If you want to see God, then you need to look at Jesus as He is the physical representation of God's nature. His purpose in coming to earth was to reveal the glory of God through humiliating Himself through death on a tree. Some will respond with awe, and others will reject it (2 Corinthians 2:14-16). How will you respond?
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
Father, thank you for this morning, for what we've already heard declared about who you are through song, for what we've maybe even already experienced declared about you by the way folks have loved us and greeted us and welcomed us, received our children, invited us to come here, invested their lives in us, all for the purpose of opening the eyes of our hearts that we might see you.
For those of us who already know you, that we would respond more fully. For those of us who are here, skeptical, discouraged, hurt, wondering if you're there, if you care, in the midst of our poverty, our brokenness, our sickness, the betrayal of family, the emptiness of life, the loneliness because of fractured relationships and isolation… Are you there? Do you care? Would you use this morning to remind us of your goodness and protect us from the deceit which so easily entangles us?
I pray these next few moments would be part of how you spur us on to love and good deeds, that you would move us toward love, that we would see a fuller glimpse of who you are in the context of history, that we might walk with you and in walking with you experience the richness of fellowship that comes with knowing the God who is.
Lord, minister uniquely to every person in this room, knowing that every one of us comes with a different set of needs and hurts and hang-ups, but you in your sovereignty and perfection and your fullness and authority can meet each of us right where we are. Would you show yourself to be God right now as we look at who you are, what you've done, and where you call us? We thank you for grace. We thank you for love. We thank you for peace that comes through Christ. Show us that this morning, amen.
There is a series of passages in the gospel of John that really set up where we are today. We looked all through John last week to get us started. Open up to John, chapter 12, and that's where we're going to be, but behind me I'm going to show you a few things. There's a guy who actually is teaching through John himself, who has been listening to the earlier messages we've done, who shot me a message this week and asked me a question. He's just starting. He's in John 2.
He said, "Todd, I was listening to your message in John 2, and I want to understand more about why Jesus responded the way he did to his mom," when she said, basically, "Hey, these people are struggling. Why don't you do something about the fact that they're about to be embarrassed because they don't have enough provision for their guests?" Jesus looked at his mom, after his mom said to the servants, "Hey, whatever he tells you to do, do it," because she knew he could do something about it, and he didn't have to run to Tom Thumb to grab more wine.
Jesus says in John 2:4, "Woman, what does that have to do with us? My hour has not yet come." In other words, "I'm not on your timetable." We taught all about this. It wasn't a disrespectful term when he called her "Woman." It was a term of endearment. I taught on that. Go back and listen to that message. He was basically saying, "My hour is not here yet for me to fully glorify myself. By the way, when I fully glorify myself, it's not going to be through just bar room tricks and incidental blessing. There will be signs I will do…"
John walks us through seven different signs. The very first one was a sign that he has the power to create. There's a reason, I think, that Jesus chose that sign as the very first one. What is wine? It's just old grape juice. He created something with apparent age, just like, I think, our universe and our earth looks a lot older than it is. God doesn't have any time taking water and turning it into wine, which is just grape juice that is fermented for a long time.
So if you struggle with the age of the earth because things look old, let me just tell you, God can create things with apparent age. How old was Adam? Was he a zygote? Was he an embryo? No one thinks that. Adam was probably in his late teens or his 20s, we think. It sure looked like he had been around for a while. Anyway, God creating something with apparent age is not a problem.
"My hour has not yet come," he says. In John 7:6, Jesus was being asked by his brothers if he was going to go up to the Passover feast in Jerusalem. He says this kind of cryptic thing: "My time is not yet here, but your time is always opportune [to go worship the Lord] ." Verse 8: "Go up to the feast yourselves; I do not go up to this feast because My time has not yet fully come."
John 7:30: "So they were seeking to seize Him; and no man laid his hand on Him, because His hour had not yet come." John 8:20: "These words He spoke in the treasury, as He taught in the temple; and no one seized Him, because His hour had not yet come." Then we get to where we are right now. We're in John 12:23. Jesus says, "The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified."
God had been in the business of glorifying himself (I'll talk more about that in a minute) all through Christ's life for the last three years, all throughout the human history and God's dealings with man (I'll talk about that in a few minutes), but Jesus is saying, "Right here, at this moment, this is a great time for you to tune in with me."
There were some Greeks, specifically, who wanted to get some one-on-one time with Jesus. They came to Philip, who went to Andrew, and they went to Jesus. They said, "Jesus, there are some guys here, and they want to see you." Jesus says, "Well, they've picked the best possible time to see me."
In other words, if you only could capture one glimpse of the life of Christ, you're tuning in at exactly the right time. So fret not that you haven't been with us all these past weeks in John. You're locking into the perfect time if you want to see Jesus, because you're about to see what Jesus came ultimately to do, which is to reveal the glory of the Father.
Let's go back. Remember? John 1:1: "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. […] And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory…full of grace and truth." So, do you want to see the glory of God? When you see God in all his fullness, you will see him as gracious and kind and loving, and you'll also see him as truthful and uncompromising and wrathful toward wrong and willing to prosecute evil. That's the God you dream of.
You're going to see right now in Christ's life the fullest expression of that in the character and nature of God revealed in the person of Jesus Christ. This is Hebrews 1:1-3, when it says in the Scripture, "God, after He spoke long ago to the fathers in the prophets in many portions and in many ways…" God was telling you who he was. There's a revelation. There's a telling. "You can't imagine who I am. You would never dare to dream of a God this great and this grand." But God has been revealing himself.
It says, "…in these last days has spoken to us in His Son, whom He appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the world. And He is the radiance of His glory and the exact representation of His nature…" Do you want to know what God is like? That is one of the greatest discussions any philosopher could ever have.
"Why are we here? Where did we come from? What's our purpose? Why is there evil? What should we do about it? How can we have hope? Is there a God?" This is the greatest place you can be, because you're about to see Jesus say, "This is the moment, right here, when I reveal the glory, character, and nature of God, and I am the exact representation of his nature." So do you want to know what God is like? Look at Jesus.
If you have been given the poison that he's just some little prophet, some evolved man, some teacher, some seer; if you have believed that Jesus is just meek and gentle and got caught up in a political movement where people more powerful than him ultimately nailed him to a cross and followers of him tried to redeem that moment, you have not been paying attention, because Jesus says, "Listen. Nobody tells me what to do."
One of my favorite passages in John is coming up. It's when he is being beaten by Pilate and his minions, and Pilate is trying to get Jesus to tell him something. Pilate is frustrated because Jesus is not defending himself in this moment, because he's letting the course of this kangaroo court run its way. Pilate says, "Don't you know who I am? Answer me, because I have the power to set you free and the power to let the beating continue."
Jesus looks up, and he grabs that Roman ruler, and I think he pulled him right to his little Jewish nose and said, "Bro, you ain't got no power unless my Father in heaven (see also me), in a way you in your little pea brain can't understand… You have no authority unless I give it to you." Listen. Jesus is not some limp-wristed prophet who hopes people get his teachings and live enlightened by it for years to come. He is the revelation of God. He is the fullness of God in bodily form. He is the Great I Am.
He says, "You want to see me? You've shown up at the perfect time." Look here. Jesus in verse 27 says, "My soul is troubled." I talked to you a little bit about this. He's troubled. He's deeply distressed. There is a riot going on inside him. He is fully God, fully man. He is not impassable, which means he is not somebody who is separate and beyond emotion. He has been made just like you and me.
The writer of Hebrews said he has been tempted in every way as you and I have been, yet without sin. He knows what it's like to feel like the world is out of control and following the Father is crazy. Even though he existed in the form of God, he did not hold on to his eternal deity. He laid it aside so he could relate to you and me, and he walked by faith with the Father. His flesh was constantly taunting him.
The Enemy was constantly pleading with him to reject God. The world said, "It's foolish to believe in a God you can't see and touch." There was a riot… That's literally what the word means. Deeply distressed. It's like he said, "My soul is rebelling against submission to this hour. This ain't easy to give my life away." But you want to watch love go to work? You want to see what great men do?
I was talking to my boy this week about this. I said, "Let me tell you what makes a man different than a boy. A man disciplines himself. A man has the ability to say no to fleeting things because others are relying upon him, counting on him, need him to provide and protect. So he doesn't run to folly. He doesn't do what is pleasing to his flesh. He is like a warrior who disciplines himself and runs to the battle so that others might be safe. That's what men do."
Where did I get that idea? I wasn't making that up. I was describing Jesus to him. In my Bible, in the margin, I have written stuff like this next to passages like this: "When a man forgets himself, that's when he usually does something everybody else remembers. The greatness of a man is determined not by how many men serve him but by how many men he serves."
Jesus is saying, "Don't be like everybody else who works to bring comfort and power and prestige to themselves, who try to accumulate for themselves position and prominence and possessions that then buy them a life of ease and comfort. No. Don't lord your position over others. That's what the godless do. You want to be great? You serve. You give yourself for others." It is contrary to the human nature, it's contrary to the spirit of the world, and the Enemy mocks you as you live for something other than now.
It will be inside of you like it was inside of Jesus, like there is a riot. Your soul is going to go, "Don't you die to me." Your flesh is going to say, "Don't you tell me no." But men are not boys. They don't just run after the first pretty little girl or butterfly and hop away from a place where they are to work. They stay there, and they get busy. They toil and fertilize and fence and protect and produce. They don't run off to recess constantly.
Jesus says, "This isn't easy, but it's right. It's worth it. So what am I going to do because it's tough?" I love this statement. "My soul has become troubled; and what shall I say, 'Daddy, get me out of this difficulty'? No. I came for this moment." And he mans up, like no other man has ever manned up. It took him in the middle of the busiest feast, as we've said, on the busiest day in the busiest city at the busiest hour.
They mocked him and betrayed him, and they left him and spit on him, and they nailed him to a tree and displayed him naked, and they said, "King of the Jews." They whupped him upside the head and beat him and blindfolded him and said, "Okay, prophet. Who just hit you?" I've told you many times, that would have been one of those moments where I would have just gone, "Time out."
I would have whipped it off. I would have said, "It was you!" and a lightning bolt would have come down and fried that little Roman centurion to a crisp, and I would have said, "Now, carry on, boys." But he didn't do that, because it wasn't his moment to be the lion; it was his moment to be the lamb, because he was up to something great.
What kind of man does that? What kind of man lets himself be falsely accused, told he's things that he is not, told he is weak when he is strong, told that he mocks the Creator when he's the Creator himself? That isn't easy. He goes, "But I came, because in this you're going to see what love looks like, you're going to see what strength looks like, and you're going to see what justice looks like. So tune in."
He says in John 12, "Am I going to ask my Daddy to skip this hour? No. I came for this hour. Father, glorify your name. Let's get it on." "Sir, we would see Jesus." Then watch closely. "Then a voice came out of heaven: 'I have both glorified it, and will glorify it again.'" I love this moment. There's a lot of discussion about what this particular comment meant. It could mean one of two things.
God would say, in effect, from heaven, "I have been glorifying myself from the very beginning. From the moment man rebelled against me…" Instead of in an impetuous, rash, quick way slapping them on either side of the head and saying, "That just disgusts me," he made provision for them. As a means of grace, he slaughtered an innocent animal. He took his most cherished possession and covered them in the skin of that animal. In other words, innocent blood was shed, and there was covering for their nakedness and sin and exposure, if you will, before God.
He prophesied that there was going to be a day that he was going to ultimately satisfy his wrath. This was just a picture of what has to happen. He said, "I meant it when I told you that the day you leave me you will surely die. The day you don't know who I am and try to find life apart from me, you will surely die." God makes a gracious covering, and he glorifies himself. Then, later, he calls a man out of pagan worship and the blindness of man, and he reveals himself to Abraham and puts him in a place of blessing.
Then, later, as the descendants of Abraham are in slavery to other men who take their positions of power and lord it over them, he rescues them from slavery. He takes them up against the Red Sea. He parts the Red Sea. He glorifies himself in the way he delivers them from that. He reveals himself in the desert. He provides for them water instead of letting them there to dehydrate and die.
He provides for them food. He takes them into a land of promise where cities were built for them, orchards were planted for them. He drives out seven kings greater in number and power than them. He lets them rebel against him and sends them off into discipline, but he rescues them from Babylon and brings them back home again. He stirs the hearts of kings in Medo-Persia to give them favor.
He has been glorifying himself in his patience and his covenant love since the beginning of time. Some people think that's what God meant when he said, "I have been glorifying myself. Everything I do is for my glory." Others think he's specifically talking about Christ. "From the very moment we started this little public ministry together, I have glorified myself. From the creation event, turning water into wine, to the resurrection event, bringing Lazarus out of the tomb, from your teachings and your revelation of self, I have made myself known."
Either way, it is true. He has been glorifying himself in all of human history and most fully at this time with Christ. It says, though, in verse 29, that when this happened, a crowd of people who stood by and heard it were saying that it had thundered, and others were saying, "No, an angel has spoken to him." Let me just tell you, when you share the gospel of Christ, you're going to get one of those two responses.
People are going to shrink back and be horrified. It's going to be a thunderous revelation. It's going to come in a way that causes men to hide or to shake their fists at God or it's going to be like a sweet siren song. It's going to be a melodious tune, where they go, "I have never heard something so wonderful." When you hear that God judges sin and that God makes provision for people's sin through his own righteous sacrifice, through his own gracious provision…
Some men go, "Don't you dare tell me I need a Savior. I'm a good man. I'm not a wicked man. Don't you dare tell me God would send people to hell forever." It'll be like a thunderous sound to them, a sound of judgment, when we tell them, "No, God does, in fact, judge the sins of men." They'll fight against it. They'll shake their fists against it. They'll look for any shelter they can from it.
Then others, when you tell them, "You are lost. There is no way you could ever, in your own effort, appease God or earn back favor from him," and you tell them, "God loves you and makes provision for you. He himself identified with you in your brokenness and fallenness, and though he knew no sin, he became sin on your behalf, that you might become the righteousness of God in him…"
If you know the glory of God and the depravity of your heart, you're going to go, "I have never heard a story that sweet. I've never heard an offer that magnanimous. All my life I have wondered if I could ever be forgiven by God, and you're telling me not only can I be forgiven, but he was the means through which I was forgiven." So brace yourself.
It's like what Paul says in 2 Corinthians. There are some people who when you preach are going to get downright angry at you, and what you say to them is going to be an aroma of death, and there are going to be others for whom it is an aroma of life. Look at 2 Corinthians 2:14-16. "But thanks be to God, who always leads us in triumph in Christ, and manifests through us the sweet aroma of the knowledge of Him in every place." He's letting others know he is there, that he is good, by the way we love and serve the way he loved and served.
"For we are a fragrance of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing…" You're going to get one of two radical responses when you represent Jesus. It's the same response he gets. The first response is an aroma from death to death. "We reject you. We don't like what you're saying. Don't you tell me I'm not righteous. Don't you tell me I need a Savior. Don't you tell me I need you to get to God." Then for others, it's going to be an aroma from life to life.
Paul says, "Who is adequate for these things? Who can carry forth such a message that it is the pivot point of people's eternity?" I tell folks all the time… I drive the conversation to Jesus as quickly as I can. "Who do you think this Jesus is? Let me tell you what he said about himself." I was talking to a guy this week. He was a national leader, and we were talking about truth. He just goes, "Truth? What is truth?" This guy, interestingly enough, claimed to know Christ. He goes, "I don't broker in truth, and I don't let some of what I think about God inform everything I do."
I just challenged him on that. I go, "Let me ask you a question. It seems to me that the Scriptures indicate that truth is a big deal, and I would tell you that leadership is a big deal, because leadership is what's going to influence us in our pursuit of truth or our definition of truth. Our founders said there are certain truths we hold self-evident, and those truths should inform everything we do that will help us then pursue life, liberty, and happiness. So I want to know what you think of as truth."
He goes, "Well, I can't pin what I think is true on others." I said, "Well, let's go back to what you said earlier about Jesus. You seem to think Jesus is somebody you should respond to." He goes, "That's my belief." I go, "But your belief doesn't matter." Very similar conversation I had with this gal the week before, when she said, "Well, that's what you believe."
I just drove it to Jesus. I went, "Wait a minute. Jesus said, 'I am the way. I am the truth.' For you to tell me that you believe Jesus is who he says he is and you don't believe he is true in a way that affects everybody tells me that either you don't know who Jesus is or you're believing in a fool who can't be trusted."
When you talk about truth, certain people are going to be offended. It's going to be a judgment on them. It's going to be like thunder coming down on their life or they're going to go, "I need to know truth, because I have been chasing to the ends of the earth trying to find life, and I can't find it." That's what Proverbs 17:24 says. It says the "wisdom of understanding," but it says, "The fool will search to the ends of the earth."
In other words, they'll look everywhere but to the one place there is truth, and they will be darkened in their understanding, and it will lead to a spiral of despair. When you preach, it's going to be a thunder or it's going to be an angel's song, and you need to prepare yourself for both. I love this, though. What Christ did after this is he said, "Let me tell you why you heard what you just heard. This voice did not come for my sake but for your sake, that you may know. I already know who I am." It was God saying, "I'll take it."
When Jesus said, "Father, glorify yourself…" Remember what he said a little bit earlier? "I'm going to give myself up. I'm going to be a seed which goes into the ground and dies, and from it will come great fruit. I don't want to keep my life, preserve my life. I'm going to hate my life, in a sense, in the way that I turn it over, because I know what my life given for lost people can do. I'm going to follow the Father's call, even though it goes contrary to my flesh. I'm going to serve the Father's purposes, even though it's not easy, because it's worth it."
Jesus knew who he was. He knew why he was here. He knew he was in control. That's why he kept saying, "No one is going to take my life. I'm going to lay it down, and I will take it back up." Watch. "This voice didn't come for me; this came for you. Father, glorify yourself." "Done! I have glorified it, and I will glorify it."
If you go back and read your Bible, there are other men who sought to give glory to the justice of God by offering themselves. Abraham knew the God of promise was worth anything, so the God of promise said to him, "Do you trust me, Abraham?" "Oh, I trust you." "Then you offer to me a sacrifice of your most precious possession. You give me your boy. Are you willing to give me that as an offering that I would find acceptable?"
Abraham said, "I sure am," and God said, "I'm not going to take it, because that's not the kind of God I am. I don't want human sacrifice in the form of shed blood. In fact, I'm trying to redeem human sacrifice to sin. Abraham, I know that's your beloved son, but he is your son; he's not mine. He is not perfect and complete, and any sacrifice given for me must be pure and unblemished."
That lamb in the garden had done nothing, so it was a worthy sacrifice in that moment, but it was a finite creature, so it's not ultimately acceptable. Every sacrifice given in the Old Testament was to have one specific characteristic: pure and unblemished. "So, Abraham, I know it's Isaac. I know you love him, but that ain't a good boy in the way that I define good."
Moses, a little bit later, up on Mount Sinai. There is a rebellion in the camp. They make a golden calf. God is angry. Moses said, "Take my life. Spare them." God said, "No, Moses. I'm not going to take you. You're not a worthy sacrifice for those people. I'll tell you what I'm going to do, though, until I bring that worthy sacrifice."
Paul, when he saw the blindness of Israel (what I'm going to focus on next week), said, "I wish that I was accursed," and God said, "You can wish all you want, but I'm not going to curse you for them, because, Paul, if you die, you're just a dead man dying for a dead man's sins." But right here, Jesus said, "I'm going to give myself for them," and God says, "Done. I'll take it." Payment in full. Sufficient sacrifice. Eternal, perfect, and good.
Jesus said, "I didn't need to hear that; y'all did. The reason that voice came is there is an infinite debt, and you just heard God say, 'That infinitely perfect, eternal, visible image of me… I'll take it.'" This is really important. If you know your Bible, you know that when Moses went up on Mount Sinai it was accompanied with thunder and lightning, a form of God's justice, and it was given by angels. Stephen talks about this in his address in Acts 7. The writer of Hebrews talks about this repeatedly.
There was a great consequence to anybody who rejected the law that came down from Sinai. What's going to happen right here as this section of Scripture is developed throughout the rest of Scripture… This is really important. Tune in with me. I'm going to move the cookies up just for a second. If you rejected the law of Sinai, it had horrible consequences to those who were underneath that revelation.
What the writer of Hebrews does is he says, "If you think it's a big deal to reject that revelation that was accompanied by thunder and angels, you'd better make sure you don't reject this great offer of salvation that was accompanied by thunder and angels, because everything that came out of Sinai pointed to John 12 and following." Let me show you this. You guys need to understand this, because this is what's at stake. Hebrews, chapter 2:
"For this reason we must pay much closer attention to what we have heard [the gospel story of Jesus] , so that we do not drift away from it. For if the word spoken through angels[reference to Sinai]proved unalterable, and every transgression and disobedience received a just penalty, how will we escape if we neglect so great a salvation[as is offered in Jesus]?"
Jump over to chapter 12. Let me just spell it all out for you. God is revealing his glory and his justice and his means of grace on Sinai. "I am holy; you are not. This is your sin. This is the provision I'll make for your sin until the full and final sacrifice for sin has come, until the one who doesn't come to get rid of the law but who fulfills the law." Jesus said, "I didn't come to abolish the law but to fulfill it. The law is good. All the law does, though, is bring you to death."
There are a couple of ways to get rid of a kitten. You can take a mallet and just go Boom! right on its head, and you would now have abolished the kitten, or you can let that kitten become what it's supposed to be: a cat, and the kitten is abolished. It grows into its fullness, which, by the way, is why, though kittens are wonderful, you have to get rid of them, because they turn into cats.
It's Jungle Book theology. Remember that? Baloo says, "He's just a man-cub." Someone says, "Yes, but the problem with man-cubs is they grow into men, and men destroy our jungle and hunt us, so we must eliminate this." Jesus didn't eliminate the law; he just fulfilled it. He brought out the fullness of the law in all of its glory. "Don't you think I came to abolish the law. The law is good. The problem is you. You don't do the law."
The law was given with thunder and angels, and there was a great consequence. This is Hebrews 12. Let me teach you some Bible. Verse 18: "For you have not come…" This is talking about people who have heard the gospel, have heard John 12. "…to a mountain that can be touched and to a blazing fire, and to darkness and gloom and whirlwind, and to the blast of a trumpet and the sound of words which sound was such that those who heard begged that no further word be spoken to them." That's what happened at Sinai.
"For they could not bear the command [in Exodus 19] , ' If even a beast touches the mountain, it will be stoned .' And so terrible was the sight, that Moses said, 'I am full of fear and trembling.' But you have come to [a different mount,] Mount Zion…" It's a reference to the very mountain of God.
"…and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to myriads of angels, to the general assembly and church of the firstborn who are enrolled in heaven, and to God, the Judge of all, and to the spirits of the righteous made perfect, and to Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood, which speaks better than the blood of Abel."
What did the blood of Abel do? It cried for judgment against Cain and his murderous rebellion and self-will, but the blood of Jesus cries for judgment even more. "If you ignore the blood of Abel, Cain, it's going to cost you." The writer of Hebrews is saying, "You think the blood of Abel called out for judgment? You think Sinai called for judgment?
Let me just tell you something. That sacrifice on Mount Moriah, the temple mount, on Golgotha…all the same. In the city of God, Jerusalem, which is a picture of the true City of God, Mount Zion (we reference it as), blood has been spilled there, and you neglect that blood and you think you're going to escape judgment?"
Pay attention. Verse 25: "See to it that you do not refuse Him who is speaking. For if those did not escape when they refused him who warned them on earth, much less will we escape who turn away from Him who warns from heaven." This is a big moment. You're tuning in at the right spot. You're going to see God in all his grace, in all his glory, in all his justice, and if you just skim over this, you do it to your own great peril. "This voice came for you, that he would tell you, 'This is the one.'"
Verse 31, in case you didn't get it yet: "Now judgment is upon this world; now the ruler of this world will be cast out." This is the moment. Think the movie The Passion of the Christ, when that serpent is about to come and strike him on the heel, if you will, as it talks about in the protoevangelium, those of you who know Genesis 3, that prophecy that immediately followed after rebellion of man.
It says there's going to be enmity between the seed of the woman and the seed of the Serpent. "The seed of the Serpent will strike you on the heel. It will wound you for a season, but you will crush his head." This is Genesis 3 revealed. I love the way that movie starts. I wish I would have pulled the clip for you. He is having a riotous moment in his soul.
He doesn't want to go forward to this becoming sin, where the wrath of the Father would be poured out on him and the eternal unity of the Godhead would somehow be compromised, as God made him who knew no sin to become sin on our behalf, but he stood up and said, "Am I asking Daddy to get me out? Not my will but thy will be done," and then Gibson had that snake walk through that garden, and you saw Jesus at that moment stand up and go Boom! right on his head. Jesus says, "This is that moment." This is the moment (verse 31) when the Ruler of this world is cast out.
You go to Revelation. There are three great judgments that are seen in terms of the seals, the bowls, and the trumpets. There are seven of each. When you get to the seventh trumpet at the end of Revelation 11… You get to Revelation 12, and there's a pause in chapters 12-15, and it talks about seven great characters that are going to be a part of God's end-time events: Israel, the Messiah, Satan, the Beast, the individuals who believe, if you will. When it talks about Satan, specifically, in Revelation 12, this is what it says. Revelation 12:10-11:
"Then I heard a loud voice in heaven, saying, 'Now the salvation, and the power, and the kingdom of our God and the authority of His Christ have come, for the accuser of our brethren has been thrown down, he who accuses them before our God day and night. And they overcame him because of the blood of the Lamb and because of the word of their testimony, and they did not love their life even when faced with death.'"
They became like Jesus, and they followed him, and they did not love their life even when faced with death. They believed Christ when he said, "You have to give your life away, and you'll gain it. You have to follow me to the cross, and you'll follow me to glory. You have to serve the Father with me, and you will receive the honor I receive."
How did they overcome the Evil One? By the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony that "This sacrifice is sufficient. It has reconciled me to God, and the courage which lived in Christ, the Spirit of truth that lived in Christ lived in me." This is the moment that will give you victory over the Accuser who says, "Wagner? I know he preaches on Sunday, but he is a wretch. He is a terror. He is self-willed. There is enmity in his heart. There is anger in his soul. There is lust in his mind."
I say this all the time. Paul says it in Romans 7. "Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?" I don't need the Enemy to tell me how awful I am, but he always does. There are times I'm up there preaching, and I think thoughts, and I go, "Am I even saved?" because of the thoughts that come through my mind.
I've said this. I tell people all the time, "If you knew who I was, really, in my flesh, not by my identity with Christ and the Spirit which indwells me, but just left to myself… If you knew what I've done and what I think and what I'd like to do that somehow, by the grace of God, I've been restrained to executing fully, you would not come here." But as I like to tell you, if we knew who you were, we wouldn't let your nasty self in.
All of us are looking for some kind of help, and I'm going to tell you, the help comes in the blood of the Lamb and by our word that God said, "That'll do, pig. That one right there. That one. You let that Lamb be yours as you wallow in the mud of the flesh that is corrupt and the way of the world which so easily entangles you and the Enemy which has put his hook in your nose and led you astray. You trust in the Lamb."
Verse 32: "And I, if I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to Myself." I love that word draw. It's important. There are two different words for draw in the Scripture. One is used throughout the book of Acts. You'll find it in Acts 8, Acts 14, Acts 17. Listen to this. This is Acts 8:3. Different word.
"But Saul began ravaging the church, entering house after house, and dragging off men and women, he would put them in prison." It is a violent wrenching. It is a seizing. "You don't want to go where I'm going to take you." Jesus says, "Do you want to see me? Do you want to know God?" Listen to me on this one. He says, "You lift me up, and I will draw men to myself." That word draw is a word for wooing.
"I'm going to put out a display of the goodness and character and nature of God, that when you see it and catch it in all its fullness, you have no option but to run to that and go, 'If that is true, if it is true that you are God and you just went to that cross for me; if it is true that you who spoke the world into existence, who came and let us beat you and mock you and betray you and be unfaithful to you and spit at you and deny you, that you would lay on that cross and say, "Father, forgive them; they don't know what they do"; if even in that moment of sacrifice we run and hide, three times we deny you to little slave girls, and all you do is pray for us; if that is who you are, I've dreamt of a God like that.'"
That's what Jesus is saying. He's saying when you focus on this story, this moment in history, that God, who created the heavens and the earth, humbled himself and became a baby; lived a perfect and sinless life; brought grace to men; spoke out against abuse and wrong; cared for the downtrodden, the oppressed, and the broken; was betrayed; was rejected; was hated by men; and humbly went to the cross for them so they might be redeemed to God and brought from death to life, you would go, "All I want to do is know you."
It is the greatest love story. It's like watching a movie, and you just go, "I would long for a love like that." That's why when you show the Jesus film sometimes overseas… It has happened repeatedly. When they hear the story of Jesus and see it on film, and they watch it, and they get to the crucifixion scenes, they have literally stormed the projector. They've thrown rocks at the screen to try to kill the men who are killing Jesus.
Then when they calm the crowds down and say, "Let us finish the story. Remember, Jesus said no one takes his life; he lays it down, and he's going to take it back up again. Let us finish the story," and they watch Jesus come back from the grave and offer forgiveness and grace and life to those who betrayed him and those who didn't know him, they just start to sing, and they erupt, and they go, "We want to know this Jesus!"
They are drawn to him through irresistible grace, as God in his kindness opens the eyes of their hearts, and they see their sin, they see God's holiness, and they see the bridge of compassion built through the cross. He said, "Just tell the story. Wagner, just tell the story. Run to the cross, and I'll draw men to myself."
Some will reject it. This will be a stumbling block through which some men in their self-righteousness, with their noses high, will walk and trip over the cross. They'll consider it foolishness, but for others it'll be a cornerstone. It'll be a rock of salvation, a foundation through which their life will be built. That's all right here in John 12. What do you think is going to happen to us if we reject so great a salvation?
Verse 33: "But He was saying this to indicate the kind of death by which He was to die." In the Old Testament, when you were a wretched man, you weren't just killed and buried; you were displayed publicly overnight on a tree, rejected by God, exposed, uncared for, and left for the birds of prey to come get you as a sign of ultimate judgment and rejection, when you were brought to final judgment and displayed and left out for nature to rot your rebellious corpse.
Jesus said, "I'm going to go to that tree, because God rejects the sinfulness of man, and I'm going to become sin." He goes on to say in verse 34… This is a really seminal moment. Do you remember where we were? Think back. It has been a while, but where were we before this whole episode, before the Greeks showed up and said, "Sir, we would see Jesus" and Jesus goes, "Perfect timing"?
The whole nation of Israel had already grabbed palm branches and said, "Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord, this one who makes the lame walk, the blind see, and the deaf hear. The prisoners are set free. This man speaks out against injustice. He cared for us, and he fed us in the wilderness like Moses. He opened the grave unlike anybody. This is the Messiah. We want him to be our King."
Jesus says, "Well, your King is going to die," and they went, "Whoa! Time out." This is where, right here in verse 34, write down, "Palm branches down. Fists of anger up." This is the pivot point, when people go, "Whoa, God! You're not working the way I would work. You're not doing what I would do." So many of us do this. "God, I love you. God, you're good. God, I care about you."
"Okay. Well, cancer is still going to come. Death is still going to encroach upon you. Rebellion is still going to be in your family. Wicked men are going to get put in positions of power over you. Those who rebel against God are going to be made fat. Their eyes will bulge. They will mock God and mock you for living in purity. There will seem to be no consequence to their sin." You start to put down your palm branch and go, "You know, I'm not really sure I'm going to serve you, because that's not the way my God would act or should act."
Watch this. In this moment they say, "We have heard out of the law that the Christ is to remain forever, yet you say the Son of Man must be lifted up and killed? Who is this Son of Man? We don't know the Son of Man like that. The Son of Man we know about is to endure forever. I would have you go back and look at your Bible. It's in Psalm 110. It says, 'You're a priest forever.'
Isaiah 9: 'His kingdom will have no end. From then on and forevermore there will be no end to the increase of his government.' Ezekiel 37: 'He will be a prince forever.' Daniel 7: 'He will have an everlasting dominion, and his kingdom is one which will never be destroyed.' And you're going to get destroyed? You're going to die? That doesn't make any sense to me." I would have done exactly what Peter did. Matthew 16: "Guys, who do you say that I am?"
"Well, some folks say you're Elijah. Some say you're John the Baptist. Some say you're the prophet that is to come."
"I didn't ask you what everybody else thinks. I'm asking you individually. You've been around me. You've heard me talk. You've heard me make claims. Who do you say that I am? Do you believe or not?" Peter goes, "I think you're the Son of God. I think you're the Messiah. I think you're the hope of the world. I think you're the long-expected one. I think you're my salvation."
Jesus said, "Blessed are you, Simon Barjona, for what you just said has been revealed to you by the kindness of God. He helped you see who I am. That right there is a pivot point for you. By the way, on that profession and understanding of who I am is going to pivot everybody's eternity from here on out. I'm going to build my church on that profession, and they will stand by the blood of this Lamb that's about to be sacrificed and by the word of their testimony."
Now, here's what's amazing. He said, "Now back to the blood of the Lamb thing. Let me just tell you that the Son of Man is going to go, and he's going to be betrayed. He's going to be turned over to the scribes and the Pharisees, and they will crucify him." Peter interrupts and goes, "God forbid it, Lord! That will never happen."
Then Jesus says, "Get behind me, Satan, because you're not listening to me. My ways aren't your ways. This is not the way you'd go about it. You'd just usher in the crown without the cross, but that compromises my justice. You would go to glory without the grave, but that misses a major attribute of who I am. The one thing I can never do is deny who I am."
Listen to this. This is where the people start to go, "We reject you as Messiah," and this is how they can go from on this day saying, "Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord" to "Crucify him." God doesn't perform. God is not concerned about your timetable; he is concerned about his glory.
Watch this. He says, "For a little while longer the Light is among you. Walk while you have the Light, so that darkness will not overtake you; he who walks in the darkness does not know where he goes." In other words, if the blind lead the blind, they both fall into a pit. "'While you have the Light, believe in the Light, so that you may become sons of Light.' These things Jesus spoke, and He went away and hid Himself from them."
The rest of John 12 is one of the most chilling passages in all of Scripture, and that little last statement where he says he went and hid himself from them anticipates that. Next week, I'm going to talk about what's going on with the Jewish people. Why is there this blindness? The answer is because they rejected the Light. What do you think happens when you reject light? You live in darkness. When you live in darkness, what happens? You may as well be blind.
This is exactly what Jesus goes on and develops in Matthew 15. I'm not going to read it to you for the sake of time, but you can go read it. It ends with the Pharisees who came to him and said, "Hey, look. We don't understand the way you're attacking the traditions of men." Jesus said, "I've never been about the traditions of men. You guys are trying to make yourself clean by what you eat and don't eat. That's not how you become clean. You become clean by being made clean by God."
The disciples: "Hey, let me tell you something. The Pharisees didn't like you picking apart their traditions and the way they do things. They're kind of used to people liking the way they do things." Jesus says, "Don't you worry about them. They're blind, and if you follow them, you're going to fall into the same pit they fall into. You need to follow the light, and the darkness won't comprehend the light. The darkness trips over the cornerstone, but the wise build their life on it. Who do you say that I am?"
That's this text. Do you think it's important? Let me just drive home. There are three application points that come from today. Here's the very first one. Are you ready? This is the God you're looking for. If I set you in a room and said, "Go design and develop your own god," I promise you, once you got through with a god who would give you 70 virgins and tell you to party on and you realized how fleeting and empty that is, what you really want is this.
You want a God who is kind, who is loving, who is intimate, who is near, who gives you what you know you don't deserve. You want a gracious God, a God who is charitable to you, loving toward you, merciful. I'll tell you what else you want. You don't want God to be merciful everywhere; you want him to destroy your enemies. You want him to get rid of evil and to eradicate all that is wrong.
Not the wrong that is in you. That's where you want the grace side, but you want a God who's going to deal with those who don't know there is wrong in them and who don't ask for help. You want a God who says, "I'm going to get rid of the wicked and the evil." You would pull a God out of your creating at some level that was filled with grace and truth. That's the God we all dream of.
People are always asking for these two things: relief, provision, kindness, and justice against evil. I'm telling you, this is who he is. You don't ever see the justice and grace of God poured out…ever, in any moment…like you do on the cross. Jesus says, "Here I am. I'm full of grace. I'm going to give you what you don't deserve: my righteousness for your sin. By the way, you're going to see that God doesn't just wink at sin. He is both just and the justifier of those who love him. God is pouring out his wrath on me."
"My God, why have you forsaken me? Forgive them. Give them what they don't deserve. Be satisfied in this perfect provision." This is that moment. This text is what's going to give you a sense of peace when the world falls apart. My buddy Blake and I were talking this week. We watched Blake go through cancer with his son Gage. After Gage had been admitted to the hospital and a port was put inside of him and his treatment was just getting ready to start, Blake was at the hospital with Gage. It was late at night, and he was asleep.
Blake said, "I was just numb, Todd. From the moment I heard the diagnosis, I couldn't remember any Scripture. I couldn't meditate on truth. I was just numb. I was hurting. I was angry. I could hardly pray." He said, "I finally fell asleep, and I was glad to get a little rest, but all of a sudden, in the middle of the night, at 2:00 in the morning… I'll never forget. I look up, and there's a woman in the room right over Gage, my little 4-year-old boy, this big."
Blake is weeping when he tells me this. This woman walked in. He said, "I watched her put on rubber gloves, thick rubber gloves that would go up past her biceps. She put a smock on, and she put a mask over her face. She put goggles on, like swim goggles. She covered her head and put hazmat shoes on. She looked like she was getting ready to go in there to the most toxic environment possible."
He goes, "What are you doing? You're going to scare my boy if he wakes up." She said through that muffled mask, her body completely covered, "This stuff I'm about to put in your son is so toxic, so poisonous, if it even touches my skin I'm in trouble." Blake sat there, and he watched that woman draw out that poison, put that in a port, and start to inject that into his son, and there was a mocking that came into his head.
The mocking was, "Are you going to trust this God, you who have served him and loved him and honored him and talked about his goodness? That's your 4-year-old boy right there. She's about to inject poison into him, and we don't know if he's going to live. And your God says he's for you? Your God says he cares about you?" He said he sat there, and he had nothing. He had nothing. There was not a single thing that came to his mind except the words, "Are you going to trust this God, you fool?"
He said as he sat there, with tears in his eyes, the only thing that came to him were the words of Peter, all of a sudden, in John, chapter 6. "Where else am I going to go? You're the one who has the words of eternal life." He said as he said that, he all of a sudden had a vision of the cross, a picture of the cross in his mind, where he saw Jesus hanging there in a way that made absolutely no sense.
If there was ever a guy I know who is like Peter, it's Blake Holmes. "You're Jesus. You can't do that, Jesus. That's crazy." "Hey, Blake, this is not really your thing to figure out. This is an awful event, to be sure, but you don't even know what I'm up to. I'm glad you love me and don't want to see me die, but my death is the provision for your life." Blake simply said, "If the most evil act in all of human history my God can redeem for good, I'm going to let him and trust him in this moment. Yes, I'm going to trust this God."
You see, the cross, this moment that Jesus anticipates… This is where you can go, "God, I don't know how this is going to work out on this earth, but I'm with you. I'm trusting you. I believe in you. I will stay right here, because you've done something else completely unreasonable, and that worked out for me. I don't know where this is going to go with Gage, but I know who you are." This is the God you're looking for.
Secondly, verse 27. There was this moment when Jesus said, "What am I going to do?" and he said, "But for this purpose I came to this hour.""This is why I'm here. I'm not here for ease. I'm not here for comfort. This isn't my moment of glory. This world is not my home." Let me tell you something. If you recognize who Jesus is, that is your line.
"For this purpose I came to this hour. Not for ease, not to get lost in Fantasy Football, not to put my hope in the Cowboys, not to have a good stuffed refrigerator, not to build up for myself great comforts on earth. No. I came to pour myself out to complete the sufferings of Christ, to bring light into the darkness, to let men think I'm speaking judgment and wrath and let other men accept what I say is the words of angels and to not fear men but to fear God. This is why I came. I will hate my life. I will follow him. I will serve him, and I will die that I might live."
If you know Christ, that's what you do. Revelation 12:11. Men who, though their lives were on the line, did not shrink back at the moment of death. I love the stories of guys who got this, who understood this. There was a guy named John Paton in the nineteenth century, in the 1800s. For hundreds of years, until 1606, for centuries, humankind had lost track of a certain group of civilization, a group of folks who lived in the South Pacific on a string of about 80 islands called the New Hebrides.
They were inhabited by some people who didn't know how to live and destroyed their enemies. They ate them. They were cannibalistic. In 1839, two London missionaries went there. They were off the boats for minutes, and they were killed and eaten. Twenty years later, John Paton and his wife were stirred by that story and decided to go and serve there again. One of the elders of his church said, "You can't go. You will be eaten by cannibals."
I love what John Paton said. This is 1858. In effect, he said what Jesus said in John 12:27. "For this purpose I came." Watch this line. He said, "Mr. Dickson, you are advanced in years now, and your own prospect is soon to be laid in the grave, there to be eaten by worms. I confess to you that if I can but live and die serving and honoring the Lord Jesus, it will make no difference to me whether I am eaten by cannibals or by worms." "For this purpose I came."
Let me just tell you something. John Paton gets it. It's like James Calvert, another guy who goes to cannibalistic Fiji in the middle of the eighteenth century. The owner of the ship he was on said, "You will risk your life and all those who go with you if you continue. You will die." I love what Calvert said. He said, "I died before I got here. This isn't about me. I'm pouring myself out as a drink offering."
I don't know if you're going to get eaten by cannibals this week. I highly doubt it, but you ought to live with that mindset. "For this purpose I came." Not to exalt yourself, not to find comfort and ease, but to give generously, as generously as Christ, who though he was rich became poor for your sake; to lay aside your glory that others might know the love of God for them; to not come to be served but to serve and give yourself as a ransom for many.
That is why you're here, people, if you know John 12. If you aren't doing that, then reread the text. "For this purpose I have come." What's your mindset walking out of here? "My marriage is tough. Someone else makes me feel better. I'm gone." Really? I thought for this purpose you came: to love as Christ loved the church. That didn't feel good to him, but he stayed and he wooed. He didn't demand.
Thirdly, you are here, as I am here… First of all, if you've never responded to the light, here's your application: respond to the light while you still have time. It's appointed for man to die once, and after this comes judgment. I'm going to show you next week there's a possible hardening that will come in your life before you're even dead that will seal your eternal fate.
If this week you've come to clearly understand that God accepts no provision for wicked men to reconcile themselves to him except through Jesus Christ, that is light. It has informed you. Respond to it. Leave the darkness of religion, self-dependence, mocking the existence of God, or elevating your goodness to a place it should not be, and you run to the Light. His name is Jesus.
If you know the Light, then you are to go into the dark world and share the Light with others. There are a lot of hard hearts out there that grace has never been written on, and God wants you to go. It probably won't be in the midst of cannibals, but don't be afraid they'd eat you up with criticism and mockery. You go take the Light to hard hearts, and see if God cannot write grace on their stone as he has written it on yours. You make room for them. You be unashamed of the gospel. You live as Jesus lived. Watch this and be reminded that folks are glad you did.
Liam Tyler Tracy: New Year's Day, I was driving home. I basically started crying, had to pull over to the side of the road. I couldn't see any longer. I called my dad. I called one of my best friends, one who had been telling me all good things about Watermark, and I've been walking with him and his wife through CR. Needless to say, I quit my job from Houston, moved to Dallas in March, and the rest is history. So thanks for making room for me.
Kathy Reynolds: Thanks for making room for me.
Amber Holdridge: Thanks for making room for us.
Kelly Walker: Thanks for making room for me.
Stacey Fisher: Being in a community that is so authentic and for real about pursuing Christ and honest about their struggles has made me more honest about my struggles and facing those head-on.
Scott Eckstein: Coming into Watermark, I was coming off a devastated relationship, but through it, I was encouraged by the love, the care of the people, just the transparency that I found. Through that, I developed a greater understanding of God and of his love for me.
Dan Garrison: I was walking through being in the wake of a divorce, and God brought me into a place where I was just exposed to any number of people who were people living and ordering their lives with walking with God, and they just all happened to turn out to be Watermark members. So, for me, Watermark was making room for me because Watermark families, and men especially, were making room for me in their lives.
Stacey: That has been life-impacting, so thanks for making room for me, Watermark.
Scott: So I just wanted to say to all of you, the body, and to God himself, "Thank you for making room for me."
Dan: Thanks for making room for me in your life.
[End of video]
That is the right way to respond to the cross. That's exactly what the writer of Hebrews said. "What's going to happen to us if we neglect so great a salvation?" Just remember this. That salvation was offered, and a lot of people said, "I'll stand. Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord," but when things didn't work out the way they wanted, when they didn't see with the mind of God, they put down their palm branches and picked up stones and said, "Crucify him." May we not be like that.
This is not worship; this is reminder. Worship is about to start, when we go out into a dark world and we take light. We need to know that light may not comprehend it. They may hate us, and there may be a thunderous response, but there's also going to be people who say, "That is an angel's song to me." There are going to be people who come up and write stuff like this.
A guy came and wrote this after the first hour. "I limped in here like a Cold War Ukrainian cruise ship." He said, "I've been on one. They are not pleasant. But I am leaving now equipped to go back to serve my hero, lover, Lord, and King Jesus. Thanks for making room for me." This is a dad who came here, fractured from his family, was taught to be a man, and is leaving here now to go back to the city three of his kids are from, live there, love them, seek to reconcile, and shepherd them to know the King who has changed their cold, limping daddy's heart.
I had a little gal come up to me after the first service. She wrote down this one. She said, "It's my boy's 9-month birthday, and you all came alongside of me when I wasn't sure I wanted a baby. He was born January 19 of this year. He's 9 months old. There was a day that had you not brought the light to me, he may not have seen the light of day." That's what our King does. That's the light he wants to take if it's in you, and in the name of Jesus… For this purpose I live: to go into cold, hard hearts and write grace on them, the grace that comes when you know Jesus.
So we don't just sing that we'll stand for him; we go live for him and give our lives away, and we share the gospel. We live generously. We follow the servant example of our Leader. That's our call. If you're here and you don't know that the Leader we serve and love died for you, would you come?
Would you take that perforated section and check the box and say, "I want to know how I can know that Jesus. I have been drawn to him. I want that grace and love in my life so that the wrath that is due me would miss me because he covers me as it's poured out on him"? That's the gospel. We get to live it and take it to a dark world that wants it. Make room for them. Worship him.
Have a great week. We'll see you.