Summary: A sermon examining how Calvary is redemptive in real life...John's view of Calvary.
A Hill With A View
A Disciple’s View of Calvary
It’s appropriate in the weeks leading up to Easter that we devote extra attention to the story of Calvary. The preaching of the cross is central to Christianity...there can be no Christianity without the cross. The idea of subsitutionary atonement...that Christ died in our place for our sins...is the painful and magnificent centre of our faith. We as Apostolic Pentcostals can place so great an emphasis on the experience we have in God that we forget to place any emphasis on the experience of the cross that made ours available. So, in the weeks leading to Easter we are taking another look at Calvary.
However, our viewpoint in these messages isn’t the deep spiritual and theological significance of Christ’s sacrifice. While it’s important that we believe and understand the theology of the cross, in this series we’re looking at Calvary through human eyes. We’re trying to understand how the message of the cross is redemptive in our day to day living. To do that, we’re exploring how five different people present at Christ’s death may have looked at Calvary. And in their stories we learn how the cross brings the power of redemption to work in our daily lives.
We’ve looked at Mary’s view of Calvary...and through her story we learn that the Cross has a redemptive message to all parents suffering the loss of connection to their kids; the message of Calvary is, “Stay as close as you can!” And we also learned that the message of the cross tells you to, “Stay open...someone else may need you!” Through this the cross teaches you that your life is about more than your pain.
Then last week tried to look at Calvary through the eyes of yet another... this time through the eyes of one of the criminals who were crucified with Jesus. Through our brief and horrible encounter with his story we learned that the Cross of Jesus Christ offers redemptive hope in the most hopeless of circumstances. We learned that if we can humble ourselves, accept responsibility for our choices and actions, and will recognize Christ as our King, then we can begin to live a different life, a new life much different than the old.
Today we’re looking at Calvary through the eyes of a third witness to the crucifixion, and it’s as unique a perspective as the first two. You see, today we look for a redemptive message through the eyes of the only disciple of Jesus to actually stay with him as he died.
He is the person who was closest to Jesus during His earthly ministry. He was also one of original twelve apostles. John under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit wrote a significant portion of the New Testament; five powerful books in the New Testament were written by John.
He was a man of spiritual interest...he was a follower of John the Baptist before he became a disciple of Jesus. Yet, he’s pictured as being a man of strong temper and will; he was nicknamed a “son of thunder.” He was a hard working man; the Bible describes him as a fisherman, from a family of fishermen. And apparently he may have even been a cousin of Jesus, for his mother Salome is called the sister of Mary, Jesus’ mother. He was one of Jesus’ inner circle; Peter, James, and John were closest to Jesus...and out of these three John is referred to as “the disciple that Jesus loved.”
It seems that these things, probably along with other personal characteristics that we aren’t told of, made Jesus feel closer to John than He did to anyone. Every man knows that every once in a while (not very often) a man meets another man that he just ‘clicks’ with...someone he can hang out and do guy things with, but can also talk to...if so inclined. That’s the picture I have of John; he just ‘clicked’ with Jesus. And as a result, he was brought ‘inside’...to that special circle of trusted, close friends.
Inner Circles Are Difficult Places
But inner circles of influential and powerful people are difficult places to be. Influential people aren’t like everyone else in some ways; they’re usually people driven by a strong sense of mission, and that ‘driven-ness’ affects those closest to them in very real ways.
More is expected of inner circle people than is expected of others. You are expected to be willing to serve the needs of the one at the centre, often in what may seem the most trivial of ways. John experienced this. When it was time for Jesus to observe the Passover with his disciples, he sent Peter and John to get the meal ready.
Mark and Luke tell a story of Jesus sending two disciples to go and get a burro for him to ride, and while no names are given it’s not hard to imagine Peter and John trudging off to locate transportation. Those are the kind of things that people in the inner circle often wind up doing; serving the one in the centre.