John 12:20-33; Jeremiah 31:31-34; Lift Jesus Higher

 

Some Greeks came to one of the disciples, Philip.

"Sir," they said, "we want to see Jesus."

These men had no doubt heard reports of Jesus' teaching and healing; perhaps they had even observed for themselves. They were seekers after truth, and it must have seemed to them that Jesus had something unique, powerful, perhaps life-changing to offer, so they wanted to talk with him for themselves.

It was logical that they turned to the apostle Philip for help because Philip - unlike the other disciples - had a Greek name. Thus, these Greeks would feel that he might be more sympathetic and understanding than the other disciples. Philip got his fellow disciple, Andrew, and they go to Jesus together with the request.

Jesus answers these Greek in a roundabout way.

“And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.”

As the time of His passion draws near, he says,
"The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. I tell you most solemnly, unless a grain of wheat falls on the ground and dies, it remains only a single grain. But if it dies, it yields a rich harvest" (Jn.12:23-24).

 

JESUS IS LIFTED UP ON THE CROSS--DEATH

Jesus is the single grain of wheat that died—a reference to his death on the cross.

Jesus is the single grain of wheat that was planted in the earth—he was buried in a cave in the side of a mountain.

While in Israel, we saw the traditional site of the crucifixion.

Golgotha was outside the city walls—a place of skulls/death

We also saw several examples of ancient tombs—cut into the rock, with rolling round stones to seal it up.

 

JESUS IS LIFTED UP IN THE RESURRECTION

Jesus is the single grain that yields a rich harvest—the 3rd day Jesus sprang up to new life—resurrection.

Jesus’ tomb is empty—he rose! He came to life!

This is the answer to the Greeks seeking Jesus.

“The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified… Father, glorify your name. Then a voice came from heaven, ‘I have glorified it, and I will glorify it again.’”

God has glorified God’s own name through the life of his obedient son, Jesus.

God glorifies God’s name by raising Jesus from the dead.

This is the miracle of God’s steadfast love: God conquered the power of sin & death through this great Easter miracle.

That is why Jesus said: “Now is the judgment of this world; now the ruler of this world will be driven out.”

 

JESUS WAS LIFTED UP ON ASCENSION DAY

Jesus was ascended 40 days after the resurrection.

He completed his divine work on this earth and rose to heavenly glory.

He is seated at the right hand of the Father and given all of God’s authority.

From this lofty vantage point: Jesus draws all people to himself.

This is why we can sing the familiar children’s song:

       LIFT JESUS HIGHER, LIFT JESUS HIGHER

       LIFT HIM UP FOR THE WORLD TO SEE

       HE SAID, “IF I BE LIFTED UP FROM THE EARTH

       I WILL DRAW ALL MEN UNTO ME.”

This threefold pattern of Jesus being lifted up fulfills the prophecy of Jeremiah: Jesus brings a new covenant.

“But this is the covenant that I will make…I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.”

Jesus welcomed us into this new spiritual reality: Jesus writes God’s law of love in our hearts.

Jesus welcomes us into this three-fold experience of being lifted up!

We can be lifted up to our personal cross—by recognizing our sins, confessing our helplessness, and denying our own ability to save ourselves.

We can be lifted up to a personal resurrection—realize that Jesus took the penalty of our sins and provides for us a new life. We are a part of Jesus’ harvest—the seed of new life is growing in us.

We can be lifted up to a personal ascension—understand that we are now children of God, God dwells in us, we are a part of God’s heaven breaking into this world.

 God’s will/law is written in our hearts by the Holy Spirit—we discover that God’s will becomes our will.

We are transformed—we only desire to do God’s will.

Not only will we not want to be perpetually angry with our brother; WE WILL NOT BE!

Not only will not want to commit adultery; WE WONT.

Not only will we not want to abuse our children;

WE WONT ABUSE ANY CHILDREN!

Not only will we not want to abuse alcohol;

WE WONT GET DRUNK!

Not only will want to practice righteousness;

WE WILL BE HOLY—JUST LIKE JESUS!

That is God’s miracle of salvation in Jesus Christ.

God makes our wills transformed to God’s holy will.

God writes his law on our hearts.

IMPOSSIBLE YOU SAY! PRECISELY!

It is impossible in our own human strength.

It has to be done by divine intervention.

Jesus must be lifted up in our lives—to bring this divine transformation; to perform this radical change in us.

NOTHING IS IMPOSSIBLE FOR GOD

Fleming Rutledge shares the power of the transformed heart in her book, The Bible and the New York Times.

She writes about a white woman who was a member of her childhood church in southern Virginia. The church was in the segregated south, many years before the civil rights movement. Her son was killed by a car full of joy-riding intoxicated black youths. I will never forget the day she visited my mother in her living room.

The bereaved mother said: “I don’t understand why I don’t hate those colored people.” She paused and said, “I guess God has given me a forgiving heart.”

NOTHING IS IMPOSSIBLE FOR GOD

Rutledge also writes about a black woman. Her son, Michael, was attacked for no good reason in Howard Beach, Brooklyn, by a band of white teenagers.

This mother was seen frequently reading her bible during the trial for these three white teens.

She says that the pain of her son’s death has not diminished over the years.

“Sometimes I sit here and cry.”

But speaking of the three men who were convicted and still in prison for their crime against her son, she said:

“At night, I pray for them. I ask God to forgive them.”

When I talk to people about that, they say: “You’re crazy! How can you feel that way about someone who killed your son?”

NOTHING IS IMPOSSIBLE FOR GOD

A pastor friend tells this story:

I knew a man who was enslaved to the bottle for 18 years.

His wife begged him to stop drinking alcohol.

His children begged him to stop drinking alcohol.

He just couldn’t stop. He was an addict.

He eventually lost his marriage.

He lost his family.

He lost his job.

He lost just about everything.

As his pastor—I tried to help him, but no amount of counseling helped. I finally gave up on him too!

I said to myself—“He will never lick this, he is beyond help.

After I moved to a new appointment, I lost track of the man.

Years past, a couple of months ago I met him at a meeting.

We recalled the days when I was his pastor.

Then he told me some amazing news:

“Pastor, you might be interested in knowing that I have been alcohol free, sober for the last eight years!”

Interested? I’ll say!

That man had experienced the power of resurrection life.

       He lifted his addiction to the cross-died to his sin.

       He was lifted to resurrection life.

       He was lifted to ascension living.

God worked in his heart—started from the inside out.

God wrote his covenant in his heart—gave him a new life.

God transformed his heart—gave him true holiness.

NOTHING IS IMPOSSIBLE FOR GOD

ALL THINGS ARE POSSIBLE WHEN WE LIFT JESUS HIGHER