Summary: Sermon for the 5th Sunday in Lent, Year B
John 12: 20 – 33 / Do You Hear Thunder
Intro: This week I was talking to my son, Richard. He called to tell me that he may be moving to Seattle, Washington. My immediate response was all about me when I said, “GREAT! Now, I’ll never get to see my granddaughters.” Rick was a little shocked and I could tell that I had popped his bubble of good news with my rumblings. He responded, “Dad, are things not going well there?” I was tempted to sing the old spiritual, “Nobody Knows The Trouble I’ve Seen!” --- We believe at one time or another that nobody else in the whole world has had trouble to the degree that we have.
I. “Nobody knows the troubles I’ve seen. Nobody knows my sorry. Nobody knows the troubles I’ve seen. Nobody knows but Jesus.”
A. When I read these verses in John, I can’t help but think of that song because nobody really knows but Jesus.
B. VS. 20 – some Greeks didn’t know. “Greeks” could mean either Hellenistic Jews or the Gentiles among whom they live. VS. 32 – Jesus sees the Greeks as an advance scouting party of “all who will be drawn to him when he is lifted up.” (YOU AND ME!)
C. These verses in John allude to 3 basic theological teaching of the meaning of the death of Jesus. 3 doctrines of Atonement:
1) Ransom – the price paid to set us free from sin and death.
2) Substitutionary – a sacrifice for our sins and guilt.
3) Moral Influence – show us how much God loves us.
II. VS, 27a – “Now my heart is troubled, and what shall I say? Father save me from this hour?
A. Jesus asks himself if he should ask God to save him from this mess and that is exactly what we do
B. When trouble or adversity comes our way, how do we pray? “Lord, please don’t do this to me? Lord, please take this away. Lord please get me out of this mess!”
C. Vs. 27b - No, it was for this very reason I came to this hour.” Lord, you’ve been with me from the beginning, through good and bad. Even now you are with me because you love me.
III. Vs. 28 – “Father, glorify your name!” A simple four word prayer from which we can learn much about how to approach our own times of trouble.
A. The first thing we learn from the prayer is --- “it’s not all about me!” In every circumstance we should seek first the kingdom of God and God’s righteousness. PRAY THAT OTHERS MIGHT GLORIFY AND PRAISE GOD BECAUSE OF THE WAY YOU HANDLE YOUR ADVERSITY.
B. VS. 28 – 31 – “Then a voice came from heaven . . . the crowd that was there and heard it said it had thundered . . . This voice was for your benefit, not mine. Now is the time for judgment on this world. “The world (kosmos)” here is not synonymous with God’s creation, but is rather the fallen realm that exists in estrangement from God and is organized in opposition to God’s purposes.” --- Superhuman reality, concretely embodied in the structures and institutions, that aggressively shapes human life and seeks to hold human beings captive to its ways.
C. Can be translated as “SYSTEM” --- What holds us captive? Consumerism, domination, violence, negativity, racism, power, poverty. All these are not from God. They are all things we are to work toward eliminating.
Conclu: By his death on the cross, Jesus publicly and dramatically judges the System by exposing it for what it is --- not the divine ruler of the world, but an opponent of God’s purposes. When we begin to see “THE SYSTEM” for what it is, we begin to be set free from its captivating ways. Do you hear thunder? --- When we do, we should be reminded of God’s love for us and God’s way for this world, take heart and live more fully following the way of the cross.