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.
From 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.
And 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.
That is why I want you to write out the three Tuesdays in May and June and make it a priority to come on the Network Seminar. There is nothing more important for you to do than attend, find your place in the Body of Christ. Then give your life to serve Him who gave his life for you. But not every passion is edifying or godly.
Some 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.
His Passion Announced: The Timing of the Cross (12:23)
His Passion Illustrated: The Necessity of the Cross (12:24-26)
3. His Passion Explained: The Purpose of the Cross (v27-33)
Read 12:27-32. 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, Mordecia reminds her,
"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 this?" (Esther 4:14)
For 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. Sayers observed,
"In 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."
How 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 his death.
3.1 Glorify the Father 12:27 - make him known
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 kosmos 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
His Passion Illustrated: The Necessity of the Cross
His 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.