Knowing I AM: Gospel of John The Victorious and Suffering King Kevin Haah John 12: January 11, 2015

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1 [Slide 1] Vision Statement: Connect, Grow and Serve, Extend I. Introduction and Passage [Slide 2] We are in the middle of Part 2 of the series on the Gospel of John entitled, Knowing I AM. We are looking at the last week of Jesus life. [Slide 3] Today s sermon is entitled, The Victorious and Suffering King. Before we read the passage, let me give you some background. Jesus popularity was skyrocketing after he raised Lazarus from the dead. Everyone wanted to see him. They have heard about his miracles. They have heard about his claims to be the Messiah. They have heard about his teachings. They have heard about his powers. The religious leaders decided that Jesus was too politically risky; they feared that he might create instability during the Passover Feast which might force the Romans to take back even the little religious authority that was given to them. So, they have decided to arrest him and kill him. They have been on a lookout for him to arrest him. The night before, Jesus was in Bethany and Mary anointed his feet with pure perfume. Jesus said that it was an anointing for his burial. It wasn t just this time that Jesus talked about getting arrested and being crucified. He had said it to his disciples and his followers many times. The disciples knew very well what entering into Jerusalem might mean. In fact, when Jesus decided to come to Bethany (which is only a couple of miles away from Jerusalem) in John 11:16, Thomas responds as follows: Then Thomas (also known as Didymus) said to the rest of the disciples, Let us also go, that we may died with him. Now the Passover Feast is one of the greatest feasts of the Jewish people. They are celebrating the time that the angel of death passed over the houses that had the blood of the lamb on its doorpost, and therefore, freed the people of Israel from slavery in Egypt. There were probably hundreds of thousands of people in Jerusalem at that time. All four biographies of Jesus Mathew, Luke, Mark and John write about this entry. Today, we are looking specifically at John s version: 1

2 [Slide 4] Let s read. 12 The next day the great crowd that had come for the festival heard that Jesus was on his way to Jerusalem. 13 They took palm branches and went out to meet him, shouting, [palm branches are like ticker tapes to welcome a victorious king] Hosanna! [this means save us!] Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! [This is from a Messianic Psalm in the OT about the coming of the Messiah] Blessed is the king of Israel! [They are welcoming him as the King, the Messiah, the Lord who is going to save Israel. It would have been exciting to be there. Just taste what s going on. Finally, God s Messiah has come and he will save us from the oppression of the Romans and get rid of the gentiles who rule over us and establish a new kingdom, a kingdom of Israel that will reign forever!] [Slide 5] 14 Jesus found a young donkey and sat on it, [Jesus didn t come in a horse which symbolize might and war; but came in a donkey, which symbolized humility and peace] as it is written: 15 Do not be afraid, Daughter Zion; see, your king is coming, seated on a donkey s colt. [Slide 6] 16 At first his disciples did not understand all this. Only after Jesus was glorified did they realize that these things had been written about him and that these things had been done to him. [Slide 7] 17 Now the crowd that was with him when he called Lazarus from the tomb and raised him from the dead continued to spread the word. 18 Many people, because they had heard that he had performed this sign, went out to meet him. 19 So the Pharisees said to one another, See, this is getting us nowhere. Look how the whole world has gone after him! It s interesting that Jesus and his disciples including all of the people who showed up to shout Hosanna have a completely different expectation regarding what is to come. His 2

3 followers and the people were pretty excited. Jesus was finally entering into Jerusalem, and declaring himself to be the Messiah, and the King. Would he overthrow the Romans? Would he overthrow the Sanhedrin, the Jewish ruling body? What was his weapon of choice? He is obviously not carrying anything, but they believed that Jesus had power to heal and even raise the dead by his mere words, and so, they believed the he had the power to do what he needed to do. Here comes the victorious king! But, Jesus had a different expectation of what is to come. We see that constantly through out the book of John. He predicted that he will be handed over to the authorities and crucified. That s what he told people fairly regularly. At one time, Peter even rebuked him for saying that. Even the night before the triumphal entry, he was anointed by Mary with costly perfume, and Jesus said that it was for his burial. Right after this passage, in chapter [Slide 8] 12:23 (we ll talk more about this passage next week), Jesus said: The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. Very truly I tell you, unless a kernel of wheat fall to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But, if it dies, it produces many seeds. The point is that Jesus expectations of what was to come were very different than his followers. Jesus actually came to fulfill two different prophecies. Both of them are from the book of Zechariah. John quotes from [Slide 9] Zechariah 9:9 written about 500 years ago: Rejoice greatly, Daughter Zion! Shout, Daughter Jerusalem! See, your king comes to you, righteous and victorious, lowly and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey. But there was another prophecy in [Slide 10] Zechariah 12:10: 10 And I will pour out on the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem a spirit of grace and supplication. They will look on me, the one they have pierced, 3

4 and they will mourn for him as one mourns for an only child, and grieve bitterly for him as one grieves for a firstborn son. Jesus is the conquering King and the suffering Messiah! He understood himself to be both. That s why he was intentional about entering into Jerusalem in this way. In Luke account, when the religious leaders demanded that he tell people to stop praising him like they were doing, Jesus said, if they don t, stones would cry out. He is saying that the moment is so power and relevant, that there is no stopping praise for Jesus is about to do. Of course, the crowd only seemed to understand the prophecy about a victorious king coming to Jerusalem on a donkey. In a few days, some of these same people would shout, Crucify him! Crucify him! And his disciples would all abandon him and run away. Peter would even end up denying him 3 times. Their expectations were very one sided. They expected an all powerful King to free the Jewish people from the oppression of the Romans. They didn t see the other prophecy about the suffering Messiah who must be pierced. So, at least some of them turned on Jesus when it started to look like he was not the one who was going to deliver Israel. I believe that the people made a fundamental mistake about the mission of Jesus and how he was going to accomplish that mission. And I believe that so many people now still make that same mistake, and that is the reason so many people get fickle and fall away from following Jesus. Let me explain the mistake about the mission of Jesus and then a lesson we can learn. [Slide 11] II. The Mistake about the Mission of Jesus. Jesus did come to conquer. Jesus did come to free us. Jesus did come to establish the Kingdom of God. All of the prophecies regarding the coming of the Yahweh to establish the Kingdom of God is all true and Jesus came to do that. But, the scope of the mission was much broader than people thought. They expected him to be the conquering king who established the new Kingdom of Israel, beating up on the Romans and anyone else who got in the way. They expected 4

5 him to take over the power structure of this world and rule Israel forever! He would bring back the laws of Moses and everyone would live freely following the laws of Moses. Jesus came to conquer a more fundamental problem of humanity. The fundamental problem is not that we are oppressed by people or government. It is not that we economic problem. It is not that we have social problems. It is not that we have psychological and emotional problem. These are all real problems that flow from the fundamental problem of humanity: we are dead. The Bible tells us that we are all dead. We are like a Christmas tree in January. We have been cut off from the root, and we are only a fire hazard. That s why Jesus has been telling us: I am the life, I am the water, I am the bread, I am the resurrection. Let me use another illustration that I learn from a friend a couple of days ago. Cup illustration: This cup represents you and me. It looks like there is life but we are actually dead. The real life is not here. We are just a shell of a being made of dust and ultimately returned to dust. When we were created, our creator God gave us life (pour the water into our cup), and we had life. But, we decided to drain away our life. When we did that we lost life. When God said that if you eat of the forbidden fruit, you will surely die. And Adam and Eve did die. They lost life (pour water out of our cup). That s why we can live a few years but ultimately die. They became like a Christmas tree. Looks alive but by January, looks pretty dead. There is no hope for people without life. When we function in this world without life, we live our lives looking for water in all the wrong places and they end up causing all kinds of havoc on us. That s what causes greed, selfishness, sexual immoralities, broken families, broken relationships, broken economies, broken world, pain, suffering, war, oppression. All of it comes from the fundamental problem of not having life. Only God has and is life. John said in the begging of the book: In him was life, and the life was the light of all mankind. Jesus is life. Jesus is the light. The only way you and I can have life again, is to have Jesus again. And the only way Jesus can give you life is he pours out his life. (pour life into our cup). You see, at the heart of everything, we are in need of life. We are dead. 5

6 So, Jesus came to solve that problem for all mankind. When we have life, we live in the light and have light. The way to solve that problem is not by condemning us and telling us to straighten up. He came to save us and give us new life. That s why he says we all need to be born again. That s why he said, 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. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world but to save the world through him. And the way for him to save the world was through dying for the world, to empty himself and give us life. So, Jesus came and solved the root causes of all problems of humanity: our deadness and gave us a chance to be live again, and to live together with other who are living. That s why Christianity is not a moral reformation. It s not if you behave better, you ll make it to heaven program. It is that we were dead, and dead people can t do anything to save themselves, and Jesus decided to give us his life. So, he is the King but he is also the suffering King who gave himself up for us to save us from death to give us a new life. [Slide 12] III. A Lesson Focusing on the one side that Jesus is the victorious king, and not the other side that he is the suffering Messiah can lead us astray from the gospel of Jesus Christ. This can get played out in many spheres. In the political arena, some Christians believed that we are called to use the power of the sword, be the victorious king and conquer Barbarians and convert them into Christians (that s how some of the empire building was justified through history). They slaughtered so many people in history. I know when we hear about Islamic extremists forcibly converting people at gun point, it feels so wrong. But, if you look at history, Christians have done that too. Of course, we don t have that perspective in America anymore. What we do now is to try to take over the power of the government and legislate Godly morality and imposing them everyone to create a more kingdom-like 6

7 society, which is still very similar to how some in the crowd expected Jesus to do. It is when we focus on the victorious king side without the suffering Messiah side that we get Christianity all wrong. It s not just in the political arena. I know that a lot of times, you and I are very much like the disciples and the people of Jerusalem who came out to shout Hosanna, Hosanna, blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord! We are like that. We want to follow a God who is powerful, who is going to bring justice, who is going to bless us, who is going to bring prosperity to our lives. We are all out shouting when we believe that he is out there to bring us what we believe are what we need to be happy. Hallelujah! He has blessed us with a home! Hallelujah! He has blessed with this and that. It is easy to want to follow a powerful God who can heal us, who can bless us, and who can open doors for us. But, when difficult time comes, when things get rough, our passions die down. We sometimes feel like God doesn t care, or God is not powerful enough, or God is punishing us, or we just sometimes give up on God. We get dull on God. We don t even feel him anymore. And some of us have left the faith you feel like God never delivered. That s what these people felt like when Jesus didn t live up to their expectations. Has Jesus failed to live up to your expectations? Maybe you are focused on the victorious side of Jesus but do not see the suffering side of Jesus, the side that suffered for you and poured his life into you. Maybe you don t see the cross clearly enough. Maybe you don t see his love clearly enough. Maybe you and I should learn to see both the King and the suffering Messiah. You see, if we dwell and mediate on what it means that Jesus suffered, and why he suffered, our perspective towards life changes forever. In fact, you begin to see that you would not have life but for what he has done. It is no longer about accumulating power, money and pleasure. There is so much more to life than what we were doing when we were running empty of life. What would life look like when we start live out of the fullness of life of Jesus? 7

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