Glory in Death!

March 18, 2018

Pastor John Hering

20 Now there were some Greeks among those who went up to worship at the festival. 21 They came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida in Galilee, with a request. “Sir,” they said, “we would like to see Jesus.” 22 Philip went to tell Andrew; Andrew and Philip in turn told Jesus.

23 Jesus replied, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified.24 Very truly I tell you, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds.25 Anyone who loves their life will lose it, while anyone who hates their life in this world will keep it for eternal life. 26 Whoever serves me must follow me; and where I am, my servant also will be. My Father will honor the one who serves me.John 12 27

27 “Now my soul is troubled, and what shall I say? ‘Father, save me from this hour’? No, it was for this very reason I came to this hour. 28 Father, glorify your name!”

Then a voice came from heaven, “I have glorified it, and will glorify it again.” 29 The crowd that was there and heard it said it had thundered; others said an angel had spoken to him.

30 Jesus said, “This voice was for your benefit, not mine. 31 Now is the time for judgment on this world; now the prince of this world will be driven out. 32 And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.” 33 He said this to show the kind of death he was going to die.

John 12.20-33

You understand this every time you change jobs. The company promises more for your life, but you probably end up giving them more of your life. That’s life. When prospectors pioneered to California they faced all sorts of contrasts. They moved west in search of freedom and prosperity, but found hardship and futility. They stared into the distance at the beautiful Rocky Mountains, but arrived to discover impassable gorges, unconquerable cliffs and unbearable cold. And, about the gold. They would point into the rough, rugged, rocky terrain and say with hope, “There’s gold in them thar hills!”  Life is filled with contrasts.

So also in the season of Lent. We travel to Wednesday evening services to suffer with the Savior, and then join the parade on Palm Sunday rejoicing in our King. On Good Friday we hang our heads as Jesus hangs on a cross, on Sunday he rises from the dead and we raise our voices in worship and praise. The disciples promise loyalty, but by the end of the week they are running away. Peter and Judas both fell into sin and both were forgiven.  One believed and one didn’t. Contrasts.

The Gospel of John also presents us with contrasts. This account takes place on Tuesday of Holy Week. The enemies of Jesus are trying to trap him to either make him look foolish to his friends or get him arrested by his enemies. After a day of taking irritating flack, Jesus was leaving the temple complex and hears this:

20 Now there were some Greeks among those who went up to worship at the festival. 21 They came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida in Galilee, with a request. “Sir,” they said, “we would like to see Jesus.”

Now, that’s better! What a wonderful contrast to the rejection of his own people. Jesus had spent his life serving, healing, feeding and teaching them and all they could do was hate him. But, it appears this arrival of the Greeks meant something else for, “Jesus replied, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified.”  This statement seems pretty odd! That’s because Jesus knows he is about to be put to death and he says it was time for him to be glorified and Jesus wants us to know

Glory in Death!  1. Glory to God   2. Glory for Us

When a wrestler gets pinned he isn’t declared the winner. When we have to give up something, we don’t think of ourselves as having won something. But, Jesus was different. Jesus knew it was time to walk to the cross, but he also knew that it was the only path to glory. I didn’t say he was all excited about being executed. It was tormenting for Jesus to think about the beating, thorns, nails and cross.  It was excruciating for him to think about the wrath of God’s hell weighing down as payment for the sins of the whole world! So, Jesus’ prayer on Tuesday of Holy Week sounds similar to that prayer from the Garden of Gethsemane two days later, “Now my soul is troubled, and what shall I say? ‘Father, save me from this hour’?”  Jesus knew that his death was absolutely necessary in order to carry out God’s plan to rescue souls form the grip of the devil. So he continued to pray, “No, it was for this very reason I came to this hour.”

There are plenty of reasons for us to give glory to Jesus.  He was there at the creation of the world. Glorious! He was, is and always will be God.  Glorious! He turned water into wine, walked on water and healed men, women and children with diseases.  Glorious! But in order to receive glory as the Savior who takes away the sin of the world, he had to die and be planted in the earth like a seed.

24 Very truly I tell you, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds.”

Did you catch the contrast? A seed has to die and be buried before it can germinate into a growing plant. Don’t we talk about a soldier, police officer or fireman who gives his life for others? There is great honor and glory for such a brave person! Even more so with Jesus! Jesus’ death, as horrible as it was for him, is most glorious because by it we are saved from eternal death in hell!

Jesus’ death brings him great glory, but it doesn’t stop there. Jesus concluded his brief prayer,

28 Father, glorify your name!”

Just how is it that God the Father receives such glory? We give God glory when we remember that

….. God planned our salvation from since the beginning of time.

….. Jesus had to suffer and die for the sins of the whole world.

….. Jesus had to suffer and die for our sins!

….. Jesus gave his Father glory as he was about to endure the pain and punishment in order to make his Father reputations known as the one and only saving God!

Then something amazing happened. Right there, as Jesus was leaving the temple compound, right there in front of the crowd, in the presence of all those people, Jews, Greeks, disciples, friends, and enemies on Tuesday of Holy Week, God the Father answered Jesus’ prayer OUT LOUD! A voice came from heaven, ““I have glorified it, and will glorify it again.”

29 The crowd that was there and heard it said it had thundered; others said an angel had spoken to him.”

You and I have heard God’s voice before – once at Jesus’ baptism and once on the Mount of Transfiguration. Today the Father assures his Son that just as he had made his glorious reputation known in the past, so he would do so now.  How? By flooding the earth?  By drowning an Egyptian army in the sea?  By drying up the Jordan River?  By Crumbling the walls of Jericho?  By walking on water? No! By the death of his Son! Yes, Glory in Jesus’ Death!

Here’s the obvious: We are all sinners. You know it’s true. God is holy.   You know that’s true.  All sin must be paid for. True! God should target us for our sins.  True again!  But, here’s the great contrast! God loves you! God loves you so much he sent his Son to die for you.  Loves you so much that he declares righteous everyone who believes, trusts, depends on Jesus for their salvation.  Believe it! Then you can join all Christians who have died and are giving all glory to God in their death!

But, we’re not dead yet, so how might that look for us?  Here’s one example.  How many times have you received an invitation to attend someone funeral—but it wasn’t called a funeral.  It was probably called something like this, “A celebration of his life!” Well, when I die you don’t have to come to my funeral.  But, if you do, don’t celebrate my life. Come and celebrate God because it took a lot of work for him to save sinners, and extra work to save me! When all is said and done, the angels are not going to be singing praises to me—no matter how kind, patient, gentle or faithful I was. When the world comes to an end no one is going to be patting me on the back for doing such a good job. No! All Glory to God for one reason: Glory in Jesus’ death! It paid for all our sins and it brought all glory to God. The only glory we can bring to the table is this: Stand back and gasp in awe!  Wow! Thank you Jesus for being my Savior!

Dear friends, believe in Jesus’ glorious death and God promises there will be:

Glory for Us!

Here’s what I mean.  If you follow people around it won’t take you long to realize that Satan works hard to get people in a wrestling match and often squeezes his victims in a headlock with the chains of sin. But, then Jesus gets into the wrestling match and battles the devil and defeats him.  That’s what Jesus was talking about, “Now the prince of this world will be driven out.” What the Lord God promised to Adam and Eve, and everybody since, was about to happen: Jesus’ death brought a head-crushing blow to Satan! But, not just for Satan, but also for people who replace Christ with thinking like this: “My sin isn’t so bad.” Or “God will take people who are pretty good into heaven” Or “I’m better than most people, so God will take me” Or “I’ve tried to live a good life—that has to count for something!” Jesus said, “Now is the time for judgment on this world!” The world, that is those who refuse Jesus’ forgiveness will end up in the same boat, no, the same hell as Satan.  They, too, will be condemned. They, too, will be cast out into everlasting torment.

Sadly, it appears that’s where the crowd in Jerusalem was heading.

29 The crowd that was there and heard it said it had thundered; others said an angel had spoken to him.” Even if they couldn’t distinguish the words, they should have realized that the sound from above was really from God. So Jesus announces, “30 Jesus said, “This voice was for your benefit, not mine.”

Time and time again they demanded that Jesus give them a sign to prove that he was the Messiah. What more did they need? They rejected his message, his miracles, his mission and now the rejected the magnificent voice from God himself. Those who refuse to stand under the grace and forgiveness of God through Jesus Christ will stand in the shadow of his anger and wrath.

There is a stern warning for us in this message. God does not and will not put up with that kind of persistent rejection. You can’t keep telling lies and get away with it. You can’t hide your sins from God.  He knows. You can’t be greedy and tell God you’re being generous. You can’t say you’re all about sharing the gospel with others, and never share the gospel with others. You can’t get away with it.  Therefore, dear Christian friends, wouldn’t you agree with me that we have all the more reason to give praise and thanks to God for his glorious gifts through Jesus’ death? Jesus said,

32 And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.”

Rejoice, when Jesus completed his work of dying on the cross to pay the penalty of all your sins, this forgiveness was granted to you and to all people. Believe it! With death staring Jesus right in the face, after a day of being grilled by his enemies, Jesus takes the time to speak to respond to some Greeks!  The obvious message? Jesus loves everybody! The only way one could miss out on Jesus’ love is if they refuse it.

Dear friends, life is filled with contrasts! How much more so with Jesus! His death means our life. Our wrongs caused his death and we get to rejoice! Jesus got the pain, we get the pardon.  Jesus got the punishment, we get the peace. Jesus got gory.  We get glory. But, this glory is not ours to hide, but to share! Jesus said,

26 Whoever serves me must follow me; and where I am, my servant also will be. My Father will honor the one who serves me.”

When Philip and Andrew brought the Greeks to Jesus, they were fulfilling Jesus’ words. Perhaps not so much glory then, but imagine some day in heaven seeing those Greeks there pointing to Philip and Andrew and saying, “We’re here because they introduced us to Jesus!”

Live is filled with contrasts! Sometimes the job we wanted turns out to be a great challenge for our integrity. And, about the prospectors and all that gold. They would point into the rough, rugged, rocky terrain and say with hope, “There’s gold in them thar hills!” but do you know who got rich?  The people who sold shovels!   So, life is filled with contrasts. Sometimes the ones we trusted the most end up being the ones that hurt us the most. Sometimes the good we want to do we don’t do, and the evil we don’t want to do we do.

“Who will rescue us from the body of death?  Thanks be to God—through our Lord Jesus Christ!”

Rom 7:24

To make sense out of the contrasts in life, remember the facts about the biggest problem: Our Savior Jesus came to give glory to the Father through the Cross.  Yes, there is glory in death.  Glory to God and glory for us!  Amen!

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