Monday, March 17, 2008

A Speculative Sermon: John 12:12-18.

(Since Yesterday was Palm Sunday, I thought the republishing of this sermon would be appropriate.)

Why Speculative? I am wondering what was going through the mind of Christ as he entered Jerusalem for what he knew would be the final week before his death and resurrection. What was his emotional state? Usually when a sermon on this passage is preached the pastor will observe that in one week the people who are celebrating their Messiah will be shouting "Crucify Him!" Was Jesus reflecting upon this as he rode upon the donkey and the palm branches were spread before Him? Possibly. Yet I believe this was not in the forefront of what He was thinking at the time. Some may chastise me for speculating upon what we cannot know for sure, yet I believe the following had to be reflected upon by Jesus as He rode into Jerusalem that day, and that one can support this view through the reading of scripture.

Many went out to see Jesus that day because they had heard that Jesus had raised Lazurus from the dead. Jesus had raised people from the dead before. He raised the son of the widow of Nain. He also raised Jairus's daughter. But no one before had raised one who had been dead for four days and whose body had started to decompose. Jesus knew that the miracle He had performed caused people to seek Him out. He also knew that the miracle shook up the Pharisees even more than anything else He had done. Not only did they plot to kill Him, they also sought the life of Lazurus as well! There was also something unique about this miracle: this event concerned not total strangers, but those who were closest to Jesus, those whom scripture states that Jesus loved. It could not have been easy for Him to delay going to Lazurus and his sisters when he knew that Lazurus was sick. He had to have mourned for the death of the one He loved even though He knew He would raise him from the dead. After all, He was just like us in our humanity, though without sin. The grief of Mary and Martha must have caused Him great pain. Here were two of His closest followers, yet they did not have a full understanding of who Jesus was. They did not fully understand His power over death. They knew he could have raised Lazurus if Jesus had been there, but they did not fully grasp that Jesus is the resurrection and the life. The despair death brings was staring Jesus in the face as perhaps no other event in scripture demonstrates. Jesus knew He could have spared them these feelings by healing their brother from afar. Then there were those who stood by accusing Jesus of doing nothing. Jesus could have been tempted to justify His actions. But He did not. He knew what He was about to do and the glory it would bring to God. Yet in this situation Jesus was emotionally involved more than at anyother time in scripture; He truly felt the pain that death brings to man more than ever before. The experiencing of these emotions must have been on Jesus's mind as he rode into Jerusalem.

I am sure that many passages from scripture concerning His mission were running through His mind. One of them might have been Hosea 13:14. "I will ransom them from the power of the grave, I will redeem them from death. O Death, I will be your plagues! O Grave, I will be your destruction! Pity is hidden from My eyes." Here is our Messiah, the second person of the Godhead, who has just experienced the pain of death as we ourselves experience it. Jesus must have been thinking "Satan, you are about to get what you deserve." "O, Death, I will be your plagues! O Grave, I will be your destruction!" This prophecy talks of a time when death and ultimately Satan Himself will get what is due them. Jesus will deal with His enemies, including those that torment man, with no pity. And as Jesus was riding into Jerusalem that day, He had to be reflecting on the fact that in one week, Satan was going to have his power crushed forever. And Jesus was going to accomplish this by giving His body as a ransom; He was going to die in our place on the Cross. But because He had no sin, death was not going to be able to hold Him. He will be raised from the dead by the Holy Spirit on the third day. And because He was raised from the dead, we who repent of our sins and place our faith in Jesus and what He did on our behalf, we will be in His presence for eternity. Death and the grave will not be our destiny. As Paul states in I Cor 15:52-57, the sting of death is sin, and the strength of sin is the law. Sin brings fear and uncertainty. Sin brings regrets and pain. The law shows us that we on our own cannot live up to the standards of a holy God. But sin forgiven is sin that no longer has power to hurt. One who knows their that their sins have been put under the blood knows where he or she is going at life's end. And they know that they will worship in the presence of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit forever with all those whom they have loved and who also have had their sins forgiven. This scene of those whose sins are forgiven worshipping in heaven and experiencing no more pain must have been before Jesus as he rode into Jerusalem that day.

1 comment:

Tim Sheets said...

Hey man, thanks for stopping by. Appreciate the message for Palm Sunday.

This passage opens up some interesting concepts about the kingdom too. The entry on a colt was not exactly a power statement, right?

T <><