Just Announced: Philippians Sermon Series

Summary: Jesus is the new covenant that God promised to his people in Jeremiah 31:31-34. In Jesus, God united us to him with bonds that can never be broken, and through this new covenant, we and Jesus can look death in the eye and see victory.

Today’s Gospel passage marks the beginning of a change in Jesus’ ministry. The coming of the Greeks is seen as anticipating the coming of the Gentiles into the community of believers. While it is true that before the events in our Gospel reading Jesus spoke to the woman at the well and healed a woman’s daughter, the primary focus of Jesus’ ministry until this point in time was the people of Israel-the Jews. The visit of the Greeks reflected the Pharisee’s statement in verse 19 that the whole world has gone after Jesus. Their arrival prompted Jesus to acknowledge that the hour had come for him to be crucified, and by his death and resurrection, he will draw all people to him, including the Gentiles.

The drawing of all people to Jesus might seem to be ironic given that those who shouted “Hosanna” on Palm Sunday shouted “Crucify him” on Good Friday. Part of the reason is because of the nature of the Messiah that the people were seeking. They were seeking a Messiah who would create an army, drive out the Romans and restore Israel to the glory days of King David. They had no such expectations of the Son of Man. In fact, the title “Son of Man” has none of the militaristic connotations or meanings associated with the title of Messiah.

Jesus sought to downplay those expectations in favour of the expectations of a suffering servant. He has the same expectations of us. He expected the people of his day to be focused on serving others and in return God would bless them. In fact, he served others by healing, teaching and washing the disciples’ feet just before he celebrated the Last Supper with them. During Jesus’ time it was the custom for guests who arrived at a home to have their feet washed by household servants.

Jesus is the new covenant that God promised to his people in Jeremiah 31:31-34. In Jesus, God united us to him with bonds that can never be broken, and through this new covenant, we and Jesus can look death in the eye and see victory. The new covenant is represented by the replacement of the Ten Commandments with Jesus’ two Great Commandments-“Love God and love people”. If we love God and love people, our desire to serve God and others will naturally flow out of this love.

Jesus’ expectations of service are emphasized in Matthew 25:31-46. During our Mid-Week Lenten meditations this year, I along with the rest of the ministry team members have discussed these expectations. We are expected to be faithful even to death and trust that God will glorify us. In order to be glorified by God, we must be prepared to experience suffering first and serve others, just like Jesus served others and suffered on the cross for our sins.

God glorified Jesus when he spoke from heaven. When Jesus became glorified on the cross, Satan was defeated. The forces of opposition were defeated. The barriers that kept people from joining with God were defeated-and that was proven when the temple’s curtain, which separated the Holy of Holies from the rest of the temple, was torn in two.

The people with Jesus did not recognize God’s voice, largely because it had been years since anyone heard God speak. They did come to understand after Jesus’ death and resurrection. We are the same. When we are on our Christian walk, we encounter things we can’t understand right away. Some things will become clear as we mature spiritually, while other things will become clear when we meet Jesus.

If there is no sowing of seeds, there can be no harvest. We can’t have a harvest of souls for God if we do not sow seeds for God. We must not let the things of this life interfere with our obedience to God’s will. We have been given a message of hope and transformation that the world desperately needs to hear and embrace. If we spread this message, we will draw others to Christ. It involves sacrifice. When we see a rich harvest-in a family, church, mission field or business-we can be sure that there have been people who have given of themselves in their service. The kingdom sprouts out of our daily choices to “die to ourselves and live for Christ’. In other words, the kingdom will grow when we live a life of serving others and loving others like Christ loved others and served others. We will have eternal life and things to do. We will feel better about ourselves because we will be transformed.

Jesus mentions in verse 27 that “My soul is troubled”. No doubt it was troubled by his coming death on the cross. It parallels his agony in the Garden of Gethsemane. Some scholars believe that the Greeks knew about the plot to kill Jesus and came to spirit him away to safety. While Jesus’ human side might have welcomed this rescue plan, his godly side knew that this rescue plan would have defeated God’s plan to rescue us from a life of sin and eternal damnation. He gave up his human desire to live in favour of God’s plan for salvation. In other words, Jesus died to his human self so that he could live out God’s plan for his life and our eternal lives.

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