Sunday, May 25, 2008 – Memorial Day Weekend
*Why the Christ must be lifted up!*
/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 12:34 NIV
The *Israelis* had just been *victorious* over *king **Arad** of **Canaan*.
As they *journeyed* to their *next destination* on their *wilderness wanderings *under the leadership of *Moses*, they became *impatient* and *discouraged* and started to *crumble and complain*.
They complained about *the manna* God was daily providing for them.
They complained about a *lack of water*.
They *complained to Moses*, asking him *why* he had *led them out of **Egypt*.
Complain, *complain*, complain.
Well, if you *ever wonder* *what God thinks about complainers*, check out the story in Numbers 21.
*Numbers 21:6 (NIV) */6 //Then the Lord sent venomous snakes among them; they bit the people and many Israelites died.
God takes *complaining seriously*.
If complaining *comes easily for you*, I would strongly suggest you *chart yourself a new course* and develop a *habit* *of expressing gratitude* as often as you possibly can.
And, I’m speaking *to myself* on this, as well.
The Israelis *did a wise thing* in response to the snakes.
They *confessed their sin of complaining* and asked Moses to *pray* that the Lord would *take away the snakes*.
*Numbers 21:7 (NIV) */7 //The// people came to Moses and said, “We sinned when we spoke against the Lord and against you.
Pray that the Lord will take the snakes away from us.”
So Moses prayed for the people.
The Lord *answered Moses’ prayer*, *not* by taking the *snakes away*, but providing a *means of healing*:
*Numbers 21:8-9 (NIV) */8 //The Lord said to Moses, “Make a snake and put it up on a pole; anyone who is bitten can look at it and live.” 9 //So Moses made a bronze snake and put it up on a pole.
Then when anyone was bitten by a snake and looked at the bronze snake, he lived.
The *solution* seems *simple enough*.
If someone is *bitten by a snake*, they were to *believe* that by *looking to the bronze snake* raised up on a pole they would be *healed and live*.
From this story *comes the phrase, “be lifted up*.”
Jesus referred to this story in *His conversation with Nicodemus*, the *Pharisee* that came to Jesus *by night*.
Jesus was astounded that *Nicodemus didn’t understand* the concept of *being born again or* being born *of the spirit*.
So, *Jesus explains it* to him by taking him back to *the story of Moses* in the wilderness.
*John 3:12-15 (NIV) */12 //I have spoken to you of earthly things and you do not believe; how then will you believe if I speak of heavenly things?
13 //No one has ever gone into heaven except the one who came from heaven—the Son of //Man.//
14 //Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the desert, so the Son of Man must be lifted up//, 15 //that everyone who believes in Him *may have eternal life*./
*Looking to the pole* with a bronze snake *provided through faith* life *as opposed to the death* from the *venom of the snake*, the wages of sin.
Jesus said that *He* was going to *be the snake on the pole*.
He would be *sin for us*.
He would *die so that we could live*.
And, did you *notice the reference?*
It’s John 3:12-15.
What comes *next*?
The famous *John **3:16** (NIV) */16 //“For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life./
Anyone then, who *knew the stor*y of the *venomous snakes biting the Israelis* and the *opportunity* they had to *be healed* of the snake bites by *looking up* at the bronze snake hanging from the pole, would *understand what Jesus was saying*.
It would take *faith to believe* when looking at the *lifted-up-Jesus* that they would be *healed of their sins* because Jesus had become sin for us.
In our *text* for today in *John 12,* Jesus *expands on the meaning* of His being *lifted up*.
This is what we will *focus on* this morning.
*First*, let’s look at *the effect* that being lifted up on *the* *cross* is having *on Jesus*.
*Second*, let’s look at *the effect* that Jesus being lifted up on *the cross* is having *on the world*.
So, [A.] first, *what effect is the anticipation of the cross having on Jesus?*
*John 12:27-31 (NIV)*
/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./
The *first* effect we see that *the cross* is having on Jesus *reveals His humanity*.
/27 //“Now My heart is troubled, and what shall I say?” /Jesus is *overwhelmed* by *His emotions*.
These were *human* *emotions*.
Most of us can relate to these *kinds of emotions* because most of us have *experienced dreadful shock* at some time in our lives.
We felt a *loss of breath* and a *terrifying fear* and could *see no way out*.
So, we can at least *begin to understand* what Jesus was feeling as He *anticipated the cross*.
His humanity was *traumatized* by the thought.
So the cross *reveals His humanity*, and His *identification with us* in our humanity.
Besides being *God’s own Son*, Jesus was also *truly human.*
The *second* effect we see that *the cross* is having on Jesus *reveals the intimacy of relationship He has with His Father*.
He was in *painful anguish* at the *thought* of what His death on the cross was going to do *to His relationship with His Father*.
He was going to *feel the separation* from His Father as He *took upon Himself the wrath of God* that was intended to be directed *at sinful humanity*.
This has to have been *the most dreaded feeling* anyone could ever have, like being *alone in the middle of the ocean* during a *winter storm* at *night* in *shark infested* waters.
*The cross* was going to *separate the Son* from the Father.
Jesus would *be abandoned* and *forsaken* and would have to *endure the ultimate of pain* that comes when *punishment of sin* is levied on Him.
We see Jesus *wrestling with this trauma* in the context of *prayer*.
/27 //“Now My heart is troubled, and what shall I say?” /
One can *make a choice*.
But, it’s not until *the consequences* of that choice *start bearing down* on him or her that the *feelings really start* kicking in.
His feelings *tempted* Him to *beg His Father* to rescue Him.
He was tempted to *bail out*.
But, He *would not* do that.
So, the *third* effect we see that *the cross* is having on Jesus *reveals His conviction of obedience to His Father*.
/27 //“No, it was for this very reason I came to this hour.”/
Jesus had a *mission to fulfill* and He would not let the *temptation of ease and comfort unravel* the *plan* He and His Father had *designed to redeem humanity*.
He understood *His purpose*.
He knew *the rewards* it would bring to all who would *place their hope in Him*.
He would *turn His back* on the *temptation* and *not* on *sinful, rebellious humanity*.
The *fourth* effect we see that *the cross* is having on Jesus *reveals His dependence on His Father’s promises*.
God the Father reminds Him that *He had glorified* His Son in the *past* and promises that *He will do it again*.
Such *trust in God’s promise* puts Jesus *at rest*.
/28 //. . .
Then a voice came from heaven, “I have glorified it, and will glorify it again.”/
So, as Jesus *anticipates dying on the cross *just a few hours away, we see that *the effects* of the cross on Him is what is *revealed*.
*The cross* *reveals His humanity*.
*The cross* *reveals the intimacy of relationship He has with His Father*.
*The cross* *reveals His conviction of obedience to His Father*.
*The cross* *reveals His dependence on His Father’s promises*.
Before we move on, I want us to *feel a bit of the emotion* Jesus felt as He anticipated the cross.
Feel the *human side* of the crucifixion
In World War II, *Ernest Gordan* was a *British captive* in a Japanese prison camp *by the River Kwai* in Burma, where the *Prisoners of War* were forced to *build a “railroad of death*” for transporting Japanese troops to the battlefront.
They were *tortured*, and *starved*, and worked to the *point of exhaustion*.
Nearly 16,000 died.
*Gordon survived the horrors* of that experience and wrote about it in a monumental work, */Through the Valley of the Kwai/,* published in 1962 and later made into the *movie /To End All Wars/.*