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The Time Has Come

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After having praise heaped on him on Palm Sunday and while anticipating his inglorious death on Good Friday, Jesus wasn't concerned about his earthly glory. Instead he prayed, "Father, glorify your name!" What would it look like if we did the same thing in our lives?

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Pastor Peter Metzger First Lutheran Church 5th Sunday in Lent Lake Geneva, WI John 12:20-33 March 18, 2018 20Now there were some Greeks among those who went up to worship at the festival. 21They came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida in Galilee, with a request. “Sir,” they said, “We would like to see Jesus.” 22Philip went to tell Andrew; Andrew and Philip in turn told Jesus. 23Jesus replied, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. 24Very truly I tell you, 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. 25Anyone who loves their life will lose it, while anyone who hates their life in this world will keep it for eternal life. 26Whoever serves me must follow me; and where I am, my servant also will be. My Father will honor the one who serves me. 27”Now my soul 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. 28Father, glorify your name!” Then a voice came from heaven, “I have glorified it, and will glorify it again.” 29The crowd that was there and heard it said it had thundered; others said an angel had spoken to him. 30Jesus said, “This voice was for your benefit, not mine. 31Now is the time for judgment on this world; now the prince of this world will be driven out. 32And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.” 33He said this to show the kind of death he was going to die. The Time Has Come “It’s time.” Those two short words can have a big impact, and in drastically different ways. If you’re sitting in the waiting room prepped for surgery, it can mean a flood of fear and anxiety about what’s about to happen. If you’re sitting in the chapel visiting with family and friends around the casket of a loved one, it can mean a swell of sadness and grief that you’ll never see that face again this side of heaven. If you’re surrounded by your bridesmaids or groomsmen in a room down the hall, it can mean a rush of excitement and joy that you’re about to start your life with the one you love. “It’s time.” Those words must have been on Jesus’ mind when Andrew and Philip came to him with a request from some curious Greeks for an audience. Without even telling us whether Jesus granted that request or not, John simply records Jesus’ gut reaction. “The hour has come,”1 he said. The question is, for what? Was this going to be a time of fear and anxiety, sadness and grief, or excitement and joy? His full statement, and the occasion for saying it, might lead you to believe the latter, i.e. excitement and joy. He says, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified.”2 Jesus spoke those words on the Tuesday after Palm Sunday, two days after Jews and Greeks and pilgrims from the world over had been singing his praise and rolling out the red carpet as he rode into Jerusalem for the Passover. Glory was the obvious expectation for Jesus. Things had never been better for him or his disciples. But that’s not what Jesus meant when he said that this was the time for him to be glorified. Instead, Jesus uses an analogy to redefine what it would mean for him to be glorified. He didn’t mean shouts of praise and adoration; he didn’t mean parades through the city streets, or throngs of people begging to see him. He meant death. “Very truly,” he said, “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.”3 Jesus’ glory would come from his death. 1 John 12:23 2 John 12:23 3 John 12:24 I doubt very much that the Greeks would have agreed – that their desire to see Jesus was a desire to see his death. Jesus’ own disciples fought him on many occasions about the frequent and morbid predictions of his death. Quite frankly, we’re no different. I don’t think any of us would say, “I want to see Jesus,” if we were thinking of him bleeding out and gasping for air on the cross. So, I think our desires for and expectations of Jesus need some adjusting, which may well be why he said, “Anyone who loves their life will lose it, while anyone who hates their life in this world will keep it for eternal life.”4 See, Jesus understood that many of us want from him things that he does not promise or give. We often wish that the opposite of this statement could be true – that we could have our cake and eat it too, that we could love our lives in this world and have eternal life in the next, when in reality the reverse is norm. Too much love for a good life in this world displaces God from our hearts and replaces him with idols. Let me put that in terms you might understand. Do you desire to be successful? Who doesn’t? Do you expect to be successful? That’s not a bad standard to set for yourself. But, as a congregation, what happens if we don’t experience the growth that we desire or expect? Does that make you feel like Jesus is less glorious? He must not have much glory if people aren’t attracted to him, so we have to find other ways to attract their attention. As a believer, what happens when it feels like your life is falling apart – when you ask yourself, “Where is Jesus when I need him the most?” It’s enough to make you wonder why you follow such an inglorious God, who doesn’t offer you a good life on earth. Jesus promises us something different. “Anyone who hates their life in this world will keep it for eternal life.”5 That doesn’t turn us into a cult of masochists who beat their bodies for fun and deny themselves any and every comfort on principle. It doesn’t mean that we hate every moment of life, but simply that we love God more than life, i.e. that we’re willing to deny ourselves any- and everything that distracts from Jesus’ true glory. When Jesus says, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified,”6 he isn’t talking about the triumphal entry on Palm Sunday. He’s talking about the bitter end on Good Friday. When Jesus talks about being “lifted up from the earth,”7 he isn’t talking about being lifted up onto his disciples’ shoulders as they parade around town, as if he’s a coach who just won the big game. He’s talking about being nailed to a cross. For Jesus, glory meant death, because in death, Jesus solved the thousands year-old problem of our sin, by paying the penalty that we owed for our sin. In death, Jesus drove the prince of this world, the devil, out of his place of power, by winning a decisive victory that could not be overturned. In death, Jesus gave up his life to give you eternal life. Like a kernel of wheat dying to produce many seeds, Jesus’ death and resurrection serves as the “firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep”8 – a guarantee that even though we will face death, the glory that belongs to us because of Jesus is not diminished in the least. He says, “Whoever serves me must follow me; and where I am, my servant also will be. My Father will honor the one who serves me.”9 Jesus’ desire for our lives was not that they be filled with earthly glory, but that we live to see his heavenly glory. He even prayed about it on the night before he died: “Father, I want those you have given me to be with me where I am, and to see my glory, the glory you have given me because you loved 4 John 12:25 5 John 12:25 6 John 12:23 7 John 12:32 8 1 Corinthians 15:20 9 John 12:26 me before the creation of the world.”10 Because Jesus wants us to be with him in heaven, he died to cancel the sin that disqualified us from heaven and to prepare a place for us to be with him where he is right now. There is nothing more glorious that a Christian can desire than to see Jesus in all his heavenly glory, given to us as a free gift of his grace through his death on the cross. It’s time to see Jesus and his glory for what they truly are – not a life of ease and comfort without any problems or cares, but eternal life in the glory of heaven because of his inglorious death on the cross. It’s time to see Jesus, and it’s time to glorify his name. On Palm Sunday, which is just a week away, we will gather together to take up the same songs of praise that Christians have been singing since John wrote these words. We’ll have palm branches here that you can pick up and parade around and lay at the foot of the altar to bring glory to Jesus’ name. But I want you to look again at the way in which Jesus brought glory to his Father’s name. In verses 27 and 28, Jesus says, “Now my soul 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. Father, glorify your name!” Jesus begins by saying that his soul is troubled. Even to him – knowing that his death meant glory for himself and his Father and, not least of all, you, whom he loved – the prospect of dying still troubled him. But what was his greatest desire? It wasn’t self-preservation. It was love for God, and love for you. Dear friends in Christ, may we learn to love our God the way that Jesus did, not shrinking from the difficult and unpleasant experiences of life, but using them to bring glory to Jesus’ name. So, you’re sitting in the waiting room prepped for surgery filled with fear and anxiety, could you pray, “Father, save me from this hour”? Of course! Jesus invites you, “Come to me all you who are weary and burdened and I will give you rest.”11 But what if in that moment you chose to pray, “Father, glorify your name”? It would mean that your faith has taught you to trust that no matter how that surgery turns out, you know that you are in God’s hands. He could take you to the glories of heaven where you will glorify his name forever. He could heal you completely and in response you could glorify his name for his power to heal and restore. There could be complications requiring more hospital time or more treatment, which would give more opportunity to put your trust in him and shine your light of faith to the doctors and nurses and family and friends who might not understand that even in times of suffering and pain, the troubled soul of Jesus that nevertheless resolutely went to the cross for your sake teaches you patient endurance in your life too. So, you’re gathered in the chapel around the casket of a loved one who has died, sick with sorrow and grief. Could you pray, “Father, save me from this hour”? Of course! But what if in that moment you chose to pray, “Father, glorify your name”? It would mean that your faith has learned that death is not the end, that because Jesus’ “kernel of wheat fell and died” there is new life, life after death, for you and all who believe. It would mean that you could look in the tear-filled eyes of those who grieve without hope and smile and express your confidence of the blessed reunion in heaven won for us by Jesus’ death on the cross. Suffering and grief, pain and loss, afford us unique opportunities to bring glory to Jesus’ name. If it had not been for his suffering and grief, pain and loss, we would be lost and without hope. But because of them, we need not fear and our souls need not be troubled, because Jesus’ loss is our gain; his death is our life; his disgrace is our glory. It’s time, to see Jesus’ glory for what it truly is – a spiritual and heavenly glory far surpassing any earthly joy. It’s time to glorify his name for the self-sacrificing gift of his love that sustains us through hardship and trouble. May we learn to put our faith in Jesus, to pray like Jesus, and to give him glory in all that we do. Amen. 10 John 17:24 11 Matthew 11:28
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