This is the sermon for the Fifth Sunday in Lent. The sermon text is: John 12:20-33. The sermon theme is: Are You Ready To See Jesus’ Glory?
Are You Ready To See Jesus’ Glory?
Are you ready for easter? Easter is the natural time when people get together. And so, right now, thousands of people across our land are thinking of what food they will make for the Easter dinner. They are thinking of who they will invite. And even children are preparing by getting their homework done before Easter break. But none of that is really the heart and core of what it is to get ready for Easter. Here, in these words in John’s gospel we see what it is to be ready for Easter. In John 12 we read: “20 Now there were some Greeks among those who went up to worship at the Feast. 21 They came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida in Galilee, with a request. “Sir,” they said, “we would like to see Jesus.” 22 Philip went to tell Andrew; Andrew and Philip in turn told Jesus.” (John 12:20–22 NIV)
In these words we meet some Gentiles who want to see Jesus. Now, from the context we see that these aren’t unbelieving, Godless Gentiles. No, instead these are faithful, believing, God-fearing Gentiles. And they want to see Jesus. So they speak to Philip and tell him that they want to see Jesus. Then Philip and Andrew share this request with Jesus. And he responds to these Gentile believers with these words: “23 “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. 24 I tell you the truth, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds. 25 The man who loves his life will lose it, while the man who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life.” (John 12:23–25 NIV)
In a very clear way he tells these Gentile believers that seeing Jesus’ glory means understanding his death. If they wanted to see Jesus—really, truly see Jesus—who he was and what he was there to do, then they needed to recognize that he was going to die and why he was going to die. And so he tells them a short story. If a kernel of wheat stays by itself, it does not grow. But if it dies it creates thousands of kernels of wheat.
And then, just when we think Jesus is about to explain his parable—just when we think he is going to explain to them more about his death, he changes the subject. He tells them: “25 The man who loves his life will lose it, while the man who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. 26 Whoever serves me must follow me; and where I am, my servant also will be. My Father will honor the one who serves me.” (John 12:25–26 NIV)
These Gentiles thought they were ready to see Jesus’ glory. But in very clear and cutting words Jesus tells them that they are not. They were not ready to see Jesus because they were not willing to serve others. Notice the point that Jesus makes: If you love this world then what place do you have in heaven? If you hate serving others, then you’re really going to hate heaven because that’s what life will look like in heaven. We will be constantly serving our Lord by serving each other.
Jesus spoke these words so that they would sink home in these Gentile’s hearts. He wanted them to ask the question, “Are you ready to see Jesus’ glory?” And through them he asks the same question of us this morning. Each of us has this deep sinful need of serving ourselves and worshipping ourselves. Husbands, you see this in your own lives, don’t you? Christ calls on us to have this self-sacrificing love just as Jesus had for his church. But so often, we lazily throw our women under the bus for our own convenience. Wives, you see this in your own lives too, don’t you? There is this ever-living, real temptation to treat your husband as if he were some sort of fashion accessory rather than giving him respect as your husband. Parents, isn’t the same true for you? God gave you children so that you could spend time with them and teach them God’s word. And instead we say, “Enough! I need my me time.” And Children, instead of asking to help around the house and learning what it is to be a grown-up it’s ever-so-easy to act like you’re two years old even when you’re far closer to twelve.
You aren’t ready. You aren’t ready to see Jesus’ glory. Why would you want to be where Jesus is in heaven when you love this world so much? Why would you want to be in heaven where you will continually serve others when you only want to be served here? Jesus spoke these words to those Gentiles then and to us Gentiles today to move us to repent. We recognize that we love to worship ourselves. We love to be served by others. And in these words Jesus makes us ready to see his glory by showing us that he is the servant of the world. He was the only one who could bend his will to his Father’s burden. He was the only one who could perfectly and faithfully serve others. And because he did so perfectly all our sins of worshipping ourselves and serving ourselves are forgiven.
And so, Jesus asks you this morning if you are ready to see his glory. We prepare to see his glory by serving others. But we also prepare to see his glory in another way: “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.” (John 12:27–30 NIV)
Jesus came to earth to glorify his Father’s name. That was the point—that was the purpose that Jesus came to this earth for. And when he brought glory to his Father’s name, what would happen?: “Now is the time for judgment on this world; now the prince of this world will be driven out.” (John 12:31 NIV)
When Jesus brings glory to his Father’s name judgement will be passed against this world and the Devil, the Prince of this world will be thrown out. That is what will happen when he glorifies his Father’s name. But the next verse answers the question, how? How will Jesus bring glory to his Father’s name? “But I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to myself.”” (John 12:32 NIV)
Jesus would bring glory to his Father’s name by lifted up on a cross on Good Friday. And there is the glory and the irony. Jesus’ glory is found in his death. Jesus shame is our salvation. Satan is thrown out of our lives and out of this world by Jesus being thrown out of Jerusalem and out of heaven to suffer in hell in our place.
And so, we become ready to see Jesus’ glory both by letting our souls serve others and by letting Jesus be thrown out. And right there is where we see our sin. Our sin is jumping to Easter Sunday without walking through Good Friday. Our sin is concluding that because Jesus rose from the dead then he no longer works through weakness. But he still does, doesn’t he? He works through the weakness of the preached word. He works through the weakness of the jar of clay in the pulpit. He works through the shame of that cross that shines throughout all generations. And so, we want the best life now. We want all of our enemies to be put to shame now. We want to drag heaven down to earth instead of waiting till Christ takes us to heaven.
And so, let me ask you again, are you ready for Easter? Are you ready to see Jesus’ glory? Here again, we repent, don’t we? We repent of the times we didn’t let our Savior be thrown outside where his shame is our salvation. And we rejoice yet again that we have a gracious, caring, loving Savior. And he shows it in these words: “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 NIV) Jesus is thrown outside heaven to suffer in hell. The the result is plain and powerful. Because Jesus was thrown outside we can be sure that we are now inside God’s church and his heaven. And all our sins are forgiven. The sins we commit when we refuse to serve and the sins we commit when we refuse to see the shame and weakness of the cross—they are all forgiven.
Getting ready for Easter isn’t really preparing a meal-plan and cleaning your homes. It’s learning what these Gentiles learned. Christ has made us ready to see his glory by giving us joy to serve others because Jesus served us first. Christ has made us ready to see his glory by seeing that he was thrown out so that we would forever be included in. Amen.