Non-Profit Internet Source for News, Events, History, & Culture of Northern Frederick & Carroll County Md./Southern Adams County Pa.

 

Only Losers Win

Pastor Gary Buchman
Emmitsburg Community Bible Church

(3/24) 52 Weeks at the Feet of Jesus

I.ĖSetting the Stage- I hope everyone is watching the History Channel mini-series, The Bible. Tonight is about the ministry of Jesus; a great way to begin Passion Week. The word, passion is comes from the Greek, ĎPascho,í and is translated as suffering. This is the week that our Lord entered into His suffering for us. Before we talk about that let me appeal to your imagination and take you back in time near 200 years earlier than Jesus.

For centuries Israel had been under the domination of one country after another. First it was the Assyrians, then the Babylonians, then it was the Medes and Persians, followed by the Greeks, and then the Romans. It was the time when the Greeks were controlling the world When Alexander the Great died, his kingdom was divided into 4 parts. Israel fell under the part dominated by Syria and then Egypt and then Syria again. In 171 B.C. Antiochus Epiphanies was given charge over Jerusalem. Antiochus was a madman, who hated the Jews and when the Jews revolted thinking he had died, Antiochus returned and slaughtered mercilessly over 80,000 Jews and destroyed much of Jerusalem. Many think he is a picture of a future madman that will be called the Anti-Christ. Antiochus forbade the practice of Judaism, and is reported to have set up an image of Zeus in the temple and sacrificed pigs in the temple. Anyone refusing to eat the pork was killed.

About the time of the 6th Ptolemaic war between Egypt and Syria, in the late 160ís B.C. the Jews began to revolt and under a family called the Maccabees, Judas Maccabeus and his sons were successful in defeating Antiochusí forces, partly because he was distracted by other fronts. In 165, they drove the remaining Syrians out Jerusalem and cleansed the temple, and began the yearly feast of the Dedication or Hanukah. You can read of this in the Apocrypha record of the Maccabees that is in the Catholic Bible and other places. I have a copy in a Good News for Modern Man version.

In a celebration of the victory, 1 Maccabees 13:51 says, "Then the Jews entered Jerusalem with thanksgiving and branches of palm trees and with harps and cymbals, and with viols, and hymns and songs because there was destroyed a great enemy out of Israel." 2 Maccabees 10:7 says, "Therefore bearing ivy-wreathed wands and beautiful branches and also fronds of palm, they offered hymns of thanksgiving to him who had given success to the purifying of his own holy place"

The Maccabees had become National Heroes, the Robin Hoods, William Tells, Daniel Boones, Davy Crockets, or George Washingtonís of their day in Israel. But their Freedom was relatively short lived. 100 years later, or 60 years before Jesus was born, the Romans took control of Jerusalem. Again there was hatred between the occupying armies and the Jews, and the Romans were brutal. It is estimated that between Jesusí birth and death, over 30,000 Jews were executed by crucifixion.

II. The Similarity (John 12:9-19). For three years a young Rabbi has gained notoriety throughout Israel by preaching a message of the Kingdom of God, that the Kingdom was near. In confirmation of His authority and truth, He performed many miracles of healing over sickness, and injury, over nature, over the demons, over distance, and then over death as 3 times He brought the dead back to life, one who had been dead for 4 days and had started to decompose (cp. Luke 19:37, "For the mighty works which they have seen"). His fearless response to the religious leaders and His compassion for the multitudes of poor had people believing that He could be the promised Messiah. And though He is, they envisioned an invincible warrior, like a super hero, that would drive the Romans out of their land much like the Maccabees had done. And what better time to show their readiness and support of a Messiah warrior King than the week of Passover. The people who a few days earlier had watched Him raise Lazarus from the dead went through the area and in Jerusalem telling of the miracle, and in excitement the crowds came to welcome Jesus as they had the victorious Maccabees 200 years earlier. Jesus, however, did not come on white horse as He will in Revelation 19, but on a donkey, not as a conquering warrior but as a humble servant, never the less, announcing that He is the promised King according to Zechariah 9:9. I believe the people were celebrating the peace and prosperity they thought they were about to experience with Jesus. But they had no idea what the week would bring. The phrase, Hosanna literally means, "O save now," and comes from Psalm 118. "Happy days are here again." By the way, a similar response occurred in John 6:14-15, 26-27, when our Lord fed the 5000, the people wanted to make Him king, not because of who He was but because of what He could do for them.

By the way, I believe that there are some who seek the Savior today, not for who He is but for what they expect He can do for them. They miss the point. Just as the people of this city did. Jesus knew it and it crushed His heart as Luke 19:41 tells us. As He approached Jerusalem, He paused with uncontrollable weeping He grieved for this city that was resting in a false sense of security, for He knew what an awful future awaited them just a few years from that time.

III. The Seekers (vv. 20-22) Ė Some Greeks had come to the Passover, and had heard of Jesus. Were they just curious or sincere seekers of truth? I donít know. Maybe they were relatives of the woman in Mark 7 that Jesus had cast a demon from; maybe they had heard the story of raising Lazarus; maybe they were there when Jesus drove the money changers out of the temple opening up the area for Gentiles to worship. It is interesting that Gentiles sought Jesus at His birth and now again before His death. They came to the disciple named Philip which is a Greek name, though not uncommon. Philip took them to Andrew, which is also a Greek name, and Andrew brought them to Jesus. We donít know if they were present when Jesus says what we are about look at or not. But it is interesting, that as the Jewish leaders are rejecting Him, the Gentiles are starting to seek Him. What Jesus is about to say is, I believe, different than anything that anyone was expecting that day. Letís listen.

IV. The Surprise Sayings

The Son Must Suffer to be Glorified (vv. 23, 27, 31.) But Jesus answered them, saying, "The hour has come that the Son of Man should be glorified. If they were familiar with Danielís prophecy, they probably rejoiced to hear this. It seemed at first to be exactly what they were hoping to hear. A day off victory coming. Listen to Daniel 7:13-14:

"I was watching in the night visions, And behold, One like the Son of Man,

Coming with the clouds of heaven! He came to the Ancient of Days,

And they brought Him near before Him. Then to Him was given dominion and glory and a kingdom, that all peoples, nations, and languages should serve Him.

His dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, And His kingdom the one which shall not be destroyed.

But whatever excitement that first sentence gave, it soon gave way to confusion. The Hour that He spoke of, was the purpose for which He came. (cp. 2:4; 7:6, 8; 30; 8:20; and he will refer to it 4 more times in, v. 27; 13:1; 16:32; 17:1). Reminds me of the final scene in the animated Lion king when Rafecki says to Simba, "It is Time," and he ascends Pride Rock and roars as the King.

For our Lord, it was time to face the cross, to bear the guilt of our sin and to die as our substitute. The thought of this, was horrifying to our Lord, which is what verse 27 is saying. "Now My soul is troubled, and what shall I say? ĎFather, save Me from this hourí? But for this purpose I came to this hour. 28 Father, glorify Your name." Facing, the wrath of God, being separated from the Father, experiencing hell, was horrifying, but there was no other way, to defeat Satan and redeem us. The driving force was the will of the Father, and the Glory that awaited on the other side of the cross. Our Lord faced that cross because of what he knew was on the other side. You and I would be with Him, All of Heaven would honor Him, and Satanís power was destroyed. Though he is still active, he has been judged and his doom has been settled. Forever Jesus will be honored for His grace, Love, and sacrifice for His brethren. By the way, He is in heaven now, praying for you, and longing for the day when you will behold His glory and share in that glory, Father, I desire that they also whom You gave Me may be with Me where I am, that they may behold My glory which You have given Me; for You loved Me before the foundation of the world. (John 17:24)

Here is a life lesson; listen carefully, Your suffering is not in vain. As you use it in faith and to honor God, it will work to your honor and glory forever. Listen to these scriptures, "The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirsóheirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him, that we may also be glorified together. For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us." (Rom. 8:16-18) "Therefore we do not lose heart. Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day. For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal," (2 Cor. 4:16-18). My friends, that is why the Psalmist can say, "weeping may endure for a night but joy comes in the morning."

  • The Savior Must Die to Give Life (vv.24, 32). " Most assuredly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it produces much grain." There is no death of the Messiah mentioned in the Daniel 7 passage, and really no one was expecting Jesus to die, though He has told them on several occasions that they were going to Jerusalem and that He would be killed there, (see Matt. 16:21; 17:12; 20:17-19). They must have been shocked by this, but unless He dies, no one could have life. He uses the picture of a grain of wheat, which can set on a shelf for years, some even for centuries. Alone on a shelf, the seed can do nothing, bur plant it in the ground, essentially killing that seed, and grows to produce many more seeds, with an unlimited potential for reproducing itself. Unless He dies and is buried, Heaven cannot be populated with children, but if He dies and is planted then people from every race, country, and tongue can populate heaven and be part of Godís family. In fact that is what verse 32 is speaking of, "And I, if I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all peoples to Myself," This is what he meant in John 10 when he said, "And other sheep I have which are not of this fold; them also I must bring, and they will hear My voice; and there will be one flock and one shepherd." (John 10:16) Perhaps He intentionally mentioned this here for the Greeks, to encourage them. Here is a Life Lesson; For the life of Christ to be reproduced through you, you also, must die. You have to die to your own desires, to your selfishness, your will. Listen to Paul, " I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me. (Gal. 2:20) Likewise you also, reckon yourselves to be dead indeed to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus our Lord. Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body, that you should obey it in its lusts. 13 And do not present your members as instruments of unrighteousness to sin, but present yourselves to God as being alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God. (Rom. 6:11-13) For the love of Christ compels us, because we judge thus: that if One died for all, then all died; 15 and He died for all, that those who live should live no longer for themselves, but for Him who died for them and rose again. (2 Cor. 5:14-15), But God forbid that I should boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world. (Gal. 6:14)
     
  • The Seeker Must Hate His Life to Have Life, "He who loves his life will lose it, and he who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life." (v.25). This verse is referring to the choice that we must make if we are going to be His disciples. To love your life, refers to loving life this side of heaven; the life that is focused on what you want; the life that is focused on the temporary possibilities, or pleasures that the TV and media tells you that you have a right to or ought to have. If the toys of earth, and pleasures of mind are your goal, you will end up losing in life. The saying, "He who dies with the most toys," is a lie. And if that is your desire, you will destroy your life. The word, "lose," is the same as the word destroy and is often translated as destroy. The word, "hate," I donít thank means to loath here, but means, to be unsatisfied, knowing that there has to be more, better, different, something that will last, and have eternal value, something that wonít grow old and fade away. Like the Peggy Lee song from 1969; a depressing song; the last verse says, "I know what you must be saying to yourselves. If that's the way she feels about it why doesn't she just end it all? Oh, no. Not me. I'm in no hurry for that final disappointment. For I know just as well as I'm standing here talking to you, when that final moment comes and I'm breathing my last breath, I'll be saying to myself,

Is that all there is, is that all there is? if that's all there is my friends, then let's keep dancing Let's break out the booze and have a ball, If that's all there is." But our Lord reminds us that, that isnít all there is. There is a life that has peace and joy now, and pleasure, joy and glory forever in His presence. There is an inheritance, a home, a crown, and a commendation at the Fatherís house. But it is only for those who repent of this life and embrace His life. These only will have His life. But here is your Life lesson; you must choose which life you will embrace, but you canít have both. You may be blessed with material blessings, but you canít have His joy, His peace, His life, apart from letting go of this life. Listen to His words. " Then Jesus said to His disciples, "If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. 25 For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it. 26 For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul? 27 For the Son of Man will come in the glory of His Father with His angels, and then He will reward each according to his works," (Matt. 16:24-27) If you spend your life pursing things, fame, money, whatever, you will be wasting precious time and end up losing it all. If you pursue God, His kingdom, His life, His righteousness, you may not have all that the world says you should have, but you will gain it all for ever. Itís your choice.

  • The Servants Must Follow Jesus to Have Honor (v. 26). Dying to self and losing oneís life must be coupled with following Jesus. "If anyone serves Me, let him follow Me; and where I am, there My servant will be also. If anyone serves Me, him My Father will honor." The idea of following Jesus is twofold. First, it means to go with Him. Jesus is not asking us to go anywhere or do anything that He as a man would not do. As the Good Shepherd, Jesus would lead His sheep. That is He would go before them, and the sheep would follow. Second, It means to imitate Him or do what he would do. The phrase follow me, literally means to walk the same path as, as a student or disciple. It means to watch, listen, learn from and imitate the Teacher. This is what he called Peter and the 12 to, and this is what He calls us to. Listen again to Matt. 16:24,"If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me." This is the one to whom the Father will say, "Well done, my good and faithful servant." This is the one on whose head a crown of life will be placed; this is the one who will sit at the table and the Son of God Himself will serve (Luke 12:37). Here is your life lesson question, Are you following Jesus? Do you ask the WWJD question when you are making decisions or responding to circumstances? Every decision, every trial is an opportunity to honor God by flowing Jesus and an opportunity for God to honor you. He said in 1 Samuel 2:30, "He you honors me I will honorÖ" The servant will serve God by serving the People God loves and wants to draw to Himself as in Matthew 25; Isaiah 58 and James 1:27.
     
  • The Sojourner Must Believe in the Light to be a Son of the Light. "Then Jesus said to them, "A little while longer the light is with you. Walk while you have the light, lest darkness overtake you; he who walks in darkness does not know where he is going. While you have the light, believe in the light, that you may become sons of light." These things Jesus spoke, and departed, and was hidden from them." (vv.35-36). Let me abbreviate this last point. The word believe means more than just to give mental assent to. It means to trust and to act on what you give assent to. I believe that this was for the benefit of the Greeks that sought Jesus but also to anyone who was in hearing distance. You only have so much time to choose to follow Jesus. That is why Paul would say, "Now is the accepted time, behold, now is the day of salvation." (2 Cor. 6:2). Jesus may have been referring to His own life and presence here. In a few days he would die. But he may also be speaking of the opportunity that you have. Tomorrow is not promised to you. Some of you need to make a life decision.
     
  • Will you make this life your focus, or will you seek His life?
     
  • Will you try to earn your way to heaven or will you repent and receive His forgiveness and life?
     
  • Will decide to follow Jesus? Or just be a Sunday morning Christian?
     
  • Do you seek the honor of this life, and the praise of men, or the Honor of God? Sadly the text tells us that most that heard these words, perhaps the day after Palm Sunday, did not believe in Him, "But although He had done so many signs before them, they did not believe in Him," (v. 37) and many who did believe, were too ashamed and afraid of losing this life, that they did not confess Him. 42 Nevertheless even among the rulers many believed in Him, but because of the Pharisees they did not confess Him, lest they should be put out of the synagogue; 43 for they loved the praise of men more than the praise of God. (vv. 42-43)

May this Palm Sunday, be the day that you make the life choice of following Jesus, dying to self and embracing His life, to reproduce His life, and seek the honor of your Father in heaven. Maybe it is the day of re-dedication. Letís go to our Father and pray.

Read other thoughtful writings by Pastor Gary Buchman