Summary: God gives Jesus to rescue his people from the judgment due sin.
The cross is the crux (the central point) of the Christian faith. At the cross sinners find hope and help; from the cross the hands and side of the Savior bleed; by the cross that God cries out, “Turn to me and be saved, all the ends of the earth” (Isaiah 45.22).
The first man, Adam, was disobedient, leading to death; the God-man, the second Adam was “obedient to the point of death, even the death on a cross” (Philippians 2.8). At the cross God was glorified, sin subdued, Satan defeated, death destroyed. At the cross, God’s love shines as the noon-day sun, God’s holiness burns beyond a shadow of doubt, God’s power brings his goals to fruition in the face of opposition from the kings of the earth and the prince of hell. At the cross, God’s wisdom is thought foolish, but proven to be wisdom which foolish men cannot stomach. At the cross God insists on being both just and justifier, the righteous judge of sin and the merciful father of salvation. No wonder the great Apostle, Paul, summarized his life with phrases like: “Far be it from me to boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ…” (Galatians 6.14).
We are finishing today the twelfth chapter, concluding part one of John’s Life of the Christ. John summarizes his complete work in this way: “These signs are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name” (John 20.31). The signs to which he refers are eight. Seven appear in chapters 1-12, part one: “The Book of Signs.” The final sign, the resurrection, waits the end of the second part, volume two.
As every good author does, John ends volume one with a summary and a preview. In our text today we will be reminded of key truths from the first part, Jesus’ public ministry: his teaching on light and darkness, his call to faith in him as the Messiah, his obedience to the Father in all things. We also have a preview for the remainder of the John’s gospel: “The Book of Glory: the story of the Passion of the Christ.” We are focusing on the preview—why Jesus’ life ends at the cross. [Read John 12.27-50. Pray.]
In his book, No Wonder They Call Him The Savior, Max Lucado tells the sad story of Judith Bucknell. She lived in Coconut Grove, a stylish area of Miami where many lonely people pretended to be happy. On June 9th she was murdered, homicide number 106 that year. We remember Judith because she kept a diary.
She was not on drugs or welfare. She never went to jail. She was not a prostitute, but she offered her love to many men. She was certainly not a social outcast. She was respectable. She jogged, hosted parties, wore designer clothes, and had an apartment overlooking the bay. She worried about the same things women her age worry about: getting old, getting fat, getting married, getting by. She was a successful secretary, but unsuccessful in life. She wrote: “I see people together and I’m so jealous I want to throw up. What about me! What about me!”
Another entry cried out: “Where are the men with the flowers and champagne and music? Where are the men who call and ask for a genuine, actual date? I would like to have, once before I pass through my life…a loving relationship.” And one her last entries: “Who is going to love Judy Bucknell? I feel so old. Unloved. Unwanted. Abandoned. Used up. I want to cry and sleep forever.”
We feel the loneliness when the mailbox is empty. It may tempt us to sign up for email marketing lists. We know the pain when the phone does not ring or the door does not open.
I was touched by that story as I thought about how often we disconnect the work of Jesus on the cross from the real pain of life in this fallen world. It seems to me that we too often fail to realize that the problems Judith faced come from the same source which took God to the cross. The cross is not some “thing,” “out there” with no connection to our daily lives. Instead, it stands as God’s cosmic solution to the great rip in the fabric of the whole universe. As such, it speaks to the fears and concerns of every Judith.
Of course, answers as vast as infinity and timeless as eternity can be difficult to work down into and apply to our lives. Since today’s passage deals more with the big picture, I thought I should remind you and me that the cross speaks to the deepest needs of your soul. Please keep in your mind that God loves his people and, at the cross, rescues us from death and judgment to eternal life and joy in his presence forever.