22nd March 2015 Rev Vincent Gardner
At the time of this scripture Jesus was well on His way to the cross. His public ministry was coming to a close and a variety of things were unfolding. A crowd of people from many different places had gathered for the Passover Feast. The people in the crowd had many different opinions of Him. The Jews were upset because people were following Jesus. They were plotting how they might go about killing Him. They said, “Look, how the whole world has gone after Him.” In the opening of today’s scripture some Greeks who had come to worship at the Passover, went to Philip and said, “Sir, we would like to see Jesus.” They were seekers who were sincere people but they only had limited access at the Feast. They probably approached Philip because he was from Bethsaida where there was a large settlement of Greeks. Maybe they recognized Philip and Andrew as having Greek names who would be more receptive and less likely to snub them. Jesus did not answer their request directly. Instead he said, “The HOUR has come for the Son of man to be glorified.” You will remember in another scripture Jesus said, Mine HOUR is not yet come” (John 2:4) Today’s scripture is the first time He has said, “the HOUR is come that the Son of man should be glorified.” What did he mean by this? Was it an hour like 9:00 in the morning or 1:00 in the afternoon? Why did Jesus answer this request by saying, “the HOUR has come for the son of man to be glorified when up until this point he would always say, My HOUR has not yet come?” The Greek word used here is hora which is “a point of time or a season when an appointed action is to begin” –Jesus was looking ahead to the cross–the one main event that he had come to earth for in the first place. It was now time for the EVENT to come to pass. When these Greeks came and requested to see Him, He was pleased about it because they were some of the first Gentiles who were being brought into the harvest. At that point Jesus explained what is about to happen at the crucifixion when He tells them, “except a kernel of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds” (vs. 24). He is saying it won’t multiply–it won’t produce a crop for the future–it won’t be productive, but if it is planted it will grow and multiply and produce a great harvest. The message he was trying to get across to these people was that HE was the ONE KERNEL of wheat–He was on His way to the cross to die, be buried, and be resurrected to new life, and if He did this there would be a great harvest of souls–now and in future generations. It would be the opening of the Gospel for everyone–not just the Jews alone but for all people. He sees the Cross that was soon going to bring them in. Application: Why is this important to us? Had He not been willing to go to the cross we would have been just like those Greeks–limited in our access to Him. We would have been on the OUTSIDE looking in.
1. HIS STRUGGLE–Pressures from the outside and from the inside: Jesus saw that the HOUR or TIME had come. The hour that He came to earth for in the first place, but it did not come without a severe struggle to Him. We may think, “This was Jesus. It didn’t bother Him. This is why He came. He was strong. He just took it as a matter of course. Didn’t bother Him in the least.” At this Lenten Season let us look at how he was taking this struggle and let it become more real to us what He actually did for us on the Cross. In previous verses He prayed in the Garden, “My soul is exceeding sorrowful, even unto death.” (Matthew 26:38) “If it be possible, let this cup pass from me.” –nevertheless, not as I will but as thou wilt.(Matthew 26:39). Matthew 26:42 “If this cup may not pass away from me except I drink it, thy will be done Once again in this scripture He is saying, “Now my soul is troubled and what shall I say? Father save me from this hour?” (vs. 27). Jesus had many pressures coming against him from the outside–the people who were plotting to kill him, and he had pressures and turmoil from inside–Could he go through with it. Could he take the load of the sins of the world upon his shoulders–could he bear God turning His back on him during the ordeal–could he?
2. OUR STRUGGLES–How many times do we go through times in our life when we feel the external pressures moving in on us? It could be any number of things that seek to tear us down and destroy us. It could be pressures from our jobs, from people, from within our families, from sickness, from sorrow and grief experiences. We think, “Nobody has seen the trouble I’ve seen. Nobody knows or understands what I’m going through.” And it seems when things happen in our lives, these things hit us in multiples one after another. One thing breaks down, and two or three other things break down. One bill comes in and then something else comes to drain the finances. One member of the family gets sick and just when he gets over it someone else gets sick. Former heavy-weight boxer Quick Tillis, a cowboy from Oklahoma, fought out of Chicago in the early 1980’s. He still remembers his first day in the windy city after his arrival from Tulsa. “I got off the bus with two cardboard suitcases under my arms in downtown Chicago and stopped in front of the Sears tower. I put my suitcases down and looked up at the Tower and I said to myself, ‘I’m going to conquer Chicago. When I looked down, the suitcases were gone!” The accumulation of EXTERNAL pressures wears us down. Problems on the job drain us of our energy. Criticism and snide remarks–external pressures could be any kind and come at us from all directions. They could be big things or little things.
Here are some things taken from the diary of John Wesley…
Sunday, a.m. May 5 Preached in St. Anne’s. Was asked not to come back anymore. Sunday, p.m.
May 5 Preached in St. John’s. Deacons said, “Get out and stay out.” Sunday, a.m. May 12 Preached in St. Jude’s. Can’t go back there, either.
Sunday, a.m. May 19 Preached in St. Somebody Else’s. Deacons called special meeting and said I couldn’t return.
Sunday, p.m. May 19 Preached on the street. Got kicked off the street
Sunday, a.m. May 26 Preached in a meadow. Chased out of meadow as bull was turned loose during the service
Sunday, p.m. June 2 Afternoon, preached in a pasture. 10,000 people came out to hear me….
When our struggles and pressures seem as if they could get no worse, then we see the build up of INTERNAL struggles that seek to tear us down as well. We may feel like what’s the use? I feel like giving up. I feel depressed. People say, “I just feel devastated.” Others say, “I can’t take the pressures. I’m so depressed.”
STORY: In 1835 a man visited a doctor in Florence, Italy. He was filled with anxiety and exhausted from lack of sleep. He couldn’t eat, and he avoided his friends. The doctor said that he was in good physical condition. He thought that his patient needed to have a good time and told him about a circuis in town and about its star performer, a clown named Grimaldi. Night after night he had the people rolling in the aisles. “You’ve got to go see him,” the doctor advised.”Grimaldi is the world’s funniest clown.” “He’ll cure your sadness and make you laugh.” “No,” replied the despairing man. “He can’t help me. You see I’m Grimaldi!”
Sometimes when a crisis situation hits people the first thing they think of doing is quit church. Give up on being a Christian. Give up on the Lord. It’s too hard. Sometimes families break up as the pressures press in from the outside. Many people turn to alcohol or drugs. No matter what our struggles, remember that Jesus went through them also as the Cross was weighing heavily on his mind. Would he say, “It’s too great a sacrifice. I think this is as far as I’m going?” What did he say?
3. How Jesus Resolved the Conflict: In the midst of the struggles within and without He said, “Father, glorify your name!” He is saying, “It’s OK–go ahead with the plan–I’m ready to go. Glorify–bring honour to, magnify, lift up Your Name.” There is one thing that reconciled him to the cross and that is found in John 4:34 when Jesus said, “My food is to do the will of him who sent me and to FINISH his work.” Sometimes when we pray, our problems and struggles are not automatically lifted when we pray–things do not change overnight. We see how that Jesus continued toward the Cross. David had struggles throughout his life, but he continued to do God’s will. Although we are a Christian, we may have pressures from the outside and struggles on the inside. We can look ahead just as any of these people of long ago and say, “Glorify your name in my life–I desire to do your will–and then keep on going. Look at the big picture.
STORY: David Livingston the missionary to Africa walked over 29,000 miles, his wife died early in their ministry and he faced stiff opposition from his Scottish brethern. He ministered half blind. Words in his diary read: Send me anywhere, only go with me Lay any burden on me, only sustain me. Sever me from any tie but the tie that binds me to Your service and to your heart. I don’t know what happened to the Greeks at the beginning of the scripture who wanted to see Jesus. Did they ever become followers of His? Scripture seems to indicate that they did. Can we do that this week?