Faithlife Sermons

The Substitute: Who are you looking for?

John  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented   •  54:24
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John 18:1-27 The Substitute (Who are you looking for?) Introduction: "In chapter 18 Jesus is arrested and put on trial; in chapter 19 he is on a cross; in both venues he reigns. In Chapter 18’s introductory arrest and trials, Jesus main counterpart (shadow) is Peter, the volatile representative of the new people of God, who first foolishly seeks to defend Jesus with a knife and then faithlessly denies him with lies. Jesus’ subsequent counterparts in our chapter are Annas emeritus (but de facto) High Priest of the ancient people of God, apparently the most powerful person in Israel religiously; The Roman Pilate, the most powerful person in Palestine politically; and the passover people of God, the most powerful force socially. But all of these strong persons are astonishingly malleable (weak) in the presence of Jesus." -Bruner It’s important to remind ourselves that throughout this whole Gospel Jesus death is not seen as an awful accident or just the fruit of the World’s foul play but that the evangelist saw Jesus’ death as the most sovereign and mysterious decision of Jesus’ whole life. - Mysterious- he lives to die. Starting in John’s first chapter Jesus is heralded by the baptizer, “Look! The lamb of God who is taking away the sin of the World.” “The Light shines in the darkness and the darkness did not overcome it.” “Zeal for your house will destroy me.” “Destroy this temple and in three days I will raise it up again.” “Just as Moses hoisted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be hoisted up, so that every person that is simply trusting what happens there may, through him, have deep, lasting life.” “I am the living bread that came down from heaven ….my flesh is the bread that I will give for the life of the world.” “I am the good shepherd and the good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.” “I lay my life down in order to take it up again…. No one takes my life from me, but I lay it down of my own free will.” All this to say, Jesus death is not a last minute tragedy in an otherwise successful ministry. His death, from the very beginning, is Jesus’ major point in coming. Jesus life is not taken away, he hands himself over to death so we can go free. Jesus rules even in his trial and death in order to secure our freedom and release. 1. The Garden Arrest - My Life for Their’s. 1. You’ll notice John’s detail in letting us know that the betrayal and arrest of Jesus happened in a garden. This is the second betrayal of God that has taken place in a garden. John wants us to immediately harken back to the original garden, Eden, where Adam failed, that we might appreciate so much this second garden (Gethsemane) where the second Adam (Jesus) will triumph.. “The first Adam lost it in the garden; the second Adam now begins to win it back there.. 2. The arresting posse come to take Jesus by force, represents the whole human race - The Gentile Roman soldiers (The greek word indicates anywhere from 200-600 soldiers), the Jewish people of God (The Temple Police) and even the unfaithful church pictured in one defecting disciple (Judas) - all three come together to end the career of Jesus. 3. “Jesus, knowing everything that was going to happen he went out to meet them”… 4. Notice, Jesus is the one being arrested, yet, Jesus is in control of the whole situation as we see: He goes out to meet this mob. He isn’t hiding in the shadows. He speaks first: “Who are you looking for?” They respond: Jesus of Nazareth. He responds: I AM. And when he said this they lurched back and fell to the ground.. what just happened? 1. Most of your Bibles have the word “he” Italicized, it’s because it’s not in the original language. Jesus here, once again, is identifying himself as the Great God of Israel the God of the Exodus. Remember when Moses asked God, “What shall I tell the children of Israel when they ask who sent me? What is his name? God responds, ‘I Am who I Am.’ Tell them, ‘I Am has has sent me to you.’” 2. When Jesus spoke this self identifying statement to these soldiers it put them flat on their backs to the ground! Isn’t it incredible to think the sheer power of God when he pulls back the veil? It’s only two words, yet these are enough to send this posse flying back. Theologically we can see, that this is the truth of what happens when people encounter the true and living God, they loose their footing, they cannot stand. Practically we see that Jesus is in control of the whole situation, possibly throwing his weight around? 5. He asks again: “Who are you looking for? They answered again: Jesus of Nazareth. Jesus said, ‘I told you that I Am. So, if you seek me, (a command) - let these men go.’ This was to fulfill the word that he had spoken: ‘Of those whom you gave me I have lost not one.’” 6. It’s here that we clearly see Jesus becoming the substitute for his people -“take me and let these men go free.” When the soldiers arrived, and especially with Peter’s great Faux pas, the disciples were in mortal danger. Normally if you are arresting an insurrectionist you are going to arrest the followers or co-conspirators, hence the large mob. But we hear Jesus saying deliberately, it’s me you want, take me. LET THEM GO. Me for them. 1. This week I was reminded of a scene in Last of the Mohicans (the movie). It takes place during the French Indian war. There are three main characters: Hawkeye, Duncan and Cora, Hawkeye and Duncan both love Cora, but Cora only loves Hawkeye, she has rejected Duncan. They have been taken prisoner by the Hurons and they're standing before the Chief, before the bar of Justice. The Chief is speaking French, and everybody knows french except Hawkeye, so Duncan is translating for Hawkeye. The Chief looks to them and says, Cora must die, she must burn in the fire for the sins of her family, for the sins of her father, but he says to Duncan and Hawkeye, you may go free. Hawkeye is very upset at this and says to Duncan, “Tell him to take me instead, me for her.” Duncan turns to the Chief and says something in French, that Hawkeye doesn’t understand. The Chief looks strangely at Duncan and Hawkeye asks, did you tell him? Duncan replies yes, and in a moment Cora is given to Hawkeye, and Duncan is taken away and throw him into the fire. Suddenly Hawkeye realizes what Duncan has done, out of love for Cora, who didn’t love, Duncan gives his life for her life he pays for her sin, and she goes free. - That is Substitutionary Atonement 1. It’s a great irony that John is painting for us - The I Am - the self sustaining God, that needs nothing, that needs no one, that when the veil is momentarily removed sends enemies flying backward, that cannot be taken! He cannot even be approached Is present in Jesus of Nazareth, God in human flesh, God come to find mankind, God to the rescue. He still cannot be taken by force but he hands himself over willingly as a substitute so his people can go free. 2. The Substitute for the World 1. But Jesus isn’t just the substitute for these disciples.. 2. Just as Jesus has secured safe passage for his followers we see Peter rise to Jesus’ defense…clumsily cutting off one of the Temple police’s ears.. - he wasn’t aiming for the ear. 3. Jesus corrects Peter, and says, “Put your sword into its sheath; shall I not drink the cup that the Father has given me?” 1. The Cup is spoken of over and again in the Old Testament as a picture of God’s righteous judgment against the sins of humanity. The Cup is judgment day. 1. “For in the hand of the LORD there is a cup with foaming wine, well mixed, and he pours out from it, and all the wicked of the earth shall drain it down to the dregs.” 2. “In the strange mercy of God the cup of God’s righteous wrath against the sin of the world is given into the hands, not of his enemies, but of his beloved Son. And his Son will drink this cup down to it’s dregs until the moment comes when Jesus cry of ‘I thirst’ gives place to his cry ‘it is finished’.” - Leslie Newbigin 3. Jesus is dying for his enemies. Jesus is taking judgment day of us. The Judge is taking the judgment for us. As I said moments ago, the whole world, the Cosmos is represented in this Posse come to take Jesus away - The Jewish Temple Police, the Gentile Roman guard - Jesus could easily blow them to smithereens, He could righteously pour out the cup on them, but Jesus hasn’t come to save his life, he hasn’t come to judge, he’s come to be judged for us. He’s come to give his life even for the life of his enemies. 3. The Substitute for flawed disciples who get it wrong.. 1. As the story goes on we see that Jesus is taken to the high priest Annas (the father in law of Caiaphas the acting High Priest) Apparently Annas is the power behind the power of the acting high priest (it’s kind of a mafia, godfather situation) Jesus is given a pre trial in his home and afterward sent to ciphers for his true Jewish trial. We are told that Peter and another disciple follow Jesus to the High priest home and are admitted in to the courtyard to watch Jesus’ fate unfold. 2. John now will contrast Jesus with Peter. Jesus will testify before the high Priest telling the truth (he has nothing to hide, he’s not defending himself) in order to give his flesh for the world, while Peter will tell lies to the High priest’s servants in order to save his own skin…Jesus will boldly proclaim the truth about himself, Peter will fearfully deny Jesus and even his own self. 3. Peter’s first denial is almost in passing, he does it in order to get entrance into the gate of the High Priest courtyard. Obviously Peter is committed to Jesus, ready to defend him in the garden and even willing to follow Jesus into this dangerous situation, and yet when asked about his association, he denies any connection with Jesus. Maybe Peter saw this as not a big deal because he justified that it got him through the door… however Jesus and the scripture view this as a denial, a failure on Peter’s part to stand up for his Lord. Peter is questioned two more times, first by the crowd at the fire then by a relative of the man who's ear Peter had cut off only a few hours ago… Peter most likely terrified of being found out, tried, and punished denies again any association to Jesus or his disciples..we are told, "immediately the cock crowed." John does not record for us the vehement swearing of Peter in his denial of Jesus, Jesus looking right at Peter after he denied him the 3rd time (Luke 22:61) nor Peter’s bitter breakdown of crying. He simply highlights the fulfillment of Jesus words "You will deny me three times before the cock crows", reminding us again of how in control of the whole situation Jesus is…. 1. Notice, Jesus knew beforehand that Peter would deny him, he knew that Peter wouldn’t stand up for him, he knew that all of his disciples would leave him in the lurch and yet he boldly goes out to the mob, and gives his life for his disciples, he boldly goes and represents his people’s sin (as God’s lamb) before the high Priest, while his people fail, flee and deny him. 2. Isn’t Peter so comforting, he has the right commitment in his head, but it’s not in his heart. He’s been following Jesus around for 3 1/2 years and continually heard Jesus saying, that he’s come to die, to lay down his life agin and again, and yet when the crucial moment comes Peter does what is total counter productive to Jesus whole teaching and career, he tries to prevent the cross by taking someone else’s life… What Does Jesus do with Peter? He goes over the gospel with Peter one more time..Peter.. Cup..Drink..Father Judge… 4. Back to Jesus. When Jesus emerges from the Garden he asks the mob, “Who are you looking for?” I believe that this is the main question of our text. What do we really want? Who or what are we really looking for? Each one of us is looking for an unyielding love like the Love of Jesus. Look at Jesus - This is unyielding love. No amount of pain will stop Jesus Christ from saving us, no amount of our stupidity will stop him from saving us, no amount of failure to live out the gospel in our daily lives will stop him from loving us. Who when we fail, flee, and deny, comes and preaches the gospel again to our hearts, my life for your life, my truth for your lies, my victory for your failure…
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