John 12:20-33 – Holy Cross Day


The Son of Man Must Be Glorified

John 12:20-33

Now there were some Greeks among those who went up to worship at the Feast. They came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida in Galilee, with a request. “Sir,” they said, “we would like to see Jesus.” Philip went to tell Andrew; Andrew and Philip in turn told Jesus.

Jesus replied, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. 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. 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. Whoever serves me must follow me; and where I am, my servant also will be. My Father will honor the one who serves me.

“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. Father, glorify your name!”

Then a voice came from heaven, “I have glorified it, and will glorify it again.” The crowd that was there and heard it said it had thundered; others said an angel had spoken to him.

Jesus said, “This voice was for your benefit, not mine. Now is the time for judgment on this world; now the prince of this world will be driven out. But I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to myself.” He said this to show the kind of death he was going to die.

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 12:20-33)

This is a promise, a pure, powerful, Gospel promise. Whoever follows Jesus, that is, whoever is baptized and lives believing in Jesus will be honored by spending eternity with Him. Jesus wants you to be confident that you will be with Him in eternity and this confidence is in the cross.

When our Lord Jesus was born, Gentiles came from the east. We call them magi or wise men. They came seeking Jesus. As God’s plan for man’s salvation was rising from the womb of the Virgin Mary, these magi came from the direction of the rising sun.

In today’s Gospel, Greek gentiles came to Jesus from the west. They came from the direction of the setting sun and their coming was the signal to the Son of God that it is time to fulfill the purpose for which He came and return to His Father in heaven.

Now there were some Greeks among those who went up to worship at the Feast. They came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida in Galilee, with a request. “Sir,” they said, “we would like to see Jesus.” Philip went to tell Andrew; Andrew and Philip in turn told Jesus. Jesus replied, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified.

These words surely excited the followers of Jesus. Jesus is going to be glorified and to them this meant that He would become King of Israel and usher in the Golden Age. “The hour has come for the Son of man to be glorified.”

And then Jesus explains what it means for Him to be glorified, “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 But I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to myself. He said this to show the kind of death He was going to die.”

Yes, the King of Israel will be glorified. He will be lifted up but not on a throne decked with gold, silver and precious stones. Instead of a throne, there is a cross. Instead of a crown of gold, a crown of thorns. Instead of fine gold bracelets, nails of steel. Instead of a cheering crowd, a jeering crowd. Instead of a scarlet robe, nakedness. That is what it meant for the Son of Man to be glorified.

Do you see in the blood soaked Savior the glorious Son of God? Do you see in the crown of thorns, the crown of glory? Do you see His arms extended on the cross as arms extended to bless you? The Greeks who came to from west said, “Sir, we would like to see Jesus.” We do not know exactly what they expected but I doubt they expected to see Him lifted up on the cross.

I am persuaded that you want to see Jesus but what Jesus do you want to see? What are your expectations of Him? Do you expect a butler Jesus who will cater to your every whim? Do you expect a powerful Jesus who will heal your every ill? Do you expect a wealthy Jesus who will give you all your fleshly wants?

As a young Christian I remember reading the promise “delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart”. I read this and began licking my chops. I said to myself, “Self, learn to delight in the Lord and you will be riding a new car” because that was the desire of my heart. What I did not know then but do now is that as you delight in the Lord, He changes the desires of your heart so that you desire what He gives not what you want.

Yes, we want to see Jesus, but what Jesus do we want to see? The answer makes all makes all the difference in eternity for Jesus said,

“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.. But I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to myself.”

Only the Jesus who dies on a cross can save you from your sins and give you the confidence of eternal life. Unless, like a seed He dies, He can bear no fruit. Unless He is lifted up on the cross, He can save no one.

Had Jesus refused death you would still be dead in our sins. Had Jesus given the people of His day what they wanted they would spend eternity in hell. If you demand a different Jesus than the one on the cross, you will spend eternity in hell.I am persuaded that you want to see Jesus and you want to be with Him for all eternity and that means you place all our trust in the blood smeared Son of God.

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. Whoever serves me must follow me; and where I am, my servant also will be. My Father will honor the one who serves me.

If you insist on another Jesus, one that is more pleasing to your sensibilities and more attuned to your felt needs, then you will lose. You will lose what you are after, eternal life. The man who loves his life will lose it. The man who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life.

So we lift high the cross. Baptized, instructed in the Word, and strengthened by the Sacrament of the Altar, by the convincing of the Holy Spirit, we know that the cross is the “sign” and “wisdom” of God’s salvation. We appear foolish in the eyes of the world when we “Lift High the Cross” in song and in our lifestyle! On Sunday morning we may sing until our voices are weak. But we don’t stop there On the other six and a half days of the week let us “Lift High the Cross” of Christ through our words and actions so that all may know that we look to Jesus and him alone for our salvation.

We know that this “weakness” and “foolishness is the only way to God. There is salvation nowhere else—not in those who profess to substantiate their messages with signs, nor in those whose intellect has created a more logical method of salvation (Gal 1:8). The world needs to hear through our lips and our lives that salvation comes through Christ and him alone.

There is an account of how King Louis the 12th of France treated his enemies after he ascended the throne. Before coming to power, he had been cast into prison and kept in chains. Later when he became king, he was urged to seek revenge, but he refused. Instead, he prepared a scroll on which he listed all who had perpetrated crimes against him. Behind every man’s name he placed a cross in red ink. When the guilty heard about this, they feared for their lives and fled. Then the king explained, “The cross which I drew beside each name was not a sign of punishment, but a pledge of forgiveness extended for the sake of the crucified Savior, who upon his cross forgave his enemies and prayed for them.”

It is important that we ‘Lift High the Cross” as the gruesome symbol of death that it is. The world needs to know just what it cost our Lord to set us free from sin and secure our eternity. They should never be told that our salvation came cheaply. It comes without cost to us, but it was extremely costly to God. The death of Christ means our eternal life.

Praise be to God!

Soli Deo Gloria

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