5th Sunday in Lent
March 29, 2009 Year: B
Jer 31:31-34; Heb. 5:7-9; Jn 12:20-33
I will draw all people to Myself
"The days are surely coming, says the Lord, when I
will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and
the house of Judah. It will not be like the covenant
that I made with their ancestors when I took them by
the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt - a
covenant that they broke, though I was their husband,
says the Lord.
But this is the covenant that I will make with the
house of Israel after those days, says the Lord; I
will put my law within them, and I will write it on
their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall
be my people. No longer shall they teach one another,
or say to each other, 'Know the Lord, 'for they shall
all know me, from the least of them to the greatest,'
says the Lord; 'for I will forgive their iniquity, and
remember their sin no more.'" [Jer. 31:31-4]
"In the days of his flesh, Jesus offered up prayers
and supplications, with loud cries and tears, to the
one who was able to save him from death, and he was
heard because of his reverent submission. Although he
was a Son, he learned obedience through what he
suffered; and having been made perfect, he became the
source of eternal salvation for all who obey him."
"Among those who went up to worship at the festival
were some Greeks. They came to Philip, who was from
Bethsaida in Galilee, and said to him, 'Sir, we wish
to see Jesus.'
Philip went and told Andrew; then Andrew and Philip
went and told Jesus. Jesus answered them, 'The hour
has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. Very
truly, I tell you, unless a grain of wheat falls into
the earth and dies, it remains just a single grain;
but if it dies; it bears much fruit. Those who love
their life lose it, and those who hate their life in
this world will keep it for eternal life.'
'Whoever serves me must follow me, and where I am,
there will my servant be also. Whoever serves me, the
Father will honour.
Now my soul is troubled. And what should I say -
'Father, save me from this hour?' No, it is for this
reason that I have come to this hour. Father, glorify
Then a voice came from heaven, 'I have glorified it,
and I will glorify it again.'
The crowd standing there heard it and said that it was
thunder. Others said, 'An angel has spoken to him.'
Jesus answered, 'This voice has come for your sake,
not for mine. Now is the judgment of this world; now
the ruler of this world will be driven out. And I,
when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all
people to myself.' Jesus said this to indicate the
kind of death he was to die." [Jn. 12:20-33]
There was a boy in India who was sent by his parents
to a boarding school. Before being sent away this boy
was the brightest student in his class. He was at the
top in every competition. He was a champion.
But the boy changed after leaving home and attending
the boarding school. His grades started dropping. He
hated being in a group. He was lonely all the time.
And there were especially dark times when he felt like
committing suicide. All of this because he felt
worthless and that no one loved him.
parents started worrying about the boy. But even they
did not know what was wrong with him. So his dad
decided to travel to the boarding school and talk with
They sat on the bank of
the lake near the school. The father started asking
him casual questions about his classes, teachers and
sports. After some time his dad said, 'Do you know
son, why I am here today?"
The boy answered back, "to check my grades?"
"No, no" his dad replied, "I am here to tell you that
you are the most important person for me. I want to
see you happy. I don't care about grades. I care about
you. I care about your happiness. YOU ARE MY LIFE."
These words caused the boy's eyes to fill with tears.
He hugged his dad. They didn't say anything to each
other for a long time.
Now the boy had everything he wanted. He knew there
was someone on this earth who cared for him deeply. He
meant the world to someone. And today this young man
is in college at the top of his class and no one has
ever seen him sad!
Thanks a lot dad. YOU ARE MY LIFE.
Today is Passion Sunday.
A week before Palm Sunday our Bible Readings focus on
the passion of Jesus. What was Jesus passion? What was
the driving force in his life? What was Jesus
passionate about? Intense about? Animated over? What
gave him sleepless nights? What did he wrestle over in
prayer? Lets find out. I want us to look at John
12:20-33 and notice three aspects to Jesus passion.
His Passion Announced: The Timing of the Cross (12:23)
Passion Illustrated: The Necessity of the Cross
Passion Explained: The Purpose of the Cross (12:27-33)
His Passion Announced: The Timing of the Cross (v23)
Read John 12:23. Two keys words here -
glory and hour. Glory first. This is not the glory of
fame but the glory of shame. Not the glory of
popularity but the glory of isolation. Glory because
it was for us, because it was instead of us. Jesus
knew that before the war would be over he must be
taken captive. He knew that before victory would come
defeat. He knew that before the throne would come the
cup. He knew that before the light of Sunday, there
must be the darkness of Friday. Before his ascension
into heaven there must be a descent into hell. At the
very moment when the crowds of people were cheering,
smiling and waving their palm branches on Palm Sunday,
Jesus was in agony. On the hill side half way down the
Mount of Olives is the chapel known as Dominus Flevit.
Itís the place where the Lord wept. It is a favourite
spot in all of Palestine. This is what Basilea Schlink
writes about this place.
"It waits for tears of
repentance from each one of us, since Jesus has wept
over us too, over our sins and unwillingness. Did He
not weep over us, because we did not know the things
that make for our peace, when He called and beckoned
us, or intervened in our lives? How often did we
resist when Jesus tried to draw us back to Himself?
How often did we persist in rebellion and defiance.
Like His people long ago we did not heed His beckoning
and follow Him; we despised His way of lowliness and
Why was Jesus in agony? This was his glory. His hour.
The hour to which every word and every act in
Scripture pointed. Jesus was in agony because He knew
from eternity past that this was indeed the time for
the Cross. His passion announced.
2. His Passion Illustrated: The
Necessity of the Cross (v24-26)
Read verses. Each
little grain of wheat has a hard, glossy husk, within
which its life is contained. But if it falls into the
ground then its husk softens and rots and breaks open.
inside the seed the power of its life begins to push
outwards. The pattern of its life begins to unfold.
Roots go down into the soil. A shoot comes up into the
light where it grows stronger and taller and produces
a single ear of corn. By harvest time there will be
forty seeds where before there was only one. Next year
if those forty seeds all fall on good soil they will
produce sixteen hundred seeds. In the third year
sixty-four thousand. In the fourth year over two and a
half million. But only if that first seed falls to the
ground and dies. So it is that Jesus offers bread to
the whole world. He offers himself, his life, to come
alive in hundreds, then thousands, then millions of
others. But first he must die.
if we his followers wish to pass on his life then we
too must learn the pattern of life. We will bear fruit
only when we die to self. God has given each one of us
a passion. A unique combination of personality,
experience and spiritual gifting. Therefore our place
of service in the church is unique and irreplaceable.
people's passion seems to be to criticise the passion
of others. For example, someone thought it right to
phone a lady at Christ Church this week, anonymously,
and criticise her for promoting her charity venture
here in Church. A couple of weeks earlier another man
thought it right to tell a young lad off for wearing a
baseball hat in church. Listen, if the Bishop can wear
a hat in Church so can you if you want to. Our mission
statement as a church is to help people to become
fully devoted followers of Jesus Christ. Making them
conform to our religious traditions is not part of
that mission. Lets make sure our passion is shaped by
Jesus own priorities. Lets get passionate about one
another's God given passion.
Passion Announced: The Timing of the Cross (12:23)
His Passion Illustrated: The Necessity of the Cross
3. His Passion Explained: The
Purpose of the Cross (v27-33)
Martin Luther said once, "No one ever feared death
as much as this man." The Son was troubled and
Heaven answered. God in heaven could not keep silence;
Heaven answered the Son's prayer with an articulate
voice. It was agony for Jesus to do the will of his
Father. It was agony for Jesus to bring glory to his
Father. It was agony for Jesus to drive out the prince
of this world. It was agony for Jesus to draw all men
to himself. But there was no other way. No other way.
When you come face to face with a person in difficulty
remind yourself of this picture. Read 12:32: If
it were possible to get right with God on any other
terms, then the cross of Jesus was unnecessary.. If
you can help someone with a little amiable
religiosity. With a smile and a sympathetic pat on the
back then you are turning your back on Jesus. Point
people to the cross, lift it high so that they see
Jesus, and only Jesus. Asking God to glorify himself
in us is a risky prayer. How do we respond when that
glory is spelt agony. "Save me from this hour?" We
should not ask to be saved from agony, but that we
glorify God through it.
Christians are not protected from pain. We have no
insurance policy against agony. Sorrow can burn up a
great deal of shallowness or it can lead to
bitterness. It all depends on our perspective, it all
depends on our motive. Jesus was not saved from
the hour. He was saved for it. And so are we.
One of my favourite books in the Old Testament is
Esther. It might be subtitled, "For such a time as
this." It comes from the scene where Esther's life is
at stake. She must plead for the life of her people
before her husband the king. But for anyone including
her to enter his presence unannounced could mean
instant execution. Just as she was wavering, Mordecai
"If you remain
silent at this time, relief and deliverance for the
Jews will arise from another place, but you and your
father's family will perish. And who knows but that
you have come to royal position for such a time as
such a time as this. This was Jesus hour. Read
12:32. The Greek word for judgment means crisis or
discrimination. Now was the moment of crisis. Decision
day. The world today prefers to be inoffensively
neutral. It does not like having to decide. Dorothy L.
the world it is called tolerance, but in hell it is
called despair... the sin that believes in nothing,
cares for nothing, seeks to know nothing, interferes
with nothing, enjoys nothing, hates nothing, finds
purpose in nothing, lives for nothing, and remains
alive because there is nothing for which it will die."
different with Jesus. It was judgement time. The Judge
was about to take their just deserts upon Himself.
Jesus was going to do three things simultaneously by
3.1 Glorify the Father 12:27 - make him
3.2 Judge the World 12:31 - pay the
price for sin
3.3 Rescue People 12:32-33 - save those
who turn to him
Jesus was making a decision that changed the course of
history for the entire universe. The hour of his
destiny and of his death would be like a flash of
lightening suddenly illuminating the whole cosmos with
God's love. As we shall see next week Jesus entry into
Jerusalem was not in anticipation of being crowned,
but crucified. It was the example of supreme courage,
knowing He was going, willingly, voluntarily,
sacrificially to his death on our behalf, as
our ransom, as our substitute. Read
12:31-32. The phrase "lifted up" means two things.
It means to be crucified, but it also carries with it
the idea of glorification. The Son of God was
glorified by being crucified.
His Passion Announced: The Timing of the Cross
Passion Illustrated: The Necessity of the Cross
Passion Explained: The Purpose of the Cross
When Joan of Arc knew that she had been betrayed and
was to be burnt at the stake by the leaders of her own
people, as George Bernard Shaw has it in his play, she
turns to them and says,
"I will go out to the common people, and let the
love in their eyes comfort me for the hate in yours.
You will be glad to see me burnt; but if I go through
the fire I shall go through it to their hearts for
ever and ever."
What was the passion of Jesus? You are the passion of
Jesus. Even if you were the only person in the whole
world he would still have died for you. He would
rather go to hell for you than to heaven without you.
Such love, such passion. Let us pray.
And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw
all people to myself