Dr. Ed Young - Rescue Me
If you just came from outer space, didn't know anything about church and Christian history, or any doctrines of biblical truth, and somebody would tell you that the death of a man who lived over 2,000 years ago has relevance for you, you'd say, "What? What? The death of a man that lived over 2,000 years ago is important to me? It has significance and relevance for me, what"? But that's what we discover when we look at the death of Jesus Christ. In John chapter number 11, we see Jesus went to the house of Mary and Martha, and there their brother Lazarus, his friend, had died. But Lazarus had been in the grave 4 days and Jesus comes and brings him back to life.
Can you think about that? I mean, just totally disrupts the cemetery and brings him back to life. I've been to the very spot and looked into the side of the cave where they believe Lazarus had been buried there in Bethany. And you just feel the excitement, dead 4 days, now alive. Crowds came, people wondered far and wide. And perhaps if you'll read carefully in the 12th chapter of John, you'll see something that I only noticed this week. The religious leaders put a contract out on Lazarus. I hadn't noticed that before. They wanted to get rid of the evidence. You know, what a strong witness, "I've been dead for 4 days and he brought me back to life. Anybody wanna argue with me about who Jesus is"?
So they put a contract out on him. Then we see Jesus has to go up into another part of Galilee and there in Ephraim, he went almost in hiding as far as we know for a period of time. And then it was time of the Passover. Everybody speculated what Jesus of Nazareth, now the famous prophet and, to some eyes, infamous rabbi, would he come to the feast? Would he show up? That was the question. And sure enough, Jesus went back to Bethany. And there we know his feet were anointed by Mary, and then Jesus goes and makes his way to Jerusalem. And on that Palm Sunday, the crowds came out when the news went out, "Jesus is coming. Jesus is coming. Jesus is coming. Jesus is coming".
And they lined the streets going into that great city, and there they had palm branches swaying. They were saying, "Hosanna," And here comes Jesus into the city, riding on a donkey. A king would come, a conqueror would come on a white horse. A general, a ruler with power and pomp and circumstance and ego, riding on a horse, but this is the way the Master rides, on a donkey, on a donkey, on a donkey. Now, the prophetic Jews who were steeped in Scripture knew it was a fulfillment of Ezekiel 9:9, which said: "The Messiah will come riding on a donkey". So they recognized what he was saying in the proclamation of this truth, "Hosanna, praise be to God. The King has come".
What a moment, that celebratory moment of Palm Sunday. And then the next passage of Scripture there deals with a group of Greeks cam to Jesus. First of all, they didn't go direction to him. They went to Philip, Philip, a Greek name, one of the apostles. And the Greeks recognized a fellow Greek and said, "Sir, we wish to see Jesus". I love that phrase. I've preached in pulpits all over this world, and so many of them have engraved in the pulpit, "We would see Jesus". And that's why we go to church, isn't it? That's why we sing hymns. That's why we worship. We would see Jesus. And these Greeks simply made that request to a fellow Greek. And Philip was a little timid and said, "Well, I'll go to Andrew, and he's the entrée to Jesus".
And Andrew also is almost perhaps a Greek name, and we know that evidently, he took these Greeks, foreigners, perhaps God lovers, perhaps seekers, perhaps those who came as a part of the wonderful celebration of the Passover. It was a fabulous time. People came from all over the world, not only Jews, but others who were God seekers. And so, evidently, the Greeks went to Jesus and then we see something that is very, very interesting. Mark this down, verse 23: "And Jesus answered them". Other words, they brought the Greeks to him. "And Jesus answered them," verse 23, John chapter number 12, "The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified".
Now, when you see that phrase, "The hour has come," if you know your Bible, and we've been listening as we've walked through the life of Jesus, the autobiography of the Almighty, many times he'd say, you know, "I can't answer that because my hour has not come. I can't do that because my hour has not come". All the way through the life of Jesus, we see this phrase, "The hour has not come. The time has not come. The hour has not come". And now, someone who would hear these words, "My hour has come," whoa, you'd stand on tiptoe. "And it is come," what? "For the Son of Man," talking about himself, "to be glorified". I like that word "glorified," don't you? What do you think about it?
I think about somebody being applauded, somebody being honored, somebody being set aside. I think about, biblically, a Shekinah glory coming, a kind of awesome moment. The Son of Man is to be glorified. This is the moment. And by the way, this is only the second time in the Bible that Jesus proclaims that he is indeed the Son of God, the promised Messiah. He did it at the woman at the well. And he did it sort of in a backhanded way in the, "I am," passages we find in John. But here he says clearly by coming on the donkey, fulfilling a prophecy before all the people and here seeing, "Now is the hour for the Son of Man to be glorified, to be lifted up".
And then, look at the 24th verse. Look very careful, hope you have your Bibles with you. You have two words that you should stop and take a time. It says: "Truly, truly". I've taught this before. This you need to remember, forgive me. When you see, "Truly, truly," we would say, "Amen, amen". "Truly, truly," "Amen, amen". Jesus begins what he's saying with, "Truly, truly". Now, when you're reading your Bible and you see, "Truly, truly," right there you stop because you know something important, vital, is going to be said. I mean, this... get ready. He's already said, "My hour has come. I'm going to be glorified". And he says, "Truly, truly".
In the synagogues, the old rabbis would sit in the back. They'd read the scroll. A rabbi would teach the congregation. And if the old rabbis in the back like what the rabbi had taught, they would say, "Amen, amen". They didn't like it, they wouldn't say anything. Jesus, when he was teaching, he said, "Amen, amen, verily, verily," before he said anything. But he was going to say something exceedingly important, something he didn't want anybody to miss, he didn't say, "Verily, verily, amen, amen," afterward. He said it as an introduction. Isn't that interesting? So anytime you see, "Verily, verily," you say, "Whoa, hold on, this is important".
And look what Jesus says. He said, "Verily, verily, I say unto you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit". And so we see that he is being glorified, but the staggering thing here, the glorification of Jesus is the Crucifixion of Jesus. That's contrary to anything anybody had ever heard of, anybody could figure out, is it not? Glorification is Crucifixion. And he said clearly here, "Unless a grain of wheat falls in the ground and dies, it just abides alone". It's nonproductive, it just exists. But if it is placed in the ground, there is a germination process and fruit. There is productivity that comes out of it. And he is saying that, "I will abide in the ground. I will die. I'll be buried so that I will have life".
And he says the same thing to us. We are to die so that we would have life, so the cross is a paradox. Remember what a paradox is? A paradox is a statement that seems to be contradictory in nature, but many times it ends up being the truth. Something that is contradictory but ends up being truthful. It seems like it's an opposite thing. But you put them together. Now, in the paradox, you see the full picture of what is being stated. What is the paradox of the cross? Through death comes life. That's backwards, isn't it? Man, you know, death reveals life. That's what Jesus is saying. He said, "I am planted in the ground". He died so that we might experience life and so he could experience life.
And what's that word? That you might, that we might be fruitful. What is fruitfulness? Or what does it mean to have a life that's fruitful. Have to go to Galatians 5. Let me tell ya what a fruitful life looks like: "Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, self-control, gentleness". Are those characteristics that you'd like to have? Boy, I would. The fruit of the Spirit, I mean, to have a life that's like that, Jesus says that he died so that he would produce that kind of fruit. And you go to 2 Corinthians chapter 5, it says that: "He who knew no sin," that was Jesus, "took on our sin so that we might take on him and be in him and we might have," you and I might have, what? "The righteousness of God". That terrific? "The righteousness of God".
So, we see the paradox that is here in this verse. We see the rest of it in the very next verse. It applies even in a more personal way to us. He said, "He who loves his life loses it, but he who hates his life I this world would keep it to life eternal". You see, everything about the Christian life is almost backwards to logic, isn't it? You wanna be first? Lag back, be last. Do you wanna really be somebody? Be a servant. So, we see the cross is paradoxical. And then we read in the 26th verse: "'If anyone serves me,'" said Jesus, "he must follow me; where I am, there my servant will be also; if anyone serves me, the Father will honor him".
And the word "honor," we sort of watered down that word. We talk about, "My son was on the honor roll". None of my children. Well, one of 'em once. But we talk about, you know, "I was honored there at the office and they gave me a pen. I was salesman..." We've taken honor and made it almost, but here it says, "The Father will honor you". Boy, isn't that? It is the Father will honor us. We lose our life only to find it again. "Ever since that day in the quiet place, I met my Master face to face". We see the paradox of the cross. And then we see here the purpose of the cross. Look at it, verse 27, Jesus says: "'Now my soul has become troubled; and what shall I say, "Father, save me from this hour"? But for this purpose I came to this hour. Father, glorify your name.'" "My heart is troubled. My soul is troubled".
What is it? Jesus, this is Gethsemane, pre-Gethsemane, is it not? Remember, Jesus said, "Man, let this cup pass from me," as he looked to the cross. People say, "Oh, man, a lot of people have died that are more heroic than Jesus, a lot of people have". Socrates took that hemlock, and he took that poison, hemlock. He didn't blink an eye. What's Jesus saying? What was troubling his soul? It wasn't the physical death. It wasn't horrific enough. It wasn't the shame of being there on the cross and the spectacle. It wasn't the identity, "Now, you must be some sort of horrendous criminal to be executed like this".
It was, what troubled his soul that he would take upon himself all the trash of your life and my life and the trash of the world and die on our behalf at the same time his Father would turn his back on him. He would die alone. That was what troubled him. That is what that cup looked like. He said, "My soul is troubled". The price that was paid for the purpose... what's the purpose of the cross? He said that, "The Father's name, my name might be glorified".
You see, the name in the Bible is a big thing. Somebody's name would carry all their characteristics, all their background, all their heritage, all the history. A name, that's readin' one of the commandments, "Thou shall not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain". Oh, how important is the name? "Let this mind be in you," said Paul, "which was also in Christ Jesus: Being in the form of God, made of himself no reputation, took upon him the form of a servant: humbled himself, was obedient to death, even the death of the cross. Wherefore God hath highly exalted him and given him a," what? "A name that's above every name: That at the name of Jesus everything under the earth, on the earth, on the earth, above the earth, every knee shall bow; and every tongue shall confess his name that he is our Lord and our God".
My goodness, it's the name. He said, "The name might be glorified". The cross glorified the name of the Father. Name any other religion in the world, just stand up, let's talk about 'em one at a time, one at a time. Find me any other faith, any other religion in which the God the Father, the Son of that religion died on a cross for you and me, or for anybody. You see, the Father came all the way down to the heaven and the Son, and he died estranged even from the Father. You find greater love than that. Therefore, when you look at the cross, you see those arms, what does that mean? Those arms are saying simply, "I love you". You look at a cross, they're saying, "I love you. I love you". That's what those arms are saying.
And by the way, you think about a symbol of Christianity. You know, it could have been a manger, right, you know, the birth? The symbol of Christianity could have been a carpenter's bench. He worked honoring the laboring person. The symbol could have been a towel. He washed the feet. The symbol of Christianity could have been a boat. Remember, he sat on the boat and he would teach. That'd be a good symbol, have a boat there. Symbol of Christianity could be a rock. Remember the stone that was rolled away, revealed the empty tomb? It could be a rock. That'd be a good symbol to use. The symbol of Christianity could be a dove, when the Holy Spirit came and fell. The symbol of Christianity could be a throne. John says, "I saw the Lord, the Lamb, on the throne". Could be a throne.
Well, what is the symbol of Christianity? It's a cross. It's a cross. And the cross has paradoxical truth. When we die, we live. When Jesus died, he gives life to others. We see the very purpose of the cross is that the name of Jesus may be glorified. And then we see the power of the cross. It's one of the most famous verses in the Bible. It says, "Now judgment is upon this world; that the ruler of this world will be cast out". In other words, evil was defeated on the cross. Understand that, evil was defeated. We're just in a mopping-up operation. Evil was done for. Evil did its worst on the only begotten of the Father, on Jesus, and now we're in the mopping-up operations. And then Jesus said, "And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to myself". The word "draw" there is "helkyo". Great word, "helkyo". It means, like the disciples caught a lot of fish and they got to the nets and they were physically straining, drawing, the cross draws us.
We see Jesus on the cross. He goes and he physically takes us, spiritually, morally, and just draws us to himself. "If I be lifted up, I will draw". There is a power there, a drawing power when Jesus is lifted up. We think about the cross. What do you think about? He's our substitute, like he took the punishment you and I deserved so we'll not have to take that punishment for our garbage, for our sin, right? He is a propitiation. That has to do with his shed blood that gives us life, that covers, eliminates our sin. That's a part of the cross. We are redeemed. He buys us back from evil and from our selfishness. We are redeemed. Salvation is used as a part of the cross. And also, the word I like is the word "rescue". Anybody here need to be rescued? Wherever you are or wherever I am, we get down in the mud and the muck and we need to be rescued.
Somebody, some need to, and it is, "Well, if I be lifted up, I will draw all men". And that drawing rescues us. But we don't just stay there. The whole church is supposed to come around us. All that we can and hold those precious whom God rescued in Jesus Christ here among us. That's our calling. That's who we are. And that's what the cross is all about. It's a paradox of truth. You die to live. You live to die. Also, the purpose is that, "My name may be glorified in the cross". The condescension of God as he came all the way down, identified with our sin, became sin himself so as we receive him, you and I might be righteous in the sight of God. Is that supernatural? Is that amazing?
And then we see the drawing power of the cross. It is irresistible. It draws us. It draws us. It draws us. That's that word, that powerful word. Man named Barrabas, infamous criminal, contemporary with Jesus. Put in prison. Sentenced to be crucified, executed. Pilate, same time examining Jesus and Pilate finds no fault in him. He wants to not be a part of his Crucifixion. He wants to get out of the trap he's in. His wife told him, "Have nothing to do with this good man". And Pilate's caught, but he has an idea. He said, "You know, at Passover time, we of the Roman government, we will release any prisoner that the people of Israel want us to release and let them go free". And he said, "We have two very famous prisoners now. We have Jesus of Nazareth, who says he's the King of the Jews, who claims that he is Messiah, and we Barrabas, that scum, that infamous crook, that sorry rascal who's been exploiting and robbing and hurting us. We've got Jesus and Barrabas. And because I can release one of them, which one would you like for me to release"?
Pilate said, "Surely they'll say, 'Jesus.'" But they didn't. They said, "Release Barrabas". I read that over and over and I'm always amazed. You know, a few days other, it was, "Hosanna, hosanna, blessed is the name of the Lord," when he came on that Palm Sunday. Now, it's, "Crucify him". From, "Hosanna," to, "Crucify," in 4 or 5 days. The crowds are fickle, aren't they? They're fickle. And they say he said, "Well, what do you want me to do with Jesus"? They said, "Crucify, crucify".
Now, Barrabas, in the prison, he didn't know this. They came to get him and he said, "This is the end". His arms were fettered. The prisoners begin to drag him out and they take him out of the dungeon and they take off his chains and they say, "Barrabas, you've been set free". "What, what"? "You've been set free". And I have a feeling Barrabas turned to run, but maybe the head guard grabbed him and said, "Barrabas, wait a minute. Look there on that hill, Barrabas. Look on that hill. You see those three crosses"? "Yes". "Do you see that center cross, Barrabas"? "Yes". "Barrabas, that man on the center cross died for you". Ladies and gentlemen, this Palm Sunday, we look at the cross and understand just one simple thing. That man Jesus, that man on the center cross died for you.