For public speakers, what would you say in your final speech?
For writers, what would you write in your final letter? In your final article?
For pastors, what would you preach in your final sermon?
It is now late Tuesday of Jesus’ final week on earth. He entered the city of Jerusalem on Sunday (see here), and He has been teaching in the temple through both Monday and Tuesday.
The Jews had been listening to Jesus when a group of Greeks came to the temple, requesting an audience with the Lord. With these Gentile followers looking to hear from him, Jesus declared some of his most startling words:
“You need to die”
A grain of wheat is alone and useless unless it is planted. But when it is put into the earth and it “dies”, it will grow and become fruitful.
This message is personally about Jesus. Jesus had said several times earlier that his time had not yet come (John 2:4; John 7:30; John 8:20), but now the time had come. It is only a few days before he is going to die. Yet he will be glorified through his death as he saves mankind.
This message is also about his followers. When we set aside the value and control of our own lives, Jesus promises us life forever with him and honor from God the Father.
“Even the horror brings glory to God”
Jesus was horrified by the anticipation of his death on the cross (the English word, “troubled”, is not strong enough). The horror was not the physical pain, torture, and death of the crucifixion. The real terror for Jesus is that He would be torn apart from God the Father. The Father and the Son existed for all eternity in total union and intimacy (John 5:19-23). Now, the Son must stand alone to take the punishment for mankind.
But His encouragement through all of this was that God would be glorified. This was why he came. For only the third time in his ministry, God the Father gave an audible response — His death would bring glory to God.
“The enemy is defeated”
Satan is the ruler of this world, but his power is broken by Jesus’ death on the cross. He, and all in the world who follow him, will be judged on the last day. They are now on death row, awaiting their execution.
“Believe while you still can”
Jesus gave this invitation to his listeners, but it is the same for all people. You have only two choices: you can follow the Light or you can follow the ruler of this world into his judgement. Jesus is the light (John 1:4-5; John 8:12) and he is making one more call to believe in Him.
But beware! The invitation will not last forever. If you keep refusing to believe in him, the time will come when you will no longer be able to believe. The more you refuse him, the less chance you have to come to believe in him. You have only a “little while longer”!
Then Jesus left.
Sadly, many people refused to believe. They would rather have the blindness so God gave the blindness to them. They stayed in their unbelief for so long that they were no longer able to believe.
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