Palm Sunday some 1,980 odd years ago, Jesus entered into the Eastern Gate of Jerusalem riding on that donkey of peace. A King who had come in peace. Really a King who had come to die. In that time, in that place was a mixture of sympathies. There were those who saw in Christ a true Messiah, a Savior of the world. There were those who saw in Christ a political Messiah, a leader who could militarily help them overthrow Rome and incite a revolution. And there were those who saw in Christ a false teacher, a blasphemer. Ones who did not see His miracles or His signs, did not hear His words or watch the character of His life, and see from that that He was whom He had claimed to be.
Jesus moves on from that Palm Sunday. And one of the first events is that He cleanses that Temple. He had done it at the beginning of His ministry…and at the beginning of our study of John…but He does show again here during this Passion Week to once again show them that they had reduced Temple worship, the worship of God to just purely external things. They had marred the picture of what the Temple was itself symbolic of, and what Christ Himself was the reality of. And that is worshiping God and living in His presence.
Part of being in the presence of God, part of what that Temple was to symbolize was God's dwelling place. When Ezekiel tells us that God will dwell in our hearts, when Jeremiah reminds us that on that day when we call out to Him that He will hear us and He will be with His people, part of that presence of God is our being His servant. He is our King, and we are His servants. That distinction is very clear in the Scriptures.
In today's text, when we look in John, chapter 12, we want to see how that Jesus uses an approach by some Gentiles, some Greeks, who had desired an audience with Him to teach just this truth, really for us to understand today. I call this message The Hour Has Come, and I invite your attention to John, chapter 12.
Beginning in verse 20, it says, "Now there were certain Greeks among those who came up to worship at the feast. Then they came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida of Galilee, and asked him, saying, 'Sir, we wish to see Jesus.' Philip came and told Andrew, and in turn Andrew and Philip told Jesus."
John includes this encounter we have of these Greeks. Many have speculated…Were these Greek-speaking Jews? But most likely because of John's distinction these are Gentile Greeks who appreciate the worship of the Jews and have come to the Passover. They are not proselytes, most likely, and it could well be that…for instance, they may have seen Philip passing from the court of the Gentiles where the Greeks would be allowed to gather, seeing him passing on into the inner court where only a Jew could pass on pain of death if a Gentile tried to cross. And it may be that Jesus was in that inner court teaching or ministering at the time, and so they couldn't personally go and talk to Him, so they grabbed Philip.
I more likely think it's because John points out that Philip is from Bethsaida. Bethsaida is the home of Philip. It's the home of Andrew. It's the home of Peter. And it's a city that was filled with Greeks because it bordered the Decapolis, which was a Greek controlled territory. And they may have known Philip because of that. Bethsaida was a small village at that time, and they may have recognized him. Certainly, Philip is a Greek name. Andrew also is a Greek name. And probably Philip knew Greek living in that multi-cultural neighborhood, and perhaps they were able to communicate with him as well.
I say all of that because it is the approach of these Gentile Greeks that causes Jesus to respond in the strange way that He does. They come to Philip and say, "We want to see Jesus." What a pure desire on their heart. The Jews said, "We want to see a sign." The Greeks say, "We want an audience with the Teacher." Philip perhaps remembers when Jesus had given them instructions much earlier in the ministry to only go to the house of Israel, and so here come Gentiles, and Philip may be wanting to seek counsel with Andrew.
Andrew is one of the inner circle. Andrew, Peter, James, and John...those are the four whom seemed always to be the closest, the inner circle of Christ. And Philip perhaps goes to Andrew in order to seek advice. "Should I allow these Gentiles to come to Jesus?" Jesus is probably is so popular at this time. Perhaps even these Greeks were there on the road on Palm Sunday. They saw the reaction of the crowd. Maybe they were a part of those crying out, "Hosanna!" And now they want an audience, but there may be a lot of people who want an audience. And so Philip goes to Andrew to see whether or not maybe to let these through.
Andrew decides to take Philip's request…really the request of the Greeks to Jesus Himself. And so he does, and in verse 23, Jesus answers this way. It says, "But Jesus answered them, saying, 'The hour has come that the Son of Man should be glorified.'"
Now you'll remember at the beginning of our study in John when the very first acts that we see Jesus do after baptism, the first miracle that is recorded is turning water to wine. And you'll remember at that wedding feast at Cana when Jesus' mother comes to Him and says that the host has run out of wine, that Jesus says to her, "My hour has not yet come," that "My time is not here, the time to manifest and display who I am, the time to fulfill My purpose for coming is not here." That is what the hour means. That is what it means that the hour has come. Your purpose, your plan, your potential has arrived at the apex of the timeline when God intends to use it.
Now let me say, friends, that for all of us there is an hour when God desires to use us in a particular and purposeful way. It's not a 60-minute time. It may be a season of time. It may be a decade of time. It may be a time that is the culmination of years and years of mistakes and tribulations and learning and spiritual growth. But for all of us there are those moments when God has appointed for us to be the ones to lead out, for us to be the ones to take the charge of ministry, for us to be His witness, for us to be His hands and feet. And in the approach of the Gentiles, Jesus says, "My hour has come." "The hour has come that the Son of Man should be glorified."
Now to an idle ear, especially one that is looking for revolution, well this might sound a certain way. Right? It may be Jesus signaling that it's time for us to mount our horses and charge the Romans. It's time to be glorified. But Jesus means something entirely different. My friends, God desires to bring you honor. He desires to have Himself glorified through you, through the hour, through the purpose that He has designed in your life and the circumstances in your life to bring about.
And so it is with Jesus. His glorification, the shining moment of Jesus' ministry will be His death. It will be His burial. It will be His resurrection. The glorification of God will come through the suffering of Christ. And the glorification, the vindication of our service to God will be no less than our suffering for Him, our being willing to sacrifice for Him.
Look at the agricultural example Jesus gives of this to remove any notion that He is there to politically overthrow anything. He says in verse 24, "Most assuredly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it produces much grain. He who loves his life will lose it, and he who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. If anyone serves Me, let him follow Me; and where I am, there My servant will be also. If anyone serves Me, him My Father will honor."
Jesus says a grain of wheat in and of itself doesn't do much. That really the life that is in the grain of wheat only comes about when it dies. In other words, when that seed is buried into the ground. It is in the burying of the seed that the life of the seed comes to focus. It is in the burying and the death of the single individual seed that the fruit of the life that is contained in that seed ever shows itself.
Jesus is saying, "Unless I die, the fruit of My ministry will never blossom, will never be shown. But if I die, much grain will be produced. If I die, it will be far more beneficial. It will reach out to these Gentile Greeks. It will reach out to these Jews who believe. It will reach out to the entire world, to those who will receive Me as Savior, if that seed is buried."
My friends, you're just one life. You're just one soul, just one individual. And in and of yourself, we're really no different than a single seed. Because if we take our spiritual life, like the DNA that is in that seed, and if we keep that hard shell around it, and we keep it up here on the surface, and we never surrender to Christ, we never allow ourselves to die to self, we never allow our old ways, our prejudices, our desires, our inclinations to be buried, we'll never do much.
But if we die, if we so love Christ that in comparison we hate our own life, if our desire to serve God is as strong as Jesus' desire to always do what His Father had sent Him to do, if we are willing to even die if necessary, as Jesus was about to demonstrate, it is only then…only then, only then…that the fruit of our spiritual life will blossom. It's when we die to self, when we die to our own ambitions, when we die to our own way of thinking, when that old man is put off, as the apostle Paul would describe it, and we put on that new man of Christ, when we are, as Galatians will tell us, crucified in Christ so that the life we now live we live by faith, not be self, not by the flesh. We died. We've been buried. We've been resurrected.
What we saw pictured so beautifully in the baptism at the beginning of the service today is exactly what has to happen in every spiritual life. Notice what Jesus says. He is not out of context here. He says, "He who loves his life will lose it…" in verse 25, "…and he who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life."
In other words, the one who chooses self, the one who likes himself more than God, the one who likes his plans more than God's purposes, the one who wants to hang on to what he has rather than to surrendering to the coming hour that God has for him, will have a lost life. You'll lose it. There is only just so much that you can do. You're really just like a little seed that never gets planted. But the one who loses his life…he is the one who has it forever. The one who surrenders himself to Christ, he is the one who has eternal life.
But then notice what Jesus says. Verse 26…and I think this is key: "If anyone serves Me, let him follow Me." Now we all want to be servants of Christ. We would say that we are servants of Christ. Amen? God is our King. He is our Master. We are His servants. Well Jesus makes it very simple. He says, "If you're going to be My servant, you'll go where I'll go." You see, that is what a servant does. A servant follows the one he is serving. You're not a very good servant if the master goes to the store, or the master goes across town, and you just stay home. You don't go. You don't follow. You just stay away.
No. A good servant goes where the master goes. He is always at the master's beck and call. Okay? That is the model. That is the picture of what a servant is. And Jesus is saying to these Greeks…He is really saying to His disciples, "If anyone serves Me, if you say that you serve Me, then follow Me, 'and where I am, there My servant will be also.'"
Well in context of what Jesus was saying, and what Paul would later say, we follow Him to the cross. We surrender our lives as Jesus did. We are "crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God." If we don't do that, we really aren't following Him. But if we do that, if we follow Him, notice this: we will be where He is. You see when you follow Jesus as your Master, you will be where Jesus is.
So the question for all of us today who claim to be servants of Christ is…Where is Jesus today? Where is He today? Well He kind of tells us where He is. Jesus is where there is need. Jesus is where there is hurting. Jesus is where there is injustice. Jesus is where there is hunger. Jesus is where there is thirst.
Now we may not like going to those places. We may not like being part of that setting, but we don't get to make that decision. We are the servants of the Master, and if we are going to serve Him, we have to follow Him. If not, we run a grave danger. Look at Matthew 25, and eschatological passage looking toward the judgment of the end. But there is such a powerful key here. Down to verse 34, Jesus has just said there is going to be separation of the sheep and the goats. And listen to Matthew 25, beginning in 34.
It says, "Then the King will say to those on His right hand, 'Come, you blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world…'" Notice, "'…for I was hungry and you gave Me food; I was thirsty and you gave Me drink; I was a stranger and you took Me in; I was naked and you clothed Me; I was sick and you visited Me; I was in prison and you came to Me.'
Then the righteous will answer Him, saying, 'Lord, when did we see You hungry and feed You, or thirsty and give You drink? When did we see You a stranger and take You in, or naked and clothe You? Or when did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?' And the King will answer and say to them, 'Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me.'"
Where is Jesus? He is where they're hurting. Jesus is where people are hungry. Jesus is where people are thirsty. Jesus is where people are imprisoned. Jesus is where people are suffering injustice. Jesus is where people are in need of clothing. Jesus is where the need is.
When you find the need, and you minister to the need, you minister to the need, you minister to the one who needs the food, who needs the drink, who needs the clothes, who needs the job, who needs the justice, you minister where Christ is. That is where Jesus is. Jesus tells these unsuspecting righteous ones, "Inasmuch as you did it to them, you did it to Me! As much as you were hospitable to the least, you're hospitable to Me."
Now look at Jesus in His earthly ministry. Where do we find Jesus? Is He at the home of the Pharisees all the time? Is He at the home of the governor all the time? Or do we find Him ministering among the down and out, among the tax collectors? If you were to follow Jesus, you would be where there were people in need. You would be where the needs are the greatest. You would be where the hurting is the most. You would be where the blindness, where the deafness, where the muteness has left an entire sub-generation of people on the sidelines. You would be where Jesus was when you minister to those who are the outcasts of society.
And today is no different. If you want to be where Jesus is, you have to get up and minister! You have to get up and meet the needs of the least, not just your family, not just your best friend, not just those who can pay you back, not inviting those who can invite you back, but those who cannot invite you back. Not just patting them on the back and saying, "Be warmed and be filled," as James mocks at us, but instead helping them, helping them, helping them!
It's not an option. It would be an option except that Jesus says, "If you're going to follow Me, you'll be where I am, because a servant is where his Master is." And Jesus shows us on the Cross that there is no place He is not willing to go. He is willing to die for us.
Now my friends, that may mean that there is someone in your neighborhood whom you need to go visit. That may mean there is some young couple you need to help. That may mean there is some single parent whose car you need to fix. That may mean that there is someone who is in addiction, whose life is so messed up, and you need to come and to be a shoulder and to be a help to them.
And it may be that it is for you the most detestable thing you could do. I understand that. I realize that. Nobody ever said that Jesus enjoyed being with these people. It never said that He appreciated the mess they had gotten themselves into. It may be that for you to do what God has raised you to this hour to do may involve you doing something you absolutely don't want to do, but if so, then do it and say this, "God, I do this for the honor of Your Cross. I do this because I know how detestable the Cross was, how much suffering You endured on the Cross. And so I will endure this uncomfortable, unpleasant bit of suffering. Not because I like it, but in honor of You."
Transcribed by Digital Sermon Transcription