Today is Palm Sunday. What a great celebration the first Palm Sunday must have been for the followers of Jesus! Next Sunday we will celebrate Resurrection Sunday. For those of us who follow Jesus, it is the greatest day in the history of the world. Year after year we celebrate these two high points, yet we skip right over what happened in the week between these events. When you consider that Palm Sunday is found in John 12 and Jesus’ resurrection takes place in John 20, that should be enough evidence to convince us that so much took place between those two days.
This morning I want us to focus on an event that happened right after Jesus rode into Jerusalem on the back of a donkey on Palm Sunday. John tells us there were some Greeks in the crowd that day. They found Philip and told him, “Sir, we would like to see Jesus.” Philip went and told Andrew and the two men went to Jesus. What follows is one of the most powerful sections in all of God’s Word. Will you turn with me to John 12:27-34 and let’s read our text for the morning.
27 “Now my heart is troubled, and what shall I say? ‘Father, save me from this hour’? No, it was for this very reason I came to this hour. 28 Father, glorify your name!” Then a voice came from heaven, “I have glorified it, and will glorify it again.” 29 The crowd that was there and heard it said it had thundered; others said an angel had spoken to him. 30 Jesus said, “This voice was for your benefit, not mine. 31 Now is the time for judgment on this world; now the prince of this world will be driven out. 32 But I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to myself.” 33 He said this to show the kind of death he was going to die. 34 The crowd spoke up, “We have heard from the Law that the Christ will remain forever, so how can you say, ‘The Son of Man must be lifted up’? Who is this ‘Son of Man’?” (John 12:27-34 NIVO)
It is a moving picture isn’t it? The picture of men, women, boys, and girls from all over the world and from all walks of life being drawn to Jesus moves me like crazy. Yet, as we read the first verse of our Scripture for this morning we are moved for an entirely different reason. Jesus said, “Now my heart is troubled, and what shall I say? ‘Father, save me from this hour?’ No, it was for this very reason I came to this hour.’” It is a startling statement isn’t it?
This past week, as I was thinking about what Jesus said about His troubled heart, I thought about another statement He made. In John 14, as Jesus was preparing to go to the cross, He told His disciples,
1 “Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me. 2 In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. 3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. 4 You know the way to the place where I am going.” (John 14:1-4 NIVO)
How could He who told His disciples, “Do not let your hearts be troubled…” be troubled? That’s a great question and those who don’t take the time to really study God’s Word might conclude that Jesus was at least being inconsistent or worse yet, hypocritical. First, let’s spend a minute understanding this word, “troubled.” The Greek word which is translated, “troubled,” is the word, “tarasso.” Literally it means, “to disturb, agitate, to be shocked, stirred up, or troubled.” It’s a very strong word that is used figuratively to describe severe mental or spiritual agitation. In John 12:27, the verb is in the perfect tense, which tells us that the struggle was ongoing for Jesus as He contemplated bearing our sin on the cross. The disciples were troubled with uncertainty, with the prospect of Jesus leaving them. They were troubled about what would happen after He was gone. Jesus wasn’t troubled with uncertainty, He was troubled by the certainty of the weight of the world’s sin bearing down upon Him. Ray Steadman has written about Jesus’ troubled heart by saying,
We must not let ourselves forget the fearful agony which Jesus went through: the bloody sweat; the three times he prayed to the Father for help; the betraying hurt of the traitor’s kiss; the subsequent arrest by the temple guard; his appearance in shame and humiliation as a criminal before the high priests and before King Herod; the cruel mockery, and scornful contempt when he was dressed as a king and a crown of thorns placed upon his head; the scourging at the whipping post upon Pilate’s command; the agony of the cross; the nails through his hands and feet; the spear through his side; and, above all, the terrible torment that drew from him the awful cries of anguish as his spirit endured shame and humiliation and the separation from the face of the Father that bearing the world’s sin required him to pass through. Jesus saw the horror of the hell that was coming. That is what he means by these words, “Now is my soul troubled.” (Ray Steadman, “Faithful Belief and Fatal Unbelief.” February 4, 1985.)
We must never forget the anguish and agony of our Savior as He contemplated His journey to the cross. The cross would be agonizing for any common criminal to bear, but Jesus was no common criminal–He was the Sin-Bearer who would carry the sins of the offenders, your sins and my sins, upon His strong shoulders as the nails held Him fixed to the cross. The writer of Hebrews tells us,
7 During the days of Jesus’ life on earth, he offered up prayers and petitions with loud cries and tears to the one who could save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverent submission. (Hebrews 5:7 NIVO)
We are familiar with the scene in the Garden of Gethsemane where Jesus anguished in prayer. Mark tells us Jesus was “deeply distressed and troubled” (Mark 14:33) Jesus told His disciples, “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death…” (Mark 14:34 NIVO) Luke describes Jesus’ agony in the Garden with these words: “And being in anguish, he prayed more earnestly, and his sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground.” (Luke 22:44 NIVO) All three of the Gospel writers tell us that Jesus prayed, “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.” (Matthew 26:39 NIVO) And yet we know that the weight of the cross didn’t simply become a reality to Jesus as the event neared because ten chapters before Luke tells us Jesus was “in anguish,” we read, in Luke 12:50,
50 But I have a baptism to undergo, and how distressed I am until it is completed! (Luke 12:50 NIVO)
Oh the weight of the cross! I don’t know if you have ever had to appear before a judge for an offense you have committed, but I can imagine how terrifying of an experience it must be. I watched a documentary on Netflix a few years ago about public defenders called, “Gideon’s Army.” A young attorney was representing his client, a young man who had been charged with armed robbery and was looking at a minimum sentence of 10 years with no probation. The young man wasn’t guilty and his attorney had clearly shown that to be true, but while the jury was deliberating the attorney turned to the young man and asked him, “How are you feeling?” He said, “I’m scared.” He was innocent. He was on trial for a single alleged crime that the State said he committed and he was terrified.
Our nation has an almost unlimited number of laws. If we break those laws there will be consequences which we must suffer. The consequence may be that we have to pay a fine, lose some of the privileges of being a citizen, have to do community service, go to prison for a set amount of time, or even lose our life as a consequence of our sins. Now, the truth of the matter is that you and I don’t know the vast majority of the laws of our land. We can break a law, not even know it, and have to suffer the consequnces.
Figuring out the consequences for breaking God’s law is not nearly as complicated. The Bible is very clear–the “wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23) In the Hebrew Bible we read, “The soul who sins is the one who will die. The son will not share the guilt of the father, nor will the father share the guilt of the son.” (Ezekiel 18:20 NIVO) In Exodus 32, after the people made the Golden Calf, God judged the offender’s for their sin. After 3,000 people died Moses went before the people and said, “You have committed a great sin. But now I will go up to the LORD; perhaps I can make atonement for your sin.” (Exodus 32:30 NIVO) Moses was willing to pay the price for the sins of the people even though he was innocent of the crime. God wouldn’t allow Moses to suffer for sin he had not committed. Even though Moses was innocent of that particular sin, he was not innocent. Moses would eventually die, but his death was because of his own sin, not the sins of others.
The innocent will not die for the sins of others. And we find this same truth appearing again and again. The innocent will not die for sins they did not commit. You can’t say that about our own judicial system can you?
They say there is an exception to every rule and there is an exception to this truth of God as well– “The innocent will not die for the guilty.” God’s Word tells us “for all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:23) Regardless of whether or not you would describe yourself as a sinner, someone who has broken God’s law, God has found you and me guilty as charged and the sentence we have received is the sentence of death–“the wages of sin is death.”
If we are all guilty then what are we to do? The answer to that question is, “there is nothing we can do.” The guilty can’t alleviate their own guilt, they can only serve out their sentence. Left to ourselves we are without hope, we are utterly hopeless. Oh, but here is the good news my friend. We are not left to ourselves–God has intervened and He had planned to intervene from the beginning. Seven hundred years before Jesus was born, the cross was already in the heart and the plan of God. I say, “700 years,” because that is the time when the prophet Isaiah spoke this powerful message from God. Turn with me to Isaiah 53:5-6.
5 But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed. 6 We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all. (Isaiah 53:5-6 NIVO)
Did you hear that? Did it really sink in? “He was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him…the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all.” Paul wrote to the people of Corinth and described this powerful truth like this:
21 God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. (2 Corinthians 5:21 NIVO)
The only One who has ever lived, who was truly innocent, who never committed even one sin, was the One who willingly took our place. It wasn’t a last minute decision. It wasn’t an emotional decision where Jesus felt sorry for us. It wasn’t the coercion of the Father that led Jesus to lay down His life for us. Look at John 12:27-28 with me once again.
27 “Now my heart is troubled, and what shall I say? ‘Father, save me from this hour’? No, it was for this very reason I came to this hour. 28 Father, glorify your name!” Then a voice came from heaven, “I have glorified it, and will glorify it again.” (John 12:27-28 NIVO)
Did you hear the intent, the purpose, in Jesus’ voice? He says that it was for this very purpose that He came. He says, “No, it was for this very reason I came to this hour.” As important as healing the sick was to Jesus, that was not the purpose of His coming. As important as teaching was to Jesus, teaching was not the purpose of His coming. As important as reaching out to the outcasts was to Jesus, that was not the purpose of His coming. As important as performing miracles were to Jesus, they were not the reason for His coming. We have to ask, “What was the ‘very reason’ He came to this hour?” Be careful. Don’t answer too quickly. If we answer too quickly we will say that He came to die in our place, save us, and restore us to fellowship with the Father. That is true, but there is even a greater, overarching purpose for His coming to this hour and He states it when He says, “Father, glorify your name!” Throughout Jesus’ life He had set before Him this one thing: To glorify His Father! He did that by doing His Father’s will at all times. In John 6:38 we read,
38 For I have come down from heaven not to do my will but to do the will of him who sent me. (John 6:38 NIVO)
John 17 is the longest recorded prayer we have of Jesus’. It is a powerful prayer, a beautiful prayer for His disciples and those who would come to know Him through the ministry of His disciples. In the opening sentences of Jesus’ prayer, He says,
4 I have brought you glory on earth by completing the work you gave me to do. 5 And now, Father, glorify me in your presence with the glory I had with you before the world began. (John 17:4-5 NIVO)
Nothing was more important to Jesus than glorifying the Father. When the people heard Jesus say, “Father, glorify your name.” we are told that a voice, which sounded like thunder to those who were listening said, “I have glorified it, and will glorify it again.” Three times, at Jesus’ baptism, on the Mount of Transfiguration, and here in John 12 we find God speaking from heaven and announcing His pleasure with Jesus. Jesus had glorified God at all times, in times past, and He would glorify God again on the cross. God would be glorified in the death and resurrection of His Son.
Some may wonder, “How is God glorified in the death and resurrection of Jesus?” That’s a question that we really need to understand and Jesus gives us the answers.
First of all, God is glorified in the judgment of the world through the cross of His Son. Jesus said, “Now is the time for judgment on this world;” (John 12:31a NIVO) The cross of Jesus is the dividing line of humanity. Those who trust in Jesus’ redeeming work are saved and those who reject the sacrifice of our Savior are condemned already. In John 3, Jesus told the crowd,
18 Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son. (John 3:18 NIVO)
If you are here this morning and you’ve never trusted in Jesus then now is the time. That is no doubt why the Lord has brought you to this place today. Believe in Jesus, trust that His death and resurrection are for you and the forgiveness of your sin. If we reject what God has done for us throughout our lives then we are condemned and there is no hope for us my friends.
Secondly, God is glorified by driving the prince of this world out through the cross of His Son. This truth is found in the same verse, John 12:31, where Jesus said, “now the prince of this world will be driven out.” (John 12:31b NIVO) We all know that Satan is alive and well on planet earth today. In John 17, Jesus asks the Father not to take us, His followers, out of the world, but to protect us from the “evil one.” In 1 Peter 5:8 we read,
8 Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. (1 Peter 5:8 NIVO)
Satan continues to prowl around looking for those he might devour, but on the cross Satan’s main weapon against you and me was taken from him never to be returned. You might ask, “What is Satan’s main weapon against us?” It is our sin. The Bible calls Satan the “accuser of our brothers and sisters,” but in Revelation 12:11 we read, “They overcame him by the blood of the Lamb…” The writer of Hebrews puts it this way.
14 Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might destroy him who holds the power of death–that is, the devil– 15 and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death. (Hebrews 2:14-15 NIVO)
How many times has Satan used your sin and my sin to cause us to doubt ourselves and more importantly doubt God? Oh, the shame and guilt that multiplied millions deal with each and every day as they try to use anything imaginable to try and free themselves from the perilous pain of their guilt and shame! Those who look to Jesus are reminded that their sins, their guilt, and their shame are cast into the sea of forgetfulness, they are removed by God as far as the east is from the west. If you are not a follower of Jesus then look to Jesus this very morning to experience freedom from shame, guilt, and condemnation. If you are a follower of Jesus and yet you still struggle with shame and guilt then I would encourage you to get your eyes back on the cross and know that your sentence was served by the Son of God. Pastor Spurgeon wrote,
When I see Jesus die I perceive that from now on divine justice is on the sinner’s side. How can the Lord God punish the same offense twice—first the Substitute and then the men for whom that Substitute has bled? Christ has bled as substitute for every man that believes in Him—therefore is every believer safe. Oh, brethren, when you are troubled, rest with us, by looking to Calvary. And if the first glance does not quiet you, look, and look, and look again, for every grief will die where Jesus died. Not to Bethlehem, where the stars of Christmas burn, do we look for our greatest comfort, but to that place where the sun was darkened at midday, and the face of eternal love was veiled. Because the Lord of life and glory was dying in siremis, suffering the most deadly pain for our sakes, therefore His wounds distilled the richest balm that ever healed a sinner’s wound. (Charles Haddon Spurgeon. The Marvelous Magnet. The C.H. Spurgeon Collection.)
We no longer have to live mired in the guilt and shame of our sin my friends for the Lord of glory has taken your shame and guilt and nailed it to the cross. This truth has proven to be a salve to sin’s sting for people throughout history and in every corner of the world. This should come as no surprise to any of us because Jesus announced,
32 But I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to myself.” 33 He said this to show the kind of death he was going to die. (John 12:32-33 NIVO)
When Jesus said He would draw “all men” He didn’t mean those words like the Universalist preach them today. He didn’t mean that all people would be saved. Jesus, when He speaks of “all men” had in mind men, women, boys, and girls of every kind. Do not forget what experience ignited this announcement by Jesus. It was some Greek speaking folks who wanted to see and talk to Jesus. “The hour has come!” The time of the suffering was at hand. The cross was in view. The time of redemption was drawing near. The Lord’s ministry would open up to Jews, Gentiles, slave and free, men and women from every tribe, nation, and language!
His suffering was for you my friend. His nail scarred hands are reaching out to you this very morning. Your sins which condemn you as guilty were carried by Jesus all the way to the cross so that you might never have to bear them again. Won’t you invite Him in as Lord and Savior of your life this very morning?
Britton Christian Church
922 NW 91st
OKC, OK. 73114
March 28, 2021