Summary: At every turn Jesus faced down the tensions of his choices... and did the right thing to the glory of God and the good of others.
Title: The Tensions of Choices (Someone introduced me to DQ Orange Julius Smoothies this week…
Text: John 12:220-33 Orange, Strawberry Banana, Berry Pomegranate, Mango Pineapple.
Oh, the inhumanity!)
Thesis: At every turn Jesus faced down the tensions of his life choices… and did the right thing for the glory of God and the good of mankind.
A father is asked by his friend, "Has your son decided what he wants to be when he grows up?" "Yes, he wants to be a garbage collector," replied the boy's father.
His friend thought for a moment and responded, "That's a rather strange ambition to have for a career." "Well," said the boy's father, "he thinks that garbage collectors only work on Tuesdays!"
Choices… to choose is to mentally make a decision by judging the merits of multiple options and then selecting one of them. The son apparently made his choice of a life career based on a desire to work as little as possible. Unfortunately he would one day discover that picking up garbage is an endless job.
Most of our choices are simple ones that generally have a low-impact on our lives. What you wear may look ridiculous but it really isn’t a big deal. On more than one occasion I have heard our daughter-in-law say something like, “It looks like Adam dressed himself today.” Other choices are more complex… like making a career choice or choosing a life partner. These choices are larger and more serious choices that pack greater ramifications.
I watched a sitcom recently in which a college student was engaged to marry her professor… a man nearly twice her age. In a conversation with her mother she said, “I think this decision is a pretty one for my first marriage.” I don’t think she understood the difference between low-impact and high impact decisions.
James Russell Lowell was an American Poet who was a member of a group of New England poets known as the “Fireside Poets.” The Fireside poets were known to have used conventional forms of meter and written poems suitable for families entertaining at the fireside.
One of his poems is titled: Once to Every Man
Once to every man and nation
Comes the moment to decide
In the strife of truth or falsehood
For the good or evil side.
But to every man there openeth
A high way and a low
And every man decideth
Which way his soul will go.
While some choices are benign others are not. We always have a choice to choose between good and evil or to take the high way or the low way. Low-impact decisions may not matter but our high-impact decisions do. Our text today is about the choices Jesus faced as he made his way to the cross. And as we walk with Jesus we too may identify with him in making our own choices.
As our text opens up we see that Jesus was faced with a decision relating to his identity.
I. Jesus had a point of vulnerability, 12:20-22
Some Greeks who had come to Jerusalem for the Passover celebration paid a visit to Phillip. They said, “Sir, we want to meet Jesus.” Phillip told Andrew about it and they went together to ask Jesus. John 12:20-22
It was the season of Passover. Passover was an annual event in which the Israelites commemorated their freeing from enslavement by the Egyptian Pharaoh. God had instructed Moses to introduce 10 plagues upon the Egyptians that were designed to break the will of the pharaoh and convince him to let the Israelite people go. The final plague was the death of every Egyptian firstborn son. On that night the Israelites were instructed to paint blood over the doorways and on the door posts of their homes… the blood was to be a sign that the death angel should pass over that household, sparing the Israelite firstborn.
Passover is an important event in the lives of Jewish people in that it marks God’s protection and deliverance from the Egyptians and the onset of their journey to the Promised Land.
Jesus was on something of a roll. He had raised Lazarus from the dead. He had entered Jerusalem as a triumphant King. He had purged the temple of money-changers. The word among the religious leaders was that they had to do something about Jesus because the whole world had gone after him. He was a very popular person and thought to be the promised Messiah, which not only rankled the religious leaders but the Roman government as well. And all this was happening in the context of Passover week.
Most historians estimate that 200,000 people streamed into Jerusalem to celebrate Passover. At any rate, there were a lot of people there that week and among those were also Jewish proselytes and tourists.