Crazy Faith of Abraham (1)“Here’s all you have to know about men and women: women are crazy, men are stupid. And the main reason women are crazy is that men are stupid.” ― George Carlin, When Will Jesus Bring The Pork Chops?

I am writing a new Christian Song and I am thinking it will be better sung in a Country Western format. I would hope Carrie Underwood would sing it, but it will probably by Taylor Swift. “Call me Christian, but don’t call me crazy.” The first line goes like this: 

I don’t mind you callin’ me a Christian. Christians can still be cool like a sixpack on a hot day in June. But don’t you ever call me crazy, cuz that would make me out to be a fool. Oh I don’t ever want to be called crazy, cuz I am nobody’s fool….

Crazy Faith of Abraham (4)We’ll you are thinking I’m the crazy one, but this is also the title of the message this morning. I am preaching on Hebrews 11:8-17, and in one of those rare moments when I stepped back and took a look at what was really happening in those verses, I just had to stop and say, man they were crazy! And then I asked, would I have done that? Would I have done any of that? No Way! Call me Christian, but never, ever would I be that crazy!

But before we explore this different angle of Hebrews 11, I want to take you back to the Garden of Eden.

Consider this question:

  • When did Adam and Eve begin to die?”
  • “What power does Satan have over us?”
  • “How does Satan work his power in this world?”

Hebrews 2:14 Since therefore the children share in flesh and blood, he himself likewise partook of the same things, that through death he might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil,

Doubt leads to deathYou may not see it at this moment, but hopefully it will hit you like a ton of bricks before you leave. Satan works his power of death in your life when he gets you to doubting God’s promises. Did you hear that? When you doubt God’s promises, when you doubt Christ’s presence, when you doubt Christ’s love and provision for your life, you are playing in to Satan’s power.

Coma Christians 

Bottom line, if you are not crazy when it comes to believing God’s Word, you are a “Coma Christian.”

I always think of myself as “pragmatic”. Here’s a good definition:

Dealing with things sensibly and realistically in a way that is based on practical rather than theoretical considerations

Well, God told me that is not acceptable to him, because I put “sensibility” before Him. That is not faith. Faith is not sensible! We will see that in a moment. So today, I am preaching at all you  “Pragmatic Christian” types today, but I want you to know, I am one of you.

Before we jump into Hebrews, I want you to read as foundation Romans 9:6-8:

But it is not as though the word of God has failed. For not all who are descended from Israel belong to Israel, and not all are children of Abraham because they are his offspring, but “Through Isaac shall your offspring be named.” This means that it is not the children of the flesh who are the children of God, but the children of the promise are counted as offspring. Romans 9:6-8

Not everyone who claims to be a Christian is a born again child of God. Just as Paul writes that not all of Abrahams’ children were children of God (belong to Israel). Children of the flesh are not the children of God. The children of God are all crazy because they believe the promise of God! (My transliteration)

Faith vs. Flesh

When it comes to being a child of God, being accepted by God, only one thing works! FAITH! Only one thing allows you to believe Him and His promises to you, FAITH! And Faith can never be pragmatic. Faith can never be sensible.

Was it sensible to stay in the boat? Faith isn’t sensible because it transcends our fleshly senses to bring Heavenly Truth to reality here on earth! Christ lives! He lives in me! Chief of sinners though I am, He lives in me!

Faith doesn’t happen because you wish or plan it!

Faith is not like losing weight. You can’t follow this, eat that, exercise this and presto, you have faith. Faith doesn’t work according to a formula for your benefit. It doesn’t make you a superior Christian. Faith is for God and His promises! Faith is toward God and His promises! Faith always answers a call of God because you want to see Him! Then faith grows as you believe His Word! And yes, faith must be crazy from the world’s point of view!

Think back on your life. How did you come to faith in Christ? Did you feel all emotional and believe? How did that work out for you? Did your belief wax and wane depending upon what you were going through? Was there a time in your life where the pressures of life got in the way of your faith in Christ? Was there something that happened that made you stop and examine where your were with Him? Was there some decision or choice you had to make? What was the outcome of your decision?

For some reason, I have had a lot of trips and falls

trip and fallFor me, my faith grows more when things go wrong; when I am forced from my comfort zone. I have had several smack-down times in my life where I had to choose who I was going to listen to, who I was going to believe. There have been times where I made the wrong choice, but then God kept calling me. I am going though one of those times even now.

Faith Comes as We Listen and Obey

I learned that for faith to grow, I must stop and listen to God, and then re-confess my belief in His promises to me!

I have a passion to see Christians experience the Life that God wants us to have by CRAZY faith! Crazy Faith brought salvation to Abraham!

Regrets Feed Doubt

Regrets Feed DoubtI have visited with Christians who seem to have this weight of regret over their life. Decisions they made, wrong things they did, and after 10, 20 30 years of being a church goer, they feel as if they are further away from God than when they first felt that tingle of God’s work in their life.

I think we are looking at God the wrong way. Instead of letting our regrets drown out his voice and presence, we should take some time to visit with God about those regrets. We should really take time to see how He can use those regrets to grow our faith in Him. He speaks to us and affirms His promises even in the midst of our mistakes!

Abraham

Abraham Believed God and was strong in faithAbraham wasn’t anyone special. He wasn’t a privileged blue blood. God spoke to Him and made a simple request. I want you to go to a new land. Abraham wasn’t exactly a picture of strong faith either. He had his doubts. He didn’t go to the land at first, but went half way. Even when he got to the land, there were two times when he lied about Sara being his wife, because he did not trust God to protect him from those who would murder him to take her.

Even Sara had a problem trusting God. She got tired of waiting for a child, so she concocted a scheme to have children with Hagar her handmaid. In effect she whored her handmaid to her husband to have children. Abraham, the great man of faith(?) went along with her plan.

All the while, God kept calling, and Abraham made choices, choices of doubt or belief, or death or life!

Perhaps you have struggled as I have at times. We make wrong choices. We figure God has forgotten us, so we have to rely on our own self to get out of trouble. What does God do? I don’t know about your situation, but God keeps calling me, keeps assuring me. And as long as I don’t selfishly wallow in my regrets, my faith grows.

What are some things we can learn from Abraham and Sarah? Let’s look at Hebrews and discover how our faith can grow, and not be swallowed by regrets.

By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to a place that he was to receive as an inheritance. And he went out, not knowing where he was going. By faith he went to live in the land of promise, as in a foreign land, living in tents with Isaac and Jacob, heirs with him of the same promise. For he was looking forward to the city that has foundations, whose designer and builder is God. By faith Sarah herself received power to conceive, even when she was past the age, since she considered him faithful who had promised. Therefore from one man, and him as good as dead, were born descendants as many as the stars of heaven and as many as the innumerable grains of sand by the seashore. These all died in faith, not having received the things promised, but having seen them and greeted them from afar, and having acknowledged that they were strangers and exiles on the earth. For people who speak thus make it clear that they are seeking a homeland. If they had been thinking of that land from which they had gone out, they would have had opportunity to return. But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared for them a city. By faith Abraham, when he was tested, offered up Isaac, and he who had received the promises was in the act of offering up his only son, of whom it was said, “Through Isaac shall your offspring be named.” He considered that God was able even to raise him from the dead, from which, figuratively speaking, he did receive him back. Hebrews 11:8-19

Crazy Faith of Abraham (3)Back to my Song, “Call me Christian, but never call me crazy!” If this song title describes you (because you never would have been as crazy as Abraham), then you are a “Pragmatic Christian.” You view Abraham and Sarah through practical and skeptical eyes. You call their response to God’s Word “CRAZY!”

 The Pragmatic, “obedience for the sake of obedience” approach to Christianity doesn’t work if you are counting on reaching Heaven. That is a fleshly approach to God. His word says that no one can please God in the flesh. The only way to please God is BY FAITH!

By  Faith

By Faith is Πίστει. We see this phrase over and over in Hebrews 11.

  • Hebrews 11:3 N-DFS
    • NAS: By faith we understand that the worlds
  • Hebrews 11:4 N-DFS
    • KJV: By faith Abel offered
  • Hebrews 11:5 N-DFS
    • KJV: By faith Enoch was translated
  • Hebrews 11:7 N-DFS
    • KJV: By faith Noah, being warned of God
  • Hebrews 11:8 N-DFS
    • KJV: By faith Abraham, when he was called
  • Hebrews 11:9 N-DFS
    • KJV: By faith he sojourned in
  • Hebrews 11:11 N-DFS
    • NAS: By faith even Sarah
  • Hebrews 11:17 N-DFS
    • KJV: By faith Abraham, when he was tried,

Responding to God is not simply a matter of doing this or that. He doesn’t want robotic service. He has that in the angels. He wants people to respond to Him because they realize who He is. This is what Hebrews 11:6 is all about. You will never, never be accepted in God’s presence simply because you did this or that, or because you never did this or that. The Word says without Faith it is impossible to please (or be accepted) by God.

by-faith-we-grow-to-sonshipFaith is not an abstract force that you either have or don’t have. Faith is simply seeing God. Faith is simply having your hopes in God. It is a heart thing. Faith allows the almighty God to capture your heart.

Abraham obeyed, not because he wanted to be a good boy, or because he feared Divine lightning bolts. He obeyed because by faith he saw God and that allowed God to capture his heart. It wasn’t his brain, because God doesn’t make much sense to “intellectuals”. God wants your heart. He is all about passion! His heart is full of compassion, and He needs your heart in order to reveal Himself to you.

  • My son, give me your heart, and let your eyes observe (delight in) my ways. Proverbs 23:26
  • You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. Deuteronomy 6:5
  • My son, if you receive my words and treasure up my commandments with you, making your ear attentive to wisdom and inclining your heart to understanding; yes, if you call out for insight and raise your voice for understanding, if you seek it like silver and search for it as for hidden treasures, then you will understand the fear of the LORD and find the knowledge of God. Proverbs 2:1-5

Abraham Believed and His Faith Grew even in the tough times, even in the “regret” moments!

Abraham made a decision to give this invisible God his heart.

Crazy Faith of Abraham (2)Love for God Results in Crazy Obedience

It did not make sense to leave the culture of Hur and go to live among the devilish people of Canaan. It was not the intelligent thing to do, nor was it a safe thing to do. But Abraham did it anyway, because He had seen this almighty God, and his heart was captured because of faith.

  • By Faith he obeyed God’s call.

Faith initiates a desire to follow God, and to listen to what he directs. Faith makes God’s Word substantial, and worth obeying.

  • By Faith he went to live.

Faith enables to settle down in the presence of this Holy God. It empowers His friendship with your life, even though you make mistakes and stumble along the way. Faith brings your heart and passion into a comfortable relationship with God.

  • By faith you endure, even though the promise is not received.

“These all died in faith, not having received the things promised, but having seen them and greeted them from afar”

Remember that faith empowers you to see the truth and reality of God! Even if all your hopes aren’t realized in this life, your faith sees them as true in the life to come!

  • Faith will result in being a stranger to those who walk by sight.

“having acknowledged that they were strangers and exiles on the earth.”

Once your heart is captured by God, you will never be satisfied with the comforts of this world. You have seen the glory, and it becomes all-important to you.

What Happens when you Make a Decision to Have Crazy Faith?

1.  We give birth

Crazy will give birth to more crazies! God is always growing and abounding. Just look at our expanding Universe. It is huge, yet God holds it in His hand. You start believing in His power and promises, and you will give birth!

By faith Sarah herself received power to conceive, even when she was past the age, since she considered him faithful who had promised. Hebrews 11:11

For this is how the holy women who hoped in God used to adorn themselves, by submitting to their own husbands, as Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him lord. And you are her children, if you do good and do not fear anything that is frightening. 1 Peter 3:5-6

2.  God stakes His Reputation in your life

“Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God,”

When you believe God’s Promises even when everyone else thinks you are crazy, He says My Name is on you!

3. We see our Home

But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. For he has prepared for them a city. Hebrews 11:16

  • You see it in the storm
  • You see it through the tears.

You don’t need to go there to see it, for you already have it in your heart!


Noah what are you building to save your worldOne area that Lydia & I struggled with as parents of six kids, was how do live so that our children will share our faith in God? This was a real concern as our kids got older, started having friends that were not so good. We are still not out of the woods, because now we have grandchildren. It seems that the kids growing up today are even more removed from the reality of God.

Then I get concerned for this country. Our education system is devoid of God. Our politicians seem opposed to God. What can I do to let my children and grandchildren, neighbors know that God is real and wants to be part of their everyday lives?

Do you share my concerns? Do you wonder what you can do? Are you content with the way our country is going? Do you want to know what God says you should do?

I think that God said so much in just one verse that we won’t be able to glean it all. In Hebrews 11:7, we will find so much practical advice on what we must do to reach out to those around us.

As we ask ourselves some questions about this very familiar man, I want you to consider what you can do to reach your family, your friends and your neighbors with the reality of God.

Hebrews 11:7-By faith Noah, being warned by God concerning events as yet unseen, in reverent fear constructed an ark for the saving of his household. By this he condemned the world and became an heir of the righteousness that comes by faith.

Noah and His World

His Name means “Rest”

Noah reverenced the invisible GodLamech was 182 years old when he fathered a son. And he named him Noah, saying, “This one will bring us relief from the agonizing labor of our hands, caused by the ground the LORD has cursed.” Genesis 5:28-29 [rest= noo’-akh; Noah = no’-akh]

His World

Then the LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. And the LORD was sorry that He had made man on the earth, and He was grieved in His heart. So the LORD said, “I will destroy man whom I have created from the face of the earth, both man and beast, creeping thing and birds of the air, for I am sorry that I have made them.” But Noah found grace in the eyes of the LORD. Genesis 6:5-8

How Did Noah react to Gods Word1.  How did Noah react to God’s Word?

Reverent fear is actually “fearing.” Literally, it means “having well received,” indicating that the Roman centurion rightly perceived the situation that if Paul were left to the Pharisees and the scribes they would kill him. The meaning, therefore, is to perceive or receive a situation rightly. Spiros Zodhiates, The Complete Word Study Dictionary – New Testament, (Chattanooga, TN: AMG Publishers, 1993), WORDsearch CROSS e-book, Under: ” εὐλαβέομαι”.

  • Where did Noah get his Belief and Respect for God?
    • Where did you get your belief & respect for God?
  • What did Noah’s Faith cause him to do?
    • How was Noah different?
    • What resulted from his difference?
  • What did Noah’s Faith cost him?
    • Have there been any times in your life where you heard the instruction of God and obeyed?
  • What was the risk of Noah choosing to disobey or ignore?
How doe your reaction to Gods Word impact your worldDoes the way you react to God’s Word send a positive or negative message about God to your world?
  • Do you have any family members who are risking their life by ignoring God?
  • Does something you have done in faith have an impact on them?

And He spared not the ancient world, but preserved Noah, a preacher of righteousness, with seven other persons, when He brought a flood upon the world of ungodly [people]. 2 Peter 2:5

Noahs response confirmed the truth of Hebrews 11_62.  How did Noah’s response confirm the truth of Hebrews 11:6?

  • When the world around him ignored God, He heard and believed
  • Then he was diligent to finish the job precisely as God instructed, even though it was unpopular and took decades to finish.
  • What was Noah’s reward?
  • Have you experienced any “reward” by seeking God?
  • Have you communicated that reward to anyone. Would you be able to?

3. What was Noahs motivation for building the Ark What was the motivation behind his response?

  • Was it fear? Faith, or saving His family?
  • What is the motivation behind your seeking/obeying God?
  • Is it for selfish reasons, or do you have your heart on your family and friends?

4.  What was the result of his response?

What was the result of Noahs response

  • His family was saved
  • The world was condemned
  • Heir of righteousness by faith
  • Was God just in acting so?
  • How long did it take to see his family get saved?
  • How has your family responded to your faith obedience?

5.  Did Noah’s faith condemn the world?

Did Noah condemn the world

NO – Faith Obedience REVEALS condemnation.

And the word of the LORD came to me: “Son of man, when a land sins against me by acting faithlessly, and I stretch out my hand against it and break its supply of bread and send famine upon it, and cut off from it man and beast, even if these three men, Noah, Daniel, and Job, were in it, they would deliver but their own lives by their righteousness, declares the Lord GOD. Ezekiel 14:12-14

Though—Noah, Daniel, and Job—The intercession even of the holiest of men shall not avert my judgments. Noah, though a righteous man, could not by his intercession preserve the old world from being drowned. Job, though a righteous man, could not preserve his children from being killed by the fall of their house. Daniel, though a righteous man, could not prevent the captivity of his country[1].

How do most people respond to a call for faith6.  How do most men and women respond to a call for faith?

  • Eventually they ignore it until a tragedy strikes their life.
  • How should we react to tragedy?
  • How should we react to difficult circumstances?

Man’s normal response to God is to ignore Him.

  • Good times-we may thank him, but He is just a good guy in the sky.
  • Bad times-we may cry to Him, but we usually try to muscle through or call on friends.

Man’s normal response to God is to go our own way and throw God occasional kudos,  a prayer at mealtime or bedtime, and maybe even a $10 tip when we go to church.

For the most part men go their own way. That was happening in Noah’s day. Their thoughts were evil continually. We tend to think the world was full of murderers and rapists. But no, God has a simpler definition of what he considers evil.

Be appalled, O heavens, at this; be shocked, be utterly desolate, declares the LORD, for my people have committed two evils: they have forsaken me, the fountain of living waters, and hewed out cisterns for themselves, broken cisterns that can hold no water. Jeremiah 2:12-13

My people have committed two evils - Jeremiah 2_13What evil did God’s people (the Jews) do that caused him to destroy their land and give them over to captivity? Two things: they forgot God and went their own way. They paid no attention to God when it came to running their lives and making decisions.

For as were the days of Noah, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. For as in those days before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day when Noah entered the ark, and they were unaware until the flood came and swept them all away, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. Matthew 24:37-39

The people in Noah’s day were going about their normal lives as if they would always have tomorrow. They lived as if they were in complete control of their lives. They ignored God, they ignored His messenger Noah, and were totally unaware that judgment was upon them.

Would you be a Noah to someone in your worldWe risk our lives by choosing our own way. We live oblivious to the God who created us and has ownership demands upon us

How can you become a Noah to your world?

  • Reach the Conclusion that Noah did. You must do something that will cause the world to take notice that there is a God who reigns!
  • What are doing today that requires total faith in the invisible?
  • What has God asked you to do and yet you have ignored Him?
  • Did Jesus say anything about how our lives and what we do should be impacted by God?

Did Jesus Call you to be a Noah?

YES HE DID!

LUKE: On that day, let the one who is on the housetop, with his goods in the house, not come down to take them away, and likewise let the one who is in the field not turn back. Remember Lot’s wife. Whoever seeks to preserve his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life will keep it. Luke 17:31-33

MARK: For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel’s will save it. For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul? For what can a man give in return for his soul? For whoever is ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of him will the Son of Man also be ashamed when he comes in the glory of his Father with the holy angels.” Mark 8:35-38

Do Everything you can Whenever you can Wherever you can to Help others to Remember God!

For as were the days of Noah, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. For as in those days before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day when Noah entered the ark, Matthew 24:37-38

  • How do you know that a nation, a civilization is forgetting God?
  • How can you tell God is about to judge a nation?
  • There is always an increase in violence in the land!

 “I have determined to make an end of all flesh, for the earth is filled with violence through them. (Genesis 6:13)

“Forge a chain! For the land is full of bloody crimes and the city is full of violence. (Ezekiel 7:23)

Understand that hypocrites and pretenders abound. Someone needs to present real worship of the real God to your world. Even the Jews had hypocritical leaders and priests.

And he brought me into the inner court of the house of the LORD. And behold, at the entrance of the temple of the LORD, between the porch and the altar, were about twenty-five men, with their backs to the temple of the LORD, and their faces toward the east, worshiping the sun toward the east[2]. Then he said to me, “Have you seen this, O son of man? Is it too light a thing for the house of Judah to commit the abominations that they commit here, that they should fill the land with violence and provoke me still further to anger? Behold, they put the branch to their nose. Ezekiel 8:16-17

What are You Building?

Noah what are you building to save your worldListening to God, Following God and obeying God is a daily commitment. It was a way of life for Noah. He could not escape it. He knew judgment was coming, but he didn’t know when. He kept at because he was committed to God.

You must involve God in your daily activities just like you are building a huge boat. Involve you children, your friends in a faith activity, something that will stretch your faith.

It can be about money, about helping someone when you are not in a position to help. It can be building something to honor God in your home.

What would our Country look like?

If every born again Christian was busy building an Ark to save their immediate world! We would see families coming together to love Jesus Christ. We would see friends following their friends into salvation!


[1]Adam Clarke, A Commentary and Critical Notes, (New York: Abingdon-Cokesbury Press, 1826), WORDsearch CROSS e-book, Under: “Ezekiel 14″.

[2] In “the inner court,” immediately before the door of the temple of Jehovah, between the porch and the altar, where the priests advanced only on extraordinary occasions (Joe 2:17), twenty-five men (the leaders of the twenty-four courses or orders of the priests, 1Ch 24:18, 19, with the high priest, “the princes of the sanctuary,” Isa 43:28), representing the whole priesthood, as the seventy elders represented the people, stood with their backs turned on the temple, and their faces towards the east, making obeisance to the rising sun. Robert Jamieson, A.R. Fausset, David Brown, A Commentary: Critical, Experimental, and Practical on the Old and New Testaments, (Toledo, OH: Jerome B. Names & Co., 1884), WORDsearch CROSS e-book, Under: “EZEKIEL”.


Now on the first day of the week Mary Magdalene came to the tomb early, while it was still dark, and saw that the stone had been taken away from the tomb. John 20:1

Mary-at-empty-tomb

Mary was astonished to see the stone rolled away. She had come expecting to find the corpse of Jesus, and now she was disappointed. Who had taken him away? What cruel prank was this? She told the disciples, and Peter and John were bold enough to risk capture by going to the tomb. They looked closer, but returned home, although John recorded that what he saw made him believe something else had occurred.

Mary was still bewildered, and stood outside the tomb sobbing and wailing uncontrollably. Where had they taken his body? She saw someone standing there, and peering closely, concluded it was just a laborer, probably the gardener. Had her faculties of sight altered? Was her sight obscured by all her tears?

No, Jesus had changed, for He had been resurrected! The means of knowing Jesus had changed as well! Only through Him speaking to her did Mary know Him, and so we find the truth of divine revelation. We can search for God all we want, but we will never, never find Him if we are seeking to know Him in the flesh. When Mary rushed to hug Jesus, He said, “do not touch me.” He had truly changed, and there was to be a new way of knowing Him, a way which transcends the senses, a way which transforms our lives.

The inner clarity of recognition that came to Mary when she heard Him call her name, she could not explain in human terms. She just knew, and that was enough. And so it is with our knowing Jesus the Christ. You can watch all the movies and read all the stories about Jesus, but that is all He will be to you, a fanciful story or amazing leader. Your life will be the same. You can never truly know Jesus with your physical senses. But when Jesus speaks to your heart, and you willingly respond to Him as Lord, your life will be changed! There will be no mistake about it! The resurrection will be no magical story, for it will be the reality of your life! This is what Paul said when he proclaimed, “That I may know Him and the power of His resurrection.”

mary weeping outside tombMary wept. Seeking a corpse, she mistook Jesus for a common person. Many of us mistake Jesus as someone common, not the life-changing Son of God that He actually is. We all have things that we cry over, struggle with or feel stressed about. We may reach a deadlock, a dead-end, and feel as if there is no possible way out. Only when we reach the end of our fleshly strength will we be ready to listen to His voice. When you realize that you need God, need to know His resurrection power, be quiet, for you are likely to hear Him calling you. You can search for Him with all your might, but He can never be found in the strength of your flesh. He has changed! He has risen. He is known only in the Spirit now, and your flesh wars with the Spirit.

Christ “after the flesh” was crucified. Knowing Him in that way results in a corpse vainly searching for another corpse. Mary searched in her flesh and knew not the Resurrected Christ. When her tears were drained, and she was at the end of herself, she was ready to hear His voice. Are you still relying on your own strength and abilities? Are you seeking to know Jesus after the flesh? Give it up, lay aside who you think He is, humble yourself before Him, and ask to hear His voice. Only when you give up on the flesh is the Spirit ready to take over. And the Spirit delights in making Jesus Christ known to your heart!


Slide23John chapter 12 follows an ever-popular Jesus into the final days of His walk on earth. The Cross is confronting Him, weighing heavily on his mind. His close disciples and friends seem oblivious to what is before Him, even though He has told them many times before. His emotions must be running high. In John 11 we see him breaking out in tears after John describes Him as being troubled in spirit. Luke 19:41 describes Him weeping over the people of Jerusalem. Jesus admits that He is troubled in John 12. Why does He weep?, why is He troubled?

Could it be the Cross that looms before Him? Could it be the way His friends and disciples seem oblivious to His deity, His power over life and death? I think it was all of this weighing heavily upon His heart, His heart that carried the great reservoir of God’s love for mankind. A heart that wept at their blindness to God’s love. A heart that wept at their blindness to who He really was, and what He was about to do.

God wants us to peer into the heart of Christ by focusing on a minute moment in Christ’s life that is recorded in the latter half of John 12. This is the moment following His triumphant entry into Jerusalem, which followed hours after His resurrection of Lazarus from the dead. This was at the height of His popularity with the masses. They were declaring Him King after the line of David! He could have demanded whatever He wanted, and the crowd and His disciples would have immediately obeyed. Yet in this moment, Jesus chose to hide himself and disappear. Why? What can we learn from Him? What does He want us to grasp for our lives?

People around Jesus (1)In John 12:17-43, we find 4 groups of people circling Jesus Christ, the indicted man-God, the immortal God-man. We see a group of intoxicated people, a group of Incredulous people, a group of interested people, and finally a group of Influential people.

Let us look at these folks, and consider the words and reaction of Jesus Christ, and then explore the ramification for our lives in the knowledge of Jesus Christ.

Intoxicated

The Crowd was wild about King Jesus!
  • Vs 9 – When the large crowd of the Jews learned that Jesus was there, they came, not only on account of him but also to see Lazarus, whom he had raised from the dead. John 12:9
  • Vs 13 – So they took branches of palm trees and went out to meet him, crying out, “Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord, even the King of Israel!” John 12:13
  • Vs 17 – The crowd that had been with him when he called Lazarus out of the tomb and raised him from the dead continued to bear witness. The reason why the crowd went to meet him was that they heard he had done this sign.

It seemed as all Jerusalem was hailing Jesus as King! He had achieved rock-star status! They were declaring Him a King after the lineage of David! And Jesus refused to discredit their cries. When the Pharisees told Him to rebuke his disciples, he declared “I tell you that, if these should hold their peace, the stones would immediately cry out.” (Luke 19:40)

intoxicated-crowd1-If you can imagine the drunken, drug-fueled crowds at some Rock concerts, I would imagine this crowd would not be too different (minus the drugs and booze).

What attitudes would you have had if you were part of this crowd?

I imagine you would be jubilant because you imagined a better life with Jesus as King.

Gone would be the iron boots of Roman soldiers. Taxes would be lower. Your way of live would not be restricted.

You would think that Jesus would improve your life and so you were excited. After all, He had this amazing power; He could raise the dead back to life, He could turn water into wine and a tiny lunch into a feast for thousands. You wanted to join His parade, because it meant a better life for you! So yeah, you joined the bandwagon and bowed before Him as King! He was the King you wanted and needed! Yeah!

Incredulous

Incredulous-men1Pharisees can’t figure out this Jesus fascination

Vs 19 – So the Pharisees said to one another, “You see that you are gaining nothing. Look, the world has gone after him.” John 12:19

We find another group, smaller, but more important. They are the religious leaders of all Israel, and they are the real power reigning in Jerusalem. They rule in the shadows, openly pretending to be righteous, but secretly revealing their greed and lust for power. They cannot believe what the people are saying. They are incredulous that the populace is following an ignorant, uneducated man from a town like Nazareth. They sense their power and influence being usurped, and they despise this Jesus. They despise him so much they will soon hatch a plot to murder him.

What attitudes would you have if you were an incredulous Pharisee?

I imagine you would be incredibly self-focused. Your world would mean everything to you, your power, wealth and influence. You loved the way people regarded your ‘status’ and all the perks that went with your position. You looked down your nose at this Jesus, because he really was nothing, of no importance. He could not hold a candle to your pedigree, training and wealth.

He probably had gotten into your head though. You remember those confrontations, those things he had said that made you so boiling mad. You tried to shut him out of your life, so much so that now you resented even the sight of Him. The only way to stop him from threatening your nice privileged life was to get rid of him. He was of no consequence, after all, and soon the crowds would move on to some other fascination.

Interested

interested-man-person-looking-through-binocularsGreeks wanted to see Jesus…

Vs 20 – Now among those who went up to worship at the feast were some Greeks. So these came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida in Galilee, and asked him, “Sir, we wish to see Jesus.” John 12:20-21

We see another group of folks, strangers to the religious Jews. They share some of their beliefs, but they are more worldly, more educated, less likely to rush foolishly after someone like the Jewish crowd was. They were more in control of their lives. After-all, they were more ‘enlightened’. However, they had heard such marvelous stories about the Jesus. They had heard of countless miracles, of teachings that were so ‘outside the box’. They desired to further enlighten their lives by meeting with him, by getting a sense of whether the stories were true. Perhaps he would see how important they were and honor them with some of His wisdom.

What attitudes would you have had if you were one of these Greeks seeking an audience with Jesus?

I imagine you thought pretty highly of yourself. You considered yourself above these mendicant Jews. You were more worldly, more advantaged, but you wondered if Jesus should be a part of your world. After all, you considered God as important, especially when it came to your standing and consideration as an ‘enlightened’ free-thinker.

You thought you should at least see how Jesus could benefit your worldly standing. Plus, your friends would be jealous when you told them you had secured a private audience with Jesus!

Influential

The disciples

influential people1It is no coincidence that the visiting Greeks approached Philip to secure an audience with Jesus. People of importance never did anything themselves, they always used an intermediary. They recognized Philip from the old neighborhood, and perhaps even knew him. They saw that he was in the inner circle of Jesus, so would be influential in getting them that meeting.

The Disciples indeed were the “gatekeepers” of Jesus. They were with Him wherever he went. People around them recognized their influence, and the disciples were starting to realize their position. There had already been arguments about who would have the greatest influence when Jesus began His reign. This week must have been intoxicating as well to the fleshly disciples. To be a part of this madness, this idolization of Jesus would have had their ego’s swelling with pride!

What attitudes would you have had if you were one of these influential disciples?

I imagine you would have felt quite good about your decision to follow Jesus. After all, it had been quite a hardship to give up everything to follow him. Now you could feel the possibilities of fame and standing. You could imagine yourself reigning beside Him, perhaps as a governor or mayor. Your life was about to take a drastic turn and you were getting excited. People would whisper about you, come up to you and ask “are you one of His disciples?” Proudly you would declare your position with Him. They would ask you all sorts of questions about Him. If there had been paparazzi back then, your face would have been in all the magazines.

Yes, your attitude would have been pretty good about your decision to follow Jesus right now. After all, it had greatly benefitted your life.

Indicted

Jesus of Nazareth

Indicted-ManWe find one more person who is central to this passage, Jesus Christ. I prefer to refer to Him as the Indicted one, for He stands in their midst fully aware that He is a condemned man. Oh, He did nothing wrong, but He has willingly agreed to bear the full weight of all the sins of mankind. He has confessed the crimes and now faces the sentence, crucifixion upon the Cross.

Some argue that He was a helpless pawn, but His words in response to Philip and Andrews request for a private audience with the Greeks reveal His full knowledge of what was going on.

Jesus answered them, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. 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. Whoever loves his life loses it and whoever hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. If anyone serves me, he must follow me; and where I am, there will my servant be also. If anyone serves me, the Father will honor him. “Now is my soul troubled. And what shall I say? ‘Father, save me from this hour’? But for this purpose I have come to this hour. Father, glorify your name.”

Was Jesus influenced by the adulation? Was His head swelling with the possibilities of His new-found popularity? Was He already picking His Kingdom advisors? NO! Jesus, even with His emotions swirling, was totally focused on His mission-to save mankind from the horrors of the judgment of Hell, and usher them to true life-eternal life with His Father, God.

He began by saying something that His disciples and anyone else listening would never understand. He declared that “the hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified.” I can just see the disciples trying to restrain their excitement. But Jesus meant something just the opposite of what they imagined. Jesus spoke of His death by crucifixion, the most shameful and horrible manner of death at that time. There was no ‘glory’ in being crucified. The disciples were so intoxicated with possibilities that they would never believe Jesus was about to be crucified.

The Indicted Son of Man made a startling declaration, one which all the groups surrounding Him were unable to understand. Jesus declared, “Whoever loves his life loses it and whoever hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life.” Each group featured in this microcosm of those in the Life of Christ was there because they loved their life. The Intoxicated were there because they wanted Jesus to improve their life. The Pharisees were there because they wanted to protect their life. The Greeks were there because they wanted to increase their life, and the Disciples were there thinking they were about to really enjoy life.

Jesus was there because He wanted to give people real life, but real life would only come though His death. His death must precede His glorification. His death must precede His gift of Life for mankind.

This is why Jesus said: “And what shall I say? ‘Father, save me from this hour’? But for this purpose I have come to this hour. Father, glorify your name.”

Why was Jesus Here?

I believe that what even most Christians miss from this exchange is that Jesus did not come to this Earth for our benefit, for His benefit, or even to be crucified. All of these happened, but the truth of His coming is revealed in this one phrase, “for this purpose I have come to this hour; Father, glorify your name.”

Most translations put a period after “I have come to this hour.” The casual reader infers that Jesus came for the purpose of crucifixion, of death. However, the Greek is quite clear. The statement “Father, glorify your name is the cause of His ‘purpose’.

Explained by glorify thy name. For this use, namely, that the Father’s name might be glorified[1].

Jesus came to this world to glorify the Name of His Father! Why? Because He and His Father were one!

  • I and my Father are one. John 10:30
  • And now I am no more in the world, but these are in the world, and I come to thee. Holy Father, keep through thine own name those whom thou hast given me, that they may be one, as we are. John 17:11
  • That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me. John 17:21

How could Jesus bring glory to His Father? He emptied himself, and then humbled himself to death, death on the cross:

Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. Philippians 2:5-9

Then a voice came from heaven: “I have glorified it, and I will glorify it again.” The crowd that stood there and heard it said that it had thundered. Others said, “An angel has spoken to him.” Jesus answered, “This voice has come for your sake, not mine. Now is the judgment of this world; now will the ruler of this world be cast out. And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.” He said this to show by what kind of death he was going to die. John 12:23-33

Why Did Jesus Hide?

Knowing His ultimate motivation, why was Jesus troubled so? Why was He so emotional? Why did He hide himself from His disciples and adoring public?

Could He have been troubled because the people did not connect Him with His Father? Could He have been troubled because His disciples failed to understand His relationship with the invisible Father?

Could He have been troubled because they could not see His Father because they were so focused on their own lives?

Could He have hid Himself because He did not want the people to focus on Him, but rather He wanted them to see the Father?

What is the Lesson for us?

see-jesus-crucified-for-youAll those who truly follow Christ will know one day, but now we can only speculate. I believe that there is a ‘take-away’ here, one that is vital to our growth as true followers of Christ.

If we want to really “see Jesus”, we must die to our lives, and give ourselves without reservation to the will and glory of God. If we value anything of our lives above God and His glory, then we will not see Jesus. He will withdraw from our lives, and go into hiding.

God is jealous of our attention and devotion. Too often we say we love Him and follow Him but we are really doing it because of some perceived benefit. We want a God who is always at our side, who is always there for us no matter how much we sin against Him. We want a God who accepts us as we are and doesn’t want to change us or demand too much of us. We follow a God on our terms, not His.

If this is true of our interest, then we are fooling ourselves. We may have all the forms of godliness, but we are in denial about the true power thereof. There can be no godliness apart from the holiness of God in our lives. That is only possible as we die to what we want and live for His glory.

Christ did that and proved it by His obedience. When we do it we prove it by living IN CHRIST! But before we can live in Christ we must die to our life, our wants, and our selfish interests.

Is God Distant to You?

Does God seem distant to you? Do you wonder about the mess you are in? Are you troubled because God doesn’t seem to care?

The truth is that He may have hidden Himself from your life. He is waiting for you to get to the point where you hate this life and are willing to die to yourself, and finally willing to live in Jesus Christ. After all, Jesus said, “I am the Way the Truth and the Life; no man comes to the Father but by me!”

Immortal

Jesus Christ is the Way of Eternity

There was another person there in the crowd. He was the Immortal One. All the folks saw him as Jesus, but God saw Him as Immortal. He would live forever at His side, for He would overcome.

Regardless of your attitude toward Jesus Christ: intoxicated, incredulous, interested or one who thinks you are one of His; He will hide from your life as long as you are in it for yourself. Until you experience the Cross, and die to what you want or desire, He will remain distant, even hidden.

If you should ever take the serious step of actually experiencing the Cross, then you shall experience Jesus Christ! The glory of the Father will be open to you; the power of the Father will be upon you; for the Cross, the ugly curse of the Cross that Jesus gave Himself to for the Glory of His Father, is actually wisdom and power of God!

The Cross – a Great Mystery

cross-silhouetteThis is the great mystery hidden to all those in the crowd that day. This is what Paul meant when he penned:

But we impart a secret and hidden wisdom of God, which God decreed before the ages for our glory. 1 Corinthians 2:7

The wisdom of God is hidden in the Cross. You will never experience His wisdom until you experience the Cross for yourself. The Cross is the key to you experiencing the Glory of God!

What are you seeking from Jesus today? A better life, an influential life, a better status or acceptance? Perhaps you are satisfied with what you have. Regardless of what you are seeking or not seeking, you will lose everything at the judgment. The only way to gain the Life that Jesus holds is to die to your life, your wisdom, your riches and your might.

Consider carefully His Words of Life:

And Jesus cried out and said, “Whoever believes in me, believes not in me but in him who sent me. And whoever sees me sees him who sent me. I have come into the world as light, so that whoever believes in me may not remain in darkness. If anyone hears my words and does not keep them, I do not judge him; for I did not come to judge the world but to save the world. The one who rejects me and does not receive my words has a judge; the word that I have spoken will judge him on the last day. For I have not spoken on my own authority, but the Father who sent me has himself given me a commandment—what to say and what to speak. And I know that his commandment is eternal life. What I say, therefore, I say as the Father has told me.” John 12:44-50


[1] Marvin R. Vincent, Word Studies in the New Testament, (New York: Scribners, 1887), WORDsearch CROSS e-book, Under: “John 12:27″.

 

Read this past post: “Do You Really Want to See Jesus?

and this:”Do You See Jesus”


Modern American Christianity and First Century Jesus Christ Christianity can mean two different things.​ Most American Christians consider Paul a fanatic, but they understand his fanaticism in light of the need of developing a new ‘religion.’ Paul would probably be considered too extreme in most American churches. Most Pastor’s have encountered Paul ‘wannabees’ and have watched them flame-on and then fizzle out. Most mainline Pastor’s have seen the need to be ‘spot-on’ with regard to their congregants. Not too extreme in either direction. It seems in America the best pastor’s are the most ‘liked’ pastors. Ask the average church member about their pastor and they will say, “he is such a great guy!”

Paul desired to know Christ and Him crucified on the CrossThe thing which would have made Paul an unlikely American Christian pastor is one statement that he made, and which he lived by. It is a statement that seems to be missing in most American Christian churches. As such, it is missing in normal “American Christianity.” 

Paul remarked to the Corinthian church:

“For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified”. (1 Cor 2:2)

Paul followed a crucified Savior. In those days NO ONE followed anyone who had been crucified. To be crucified brought shame on all the relatives and family. You did not even mention crucifixion in polite society conversations. It was the same as if your father was a convicted pedophile, or a John Wayne Gacy. You would change your name, never mention your relationship to such a heinous character. The statement that Paul made would send shudders down the back of “decent folks.” For Paul to say what he said ment he was drawing a line in all his relationships and ministry functions. That line centered upon the Cross. Paul lived his life, engaged his ministry and related to folks in the shadow of the Cross. 

American Christianity has taken the shame of the Cross and covered it with gold or silver. It is a pretty talisman we wear on our neck or put on our car. The meaning of the Cross has been lost. The Cross is about shame and about humility. It is about the power of God and not the power of the flesh. There was no boasting at the cross, no stylish clothing, no vanity, and certainly no latte’s. ​

Gal-6_14-Cross The difference between 21st century American Christianity and Paul’s Christianity centers upon the power of one thing-the Cross! The reason Paul was so jealous and passionate about the Cross is that he understood it was the Power of God! There could be no power to transform, no power to resurrect, no power to build a Christ-centered church apart from the Power of the Cross!​ So Paul, to a fractured and powerless but socially acceptable church at Corinth exclaimed with all his passion:

For Christ did not send me to baptize but to preach the gospel, and not with words of eloquent wisdom, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power. For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. (1 Cor 1:17-18)

A Pretty Cross​The difference between modern American Christianity can be seen by what we hold dear. Paul held a bloody and shameful Cross proudly as he reached out to a sinful and dying world. American churches have changed the Cross into a bright and shiny steeple or a stylish Cross. We hold out a stylish, likable Jesus as we reach out to a sinful and dying world. We want them to come to a trendy comfortable building where they will find excitement and practical advice for their busy lives.

Paul would simply smile and so, that is so Corinthian. You are missing the point of following Christ. If it doesn’t begin at the Cross, it doesn’t begin at all. The Cross is the Power of God unto Salvation.​

This Passion week is all about the Cross. Are you holding onto the Cross? Have you died to your life and your way? Have you exchanged your sinful life for the Righteous life of the Lord Jesus Christ.? That only happens when you understand the shame and ignominy of the Cross, and accept it as your own. Paul lived for Christ, not as a fanatic, but as one who knew his life was not his own, for it was bought with a price. That price was paid at the Cross.

So go ahead and drink your cup of latte. Please, never forget that Jesus drank the cup of God’s wrath for you. What are you willing to do for Him? All He asks is that you give him your life by dying at the Cross, and then seeking to know Him as your ‘crucified’ Lord!​


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