Monday, April 23, 2012

Who do you think He is?

Who do you say that He is? John 8:48-59
Introduction: We return to the scene we left a few weeks back in John 8, Jesus is in the midst of a confrontation with some of the leaders of the Jews; and He had just revealed that their rejection of Him was evidence that they did not know God (8:42-47) – Rather than being children of God, their unbelief revealed them to be children of the Devil. The One whom they should have been waiting for, the One predicted in the Scriptures they claimed to believe, the One promised since the Fall was there in their midst, and they did not recognize Him. In this scene Jesus is about to reveal more explicitly who He claims to be, and they are not ready to receive the truth! It was not enough to attribute the titles of the Messiah to Him, they needed to understand correctly what those titles meant. As I studied this I thought, there is a lot of doctrine in this chapter, a lot of theology, is it practical? It’s good to know whom we have believed. In fact it’s essential to understand what God is like and what He has done and can do and what He expects of us. As I visited with one of our senior saints in the hospital this week I read a few scriptures talking about the power and abiding presence of God, His steadfast love for His elect. Her reply: “I guess I don’t have much to worry about, do I?” She got it! Doctrine is not abstract it’s extremely practical. If Jesus is God, the Great I AM, and He knows us, loves us, and is with us always, what do we have to be afraid of? Whatever struggle we might face, knowing the God who is, knowing him intimately, is the answer. The Context: Read v.47, Jesus responds to their unbelief by saying their rejection of Him and His words reveals they are not God’s children: "He who is of God hears the words of God; for this reason you do not hear them, because you are not of God…” If they were God’s children they would believe Him, but their unbelief reveals that their heart is far from Him.
The Big Idea: Jesus is God, the Son, deserving of honor and worthy to be praised. His words are the Word of Life. Do you believe that? Will you hear Him today?
I. The claim that faith will lead to life (read 48-51). First of all, the claim is made that if we believe Him we’ll be rescued from death, implied is the inverse: faith will lead to life. The dishonor of the Jewish leaders is shown by their attempt to insult Jesus rather than respond to Him: "Do we not say rightly that you are a Samaritan…” For a Jew in the time of Jesus, this was about as strong an insult as you can imagine…” For someone from New England it might be roughly equivalent to: “You are a Yankee fan and come from NJ…” How did the Jews come to hate the Samaritans? The history goes back to the time of the Assyrian captivity. You remember that after the time of Solomon the kingdom was divided, Israel in the north had Samaria as its capital, and Jerusalem was the capital of the southern kingdom of Judah. Israel had a series of wicked kings in the north, men that did not walk with God, and God allowed them to be over run by the Assyrians in 922 A.D. The Assyrians carried off many of the men of Israel and enslaved them, and, according to their custom, transplanted other captured peoples to the land. We read about it in 2 Kings 17:23-24,
“So Israel was carried away into exile from their own land to Assyria until this day. 24 And the king of Assyria brought men from Babylon and from Cuthah and from Avva and from Hamath and Sephar-vaim, and settled them in the cities of Samaria in place of the sons of Israel...”
These intermarried with some of the Jews that were left behind, so some knowledge of the God of Israel was preserved in the land. In 586 BC the southern Kingdom also fell to the Babylonians, and they were taken into exile. After 130 years or so, king Cyrus issued an edict allowing some of the people, under Ezra and Zerubbabel to return to the land. Now when they got there the Samaritans offered to help rebuild the temple and they were rejected – Ezra 4:1-3 tells the story,
“…Let us build with you, for we, like you, seek your God; and we have been sacrificing to Him since the days of Esarhaddon king of Assyria, who brought us up here." 3 But Zerubbabel and Jeshua and the rest of the heads of fathers' households of Israel said to them, "You have nothing in common with us in building a house to our God; but we ourselves will together build to the LORD God of Israel…"
And so it started… The animosity grew over the centuries. By the time of Jesus it was a given that “the Jews had no dealings with the Samaritans…” (as we saw in the scandalous encounter of Jesus with the Samaritan woman in John 4. There she was, wearing her Yankee cap, “I luv New York tattooed on her forearm, and Jesus spoke to her, and revealed himself to her!). They were despised, and a Jew would go out of their way to avoid contact. Calling Jesus a “Samaritan” was intended as a provocative insult. Jesus doesn’t even respond to that part of their intended insult. They also said: “…you have a demon…” This insult was even more serious from the perspective of Jesus. He wasn’t a respecter of persons, so there was no sense in which He shared the prejudices of the Jews against the Samaritans. But saying He had a demon? He is the Son of God, and in his human nature He was living and acting as a man filled with the Holy Spirit. His teaching came from the Father and all that He did was to honor and bring glory to the Father… and they accuse Him of being possessed by a demon. They probably were not really saying they believed him to be demon possessed, but they were trying to be as strong as they could be in their insults. It was their way of saying, “Are you out of your mind? You’re crazy!” Jesus’ answer is pretty straight forward: “I don’t have a demon” and he essentially says that their dishonoring of Him, when the Father honors Him and seeks His glory, reveals that they are children of the devil. He then makes a statement that intensifies their anger and escalates the situation, v. 51, “…if anyone keeps my word he shall never see death…” The word order his is emphatic (it reads a little like “Yoda” on Star Wars– The one who “keeps” his word, “…DEATH, by no means [double negative for emphasis] will he experience forever!” He is clearly not saying that a believer will never experience physical death. Lazarus dies in just a couple of chapters , in the book of Acts we see believers being martyred and throughout the ages Christians have died just like unbelievers. He makes a parallel statement at the funeral of Lazarus in John 11:25,26… “Jesus said to her, "
I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live. 26 "And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die…"
It’s clear that He is saying that for the believer in Jesus death does not have the last word, it is nothing to fear, the believer will not experience ultimate and final separation from God. We have eternal life—that’s a promise from Jesus, God the Son, the One deserving of honor and worthy to be praised. His words are the Word of Life.
II. The claim to be the glorious Son; greater than Abraham and the Prophets (52-56).
First of all, we see the theme from the previous context reinforced here, they completely misunderstand what Jesus is saying. They are focused merely on physical death—how can Jesus say a believer will never die where all the prophets died?-Jesus is talking about spiritual life and spiritual death. The Jews said to Him, "Now we know that You have a demon. Abraham died, and the prophets also; and You say, 'If anyone keeps My word, he shall never taste of death.' 53 "Surely You are not greater than our father Abraham, who died? The prophets died too…” We’ve seen this theme of “misunderstanding” frequently in John’s Gospel. Nicodemus didn’t understand when Jesus spoke of the new birth, “How can a man be born when he is old?” The woman at the well was confused about the water Jesus offered, “Give me this water that I may drink…” The people in chapter 6 wanted “bread” from Him when he offered the “Bread of Life.” Here he is talking about spiritual life and spiritual death, and they don’t get it. Their question (v.53c) is really at the heart of the matter: “…whom do You make Yourself out to be?" Who do you think you are? That’s the biggest question any of us can ask ourselves about Him, who do you believe He is? Or, do you really believe that He is who He claimed to be? In vv.54-56, Jesus answered, "If I glorify Myself, My glory is nothing; it is My Father who glorifies Me, of whom you say, 'He is our God'; 55 and you have not come to know Him, but I know Him; and if I say that I do not know Him, I shall be a liar like you, but I do know Him, and keep His word.” The God you claim to follow has spoken of me in his word! If you believed His Word you would believe Me! And then he says in v.56 "Your father Abraham rejoiced to see My day, and he saw it and was glad." I think Jesus is speaking about more than just Abraham, but rather all the faithful of the Old Testament. Just as we look back on the coming of the Son of God and look ahead to the promise of His return, those who believed the prophecies and took God at His word were looking for the coming of the promised One. Just as we have a sure hope, a blessed hope that we know is coming, the return of Christ, their hope was sure that the promised when would come in accordance with God’s Word, and the hope of His coming was cause for rejoicing. It made them glad! If you know the God who created the universe, you have reason to be glad as well. Whatever the circumstance, whatever trials you might be passing through, “…if God is for us, who can stand against us?” For those who had eyes to see and ears to hear, fix your hope in Jesus, God the Son, the One deserving of honor and worthy to be praised. His words are the Word of Life.
III. The claim to be God, the Great I AM (57-59).
V. 57 reveals that the Jews still don’t understand what Jesus is saying: “The Jews therefore said to Him, "You are not yet fifty years old, and have You seen Abraham?" You’re not even an elder, not even half a century old, how can you have seen Abraham who lived centuries ago! In 8:58 Jesus makes a powerful, unambiguous statement as to who He claims to be: “Jesus said to them, ‘Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was born, I am.’" We’ve seen hints of this in the “I AM” statements that occurred up until this point in the Gospel, echoing through the pages, 10 times already before this: “I AM He, I AM (It’s me walking on the water!); I am the Bread of life, the Living Bread, the Bread from heaven, I AM the Light of the world, I am the true witness, I AM the One in whom you must believe, when the Son of Man is lifted up, then you will know that I AM, finally here, “Before Abraham was, I AM…” Their reaction in v.59, “And they took up stones to stone Him…” They knew what He was saying. If Jesus had simply said “Before Abraham was, I was…” He would have been claiming to have existed before Abraham, and that would have been pretty incredible. But He says, “Before Abraham was, I AM.” Their immediate reaction leaves no doubt that they understood that He was identifying Himself with the God of the Old Testament, the God who spoke to Moses out of the burning bush in Exodus 3, “I AM that I AM, tell them I AM has sent you…” Their reaction is a climax to this part of the Gospel. It is a powerful example of what was stated in the opening of the Gospel: “He came unto His own, and His own received Him not…” Even as they took up stones to kill Him, “He was hidden from them…” The scene reminded me of the sodomites who tried to take the angels that were sent to the house of lot, they were struck with blindness and wearied themselves trying to find the door. Jesus didn’t hide, but He was hidden from them, passed safely out of the Temple area. He would not killed by stoning. God had another plan. And the hour had not yet come. Jesus is God, the Son, deserving of honor and worthy to be praised. His words are the Word of Life.
What would God have me to do in response to this passage? Do you believe that Jesus is who He claimed to be?
He is either a liar, a lunatic, or Lord. He claimed to be God. He claimed that as the eternal Son He came to save. He pronounced on the cross, “It is finished,” i.e., the debt is paid, the work is done. He, the Good Shepherd, laid down his life for his sheep. The price was paid and the offer extended and your response will reveal whether or not you belong to Him. His sheep hear His voice and He knows them, and gives them life, eternal life. Do you hear Him calling you in this story? Could it be that the Spirit is prompting you to believe, to trust Him? Admit that you are a sinner and need His grace. Believe that He died for you and was raised from the dead, and put your hope and trust in Him as the Savior and Lord of your life. For you who know Him, be assured, whatever circumstance or trial or tribulation you might be passing through, He has promised to be with you always, to never leave you. When you think about that, you really don’t have anything to worry about, do you? AMEN.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Easter 2012: The Promise of Easter, I Corinthians 15:20-28

The Promise of Easter
I Corinthians 15:20-28

Introduction: My mother’s grandmother was Ukrainian; she came to this country as a young woman in the early 20th century and she continued some of the traditions from Eastern Europe, including the elaborate decoration of eggs at this time of the year. Some of the Ukrainians were extremely artistic, and the eggs would be carefully emptied of the white and the yolk so that they could be saved indefinitely. It is really an odd thing, a beautifully painted shell; it looks like an egg, beautiful on the outside, but empty on the inside. As we consider these verses from I Corinthians 15 Paul is making the point that without the resurrection of Jesus, the Christian faith would be an illusion, nothing more than an empty shell. We turn today to one of the most extensive chapters on the theme on the resurrection in the New Testament. My first message here two years ago on Easter was on I Corinthians 15:1-11, last Easter we looked at I Corinthians 15:12-20, and this year, to continue our series [!] we’ll focus on 20-28 (at this rate we should finish our series on this chapter in 2015, if the Lord tarries!). I’d like to repeat one of my favorite quotations on the theme of the resurrection because it summarizes the main point of the paragraph we’ll look at today and is also the historical and theological underpinning of the Christian life:
“The present age is Eastertime. It began with the resurrection of the Redeemer; it will end with the resurrection of the redeemed. Between lies the spiritual resurrection of those called into new life in Christ. So, we live between two Easters, and in the power of the first Easter we go to meet the last Easter.” Erich Sauer, The Triumph of the Crucified.
We live in a unique moment in the history of the world. The historical fact of the resurrection of Jesus 2000 years ago is what sets this age apart, and assures us that no matter how hopeless things may seem, if we trust Him we have a future: God’s good plan will culminate in the resurrection of believers and the restoration of all things.
The Context: In I Corinthians 15:1-11, we see that the Resurrection of Jesus is an indisputable fact of history. Paul outlines some of the evidence that affirms the historical fact of the empty tomb, emphasizing the eyewitnesses. His point is that the resurrection is not just an idea, or story. Remember that he is writing just 20 years after the fact. Twenty years ago, George W. Bush was president. Most of you can remember that. Those of you who were too young don’t doubt that it happened, because you can ask the people who were there and who remember all about it. Paul is telling his readers about the eyewitnesses to Jesus’ resurrection, most of whom were still around. If there was any doubt about it they could go and talk to someone who saw him. It is a fact, and as such the basis for our faith. Baron Lyndhurst, one of the great legal minds in British history and three times high chancellor of England wrote, “I know pretty well what evidence is, and I tell you, such evidence as that for the resurrection has never broken down yet.” After rehearsing some of the historical evidence Paul goes on to say in 15:12-19, if it wasn’t true, if Jesus had not risen, Christianity would be a colossal waste to time, hedonism should be our guiding philosophy, eat drink and be merry, for tomorrow we die! That’s if the resurrection wasn’t true, but it is true. That’s why we’re here today, to celebrate that pivotal fact of history: Christ is Risen!
The Big Idea: The resurrection of Jesus is the foundation and assurance of our future hope: because He lives, we can face tomorrow, because He lives, all fear is gone.

I. The Redeemer: The resurrection of the Redeemer is the historical foundation and theological basis of our future hope (15:20-22).
“But now Christ has been raised from the dead, and become the firstfruits of those who sleep…” (v.20). If you been watching you’ve noticed that the earliest buds are coming out on the plants and trees, some have begun to push up through the soil. It’s only the start, it’s the promise of things to come!
Firstfruits” is a reference to the Old Testament, and to the idea that the first part of the harvest was collected and set apart as an offering for the Lord. The “firstfruit” was full of promise, since it was a part, the first part, of the harvest; it was motive for thanksgiving and for celebration, and it offered hope that what had begun with that act would surely be completed. Paul uses that image to link the resurrection Jesus, an irrefutable historical fact, with the promise of a future resurrection for believers in Jesus.

“…those who sleep…” is clearly referring to the believers in Jesus who had died. Several places in the Bible refer to the death of believer as “sleep.”
1 Thessalonians 4:13,15 “13 But I do not want you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning those who have fallen asleep, lest you sorrow as others who have no hope… 15 For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord will by no means precede those who are asleep.”
Sleep is temporary, it means that death does not have the last word for those who are redeemed. The empty tomb proved that truth.

Read I Corinthinans 15:21 and 22,“For as death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead also comes through a Man, for as in Adam all die, so also in Christ all shall be made alive…” Adam was the first human, and as such his disobedience brought the consequences of sin on the human race. Adam and Eve were essentially on probation in the Garden, and their failure brought judgment on them and on their progeny (the entire human race!). He represented us and he is our “father.” Elsewhere Paul says, “By one man sin entered into the world and death through sin…” In Adam all die. So also in Christ all shall be made alive. Jesus came into this world and lived a sinless life. Fully God, He took upon Himself a human nature. He was tempted by the devil but he never gave in, he never sinned. There was a great exchange that took place on Calvary: “All we like sheep have gone astray, we have turned everyone to his own way, but the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all.” Yes, He, the perfect One, the Sinless One, bore our sins in his own body on the cross. He became our substitute, he carried the sins of every last human who would one day trust in him. His atoning death was sufficient for all of humanity, and would be efficient for all who believe. The extent of the “all” who would be made alive through Christ is explained in the next verse: Christ the firstfruits, then those who are His. Believers. Born again. Forgiven. Think about that Good News! Death is an enemy that still lurks, but a defeated enemy. The consequences of the Fall are all around us. We mourn, but not as those who have no hope. It is the resurrection of Jesus that is the foundation and assurance of our future hope: because He lives, we can face tomorrow, because He lives, all fear is gone.

II. The Redeemed: The resurrection of Jesus is intrinsically connected with the future resurrection of believers (15:23).But each one in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, afterward those who are Christ's at His coming.”
This is where Paul goes further than we typically do when we talk about the believer, death, and the future. We talk about going to Heaven when we die, but we don’t talk much about being raised from the grave and reigning with Him on the earth. The implication of “firstfruits” is clear: the concept of resurrection is not limited to the resurrection of Jesus that Sunday morning almost 2000 years ago. That was the start, the “first part” of what is coming. We weren’t created to be disembodied spirits for eternity. He made Adam and Eve sinless and placed them in the Garden. The New Heaven and New Earth that is our hope is a completion of God’s good plan. Just as the physical body of Jesus was transformed and resurrected, so will the bodies of those who die in Christ.

“…afterward, those who are Christ’s…” Resurrection unto life, a new life in a transformed body is something that not everyone will experience. Notice what Paul says, this future blessing is for “those who are Christ’s…” This promise is specific, its particular, Paul is speaking about the future hope of “those who are His.” Everyone will spend eternity conscious, but for those who reject Him that means an eternity of conscious judgment, separated from God. A young lady was sharing a testimony the other day about coming to faith in Christ in a car, along with her sister, and her motivation was pretty simple: we didn’t want to go to hell! That’s pretty good motivation! Through faith in Christ we have eternal life, and that includes the truth that Paul develops later in this chapter: this corruptible must put on incorruption, this mortal, immortality.

When? “…at his coming…” The lightening flashed 2000 years ago when the stone was rolled away. He arose, and for 40 days appeared to his disciples, presenting himself alive by many convincing proofs. That was the lightening flash. This entire church age has been the interval “between the lightening and the thunder.” Right now, for the believer, to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord. That is really an intermediate state. His resurrection was the first fruits of a future resurrection harvest. He is returning, and “…at His coming…” the dead in Christ will rise first. The Day is coming! He is coming. Are you ready? The resurrection of Jesus is the foundation and assurance of our future hope: because He lives, we can face tomorrow, because He lives, all fear is gone.

III. The Restoration: The resurrection of Jesus assures us that God’s good plan will be consummated and order will be restored to this chaotic world (15:24-28). Sin brought suffering into the world.
Read verse 24: “Then comes the end, when He delivers the kingdom to God the Father, when He puts an end to all rule and all authority and power.” The question might be raised that if Jesus defeated death through His death and resurrection, why do people still die? We are still living between the lightening and the thunder. You’ve experience the phenomenon: because light travels faster than sound you see the lightening in the distance before you hear the thunder. The closer it is the shorter the gap between the two. It as though the resurrection of Jesus, the firstfruits, was the lightening, the thunder is coming, His return and the resurrection of those who have trusted Him. Its like the famous story of the battle of Waterloo, the message, partially obscured came in, “Wellington defeated…” and there was great mourning, defeat! But then when the entire message was received: “Wellington defeated Napolean at Waterloo”—rejoicing! Its Friday, it might look bad as evil seems to prevail still, but Sunday is coming!
Verse 25 says “Then comes the end, when He delivers the kingdom to God the Father, when He puts an end to all rule and all authority and power. 25 For He must reign till He has put all enemies under His feet.” This reflects the language of Psalm 2, where God says “Ask of me, and I will give you the nations as an inheritance…” In Psalm 8 (and Psalm 110:1) says all things will be put under His feet. God’s Kingdom rule, finally, on Earth as it is in Heaven. That conquest continues as the gospel goes out and the elect from every nation hear and respond to God’s call. The gates of hell are being assaulted and they shall not prevail.

Verse 26 speaks of the last enemy: The Death of Death – finally the last enemy will be destroyed… We’ve all seen that enemy in our lives, among our family and friends, some even over the last week and the last few weeks. Some of you in sickness or in combat or in a close call in life have stared that last enemy in the face. I’ve been by the grave sides of husbands burying their wives and of wives burying their husbands, children burying parents and parents children, and it can be painful, dark, heart wrenching, to face that enemy. Some face it differently though, because of the promise of Easter… Because of what Jesus did for us, because he conquered death, we mourn, but not as those who have no hope. We know the enemy’s time is limited and victory is certain for those who put their trust in Christ. Someone has said “The simplest meaning of Easter is that we are living in a world in which God has the last word. Jesus wins.” Is Easter relevant to the world today? Does an empty tomb in a Garden in Jerusalem make a difference now, 2000 years later? Because He defeated death it makes all the difference to those who put their trust in Him. The resurrection of Jesus is the foundation and assurance of our future hope: because He lives we can face tomorrow, whatever it may bring. Because He lives, all fear is gone.

What would God have me to do in response to this passage? Most religions in the world are nothing more than an empty shell. They may be beautifully decorated on the outside, colorful and attractive, but they are empty, they have nothing to offer. The tomb is empty. He is risen! Have you thought through the promise of Easter? Could it be that you’re hearing the story of the One who conquered death and you’re feeling a tugging at your heart? It may be that God’s Spirit is whispering to you, calling you to faith. Jesus invites us, “Come unto Me, all you who are heavy laden, and I will give you rest…” The Apostle Paul wrote elsewhere, “Confess with you mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, and you will be saved…” Do you believe He is who He claimed to be? Have you trusted in Him as your hope for eternity? It’s as simple as admitting that you are a sinner, “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,” (Romans 3:23); recognizing that you can’t save yourself since “…there is none righteous, no not one…” (Romans 3:10); and then trusting Him, believing in Him as the Savior and Lord of your life, for “…as many as received Him, to them gave He the right to become children of God…” Will you trust Him today?

Monday, April 2, 2012

Palm Sunday: The Coming of the Passover King!

The Coming of the Passover King: Palm Sunday 2012
John 12:12-16

Introduction: For Palm Sunday, we’re jumping ahead a few chapters in our study of the Fourth Gospel. The scene is quite a contrast from what we had been looking at in John 8… Everyone likes a parade! I had a little guy come up to me after church a couple of weeks ago, 5 or six years old, and say “Pastor Steve, I have a suggestion. Why don’t we put a float in the Windjammer parade this year? And if we do, do you think I could ride in the front since it was my idea?” (I think he is currently working up a proposal for a committee!). The triumphal entry seems like a celebration! It is also one of the most ironic scenes in the Bible. The crowd speaks the truth as they hail the arrival of Jesus, but they don’t understand the full meaning of their own words. “The Son of God”—“The King of Israel”—“Save now!” The crowd was saying more than they knew, more than they understood. You see the scene is a prelude to the cross. Yes it’s Palm Sunday, but it was Passover week, Good Friday is only days away. Everything they say is true, that’s why Jesus accepts it and does not rebuke them. But they don’t grasp the full import of their own words – they don’t understand who He really is.

The New Testament writers show that part of the problem was a failure of the Jews to understand their own Scriptures. In the Bible we see hundreds of prophecies that were made about the Messiah fulfilled explicitly in the life, ministry, death and resurrection of Jesus. God had a plan, that plan was revealed, in part, in advance in these OT texts, yet most people simply did not get it. Palm Sunday leads us into the last week of Jesus’ life before the Cross. The story unfolds exactly as God had planned it—confirming Jesus’ identity, inviting us to consider how we should respond to Him.

Context: The plot to kill Jesus after the miraculous raising of Lazarus (11:40-57) the anointing of Jesus “for His burial” (12:1-8) and the plot to kill Lazarus (12:9-11) strike an ominous note as the story unfolds. The contrast with what is about to happen is an example of Johannine irony. The crowds, even the disciples did not understand fully what was happening, what it really would involve for Jesus to fulfill His role as the “King of the Jews” (see 12:16). As we consider this we’ll see… The Big Idea: Palm Sunday invites us to consider the Lamb upon the throne, the Passover King, and calls us to worship Him.
John 12:12-16 “The next day a great multitude that had come to the feast, when they heard that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem, 13 took branches of palm trees and went out to meet Him, and cried out: "Hosanna! 'Blessed is He who comes in the name of the LORD!' The King of Israel!"

I. The Crowd was right, He is the King! (12:12-13). We’ve seen in John’s Gospel irony as the story of Jesus unfolds. The Jews were expecting a Messiah, a King, a Son of David who would restore the kingdom to Israel. They had somehow lost sight of the truth that the coming King was also to be the Suffering Servant. The title “King” doesn’t show up a lot in John’s Gospel, until chapters 18, 19 with Jesus’ trial and crucifixion. But there are some clues that John gives his reader early on:

The first time Jesus is called “King” in this Gospel occurs in the first Chapter, the confession of Nathanael: John 1:49 “Nathanael answered and said to Him, "Rabbi, You are the Son of God! You are the King of Israel!" Before this confession however, the reader has heard John the Baptist, twice, calling Jesus God’s Lamb: John 1:29 "Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!; John 1:36 “And looking at Jesus as He walked, he said, ‘Behold the Lamb of God!’" Could they both be talking about the same person? We read that and take it for granted, we’ve heard the phrases and this language applied to Jesus in church. Imagine the disciples when they first heard it, imagine John’s readers when they first read this Gospel: for a Jew in the first century, “Lamb” whatever else it might mean, implies sacrifice. Lamb, and King? How could He be both Sovereign and Sacrifice?

The second time in John’s Gospel that the word “King” appears, is in Chapter 6, and comes in response to Jesus miraculously feeding the 5,000 with 5 small loaves of bread and a couple of fish. John 6:14-15 “Then those men, when they had seen the sign that Jesus did, said, "This is truly the Prophet who is to come into the world." 15 Therefore when Jesus perceived that they were about to come and take Him by force to make Him king, He departed again to the mountain by Himself alone.” In response to this miraculous provision, they wanted to make Him king by force. Jesus knew their thoughts, what they intended to do, and went away. It wasn’t time for the king to be revealed. Moreover, they were looking for a king like the nations around them, not the God-Man Jesus. John has just reminded the reader of the Gospel, just a few verses earlier: John 6:4 “Now the Passover, a feast of the Jews, was near.” After hearing John the Baptist call Jesus the Lamb, the reader of the Gospel has a clue as to what is coming – the disciples on the other hand still don’t understand. He is the King – but He is also the Lamb.

The third use of “king” in John’s Gospel comes that first Palm Sunday, the triumphal entry. The crowd quotes from Psalm 118:25-26
“Save now (hosanna), I pray, O LORD; O LORD, I pray, send now prosperity. 26 Blessed is He who comes in the name of the LORD! We have blessed you from the house of the LORD.”
Notice in John’s Gospel that they add something to the text of the Psalm: John 12:13 “…took branches of palm trees and went out to meet Him, and cried out: "Hosanna! 'Blessed is He who comes in the name of the LORD!' The King of Israel!" What they said was correct, and this time Jesus allows it, even though there is little doubt the crowd was still clueless as to what was about to happen. The reader of the Gospel, however, has just been reminded:

1) Passover was coming in just a few days, which means the Passover Lamb would soon be sacrificed (12:1).

2) Mary had just anointed Jesus, and He said it was “for His burial” (12:2-8).

3) The chief priests were plotting to kill Lazarus, because his being raised from the dead was irrefutable proof that Jesus was from God, and they wouldn’t hear it (12:9-11). Their minds were made up, they would not consider the evidence that Jesus was the messiah (see Peter’s word in Acts 2:22).

Part of the irony here is that the crowd, in quoting from Psalm 118, had forgotten part of the context: Psalm 118:22 “The stone which the builders rejected Has become the chief cornerstone.” That rejection would reach its climax in just a few days when the leaders insist: “Crucify Him! We have no king but Caesar!” Palm Sunday invites us to consider the Passover King, the Lamb upon the throne, and calls us to worship Him.

II. He is the King, and He came in fulfillment of the Scriptures (12:14-15). John takes us from the shouts of the crowd, which were ironically true, even though they didn’t understand correctly who Jesus was, to the actions of Jesus, taken in deliberate fulfillment of Scripture: “Then Jesus, when He had found a young donkey, sat on it; as it is written: 15 "Fear not, daughter of Zion; Behold, your King is coming, Sitting on a donkey's colt."

The main point is that God had a plan, and every action of Jesus was taken in submission to and in fulfillment of the Father’s will. The cross was not a failure, it was not an accident, it was not plan “B.” Peter said on Pentecost that Jesus was delivered up by the predetermined purpose and foreknowledge of God (Acts 2:22-24).
The Scripture, made centuries before was fulfilled precisely: He is the King. Notice that John leaves out a word from Zechariah’s prophecy: “Lowly” or “humble”. John was emphasizing His power, control, sovereignty, and glory. We’ll see Him as a servant in chapter 13 when He wraps a towel around His waist and bends down to wash the dirty feet of His disciples. Then, as the Suffering Servant, who is also the King, He goes to the cross and becomes obedient, even to the point to death. Palm Sunday invites us to consider the Lamb, the Passover King, the One who came according the Father’s plan, in fulfillment of Scripture, and calls us to worship Him.

III. He is the Passover King, the Sovereign Sacrifice, the Lamb of God (12:16). “His disciples did not understand these things at first; but when Jesus was glorified, then they remembered that these things were written about Him and that they had done these things to Him.”
The disciples didn’t understand at first what all of this meant. Even though He had repeatedly, explicitly told them about the necessity of His death and resurrection, they couldn’t grasp it.

…when Jesus was glorified then they remembered…” In John, it’s especially on the cross that Jesus is glorified (see John 3:14,15). The cross was His lifting up, His exaltation, His glorification, because it proved who He was, fulfilling the Scriptures, and it accomplished what He came to do, giving His life for our sins.

1) Notice in our context, John 12:25-28 25 "He who loves his life loses it, and he who hates his life in this world will keep it to life eternal. 26 "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. 27 "Now My soul has become troubled; and what shall I say, 'Father, save Me from this hour '? But for this purpose I came to this hour. 28 "Father, glorify Your name…" Jesus is aluding to Psalm 6:3,4. There David is troubled deeply, and calls on God to save him. Jesus uses the same word to express what he is feeling, but He doesn’t pray David’s prayer. You see his hour had come, to pray for deliverance would be a contradiction. He chose to die so that David’s prayer for salvation, and Peter’s, and John’s, and your’s and mine could be answered. He is both Sovereign and Sacrifice, the King and the Lamb.

2) John 18:36-37 “Jesus answered, "My kingdom is not of this world. If My kingdom were of this world, then My servants would be fighting so that I would not be handed over to the Jews; but as it is, My kingdom is not of this realm." 37 Therefore Pilate said to Him, "So You are a king?" Jesus answered, "You say correctly that I am a king. For this I have been born, and for this I have come into the world, to testify to the truth.” He was not a king like the nations around them, not even a king like David in the limited sense. He was the Passover King, the King who sovereignly choose to lay down His life for His people.
What is God saying to me in this passage? Palm Sunday invites us to consider the the Lamb upon the throne, the Passover King, and calls us to worship Him. What the crowds said on Palm Sunday was true, but they didn’t grasp the full implications. Jesus was not a victim. He was in control. And as Sovereign, He fulfilled the Scriptures, and gave His life as a ransom for many.
Rev 1:5 He is “…the ruler over the kings of the earth… [He] who loved us and washed us from our sins in His own blood…” In chapter three John sees in his vision He appears “…in the middle of the throne as a lamb that had been slain…” The Passover King, exalted, on the throne of heaven, worthy to open the scroll and loosen its seals. Worthy is the Lamb that was slain. The One who was, who is, and who is to come.
What would he have me to do in response to these truths? What difference does this doctrine make in my life? Our response can only be to stand in awe of the matchless grace of God, and to love the One who so loved us. Worthy is the Lamb who was slain. The Passover King, who gave His life, so that we could have life. Praise Him for His indescribable gift. All hail King Jesus! All hail Emmanuel!