Title: Are you a die hard fan?
Text: John 12-26
Introduction: Everybody loves a star. We live in a celebrity driven and celebrity focused culture. We are impacted by what a famous person does or says in some kind of way. It is because celebrities have influence and don’t mind using it. Their power of influence comes from their fan base. A fan is an enthusiastic devotee. Fan is short for fanatic which means marked by excessive enthusiasm and often intense uncritical devotion. My boys are sports fans. They will watch sports all day long because of their love for them. They are what you call die-hards. Each of them has their special team and player.
My brothers and sisters, over 2000 years ago, a real star was born who still uses His celebrity to influence devoted fans. However, when some fans find out who He really is, they can not handle the commitment needed to be a true fan and fall off the bandwagon.
Our text opens as Jesus is entering into Jerusalem in time for the Passover Celebration. Passover was kept in remembrance of the Lord’s passing over the houses of the Israelites when the first born of all the Egyptians were destroyed. Crowds had already gathered there to commemorate the festivities. Jesus had just left Larazus house, the man who Jesus raised from the dead. It was at Larazus house that his sister Mary poured out a pound of expense anointing oil on our Savior’s feet. Oil was used to prepare bodies for death. This is appropriate for the time because it now time for our Lord was to end his public ministry. He is about to enter the week of Passion, the week of pain and suffering not for what He has done but for we have done. He is about to embark on fulfilling His purpose of salvation of the lost by dying of the cross. As he was entering the city, he was received by a parade to honor him as a celebrity of that day.
Parade: Fans line up to meet him. v. 12
It was like all the fans that line up outside of the red carpet on Oscar night to see there favorite celebrity. If anybody is, was or will be deserving of a parade it is Jesus. He should be sitting on a float and waving his hand. He should be celebrated for all his accomplishment. He is more beautiful in His countenance than a Ms. America. He gives more joy to people than the floats of children’s favorite cartoon characters. He should be admired more than any celebrity who won an award. There is no sports team victory that can hold a match up to the His victory over death! He deserves a parade!
This large crowd cut down branches of Palm trees and went out to meet him. The cutting down of palms branches was a symbolic gesture. They were used to celebrated military victories. Waving palms would be equivalent of wearing you favorite team’s paraphernalia and going out to the parade to see them after a big victory like the Super Bowl, World Series, or NBA finals. But there is something all fans do when they see the one who they admire, they get excited and…
Praise: Fans shout for their hero v. 13
There is one thing you can expect when you go to a parade. You will hear the cheers from the crowd toward the celebrities that they so admire. The text says that as they came out they cried out (krazo which is to vociferate) “Hosanna: Blessed is the King of Israel that cometh in the name of the Lord.” This was a quote from Ps 118 one of the Hallel psalms, a psalm of praise. They saw Jesus coming and started praise. They saw the one who healed the sick, opened blinded eyes and raised the dead. They could not help but to give Him praise. They cried out aloud! Hosanna: Blessed is the King of Israel that cometh in the name of the Lord. This crowd had the right attitude. They had a mind-set of anticipation. They expected that the Savior was coming and He was coming to do something. Does anybody have a high expectation about Jesus coming in your life to do something that you need?
One thing about fans, they know how to put the one they love on a pedestal by what they say about them. I need some fans of Jesus to put him on a pedestal by telling him about much you like what He is doing and you like how he makes you feel. Real fans get ugly for the one who they love. They will paint their face. Do what they got to do. They put the celebrity they love first in their lives. O how I wish more of us can be a fan of Jesus. In response to the fans parade and praise:
Jesus fulfills a prophecy: vv 14-16
Jesus responds to the fanfare by finding a donkey and rides in to Jerusalem on it. This fulfills the prophecy in Zech 9:9 “Fear not, daughter of Sion: behold, thy King cometh, sitting on an ass’s colt. Aren’t you glad that Jesus fulfills promises? Whatever God says, He means and will complete it in your life.
As this prophecy was being fulfilled his disciples did not know what was going on. His disciples who were right there did not understand what was happening. This tells us that we can be close to what Jesus is doing physically i.e. what he is doing in and through the church and not be close to him spiritually because a lack of understanding. To fully have understanding of Jesus you must be filled with the Holy Spirit. He disciples would not get it until He was glorified and the Holy Spirit descended. But we are blessed now that we can receive the power of the Spirit now in His fullness to get understanding we need!
Popularity vv. 17-18
After Jesus enters in Jerusalem on a donkey, John, the writer of the gospel wants to tell us why the crowd is so enthralled with Jesus. He wants us to know where Jesus popularity was coming from. The text says that crowd was there when he raised Larazus from the dead. When others heard about it, they follow Jesus also. This is reason why people followed Jesus. It was do to his marvelous acts. They became fans and followed Jesus because of his special abilities that no other can do. He stood out among others and because of his superstar caliber, he developed a fan base.
Protest v. 19
But with all the popularity that a celebrity has, their will be some type of protest. They will be some haters. Look at the text. The Pharisees say to one another, paraphrase “nothing is going right for us, the whole world is going after him.” The Pharisee were losing there political control. They were losing there influence. Jesus has become the main attraction and the world knew it. Anytime you become more popular than those who have been popular there will be some protest against who you are. You will have haters. But you can’t help the favor God has on your life. Some people will hate you because they ain’t you! The Pharisees hated Jesus. But the world was excited because Jesus was the answer they thought they needed and wanted. And the Pharisees could not do anything about it.
But there is a major problem in our text today with the parade, the praise, and the crowd of people. At first glance, I thought that these crowds of people were real true fans of Jesus. By examine the context of the text, I see something wrong. The problem is why they are praised Jesus. The text tells us the only reason why the crowd is even there is because of what he has done and not who He is. They are people all around us who will only know Jesus by what he does and nothing else. They accept him as Savior. But have an issue of him being Lord. You can heal me Jesus but I still have to have my little something something. You could provide for me all you want Jesus but I still am not tithing! Too many of us want Jesus for what he does and not for who He is. As long as Jesus did something they liked, it was all good. This crowd is on the bandwagon. As long as their team is winning they are committed to them. But as soon as their favorite celebrity does not do what is please to them, they jump ship and look for the next best thing. That is being on the bandwagon. There are some bandwagon Christians who love a church or a preacher one minute but a soon as they get upset, they are on to the next. Ask your neighbor are they on the bandwagon or are they die-hards? The Lord is calling us to be die-hards. Die hard are the fans you see on TV who teams has a losing season and they will still paint their faces every week. This people still go to all games. These people still love the movies and buys the records even though their favorite star may have had some set backs. They still where a white glove. These are the die-hards. God wants us to be die-hard fans and not jump off the bandwagon when things don’t go your way! But if you’re a die-hard fan of Jesus, your team never loses.
In verse 23 after some Greeks who in town for the Passover wanted to see Jesus, He tells his disciples it is time for him to be glorified and gives them a short parable for their understanding on the death He should die and purpose of it. He says in verse 24 that a corn of wheat must fall to the ground and die it remains the only one. But if it dies it will bring forth much fruit. Then he goes on to tell us what a true die hard fan must do to really see him. In verse 25, He tells us that if you love your life you will lose it but if you hate this life you will keep it and have eternal life. Die hard fans can be fanatical enough that they will lose their life for the one they love. Die-hard followers of Christ will lose their life in exchange for eternal life. Next, Jesus says that if the die hard fan serves me, they must also follow me. Die-hards are submissive and obedient. Die hard fans practically worship the one they love. They do what they do to see their favorite star does. They say what their favorite star says. Some will alter their look like them to be more like them. This is what Jesus is telling us. We have to submit to him and worship and also follow hard after Him. Whatever He does, we have to do. In other words, we have to be like Him. We have to die to self, pick up our cross and follow him. And when we die to self, we will gain all of him.
There are some promises that we get when we are die-hard fans of Jesus. The text says in v. 26 that where ever Jesus is, the die-hard will be there also. If Jesus is exalted, the die hard will be exalted! He reigns, you will reign! If he is victorious, you will be victorious. Not only that, the text says if the die-hard serves Him, the Father will honor that die-hard fan. If you have ever watched TV and see those die hard fans express their love and support to those they admire, the biggest and best thing that could ever happen to a die hard fan is a visit for that celebrity the love. They honor the die hard by coming to meet them personally to say “thank you for being my biggest fan”. And the die-hard fan is reduced to tears of joy. My brothers and my sisters, you may want Denzel to come see you, you may want Halle to come see you, you may want Jay Z to come you see and honor. But I want God to come see me and honor me. He is not only their when the camera is roll but He is there everywhere I go! And in his presence there is fullness of joy and pleasures evermore on His right hand! In God’s presence there is power for the die-hard fan!
Close: Die hard fans show their undying love for their favorite celebrity. And their favorite celebrity appreciates all the love and support for the die hard fans by just saying I like to thank all my fans for making me feel so special. However, I am a die hard fan for Jesus. He showed his loving me by dying hard for me! And I appreciate Him so much and all I could do is just say Jesus thank you for making feel so special….! Thank you for dying hard for me!
One this Palm Sunday, I am going to be die hard for the one who died hard! I am going to deny myself serve and follow him. And I am not going to praise for what he has done but I am going to worship Him for who He is!