Summary: The way a person faces their death can tell you a lot about them.

John 17:1-26

February 17, 2007

The Road to the Cross

You can tell a lot about a person by the way in which they face their own death. Some people are afraid, others bold, some are angry and selfish, while others are calm and selfless. Seeing someone in their final days can evoke a sense of fear, sadness, or of inspiration depending on how that person deals with death. The picture we see of Jesus in his final days will show us a lot about who He really is. While death is a natural part of life, Jesus faced it very differently than anyone else. Everyone who is born will someday die, that is the way of life, but Jesus is not just waiting for a natural death, Jesus was born to die. The very reason He left the throne of Heaven was to come to Earth and ultimately to die. For His death is unlike any other that this world has ever seen. For through the death of Jesus and His resurrection from the dead we have a chance to enter into eternal life with our creator God.

We are only five weeks away from the most important day in the history of the world. On this day the event that has effected the world more than any other event in all of history took place. That event is the resurrection of Jesus Christ. No event in all of history comes close to the importance, significance, or impact on society that the resurrection has. Now we are only a few weeks from Easter, the time in which we remember the resurrection. So in light of the importance of this event we are going to spend the next few weeks leading up to Easter looking at the events that precede the resurrection of Jesus Christ, more specifically looking to the cross and its significance in a society far different from our own. It is not uncommon for a Christian to spend time looking at the cross…however it seems that we rarely spend time looking at the path that was taken to get there. This path is important because it shows a lot more of the man who died on the cross.

As we look at the road to the cross we see Jesus in His final days before His death. This picture will show us a lot about who Jesus really was. Let me set the stage for you so that you can see the background for this scene. It is nearing the time of Passover. This was a time in which many Jews would travel to their Holy City- Jerusalem to celebrate the single most important feast of the Jewish religion. Passover was to the Jews what Easter would become to the Christians. Passover week has just begun. Jerusalem would be busting with last minute preparations being made as pilgrims from all over the country made their way into the city. The city would be buzzing with excitement, and energy, and anticipation for the feast to come. This would certainly be a site to see. Travelers flocking into town in masses, people dashing all over the place making preparations, markets alive with business, picture trying to get all your last minute shopping down for Christmas the day before and you might have a little idea as to what Jerusalem probably looked like. Crowds were everywhere. The people were filled with excitement. The religious fervor in the air was probably intoxicating as it grew closer to this feast of celebration. But this year would be unlike any other year. This was certainly going to be a Passover to remember.

On the Sunday before Passover Jesus has just made his way to Bethany which is only about two miles east of Jerusalem. There He spends some time with His friends Mary, Martha, and Lazarus. They will have a feast for Him and many will come to see Jesus and will put their faith in Him. From Bethany He will head to Jerusalem on a donkey which is very unusual. Up until this point Jesus has walked everywhere He went. He even walked on water once rather than take the boat. Why now, only two miles from His destination does He mount a donkey? It’s not like Jesus was just tired of walking. This seems very strange. Why of all animals a donkey? Why not a horse? But Jesus is not without His reasons. Look at Zechariah 9:9, we can look over these verses and of this story in the Gospels and see what they say…without ever understanding what they mean. There is so much more to this story than meets the eye. The events that are recorded do more than just tell us the facts, they are showing us who Jesus really was. The details found in this text are important. In order to truly understand what unfolded in the last few days of Jesus life on earth we have to look backstage to see what else is going on. This is a very exciting day. Not only is Passover on the horizon but this man Jesus is coming to town. While there were some who didn’t like Jesus…rumors about who He truly was had certainly started to spread and everyone is wondering if this could be the time in which they are delivered. Zechariah 9 will show us a little bit more as to why this particular Passover in different from all the others:

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