Monday, August 27, 2012

The Glory of the Cross: The Beautiful Gift of Jesus

The Glory of the Cross: The Beautiful Gift of Jesus John 12:17-36
Context: One of the issues the early church faced was to understand and explain why God allowed Jesus to go to the cross. How could it be that the Jews failed to recognize their own messiah? If Jesus was God, and did the things the Bible said He did, why did they reject Him and turn Him over to the Romans? John is answering those questions by teaching us about God, showing us that His majesty and His sovereignty are so profound, so overwhelming, that God can even turn apparent defeat into victory, and He can over-rule the sinful intentions of men to accomplish His good purposes. Even the Cross, the rejection and murder of the sinless Son of God, is turned by Him into something glorious. [We are moving ahead a bit in John 12 to verse 17. Back on April 2nd, Palm Sunday, we looked at the story of the Triumphal Entry in John 12:12-19. You can still read the text of that message on the blog, go to the entry for April 2, 2012]. That part of the story points to Jesus, the Passover King, and is a call to worship Him. John 12:17-36 brings a somber note to the context as it reaffirms the aspect of the impending sacrificial death of Jesus. It also points to the paradoxical truth that the cross, and the death of Jesus, would be the moment of His glorification. It wasn’t a defeat, but the supreme demonstration of His love, and a vindication of his identity as the Son of God, the promised Messiah. The Big Idea: The Glory of God was revealed in the Cross of Christ. It is God’s glorious plan to save a remnant from every nation. By grace YOU have a part in that mission!
I. The Mission: The World and the Glory of God (12:17-26).
First, we see both the attraction and repulsion of the Life-giver in vv.17-19. After the meal and anointing of Jesus in the beginning of John twelve, came the triumphal entry into Jerusalem. At the beginning of the week that would lead up to the Passion, He was hailed as the Son of God, the King of Israel who comes in the name of the Lord. Following that event “The crowd that had been with Him when he called Lazarus from the tomb…” were in Jerusalem, still buzzing about the miracle—they couldn’t stop talking about what had happened, and the crowd grew, some true converts, many curious inquirers. They wanted to see what Jesus would do next! We also see here the Universal Appeal of the Gospel – The missionary plan of God (20-22). It’s a curious scene that isn’t really explained, simply stated that John 12:20,21 “Now there were certain Greeks among those who came up to worship at the feast. 21 Then they came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida of Galilee, and asked him, saying, "Sir, we wish to see Jesus." We’ve seen a lot of hints in the Gospel of John that Jesus came to offer salvation to the world and to save for himself a people from every nation. Remember John the Baptist proclaimed, “Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!”(1:29). We read in the famous verse of John 3:16 that “God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son…” The Samaritans in John 4:42 called him the Savior of the world.” Twice so far, and again in this Chapter he’ll say, “I AM the Light of the world…” John is contrasting the mixed response of the Jews as “He came unto His own and His own received Him not…” with the openness of at least some gentiles to the Truth. This seems to be taken as a sign by Jesus that the hour was coming when the Son of Man would be lifted up and “draw all men unto himself.” The death of Jesus provided both the basis for our salvation and an example for a life of service (23-26). For 12 chapters Jesus has said that His hour was something still future, it wasn’t time yet. But now the “hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified.” V. 24 makes it clear that glory would come in an unexpected way: through His death. Vv.25-26 applies the truth that Jesus would be glorified through His passion, to those who would follow him. This is very parallel to the idea that Jesus expressed in Mark 8:34,35. After predicting his rejection, death and resurrection He said “If anyone wishes to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. 35 "For whoever wishes to save his life shall lose it; but whoever loses his life for My sake and the gospel's shall save it.” There is no message of “easy believism” in the NT. We are to consider the cost of being a disciple. After all, the Glory of God was revealed in the Cross of Christ. It is God’s glorious plan to save a remnant from every nation. By grace YOU have a part in that mission.
II. The Message: The Cross and the Glory of God (12:27-36).
The willingness of Jesus to suffer brings glory to the Father (27-28a). We read, in John 12:27-28
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 Thy name."
I am convinced that Jesus is alluding to Psalm 6 at this moment. Psalm 6:3-4
3 And my soul is greatly dismayed; But Thou, O LORD-- how long? 4 Return, O LORD, rescue my soul; Save me because of Thy lovingkindness.”
The psalms predicted the suffering of the King, the Messiah and Son of God. David, as a human king was praying to God, expressing his distress and asking for deliverance. Jesus alludes to the Psalm, but he doesn’t pray the prayer that David prayed. He didn’t pray to be saved so that through His death we could be saved. The testimony of the Father affirms His glorious plan (28b-30). John 12:28-30
28 "Father, glorify Thy name." There came therefore a voice out of heaven: "I have both glorified it, and will glorify it again." 29 The multitude therefore, who stood by and heard it, were saying that it had thundered; others were saying, "An angel has spoken to Him." 30 Jesus answered and said, "This voice has not come for My sake, but for your sakes.”
The testimony of the Father… As He had at the baptism of Jesus, as He did on the Mount of transfiguration, now again the Father speaks, this time in response to the words of Jesus. These events, the sending of Jesus into the world, certainly the signs that He did all brought glory to God – the greatest revelation of His glory was just days away when the Son of Man would be lifted up – the Cross and then the resurrection would leave no doubt. Jesus knows the plan, he is in control after all. He knows what is about to happen and what his death will accomplish. We see that in the confident prediction of the Son (31-33). John 12:31-33 says
“Now judgment is upon this world; now the ruler of this world shall be cast out. 32 "And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to Myself." 33 But He was saying this to indicate the kind of death by which He was to die.”
The enemy is about to be dealt a death blow, but it would come in a most unexpected way. The prediction had been made in the garden that the coming one would crush the serpent’s head and that would come through the “lifting up of the Son.” What a double meaning that phrase had! It spoke to the physical lifting up of Jesus on the cross (so He spoke, indicating what kind of death He would die) – it was there that he would bear our sins in His own body. It also speaks to his exaltation, as His death carries out the glorious and gracious plan of the Father, while at the same time fulfilling the scriptures and so proving that Jesus was who He claimed to be. It certainly is a reminder that God can work through the difficult situations that we experience to reveal his presence, and to work for our good, and His glory. You remember Paul’s experience with a “thorn in the flesh.” Whatever it was is not explicitly stated, but he prayed three times for God to remove it. Yet God said that through Paul's weakness He would be glorified. The confusion of the crowd is answered with the invitation of the Son (34-36). John 12:34-36
34 The multitude therefore answered Him, "We have heard out of the Law that the Christ is to remain forever; and how can You say, 'The Son of Man must be lifted up'? Who is this Son of Man?"
By now we shouldn’t be surprised by the confusion on the part of the people. Repeatedly Jesus has spoken only the truth. He has told them what they needed to hear. But even the disciples, for the most part, didn’t understand until after the fact. “Who is this Son of Man?” What they are asking was, is this person the same as the Messiah that we are expecting? One is going to be “lifted up” and the other is supposed to “remain forever”? There is no way the same person can fulfill both destinies, or is there? I think it’s similar to the question John the Baptist had when he we was arrested: “Are you the One or do we wait for another?” John the Baptist certainly knew who Jesus was, but some Jews in the 1st century could reconcile the ideas of Messiah/King/Son with the picture of a Suffering Servant. How could both be true? One of the favorite metaphors we see in John is Light and Darkness—the primary application is spiritual. In the first chapter we read that John 1:4-5
In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. 5 And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it.”
A few chapters into the Gospel we read… John 3:19-21
19 "And this is the judgment, that the light is come into the world, and men loved the darkness rather than the light; for their deeds were evil. 20 "For everyone who does evil hates the light, and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed. 21 "But he who practices the truth comes to the light, that his deeds may be manifested as having been wrought in God."
Then we saw that powerful “I AM” statement at the feast in John 8:12…
“Again therefore Jesus spoke to them, saying, "I am the light of the world; he who follows Me shall not walk in the darkness, but shall have the light of life."
Here we read, in 12:35ff, “Jesus therefore said to them,
"For a little while longer the light is among you. Walk while you have the light, that darkness may not overtake you; he who walks in the darkness does not know where he goes. 36 "While you have the light, believe in the light, in order that you may become sons of light." These things Jesus spoke, and He departed and hid Himself from them.”
The lifting up of the Son, the revelation of the glory of God, was at hand.
What is God saying to me in this passage?
The Glory of God was revealed in the Cross of Christ. It is God’s glorious plan to save a remnant from every nation. By grace YOU have a part in that mission!
What would God have me to do in response to this passage?
Our response to Him is submission and worship. We see that in the context from Mary at Jesus’ feet in Bethany, to the people hailing Him as he entered the city. ALL HAIL KING JESUS! ALL HAIL EMMANUEL. His love for us should evoke a response of love and worship. But He has us here, in this world, not just for worship, but also for mission. God has chosen to use us to bring the message of grace to the world—as far as we know we are His only plan! Are you willing to allow Him to use you?

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Extravagant Worship: John 12:1-11

Extravagant Worship: Loving Jesus from a Pure Heart John 12:1-11
Introduction: Jesus is the subject of John’s Gospel. We know He is the divinding point of human history as is evidenced by the very fact that we count the years from the time of His birth (A.D. = “the year of our Lord”). He is also the great dividing point of the human race in terms of our response to Him. John 3:36 says it plainly: “He who believes in the Son has everlasting life; and he who does not obey the Son shall not see life but the wrath of God abides on him.” Jesus expressed the same truth in 8:24b, “…if you do not believe that I AM [he], you will die in your sins.” He uses that phrase “I AM” in that verse. It means not only believing that He is a prophet, or from God, or even the anointed descendent of David, but believing that He is God, God the Son, the Incarnate Word. And if we believe that we need to respond to Him. We need to worship Him. Is that why you are here today? Remember the story of the little boy who kneeled by his bed to pray on Sunday evening. He prayed, “Dear God, we had a good time in church today, but I wish you had been there!” Have you come here this morning to meet with the King of the universe, the great I AM, that God who willingly became a man and came to die so that you could live? There is a warning implicit in this passage as well. After all, Judas walked with Jesus for three and half years. He heard Him teach and saw him do miraculous signs. His body was there, he was physically present with the others, but in his heart and his mind he still didn’t recognize and respond to Emanuel, God Incarnate. Your body is here, has your head and your heart come along?
The Big Idea: We should worship Jesus with our whole heart; after all He is God, and He gave His all for us.
The Setting (12:1): We’ve reached a transitional point in the Gospel of John. The signs in the first 11 chapters revealed God’s Glory, incarnate in Jesus. Some responded with a growing recognition of who He is. Others continued in darkness and refused to believe. Here, back in Bethany, as Passover approached, reclined at the table with friends. The cross loomed before Him, but Jesus cared about His sheep, so there He was, fellowshipping with them, enjoying their presence.
I. A Dinner to Honor the King (2-3): Fellowship with Jesus is something we can experience (see Rev 3:20).
Revelation 3:20 is often used as we invite people to trust in Christ, but actually it is written to believers, to a church. The letter to the church at Laodicea is written to a church, albeit, a lukewarm one. His chastening in Rev 3:19 is designed to induce repentance. In Revelation 3:20 we see Jesus, standing, knocking, wanting to have a meal with us, a time of intimate fellowship. We recognize the theological truth about the omnipresence of God. Yet there is a sense in which God’s presence is experienced in a special way when we gather together in His name to worship Him. This was a meal to “honor” Jesus. We see three key characters responding well to Jesus. First there is Martha, who served Jesus from the heart. In a parallel scene in Matthew and Mark she is mildly rebuked for complaining about Mary who was at the feet of Jesus while she was doing all the work. It seems that here John is emphasizing that she is serving from the heart, as an act of worship. Serving the Master is a good thing, if it is an act of devotion toward Him, and our heart is right. Secondly, we see Lazarus reclined at the table with Him – living evidence of the power of the King. Lazarus had experienced the power of Jesus, and his life now was a powerful testimony that Jesus was no mere man. Here he was enjoying a meal with his Master. I think the Jews in the first century were a bit like Baptists today – food and fellowship went together. Fellowship, eating food, but also feeding on the Bread of Life. Remember John 6:35, “I AM the Bread of Life. He who comes to me shall never hunger—he who believes in me shall never thirst.” Lazarus is sharing a meal with Jesus, but there is no doubt he is also feasting spiritually as he experiences His presence in intimate fellowship. Finally, we see Mary, whose act of “Extravagant Worship” is really emphasized in the context. It’s clear that the action reflected Mary’s heart: N.B. that we can’t judge the actions of others since we don’t know their hearts! Her actions were frowned upon by some, most notably Judas. Wasn’t it wasteful? A jar of precious perfume – worth a year’s wages for a laborer, broken open and poured on Jesus – the account in Mark and Matthew indicates his head, as well as his feet. And then wiping his feet with her hair. Normally the lowest servant in a home would wash the feet of guests. This is no mere act of kindness and hospitality. It reveals complete humiliation, absolute surrender. The word “worship” connotes lying prostrate before the One who is the object of worship. This was not an act of kindness done for a friend. It can only be viewed as an act of worship. Clearly she recognized what the raising of her brother from the dead proved about Jesus. Only God could have the power of life and death. Did she understand what Jesus still must do? Some of what Jesus says might be a clue that Mary had an idea about where things were going. There was nothing wrong or immoral about Mary’s act, was it extravagant? Yes, but for Mary, Jesus deserved the very best, he deserved her all. Notice 3b,
“…the whole house was filled with the fragrance of the oil…”
Her act of extravagant worship filled the house with its fragrance, touching those around her with its aroma. Authentic worship will touch others around us. Its not about a show, or impressing others, or putting on a performance. Its about celebrating Jesus, recognizing who He is, rejoicing in what He has done. *** We should worship Jesus with our whole heart; after all He gave His all for us.
II. The Danger of Religious Hypocrisy (12:4-8)
Judas’ pious rebuke was motivated by his own self-interest, not concern for the poor! Judas’ question in v.5 is almost the kind of thing you might see coming up at a church business meeting. It’s a reasonable question—instead of such an extravagant “waste” of resources, wouldn’t it have been better to sell this treasure and use the money to help the poor? Concern for the poor, loving our neighbors is something the Bible often talks about, and if we didn’t have John’s commentary on Judas’ motives, we might have thought, “well that’s a good question!” We don’t know hearts, but God does. Judas apparently completely fooled his colleagues and as far as they knew he was one of them. It may well be that he was even fooling himself. He was probably only skimming a little from the money box – not enough to be noticed – not enough to hurt anyone. He walked with Jesus, didn’t he? But his heart was corrupt, anything but pure. He wasn’t worried about the poor, but what a lost opportunity to miss out on handling that much cash! Jesus knew the heart of Judas as He knows the heart of all men, but his rebuke was focused on affirming Martha’s action, not uncovering Judas’ attitude. - “Let her alone…” It seems Jesus is saying: Don’t question her motives, don’t deny her the opportunity to give her best. “She has kept this for the day of my burial…” That hour approached. -He says “the poor you have with you always…” He is not denying the validity and importance of ministry to those in need. The Bible has much to say about that. He is rather affirmed the truth that ministry to poor is something that will continue throughout the church age – there is no denying or doubting that there will always be needs and always opportunity to show kindness and act mercifully in the name of Jesus. He is saying that the time of His departure was fast approaching . He wouldn’t be physically present with them much longer. - What Mary was doing was something appropriate only at this exact moment in human history. The March toward Jerusalem, toward Passover, toward the cross, was on. Jesus came to fulfill a mission and He was “in process” toward doing exactly that. “This is how God showed His love among us: He sent His one and only Son into the world that we might live through Him” (I John 1:9). ***We should worship Jesus with our whole heart; after all He gave His all for us.
III. The Depths of Human Depravity (12:9-11).
There is a shift in scene from the intimate moment at dinner, to the response of the people and of the leaders. The people were curious, they wanted to see more. The opposite of worship may be rebellion, hatred as we see here. The leaders were fighting against God! Wed. nite we looked at Psalm 2 which pictures the futile resistance of humans to God. The disciples evoke that very Scripture in their prayer in Acts 4 after the cross and resurrection as they prayed… In Acts 4:24b-28 we read,
"…Lord, You are God, who made heaven and earth and the sea, and all that is in them, 25 "who by the mouth of Your servant David have said: 'Why did the nations rage, And the people plot vain things? 26 The kings of the earth took their stand, And the rulers were gathered together Against the LORD and against His Christ.' 27 "For truly against Your holy Servant Jesus, whom You anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, with the Gentiles and the people of Israel, were gathered together 28 "to do whatever Your hand and Your purpose determined before to be done.
They saw the resistance of the leadership prophesied in the words of the Psalm. It was observed by the NT scholar Leon Morris in his commentary on John…
It is interesting that “Caiaphas had said ‘…it is better for you that one man die…’ (11:50). But now, one was not enough to satisfy them. Now it had to be two. Thus does evil grow” (Morris, John, p. 517).
They started conspiring to kill the One. It expands now to include Lazarus. This guy was a problem. He was walking evidence – it was too much trouble tor try to explain him away. If they could only be rid of him too that would surely solve the Jesus problem, right? We know how the history of persecution against Christians mushrooms in the first centuries of the church. Jesus will warn, in John 15:18
"If the world hates you, you know that it hated Me before it hated you.”
He said earlier in His ministry, “If anyone would be my disciple let him deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me…” Paul said “I urge you therefore brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as living sacrifices…” (Rom 12:1).
What is God saying to me in this passage?
We should worship Jesus with our whole heart; after all He gave His all for us.
What would God have me to do in response to this passage?
Have you come here this morning out of habit, out of duty, or out of the expectation that together with your church family, we are in the presence of His Majesty: God- Father, Son, and Spirit? Worship Him. Amen.

Monday, August 6, 2012

The One who would die for His people

[Just a reminder that these entries are “fleshed out” from my sermon outline on Monday morning, but are not a direct transcript of the message, which would take a lot more time to prepare. In many cases it will be what I planned to say, or wish I had said, or should have said! , S.N.]
The One who would die for His people John 11:45-57
Introduction: What just happened must have stunned the crowd. Put yourself in their shoes. Mourning at the graveside, seeing Jesus, arriving there late, four days after the burial, then joining in the weeping, empathizing with his grieving friends, missing a beloved brother and friend. And then His strange, shocking, almost offensive request—remove the stone from the grave—an enigmatic prayer, thanking His Father for hearing Him, a confident call, “Lazarus, come forth!” And he did! After four days dead in the tomb, he was alive! Very little detail is given of the reactions of the people. Was there stunned silence? Did they cheer? Did they fall to their knees in worship, awed by this demonstration of power? It states it so simply, “many believed in Him.” This has to mean in this context that they recognized more fully who He was. Perhaps even that they finally realized, “This must be God, only God could do this!” Even so, a part of the story still was a mystery to them. That is, they needed to learn what He came to do.
The Big Idea: God overruled the greatest possible evil, the rejection and murder of his Son, to bring about the greatest imaginable good, the salvation of a people for Himself. We can be assured that He will accomplish His good purpose in the life of everyone who trusts in Him.
The Context: 11:45-47, it’s clear that no matter how convincing the evidence is, many continue to resist the truth. Some of the eyewitneses believe (in fact “many believe in Him). But not all! The contrast is intentional: many believe, but others go and report these things to the Pharisees. A meeting of the Sanhedrin is called to deal with the “Jesus Problem.”
I. First of all we see that there can be Wrong Priorities for Leadership: These leaders were intent on preserving the status quo no matter what the cost. Here they acknowledge the signs and ignore the implications (47-48).
Rather than recognizing Jesus and leading others to Him, they plan to destroy Him. John 11:47 says
“Then the chief priests and the Pharisees gathered a council and said, ‘What shall we do? For this Man works many signs.’”
The question is reasonable—the signs were there, the blind man who had been healed—they investigated thoroughly and it could not be denied, now this, even more astounding—a dead man raised to life! NB. That they recognize these miracles as “signs.” They ask the right question, “What shall we do?”, but where they go with it makes it clear their hearts were completely closed to the truth. Rather than considering what this evidence means, what it reveals about who Jesus is, they are only concerned with what the fallout might be, what is might cost them: In John 11:48 we read,
48 "If we let Him alone like this, everyone will believe in Him, and the Romans will come and take away both our place and nation."
The people will believe—and we have too much to lose! The pronoun here is emphatic and comes before the nouns: The romans will take away what is OURS, both [our] place and [our] nation… Their motives were so self centered, so focused on preserving their power and influence that they did not recognize their own messiah. Peter would later speak of Jesus saying He was “…a man attested to you by God through miracles, wonders, and signs which God did through Him in your midst, just as you yourselves also know…” Still, they were focused on preserving the status quo, and decide “better Him than us!” By the way crucifying Jesus didn’t get rid of the problem… his tomb was empty three days later and before long his pesky disciples were praying that He had risen from the dead (see Acts 2,3,4,5 etc.). At least one of them, Gamaliel, offers some good council in Acts 5:35 ff…
Acts 5:35-42 35 And he said to them: "Men of Israel, take heed to yourselves what you intend to do regarding these men. 36 "For some time ago Theudas rose up, claiming to be somebody. A number of men, about four hundred, joined him. He was slain, and all who obeyed him were scattered and came to nothing. 37 "After this man, Judas of Galilee rose up in the days of the census, and drew away many people after him. He also perished, and all who obeyed him were dispersed. 38 "And now I say to you, keep away from these men and let them alone; for if this plan or this work is of men, it will come to nothing; 39 "but if it is of God, you cannot overthrow it -- lest you even be found to fight against God." 40 And they agreed with him, and when they had called for the apostles and beaten them, they commanded that they should not speak in the name of Jesus, and let them go. 41 So they departed from the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for His name. 42 And daily in the temple, and in every house, they did not cease teaching and preaching Jesus as the Christ.
Good counsel at that time. But not here, not now. It seems the leaders don’t even consider that they might be fighting against God. Even so, God overruled the greatest possible evil, the rejection and murder of his Son, to bring about the greatest imaginable good, the salvation of a people for Himself. We can be assured that He will accomplish His good purpose in the life of everyone who trusts in Him.
II. The evil intentions of men and God’s overruling grace: Christ would indeed be our substitute (49-53).
Caiaphas, the High Priest, chimed in, making it clear that they should get rid of the Problem: it would be better for this one man to die instead of the whole nation (49-50). Caiaphas was focused on self preservation, and on maintaining his position of power and influence, and at least toleration by the Romans. Rather than allowing this “Jesus problem” to escalate, from his perspective it made sense that He be sacrificed, that He die, instead of the nation enduring the wrath of Rome, or the . A scapegoat. A substitute. We’ve seen several examples in this Gospel where Jesus said something, and the full meaning of what He said was missed by his hearers. “Destroy this Temple, and in three days I will raise it up… You must be born again… Drink of the water I give and you’ll never thirst… Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood will never hunger or thirst… But here Caiaphas speaks, and says more than he himself understood. Caiaphas was closer to truth than he realized. Jesus came to be the scapegoat. He came to be the sacrificial lamb. He came as our substitute. Consider the words of Isaiah written 700 years earlier:
Isaiah 53:3-8 “He is despised and rejected by men, A Man of sorrows and acquainted with grief. And we hid, as it were, our faces from Him; He was despised, and we did not esteem Him. 4 Surely He has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; Yet we esteemed Him stricken, Smitten by God, and afflicted. 5 But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; The chastisement for our peace was upon Him, And by His stripes we are healed. 6 All we like sheep have gone astray; We have turned, every one, to his own way; And the LORD has laid on Him the iniquity of us all. 7 He was oppressed and He was afflicted, Yet He opened not His mouth; He was led as a lamb to the slaughter, And as a sheep before its shearers is silent, So He opened not His mouth. 8 He was taken from prison and from judgment, And who will declare His generation? For He was cut off from the land of the living; For the transgressions of My people He was stricken…”
This is a phenomenal illustration of the relationship between human will and divine sovereignty. Caiaphas from his perspective was saying, “Let’s get rid of this guy, better Him than us!” Yet God over-ruled, and his words conveyed a prophetic truth, God’s Son would not be spared, He would be delivered up for the nation, and a remnant from every nation. John fleshes out the fuller implications of the words of Caiaphas: John 11:51-52
“ Now this he did not say on his own authority; but being high priest that year he prophesied that Jesus would die for the nation, 52 and not for that nation only, but also that He would gather together in one the children of God who were scattered abroad.”
He would die for the benefit of the nation, and as a substitute for a remnant from every nation. The whole world is God’s world, and world evangelization is God’s work. We get much more ethnically diversified here in summer, and that is a good thing-it gives us more of a picture of what Heaven will be like! Jesus would give His life for his sheep, scattered around this planet in every nation, from every race, every people group. But, notice what John says: “…He will gather together in one the children of God…” The church is a unity, one body, one family. There are so many things that we can allow to divide us—because we are still influenced by our fallen nature… but love covers a multitude of sins and love is what sets us apart-we love because he first loved us-by our love for one another men will know that we are His disciples. After all, remember what God did for us. He overruled the greatest possible evil, the rejection and murder of his Son, to bring about the greatest imaginable good, the salvation of a people for Himself. We can be assured that He will accomplish His good purpose in the life of everyone who trusts in Him.
III. God’s plan will be carried out in God’s way at God’s time: The hour approaches for the lifting up of the Son (54-57).
In 11:54 we see that Jesus was cognizant of the evil intentions of the leaders and avoided them for a time. He “…no longer walked openly among the Jews, but went from there into the country near the wilderness, to a city called Ephraim, and there remained with His disciples.” John repeatedly emphasizes that Jesus knew what was in the heart of men. He certainly knew the plans of the leaders to kill him, but it wasn’t his time. Temporarily He withdrew, staying under their radar, out of their reach, until the time set by the Father. But V.55 reminds us that the time is approaching.
“And the Passover of the Jews was near, and many went from the country up to Jerusalem before the Passover, to purify themselves. 56 Then they sought Jesus, and spoke among themselves as they stood in the temple, "What do you think -- that He will not come to the feast?" 57 Now both the chief priests and the Pharisees had given a command, that if anyone knew where He was, he should report it, that they might seize Him."
Passover was one of the pilgrim feast of Israel. It was a time that Jews would be expect to travel to the Holy City if at all possible, to celebrate and remember what God had done in bringing them out of Egyptian bondage. As a part of that feast, a lamb would be slain, a reminder of that first Passover, the blood spilt and put on the door post of every Hebrew home. Now the hour approached when Christ, our Passover, would be sacrificed for us.
What is God saying to me in this passage?
God overruled the greatest possible evil, the rejection and murder of his Son, to bring about the greatest imaginable good, the salvation of a people for Himself. We can be assured that He will accomplish His good purpose in the life of everyone who trusts in Him.
What would God have me to do in response to this passage?
As we celebrate the Lord’s Table, we have a God ordained opportunity to deliberately pause and reflect on the Sacrifice of Christ. 2000 years ago Jesus was preparing his disciples for what was about to happen, sharing in a Passover meal, giving them a means of remembering and reflecting on what was about to happen… In the Lord’s table, as we participate in the Bread and the Cup, we look back and remember that God spared not His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all. That is truly amazing grace! Amen.