Summary: The 40th in a series on the Gospel of John. In this sermon we're talking about taking a stand for Jesus.
Fear, Faith, and the Glory We Love (John Part 40)
Text: John 12:31-50
Have you ever been in a position where you had the opportunity to stand up for someone, or take a stand on an issue, but in doing that you knew you’d have to pay a price. Maybe you’d lose opportunities, or be looked over for a position or promotion. Or maybe even face physical harm if you stood up for this person or thing? Have you ever taken a stance on something, or maybe… called attention to something, and you knew it was going to be unpopular, and that by doing it, there was going to be push-back and fallout because of it? Whether it’s taking a stance on an issue, or belief, or standing up for a person or idea? A couple of weeks back, I was talking to Joel and Cecil and I was telling them about a discussion that I had with a fellow student back when I was in college. And what had happened is that I had gotten into a debate with a professor, and it ended up costing me a good grade on an assignment. So this fellow student and I were having a discussion about that and he said to me, “McKinley, have you ever asked yourself, ‘Is this a hill I’m willing to die on?’” And I said to him, and I won’t tell you his name, but I said to him, “Have you ever asked yourself, ‘Is there ANY hill that I am willing to die on?’” And granted, there are some things that are non-essential, and not worth the time and effort that it might take to work through it with someone, when there are essential things at stake. But at the same time, there are some well-meaning folks who for whatever reason, never take a stand on anything. Even essential things, like truth, and the way of salvation, and God’s Word… it’s inspiration, it’s inerrancy, and its sufficiency. The Bible speaks a lot about unity, but never at the cost of truth, or at the cost of what is clearly taught in Scripture, and what is taught of Christ and the way of salvation. You give up those essential doctrines, and you don’t even have Christianity anymore.
We’re in John 12:31-50, and we’re going to see this laid out for us this morning. And just to remind you of what’s led up to this passage, let me give you a quick recap. It started with Jesus going to a meal in Bethany, and large crowds showed up to see Him and the man He had raised from the dead (Lazarus). Then as Jesus left to go to Jerusalem, these crowds followed Him, and began waving palm branches, and singing “Hosanna! Blessed is He who comes in the Name of the Lord! Even the King of Israel.” Along the way, Jesus gets a donkey, and begins riding it, and as He approaches the city of Jerusalem, even larger crowds come out to meet Him, and join in the praise. The Pharisees and religious leaders are terrified, because they think Rome is going to take notice and put the hammer down, especially when even Greeks are starting to show interest in Jesus. And remember… those Greeks expressing interest led Jesus to say, “The Hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified.” Meaning, now it was time to go to the cross. It was drawing near. And Jesus was troubled, because He knew that that meant. It meant having the wrath of God poured out upon Him as He paid for our sins on the cross.
That’s the background… let’s read our text (READ JOHN 12:31-50).
Now I love how this passage starts out, Satan, the ruler of this world, is cast out. There’s a new ruler. You see; from the fall of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, the world had been in darkness. People were blinded to the truth, and their minds were darkened by sin, and when you get right down to it, only the Covenant People of God had been given the truth. They were the only ones who had been given this revelation of God, and the truth in the Old Testament Scriptures. You know; Plato was a brilliant man, and he had his philosophy, and he had come to reject the Greek Pantheon, and even said, there is probably only one Supreme, Creator, God, but he was unable to come to the truth of who God really was, and what He was really like. His mind was under the sway of the evil one, and he couldn’t come to the full knowledge of the truth. Thales of Miletus – another ancient philosopher once said, “Nothing is more ancient than God, for He was never created.” Like Plato, he understood that a single god created all things, but Thales didn’t know God, he couldn’t know him. His mind was in darkness when it came to the truth of who God was.