Sunday, May 12, 2024

“Believe in Me” [Matt's Messages]

“Believe in Me”
Life in Jesus’ Name - The Gospel of John
Lanse Evangelical Free Church
May 12, 2024 :: John 12:37-50  

Did you notice a key word in this passage as it was read to us a minute ago?

Which word gets repeated over and over and over again?

You might miss it because it’s a word that John had already used again and again and again throughout this book.

Twenty-five years ago, when I first preached the Gospel of John, I got exasperated a few times with John for repeating this word so many times! I would come home from studying the passage for that Sunday, and Heather Joy would say, “So what did John have to say this week?”

And I would say, “He says again that we should BELIEVE.”

Did you hear that word again and again? Believe. I think it’s like eight times in these few short sentences. 

Believe. Believe.
Believe. Believe.
Believe. Believe.
Believe. Believe.

And when Jesus says it, He says, “Believe in me.”  As we’ve seen again and again, Jesus tends to make everything about Himself. He doesn’t just want us to have faith. He wants us to have faith in Him.

That’s a big deal, you know? Lots of people talk about having “faith.” Maybe they even put a yard sign out in the yard that says, “Believe!” 

But the key question is, “Believe in WHAT?” or “Believe in WHOM?” Everybody believes in something. Everybody is trusting in something or someone every single second. But Jesus invites us to trust in Him. And He also warns us that there is grave danger ahead if we do not.

This passage is both an invitation and a warning. It’s one of those passages that is easy to miss. It’s easy to just let your eyes run over it on your way to the exciting things that happen in chapter 13. But today, I want us to slow down and consider what it is saying to us right now.


This passage is a great place to stop and take a deep breath before diving into the last major section of the gospel. This is our thirtieth message in this series, and this is great place to stop and catch our breath and consider what we have seen so far.

Because this is the last chapter in John where Jesus is teaching publicly. It’s His last big invitation and warning to the general public out there.

Starting in the next chapter, Jesus is going to teach a lot more, but privately. Just to the disciples in what we often call “The Upper Room Discourse” or “The Teaching on the Night He Was Betrayed.”

And chapter 12 is kind of like a summary review of what Jesus has been saying for the first three years of His ministry and one final invitation and warning to those listening to believe in Him in that crucial last week.

It starts with something that might seem at first like a problem. Let me show you. Let’s look at verse 37. John 12:37. 

“Even after Jesus had done all these miraculous signs in their presence, they still would not believe in him.”

How does that strike you? Does that make you worry a little bit? Does that surprise you? Jesus is inviting people to put their faith in Him. He’s done it over and over again. And many have consistently said, “No thank you. I don’t think so.” They have rejected Him.

nd He’s backed up His invitations with miracles! John says, “Even after Jesus had done all these miraculous signs in their presence, they still would not believe in him.”

What’s He talking about? What miraculous signs?    [ASK CROWD.]

Water into Wine. Chapter 2.
Supernatural knowledge of the woman at the well. Chapter 4.
Healing the official’s son long distance with a word. Chapter 5. “Your son will live!”
Healing the man who was paralyzed for thirty-eight year. “Take up your mat and walk.” Chapter 5.
Feeding the 5,000 men and with their families, maybe 20,000 people! Chapter 6.
Walking on the water. Chapter 6.
Give sight to the man born blind. Chapter 9.
Raising Lazarus from the dead! Chapter 11.
Speaking directly to God, “Father, Glorify Your Name” and the Father speaking directly back in a thunderous voice, “I have glorified, and I will glorify it again.” This very chapter, chapter 12.

John says in chapter 20 that He did many other miraculous signs which are not recorded in this book (20:30).

But those are enough, right? He did all of these miraculous signs in their presence, but they still would not believe in Him. 

That sounds like a problem! Was Jesus a failure? Was His mission a failure? They should have, right? They should have believed in Him. It’s obvious, right? 

What’s wrong? There’s a part of me that starts to worry that something has gone terribly wrong with the plan here.

But John says the exact opposite. Look at verse 38.

“This was to fulfill the word of Isaiah the prophet: ‘Lord, who has believed our message and to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?’ For this reason they could not believe, because, as Isaiah says elsewhere: ‘He has blinded their eyes and deadened their hearts, so they can neither see with their eyes, nor understand with their hearts, nor turn–and I would heal them.’ Isaiah said this because he saw Jesus' glory and spoke about him” (vv.38-41).

I’ve got three points of application I want to make this morning, and here’s the first one:

#1. DON’T PANIC. 

God’s plan is on track. Yes, these people should have believed in Him. They had every opportunity and every good reason to, but they rejected Him. And yet, that did not derail God’s plan. In fact, it was all part of God’s plan. Verse 38 again.

“They still would not believe in him. This was to fulfill the word of Isaiah the prophet...”

Their unbelief was a part of God’s plan from the beginning. John makes that point from two different beloved passages from the prophet Isaiah. Isaiah lived more than 700 years before Jesus was born, but he clearly got a glimpse of Jesus long before that first Christmas.

The first passage that John brings up is Isaiah 53 which everybody should know and try to memorize. Isaiah 53 is an amazing telling of the gospel more than 700 years before Jesus was born. It begins: “Who has believed our message and to whom has the arm of the LORD been revealed?”

The “arm of the Lord” refers to the Messiah who is being prophesied. And the question is actually a lament that so few have believed the message. And so many have rejected the Messiah.

Isaiah goes on to say:
“He grew up before him like a tender shoot, and like a root out of dry ground. He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him, nothing in his appearance that we should desire him.

He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering. Like one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not.

Surely he took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows, yet we considered him stricken by God, smitten by him, and afflicted.

But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed.

We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all.

He was oppressed and afflicted, yet he did not open his mouth; he was led like a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is silent, so he did not open his mouth.

By oppression and judgment he was taken away. And who can speak of his descendants? For he was cut off from the land of the living; for the transgression of my people he was stricken.

He was assigned a grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death, though he had done no violence, nor was any deceit in his mouth.

Yet it was the LORD's will to crush him and cause him to suffer, and though the LORD makes his life a guilt offering, he will see his offspring and prolong his days, and the will of the LORD will prosper in his hand.

After the suffering of his soul, he will see the light of life and be satisfied; by his knowledge my righteous servant will justify many, and he will bear their iniquities.

Therefore I will give him a portion among the great, and he will divide the spoils with the strong, because he poured out his life unto death, and was numbered with the transgressors. For he bore the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors.” (Isaiah 53:2-12).
The rejection was part of the prediction!

(And so was the exaltation.)

But the rejection was no surprise. It was baked into the plan. John pulls out Isaiah chapter 6 to say it even more strongly.

Isaiah 6 is that picture of the heavenly holy throne room. Isaiah writes: 
“In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord seated on a throne, high and exalted, and the train of his robe filled the temple.  Above him were seraphs, each with six wings: With two wings they covered their faces, with two they covered their feet, and with two they were flying. 

And they were calling to one another: ‘Holy, holy, holy is the LORD Almighty; the whole earth is full of his glory.’

At the sound of their voices the doorposts and thresholds shook and the temple was filled with smoke. 

Woe to me!’ I cried. ‘I am ruined! For I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips, and my eyes have seen the King, the LORD Almighty.’

Then one of the seraphs flew to me with a live coal in his hand, which he had taken with tongs from the altar. With it he touched my mouth and said, ‘See, this has touched your lips; your guilt is taken away and your sin atoned for.’

Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, ‘Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?’ And I said, ‘Here am I. Send me!’ 

He said, ‘Go and tell this people: ‘'Be ever hearing, but never understanding; be ever seeing, but never perceiving.' Make the heart of this people calloused; make their ears dull and close their eyes. Otherwise they might see with their eyes, hear with their ears, understand with their hearts, and turn and be healed’” (Isaiah 6:1-10).
That’s the verse (v.10) that John quotes in chapter 12. 

The rejection was part of the prediction. In fact, it was part of the judgment. These people would not believe because they could not believe. And that was part of God’s judgment on them.

Now, how does that work? How is it that they are responsible for their wicked rejection of Jesus if God planned in advance for it to happen?

I don’t know. 

But John doesn’t think it’s a problem. The Bible consistently presents you and I as completely responsible for our free choices and God as fully sovereign over them, even our sinful ones.

I don’t know exactly how that works, but I’m glad it does. Because that’s what happened at the Cross, right? Sinful men put Jesus on the Cross in a sinful way. And at the very same time, God was working out His righteous plan through their sinful choices.

And that’s what saves us!

I’m not sure exactly how it all works. But I’m glad it does. 

And John doesn’t think it’s a problem. He thinks it solves a problem. Their rejection of Jesus did not create a problem. It didn’t mean that Jesus was failing was His mission. It didn’t mean that Jesus was clearly not the Messiah or they would have all believed.

It didn’t mean that everything was falling apart. There is no reason to panic. All is proceeding according to plan. 

I don’t know about you, but that is so encouraging to me. When I look out at the world and how it seems to be falling apart. And when I look out at people’s lives and see how they are falling apart. And when I see people I’m trying to share Jesus with and they don’t believe (at least yet). I am tempted to panic. And to worry that this is all wrong. And it is bad. It is trouble. It is terrible.

But that doesn’t mean that God’s plan has been thwarted. 

Not. in. the. slightest.

Now that doesn’t mean that we should just throw up our hands and stop our efforts to make the world a better place or to pray for people and situations that are falling apart or to share the gospel with those are currently rejecting Jesus. 

Just like this didn’t mean that Jesus was failing in His mission so that He should just quit and go home. But it does mean that we don’t have to worry or get scared that God’s plan is derailed and headed for the ditch. No, even the yucky stuff that happens along the way is all part of the plan.

Jesus quoted Isaiah 6:10 this way (Matthew 13:14-15). Paul quoted Isaiah 6:10 this way (Acts 28:26-27). John quotes Isaiah 6:10 this way to give us hope and reassurance that even though all is not well, all is going well.

And all is going to be well because Jesus is going to get the glory. Look at again at verse 41.

“Isaiah said this because he saw Jesus' glory and spoke about him.”

Remember, Isaiah lived more than 700 years before Jesus was born, but He saw Jesus. Prophetically. Just like Abraham saw Jesus prophetically (John 8:58) Isaiah saw Jesus prophetically.

That LORD high and lifted up? Holy, holy, holy. That was Jesus.

That Messiah that was going to be pierced for our transgressions? That was Jesus. 

That righteous servant that was going to “see the light of life and be satisfied; [and] by his knowledge [He] will justify many” ? That was Jesus!

And Jesus was going to the glory and nothing was going to stop Him.

In this very chapter Jesus said, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified” (Jn. 12:23 NIVO).

And Isaiah could see it from 700 years away!

Don’t panic. God’s plan is on track.

Now, John says that some people, even leaders, did believe in Jesus. Many had rejected Him (as predicted). But some believed. Look at verse 42.

“Yet at the same time many even among the leaders believed in him. But because of the Pharisees they would not confess their faith for fear they would be put out of the synagogue; for they loved praise from men more than praise from God” (vv.42-43).

That doesn’t sound good. It’s good that they recognized their Messiah when they saw Him. The miracles pointed to the truth all along.

But these folks were too scared to tell people that they believed. They were afraid of what other people would think, say, or do if they did. And that puts them in a dangerous spot.

It’s possible that some of them had real faith, and it was just timid at first. I think of Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus. They both apparently came to believe and were quiet about it at first. Nick came at night, right? But by the end of the gospel, they are being bold and going public with their belief in Jesus. 

But others might have believed and then never have gone with public with their faith, never “confessed” that they believed, and it’s really unclear whether or not they were truly saved.


And one of the ways you know your faith is real is if you go public with it.

#2. GO PUBLIC. 

Tell other people that you believe in Jesus.

These folks were scared that they might be ostracized. You might feel the same way. You might be scared of being laughed at. Or denied a promotion at work. Or excluded from the party. Look at what John says about them in verse 43.

“They loved praise from men more than praise from God.”

I don’t want that to be said of me or of you. So often it’s been true of me. I want people to like me. I want people to think I’m great. If they think I’m great because I believe in Jesus, that’s great. But if they are going to think I’m a dummy for believing in Jesus, then I get tempted to not talk about Jesus.

But what if we paid attention to that last phrase, “praise from God?” Do you want praise from God? The Greek word there is “doxa” which we often translated as “glory.”

Do you want the Glorious One to put some glory on you?

I do! We have to want that more than we want the glory that comes from Instagram.

Go public with your faith in Jesus by loving the praise that comes from God. “Well done, you.” 

We just had another baptism class the last couple of weeks, and we’ll be having some more soon. Because not all of us are baptized yet like Jesus told us to do.

Some of you are scared of being baptized because you have to stand in front of others to proclaim your faith in Christ. Let me tell you, everybody here is rooting for you if you do that. It’s not even that you’re going to be tossed out on your ear like these folks were worried about. We are all here for you.

And if you are scared to give your testimony, I will read it for you. I’ve done it before. You don’t have to speak. But you do have stand in front of others and be baptized in front of others. Baptism is going public with your faith.

Don’t be scared. Think about the praise that will come from God if you go public with your faith in Jesus!

Remember: There are no secret agents in the Lord’s Army.

Go public. Tell others. Don’t be like these guys in verses 42 and 43. Who could you tell this week? That you believe in Jesus.

#3. PUT YOUR FAITH IN JESUS.

In verse 44, Jesus invites the public one last time to believe in Him before He disappears to the upper room. And He tells them how wonderful it is to believe and how terrible it is to not believe. Look at verse 44.

“Then Jesus cried out, ‘When a man believes in me, he does not believe in me only, but in the one who sent me. When he looks at me, he sees the one who sent me.”

Everything Jesus says here is going to sound familiar.  

When you and I believe in Jesus, we don’t just believe in Jesus. We believe God the Father. Jesus doesn’t just act on His own. He was sent on a mission. And when you look at Jesus, you don’t just see Jesus. You see His Father. Sounds like chapter 1 to me. 

“No one has ever seen God, but God the One and Only, who is at the Father's side, has made him known” (Jn. 1:18 NIVO). 

You want to know what God is like? Put your faith in Jesus.  Sounds like chapter 5 to me.  

“My Father is always at his work to this very day, and I, too, am working” (Jn. 5:17 NIVO).

Remember, they tried to kill Him for saying that! They are still trying to kill Him for saying that!

Jesus has been sent on a mission to show the Father and to save His people. Verse 46.

“I have come into the world as a light, so that no one who believes in me should stay in darkness.”

When we believe in Jesus, we escape the darkness. Sounds like chapter 8 to me.

“When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life” (Jn. 8:12 NIVO).

Who wants to escape the darkness?

Who wants to escape the judgment? V.47

“‘As for the person who hears my words but does not keep them, I do not judge him. For I did not come to judge the world, but to save it. [Sounds like chapter 3 to me. He didn’t come the first time to bring judgment though everyone who rejects Him will eventually receive it. V.48] There is a judge for the one who rejects me and does not accept my words; that very word which I spoke will condemn him at the last day. For I did not speak of my own accord, but the Father who sent me commanded me what to say and how to say it.”

You see what He’s saying?

If you put your faith in Jesus, you aren’t just listening to Jesus.

You are listening to the Father. And you are escaping the darkness. And you are escaping the judgment that would come if you reject Jesus. And you are gaining eternal life. Verse 50.

“I know that his command leads to eternal life. So whatever I say is just what the Father has told me to say.”

“And He’s told me to say, ‘Believe in me.’” Sounds like chapter 3 to me.

“God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life” (Jn. 3:16 NIVO).

Life that goes on forever and is life with Jesus and His Father forever.

Do you believe in Jesus?

I know you believe in something. We all believe in something. But Jesus invites us to believe in Him.

And He warns of terrible things if we do not. Judgment. Darkness. Perishing. Eternal Death.

But wonderful things if we believe:

Listening the Father.
Escaping from the darkness into the light of life.
Eternal life.

Put your faith in Jesus.

Believe in Him.


***

Messages in this Series

01. "That You May Believe" - John 20:30-31
02. "In The Beginning Was the Word" - John 1:1-18
03. "John's Testimony" - John 1:19-34
04. "Come and See" - John 1:35-51
05. "The First of His Miraculous Signs" - John 2:1-11
06. "This Temple" - John 2:12-25
07. "You Must Be Born Again" - John 3:1-15
08. "God So Loved The World" - John 3:16-21
09. "Above All" - John 3:22-36
10. "Living Water" - John 4:1-26
11. "Ripe for the Harvest" - John 4:27-42
12. "Your Son Will Live" - John 4:43-54
13. "Pick Up Your Mat and Walk" - John 5:1-18
14. "To Your Amazement" - John 5:19-30
15. "Testimony About Me" - John 5:31-47
Christmas Eve Bonus: "The Astonishing Gift" - John 3:16 Again
Christmas Eve Bonus: "We Have Seen His Glory" - John 1:1-18 Again
16. "Enough Bread" - John 6:1-15
17. "You Are Looking for Me" - John 6:16-36
18. "I Am the Bread of Life" - John 6:35-71
Vision Meeting Bonus: "As I Have Loved You" - John 13:34-35
19. "At the Feast" - John 7:1-52
20. "I Am the Light of the World" - John 8:12-30
21. "Your Father" - John 8:31-59
22. "Now I See" - John 9:1-41
23. "I Am The Gate" - John 10:1-13
24. "I Am the Good Shepherd" - John 10:14-21
25. "I And The Father Are One" - John 10:22-42
26. "I Am the Resurrection and the Life" - John 11:1-53
27. "Expensive" - John 11:54-12:11
28. "The Hour Has Come" - John 12:12-26

Sunday, May 05, 2024

“Father, Glorify Your Name!” [Matt's Messages]

“Father, Glorify Your Name!”
Life in Jesus’ Name - The Gospel of John
Lanse Evangelical Free Church
May 5, 2024 :: John 12:27-36  

It’s Palm Sunday. Jesus has ridden a young donkey into Jerusalem. He has a target His back. He’s a wanted man, but He’s not scared to show His face.

He smells of expensive perfume. His friend Mary has anointed Him with a small fortune of nard poured out on Him from His head to His feet. He’s been drenched. And He’s heading straight into town.

The crowd has been waving palm branches over Him and shouting, “Blessed is the King of Israel!” And He’s not stopped them. He’s received their worship and their faith in His messiahship, His kingship.

And the Jewish leaders are frustrated that the whole wide world seems to be coming to follow Him. For example, even some Greeks at the Passover Feast request an audience with Him, saying to Phillip, “We would like to see Jesus.”

Everything seems to be leading up to a climax. And it was at that point that Jesus announced to the crowd, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified.”

[VIDEO WILL BE EMBEDDED HERE.]

“The hour has come.” That’s what Jesus said in the passage we looked at last week. V.23, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified.”

It’s high time that Jesus gets the glory.

Up until this point, it was not Jesus’ time, not Jesus’ “hour.” But now it’s all come together. Jesus said that the time has now arrived for the Son of Man to be glorified.

And that sounds wonderful, but we learned last week that it actually means something horrible (at least at first) something terrible and something painful. Jesus is going to die. To be glorified, Jesus must undergo great suffering. Jesus says that He’s going to be like a seed. In verse 24, He said, “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.” Much fruit.

And He went on to say that we need to be seeds, as well. We need to follow Him in sacrificial service and self-denying love for a spiritual harvest.

But He was mainly talking about Himself. He was going to be like that seed. He was going to die. He was going to be planted into the ground.

How do you think He felt about that?

Remember, Jesus is fully human. He has every emotion that you and I have, just no sin. But He feels everything. And this makes Him feel “troubled.” Look at verse 27.

“Now my heart is troubled...”

That’s the same word that John used to describe Jesus’ feelings at the tomb of Lazarus (11:33). He’s disturbed. He’s unsettled. He’s troubled in His heart.

Jesus was not all “pumped up for Good Friday!”

“Woohoo! I get to be crucified this week. Who’s excited?”

No. In His humanity, Jesus doesn’t want to go there. If it was just up to Jesus’ feelings, he’d skip this part. He’d skip this “hour.” He’s tempted to ask His Father to let Him off the hook. V.27 again.

“‘Now my heart 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.”

Do you see what He’s saying? Do you feel it?

I can hardly believe He was saying these things in public. He’s going to say something very similar in prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane later that night, praying with sweat like drops of blood.

But here’s He’s saying it out in front of everybody. “Should I pray, ‘Father, save me from this hour’?

Should I? I sure want to. I sure don’t want to feel the nails. I sure don’t want to feel the thorns. I sure don’t want to take the beating. I sure don’t want to be scourged. I sure don’t want their spittle in my beard. I sure don’t want to struggle to breathe. I sure don’t want the just wrath of God to rain down on Me. The hour has come. Should I pray, ‘Father, save me from this hour’”?

“No, it was for this very reason I came to this hour.”

“This is why I’m here. This is why I was sent. So this is what I’m going to pray right now...” [And it’s our sermon title, from verse 28.]

“Father, glorify your name!”
 
That’s a great thing for you and me to pray ourselves today. But right here, right now, it’s Jesus praying it to His Father. The Son of God, whom it’s time to glorify, is now praying that God the Father will be glorified.

"Father, glorify your name!" “Do whatever it takes for you and your name to get the glory! Even if it means my suffering. Even if it means my sacrifice. Even if it means my death. Father, glorify your name!"

What a prayer request! 

In this context, what an amazing thing for the Son of God to pray to His Father!

"Father, glorify your name!"

I have three points of application this morning, each of them simply one word, and here’s the first one:

#1. REJOICE!

Rejoice that Jesus didn’t cave in to His feelings.
Rejoice that Jesus prayed that His Father would be glorified.
Rejoice that Jesus set His will and His heart to obey and to go to the Cross.

It’s so scary to think what would have happened if Jesus had given in to His feelings in verse 27.

There was nothing wrong with His feelings. It was completely natural and right for Him to be troubled. Think about what He knows He is facing on Friday!

But also think about what would have happened if Jesus had said, “I can’t hack it. I’m out. I refuse to go through this hour. I don’t want to be seed. I don’t want to die. Father, save Me from this hour. Not Your will but My will be done.”

But, rejoice, that’s not what He did! No, Jesus prayed, “Father, glorify your name.”

And, astonishingly, God the Father answered Jesus out loud.

There are only 3 times in the gospels when God the Father Himself speaks from heaven. 

The first is at the baptism of Jesus. “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased” (Matt. 3:17-4:1 NIVO).

The second is at the transfiguration of Jesus. “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased. Listen to him!" (Matt. 17:5 NIVO).

And here’s the third time. On Palm Sunday. Jesus prays (v.28), “Father, glorify your name! Then a voice came from heaven, ‘I have glorified it, and will glorify it again.’”

The Father answers the Son’s prayer request with a resounding, “Yes.”

“Yes, I will do that. I have done it, and I will do it again. Yes.”

Rejoice, O Christian, that God the Father said, “yes” to God the Son!

The opposite is almost unthinkable. But try it on for just a minute. What if the Son had said, “Father, glorify your name,” and the Father not answered? Like He didn’t care. Or if He had answered, “On second thought, no. I won’t bring glory to My name. I won’t set in motion the crucifixion. I won’t give My One and Only Son for those people. No, I don’t think so.”

“I have glorified my name, and I think that’s about enough. Come on home, Jesus, you can skip the next part of the plan.”

Aren’t you glad that’s not what happened?!

Instead, a great booming voice spoke from the heavens, and said, “Yes.” Look at verse 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” (vv.29-30).

They weren’t all quite sure what just happened. Some of them heard the thunderous voice and all they could think was that it was just thunder. Others knew it was heavenly and supernatural, so they thought it must be an angel. But Jesus knew and the disciples knew and eventually came to understand what they had just witnessed (see 16:13).

They had heard God the Son speak to God the Father and God the Father speak back to God the Son.

“I have glorified [my name], and will glorify it again.”

Rejoice!

You see how Jesus said that was for our benefit in verse 30? He knew what the Father would say. He didn’t have to hear so much for Himself (and wonderful as I’m sure that it was to hear with His own ears). But they needed to hear it, and we needed to hear about it so that we would rejoice.

In just a few minutes, we’re going to gather around the Lord’s Table and celebrate what Jesus did for us. 

Today we celebrate Jesus’ prayer that the Father would glorify His name even if meant He had to go through that troubling hour, and we celebrate that the Father said, “Yes, I will glorify my name.”

Because here’s what that means. It means that judgment on the world has come. Look at verse 31.

“Now is the time for judgment on this world; now the prince of this world will be driven out.”

This is what it means for the Father to be glorified. It means judgment has come and Satan is being decisively defeated.

“Now is the time for judgment on this world.” 

By that, Jesus doesn't mean that the End Times are here in full and this is the Great Judgment at the End of Time. What He means is that the sin of the world is going to now be judged once and for all on the Cross. Justice is coming. God is going to maintain His glory by meeting out his wrath on God's Son for the sin of the world. “God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life” (Jn. 3:16 NIVO).  

Rejoice! This is the beginning of the End.

The Cross also shows that justice is coming on all those who will not repent of their sin, including Satan. Jesus says, “Now, the prince of this world will be driven out.” That doesn't mean that Satan isn't still very active on Earth, but it means that the Cross will be his defeat.

The Cross looked like Satan’s victory, didn’t it?

Who was winning when Jesus was dying?

It kind of looked like Satan was, but it was actually God Who was winning.

The Son was being glorified, and the Father was being glorified, too.

Rejoice! Hallelujah, what a Savior! Jesus didn’t cave in, and God’s righteous judgment has come.  And Satan is being driven out.

What a glorious thought! Can you imagine what it will be like to live in a world without Satan? Without the “prince of this world” tempting us, oppressing us, accusing us? Can you imagine?

Because Jesus prayed, “Father, glorify your name!”, Satan is now defeated and is on his way out.

Satan is being driven out, because the Son was being lifted up. Look at verse 32.

“But I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to myself.’ He said this to show the kind of death he was going to die.”

Now, that phrase “lifted up” can mean two different things in both Greek and in English.

We say that someone is “lifted up” when they are glorified, right? When someone is exalted, we can say they have been “lifted up” for everyone to admire and extol and look up to. “Look at Him!”

But verse 33 said that this “lifted up” was “to show the kind of death he was going to die.”

So, this “lifted up” was lifted up on a pole. “Lifted up from the earth.” Suspended in the air on a blood-soaked cross. That’s how He was going to die. And Jesus knew it. That’s what His “hour” meant.

But it’s both, isn’t it? Both kinds of lifted up. Jesus was going to be glorified by dying this kind of horrible death.

And, rejoice, because in doing so (v.32), He will draw all kinds of people to Himself.

“But I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to myself.”

Not every single person. Some will choose to come to Him, some will not.

But all kinds people. Jewish people like most of the crowd standing around Him, and also Gentile people like those Greeks who wanted to meet Him. And Pennsylvanian people like the people in this room right here.

#2. COME!

“But I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to myself.”

That’s your invitation, right there, to come Him. You don’t have to clean up your life first. You don’t have to bring anything to the table except yourself and your sin. Jesus chose to go to the Cross and to be lifted up to die. And in so doing, He is drawing people to Himself.


Jesus said, “For my Father's will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day...No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him, and I will raise him up at the last day” (Jn. 6:40&44 NIVO).

Come! The Father is drawing people to Jesus. And everyone who He draws comes.

Remember what Jesus said in chapter 3 about His being lifted up? He likened Himself to the snake on the pole in Numbers 21.

The only time you’re allowed to compare Jesus to a snake!

He said, “Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the desert, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, that everyone who believes in him may have eternal life. For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life” Jn. 3:14-16 NIVO).

“It was for this very reason that I came to this hour. Father, glorify your name!” (John 12:27-28).

Come. The seed is going to go into the ground die, but that will mean a spiritual harvest. Come! 

The crowd was unconvinced. Some couldn’t believe the thunder was a voice. Some can’t accept the idea of a Messiah that dies. Look at verse 34.

“The crowd spoke up, ‘We have heard from the Law that the Christ will remain forever, so how can you say, 'The Son of Man must be lifted up'? Who is this 'Son of Man'?’” (v.34).

“What you are saying doesn’t sound right. The Christ is an eternal person. He shouldn’t be able to die if that’s what you mean by “lifted up” (Like on a pole? Like the snake?).

That’s not the kind of Christ we’re looking for. We want the Messiah that puts the beat down on the Romans. Not the one that the Romans can lift up on a stake.”

You and I know that the Christ will remain forever. Because He will come back from the dead and live in the power of an indestructible life.


But, first, He must be lifted up. That is the kind of Christ He is.

And we must all choose to believe in and follow Him or not. That’s how Jesus answers the crowd. He invites them to come to Him and believe in Him while they still have time. Verse 35.

“Then Jesus told them, ‘You are going to have the light just a little while longer. Walk while you have the light, before darkness overtakes you. The man who walks in the dark does not know where he is going. Put your trust in the light while you have it, so that you may become sons of light.’ When he had finished speaking, Jesus left and hid himself from them.”

Do you hear the invitation? Come!

There’s just a window of time, and the window is closing. For this crowd, Jesus was saying that darkness was coming that Friday. And, boy, was it going to get dark! Literally, the sun hid its face. But also the Light of the World was snuffed out that day.

Jesus uses the illustration of nightfall here. “You are going to have the light just a little while longer. [It’s the golden hour which is a beautiful time, but it’s always a short time.] Walk while you have the light, before darkness overtakes you. [Come to Jesus! Put your faith in Him before it’s too late.] The man who walks in the dark does not know where he is going. Put your trust in the light while you have it, so that you may become sons of light” (vv.35-36a).

Come. Put your trust in the light. Believe in the Light of the World.

We’ve been memorizing John 8:12 now since the last Sunday of February. Let’s say it together.

“When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, ‘I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life’” (Jn. 8:12 NIVO).

But we have to choose and before it’s too late. There is coming a time for everyone here in this room when it will be too late. Either because we die or because Jesus returns. 

Either way, the darkness is coming, but Jesus invites us to (v.36) “put your trust in the light.” I want that for everyone here. Because you see what happens if you do? Verse 36.

You “may become sons of light!” Daughters of light. Children of light! 

What a beautiful idea. It’s another way of describing what it means to be a child of God. We have the “light of life.” We are reborn, and we now can shine.

#3. SHINE!

To be a son or a child of the light means not only that the Father of Light has given us the light of life, but also now we can live out the family resemblance.

Jesus is the Light of the World, and you and I get to be, in some way, the light of the world, as well.

Paul said it this in Ephesians 5, “For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light (for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth) and find out what pleases the Lord” (Eph. 5:8-10 NIVO).

He used similar language in writing to the Thessalonians. He said, “You are all sons of the light and sons of the day. We do not belong to the night or to the darkness. So then, let us not be like others, who are asleep, but let us be alert and self-controlled” (1 Thess. 5:5-7 NIVO).

We get to live differently, because we’re on “Team Light” and not “Team Darkness.” We’re in “The Family of Light” instead of “The Family of Darkness.”

Last week, He said, “Be a seed.”

This week, He says, “Be a light.”

And if we shine like that, you know what that will do? It will bring glory to the Father and the Son.

And it’s high time for that to happen!

That’s what Jesus was praying for. He was praying “Father, glorify your name!”

And the Father answered back, “I have glorified it, and will glorify it again.”

At the Cross.
At the Empty Tomb.
And in the light-filled lives of the people in this room.


***

Messages in this Series

01. "That You May Believe" - John 20:30-31
02. "In The Beginning Was the Word" - John 1:1-18
03. "John's Testimony" - John 1:19-34
04. "Come and See" - John 1:35-51
05. "The First of His Miraculous Signs" - John 2:1-11
06. "This Temple" - John 2:12-25
07. "You Must Be Born Again" - John 3:1-15
08. "God So Loved The World" - John 3:16-21
09. "Above All" - John 3:22-36
10. "Living Water" - John 4:1-26
11. "Ripe for the Harvest" - John 4:27-42
12. "Your Son Will Live" - John 4:43-54
13. "Pick Up Your Mat and Walk" - John 5:1-18
14. "To Your Amazement" - John 5:19-30
15. "Testimony About Me" - John 5:31-47
Christmas Eve Bonus: "The Astonishing Gift" - John 3:16 Again
Christmas Eve Bonus: "We Have Seen His Glory" - John 1:1-18 Again
16. "Enough Bread" - John 6:1-15
17. "You Are Looking for Me" - John 6:16-36
18. "I Am the Bread of Life" - John 6:35-71
Vision Meeting Bonus: "As I Have Loved You" - John 13:34-35
19. "At the Feast" - John 7:1-52
20. "I Am the Light of the World" - John 8:12-30
21. "Your Father" - John 8:31-59
22. "Now I See" - John 9:1-41
23. "I Am The Gate" - John 10:1-13
24. "I Am the Good Shepherd" - John 10:14-21
25. "I And The Father Are One" - John 10:22-42
26. "I Am the Resurrection and the Life" - John 11:1-53
27. "Expensive" - John 11:54-12:11
28. "The Hour Has Come" - John 12:12-26

Friday, May 03, 2024

“More to the Story” by Jennifer Kvamme

I have been searching for a book like this for a very long time.

As a Christian pastor, I want the young people I care for to have really good answers to the difficult questions they are all asking about sexuality these days. And to be really good answers for today’s teens, they have to be realistic, biblical, confident, joyful, hopeful, comprehensive, concise, and readable. That’s a tall order!

How pleasant it was for me to discover that one of my EFCA friends had written such a book.

Jennifer Kvamme is Student Ministries Catalyst at Centennial Church in Forest Lake, Minnesota. She and I have collaborated on EFCA publications in the past, and when I heard about More to the Story: Deep Answers to Real Questions on Attraction, Identity, and Relationships, I was eager to hear what she had to say.

Jennifer writes as a true friend and wise mentor. She is sensitive to her young readers’ feelings and gentle with past hurts and poor decisions. Life is gritty, confusing, and painful. At the same time, Jennifer is joyful, confident, and unwavering in holding out God’s good design for sexuality. In three opening chapters and then at every turning point across the rest of the book, Jennifer embeds all the biblical teaching on sexuality in the grand storyline of the Scriptures. Sexuality is a grand glimpse of something deeper. There is more to the story. And the ultimate hero of the story gets the credit He deserves for His compassion and redemption. Jesus is fixing what has been broken so that following Him will be worth it all.

More to the Story does it all. I no longer have to point teens to a little library of resources I have assembled to address the long list of questions they have. Jennifer covers the waterfront in concise chapters that each end with meaningful questions for personal reflection. Students that need or want to go deeper can follow the endnotes or read her annotated recommendations for further reading. Youth groups can utilize the well-written discussion guide to jumpstart great conversations. The folks at The Good Book Company have done a beautiful job of laying out the book’s design to undergird its message.

While I’m sure it’s not perfect, I don’t have any real critique to offer. Unlike most books on this topic, I never had to wince as I read it. I never wished that Jennifer had said something differently or “not gone there.” Her counsel is sound, balanced, robust, and hope-giving. It’s even humorous at appropriate times! As all other books on this topic, More to the Story will feel dated at some point, probably frustratingly soon. Life is just getting more complicated. But this book is simply excellent and just what the church needs in our day.

I wish we had this book when our own kids were teens, but I’m glad we have it now. Highly recommended.

Give a copy of More to the Story to every sixteen-year-old you know.