insecurity, deceit, trouble, disease, and death.
God says, "Come on back over here. I'm going to make provision for you to get from there to here, and it will be well with you when you come back to me. Now you're still going to be left as you come to me in this world to participate with me in reaching others, and you're going to suffer hardship with me until such a day as I come, not riding the foal of a colt of a donkey but a horse that will make Bucephalus look like a little Shetland pony."
I want you to see that there is more than one triumphal entry in the Bible, but if you and I lived then, we'd be looking for the same one that most of our country is looking for right now in a national leader. We don't get very many good leaders. Every now and then, you'll get a king who doesn't write a book on economics or doesn't write a book on warfare but he writes a book on the beauty and the glory of God and extols the greatness of God and dances into light before the presence of the Lord and calls his people to love him.
Every now and then, you get a star like David, but most of the problems in this world are that we follow kings who offer a fleeting prosperity, a fleeting peace that puts them in a position of power and convinces you they're the Messiah. Every four years, our country looks for a new Messiah, the one who will lead us to where we want to go. Let me just tell you something. It ain't the economy, stupid. We don't need a new head of state. We need a new heart.
Now let me just say something to you. Our country, being a democratic republic, puts in office people like us. We vote for folks who give us what we want, and there's a way which seems right to man, but in the end, it's the way of death. See also Greece. See also America, where we're headed.
I'm just going to tell you, you'd better and I'd better get our hearts right with God, and in a land where we get to elect our king, what we would want to elect are people who realize that true prosperity is going to come, not through some economic platform but through reconciliation to God.
Let me just say this to you really quickly. I'll point you to a resource that's just tremendous. You know, this is something Colson said. I went back and pulled this. He said something like, "…I've made the case again and again, we cannot have a healthy economy apart from morality and ethics. Without promoting stable, healthy families, without protecting life and freedom, without promoting a Christian ethic that values work and saving over instant spending and gratification, no economy or nation can thrive."
That's where we are, in a land of entitlements that lacks the virtues. Either men won't work, or they will work motivated by greed and self-advancement and not by creating an economy under which all men can prosper. We've seen both. A guy named Os Guinness just wrote a great little book, and it's called A Free People's Suicide, and he talks about the golden triangle of freedom, that freedom is connected with virtue and faith.
It reminded me of a quote that went back all the way to the founding of our country where John Adams who talked about this incredible Constitution and Declaration that he was a part of. One of only two men who signed the Bill of Rights, John Adams, said this. Listen and see if this doesn't come 250 years later.
He says this. "We have no government armed with power capable of contending with human passions unbridled by morality and religion." This is key. "Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other." Os Guinness wrote a book called A Free People's Suicide because it says basically that people who are free, if they're not free to choose what is good, will choose always for themselves that which works for a moment but lends to their destruction.
How does this relate to John 12? Here's how. Now watch! Lock in with me! Israel wanted to be free from oppression from Rome, and Jesus said, "Even if I set you free from oppression of Rome, you will conduct yourselves and live amongst one another in a way that will lead to your own suicide. You've been free before, and you destroyed your nation, and if I set you free from Rome again, you're going to destroy your nation."
One of the problems with freedom is that freedom and virtue and faith eventually lead to prosperity, but prosperity eventually leads to arrogance, and arrogance always leads to us doing what seems right to us, and that always leads to death, so here comes the King, and what's the King going to set people free from…Rome? No, something else.
I told you I would give you empathy. Jesus knew that people were going to have a problem with this. The very first time that Jesus spoke, he spoke in Nazareth. He went into this little temple, and he asked for the scroll, and he grabbed the scroll from Isaiah. This is in Luke 4.
Keep your hand right there in John 12. I'm going to read it, but in Luke 4, this is what Jesus did. He started off by sharing with people this little truth. It says, "And He came to Nazareth, where He had been brought up; and as was His custom, He entered the synagogue on the Sabbath…" This was the beginning of his public ministry.
"And the book of the prophet Isaiah was handed to Him. And He opened the book and found the place where it was written, 'The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, because He anointed Me to preach the gospel to the poor. He has sent Me to proclaim release to the captives, and recovery of sight to the blind, to set free those who are oppressed, to proclaim the favorable year of the Lord.'"
Then it says he shut the scroll right there. Now look, Isaiah wasn't written with chapters and verses in mind. We put those on later, centuries after Christ, in order that we might refer to things easily together, but he stopped right in the middle of a complete idea. He stopped right in the middle of a complete idea.
He said, "I'm here to proclaim favor. The holiness of God is in your midst. God consumes evil. God hates horror. God hates sin. Guess what? God is here, and I'm not going to consume you. I'm going to do something that's going to show you who God is. I love you, not because you're good people. I love you because I'm a good God, and I'm going to make provision for your sin, so you can be reconciled back to me."
Now Jesus shut that, and it says he said, "…this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing." Which was a direct claim that he was the Messiah. That's the way he started. "I am the Messiah. I'm the God." Now let me tie this back to John. There's a reason that John, more than any other, spent half of his gospel… When anybody trusts in Christ, a lot of times guys like me and theologians or whatnot will say, "Go read the gospel of John. Go read the gospel of John." Why? It's because, more than any other book in your New Testament, it clarifies who Jesus is. He is God.
Now why does John spend half of his gospel on the last eight days, which is about God getting his tail kicked, God being rejected, God being spit upon, God being scoffed, God being tortured, God being nailed to a cross? Here's the reason. He wants you to know this is no accident. John introduces Jesus this way. "Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!" He is with God, was God, is God. We're beholding his glory. He's a Lamb who's come to die.
Look what it says in John, chapter 1, verses 45 and 46. "Philip found Nathanael and said to him, 'We have found Him of whom Moses in the Law and also the Prophets wrote—Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.'" Nathanael said, "That's crazy!" Nathanael just goes, "Can any good thing come out of Nazareth?" All Phillip said was, "Come and see." From John 1:46 all the way to John 12:9, John says, "Come with me and see who Jesus is."
Guess what we saw? We saw everything Jesus said we would see in Luke, chapter 4, when he quoted Isaiah 61 and 62. Remember what people want? What people want is freedom from the enemy, prosperity in their own homes. Let me show you something. All through the Scripture, there is this view of the Messiah, and it's like when you're in Colorado and you're driving up I-70, and you see that Front Range, and you look at mountains.
Let me see if I can get it like that. There we go, up on the screen. We see these mountains that look like this, and they look like they're right next to each other, but the truth is, when you get close, you find out that those mountains aren't like this; they're really like that. They're way apart from each other, but you can't see it when you're looking at the mountains from a distance.
The Scriptures always foretold that there would be two comings of the Messiah, but when you read it and you don't have any idea and concept of the Messiah coming to do two works, which are to be a Lamb who takes away the sins of the world and a Lion who destroys the sins in the world, they thought it was going to happen…
If you're a person who's been working hard to be loved by God, which one of those two would you think you would need? You'd go, "Hey, I'm taking away my own sins by works and religion and what I do, so I just need the Lion to come and take away everybody else's sins." Jesus showed up and said, "You don't have any idea what sin is. You don't have any idea who you are, but you'd better figure out who I am."
Are you with me? Let's start by reading Isaiah. Listen to Isaiah 61:1-3 and see if you recognize this. "The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me…" This is Isaiah writing about what's going to be said of the Messiah. "…because the Lord has anointed me to bring good news to the afflicted; He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to captives and freedom to prisoners; to proclaim the favorable year of the Lord…"
That's where Jesus shut down, but watch what else it says. "And, by the way, I'm the same guy who's going to be there when the vengeance of God is executed. I will comfort all those who mourn because of evil. I will grant those who mourn in Zion, which is just the renewed city of God. I will give them a garland instead of ashes. There will be no more poverty, no more suffering, no more war-torn oppression."
"The oil of gladness instead of mourning, the mantle of praise instead of a spirit of fainting. So they will be called oaks of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that He may be glorified." God's people are going to prosper. Let me just show you a bunch of prophecies about the Messiah. Tell me what you would be looking for if you were a Bible scholar.
By the way, do you know what's so amazing about this? This verse is inscribed in New York City on something called the United Nations. The United Nations believes that, through some political process, through our Messiah, through our human working, we will accomplish this. We will never accomplish this through our human working, unless our human workings are faith in God and mutual submission to the God who brings peace and prosperity.
That's why Jesus came to reconcile the world to him. That's the only way the world's going to be reconciled to each other. Isaiah 2:4: "And He will judge between the nations, and will render decisions for many peoples; and they will hammer their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks. Nation will not lift up sword against nation, and never again will they learn war." When the Messiah comes.
Isaiah 9:6: "For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us; and the government will rest on His shoulders…" Is that what Jesus came to do? The answer is yes, but with a huge gap, and I'll tell you why. "…and His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace." We look for a political star. Where's this political star?
In Numbers 24:17, biblically, you're going to look for a star from one place. "I see him, but not now; I behold him, but not near; a star shall come forth from Jacob, a scepter shall rise from Israel, and shall crush through the forehead of Moab, and tear down all the sons of Sheth." Jeremiah 23:5: "'Behold, the days are coming' declares the Lord, 'When I will raise up for David a righteous Branch; and He will reign as king…'"
Micah 5:2: "But as for you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, too little to be among the clans of Judah, from you One will go forth for Me to be ruler in Israel…" Jesus kept… Every time they rose up to make him king, he fed the multitudes. There was prosperity. They're in the wilderness. They're hungry. He goes, "Give me what you have." "We have two loaves and five fish!" He just worked up some magic in the kitchen. They go, "All right, let's skip the electoral process. How many folks want this guy to be king?"
It says in John 6, they go, "He's our king." It says, "Jesus, aware that they wanted to make him king, backed away." He goes, "Because I am not here to give you bread. I am the bread. I'm here to give you me. The reason there's chaos and hunger and poverty and death is because you don't know me. When you know me, you'll love, and you'll get along."
Do you guys know right now there's enough food produced in this world to feed everybody on earth 3,000 calories a day? Yet, Jesus says, "The poor will always be with you." Why? It's because you're selfish, individualistic, materialistic, me-first pleasure seekers, because that's what men always are when they move away from the goodness of God.
Jesus says, "Let's just get this thing reconciled, you and me, and when you and I come back together, then we can love one another." Do you see a theme in these? Isaiah 33:22: "For the Lord is our judge, the Lord is our lawgiver, the Lord is our king…" Psalm 2:6: "But as for Me, I have installed My King upon Zion…" Psalm 110:1: "The Lord says to my Lord: 'Sit at My right hand until I make Your enemies a footstool for Your feet.'"
The Pharisees came up and said, "What are you going to do, man?" Jesus just said, "I'm going to call you to repentance." They were like, "Whoa! Call the Gentiles. Call Caesar to repentance. Don't you come here telling me I'm not righteous." Jesus goes, "Okay, you're not righteous, and here's why," and they hated him, and the people loved him.
One of the things I did when I taught through the gospel of Mark… It was the very first thing I did because, if we're going to be a group of people who are conformed to the image of Christ, we ought to know who Christ is. I did a whole series on the gospel of Mark in 60-some-odd weeks. It was very similar to what we are doing right now. This is week 40, by the way, in John. One of those weeks, I talked in there about the prophecies that talk about who Jesus is. I'll just do this very quickly.
I talked about how there are over 300 places in the Scripture that talk about who the Messiah will be. There are 60 or some-odd distinct ones that make up that 300. There are a bunch of guys who are scholars who are statisticians who have gone back and looked and thought, "What is the likelihood that all those prophecies could be fulfilled in any one man?"
They took just eight of the 60-plus messianic prophecies, and they took a look at them, and they said that the likelihood that just eight of the 60 would be fulfilled in any one man is the likelihood of taking 1 x 1017,which if you'll just kind of in your head move from thousands to millions to billions to trillions to quadrillions to quintillions, it's 10 quintillion.
To give you a picture of what that is like, it'd be like taking a bunch of silver dollars, enough silver dollars to cover the state of Texas two feet deep. Paint one of them red. Mix up the entire state of Texas two feet deep in silver dollars. You can tell me what you land where you want to start; Midland, El Paso, McAllen, Dallas, Texarkana. You pick where you want to start.
I blindfold you. I spin you around and say, "Walk," and the odds that you would stop wherever you stop and dig down and grab, in that pile of silver dollars where you are and pull it out… The odds that that one would be the red silver dollar is the same statistical probability that any one man coincidently could fulfill just eight of the 60. Jesus nails them all. That's called telegraphing your pass by God.
Just to give you an idea, the odds of winning the $377-million Powerball just a few weeks ago that happened with a number of states… The odds of winning that were one in 175 million. That's way back there in zeros. That's just eight. The more amazing thing is there are a number of those prophecies that a guy couldn't fulfill if he wanted to. There's something about being born of a virgin in a certain land, and you can't exactly choose that.
It talks about how other folks are going to respond to you. It's kind of hard to coerce that. It talks about how you're going to die, how people are going to respond after you're dead, and there is this little event called the resurrection which also is rather difficult to pull off, but somehow, Jesus nailed it.
Now why do I say all that? It's because there is something that Jesus does in John 12 where he (this is as clear as I can see), in addition to fulfilling the Isaiah 61 anticipation of what the Messiah is, grabs the prophecy from the Old Testament and says, "Pay attention!" The disciples say, "Here we go. We're going to go into Jerusalem." It's the third Passover. John wants you to know that this Passover is the one that he intends to declare himself as King.
How is Jesus going to go riding into Jerusalem? He says, "Go get me a lowly donkey. I don't need Bucephalus. I'll ride that later. Go get me a lowly a donkey. No, get a colt, a foal of a donkey with Mama by his side, and I'll just sit sidesaddle on him, and we'll walk in." Why did he do that? It'd be like the president of the United States saying, "Leave the stretch limo and Air Force One behind. Go get me a Rascal, and on my inauguration, I'm going to ride one of those through town, like this."
You're not going to try and show anybody how stately and great you are. You're just this little guy, and people, you don't need a great king. You need to walk humbly with the Great King. What you don't need is a great head of state. What you need is a heart that loves the true head of state, God. Don't just put "In God We Trust" on money. Trust him. Don't just sing, "God bless America." Love him. Don't just say, "Hosanna." Believe it. Do you seen John 12 coming around?
This is why Jesus did this. This is Zechariah 9:9-10. Are you already? It says this. "Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! Shout in triumph, O daughter of Jerusalem! Behold, your king is coming to you; He is just and endowed…" Not with sliver, not with sword, but he's bringing you salvation. "…humble, and mounted on a donkey, even on a colt, the foal of a donkey." If you read that, you go, "No, you give me Alexander the Great on Bucephalus, on Ox-head."
That's why you jump to verse 10. "I will cut off the chariot from Ephraim and the horse from Jerusalem; and the bow of war will be cut off. And He will speak peace to the nations; and His dominion will be from sea to sea, and from the River to the ends of the earth." If you are a Jew, where are you focusing, on the president riding the Rascal or the kingdom expanding all over the earth?
Jesus said, "Boys, go fetch me a donkey, no, the cold, foal of a donkey, and I'm going to present to them the humility of their God. You want peace, Jerusalem? Reconcile with the Prince of Peace. Let me tell you who I am. Lucky for you, I don't consume wicked men because wickedness doesn't just reign in Rome. It reigns right here."
Wickedness isn't just in Al-Qaeda. It is right here, and it may not look like their wickedness, but it is right here. I'd better be reconciled to the Good One and have the Prince of Peace reign in my heart, or I will wreak my own destruction. It might be American, democratic, greedy destruction, but it will be destructive.
In fact, they look at us in all our prosperity, and they see nothing but immorality, and rightly do they go, "Those people don't trust in God. They wouldn't do what they do with one another." They feel very entitled by God to destroy us. We see what they do and go, "People who really love God don't create terror. I don't know who you think your God is, but he ain't that one."
The truth is we both have some work to do. Amen? I'm not saying don't speak against their terror. I'm saying you deal with the terror within, and it happens when you reconcile to Jesus and you follow the party of the Lamb and you war for hearts. You take every thought captive to obedience to Christ, and you don't sit there and wring your hands and wonder what's wrong with our country. You evangelize in your country, and you love others. You speak to them of Jesus who was humble, and you say, "Don't you miss him, because he came as the Lamb of God."
John 12, verse 9, says, "The large crowd of the Jews then learned that He was there; and they came, not for Jesus' sake only, but that they might also see Lazarus…" That's always a problem when you read that. They didn't come for Jesus' sake only. Any time I do something that isn't for Jesus' sake only, I have trouble. God is not something to be worked into my system, into my schedule, into my giving. If it is true that Christ is God and he is gentle and humble and he died for me, everything I do ought to be in response to and in light of that.
These people wanted to see the carny show. They wanted to go and throw down their two bits and look behind and see this guy who was the buzz. They wanted to go see Lazarus whom he raised from the dead. The chief priests, however, had rejected him because they were looking for a different kind of king, and they wanted to kill Lazarus because it was confusing to people that this Jesus was the Messiah because, on account of him, many of the Jews were going away and were believing in him.
"On the next day the large crowd who had come to the feast, when they heard that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem…" The feast is the Passover. It's the third Passover in the gospel of John. John is the only gospel writer who, when Jesus is on the cross in the Passion Week, references back his sacrifice to the sacrifice of the Passover lamb that Jews trusted in that death passed over them.
John wants you to know what's happening right now is not because this thing has spun horribly awry. Nothing has gone awry. This is Jesus firmly entrenched in his plan to reveal himself and to set people free by being a good King, not who writes a book on economic prosperity or warfare against the nations but somebody who says, "I am going to be a King who is a priest, humble, and I tell you of God, and I reconcile you to him. You don't vote for me. I bring you to God."
That's a good King. You look for a leader who does that, who doesn't want power, who keeps making himself lower so you might catch a glimpse of him, the glory of God. It gets better. It says, "On the next day the large crowd who had come to the feast, when they heard that Jesus was coming…took the branches of the palm trees and went out to meet Him, and began to shout, 'Hosanna! Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord, even the King of Israel.'"
The people go, "That's our guy. We're taking him. Word is he raises people from the dead. That'll do. Word is he feeds people in the wilderness. That'll do." He goes, "No, I do something so much more. I raise you from the death of sin. The wages of sin are death. Unless you believe in me and him who sent me, you will die. Even if you live in kings' palaces, you're going to die, so reconcile to God. I'm going to come and tell you how a holy God can have a relationship with an unholy people."
An eternally infinite Perfect One will offer himself as an eternally infinite perfect sacrifice that an eternally infinite holy God could, therefore, be just in overlooking your sin and the justifier of those he loves. That's what's going on here, people. It's not an accident. This is God telegraphing. This is the favorable year of the Lord, but let me tell you something. The year of a six-pack of "whup-tail" is coming. Bucephalus is coming. Read Revelation 19.
This same Jesus is coming, and he is riding a horse, and I'm going to tell you, that horse is in heaven, and he is chomping at the bit, but there's something that happens right here first. What happens right here first… Do you remember when we talked about John 11 and the resurrection of Lazarus, or rather, I talked about the resuscitation of Lazarus, since he died later (there's only one resurrection that's happened so far, and it's the resurrection of Jesus)?
At the resuscitation of Lazarus, it says Jesus wept, and I told you then that that wasn't really weeping like emotional torment weeping. It was a tear that came to his eye because he saw the horror of sin and the suffering of his people, and he wanted to do something about it, and he did. He offered his own life. That was the plan.
There is a time, I told you, that Jesus wept like a baby. Guess when it was. You would think that, here he comes. He's presenting himself humbly. You would think that the people waving palm branches, which is a sign of acceptance of their King and that they can put away their little tents of meeting and now they're going to be prosperous and live in the land and do great, and they're waving them at their King who is coming, that he would have gone, "Finally, you guys get it." but he knew they didn't get it.
They just wanted the Jesus who makes bread. They wanted the Jesus who just makes all pain go away in a moment, in an instant, in a fleeting way. They didn't understand that he was there to take away their sin, the same folks who sang, "Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord. The Lord saves us now" because they thought he was going to take off the robe right then and get after it.
He did. He took off the robe right then, and he said, "Get after it. Torture me. Sacrifice me. Take my life, because that's how I'm going to reconcile people to me, and I'll snatch my life back up again. That lets you know this wasn't an accident. This didn't spin out of the way," but John focuses on the last eight days.
The gospel writers focus on the last eight days because, when you talk about Jesus, if you talk about anything other than his death, burial, and resurrection, you are not telling the story because our world needs to know there is a God who loves them who in his humility offers himself for them that, if they don't respond to him now, they're going to meet him later, and their knee will bow.
This is what Jesus does. He lets those of us whose knees bow now in free and humble submission be yoked with him. For the ones who scoff at him, write him off in history, say he's not who he says he was, explain away the resurrection and the evidence for God in all the areas that it exists, he says, "Your knee is going to bow too, but not in worship of the Lamb, in awe of the Lion, and I will devour you right after you recognize me as King, just and right to consume people such as you who reject a love such as mine."
Jesus stopped. The parallel reference here is Luke 19. In Luke 19 during the triumphal entry, Jesus dismounts the donkey. He stops halfway down the Mount of Olives. He looks at the temple mount, and he cries uncontrollably because he knew the people didn't get it. They rejected him. They loved him because they thought he was going to bring a different kind of prosperity. They weren't going to reconcile to God because they rejected the reconciler to God, so they couldn't be reconciled to him.
By the way, what did Jesus do? He didn't get so low that he rode on a foal of a colt of a donkey. He got so low that he road the ass of human flesh, and being found in the appearance of man and being made in the likeness of man, he humbled himself and became obedient to the point of death, even death on the cross so the wrath of God could be poured out so men could be brought near him.
He wept because people were singing, and he knew that some people who were singing, when he didn't deliver the way they wanted him to deliver, just days later, when he was beaten by the world, would say, "Here's your king, beaten, defeated, destroyed" because they didn't listen to him as he told them 'I was going to give my life for you and take it back up again.'" Those same people who said, "Hosanna," in just five days, would say, "Crucify him! Crucify him!" He wept because he knew what that meant for those people, and it wasn't pretty.
Can I suggest this to you? If you're here this morning and you have sung with us already and you walk out of here and God doesn't perform for you the way he wants you to perform and so you turn your own way, you counsel outside of Scripture, you live outside of the will of God, you are saying the same thing, and he weeps for you.
Though you are here with palm branches, he is not impressed unless you recognize him in all his glory, follow him willfully now, and wait for that day that he comes again judging the quick and the dead and are ready for him and you serve him. Don't you walk out of here and let the way you date crucify him, the way you scoff at your wife crucify him, the way you find life apart from him with your mouse or with your money or with your mouth crucify him.
It's not enough that we say, "The Lord saves." We must know that he has saved us, and we must walk with him and respond to the good news we've been brought near and see with a new mind and repent before we ask him to rebuild our nation. We don't look for some human messiah. We follow a star, not from Hawaii or from Massachusetts but from Jacob. Let me pray for you.
Father, I pray that, this morning, anybody who is here would take a good, hard look at what they do with their lives. Are they just palm branch wavers and they walk out of here in a matter of minutes or days and say, "Crucify him! I'll date the way I want. I'll conduct myself sexually the way I want"? That suggests we don't know who we are dealing with.
In fact, what does suggest that we know who we are dealing with is that you change everything about us. We don't think in a way that is consistent with the world. We don't even think according to a natural man. Our natural man wants to live in lust and live in incredible comfort and ease. We go, "Who cares what the natural man wants? The natural man is dead. What I want is what the supernatural wants, what God wants, so my mind serves him. I buffet my body, and I don't just say, 'Hosanna.' I live as if the Lord has saved me now already."
I pray that this would be a church, Father, that gets it, that we would be disciple-making, Jesus-following people who see as Mary saw exactly what he is doing, what he has done, and we don't love you for what you'll do for us. We love you for what you've done for the world, and we call the world to pay attention to it.
I pray, as evidence that you are who you said you are, we conduct ourselves consistent with our King, knowing that this world is not our home, but as citizens of the King who love people, we love others, and we stoop, and we humble ourselves before the mighty hand of God like you did, so people might see a shadow of your glory in us that the world might know you, reconcile to you, and be saved before you come on Bucephalus and take it to them.
We thank you that you haven't come yet this morning so somebody else here might repent. I pray they would. I pray they would not leave here in terror, that they would not bow before the King of Kings who gave his life. Nobody took it from him. I pray, Lord, they would give you their lives because, even in humility, you won't take it from them. You'll just call them to come, so Lord, may they come today. For your glory, the good of your people, show them who you are, amen.