Holy week – don’t be fighting just be loving

Holy week – don’t be fighting just be loving

So I learnt this week that due to the corona virus The Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem was closed. This has happened before of course, in 1349! Due to another pandemic called the Black Death.

A few years ago I was privileged to visit this Church which isn’t probably where Jesus was crucified and where he rose again. Nevertheless it is a treasured site and is occupied by six Christian denominations. The primary custodians are the Greek Orthodox, Armenian Apostolic and Roman Catholic Church, with lesser duties shared by Coptic, Ethiopian and Syriac Orthodox churches.

Can you imagine what might happen if 6 Christian denominations occupied a holy site? Well, before you think of the answer let’s read a prayer of Jesus hours before he went somewhere close to this site. Keep reading because I need to tell you about the ladder.

“My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, 21 that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. 22 I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one— 23 I in them and you in me—so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.” John 17:20-23

What a lovely prayer for Christian unity!

Back to the holy site and our imagining the Christian unity that Jesus prayed for.

In November 2008 a fistfight broke out which you can see on Youtube! It shows a fight between the blue, the black and the red team. It’s like the worst Churches Together meeting you have ever attended. Areas of the Church are rigorously defended by each group. The Copts and the Ethiopians are in continually fights over a small section of the roof. So there is one Coptic monk at any given time sitting on a chair to demonstrate their claim. In the summer of 2002 with the sun beating down, a monk moved the chair 20cm into the shade and a fight broke out in which 11 people were taken to hospital.

Can you imagine these groups agreeing to take care of the fabric of the building? No of course not and as a result it is in disrepair. This division has gone on for centuries. As a result not one of the groups hold the keys to the Church. In the 7th century till now the keys have been held by a Sunni Muslim Family. (I thought the keys were given to the followers of Jesus?!)

So who does Jesus pray for?

Having prayed for his disciples, “I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message.” That is you and me. For what?

 

“… that all of them may be one … brought to complete unity”.

 

We need to fight and contend more for unity and not to win and gain. What does that look like? Someone has to get on the cross. The Church which is meant to be the holiest site in Jerusalem worship the cross but no one has ever got onto it, though they would love to pin their worshipping neighbours on it. Why?

 

“… just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us … Then the world will know that you sent me…”

 

We love because we replicate the relationship of the Father and the Son.

We love because we desire the presence of God in our lives.

We love because it is the greatest evangelistic tool.

Without love there is none of the above!

 

Let me tell you about the ladder. It is actually called the Immovable ladder. No one knows how this ladder propped against a window got there but presumably to make some kind of repairs. No one knows who it belongs to. So it stands there since at least the early 1700s. It has only been moved twice where the parties all agreed it would be moved temporarily so that repairs could be made.

I wonder how many Immovable ladders there are in Church. Sometimes they are called sacred cows and elephants in the room. What cannot be touched or spoken about? What are we afraid to say? What about the reverse? Are we teachable? Can we be corrected so that we become better people? Or if someone dares mention an area of our life that we are sensitive about do we react? Immovable ladders do not bring people to Jesus, unity does.

As we journey with Jesus during Holy Week don’t be fighting just be loving.

Holy Week – don’t be surprised just be strong

Holy Week – don’t be surprised just be strong

If the world hates you … (John 15 v18)

Where is your world?

A few days ago a friend sent me this link: http://www.asianews.it/news-en/Coronavirus:-Karachi-NGO-denies-food-to-poor-Hindus-and-Christians-49699.html

The title of the link tells you what the article is about. In Karachi, Pakistan, an NGO called The Saylani Welfare International Trust are handing out aid and meals to those in need. On the 30th March as the corona virus began to increase they made the decision that only Muslims are entitled to them. The reason for this is that giving within the understanding of the five pillars is reserved only for Muslims. Christians are begging for food but to no avail.  As they went into the neighbourhood with their food parcels they moved on if they found the home was Christian.

What world is Jesus referring to?

For the disciples it would be the world where they were martyred.

Andrew was crucified in Greece; Bartholomew crucified upside down in Georgia; James son of Alphaeus stoned to death in Jerusalem; James son of Zebedee beheaded in a Jerusalem prison; Peter crucified upside down in Rome; Philip crucified upside down in Hierapolis; Thomas speared to death in India. The list can go on. Each would have the words of Jesus in their mind, “I have told you this, so that when their time comes you will remember that I warned you about them.” (16 v4)

Even for the apostle Paul in his world, “But the Lord stood at my side and gave me strength, so that through me the message might be fully proclaimed and all the Gentiles might hear it.”

Don’t be surprised just be strong.

For Jesus, the world wasn’t the Roman world but it was the world where people thought they were God’s children in Galilee and Judea. This was the world that he was born into and lived and would lay his life down.

They see the provision miracles of water into wine and the feeding of the crowds but they miss the significance of them pointing to the great heavenly banquet that awaits us.

They see the blind man seeing but miss the fact that Jesus has come to open our self-centred eyes to others.

They see the royal official son’s healing but miss the power of the word as the Word of God.

They see the paralysed man walk again but miss the fact that Jesus is the Lord of the Sabbath.

They see Lazarus raised to life but miss that Jesus is the resurrection and the life.

The world Jesus is speaking about is your world right now, where you are. That could be with those who don’t know your God or those that do. Jesus brings that home in v2 “They will put you out of the synagogue; in fact, the time is coming when anyone who kills you will think they are offering a service to God.” Jesus is saying your world of spirituality and religion will contain painful experiences. The attributing to the hand of God the pain on your life who worships God is deeply hurtful. There is nothing like it. The pain is deep and it can last for years. Some don’t make it through.

Is there any comfort? Yes! Jesus says coming into your world is the Comforter! I love the Message of 15 v26 “When the Friend I plan to send you from the Father comes—the Spirit of Truth issuing from the Father—he will confirm everything about me.” In your world there are times when you just need the confirming truth about Jesus: He is Risen! He is alive! He is powerful! He is Sovereign! He is with you!

Don’t be surprised just be strong.

Holy Week – don’t be anxious just be ready.

Holy Week – don’t be anxious just be ready.
 
In Holy Week I would like to bring you one small passage from each chapter leading up to Easter day. (After this week I will be returning to again read through the chapters in more detail).
 
In the first century marriages were arranged but the girl did have a choice.
The father of the bride would agree with the father of the groom and there would be an engagement celebration.
At that celebration the groom would offer the bride a cup of wine but she could reject it or accept it indicating her acceptance of the marriage offer.
If she says YES then the groom makes a speech
The groom would say “In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. You know the way to the place where I am going.” (John 14 v2-4)
The groom goes back home and begins to build an additional room onto his father house. This is their future marital home. He doesn’t know when it will be finished as the final day is with his father. His father may have many sons and so there are many rooms developed onto the original house.
Then the day comes and the father says to the groom the room is ready, go and get your bride.
How will the groom know when he approaches the bride’s house which is her room?
He will know because she has filled her lamp with oil each night and set it in the window.
He comes to gather her and there is a procession back to their new home.
Jesus uses this analogy that everyone knew to bring security to the disciple’s future, to deal with anxiety over death.
Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me, v1.
As I write this I am aware that death has become the talking point for so many. I think of loved ones I have lost also those that are struggling right now in hospitals and homes. For those who belong to Christ and who trust God there is no fear in death. For it isn’t death that comes but the groom of God, Jesus Christ. Today is another day of making sure you have oil in your lamp and that it is burning for Christ.

Why Judas why? If the door is open it isn’t theft

Why Judas why?

If the door is open it isn’t theft

John 13 v25-20

“Leaning back against Jesus, he asked him, “Lord, who is it?” 26 Jesus answered, “It is the one to whom I will give this piece of bread when I have dipped it in the dish.” Then, dipping the piece of bread, he gave it to Judas, the son of Simon Iscariot. 27 As soon as Judas took the bread, Satan entered into him. So Jesus told him, “What you are about to do, do quickly.” 28 But no one at the meal understood why Jesus said this to him. 29 Since Judas had charge of the money, some thought Jesus was telling him to buy what was needed for the festival, or to give something to the poor. 30 As soon as Judas had taken the bread, he went out. And it was night.”

 

Yesterday I took some time to listen to one of my favourite bands, U2.

They have a song called Cedarwood Road which is based around their upbringing in Ireland. Bobo wrote of the song, “Myself and my friends dealt with the kind of skinhead, boot boy culture of the time by creating our own reality, and eventually our own rock and roll band,” he said. “That’s how we dealt with the fear that we felt. When I was writing about Cedarwood, the big revelation for me was that you can’t really leave these things behind because they are who you are, you can never escape your upbringing.” A touch of fatalism perhaps!

One of the lyrics says, “If the door is open it isn’t theft”

Hold that thought for a moment.

The unwanted and unseen guest at the Passover meal was Satan. He was lurking in the background asking to have Peter and menacing with Judas’ thoughts again. Was Judas some robot that was moved around into position? A forced betrayer? No not at all. Judas had plenty of time to change his mind. But the door of his heart was open and Satan took advantage of him. Judas may not have been able to escape from his upbringing and the desire for a militant uprising. But he could have escaped from the thoughts he was having. He had plenty of time to do so.

He had been an unrepentant thief. He could have stopped at any time.

He had his feet washed by Jesus after he had agreed to betray him.

He refused the opportunity to confess when Jesus told all the disciples that someone on the team would betray him.

He could have stopped himself when Jesus showed special friendship and love by handing him a piece of bread.

He could have stayed even when Jesus encouraged him to go and get what he was going to do over with. Satan had filled his mind again with thoughts but he could have stayed.

He could have gone back to the house once he had left into the cold of the dark night. I wonder if he looked back at the light and the love he had received. Why didn’t you turn back Judas? Why didn’t you stop yourself?

Was it his upbringing?

We can’t blame Satan though he was active for sure.

It was because the door of Judas’ heart was open to Satan but closed to Jesus.

Because of that this wasn’t a theft.

Why didn’t the disciples know it was Judas?

Why didn’t the disciples know it was Judas?

John 13 v 22-25

“His disciples stared at one another, at a loss to know which of them he meant. 23 One of them, the disciple whom Jesus loved, was reclining next to him. 24 Simon Peter motioned to this disciple and said, “Ask him which one he means.” 25 Leaning back against Jesus, he asked him, “Lord, who is it? 26 Jesus answered, ‘It is the one to whom I will give this piece of bread when I have dipped it in the dish.’ Then, dipping the piece of bread, he gave it to Judas, the son of Simon Iscariot.”

 

Imagine the scene. The team with Jesus are lying on the floor encircling the table. Perhaps leaning on their elbow and eating with their hand.

One of the disciples (let’s agree it is John!) is next to Jesus and Judas is on the other side.

The disciples are discussing around the table what Jesus had just said that one of them would betray him. Peter wasn’t nearer enough to Jesus to ask the question so he asks John to ask.

Why didn’t the disciples know it was Judas?

  1. They were not closest to Jesus around the table and they were not as close in terms of relationship to ask Jesus openly from their position.

The closer you are to Jesus the more questions you can ask and more revelation is given.

 

  1. John didn’t tell them.

John leaned back onto Jesus so that the others couldn’t hear and Jesus told him the answer again out of ear-shot.

John knew it was Judas, it was confirmed when Judas took the bread that Jesus offered. John could be trusted.

Can we be trusted with what we hear? Even what God shares with us?

 

  1. John was loved more than the others because he loved more than the others. He would be the only disciple left at the cross and Jesus commissions him to take care of his mother Mary.

Knowing you are a disciple loved by Jesus gives you the confidence to step out in faith whether that is asking of Him some searching questions or to risk your life at the cross.

What’s wrong Jesus? Why did Jesus choose Judas?

What’s wrong Jesus?

Why did Jesus choose Judas?

John 13 v18-21 “I am not referring to all of you; I know those I have chosen. But this is to fulfil this passage of Scripture: “He who shared my bread has turned against me.”19 ‘I am telling you now before it happens, so that when it does happen you will believe that I am who I am. 20 Very truly I tell you, whoever accepts anyone I send accepts me; and whoever accepts me accepts the one who sent me.’ 21 After he had said this, Jesus was troubled in spirit and testified, ‘Very truly I tell you, one of you is going to betray me.”

v 21 “After he said these things, Jesus became visibly upset, and then he told them why. “One of you is going to betray me.” (Message)

We have been seeing on the way to the cross Jesus being visibly upset a few times. Here, John writes Jesus was troubled and we remember how he entered this state concerning his own death in 12:27. But also before that in 11:33 when he becomes angry over the impact of the power of death on people who loved Lazarus. But here Jesus goes on to explain it is because of Judas though the disciples don’t understand at the time.

So why did Jesus choose Judas?

  1. For the prophetic Scripture to be fulfilled.

We love how the Bible prophesies so much about Jesus. Where he was born, where he would live and where he would die. In fact we love the promises of the Bible. We underline them, we buy fridge magnets of them and we post pretty pictures on social media about them. I have yet to see this Bible promise of David anywhere being held on to, I certainly don’t have it displayed:

Psalm 41:9 “Even my close friend, someone I trusted, one who shared my bread, has turned against me.” Hallelujah?

From an early age Jesus had been underlining the prophetic Scriptures in his heart. He was aligning himself up on the path that his Father had laid out. Jesus had to choose a friend, a follower, one of the team to betray him.

The prophecy was originally set around David of course. He was running away from his own son, Absalom, who was trying to kill him. But the hurt for David was not only this but his confidante, counsellor and friend, Ahithophel who shared his table and ate his food was part of the conspiracy to kill him.

Jesus chose his Ahithophel and we saw it in Chapter 6 v70-71 “Then Jesus replied, ‘Have I not chosen you, the Twelve? Yet one of you is a devil!’  (He meant Judas, the son of Simon Iscariot, who, though one of the Twelve, was later to betray him.)”

And we may think well that’s unfair on Judas, he had no choice. If we do then we have missed the prophetic insight. Jesus was chosen but was he forced to go the path of the cross, NO. He chose. The same applies to Judas.

If we still think it is unfair then here is another reason Judas was chosen.

  1. Judas is us!

Judas became disappointed in Jesus that he wasn’t doing what he wanted. Jesus was not turning out to be the Messiah Judas longed for.

Ever not had your prayers answered the way you wanted?

Judas had got to the point of ‘do this or I leave’. Ever threatened God?

The lifting of the heel is a picture of a horse kicking back. Ever tried to force something to happen? Judas so wanted Jesus to be a certain Messiah, he knew Jesus was innocent, but he created a scene, a stand-off that surely Jesus would rise and fight back physically against the religious regime and then ultimately Rome. The stand-off was really Judas v Jesus.

Judas helped himself to the money. No one knew. Everyone just saw Judas like themselves. Judas had sacrificed 3 years of his life. Had left everything and followed Jesus. Had taken part in miracles and life-changing stories. He was ready to die for Jesus, just like them. They liked him. He was one of them, a friend of Jesus.

Ever been let down by someone who was charismatic, full of faith, a friend and yet under scrutiny you heard how they had been fiddling their expenses, Illicit gain and dodging the taxes that you agree to pay? Judas is around us. And maybe you know how close this is to your testimony. Judas is us!

The gospel of John is written that we may know Jesus has taken our sins upon Him, even the sins of lifting up the heel, of betrayal against our friend of all friends. So that we may believe and follow.

 

The towel and the basin

The towel and the basin

John 13 v2-12 

The evening meal was in progress, and the devil had already prompted Judas, the son of Simon Iscariot, to betray Jesus. Jesus knew that the Father had put all things under his power, and that he had come from God and was returning to God; so he got up from the meal, took off his outer clothing, and wrapped a towel around his waist. After that, he poured water into a basin and began to wash his disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel that was wrapped around him. He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, “Lord, are you going to wash my feet?” Jesus replied, “You do not realize now what I am doing, but later you will understand.” “No,” said Peter, “you shall never wash my feet.” Jesus answered, “Unless I wash you, you have no part with me.” “Then, Lord,” Simon Peter replied, “not just my feet but my hands and my head as well!” 10 Jesus answered, “Those who have had a bath need only to wash their feet; their whole body is clean. And you are clean, though not every one of you.” 11 For he knew who was going to betray him, and that was why he said not everyone was clean. 12 When he had finished washing their feet, he put on his clothes and returned to his place. “Do you understand what I have done for you?” he asked them.

 

This story was culturally unacceptable. That a rabbi would wash the feet of his disciples was unheard of. But Jesus showed from start to finish how:

The Son of God became a baby though he is a King.

The Son of God took an ordinary name though he has the name above all names.

The Son of God wrapped a towel around his waist and became a servant though one day every knee will bow.

The Son of God became obedient to death on a criminals low-life cross even though he sits on an eternal throne.

 

  1. To serve means to leave your elevated place. That may be the place God has given you (v3) or where man has placed you (v12)

We need to unroll the red carpets today. The Church are guilty of creating and promoting stars in what amounts to an amalgamation of the X factor and the Oscars. We build them up and then we knock them down.

We really are not that important. This is Jesus who knew where he was from, v3:

Right now around the throne are cries day and night “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty who was and is and is to come”

Beings are laid prostrate “You are worthy, our Lord and God to receive glory and power, for you created all things and by your will they were created and have their being.”

We really are not that important. “For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together.” Colossians 1:16-17 “The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word. After he had provided purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven.” Hebrews 1:3

  1. To serve means you forego your own appetite (v4)

From His position of who He is and of His power said “It’s not about me”.

When faced with temptation, Jesus didn’t say “because of my position, my experience, my title it is okay for me to fail a little because I know my father will command his angels concerning me to lift me up so that I will not strike my foot against stone.” NO, he said “Today it is not about me”.

When faced with trial and taken down a path marked with suffering he didn’t stand and say “I’m not having this. I will call on father who will pout at my disposal more than 12 legions of angels.” NO, he said “Today it is not about me.”

  1. To serve means you may actually look like a servant (v4)

If God undressed so must we. God is to be found in flesh, in humanity of pain, tragedy of life, spit and dust of the earth. We have to remove our self-sufficiency, our desire to be wealthy, for exotic spiritual experiences, our pride and right to be heard.

We must become vulnerable to the core.

  1. To serve means your work of service may not be appreciated at the time (v7)

“No one appreciates me” is a drug and you can be addicted on the praises of man. If you spend your whole life wanting to please man, waiting for their response, craving their approval you will die a disappointed man.

  1. To serve means some of your closest friends may insist you don’t (v8)

Your friends need you to be a certain type of person which will not show them up for who they are. They don’t want you to look differently and speak in a certain way etc.

  1. To serve means you may have to serve someone who will later hurt you (v11)

Judas was there!

Let us go and pick up the towel and the basin.

Will you miss it?

Will you miss it?

John 12 v37-13 v1

  1. Isaiah saw, believed and witnessed, but his generation missed it, v41. “Isaiah said this because he saw Jesus’ gloryand spoke about him.”

King Uzziah died in 740BC under God’s judgment, a leper buried not in the King’s tombs because of his skin disease. He died a broken man and Isaiah the prophet speaking for God during his reign is disappointed because of the way the King ended his life. Isaiah has a sense of failure, he is unclean, a prophet with unclean lips. He is disillusioned with God’s people who disbelieve the promises of God, they are also unclean.
It is this man, disappointed, a failure, disillusioned, who is granted a renewed vision of the Lord and it shows that it is sometimes in the place of brokenness where we find what others miss.

 

  1. Jesus came and walked among them, but the generations missed it, v37 “Even after Jesus had performed so many signs in their presence, they still would not believe in him”

They had seen the signs. They saw more than what we have ever seen.

They see the provision miracles of water into wine and the feeding of the crowds but they miss the significance of them pointing to the great heavenly banquet that awaits us.

They see the blind man seeing but miss the fact that Jesus has come to open our self-centred eyes to others.

They see the royal official son’s healing but miss the power of the word as the Word of God.

They see the paralysed man walk again but miss the fact that Jesus is the Lord of the Sabbath.

They see Lazarus raised to life but miss that Jesus is the resurrection and the life.

That God would temporarily harden the hearts of His people to who He really is in Jesus for the sake of the expansion of the gospel to the Gentiles (which the apostle Paul understands fully) is amazingly gracious!

They could not believe, v39-40 “For this reason they could not believe, because, as Isaiah says elsewhere: He has blinded their eyes …”

They would not believe (because they loved their life too much), v42-43 “Yet at the same time many even among the leaders believed in him. But because of the Pharisees they would not openly acknowledge their faith for fear they would be put out of the synagogue; for they loved human praise more than praise from God.”

 

In what has to be the most outrageous thing Jesus had ever said, he says something like this, “I’m fine with that because it’s not me that you are missing but the one who sent me.”

V44 “Then Jesus cried out, “Whoever believes in me does not believe in me only, but in the one who sent me.”

“Believe in me, believe in God; look at me look at God; listen to me listen to God; disobey my teaching disobey God” He was saying if you miss me then you have missed God. You are to blame.

 

  1. John says there is one more sign, will you miss it? 13 v1 “It was just before the Passover Festival.Jesus knew that the hour had come for him to leave this world and go to the Father. Having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end.”

If people miss what Jesus says and do not understand what the miracles point to then will they miss this last sign?

Yesterday as I buried a friend and colleague in ministry I wondered how people could miss the love of God that was in him. In giving so much to so many would this impact their lives?

Four months ago, I led the funeral service of another Pastor, again a friend and also on my team. Over the months leading to his death he touched and spoke of his faith to many. Did they come to faith? Did they choose to believe? I hope so.

There is one more sign. Our death. Whether sudden or slow, how were we living our life when we left this earth? For ourselves or for others? Were we demonstrating Christ?

John says: Jesus is the Passover lamb, the sacrificial substitute for the sins of the people; Jesus goes to the Father, his Father and the connection is made again; Jesus demonstrates his love by choosing to lay his life down for the world.

Now if we miss this then there is no place left to go?

Dave Ayling a follower of Jesus

Dave Ayling a follower of Jesus

John 12: 24-36 “Very truly I tell you, unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds. 25 Anyone who loves their life will lose it, while anyone who hates their 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 honour the one who serves me. 27 ‘Now my soul 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 And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.’ 33 He said this to show the kind of death he was going to die. 34 The crowd spoke up, ‘We have heard from the Law that the Messiah will remain for ever, so how can you say, “The Son of Man must be lifted up”? Who is this “Son of Man”?’ 35 Then Jesus told them, ‘You are going to have the light just a little while longer. Walk while you have the light, before darkness overtakes you. Whoever walks in the dark does not know where they are going. 36 Believe in the light while you have the light, so that you may become children of light.’ When he had finished speaking, Jesus left and hid himself from them.”

Today I am privileged to conduct the burial service of a friend and colleague of 30 years. Dave Ayling was known by many in the UK and around the world, a local Church Pastor with a global apostolic heart. I will stand (within the social distancing requirements) with his amazing wife Julia and their fabulous boys, Ben and Tom along with Dave’s siblings as we lay to rest his body. Though I know Dave is having a fantastic time in heaven I will grieve and weep with the family. I am thankful that today we can read the above verses of not only a description of the death of Jesus but the comfort it brings to all the followers of Jesus who will enter heaven the same way that Dave has done, through death. Unless we are alive when Jesus returns we all will go the same way. Some will go aged 54 years, others a lot younger and others older. Some will go immediately, tragically or after a long illness. The way we go will seem unfair or a relief from the suffering, but we will go that way. However, how we really die is determined how we have lived and whether or not we have died beforehand.

Dave lived as a follower of Jesus. He had died to himself, surrendering his life to live for God and for others. Death had no final victory. Eternal life did.

For whoever follows Jesus:-

  1. Death is a planting, v24-26

Jesus cleared the pathway for us to follow. God honours us as we follow Jesus in life and death. Most people live their lives for themselves or for their very own. Dave lived for Jesus and in surrendering he was buried in Christ a long time ago before today. Jesus said that this kind of death (and a position followers need to keep fixed) is like the planting of a seed.

Today not only the wonderful Derby City Church but the many people from across the world, especially leaders in the Church, will be pausing at 11am to give a prayer of thanks for the life of their loved friend who died in Christ. They are where they are today because of the impact Dave had in their yesterday. People like my son, Daniel, who will be with me today ministering in the service. I saw how Dave poured his life into my son as his assistant Minister. People like Matt Atkins, now a Pastor in Birmingham, who sent me this moving blog last night: https://mattatkins1.wordpress.com/2020/03/29/leaving-a-lasting-legacy/

I could list so many people. So many seeds.

 

  1. Death is still painful, v27

Jesus says he is troubled about his own death and in doing so we are greatly encouraged.

For Jesus, the Incarnation of God to be troubled as we all are is a huge comfort.

Within days of these verses Jesus will be in anguish in the garden of Gethsemane, but John has this recorded before.

The one who could do incomparable miracles, healing people, raising them from the grave, is troubled by his own death.

You see the story isn’t pain free. Perfect isn’t without trouble.

Some cannot cope with weakness and they certainly cannot believe in a weak God.

Others are confused and they debate and discuss (was it an angel, thunder or God?)

But others, like Dave, know that this trouble leads to something beautiful.

 

  1. Death is Glory, v28-36

Power and might, boasting, pushing others down, desiring to be seen and heard and known, this doesn’t bring Glory.

Sacrifice does.

The love that surrenders our own desire, wants and ambitions for the sake of the Kingdom, for others, this is what brings the Glory.

Love that is generous and kind. Love that smiles and is fun.

This is the death that magnifies God, that brings His presence into situations and that causes the Glory to fall.

This is the light.

The call is to walk in the light, believe in the light and become children of the light.

For one day, like Dave did, we will walk into the Light of Heaven.

The hour has come

The hour has come

John 12: 19-23 “So the Pharisees said to one another, “See, this is getting us nowhere. Look how the whole world has gone after him!” 20 Now there were some Greeks among those who went up to worship at the festival. 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.”

We have already read a few times that the time for the reason of Jesus coming was not yet. This is the moment and it took some curious Gentiles to confirm to Jesus that this was it. “The hour has come.”

  1. The hour has come for the old wineskin to lose its control, v19.

The Pharisees are dismissive, their words are full of contempt and they have lost control. Self-righteousness has fully come to the surface. What was hidden is now in the light. The motives and agendas for promotion and advancement have been exposed behind the rules of religion.

Let go of control.

 

  1. The world wants to see Jesus, v20-21.

These Greeks who probably attended their home town synagogues were pilgrims in the city but were not permitted access to the whole Temple. They would have their own court of the Gentiles and a dividing wall separated them from the Jewish area of the Temple. They came to Philip who along with Andrew was from Bethsaida. John puts that in as a reminder, maybe to indicate the Greeks came from that area also or to show us that Philip spoke their Greek language and that’s why they went to him. Bethsaida was where Jesus healed a blind man and also performed the miracle of feeding the 5,000. Who do they want to see?

They don’t ask to see the High Priest or the religious leaders to discuss religion. They don’t ask to see the rest of the Temple. They didn’t even ask to see Philip. They wanted to see Jesus.

Let go of narcissistic, inflated self-importance.

 

  1. It is time for glory, v23.

This is the moment for Jesus. The sign that will take him forward. He will go on to speak of being lifted up and that is how he will be glorified. He will again tell his disciples to follow him, to lay their life down too. This is it. The crux of the matter. The Gentiles and the Jews, the world, will see Jesus on the cross, dying and glorified. That is where the body of Christ is. That is where God still wants the Church to be. For the world to see Jesus then the Church needs to stop chasing the glory and be glorified on the cross of surrender.

Let go of chasing glory and be glorified.

The hour has come