Senior Sermon: April 15, 2014
Sermon Title: Finding the Light
Scriptural Text: John 12:20-36
God give us clear minds, open spirits, and loving hearts. Amen.
At one point in our lives we are going to stop and think, Do I really believe in Jesus? Do I doubt his existence? Is there really something to experience in a walk with God? I think we have all struggled with these questions at some point or time in our lives.
I know I struggle with it now having yet losing another family member.
My great grandfather was a courageous human being, he was a World War II veteran, he gave up land so a high school could be built on what little land he received from the government.
Thirty-five percent of his land did belong to the government so they were able to sell off part of his land to oil companies. This has been an on-going struggle between the Utah Navajo and the Resolute oil company who own the oil fields that are scattered on part of my great grandfather’s land in the town of Montezuma Creek Utah. The Utah Navajo to this day have only received 35% of the oil royalties that are profited from this land.
My great- grandfather also initiated the production of a gas station on his land. I do not know the full story about this gas station but it had been a successful business for my great grandfather for a few years, it did thrive as a business at one point, but still it was never entirely his and it was never enough for his huge family to live off of. The point is…. my great grandfather cared enough for the community of Montezuma Creek that he gave away pieces of his handed down property so that others could benefit from it.
In our text this morning, Jesus gives us the key to living above the normal human experience. He not only tells us what it is, he also shows us by example the path that leads to life as it was meant to be experienced.
I. The events in Jesus’ life are moving rapidly toward the cross.
1. It is the time of the Passover feast in Jerusalem. It is a matter of days before Jesus’ arrest and crucifixion.
2. And as you often see in pictures of the Palm Sunday narrative, Jesus is often depicted riding in on a young donkey.
It was a declaration of his messiahship. He arrives as King of the Jews. We know from the other gospels that Jesus had arranged for this entry.
It is a fulfillment that we find in chapter 9 verse 9 in Zechariah “Rejoice greatly, O Daughter of Zion! Shout, Daughter of Jerusalem! See, your king comes to you, righteous and having salvation, gentle and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey.” NIV
That was a powerful sign because kings do not normally ride into the city on the colt of a donkey. They normally come riding in on a prancing stallion. But Jesus’ manner of entry was also a revelation of the nature of his kingdom. “See, your king comes to you, righteous and having salvation, gentle and riding on a donkey…”
Everyone is excited shouting “hosanna!” they lay down their palm branches before him as he makes his way among them some have even laid garments, as if a red carpet, were being laid out.
It is said that Jesus made such a spectacle of himself that rumors were being spread that rulers were seeking him out to arrest him, it is easy to see how the Greeks had soon found out about him. The Greeks had come to Phillip asking to speak to Jesus.
These Greeks were Gentiles who had come to Jerusalem to celebrate the Passover Feast. The Greek word John uses lets us know they were Gentiles not Hellenistic Jews. It is significant that these were Gentiles because Jesus’ earthly ministry had been directed to the Jews. We are not told much about Jesus’ interaction with these Greeks. What we are told is something more important.
II. We are told about Jesus’ response to their coming.
John 12:23 says, “Jesus replied. ‘The hour has come…’” “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified.” Up until this time we have heard Jesus say, “My hour has not yet come.” He said that to his mother, Mary, at the wedding in Cana when he began his public ministry. In Chapter 7 he said it to his brothers when they wanted him to go to the
Feast of Tabernacles with them. Jesus lived with not only a sense of destiny and purpose but also a keen awareness of the Father’s timing. His hour refers to the culmination of his earthly ministry, the cross. The time for him to lay down his life as a sacrifice for sin has come.
Returning back to the life of my great grandfather or rather my story of struggling to understand his death as well as the death of my spiritual director this past Thursday, I struggle with the question, why? Why do I continue to believe in Jesus? Why do I choose to see that he does exist? The answer is simple, because through my love of Jesus he has given me the chance to witness the life of my great grandfather, and the life of my white grandfather who was also my spiritual director. Jesus’ life and ministry was what connected us in wisdom and growth. My great grandfather was a Christian road man for many years. A road man could be understood as a priest or a presider in the Native American Church. My great grandfather had prayers he preached at these N.A.C gatherings that included the life of Jesus. On the other hand, my white grandfather who is also my spiritual director, taught me how to meditate on the words Jesus spoke to those who wanted to learn from him. Much like I wanted to learn as much as I could about Father Fowler’s ministry.
Jesus’ whole life was a movement toward the cross, toward the ultimate obedience to the Father.
III. Look closely at what is motivating him. Verse 28, “Father, glorify your name.” We could go to other passages and talk about His love for us as a motive as well. But ponder with me this morning the significance of those words, “Father, glorify your name.”
The word “name” is being used more broadly than we normally use it. Jesus is saying, “Father, what matters to me is that you are honored, you are exalted.” The cross was about our redemption but it was also about the integrity and honor of Almighty God. I think that has to be said emphatically from the pulpit because we live in a society that would elevate man and ignore the significance of God’s honor and glory.
This is extremely important because you and I are called to live for the honor of God as well. We are to follow Jesus’ example in this. In fact, our dignity is found in seeking the glory of our Creator and Redeemer. When we live for the honor of God we ourselves become something honorable.
That motive becomes a reason not to sin, not to compromise. It is not a self-righteous, self-exaltation. It is a passion to exalt God by the way we live for Him.
God was saying something to that crowd about Jesus that day. The crowd did not have enough spiritual perception to discern all that was going on. Some thought it was the voice of an angel speaking. Everyone knew something significant was happening. They heard the supernatural thunder of the Father’s response to the Son.
Here is what we must learn from this. Life is to be lived for the glory of God. Life is not to be a pursuit of my own exaltation and glory.
My Great grandfather is an example to this teaching, he was never glorified or exalted for his generosity, but yet he drew hundreds to him whether it was through N.A.C meetings or talking to young adult men about becoming a warrior. I knew he loved Christ and believed in Jesus, so what reason do I have to question it anymore?
The only way to seeing Jesus you must stay in his light John 12: 35-36 reminds us that you cannot see anything in the dark; you must have the light of the world shining on you through you and onto others.