Lift Jesus Higher! (John 12:31-33)
Topic: Sermons Passage: John 12:31–12:33
Well, we’re going to take a break from our series on The Most Misused & Misunderstood Verses of the Bible for the next few weeks as we approach Easter. I’ll be preaching this Palm Sunday from John 12 on the cross. Several times Jesus tells us that He must be “lifted up.” He refers back to the Old Testament to explain it, and the rest of the New Testament uses this phrase to describe what He did. This is something that Christians readily accept. So why is the cross controversial? Why do Christians talk about “The Scandal of the Cross”?
The great apologist, Dr. Ravi Zacharias, writes about this, "There is a striking verse in the New Testament (1 Corinthians1:23) in which the Apostle Paul refers to the Cross of Jesus Christ as “a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles.” One can readily understand why he would say that. After all, to the Greek mind, sophistication, philosophy, and learning were exalted pursuits. How could one crucified, possibly spell knowledge? To the Jewish mind, there was a cry and longing to be free. Throughout their history, they had been attacked by numerous powers and often humiliated by occupying forces. Whether it was the Assyrians or the Babylonians or the Romans, Jerusalem had been repeatedly plundered and its people left homeless. What would the Hebrew have wanted more than someone who could take up their cause and repel the enemy? How could a Messiah who was crucified possibly be of any help? To the Greek, the Cross was foolishness. To the Jew, it was a stumbling block. What was it about the Cross that so roundly defied everything that power relished? Crucifixion was humiliating, so humiliating that the Romans who specialized in the art of torture assured their own citizenry that a Roman could never be crucified. Not only was it humiliating, it was excruciating. In fact, the very word “excruciating” comes from two Latin words, “ex cruciatus,” or “out of the Cross.” Crucifixion was the defining word for pain."
It’s good for us to stop and think about the cross once in a while. We hear about it a lot, we gradually get used to it, and while we would all agree that it’s important, I’m afraid that sometimes it appears to have lost its importance to us personally. So this week, we’re going to think about why the cross is important and what it should mean to us personally. And perhaps, we’ll learn not to just take it for granted. Palm Sunday celebrates Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem, but He’s not coming to triumph over the Romans, but to triumph over sin. And that will be accomplished when He is “lifted up” … on the cross. Think about that this week. I’ll see you Sunday, Dr. Dave