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Sermon for 03.24.24 “A glorious death”

PALM SUNDAY
MARCH 24, 2024
Text: John 12:20–43

Theme: A glorious death

Other Lessons:
Zechariah 9:9–12
Psalm 118:19–29
Psalm 31:9–16
Philippians 2:5–11
Mark 14:1–15:47
Mark 15:1–47

(A) In the Name of the Father…Amen.
(B) The Gospel lesson serves as our sermon text for this morning.
(C) Grace, mercy, and peace be yours from God our heavenly Father through
our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen.
(D) Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, let us pray:
LSB 560:1-2 Drawn to the Cross, Which Thou Hast Blessed
1
Drawn to the cross, which Thou hast blessed
With healing gifts for souls distressed,
To find in Thee my life, my rest,
Christ crucified, I come.

2
Thou knowest all my griefs and fears,
Thy grace abused, my misspent years;
Yet now to Thee with contrite tears,
Christ crucified, I come. Amen.

Introduction

(A) No sooner had Jesus dismounted his donkey, no sooner had the parade of
Passover pilgrims begun to wind down, than some Greeks showed up.
(1) That they were Greeks isn’t particularly important; after all,
God-fearing folks from all over the world were converging on Jerusalem for
the Passover.
(2) What is notable about this group of Greeks is that they were eager for
an audience with the man of the hour.
John 12:21 (NASB95)
These then came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida of Galilee, and began to
ask him, saying, “Sir, we wish to see Jesus.”
(B) They probably weren’t the only ones with that wish.
(1) Just days earlier, Jesus had performed his greatest, grandest miracle
up to this point:
(A) the raising of Lazarus.
(2) Everyone was talking about it.
(A) The air was electric with anticipation.
(B) Even in an era before there was “social media”, it was safe to say that
Jesus was “trending.”
(C) He had just entered the city amidst a parade of palm branches and
shouts of “Hosanna.”
(D) Those Greeks were probably just the first ones in a long lineup of
people who really, really wanted to see Jesus.
(C) But as for Jesus, He was past the point of press conferences and
interviews.
(1) Jesus was thinking, instead, about His death.
John 12:23 (NASB95)
And Jesus answered them, saying, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to
be glorified.
(2) And as Jesus goes on to make clear when He says:
John 12:32 (NASB95)
“And I, if I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to Myself.”
(D) Jesus’ Ultimate Glory Is His Crucifixion, by Which He Draws Us to
Himself.
(E) As if there were still any questions about what lay ahead for Jesus, He
employs the use of a common metaphor to make it even clearer:
John 12:24 (NASB95)
“Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth
and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.
(1) Jesus is that grain of wheat.
(2) Try to keep it and preserve it, and you get nothing.
(3) But bury it in the earth, and it rises up to bear much fruit.
(4) So it would be for Jesus.
(5) He would go the way of death and the grave, just like a seed is cast
into the ground.
(6) Jesus will lose His life only to take it up again three days later.
(7) And in His dying and rising, He will bear much fruit; He will earn the
gift of your salvation.
(F) This is what we expect to hear at the beginning of Holy Week—Jesus
talking about dying and rising. It’s why Jesus came. It’s why we remember
this week as holy.
(1) We must follow Jesus by following in His dying and rising.
(A) But then:
1) the unexpected happens.
2) Jesus turns the Palm Sunday tables.
(B) If you thought you could glide through Holy Week safely in your comfy
spot like a spectator in the stands, soaking up the Passion, pomp, and
pageantry, think again.
1) It turns out that dying and rising has as much to do with you as with
Jesus.
John 12:25 (NASB95)
“He who loves his life [literally his soul] loses it, and he who hates his
life[that is, his soul], in this world will keep it to life eternal.
(C) And here comes the phrase that pays:
John 12:26 (NASB95)
“If anyone serves Me, he must follow Me; and where I am, there My servant
will be also; if anyone serves Me, the Father will honor him.
1) That’s you Jesus is referring to.
2) You must follow Him.
3) How it goes for Jesus, so it shall go for you.
4) Expect to get treated like Jesus got treated:
a) trials,
b) temptations,
c) Turmoil
d) Oh it gets worse!
e) Eventually, death and resurrection.
f) Follow Jesus, and that’s what you get.
(D) We don’t much care for this way of speaking.
1) But at least nobody can accuse Jesus of false advertising.
2) Jesus never claimed that following Him would be easy.
3) Yet that’s the popular myth to which lots of Christians subconsciously
subscribe.
4) Popular TV preachers and televangelists often perpetuate this myth.
5) Many of them have been known to say that following Jesus means you can
expect nothing but the best, here and now, today.
a) Follow Jesus, and watch life’s pressures and disappointments just melt
away.
b) Follow Jesus, and you won’t have depression or sickness or worry.
6) In reality, what Jesus says is this:
a) “Follow me, and give up all control.
b) Follow me to the cross and grave.
c) Follow me and fall into the earth like a grain of wheat and die.”
(E) Everybody dies, of course, so what is Jesus talking about?
1) What does he mean?
a) Well, the New Testament tells us that Baptism is a kind of death
i) that in Baptism we are buried with Jesus into death (Romans 6:4)
ii) that in Baptism we died and our life is now hidden with Christ in God
(Colossians 3:3).
iii) Amen to all that.
b) If you were thinking of Baptism before I mentioned it, give yourself a
pat on the back.
c) But remember, the dying and rising of Baptism isn’t a one-time event.
d) It’s a daily occurrence.
2) Baptism is a way of life:
a) dying to sin,
b) rising to new life with Jesus.
c) At one point, Paul wrote:
1 Corinthians 15:31 (NASB95)
I affirm, brethren, by the boasting in you which I have in Christ Jesus our
Lord, I die daily.
d) What he meant was that, as Luther says in the catechism, every day, our
old Adam with all his filth and sin needs to be drowned and die.
(F) What needs to die in you?
1) What part of you needs to be put to death?
2) In what area of life does your old Adam reign supreme?
3) There is a very selfish way of thinking about Holy Week that goes
something like this:
a) Jesus died and rose for me so that I don’t have to change a thing.
b) I can live as complacently and comfortably as I want, without having to
do the hard work of changing my sinful life.
4) But in fact is not the opposite the truth?
a) Jesus died and rose for me so that everything is changed in me
i) so that I can do battle daily against the sin in me
ii) against everything that prevents me from following Jesus.
iii) That’s what Luther says baptizing with water indicates.
b) Therefore, Holy Week is not about living complacently:
i) about watching Jesus’ agonizing prayers,
ii) His arrest,
iii) His trials,
iv) and His crucifixion all unfold with a spectator’s detachment.
c) Holy Week is about the urgency of putting to death every part of you
that loves this life more than Jesus and the eternal life he gives.
(G) And so, again, I ask: What—in you—needs to die?

1) What needs to be buried?
2) Is it your need to be in control and in charge at all times?
3) Or is it your utter apathy, indifference, and laziness?
4) Maybe it’s that you draw your identity from what other people think
about you, that you get your self-worth from the good works you do instead
of regarding yourself above all else as a baptized child of God.
5) Maybe you have bought into the mindset of:
a) “I have been a member of this church for so many years.”
b) “I own this church; therefore it is mine.”
c) “Since it is my church, I can do with it as I see fit.”
d) “If I do not like what the pastor has to say, or what is sung, or how
people treat me, I can take it or leave it.
e) It makes no difference to me.”
6) Or maybe you’ve let yourself be defined by your defeats and you have
resigned yourself to play the victim.
(H) What part of you needs to be put to death?
1) What are your addictions, and do you love them or hate them, feed them
or starve them?
2) Do you lack generosity because you are holding your money and
possessions far too tightly?
3) Do you charge into every challenging situation behind a shield of anger
and rage?
4) It could be anything or everything—
a) something different for each of us.
5) But whatever it is, it is evidence.
a) It is evidence of how much we love our life in this world.
b) Whatever sin has enslaved you, dear baptized brothers and sisters in
Christ, recognize the threat.
c) Put it to death.
d) Bury it with Jesus.
(2) But in that glorious death of Jesus, He lifts us up from death to life.
(A) It’s not easy.
1) It’s painful and difficult.
2) But with Jesus, that is, with faith in Jesus, all things are possible,
including the hard work of repentance.
3) In the world of sports there’s an old adage:
a) “No guts, no glory.”
b) We are often the ones lacking in the guts department, but you have a
Savior who is all guts and all glory.
c) Jesus saw His impending death as His hour of greatest glory.
d) Being found in human form, He humbled himself by becoming obedient to
the point of death, even death on a cross.
e) For all the sin in you that needs to die, Jesus died.
f) And it was his moment of glory.
(B) This is certainly a strange combination:
1) death and glory.
2) You and I would never even think of using those two words in the same
sentence.
3) What seems glorious to us in this world usually involves:
a) Applause
b) accolades
c) Attention
d) For us, glory is all about basking in the spotlight, the fame and the
fortune.
e) It means winning, not losing
f) and by no means dying.
g) But the glory of Jesus is centered on the cross.
h) The glory of Jesus doesn’t shine; it bleeds.
i) It bleeds for you and for your salvation.
(C) Jesus’ greatest glory is what?
1) To do the will of His Father:
a) To accomplish what He took on human flesh to do:
i) to lay down His life as a sin-sacrifice for the world
ii) to give up His back to those who turned their backs on Him.
iii) to raise His face to spit and shame, disgrace and mockery, being
struck and beaten.
iv) We sometimes talk about the glory of Christmas or the glory of Easter.
v) And there the glory is so easy to spot.

2) But Jesus’ glory shines brightest in the darkness of death:
a) the death of Jesus for you.
b) It was truly a glorious death.
(D) Jesus said:
John 12:32 (NASB95)
“And I, if I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to Myself.”
1) By his death on the cross, Jesus lifts you up:
a) lifts you up out of your sin and shame and draws you to Himself.
2) Jesus is really undoing what Adam did.
a) When Adam sinned, he took you and me down with him.
b) Adam draws us down to the grave.
c) Adam took everybody from life to death.
d) Adam took everybody from heaven down to hell.
3) But in the glorious death of Jesus, Jesus lifts you up from death to
life.
a) In that glorious death, God and sinners are reconciled.
b) Your sin is forgiven.
c) Men and women are justified before God on account of Christ’s glorious
death on the cross.
Romans 6:5 (NASB95)
For if we have become united with Him in the likeness of His death,
certainly we shall also be in the likeness of His resurrection,
4) Die with Jesus:
a) and rise with Jesus.
b) Jesus is drawing you to Himself, and He will not stop until you behold
Him face to face.

Conclusion

(A) You have been crucified with Christ.
(1) His glorious death is your glorious death.
(2) You no longer live, but Christ lives in you.
(3) In Jesus, you are that grain of wheat—a solitary seed—dead to yourself
but alive to God in Christ.
(4) You’ve been buried in the fertile soil of Jesus’ death so that you,
too, might rise and bear much fruit.
(5) May this Holy Week be for you absolutely glorious! Amen.
(B) Let us pray:
LSB 560:3-4 Drawn to the Cross, Which Thou Hast Blessed
[Lord] Wash me and take away each stain;
Let nothing of my sin remain.
For cleansing, though it be through pain,
Christ crucified, I come.

And then for work to do for Thee,
Which shall so sweet a service be
That angels well might envy me,
Christ crucified, I come. Amen.
Text: Public domain
(C) The peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, guard your hearts
and minds in Christ Jesus. Amen.
(D) In the Name of the Father…Amen.