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Do you know what Jesus has done for you? Have you heard and understood? God loves you not because of what you have done, but wants to give you a gift because of what you need. This may be your time to hear it. The Lion is not safe, but He is good.
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
A couple of weeks ago in John…months, years…I don't know. I can't remember. By the way, this is so funny. In 2007 and 2008 I did a lot of topical stuff. I was doing a series on worldview, I was doing a series on core values, and people go, "We're leaving Watermark because they don't teach the Word right through." Then people who have been here the last 18 months are like, "Does he ever do anything except teach the Word straight through?" It is what it is.
We're glad you're here, and we hope you don't like the way I teach but what I teach about. Whether I'm doing topically or straight through a text, I'm always talking about Jesus, and the Bible is my authority, conscience, and guide. We want to be expositional in the sense that we take our thinking from the text. Ex (from) posit (to think). That's what we are here. We take our truth from the text. If we get it anywhere else, run. Don't worry if I'm going through a book or doing a topic, but run if I'm not coming from the text.
A couple of chapters ago in John, I titled one of the messages, The Bible Collapses Here. I didn't mean collapse like it falls apart, like it can't stand and support itself anymore. What I meant is the whole Bible has been pointing to this moment. The whole Bible has been screaming that there is hope that is coming and hope has come. I have to tell you, after looking at John 12 closer this week, I might have done that a bit too early, because really, where we are today, it collapses here again.
That's why the gospel of John is so great. Every now and then, when we do those Connecting Points, where we really give you a chance to find out who we are, we always ask anybody who's going to connect with us going forward and really join up with us to share their story of grace. We want to make sure before you're a member of a church that you're a part of the church, and the way you become a part of the church is you have a relationship with the Head of the church, Jesus Christ. That's how you're a part of the body. You're connected to the Head by faith.
So we say, "We want you to sit with everybody and share your story. We want you to sit for just a few seconds and tell your story of grace, when you came to clarity about who Jesus was and how you're connected to him, not by what you do but by what he does." I say, "I'm going to tell you, this is going to be intimidating, because a lot of folks have never really shared that, and that's why you're here to be discipled and encouraged to grow." I go, "Let me give you the answers to the test."
I walk everybody through the gospel, and I talk about how when someone asks you, "Are you at a place in your spiritual life where if you died today you know you'd go to heaven?" most folks default to a works answer. I say, "Don't do that, because that's not how you have a relationship with God, by what you do."
I love what Derek just explained. "You came to me. You made provision for me." That's what JP shared. We've already shared it four or five times today in song and in different little speaking. I even said it right then in Connecting Point. "You can give that answer if that's where you're at, but it won't be one that we're going to say, 'Okay, great; awesome,' because it's not one that God will say, 'Great; awesome' to."
I explain, "This is what it means," and I go, "By the way, if you've never understood this before, then you can go right out of here and share your story of grace and say, 'Just a minute ago, I came to a clear understanding of what the gospel was. I always thought it was what I was going to do or what I did. I thought I had to join the church and give to the church. I've been looking for the envelopes so I could do what God wants me to do. You guys don't have envelopes. I don't know if I can be saved here.'"
We tell them, "It's not about the envelopes; it's about what Jesus has done to envelop you in his love and provision for your sin. So tell them, 'Just a second ago with Todd I understood what Christ did for me.'" What is amazing is people go… There's a little hour where they ask questions or in small groups, and then some of them go to share their story of grace, and they go, "I don't know what to say here. I'm a little nervous."
Some of them will even give a works-based answer. Some of you did, and that's okay, because in that moment, we share the gospel with you again. Then there are some folks who at that moment go, "Oh, okay." There are folks who trust Christ every time we do a Connecting Point class. What's amazing is how difficult it is to hear it until it's your time to hear it. I can't explain it.
Let me just tell you something. You have a great opportunity this morning for this to be your time to hear it, because you're going to get a glimpse of who God is. You're going to get a glimpse of his glory, and his glory is awesome. I'm going to tell you why you should be so excited to know about God's glory: because it is full of grace and truth. It is not filled with fear and condemnation; it is filled with grace and truth.
In fact, a very familiar little text starts with John 3:16. Let's look at John 3:16 and what follows there together. "For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life." This is Jesus starting to clarify to guys who were studying the law, who were religious experts. He said, "No, no, no. Let me explain to you something. God loves you not to grade you on how you do, but God loves you enough to give you something you need."
Now watch this. This is Jesus starting to clarify something in verse 17. See if this doesn't show up again in John 12. "For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him." You see, the Jews were looking for somebody to come judge the world; in other words, everybody who wasn't a Jew, and then he was going to be a great King who made all the race of Abraham, physical descendants of Abraham, great and prosperous and live in peace.
God said, "Listen, race of Abraham. Your father Abraham was a sinner. Abraham needed to be saved. You are a descendant of a sinner, which means you're a sinner and you need to be saved. I'm not just coming to judge the non-Jews; I'm coming to judge the world of which the Jews are a part: fallen, broken people.
I want to save you, and I want to save everybody before I come to eradicate the world of that which disrupts peace, which is evil. The reason there's evil in the world is because people have left the God of peace. So here I come, not to judge the world but that the world might be saved through me." This is Jesus explaining the whole deal.
He says, "He who believes in Him [the Son whom the Father has sent] is not judged; he who does not believe has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God." Let me explain something to you this morning. Jesus came riding on a colt, the foal of a donkey, because that's what the King was going to come like before he came judging all that disrupted peace in the world, which is to say, evil.
We are at the triumphal entry. Let me take you back to Zechariah 9:9-10. This is what it says in this little text: "Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion!" All Zion is is the city of God. "Shout in triumph, O daughter of Jerusalem! Behold, your king is coming to you; he is just and endowed with salvation, humble, and mounted on a donkey, even on a colt, the foal of a donkey."
See that "I will" right there? That's a perfect place to break these two verses, but he starts by saying, "I'm going to come this way." Remember John 3? "I didn't come to judge the world or condemn the world but that the world might be saved through me." Later, he says, "I'm going to judge the world. In fact, if you don't take the provision I bring, the world is judged already and you're outside of the salvation that is coming."
Jesus, before, had rejected people's desire to make him king, because they wanted him to be king because they thought he was going to bring in a time of great prosperity and bread and raise people from difficult situations. Jesus said, "No, I've come to raise you from death, from sin which leads to death. So before I come to judge evil and all that is evil in the world, which is everybody apart from a relationship with God by faith, I'm going to try to save it."
So Zechariah 9:9-10… What we don't know, as I said last week, is that there is a gap between those two. It looks like those mountains are close together from a distance. Remember that analogy? But when you get up really close, you see that there is a huge valley between them. That valley is called the church age or the age of grace, where God continues, even to this day, declaring provision so that when God comes to eradicate all that is disrupting peace in this world, which is sin and sinners, you wouldn't be among those God eradicates, because you've already been reconciled to him.
This is Romans 5:1: "Therefore, we have been justified by faith with God, and we have peace with God as a result of that justification." That's where we get peace: by being reconciled to God through God's provision, not through anything else. "For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast."
He comes, and he says, "I'm going to come on a donkey." He says, "I will…""It's going to come that I will judge all that disrupts peace."He goes on to say, "When I come back the second time," is what we now understand to be implied, "I will come, and I will speak peace to the nations, and my dominion will be from sea to sea and from the River to the ends of the earth," is how it goes. "After I cut off all the chariots, I cut off all the war… That's going to happen, but before I come to destroy evil and those who are at war with God, I want to reconcile the world to God." Do you catch this?
Watch what Jesus does at this moment. This is brilliant. This is so clarifying. You're going to get a picture of what we should do, and today, you're going to be able to know, "Am I saved? Am I really related rightly to God? Not because I listened to what Todd said and shared my story of grace," because God at the end of the day says, "Here's the big problem: people often honor me with their lips, but their heart is far from me."
From the very beginning, prophets would say, "You bear fruit in keeping with repentance." You're not saved because of an idea; you're saved because of a relationship. The evidence that the relationship is in you, that you operate with the Spirit of truth in you and not the spirit of error and deception is that the preponderance of evidence, the heavy declaration of your life, is that you bear fruit in keeping with repentance.
Jesus says, "You're going to know them by their fruit. A good tree will bring forth good fruit; a bad tree, bad fruit," which is why it's always a concern to me when people say they know God and love God, they have a relationship with God, his Spirit dwells inside of them, but they are committed to things that his Spirit says are inconsistent with truth, holiness, and righteousness.
Now, it doesn't mean we don't have our moments. It means we don't practice these things and say they're normal, normative, and okay with God. I never want to say, "God made me this way; I'm a liar. God made me this way; I'm a lust bucket. God made me this way; I'm a consumer of porn. God made me this way; I am greedy and materialistic." No. That is what I've become because I've left God.
Every now and then, when I quench the Spirit, grieve the Spirit which dwells in me, I'll go that way still. I have to come to my senses, repent, and come back to him. I'm going to show you what Jesus did to reconcile you to him, and he's going to say to you, "This is what you will do to know that you are reconciled to me."
All right. Are you ready? John 12. This is great stuff. We saw this last week. Verse 15: " Fear not, daughter of Zion; behold, your King is coming, seated on a donkey's colt ." Humbly, not like you expected. "These things His disciples did not understand at the first…" In other words, they didn't know why he said, "Go get me a donkey."
If you're going to claim your kingship at this moment, why wouldn't you go get a horse? Well, because Jesus knew that in Zechariah 9:9, the king would be presented first on a colt, the foal of a donkey; come riding humbly as an expression of peace. Read your Bible. He's going to go and commission a different animal later, and it will make Bucephalus (if you weren't here last week, Ox-head, Alexander's great war horse) look like a Shetland pony.
"I'll come riding back into this city when I come and dismiss the chariots, and it won't be much of a fight. It won't be a fight at all, in fact. I will slay them by the word of my mouth in the fullness of my revelation as God." The disciples didn't understand why he did this, but it says a little bit later on, when Jesus was glorified, they remembered these things were written of him and that he had done these things to him.
By the way, this happened before. When Jesus was talking early on and said, "Hey, you destroy this temple, and three days later I'll build it up," it said the people had no idea what he was talking about, but then later, when the temple of his body where the Spirit of God dwelt was destroyed and was raised back up, they went, "Oh, that's what he meant." This is what I'm talking about. There are going to be some of you this morning going, "Oh, that's what God has been trying to tell me."
The person next to you might go, "Have you not been here? How long have you been coming to Watermark?" For some of you guys, the answer is "For years," but today might be the day where clarity comes; you see Jesus, you see God, and you're going to fall in love with him. I'm praying you see it. For those of us who have already seen it, I'm praying you are reminded of what seeing and believing is to produce. This is good stuff.
Verse 17: "So the people, who were with Him when He called Lazarus out of the tomb and raised him from the dead, continued to testify about Him." The stories were still going on. "You wouldn't believe what this guy did." "For this reason also the people went and met Him, because they heard that He had performed this sign."
Everyone wants to catch a glimpse of this man who opens graves. "What's he going to do next? I don't want to miss anything." Everybody is locked in in that way. They don't want to miss what he does next, but they all miss who he is. All of these people who are clamoring to see Jesus and are saying, "Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!" in just five days are going to say, "Crucify him! We reject him, because our king will never be beaten, spit upon, mocked, scourged, and die. We reject him as a king."
I want to go, "Have you been listening to him? He has told you that is why he has come. Don't mistake his meekness, his patience, for his inability. This Lamb is a lion, and he has come first as a lamb." Here's one of the problems folks have with Jesus. We just have too much of this pale-skinned, limp-wristed, "skip through the meadows" Jesus, so we're, frankly, not very encouraged when I tell you he loves you.
"Well, of course he loves me. If he doesn't love me, I'll slap him across the face and tell him to love me. Why wouldn't he love me? Wimp!" That's the way a lot of us think about Jesus. C.S. Lewis in The Chronicles of Narnia does such a great job with this, where he reveals Jesus as a lion, Aslan, from the very beginning. That's why when Lucy asks, "Well, is he safe?" Mr. Beaver looks at her and says, "Are you kidding, child? He's a lion. He's not safe, but he's good."
What would happen if I take you to a petting zoo and blindfold you and walk you in this petting zoo and take you around to all of these different kinds of animals, and all of a sudden, you find this little wet nose pressing up against your hand, and it licks your hand? You might go, "That's kind of cool. That's kind of cool." I go, "You don't know how cool that is that he kissed your hand and licked your hand. Let me take that blindfold off." When you see it's a lion, you go, "Oh! I am so glad it kissed me and didn't devour me. He's a lion."
I'll just insert this story right here. People don't understand. There's a 63-year-old tour guide in the Florida Everglades. This just happened last week or so. He was taking a family from Indiana through the Everglades. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission just arrested this guy, fined him, and is going to incarcerate him for a period of days, because he illegally fed an alligator in order to show this family from Indiana how ferocious an alligator is.
He took his little airboat out there, and he held out a fish over the water when he saw an alligator down there, and this nine-foot alligator came erupting out of the water and consumed the fish and his left hand with it. They arrested the brother and said, "That's illegally feeding a fish, and you can't do that, because they're dangerous." I think he figured out that they're dangerous.
What you need to know is this little lamb doesn't just want your milk bottle. This little lamb is a lion that wants you, but he's choosing to come humbly and lick you, saying, "I'm here to love you if you want to be loved, but you have to realize you are what I devour: sinners. I am a carnivorous sin-eater, and I eat sinners, but I'm going to kiss you, and I'm going to take judgment for you."
This kiss is getting sweeter. You're about to see the glory of God. It says, "So the Pharisees said to one another, 'You see that you are not doing any good; look, the world has gone after Him.'" Really? This is the Jewish feast, and all of the Jews are following it. What do you mean the whole world has gone after him? By the way, this is the second time the Pharisees are saying things that they don't have any idea how true they are.
Remember just a chapter ago, in verse 30, Caiaphas said, "It is better that one man dies for the whole nation than that the whole nation dies." "These people are going to get too excited about this guy being their leader. They're going to insurrect against Rome, so we have to kill him," is what his thinking was, but he did it to protect himself. He didn't even know what he was saying. He was prophesying that this Jesus was going to die for the nation. Here, when they said, "The whole world is following him," they had no idea how right they were.
By the way, make a note of this. Jesus, all the way back at the wedding of Cana… It says, when he provided wine at the wedding, a lot of people saw what he had done and believed in him, but it says in John, chapter 2, Jesus for his part was not entrusting himself to them, for he knew all men. He didn't need anyone to testify to him about who he was, for he himself knew what was in man, that they were fleeting. They love him one moment, and then they go off and do their own thing. Jesus says, "Those kinds of people are not true worshipers."
"Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Crucify him! Give me the remote. Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Hey, crucify him! I'm going to spend my money where I want to spend my money the way I want to spend my money. Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! I'm not going to fellowship with his people. Community? Are you crazy? That's way too intrusive.
Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! I ain't reading my Bible. If I read it, it's certainly not going to be directed to me. I will not lean on his understanding. That is too much. I will reconstitute Christianity my way." Any of that sound familiar? What Jesus is saying is, "I know men. I don't need men to validate me."
So, everybody was going to see this man who did miracles. I just made a note to myself. In my Bible, I wrote, "Don't draw your assurance from the applause/approval of men." Jesus would have been really confused who he was. He might have thought, "Okay. This is working out. 'Hosanna! Blessed is he…' I like this. I like this."
Five days later: "Crucify him! The guy is worthless. Get rid of him! Give us an enemy instead of him." But Jesus was not overly encouraged in this particular moment, and he was not overly discouraged when they turned on him. Jesus drew his assurance from the Word of God, the Spirit of God, and his faith in both of them, and that is where you ought to draw yours.
When the whole world goes a certain way and the whole world tells you you're crazy, when you really begin to live by faith, when you really begin to stand up for truth, when all the chaff is blown away, when persecution comes and you humbly stand firm by the Word of God and the Spirit of God and faith in those, and you have full assurance that what I'm saying this morning is true, that's when you're really going to find out who you are, not when everybody is telling you, "This is a good idea."
Now watch this. Verse 20 says, "Now there were some Greeks among those who were going up to worship at the feast…" It's really important that it's Greeks. "Hey, the whole world is going after him." You have no idea how much of the world is going after him. Greeks were wanderers. That's who they were. They went all around the world. They were lovers of truth. They were looking and seeking for truth.
So, here come some Greeks. These Greeks were likely what is called God-fearers. There were some Gentiles even back then that there was provision made for them; some Gentiles who literally forsook their nation. They would get circumcised, and they would become Jews. Literally, they'd become Jews.
More often, guys like Cornelius in Acts, chapter 10, were guys who remained from some non-Palestinian area of the world, non-Israeli, who worshiped the God of the Jews, and they were called God-fearers. Like the centurion who helped them build the temple in Capernaum. It was a good man who feared the God of the Jews.
These Greeks were clearly that. They were there, and they wanted to see Jesus. They had heard that maybe the Messiah was here. These seekers of truth, who had embraced the God and the faith of Israel, had heard what was going on, and they go, "This sounds like the Messiah," and they wanted to see Jesus. By the way, what's interesting is we never know if they actually got a face-to-face with him, a little private audience with him, but what Jesus does and says…
Philip and Andrew come to him and say, "Hey, there are some Greeks here who want to see you right now," and Jesus goes, "Perfect. This is the perfect time to want to see me." And he meant it. I'm about to show you why, and it is glorious. Are you ready? This is what I meant when I said you're about to see what's going on here.
Let me take you just for a moment… One of my favorite times of the year is Christmas, and one of my favorite things to do at Christmas is to take some time with my kids and watch what I'm about to show you. In fact, I'm just going to confess something to you. I have spent $70 on a Christmas tree ornament. It was a limited-edition Christmas tree ornament by Hallmark that was Linus. It hangs on your tree, and you press a button, and a light comes down, and there he is on a stage, and in the voice of Linus he quotes Luke 2.
I've offered my kids… "Okay. I paid $70 for the ornament. Anybody who wants to memorize what Linus said, I'll give you $100." Fools. They're asking me for money all the time, and they still haven't memorized it. I said, "I'd rather press your head and go, 'Go! Luke 2, right here.' Pleased to give it to you." Watch this. Check out Linus right here. Listen to him.
Linus:"And this shall be a sign unto you; ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger. And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men."
[End of video]
There it is. Did you catch that? What did he say? The angel showed up, and this is what he said. Just that one little moment. Here comes Jesus. Watch.
Linus: "…and on earth peace, good will toward men."
[End of video]
He said, "Glory to God, and on earth peace to men." John 1:14 says, "…(and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth." Watch what Jesus says. "They want to see me? This is the perfect time to see me." Death is typically a humiliation, and what you're about to find out is Jesus is about to go through the humiliation of the cross, but Jesus goes, "I'm not humiliated. This is why I came. I'm about to give God glory, and I'm about to bring peace to men."
The Bible collapses right here. Listen. You'll get a glimpse of your God. Boy, he is good. Jesus said, "The hour has come for the Son of Man…" That's his favorite expression for himself: Son of Man. I will hopefully get to that today and tell you why. "It is time for the Son of Man to be glorified." He goes on and tells you four things here in verses 24-27.
"Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. He who loves his life loses it, and he who hates his life in this world will keep it to life eternal. If anyone serves Me, he must follow Me; and where I am, there My servant will be also; if anyone serves Me, the Father will honor him."
Gang, there is so much truth right here. Jesus is saying, "They want to see me? Great. They're about to see me die, because when I die, I'm going to bear much fruit." In my pocket I have some seeds. Now, seeds can be ground up and made into flour. They can become food. They're very small. There's not much here. Look at that little seed. You can't even see it.
The glory of a seed… I could eat this. There might be some nutritional value there, not a lot. It's certainly not going to taste good. But what is the glory of the seed? What happens when the seed goes into the ground and germinates, which is to say, dies? What does this little seed turn into? It turns into a "much" fruit. This is an apple seed. If I put this apple seed in the ground, will I get an apple from it? Say, "No." What will I get? I will get an apple tree.
What Jesus is about to say… "Remember those guys who didn't know what they were talking about when they said it's better that one man die that the whole nation might be saved? I'm going to show you who I am. I'm going to die. I am the seed which when I go and die, you're going to see how glorious this little seed, this little wet kiss that you have no idea is a lion…"
Let me show you what that little seed is. This is just a speck of what that little seed is. You look at that, and you go, "Whoa! Check that out." That feeds JP right here. We can feed a lot of folks with this. You get the idea. That little seed is feeding a lot of people. That's glorious. Jesus says, "Here's the great thing, guys. If you want to see who I am, you get a glimpse of who I am. I'm going to die, and when I die, the world is going to fill up with people in relationship with the Father."
Can I tell you something? Do you know what you all are? You're little seedlings of this moment. Jesus prophesied that you would be here. By the way, there are not a lot of Jews in here. I see black. I see Asian. I see a lot of Europeans in this room. The whole world has followed him. It's amazing what has come through this man's death. There is much fruit. Do you guys realize this? You are a fulfillment of prophecy. You are evidence that what Jesus said and did is true.
Secondly, watch this. He says in verse 25, "He who loves his life loses it, and he who hates his life in this world will keep it to life eternal." Jesus says, "Listen. I hate my life. My life I count of no account." It says in Hebrews, chapter 12, "I despise the idea of preserving my life, because I'm not here for me and to be comfortable; I'm here to honor the Father. That's the whole reason I'm here." And guess what. It says, "Therefore, the Father highly exalted him and gave him a name above all names."
"They want to see who I am? I'm somebody who hates my life. This life isn't about me, so I'm going to go through incredible suffering and shame." Watch this. It goes on to say next, "If anyone serves Me, he must follow Me…" So we follow him. Where do we follow him? By the way, the Greeks said, "We want to know the Messiah. Can we be near the Messiah? We want to be like the Messiah."
Jesus says, "They want to be like me? Then they need to follow me and do what I do, which is serve the Father." Do you remember this? There were two non-Greeks, James and John, who came to Jesus in Mark 10:35 and said, "Hey, we want you to do for us whatever we ask." Jesus said, "What do you want me to do?" and they said, "We want you to make us glorious, one on your right and one on your left."
What did Jesus say when they said that? He said, "Are you able to be baptized with the baptism with which I'm about to be baptized?" In other words, "Are you about to go through and identify yourself with sin and death and count your life of no account? Are you ready to follow me to the cross and live in faith and serve to the point of death? If you are, then you will get what I'm getting, which is honor from the Father. You want glory? Do what the Glorious One does."
It's the same thing right here. "Die. Take up your cross and follow me. Serve the Father. Don't count your life as yours. This is not your home. Your Father is good and right and true. Don't do what the world says; do what your Father says." Do you catch this? Gang, this stuff right here… Look at the paradox. "You must die, but you'll bear much fruit. You must hate your life, but then you'll keep it for eternal life. You must follow him to the cross, but then you'll follow him all the way to glory. You must serve the Father, and then the Father will honor you."
If you catch just one half of these, you're either going to miss the glory of the reward or you're going to miss the incredible challenge of the sacrifice. Let me just say this. If you try to get the latter…glory, eternal life, honor, much fruit…by CLEPing out of the first, you won't. You'll never get there. But if you try to do this without focusing on that, you will also falter.
I want to tell you something, gang. The Christian life was never supposed to have been easy. It is not easy; it's just worth it. That's crazy talk unless when Jesus dies he is raised up. That's crazy talk unless when he's raised up as God who offered himself as a sacrifice, the Father gives him the name above all names, and that's exactly what happened. That's exactly what Jesus said would happen.
It gets even better. Are you ready? Look at what it says in verse 27. "Now My soul has become troubled…" That's the same word that it says Jesus went through… There was a riot within him when he walked up on Lazarus' death and saw the grief that was amongst his people. There was a riot inside of him, and he wanted to do something about it. Guess what he wanted to do about it: he wanted to go to the cross.
It says at this moment his soul was deeply troubled too. There was a riot going on inside him of a different kind this time, because he knew what was about to happen. It was about to get really, really ugly. One guy said this, and I think it was genius. He was about to be lifted up, naked, for six hours on the busiest day of the busiest feast at the busiest place in the busiest city in the world.
Jesus didn't just skip through this life. He was fully God and fully man, and he felt every emotion you and I do. "I don't know if I'm really in on this, Father. I don't know if I really want to do this." Watch what he does. He goes, "Father, my soul is troubled. As a human, I am deeply distressed. There's a riot inside of me that wants to rebel against your authority," but watch what he says.
In verse 27 he says, "Now my soul is throwing a riot, but what shall I say, 'Father, save me from this hour'? No! I have come for this purpose, and this purpose ain't easy, but who cares, because if I die, there's much fruit. If I hate my life, there's eternal life. If I follow your word to the cross, you will lift me up. If I serve you, you will give me honor. What am I going to do because it's hard…bail out? Forget it."
I love the beginning of the movie The Passion of the Christ. What happens at the beginning of that movie? It's Jesus in Gethsemane. He is sitting there, and he is sweating drops of blood, as it were. And there is a snake. Remember that? It comes, and there is a riot going on inside of him. "You don't want to go be exposed. Your Father doesn't love you. This is a bad plan."
He prays, he reminds himself of the Word of God, he listens to the Spirit of God, and by faith he stands up and goes Boom! and snaps that little snake's head. He says, "Be gone, liar!" and he gets up and says, "Let's go." That's what you have to do every single day. "Father, this is hard living for eternity, but what am I going to do? Start living for now? No! Glorify yourself in me, that I see you for who you are, and I will follow you, and I will honor you."
It is so beautiful in this moment. A voice came out of heaven: "I have both glorified it, and I will glorify it again." What does that mean? It means that the Father said, "I have glorified myself in you all the way along, because you have yielded to me and been obedient to my work, and I'm going to glorify myself again on that cross."
This is the glory of God. It is filled with grace, and it is filled with truth. What is the truth? Sin is a nasty thing. God is holy. He will have no tolerance for sinners and those who are not completely like him, and he will judge it. He hates sin. By the way, this is why in Isaiah 53 we are told that Jesus was acquainted with sorrows and was a man of grief.
Remember what I said? I heard that one man say that he's going to be exposed naked for six hours, humiliated, after being beaten, on the busiest day of the busiest feast at the busiest place in the busiest city in the world, after being beaten, scoffed at, and mocked. Here's what's going to happen. Somebody he has loved his whole eternal life, who has always been intimate with him and looked at him with pleasure and has smiled upon him and whose voice thunders approval is going to, in a moment, look at him with despising judgment.
Jesus was a man of sorrows, acquainted with grief. Can you imagine going through your whole life…? The best way I can explain this… Let's just say I was a really good guy and I always did good. You all loved me, and I loved you, and I was a faithful pastor, and my kids loved me. I'd been a good dad to them. But the whole time, let's just say, I knew there was going to be a day that was going to come when I was going to be accused of something I didn't do, a "Joseph and Potiphar's wife" incident or, even worse, something to a child.
There were going to be witnesses brought against me, and everybody was going to be convinced that Pastor Todd, that Daddy, had done this awful thing to this little girl, this little boy, and I was not going to be able to defend myself in front of you. There was going to be a moment when I stood before you, and all of you were going to look at me and just go, "Oh, are you kidding me?" My kids were going to look at me and go, "Dad, what?"
Let me tell you something. You can beat my back raw. You can spit on me, blindfold me, slap my face, and mock me, and that would not even approach the pain I would feel if I was going to bear a false accusation that made everybody who loved me think really evil of me. I want to tell you, every time Jesus laughed, every time he enjoyed intimacy with the Father, he knew what was coming.
He knew what was coming was a moment on this cross when God was going to make him who knew no sin to become sin on our behalf, that we might become the righteousness of God in him. There was going to be a moment when the Father caused him to bear our sins, and the Father could not look on sins. In fact, when he looks on sins, he looks on them with judgment. Think about that. Think about no matter how much fun we have…our honeymoon, our first decade together, all the life change we've seen…
Every time you laughed and you came up and said, "Pastor Todd, I love you," I knew in five or six years you were going to look at me in a moment and go, "You betrayed me. You're not who I thought you were." That didn't happen just with his followers to him. You need to understand who this is on the cross. This is the Eternal One of God. "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God."
They always loved each other, and forever they dwelt in unity. There was that moment when the Father looked at the Son and said, "I reject that. I judge that. I despise that." Who would do that? Grace doesn't seem a sufficient enough word, does it? Truth, that God hates sin, that he would separate himself from himself in a way that doesn't even make sense to my human understanding, but that's what Jesus said.
"Do you want to see who I am? I'm about to show you who I am. I love you so much, you little rebellious sinners, and I'm going to die for you while you're sinners, that you might be reconciled to God. I bear much fruit, because some of the light is going to go on for some of you, and you're going to come to me, and I will love that, and I'll take your shame. At some point I'll reconcile with the Father very quickly, but there's going to be an incredibly, intensely painful moment when an eternally infinite relationship is severed somehow, in a moment, so the debt could be paid."
You tell me that your works can earn your way to heaven? The Bible says if it's true that works can save, then Christ died needlessly. Jesus is not one to die needlessly. He died for you, and if you put your faith in anything else, you're judged already. If you say you've put your faith in him, then guess what he says. "Do you know how I know you know me? You die like I do and bear much fruit." How are you doing?
"Do you know how I know you know me? You don't count your life right now as yours. You hate your life. Do you know how I know you know me? You follow me. How do you follow me? You take up your cross every day and do what I do. You lay yourself down, and you do what God wants you to do. You serve the Father." If you are not dying, hating your life, following, and serving, I don't think you have a good glimpse, and I would lock back in. Let me pray for you.
Father, I pray this morning that the light would go on for somebody that nasty, dead, human effort is never going to save. I pray they would get a glimpse of who Jesus is. This is not just some little wet kiss from a weak lamb; this is a touch and an embrace and the love of a lion who, for a moment, is going to be despised, forsaken, and mistaken as weak, rejected by men, and even in a moment despised by you, so that those of us who are far from you can be brought near, so that those of us who are not righteous can be made righteous in him.
We thank you that you have opened our eyes to see that the one riding on a colt, the foal of a donkey, is in fact, the King of Kings, Lord of Lords, and he has come humbly because he loves us. Before he destroys all that disturbs peace, he wanted to die himself to make peace with us. What kind of God are you? Impossible to reveal through words; impossible for me to preach people into clarity of the magnitude of this truth. So I thank you for song, that we can maybe sing it; I thank you for visuals, that we can maybe see it; and I thank you for grace that might reveal it to some even now, amen.
Would you stand with me and sing of the mystery of this love and why we love the cross and why Jesus said, "It is the ultimate example of my glory"?
People ask me sometimes, "Wagner, why don't you do an altar call? Let folks come." I just want to tell you something. I don't think you saying, "Hosanna!" in this moment is the key to your salvation. I believe if you see what I'm talking about today, you can't help but come. Come be the fruit. Come and see the one who has died for you, that you might be the fruit of righteousness in his name, but you don't need to come to me.
If you need clarity on how to close that deal, come. We'll pray with you right now. Check that box, but too many folks in this room will sing "Hosanna" right now, and then five minutes later or five days later will say, "Crucify him." We can't honor him with our lips while our hearts are far from him. We come and die for the one who died for us. We're not saved because we do that. We don't have the whole realm of nature to give him. We have us. So I beg that you give him you. You won't be able to do it perfectly. That's why he died.
But you'll surround yourself with other believers who will admonish you, encourage you, and help you. You'll connect, and you'll follow him, and you'll serve him, and you'll count this life as nothing, not seeking your own comfort but seeking the exaltation of Christ. That's the fruit of the glory of God and men who are at peace with him. I pray if you don't know him that you would come, and I pray if you know him that you would go this week and serve the Savior of the wonderful cross.
Have a great week of worship. We'll see you.