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Watch 2022-2023 online sermons » Levi Lusko » Levi Lusko - Go For Glory

Levi Lusko - Go For Glory

Levi Lusko - Go For Glory
TOPICS: Amen Series

If you have a Bible, John chapter 12 is where we're going to be. Title of my message today is Go For Glory. Go For Glory. It's no secret that I'm a big fan of NASA. And the idea of mission command and every space mission has these checkpoints where they check in. And it's either a go or a no go. Go, no go for launch. Go, no go for stage separation. Go, no go for landing. And it's this chance to evaluate, is it safe to proceed or should we still abort while we can? Go, no go. We're going to see that Jesus is go for glory and wants us to be as well. And what we're going to discover in this text as we look at Jesus and listen to Him yet again use that phrase that we're looking for in this lead up to Easter, where Jesus says, verily, some translations truly, other translations most assuredly, is either beginning a sentence with Amen singular, or Amen, Amen.

Which is a real way, it's like waving His hands in front of our face before He says something to both tell us that what He's about to give us is going to be controversial, sort of a hot take, but is also something He wants us to know is absolutely certain. And in this Amen statement, He is going to give us the unlikely path to greatness, the unlikely path to the greatness that all of us crave. All of us crave deep down greatness. No one wants our life to be, meh. Right? At the end to look back on it and go, yeah, that happened. We want our lives to be great. We want to achieve God-given greatness. But He's going to show us that the way that we tend to look for it in this world is the exact opposite of how you actually get it. And then, if we follow the norm, the default of this world, it's going to take us exactly away from where we deep down want to be.

I'm going to read to you a series of verses from John 12. Can't read them all for time's sake. But you can and should read them this week, the entirety of this chapter. It's some of Jesus's final words that He had to say publicly, in fact, His very final public address, before He just hung out with His disciples and then eventually was arrested. And this all took place on Palm Sunday, the day that we celebrate today in our church calendar, looking back on, remembering what He did. We're being focused in our thinking so that we get to Easter and have the full bloom of God's glory in our hearts because we've done the work of preparation. We're not just rolling into the Resurrection without first acknowledging what He went through intentionally on the way there, the checkpoints along the way, the go, no go moments, you could say.

And, of course, when we think about Palm Sunday, we have a couple of images in our minds. Jesus is on a donkey. He's being led into the city of Jerusalem from Bethany where He would often stay when He was in town. It was a suburb on the outskirts of Jerusalem. And He would have to go down the Mount of Olives to get into the city each day. He would crash with His friends Mary, Martha, and Lazarus who had a nice house in Bethany, obviously able to accommodate Jesus and His entire crew. Jesus did not roll solo. He had this whole posse. And they would roll out the red carpet for them to stay at his house. And Jesus was friends with Lazarus.

And, of course, when Lazarus died, Jesus was there to raise him from the dead, no big deal. And that had created a massive stir, a massive buzz, as you can imagine. A lot of people wanted to see Jesus. And so, on this day, He told His disciples, oddly enough, I want you to go into the city. I want you to find a donkey that's tied up. I want you to untie the donkey. They would have raised their hand and go, that's illegal. He's like, I know. And they're going to come out and bust you. They're going to tell you, why'd you untie my donkey? And you're going to tell them, Jesus needs the donkey, bro. And the owner's going to be like, cool. You can take my donkey. This is no longer a donkey-jacking situation. We now are good with it. And the disciples were like, they're walking away going, our job is weird. Our life is weird, right? Weird. We have to do this strange thing.

And so, they do it. They get the donkey. They bring Jesus to the top of the Mount of Olives. And He's going to now make His way down towards the Keedron Valley before coming into the city of Jerusalem, where He will, again, cleanse the temple, driving out the moneychangers as He did at the very beginning of His ministry, one more poking of the eye of the religious establishment of His day. Jesus did not walk like them. Jesus did not talk like them. Jesus did not dress like them.

And so, this is all happening. The people basically start throwing ticker tape up in the air, confetti just going everywhere. They all break down palm branches out of the palm trees and start waving them in front of Him, which was a direct rip-off from how the Romans celebrated victorious generals and kings after the battles and they were welcomed back into the cities, with one major difference that we'll point out in just a moment. But they were also spreading their clothes out on the ground in front of Him. And they were saying to Jesus over and over again a direct quotation from Psalm 118, which was, "Save now, oh, Lord, send Us your prosperity. Hosanna, Hosanna. Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord".

Now, verse 16 gives us some backstory details on all of this. Look at it. His disciples, though, did not understand these things at first. But when Jesus was glorified... notice there's the first use of that word. I want you to take note of it every time it pops up in this text, then they remembered that these things were written about Him and that they had done these things to Him. Jumping to verse 19, "The Pharisees therefore said among themselves, you see that you are accomplishing nothing. Look, the whole world has gone after Him". They had made it their explicit goal to tear Jesus down to put a stop to this Jesus business. And they go, it's not working. The whole world is going after Him. Now, in truth, only the nation of Israel was really going after Jesus. But since they brought it up, it turned out prophetic.

Verse 20, "Now, there were certain Greeks among those who came up to worship at the feast. Then they came to Philip, who was from Bathsheba of Galilee, and asked him saying, 'Sir, we wish to see Jesus.' And Philip came and told Andrew. And in turn, Andrew and Philip told Jesus. But Jesus answered them saying, 'The hour has come that the Son of man should be glorified. Most assuredly, I say to you,'" did you catch it? "'Most assuredly,'" amen, amen, "'I say to you,'" now, here's the hot take that he wants us to know is not a lie. "'Unless a grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it remains alone. But if it dies, it produces much grain. He who loves his life will lose it. And he who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. If anyone serves me, let him follow me. And where I am, there my servant will be also. if anyone serves me, him my Father will honor.'"

What does greatness look like? Jesus is showing us, it's the counter-intuitive approach that is not the norm in this world. Verse 27, "'Now,'" this is just a shifting of gears, Jesus says, "'My soul is troubled. And what shall I say? Father, save me from this hour. But for this purpose, I came to this hour.'" So instead, what does He pray? "'Father, glorify Your name.' Then a voice came from heaven saying, 'I have both glorified it, and I will glorify it again. ' Therefore, the people who stood by and heard the voice said that it had thundered," in case you're wondering what God's voice sounds like. "Others said, no, an angel has spoken to Him. Jesus answered and said," hey, "'This voice did not come because of me, but for your sake. Now is the judgment of this world. Now the ruler of this world will be cast out. And I, if I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all peoples to myself.' This He said, signifying by what death he would die".

What is the response to this epic teaching and terrific demonstration? Verse 37, "But although He had done so many signs before them, they did not believe in Him", principally, the majority. But there's always a remnant. There's always an exception to that. And it tends to be in the place where you expect it the least. So huge amount of people are like, yay, Jesus. Most of them don't believe Him at all. And many of them will be shouting, crucify him, a week from now. So it was just a popular thing. It was just the bandwagon thing to do. But there is a few little exceptions where there is some salvation breaking forth. And it's not where you think it would be. Verse 42, "Nevertheless, even among the rulers, many believed in Him. But because of the Pharisees, they did not confess Him, lest they should be put out of the synagogue". And the little parenthetical detail is given, because many of them cared more for the pleasure and the approval of people than they cared for the approval of God.

Now, your attention, please. You have here Jesus in one of the only times in His life, allowing Himself to be treated as a King. It is the exception to all the other times where He downplays and sh, sh, sh, hey, hey, no, no, no, no. Where they would try and take Him to make Him King, He breaks His tradition and chooses to allow them just for a moment to treat Him as He actually deserves to be treated. And when it works, when the crowd gets even bigger, to where in the words of His enemies, the entire world has gone after Him. And even Greek people start breaking loose and they're like, we want to know about Jesus too. We would see Jesus. We want to get on team Jesus. All of a sudden, He gets weird, and makes it weird, and shuts it down. Classic Jesus. You're like, come on. Have you not seen Glengarry Glen Ross, the whole salesman thing? Always be closing. You have Him there, it's time to close the deal, Jesus. Time to give the invitation now.

Come on, let's get this show on the road. But Jesus does the exact opposite and He brings out one of His famous hard sayings. Remember when He did that in John 6? He had just fed the 5,000? The biggest in scale and in scope miracle He ever performed, up to 15,000 people were fed? And now everyone's there and it's like, man, you've got them. You could form them into a posse and do whatever you want. And Jesus starts breaking out the strange teaching about eat my flesh and drink my blood. The disciples were like, oh, not that one. And predictably, when people understood the true cost of following Him, that He wasn't going to be their own personal Jesus just to be a genie in a bottle they could rub whenever they needed a favor or a cosmic ATM machine. When they understood the true cost, He wants them to look to Him like their daily food, more valuable than daily food, to take and to treat me like you would treat food. To see Him as the bread of life, the water of life. They weren't down for that.

And so, a lot of people, the Bible says, turned and followed Him no more. Jesus turned to His disciples and goes, hey, you guys want to leave too? Peter raised his hand and was like, kinda. Kinda. We kinda do. But then he said this. This is so beautiful. He said, but where else are we going to go? Because nobody else speaks the sort of words that You speak, the words of eternal life. And I love that because he was being honest. I don't understand what the cannibalism message is all about. It doesn't make sense to me either. And that's not how I would say it. But what am I going to do? Who else is offering salvation? Who else offers life after death? Who else offers forgiveness of sins? Who else offers what You offer? No one offers hope like Jesus. So even though I don't understand You, I'm going to follow You. And that's what Jesus was seeking to coax out here, the true kind of faith of someone who says, I'm going to pick up my cross and follow You.

So what is He introducing? The ethics of His upside down kingdom. Yes, He is a King and should be lauded as a King and will one day be heralded as a King by the whole world. And some think that the reason palm trees are visible on Palm Sunday is a glimpse of what the Bible says will happen when Christ returns to actually set up His kingdom on this earth. And that is, that the trees are going to come back to life and clap their hands. And this is just meant to be just a picture of what's going to happen when all of creation is renewed and restored and the effects of the fall and sin removed. You took that in stride, but it's going to be a great day. And this is just a picture of what actually is in store for us all. But He's showing that His kingdom is not like the kingdoms of this world. The kingdoms of this world are all about power and all about their might, and their strength, and what they can get, and telling other people what to do.

And Jesus's kingdom is not that way, which is why He rode in on a donkey. No Roman general, no Roman King would ride a donkey. It's kind of like, yeah, wa, wa, wa, wa. It's like, what? This is not a way to be treated. You need me on a chariot. You need to be on a stallion, this mighty war horse. Here, Jesus is embracing, yes, I am a King, but I'm not the kind of King you expect. I come in lowly. I come in low. I come in to introduce a kingdom that's upside down. Where if you try and save your life, you lose. Where if you try and grab hold of greatness the traditional way, it will slip through your fingers. Greatness comes not through crushing and conquering but through serving.

And I want to point out five different things. We could spend a lot more time extracting so much, but five things we see about Jesus that are noteworthy in this text this He goes for glory. And the first is His sense of timing. Timing, they say, is everything. In sports, in the military, in business, timing is crucial, in dancing. Hello, that gene is not found in me. Timing is crucial. And Jesus uses the phrase, my our and my purpose, and for this reason I've came at this time, two different times in this text. Both in 23 and in verse 27 you'll notice He refers, when He should be telling the Greeks, yeah, come follow me. Let's kill the beast. Let's storm the castle. Let's get rid of Caesar. No. Instead He starts breaking down them you've got to die message, which is classic Jesus. You've got to die to yourself. He references His time, His hour.

Now, there's nothing unusual in John's gospel about Jesus referencing the time except this time it's the exact opposite. What do you mean? Well, John chapter 2 verse 4, he said, "My hour has not yet come". John 5 verse 25, "Assuredly I say, the hour is coming, but not here yet". Verse 6 of chapter 7, "The time has not yet come. My time has not yet fully come". His hour had not yet come. You see the point? Now, all of a sudden, we get to the Greeks there, they're listening. And He goes, I can't stay and talk to you. I can't be, go with you and your palm fronds and have continued clothes spread in front of me because my time has come. My time has come. Seven signs in John's gospel, seven I am statements as well. There are seven unique references to his time, and they are all in the future tense until we get to chapter 12 when he says, it's time. It's time to shine. It's time for the Son to be glorified.

Now, if you're listening to that message while you're sitting on a donkey with everyone's celebrating you, that's what we all think glory looks like. You're being glorified. What do you mean, it's time to be glorified? You're being glorified. This is what glory looks like. No, no, he said, it's time for me to be glorified. And he was speaking about being crucified. It's an upside down kingdom. The way up is down. The way you get to a great harvest of righteousness is being like a seed that dies and goes into... it's counterintuitive. He's saying, go for glory, not by continuing to be treated like an emperor, but in being willing to condescend and die the death of the cross. His sense of timing.

And I also love just His awareness of prophecy and the significance of crossing every T and dotting every I that His life might be a prophetic eight ball, corner pocket from what the Old Testament said the Messiah would accomplish. And everybody was pretty much clueless as they were swept up in the emotion of the moment. But we are fulfilling some serious prophecies here, like Daniel chapter 9, that speaks of the coming King to His kingdom. And it's going to be exactly this way. And this King is going to give an edict for the city to rebuild. And that's exactly what happened in the Bible in the story of Nehemiah. And that order is given in the exact same prophetic timetable that's given by Daniel in the ninth chapter is fulfilled literally. It's been calculated and tabulated to the day that Jesus here presents himself to the nation of Israel.

You have Zechariah chapter 9, which also says that when that King comes breaking the tradition of the might and the power of an empire, He will be coming on the lowly donkey. He will be sitting on this icon that is not fierce. No one's intimidated by a donkey. But that's Jesus, majesty, meekness. Power, but expressed through weakness. The lion of the tribe of Judah. And I turned and look, and it was a lamb slain from before the foundation of the world. This tension, these truths that seem contradictory. But it all fulfilled prophecy. Now, it also frees me up to know that the text specifically said the disciples didn't actually know they were doing something awesome. It wasn't like they went to go get the donkey and they're like, can you believe we're fulfilling Zachariah 9?

And as Jesus was presented they're like, Daniel 9 is happening. For the win. No, the text says, they had no clue. They were just doing what Jesus told them to do. And I want to encourage you that as you follow God every single day, just trying to show up and be faithful in the little ways you can, you can trust Him to take care of the big prophetic picture. You can trust Him to take care of the big cosmic things. You just put that little thing out there. You just step out in faith. I remember the day I first led someone to the Lord that I had just met in a random situation. I was on an airplane having my quiet time. I was just a 15-year-old kid reading my Bible. And the guy next to me was like a businessman, had the briefcase and the suit on.

And I was just young and just, and he goes, what you reading? I was like, John 3. He's like, what's it about? I'm like, Jesus, I'm pretty sure. He's like, can I read it? And I hand him my Bible. I'm just sitting there. He's reading John. This guy literally asked me, can I pray some kind of prayer to give my heart to this Jesus I just read about in your Bible? His name was Mark Sparks. And I'm a 15-year-old kid. I was like, yeah, I think there's a prayer. I was trying to remember what my pastor used to pray at the end of the service. And so, we're literally landing, boom, boom, boom, boom. He's like, in Jesus' name, Amen. And we went our way. I've never seen him again. I've never know where he's at. I'm just telling, this is a little thing. I'm just, I didn't that day, I am going to lead a businessman to faith. It's like, I just actually slept in, didn't have my devotions, and I'm going to read it now on this airplane.

You see what I'm saying? This is a little thing. You just, Jesus calls you to get a donkey. Jesus says, can you do some little thing for me? You're going to be like, I don't understand it. I'm supposed to show kindness to this person. Pay for this person's bill. Put myself out there. Invite that person to church. You just trust God to take care of Zechariah 9. And you just go ahead and untie a donkey. You see what I'm saying? You just be willing to do some little, something small, something easily despised, and you just let God weave it together into the tapestry of sovereignty from His lofty view looking at the end and the beginning at the same time.

So the disciples had no clue. But they were a part of a massive move of God. And I just, I'm so freed by that, that you let God work it together, and you participate. But know this. Jesus was a master of timing, when it's His time, when's it not His time. And we need to study to get better at timing. Because scripture says that it's high time, "High time," Romans 13, "to awake out of sleep. High time for us to get engaged. For now our salvation is nearer than when we first believed". What does that mean, Romans 13:11? It means this. There's less sand in the hourglass above your head than there was yesterday. And there's going to be less sand tomorrow. Jesus is coming soon. Your life is going to end. It's high time. The hour has come for you to wake out of spiritual sleep, snap off the spiritual cruise control, and get engaged. Because God is working righteousness in all the earth, and he wants to use you. That's what it means in Ephesians 5:16, to "Redeem the time, because the days are evil or the days are short". So timing is important.

Secondly, notice Jesus's magnetism. There's a magnetism about Jesus. When you read the Gospels, don't you sense it? Don't you feel it? Aren't you just like, wow, there's just people just out of the woodwork wanting to meet with Jesus. The tax collector wants to touch Him. He's climbing up the tree to even just get a sight of Him. Blind Bartimaeus is crying out for Him. You have people wanting Jesus to come to their homes. You have Nicodemus, the sneaky religious leader, who's probably one of the ones mentioned here who believed but just wasn't courageous yet, and he wouldn't be until Jesus had died. And then he will stand out in incredible ways and be a part of Joseph of Arimathea and the attempt to give Jesus a proper burial. You have people who were just like, can I meet with You, but can I do it at nighttime? Because I'm not quite ready yet to be full-fledged going all in. And I just love that Jesus doesn't chastise that small faith. If you got small faith today, Jesus is going to take your small faith.

Now, he's going to seek to grow it and seek to stretch it. But so many people were drawn to Jesus. It's almost like this tractor beam. And I remember talking to someone who was outside of spiritual things but open to reading about it. And so I said, well, just read the words of Jesus. Go through the Gospels. And next time we met, I'm going to ask you, next time we sit down, I'm gonna ask you about Him. And he goes, dude, this guy was a BA. I was like, He is. I don't know if you can say that, but, yes. Yes, He is, and was, and is to come. You know what I'm saying? You just quickly, like it's something spiritual to cleanse the palate. But just, when you actually, it's not just a preconceived Jesus, not the painting Jesus with the sash and the lamb.

But when you actually meet Jesus, and I think that's what so many of us have been marked by as we watch The Chosen, just this refreshing portrayal of this down-to-Earth Son of God wearing a backpack, walking around, brushing His teeth. He was a person and yet fully divine. There's something about Him. In fact, it causes everybody to want to get to know Him, whether they know it deep down or not. Keith Brooks said, "The cross of Jesus is the mightiest magnet in the universe". And did not Jesus say that? I will be glorified, meaning crucified. He said the signifying the death He would die, lest anybody was confused. And then He said, people are just going to be drawn to me. They won't be able to explain it. They won't be able to understand it. I'm shifting into Field of Dreams. They'll be pulling off the highway. They won't even know what drew them there.

And some of you don't even know. All you know is Yellowstone. You need to go into the deep cuts of His archive, ladies and gentlemen. Just skip Waterworld. It's not worth your time. So but, really, he's really come full circle to Dances With Wolves if you think about it. Magnetism... what is it about Jesus that causes, everyone's talking to their neighbor, explaining what I'm talking about here, finding their way to IMDB. What is it about Christ? I mean, let me ask you this. Why have you never been on a jobsite and seen someone hit the tip of their finger with a hammer and yelled out, oh, Buddha. Why is Christ on people's tongues? Why is Jesus Christ, why for good or for evil are people drawn to the realization that there is no name more powerful than the name that is given, the name that is life, the name that can save, the name of Jesus Christ our Lord? There is something about that name.

Dr. James Francis said, and I quote, "He never wrote a book. He never held an office. He never had a family or owned a home. He didn't go to college, visit a big city, or travel 200 miles from the place where He was born. Jesus never did any of those things that one usually associates with greatness. He had no credentials but himself. He was only 33 when the tide of public opinion turned against Him. All of his friends ran away. He was turned over to His enemies. He went through the mockery of a trial, was nailed to a cross between two thieves. While He was dying, His executioners gambled for His clothing, which was the only thing that He owned. The only property He had on Earth. When He was dead, He was laid in a borrowed grave. He didn't even have His own place to be buried, and it happened through the pity of a friend. And 20 centuries have come and gone, but today He remains the central figure of the human race and of the... and is at the helm as the leader of mankind's progress. All the armies that have ever marched, all the navies that have ever sailed, all the parliaments that have ever set, all the kings that have ever reigned put together have not affected the life of man on Earth as much as that one solitary life".

There is just something about Jesus. And he said, if I be lifted up, I will draw all people to myself. It was a play on words, because He was being lifted up on the donkey. He was being lifted up by the palm branch. He was being lifted up. This is what everyone thinks they need to be happy. And He said, that's not being lifted up. That helps nobody. Only through me laying my life down can it be taken back up again, but not only for me, but with salvation to spare, salvation for you, and salvation for you. And so, what he was doing was what all the disciples thought was going to be happening. It just was not going to be the way any of us would have predicted. And light bulb, we all have unique connections to people who want Jesus. They just don't know it yet, unique connections.

Did you notice the text doesn't say, these Greeks just wanted to speak to Jesus. No, it says, they wanted to see Jesus. And so, they grabbed Philip from the Bethsaida of Galilee. They tapped him on the shoulder and said, could you get us in front? Is there any chance you could get us to Jesus? Why did they pick Philip up from Bethsaida? Two ideas. One, the word Philip is a Greek name. He's one of the only disciples who had a name that was a Greek word. So it made sense to them. We're Greek. He's got a Greek name. Maybe he likes Greek people. Secondly, Bethsaida of Galilee had a lot of commerce, people coming and going. There was a lot of Greek activity there. So it's possible that they had seen him at some point in their comings and going from that area. He seemed to really know the area.

In fact, when Jesus fed the 5,000, he first turned to Philip because that was the next closest city, Bethsaida, and He said to Philip, where should we buy bread? Because it seems like Philip was kind of this chamber of commerce guy who represented the commerce and industry of Bethsaida. And so He says, where should we buy bread? Philip had a seizure. He was like uh, the Costco's not even open. You know what I'm saying? I like to picture him always bragging whenever they got to Bethsaida about where they should eat. Oh, you went there? That's Sbarro. That's not real pizza. Come with me to my Vinny's on Third. That guy who always corrects everybody on where the best place is. And I just love that Jesus is like, all right, you're always bragging up Bethsaida, telling us how great it is. Tell us where we should buy food, as an opportunity for him. But here on this day, it was working to his benefit, because they naturally found their way to him.

So here's my question. Who can you naturally and easily point to Jesus who would take a miracle for me to get in front of? Just by you sitting down in your home room. You dread your classroom, you dread where you work, the neighborhood that you live in. But there are people who desperately want Jesus even though they don't even know it yet. And you naturally have an in with. It won't take hard work for you to get in front of them because you're already in their lives.

Now can you start to believe it's that way by cosmic design, that God supernaturally has put you where you are so that you can be the Philip in the situation? And Philip brings them to Andrew. Why? Because Andrew had a reputation of bringing people to Jesus. Philip was maybe intimidated by it. Andrew never cared. Every single, look into it. Every time Andrew shows up in the Gospels, he's bringing someone to Jesus. What a great thing to be known for. Could we as a church be a people who are constantly bringing other people to Jesus? We can't save them, He can. We're just bringing them. We're, hey, here's Jesus. Here's Jesus. Here's what He has to say. Here's Jesus working in my life. That's Jesus's magnetism.

Thirdly, His focus. Notice His focus, that He never got distracted from.. go for glory. He was always going for God's glory, for God's plan, for God's authority. Even and especially when it's not what He wanted to do, it's what He prayed for. When He prayed, He prayed, God, be glorified. And God's response was, I already did it, and I'm going to do it some more. There is a prayer that God loves to answer. It's not always our prayer for stuff. It's not always our prayer for that job or for that boyfriend. But there's a prayer that God longs to answer in your life. And that's that He would be glorified in whatever He chooses to do. And the more you line yourself up with that God, no matter, here's what I'm going to ask for because what I think I need. But I just want You to be glorified so Your will be done. That's Jesus's focus. And true greatness will be unlocked when that becomes ours as well.

Fourthly, we're almost done here, notice Jesus's example. His example, in embracing difficulty no matter what it cost Him. He said, in an honest admission in verse 27, "Father, my soul is troubled". This is as much as John's gospel lets us see the agony of Gethsemane where Jesus sweats great drops of blood because the cross, as it advances, makes him physically recoil in terror because He knows how bad your sins are, and how bad my sins are, and how bad they're going to feel when they're on Him and God's treating Him as though He personally committed every sin that's ever been committed. His soul shrank from that. He did not want that. And in the garden of Gethsemane we see that on display. But here, in John's Gospel, we just get this one little picture where He goes, God, my heart's troubled.

So what should I say? Save me from this hour? Heck, no. This is what I'm here for. So let's go, God. Go for glory, even though I'm troubled by it. This is so personally challenging to me. And I think perhaps a needed word in a day where for so many of us, we determine something's wrong and get spooked and run away from things that are hard. This job's hard. Must not be for me. This marriage is hard. Must not be for me. This church has gotten hard. Now I need to find a new church. I need to uproot and go find a new city where the grass is always seemingly greener. But we need to understand, we can suffer hardship and do so in the will of God. And having difficulty presented to us, trouble presented to us might not mean we're in the wrong place. It might mean we're exactly where we need to be. And God's working on us on the inside.

Did not Paul write to the church at Thessalonica and say, "No one should be shaken by these afflictions". For look at this, "You yourselves know that we are appointed to this". So get good at saying to yourself, God, I'm troubled, saying to God inside yourself, God, I'm troubled right now, but I know I was born for this. God, I was born for this battle. I was born for this adversity. This is what you've called me to. So I'm going to continue to follow You no matter how difficult it is. Jesus's example is of embracing difficulty, not shrinking back from it. And here's the truth. We don't grow in great times. We grow and surge ahead in difficult times. That's why we should count it all joy when we fall into various trials. Because the testing of our faith produces all manner of great things in our lives.

Lastly, number five, what is Jesus's method of getting to greatness? He's unlocking for us the formula, the answer of His method. How does He get to that glory, get to that greatness, is simply death. Death is the path to life. This is an upside down kingdom. So how are you going to win this war? Cast out the ruler of this kingdom. I'm going to do so by dying. If you were in trouble, you're like, hey, Levi, I am dying. Help me. I'm like, I have a great solution. I'll die. You're like, I see not how that will help me. And yet, that was Jesus's exact battle strategy. Amen, I tell you, I don't want you to follow me till you hear this. I'm going to die, and through dying there's going to be life. And I'm calling you to follow in my footsteps. Not that I'll call all of you to die physically, though many of his disciples did, in fact, die martyrs deaths, and not for nothing.

The symbol of a tomb that contained the remains of someone who had died for their faith in church history, look into it, it was a palm branch. If someone died a martyr's death, they marked that grave uniquely, saying God led them in triumph, the triumph marked by a palm branch. But Jesus calls us to die to different things, all of us. He calls us to die to our sin, to see ourselves as dead with Christ, buried with Christ. That's what baptism is. When you go into the waters of baptism you're saying, I died with Christ and was buried. And when you come out of the waters of baptism, it's as though you are rising out of the grave with Jesus. And the Spirit who raised Him from the dead is giving life to your mortal body. It's a brand new life that starts that is only possible because of the death that was died.

And all the legends, and all the movies, and all the superhero movies, and all the death to life, and phoenix from the ashes, are all just echoes of the Gospel that this is what Jesus unlocked for us. A giving that leads to receiving. A losing that leads to winning. A serving that leads to reigning. A yielding that leads to keeping. And along the way, Jesus did not just die physically. He died to many things, didn't he? Died to comfort. He died to control. And he died to celebrity. It would have felt good to have all this adulation. That's why Jesus was tempted by the devil in the wilderness. I'll have people bow down and worship you. I'll give you all this food. I'll give you all this prestige. You'll have what you want. You'll have celebrity. You'll have control. You'll have comfort. He appealed to the flesh.

And listen, the way this world works, and the spirit that works in the sons of disobedience, a.k.a. the devil who showed up in the garden and tried to get Adam and Eve to take themselves out from God's authority so they could become like Him, when they should have said, we already are like Him, made in His image. And we get to our greatness by coming under His authority. But they rebelled, eating what He said not to eat. And all that spirit has been unleashed on our world is us seeking to get greatness apart from God, not coming to the cross, but going to the Tower of Babel, and us climbing our way to greatness, our climbing our way to making a name for ourselves. But Jesus didn't come to get an audience, or a following, or a platform. He came to die our death. He came to expose that all the things we look to, if I could just be known, if I could just be famous, if I could just be powerful, if I could just have this sexual partner, then that would be great. Then I would achieve glory.

This is what I'm after. He's showing, by dying on the cross and being given the name above every name, and being exalted, and offering that Resurrection to us all, that the gods of this world are offering lies. And this is so needed in our day. And I had a great illustration of this come to mind this week as we were in Billings for our prayer and worship popup night, which was awesome, by the way, amazing. Standing-room only, people there to pray to seek God. I'm telling you, this is how revival happens. And on the way I was like, man, I've never been to the Little Bighorn monument. I remember learning about it in history class, where Custer had his last stand, and where 200 men under his command, 200-plus men died, and this whole thing. And it's right here in Montana where I've lived for 16 years, never been there.

So talked my family into three extra hours in the car to go check this out. And it was blowing wind and cold and really very painful weather to experience while we were there. But it was just so powerful to me, because this has shaped how we think as a culture about greatness. It's just become this myth. Everything we're talking about here, Custer was like this exaggeration of because of this painting, actually. This is how this all happened. I was intrigued to know that Anheuser-Busch owns the rights to this painting. And it's this massive work of art that was done in the 1800s celebrating a fictionalized version of this moment, where you have several thousand native peoples attacking these 200 in this regiment. And they all died to the last man, Custer in the center of it, swashbuckling cavalier. And Budweiser bought the art rights to this painting and distributed 150,000 of them framed to every single bar that sold their beer in the entire country.

And so, there's this image that caused there to be this romanticized version of what the West is like in bars all across the country for a very long time coming out of World War II, where it was just this kind of this idea of that's being a man's man. That's being great. That's it. That's this idea. Everything that the enemy wants us to really fight for is what Custer lived for. Now, there's a lot of things about him that are great. In fact, during the Civil War, at the age of 23, he was responsible for the tide being turned at the Battle of Gettysburg. Hello. And that's huge, and was involved in just about every skirmish throughout the Civil War. But there was this sort of fame that he got. And it seemed like he had an insatiable appetite for that fame. And so, he needed to reinvent himself now as this sort of man's man on the frontier.

The westward expansion was happening. The transcontinental railroad, the Buffalo were being decimated, gold discovered in the Dakotas, the Black Hills. And so, now President Grant's like, Native Americans, despite every treaty we had made with them, need to leave this area, or you're going to basically, we're going to have open season on you in this horrific chapter, of course, that none of us are proud of as a country. Where you have this conflict escalated because of the greed for all this money, this gold that was being found. There was a time of depression on the East Coast. And so, everyone had this idea of I'm going to be rich if I go out there. And Custer became this mythical picture of this.

And so, he continued to be famous from that. And then he was inserted right into the center of the fray at the time when now there's this ultimatum of the Dakota and the Sioux. And all of these peoples that had lived here forever being told, yeah, you're not welcome and wanted, and your food supply, we've just decimated millions upon millions of buffalo in a 10-year period wiped out to just a few hundred. You'll have no choice but to go to these reservations that we've now bait and switched. And you're going to live in a smaller one and a different one. And if you don't, guess what? We're just going to go ahead and send the army in and wipe you out. And the nation's all excited. Custer, now, is this freedom fighter, this cowboy versus Indian kind of guy.

And, again, he's addicted to the attention. He has this flamboyant, I mean, look at the dude. He had developed this unique look. He wore his own take on the uniform. The mustache is gold. But everything, he would put cinnamon oil in his hair so his hair smelled a certain way. And he always arranged to have photographs taken of him. So New York Times, and the Bazaar magazine, just coast to coast, people were enamored with Custer. But it was never enough. And he just never was able to make actually $1 out of it. He said, and I quote, "You can't eat fame".

So he was famous, but he didn't have money. He was addicted to playing cards and gambling, this risk, it just shows. He had this infatuation with success and the thrill of it all. And he went from phase of his life to phase of his life seeking to get... seeking to get... seeking to get. And in the end, some of the same things that at the beginning were problems for him, failure to yield to authority, he graduated from West Point despite the fact that he was a lowly blacksmith's son and he should never have even gotten in to West Point. By all standards, he should have been an enlisted man, not an officer. But through a series of events, he gets into West Point. He gets 726 demerits in his time at West Point. More demerits than anyone got in the entire history of this military institution. He graduated last in his class, a position known as the goat.

How funny that now it's like the celebrated thing to be the goat. But then, it meant you were the worst. And he was the goat. But he was only 23 when he really earned his spurs in his first conflict, leading the cavalry charge, as he would... and this is just pretty punk rock, he would always lead from the front with his saber out, yelling to his men. And they would rally behind him. 23 years old, they called him the boy general, the wunderkind, a little Ted Lasso reference for you there. And he was just addicted to all of these things. And what Jesus is saying is what I'm trying to bring to you is the opposite of what Custer exemplified as this macho spirit. That if you can do those things, if you can be famous, if newspapers will write about you, if you can somehow find a way to make a buck, you can then truly, you'll have arrived.

And Jesus is saying, that's the path that leads to death. But if you, like me, give your life, and lose your life, and abandon all earthly attempts to fill that hole inside of you, and find only in God what the human soul craves, well, then you will have your life, receive your life, and receive honor in eternal life. I made a little list as I was driving from... as we were... I wasn't driving, we were driving from, it's like I was driving writing a sermon. I'm looking out the window at the Little Bighorn River, and all of this area, and just thinking of this chapter of our history. And I started to think in my head some similarities and differences between Custer and Jesus.

Custer and Jesus, both born to poor families. Both rose to status, defying odds. Both in their 30s when they died, Custer at the age of 36 during his Last Stand. Both held influence at a young age. Both died violently at the hands of an angry mob, involving anger, and ownership of land, ancestral ways of life, things being threatened that others were jealous of. Both lived and led boldly and inspired others to follow them as they led from the front. Both of them were their own people, broke the mold, Custer on how a general spoke, dressed, lived. And Jesus was commonly at odds with the religious establishment of his day. He said, they dressed this way to show who holy they are. That's not how you do it. Both of them were obsessed with glory. And both of them knew that time was running out. And in the end, both of them were betrayed by those closest to them.

Benteen and Reno in Custer's case, Judas and Peter in Jesus's case. But there were differences too. Custer jeopardized others to advance his agenda. Jesus laid down his life to save the world. Custer was infatuated with himself, an egomaniac, vain, and obsessed with the outward appearance. Jesus cared for the heart. Custer longed for immortality through achievements and constantly had to feed that beast. And no matter how much he did, he found it was not enough. And so, he risked even more, exposed himself even more, and eventually caught up with him. Little rebellions in Custer's life added up to his finally not responding to authority on the final day of his life, and the day he lost his entire regiment under him. Jesus was killed not for his rebellion, but through his submission to the Father's plan. Custer sowed seeds of his undoing by the way he badly treated people. And those things eventually burnt him.

Jesus, in his final moments, loved, protected, and prayed for the forgiveness of those who had treated him the worst. Custer died proudly. Jesus died humbly. Custer died foolishly. Jesus died selflessly. Custer lives on in infamy as a lightning rod in a divisive topic. Jesus lives on in immortality, because after His death, He rose from the grave and is alive today. Custer treated badly those of other races. He saw them as something to be subjugated. Jesus loves every tribe, every tongue, every nation, and will receive glory from every single one of those in heaven forever.

And finally, where Custer had his Last Stand, Jesus today stands at the right hand of the Father. And He extends forgiveness and grace to anybody who wants to get off of the wheel, the hamster wheel, of seeking to get, of seeking to get, of seeking to get. He says, are you tired? Are you thirsty? Will you come to me and receive life? I'm going to close with this. I made my family learn about it. We're going through this National Park. And on the way there I'm like, we have to listen to a documentary. We have to learn about this before we see it. And my family was like, yay, dad. That's what we want on this road trip. We want to learn.

And one of the voices... I just wrote it down. I didn't see the name on the little lower third. We had the little in-car little DVD thing playing this documentary about it all. And I couldn't see the name. But I just wrote down what I heard the man say. He said, the things that made Custer a success at an early age, his daring, his flamboyance, his theatricality, were all qualities of youth. And therefore, he knew his entire life the clock was running out. And he was worried that if he didn't achieve a permanent glory at a certain point in his life, he would never get the chance. So on his last day, he was prepared to go for broke. This man only ever lived, go for glory. But to seek, Proverbs chapter 25, one's own glory, the Bible says, is not glory. But thanks be to God, who always leads us in triumph, who always marks our paths, our lives with glory, who the Father wants to honor. As we choose, like Jesus, to live our lives serving and making lives better for others. Amen? Amen.

Father, we thank You that we can tear down posters from inside of our minds of what greatness looks like. And I pray you're doing that today in our hearts, as we would tear down the idols that we've lifted up, that if we can do this, we'll be glorified. If we can see this, if we can have this, that'll really... and we can hear You saying, I'm judging the rulers of this world. These demons that are speaking to us and calling us to live our lives for things that cannot satisfy. You exposed that when You were crucified and received ultimate glory. So, Father, our path to greatness, may we invite the fact that it's going to come through death to sin, death to self, and death to substitutes. And may we be willing to embrace you, no matter how uncomfortable, how out of control, and regardless of what celebrity comes or doesn't come based on our being faithful to You. And we thank you this Palm Sunday for Your willingness to fulfill all those prophecies, but to have a heart continually to see people come to know You and believe in You.

If you're here as we're praying, every location, church online, and you would just say, man, in response to that, I want a donkey. Forget that war horse of my greatness. I want to follow in the example of Jesus. Whatever that costs me, whatever that means for me. As Dietrich Bonhoeffer said once, "When Jesus calls a man, He bids him to come and die". So I don't lightly say this. But if you would say, "Levi, I want to pick up my cross, deny myself, and follow Jesus. And I realize in my life, in my heart, there are some things that are out of odds with that. Today I repent from that. And I true my heart to Jesus's call". If that's you I'm describing, can I just ask you just raise a hand up in the air?

Thank you, Lord. Thank you for these You're speaking to, You're nudging. It's going to be little things. We're not always going to see the big picture. We're just going to unloose some donkeys. But we're going to trust that in your hands, it's going to end up being some huge implications because of our little obedience. So now, I pray for these with hands raised across our church, that You would use them in great ways. Though they be buried, they're not forgotten. They've just been planted. And you're going to bring about great righteousness through these small acts of obedience. You can put your hands down. I now want to call those who are here today, and You're ready to do what some of those religious leaders did. They're the last we would think to be getting saved, the ones who wanted to put Christ to death. But You were saving them. You were working in their hearts. And I believe You're working in our midst today.

And even now, if you're here and you would say, "I want to open my heart up to Jesus, to His salvation, to forgiveness, to the promise of heaven, to peace that passes understanding". Look, follow God, don't follow God. There's going to be death. There's going to be pain. There's going to be sickness. Let me tell you something. Following Jesus, you have an answer to every ache, to every situation, hope in the worst time. So I commend you to Christ if you've never trusted Him.

What does that look like? Looks like you believe. You say, yes. You open the door of your heart to Him. And the Bible says, that He is knocking right now. He's drawing you to Himself. And I would just say, like Jesus said, walk while there's light, while there's time. Because the sand in your hourglass is running out. If that's you I'm describing, I'm going to say a quick prayer. And to be included in that prayer, just say it with me. I'm going ask the church family to say it with us. This is your moment with God to get right, to prepare to meet your maker, as scripture says. Pray this:

Dear God, thank you for loving me, for sending Jesus to die for me. Thank you that you raised him from the dead. Thank you that through Your Holy Spirit I can die to sin, die to self, die to how this world thinks greatness is unlocked. So, please, save me. Make me Yours. Help me to follow You. Thank You for new life. I give you mine. In Jesus's name.

Are you Human?:*