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Christ's Hour Has Come

5th Sunday in Lent

March 18, 2018

Lincoln Heights Lutheran Church

Christ’s Hour Has Come

 

John 12:20–33 (NIV84)
Now there were some Greeks among those who went up to worship at the Feast. 21 They came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida in Galilee, with a request. “Sir,” they said, “we would like to see Jesus.” 22 Philip went to tell Andrew; Andrew and Philip in turn told Jesus. 23 Jesus replied, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. 24 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. 25 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. 26 Whoever serves me must follow me; and where I am, my servant also will be. My Father will honor the one who serves me. 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. 32 But I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to myself.” 33 He said this to show the kind of death he was going to die.

Dear Friends in Christ,

Timing is everything, so the saying goes. But it does hold true for many things in life. In team sports, timing is everything. If you go to the right place at the wrong time, it throws the play off for the whole team and your team will not be as successful. Timing is important in business too. If the customer wants the product by Tuesday and you deliver on Wednesday, you may not get to sell to that customer again. Timing is vital in war. If only half of your army shows up on time, the enemy will have the upper hand.

In the great battle between good and evil, God has a plan too. He has a time schedule for when everything will happen. Christ will bring judgment on this world and Christ will draw all people to himself. But this will only happen when Christ’s hour has come. The world waited thousands of years for the Christ to be born. Once the Son of God took on human flesh, people would have to wait a little longer until the time was just right. In the account before us this morning, Jesus tells us that his hour has come. The time is right for him to bring judgment on the world and draw all people to himself.

Christ Brings Judgment on this World

Now there were some Greeks among those who went up to worship at the Feast. 21 They came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida in Galilee, with a request. “Sir,” they said, “we would like to see Jesus.” 22 Philip went to tell Andrew; Andrew and Philip in turn told Jesus. 23 Jesus replied, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified.

It is almost as if Jesus ignores the request of the Greeks who wanted to see him. He does not answer them directly. We do not hear about Jesus meeting with them. Instead, Jesus tells his disciples that there is something more important than meeting with a handful of people. Jesus’ hour has come. His greatest glory is about to be revealed.

At the beginning of Jesus’ public ministry his mother, Mary, attempted to give him some glory. They were at a wedding and there was no more wine. Mary told the servants to do whatever Jesus told them. Mary wanted Jesus’ greatest to be know right away but Jesus told her that his time had not yet come. Yes, he helped the newlyweds by turning gallons of water into the finest wine. However, he was not seeking fame and glory for himself. That was not his mission.

Jesus’ miracles showed people that his message was true and that he was sent by God and was in fact the Son of God. Of course, the miracles also drew a crowd and this upset the Jewish leaders, the Pharisees and Sadducees. He was in Jerusalem for the Feast of Tabernacles the year before our account in John 12. The Jewish leaders were trying to keep the people from believing that he is the Christ. They twice wanted to arrest him but the Bible tells us that Jesus hour had not yet come. His arrest, suffering and death would not happen at the Feast of Tabernacles but the next year during the Passover. Though his friends want Jesus’ glory as the Son of God to be shown all the time and his enemies want to get rid of him immediately, God will glorify his Son at exactly the right time.

It was difficult for Jesus’ disciples to understand God’s timing and God’s plans. The same is true for us. We would like to know the plan for our lives down to the minute. We would like to know how long the sickness will last, which job to take, which college to choose, where we should live and so on. It can be frustrating not to know the plan but even worse is thinking we know the plan only to be shown that we don’t. We plan and work the plan for our lives and then our plan falls apart. Nothing goes according to our plan. Does God hate us? No. But when our plans fail, he teaches us to trust in his plan.

Instead of loving the world and getting upset with everyone around us including God when our plans fail, Jesus wants us to trust his timing for things in our life. He is making plans for our eternal life. He is bringing judgment on this world.

When John used the word, “world” he is often referring to the sinful world. This sinful world is ruled by Satan, the prince of this world. On the Last Day, Jesus will return to judge all people. But the time has not yet come for Jesus to return. Jesus hour has come to drive out the prince of the world. He is about to destroy the power of the devil. It won’t be easy.

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.

It is now Tuesday. On Thursday evening Jesus will be arrested. On Friday Christ will suffer as much physical pain as the Romans could invent. As he hangs on the cross, the Son of God will also suffer the spiritual pain of hell and be separated from his Father. The only way to free the people of the world from the prince of the world is to remove Satan’s power to accuse. Jesus must suffer for the sin of the entire world. Then there is no sin or guilt for Satan to hold over us. Jesus would not ask to be saved from his hour of suffering because he wanted to save all sinners from eternal suffering. His timing was perfect and he accomplished his mission. The devil is defeated.

Christ Draws All People to Himself

Not long before the Greeks came to see Jesus in Jerusalem, Jesus had raised his friend Lazarus from the dead. Of course, this miracle drew many people to Jesus. The Jewish leaders were worried that so many people would follow Jesus that the Romans would come and take away their positions of power over the people. Then Jesus rode into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday and the people continued to be drawn to Jesus. The Pharisees said, “Look how the whole world has gone after him!” The leaders’ plan to stop the whole world from following Jesus was to kill Jesus. Though their plan seemed to succeed, God’s will was being done. Christ’s hour had come and he would draw all people to himself.

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.

God’s plan was not just to save a small group of Jesus’ followers on this earth. The plan is to save many. Jesus compares himself to a kernel of wheat. It must be planted in the ground before it produces many seeds. So also Jesus must die before many can be saved. Then Jesus tells them exactly how he will die.

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.

About three years before this, Jesus spoke with Nicodemus at night. We heard part of their conversation last week in our gospel lesson. Jesus told this Pharisee named Nicodemus, “Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the desert, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, that everyone who believes in him may have eternal life” (John 3:14-15). 1,500 years earlier Moses lifted up a bronze snake in the wilderness. Three years ago Jesus referred to this account. Now the hour has come for this to be fulfilled. The hour has come for Jesus to be lifted up on the cross. He will suffer and die as a convicted criminal. He will be mocked and ridiculed by the Pharisees and Sadducees. Surely no one will follow this Jesus now. Surely Christ’s followers will fade away and all will be back to normal.

But their plot fails. Jesus dies but then rises again on the third day. They try to buy their way out of the empty tomb by paying off the guards to say that the disciples stole the body. But people are drawn to the Christ who was lifted up on the cross for them. People, even priests and Jewish leaders like Nicodemus, are brought to faith in the Jesus who was crucified and risen from the dead. Fifty days after Easter, some three thousand people believed in Jesus as their Savior. Tens and hundreds and thousands more would believe in the next months and years as the apostles proclaimed the death and resurrection of Christ.

Look around the world today and there are many millions of people who have been drawn to Christ who was lifted up on the cross for all people. Look around and you will see church buildings throughout the world with a strange symbol prominently displayed. A symbol of torture and death hangs in the front of many gatherings of believers. The cross is not only a symbol of torture and death but the symbol of Christ’s mission fulfilled. When his hour came, he went to the cross to complete the payment for sin and to drive out the prince of this world. The cross is Christ’s death but is life for all who are drawn to him in faith.

Why were those Greek men drawn to see Jesus? They had certainly heard about his powerful miracles. Maybe they wanted to hear his authoritative teaching. Maybe they were curious about this Jesus of Nazareth, who some called the Christ. They were drawn to Jesus for some reason. Jesus tells us today the way he will draw people to believe in him. He will be lifted up on the cross to pay for all sin. His loving sacrifice will draw people to him. Some today will be drawn to Jesus’ power, hoping that Christ will empower their plans in this life, heal their diseases and make them prosperous. But the person attached to Jesus’ power may fall away when their plans for life fall apart. Others may be drawn to Jesus’ moral teaching, thinking that if they live like Jesus taught, life will go well. They too may fall away from Jesus if their life does not go as planned.

When Jesus’ hour came he drew people to himself by his death. He draws us to himself and keeps us in the true faith by showing us his cross. Through the cross of Christ we have forgiveness. Through the cross we see God’s love. Through the cross we have eternal life.

Amen.