Sermon Summary – John 12:9-33
At the key moment in his ministry Jesus chooses to establish a Kingdom based not on human ideas of power but on the cross. Jesus shows us how his kingdom contrasts with kingdoms of this world in three ways. Firstly, it’s glory is the cross (vs 23), not riches, coercive power or vainglory. Secondly, unlike worldly kingdoms which necessarily exclude others, his kingdom does not exclude anyone. All may enter, people of every nation, tribe and language. (vs 32) Thirdly, in his kingdom there is no class, nor does any one class or person dominate the others, there is true egality, all subjects are enriched and can share in the honour of the King. (vs 26)
1. His Kingdom Is Real. We may be tempted sometimes to ask “Where is the the Kingdom of God?”, but Jesus is King now. We just have to remember that his Kingdom is “not of this world”. It’s meant to look different and work differently to worldly kingdoms. That doesn’t mean it’s invisible, but we should expect to see it working in the way that Jesus foretold throughout the Gospels. This understanding, that we, even now, are subjects under the Kingship of Christ and living in his Kingdom is vital for healthy discipleship, church and Gospel preaching.
2. The Same Forces That Worked Against Christ And His Kingdom Are Active Today. The devil tried to tempt Jesus to bow to him in exchange for a worldly Kingdom, and today he tries to deceive the Church into believing in human solutions to spiritual problems. The same forces that inspired the chief priest to want to kill Lazarus would destroy the works of Christ now. We can recognise these forces by the fact that they go against the principles outlined above, they celebrate might and material glory, they marginalise and exclude many people for the sake of the the few (e.g. the use of aborted foetal tissue for medical research,, they honour only the people who have power while suppressing the interest of those who serve them ( e.g. the exploitation of poor labour standards in developing countries for consumerism).
3. Nothing Gives More Glory To God Than The Cross of Christ. Whenever our lives point to the mercy, grace, love, forgiveness and transforming power of Jesus’ death then we give glory to God. This is especially important in a society that is increasingly obsessed with looking perfect. The temptation is to believe that we need to be perfect in order to show people how great God is, or even to enjoy his blessings. But we can be confident that when our sins, faults and weaknesses are on display and we are trusting in Jesus we are exactly where he wants us to be.
4. It’s OK To Feel Troubled Sometimes. Jesus knew the end from the beginning, but he still tells us that his heart was troubled by the prospect of death on the cross. This reassures us that God doesn’t expect us to be spiritually anaesthetised, but that it is OK to really wrestle with what God wants us to do or what he is taking us through even when we are doing God’s will!
5. The Beauty of The Church Arises From The Glory Of The Cross. God calls his church to be a place of diverse beauty, abundantly and vividly alive with all that God has given to humanity (see e.g. Revelation 21) However, this beauty doesn’t come from getting everything right all the time, it comes when we clearly point to the cross. In practical terms this means that forgiveness and repentance are at the heart of church life, when believers show the same love to each other that God shows for us at Calvary. For example, often people subconsciously expect a church to be perfect and when things don’t work out they eventually leave in search of something better. But the Bible tells us we should deal with sin and weakness by confronting it lovingly, forgiving and repenting together and seeking God’s power to change us. By doing this we actually glorify God more than getting everything right first time, because we point to the cross. Likewise, often when people are going through difficult times emotionally or physically they feel they become a burden to their church and withdraw. But when we bear one another’s burdens we point to the humility of Christ at the cross and so give glory to him.