The Gospel of John now moves to the early ministry of Jesus, both in demonstrating his authority as from God, and reaching out to all beyond Israel alone. The message of Jesus has gone out from now from multiple witnesses, not just Jesus. From John the Baptist, following on the predictions and words of the Old Testament and of Moses. And even so: I know you do not have the love of God in your hearts (5:42), how are you going to believe what I say (5:47). And the challenge has been: No fence sitting now about the person of Jesus. The miraculous signs of John’s gospels now speak to the identity and authority of Jesus as the Son of God:
- Changing water into wine at the wedding at Cana (Jn 2:1-11);
- Healing the royal official’s son (Jn 4:46-54);
- Healing the paralyzed man at the pool of Bethesda in Jerusalem (Jn 5:1-15);
- Feeding the 5,000 (Jn 6:5-14);
- Walking on water (Jn 6:16-21);
- Healing the man born blind (Jn 9:1-7); and
- Raising Lazarus from the dead (Jn 11:1-45).
Now in this final week it is Palm Sunday – Jesus’ presentation to the world for what is His mission and purpose, not to set up an earthly Kingdom, but to finish the redemptive plan of God for those who will believe.
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. 24 Very truly I tell you, unless a kernel 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 honor 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[a] from the earth, will draw all people to myself.” 33 He said this to show the kind of death he was going to die. John 12:20-33.
1. The Meaning of Palm Sunday. In this last week of Jesus’ life, again, he both speaks to and lives out the message and determination of the cross. The distinctives of entering Jerusalem on a young donkey were this:
- Jesus is voluntarily laying down his own life.
- Jesus is in control of the date and time of his execution, not according to the plans of his enemies.
- Jesus is presented as the promised Messiah.
- Jesus as Messiah comes not as a war commander, but as Prince of Peace, with an eternal not earthly purpose.
2. The Affirmation of Jesus’ Life. Though the disciples still only understood in part, they are among the crowd that acknowledges that Jesus is the long awaited Messiah, the King of Israel, which is acknowledged by Jesus.
The next day the great crowd that had come for the festival heard that Jesus was on his way to Jerusalem. 13 They took palm branches and went out to meet him, shouting, “Hosanna![a]” “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!”[b] “Blessed is the king of Israel! 14 Jesus found a young donkey and sat on it, as it is written: 15 “Do not be afraid, Daughter Zion; see, your king is coming, seated on a donkey’s colt.” John 12:12-15.
3. The Promise: ‘And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself’. Jesus’ message is threefold:
- First, to the disciples, again the warning and encouragement – 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 honor the one who serves me.
- Second, the submission of the will of Jesus to the will of his Heavenly Father, 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!”
- And third, the defeat of the enemy of God, Satan himself, and death as the dominion on the earth: 31 Now is the time for judgment on this world; now the prince of this world will be driven out.
No wonder there is a final benediction and proclamation on this holy day: 32 And I, when I am lifted up[a] from the earth, will draw all people to myself.”
As you have entered this Passion Week, climaxing in Easter Sunday, reflect back on the work and purpose of Christ, and if you have believed in Him as your Savior, the confidence and surety of your name being written in the book of Life.
And I (the apostle John) saw the dead, small and great, standing before God . . . and another book was opened, which is the book of life. And the dead were judged out of the things written . . . (Revelation 20:12). Stay well.