March 24, 2023

The Glory of the Cross

John 12: 19-33
Years ago, the Polish government under Prime Minister Jaruzelski, ordered that all crucifixes be removed from classroom walls, factories, hospitals, and other public institutions. So when the order was carried out Christian leaders, students and parents organized a protest at a church. There were over 2000 people gathered and the government became concerned about riots. So, they sent soldiers to surround the church. As one can expect Television News crews were there as well. At some point all people there held up small wooden crosses for the whole world to see. A pastor of one of the churches went outside and on the steps of the church he cried out, "There is no Poland without the cross of Jesus." We can take it one step further – there is no world where anything ever will make sense if the cross of the Saviour of the world, isn't recognized. You see, at some point in the lives of those who come to the cross of Jesus for salvation, there are words from a hymn that become very dear, “And I love that old cross where the dearest and best for a world of lost sinners was slain.” Don't we also feel like clinging to The Old Rugged Cross.

We all will agree – on this fifth Sunday in the Season of Lent we rejoice in The Glory Of The Cross. Because it reminds us of the One Who willingly laid down His life. And before He went to the cross, He spoke words for eternity, “I tell you the truth, 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.”? Jesus was hoping that the people He addressed would comprehend the essence of those words. What was it He wanted them to know? “There will come glory from the cross after the Son of Man laid down His life. His body will go into the ground, but be brought back to bring life in abundance.”

There are 2 thoughts we want to consider from John 12: 19-33. The first is – 1 Our World Is In Need Of Salvation. In verse 19 the Pharisees made the observation: “Look how the whole world has gone after Him!" Why was the whole world going after Jesus? Note that the Pharisees spoke those words when the crows flocked to Jesus after He raised Lazarus from the dead. Because He gave them what they thought were the essential things in life, they followed Him – food, healing, physical life. He spoke the word and things happened – demons departed, dead bodies came back to life, leprosy disappeared before the eyes of people. You see, it was like they were just waiting for the next miracle to happen. In our time we can think of those in anticipation for the next invention that will change the world. John expressed here in his Gospel that there were people who weren't much different from people in our time. They wanted to know more about the miracles Jesus performed. We read in verses 21 and 22 we hear, “They came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida in Galilee, with a request. ”Sir," they said, "We would like to see Jesus." Philip went to tell Andrew; Andrew and Philip in turn told Jesus.” There were Greeks who wanted to match their knowledge with what Jesus did. But you see the response Jesus gave to their request and all those through the ages to see miracles, was the opposite of what they expected. Instead of Him going and tell those Greeks, “I’m going to show you some miracles so that you can believe” He said, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified.” John 12: 23 Up to this point when Jesus had spoken of “His hour” it has always been in the future tense. In chapter 2:4 he told Mary, “My hour has not yet come.” But now His hour was here – Jesus was fully aware that the predestined time came for His glorification through death. He had to be glorified on the cross in order for those Greeks to be saved. He had to be glorified in order for the whole world to be saved. No one from Adam to the last of God’s children will see eternal life if Jesus didn’t fulfill the Father’s plan of redemption. Isn’t it true my friends? More than 2000 years after Jesus spoke those words - “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified.” - and it was fulfilled, there are still thousands of people around the world who seek the wrong Jesus? Can we all agree on something? – our world today lives with the lie of self glorification. People believe that they have to work out their own future and destiny. And they are so deceived. They need Jesus Who said, “Only when the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.” John 8: 36. Those who ignore that choose the path of self destruction and eternal condemnation. One theologian put it this way, “It's as if they again board the Titanic knowing that the cruise will be leading to death.” Our Lord's voice rings out as far as the world reaches, “The kernel of wheat had already gone into the ground; it had already died to bring life once and for all – life that will last!” The cross of Calvary tells us again as we journey trough Lent – the death of One, brought life for many. The glory of the cross brought you and me a new beginning. We can write the words of Romans 8 verses 1 and 2 over our lives, “Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death.” There is a second thought from John 12: 19-33 – 2 We Will Be Rewarded For Our Stand And Service For Jesus. We read in verse 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.” It’s a part of our human nature to ask, “What’s in it for me? Why am I even committing myself to the cause of Jesus?” And then the rock solid answer comes – it’s the same answer He gave His disciples, “Great is your reward in heaven.” There is something we have to appreciate – we do not gather accolades as we go along in God’s service; there is no self gain on the path we follow Jesus on. But my friends, for us is in store the crown of righteousness St. Paul rejoiced about – the crown of righteousness He was going to receive after his earthly life came to an end. And then he added, “…and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing.” A young girl visited her mother in hospital who was dying from a disease doctors didn’t have a cure for. The girl said with tears in her eyes, “You have done only good in your life, but never had anything to show for it.” Her mother replied, “Soon in the presence of God, I will be rewarded. That’s enough for me.” Is it enough for you and me to hear Jesus say, “…and where I am, my servant also will be?”
But then there is something more than heaven to be rewarded for. When Jesus said, “My Father will honour the one who serves me”, He was thinking of the expansion of His Father's kingdom. The apostles He called looked back and witnessed the expansion of Jesus' cause from region to region. Many Missionaries and Evangelists couldn't believe how God's kingdom expanded. The question is, “Do we believe that?” Can we glory in the cross that the death of Jesus brought life for many?