What Have You Wanted Jesus to Be?

John 12:12-36

 

As we begin Holy Week 2017 we meet today a disciple who is not well known to us. In fact, there is little said about him in the Bible though he is mentioned in the lists of the disciples whenever it appears. His name is Simon, Simon the Zealot.

 

This is not Simon Peter.

 

This is another of Jesus’ twelve disciples who probably believed that Jesus could take charge at any moment and usher in the Kingdom of Israel. Especially, when on this Sunday we call Palm Sunday, we remember again the triumphant entry of Christ into Jerusalem. And yet, Jesus did nothing.

 

Let’s meet Simon the Zealot…

 

(A scripted conversation by Ted Schroder © 2016 and published by Creative Communications for the Parish was used.)

 

Did you catch what he said about Jesus as He entered Jerusalem?

 

At that moment, he could have been everything we wanted him to be…. I did not understand how a leader with his authority, with his place as the chosen one of God, with his connection with the Father, could fail to act against the evil around us. How could he do nothing but drive some money-changers out of the temple? And after that, nothing.

 

(from Palm Sunday: Suffering, from the series At The Crossroads: A Series of Services for Lent by Ted Schroeder, ©2016 Creative Communications for the Parish)

 

Have we not felt the same way at times in our life, as Simon, and Peter, and even Judas has?

 

“JESUS! Do something! Why are you not doing this or this or that or that there? DO SOMETHING!”

 

Patrick Morley has written, “There is a God we want, and there is a God who is. They are not the same God.

 

Who is Jesus Christ for you?

 

Our main text for this morning is John 12:12-36

 

The next day the great crowd that had come for the festival heard that Jesus was on his way to Jerusalem. They took palm branches and went out to meet him, shouting,

 

“Hosanna!”

“Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!”

“Blessed is the king of Israel!”

Jesus found a young donkey and sat on it, as it is written:

 

“Do not be afraid, Daughter Zion;

see, your king is coming,

seated on a donkey’s colt.”

 

At first his disciples did not understand all this. Only after Jesus was glorified did they realize that these things had been written about him and that these things had been done to him.

 

Now the crowd that was with him when he called Lazarus from the tomb and raised him from the dead continued to spread the word. Many people, because they had heard that he had performed this sign, went out to meet him. So the Pharisees said to one another, “See, this is getting us nowhere. Look how the whole world has gone after him!”

 

Now there were some Greeks among those who went up to worship at the festival. They came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida in Galilee, with a request. “Sir,” they said, “we would like to see Jesus.” Philip went to tell Andrew; Andrew and Philip in turn told Jesus.

 

Jesus replied, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. 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. Anyone who loves their life will lose it, while anyone who hates their life in this world will keep it for eternal life. Whoever serves me must follow me; and where I am, my servant also will be. My Father will honor the one who serves me.

 

“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. Father, glorify your name!”

 

Then a voice came from heaven, “I have glorified it, and will glorify it again.” The crowd that was there and heard it said it had thundered; others said an angel had spoken to him.

 

Jesus said, “This voice was for your benefit, not mine. Now is the time for judgment on this world; now the prince of this world will be driven out. And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.” He said this to show the kind of death he was going to die.

 

The crowd spoke up, “We have heard from the Law that the Messiah will remain forever, so how can you say, ‘The Son of Man must be lifted up’? Who is this ‘Son of Man’?”

 

Then Jesus told them, “You are going to have the light just a little while longer. Walk while you have the light, before darkness overtakes you. Whoever walks in the dark does not know where they are going. Believe in the light while you have the light, so that you may become children of light.” When he had finished speaking, Jesus left and hid himself from them.

 

 

Jesus has now entered the final week of His ministry and His life. In five days, some, if not many, of the crowd who welcomed Him into Jerusalem, would turn on Him and demand that He be crucified.

 

It would be a crossroads moment for them, for Jesus, for the twelve, including Simon.

 

It became a crossroads moment for all of humanity.

 

This passage in John begs the question, “What Do You Want Jesus to Be?”

Expectations abound.

 

In Verse 3 the crowd shouts out

 

“Hosanna!”

“Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!”

“Blessed is the king of Israel!”

 

Blessed is the king of Israel!

 

Have you ever wondered how many people welcomed Jesus into Jerusalem?

 

I think maybe thousands of people, hundreds at least, welcomed Jesus into Jerusalem and they quote, they shout, Zechariah 9:9

 

Rejoice greatly, Daughter Zion!

Shout, Daughter Jerusalem!

See, your king comes to you,

righteous and victorious,

lowly and riding on a donkey,

on a colt, the foal of a donkey.

 

The crowds have an expectation because they want Jesus to be a certain way.

 

Further along there are two other groups of people who want Jesus to be a certain way, the crowd who saw Him raise Lazarus from the dead and the Pharisees as noted in verses 17 through 19:

 

Now the crowd that was with him when he called Lazarus from the tomb and raised him from the dead continued to spread the word. Many people, because they had heard that he had performed this sign, went out to meet him. So the Pharisees said to one another, “See, this is getting us nowhere. Look how the whole world has gone after him!”

 

The Lazarus crowd and the Pharisees have expectations about Jesus. They want Him to be a certain way.

 

The Lazarus crowd wants His power and fame to spread for after all, when was the last time you saw someone raised from the dead?

 

The Pharisees want Jesus to stop. They wanted Him to shut up.

 

Then in verses 20 through 24, another group, who have expectations about Jesus, who want Him to be a certain way, seeks to meet Him – the Greeks, Jewish converts from Greece. Their desire to see Jesus sparks a dramatic response from Jesus.

 

“The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified.”

 

What is it they want to see from Jesus? A miracle? A demonstration of His power?

 

There is also great suffering all around Jesus. There is great evil at work.

 

There is the oppression that is expressed in shouts of the crowd,

“Hosanna!”

“Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!”

“Blessed is the king of Israel!”

 

They are tired of being ruled with an iron fist. They are tired of dealing with a foreign power. They long for the days when they were ruled by their king, a king like David. “Jesus! Do something! Free us! Lift the heavy load of oppression from us!”

 

There are people in terrible pain. Their bodies are breaking. Their health both physical as well as mental and emotional, is declining. They are dying. And here comes Jesus!

 

“Did Jesus actually raise Lazarus from the dead?” Yes! There he is over there!”

 

“Wait! I remember Lazarus! I’ve seen him before. He was so sick. I knew that he was near death! Oh Jesus! Will you heal me! Will you take away my pain and suffering?”

 

The people in power are suffering, too. They are suffering from a lack of power these days. Jesus has the world at His feet. Actually, He has their world at His feet.

 

“Gentlemen, we have a problem. This man must go, he has taken the people away from us.”

 

But their suffering, in contrast to the crowd, seeking freedom and healing, is a self-centered suffering. Their egos have been bruised. They are not getting their way. It is a suffering to which Jesus does not and will not respond. (Can’t you imagine the looks Jesus and the Pharisees exchanged as He rode by them?)

 

Wait, He will respond as noted in Matthew, Mark, and Luke’s account, the next day when in a fit of rarely seen anger, Jesus drives out the money changers who have set up shop in the Temple.

 

Then there are the Greeks. They want to see Jesus. What are they looking to see? What are they wanting from Jesus?

 

Maybe hope. A hope that this Jesus offers us a hope that we are trying to find here in Jerusalem.

 

People back then, when Jesus walked this earth, wanted Him to be a certain way. We do too.

 

“There is a God we want, and there is a God who is. They are not the same God.” The turning point of our lives is when we stop seeking the God we want, and start seeking the God who is.” (Patrick Morley)

 

Those people, the ones who started seeking Jesus for who He was and is, were there too that day.

 

But in the week that lay ahead, they would be shaken up in a way they never dreamed about.

 

But next Sunday is a’comin…and that changes everything.

 

Thanks be to God!

 

Amen

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