Holy Week -Tuesday

This week, we enter “Holy Week.” This is the week that begins on Palm Sunday with the triumphant entry of Jesus into Jerusalem and ends on Easter Sunday with an empty tomb and a resurrected Savior. This week contains the heart of the Christian gospel. At its core, our message is the vicarious death, subsequent burial, and victorious resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. This is the message of first importance that we long to make unignorable in our community (1 Corinthians 15:1-4).

For the next few days, I will be posting a series of blogs that will take us on the journey of Jesus through Holy Week. My prayer is that our souls will find refuge, strength, hope, life, and resurrection in the story of our Great King Jesus. Also, as we prepare for the biggest Christian holiday (or holy day if you prefer), I pray that this blog series will help acclimate your heart to sing louder, pray deeper, laugh more, and celebrate with an abiding confidence this Easter Sunday. Our God is not dead, but HE IS RISEN!

At Providence, we have an ongoing blog series entitled “To the Glory of God.” Periodically throughout the year, men and women of our church will author a blog post explaining how they are leveraging a season or focus in their life to God’s glory. This is what Paul calls us to do in 1 Corinthians 10:31 and our biblical conviction is that everything in the universe is being done and proceeding forth with one ultimate goal and prize; the glory of God is the goal and the prize. We were made to glory in and glorify the God that made us.

As Jesus walked through Jerusalem after his triumphant entry on Palm Sunday, the Bible records an encounter with some of the crowds. Jesus seems to be single-minded this week. He sees the looming cross and begins to speak about it:

“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.” 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 spoke to him.” Jesus answered and said “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.” John 12:27-32

Jesus says his soul is troubled because he knows the cross is coming. Yet, he claims that this is the purpose for which he entered the world. What a comment right? Jesus was born to die. He knew his whole life that this day was coming, through childhood, feasts of celebration, choosing the twelve, healing the masses, and even mundane things like weddings, birthdays, family get-togethers, and more, he knew the cross was at hand. And now, the week of his death has come.

But what does Jesus ask God to do in this hour of turmoil.

“Glorify your name” Jesus says.

Here we get a glimpse into the core theology of our Savior. More than anything else, he desires the Father’s name to be glorified and displayed to the world. He wants God to be seen, as He truly is, glorious and worthy of worship. Jesus wants to display the heart of his Father as he hangs on the sinner’s cross.

The Father leaves nothing to imagination. He says emphatically; “I have glorified it, and I will glorify it again.”

What does he mean? God has been glorifying his name by working majestically on behalf of his people for centuries. Through the plagues of Egypt, he glorified his name. Through the parting waters of the Red Sea, he glorified his name. Through the falling of Jericho’s walls, he glorified his name. Through the death of deadly Goliath at David’s hands, he glorified his name. And countless other times throughout history God attaches the glory of his name to doing good for his people. Don’t take my word for it, go back and search these stories and find God’s glory at the center of God’s desire when he does good for the people. Take the famous Psalm 23:

“He leads me in paths of righteousness, for his names sake.” Psalm 23:4

So here we have Jesus desiring God’s glory, and we have the Father promising to fulfill that desire.

But doesn’t that seem a little arrogant? I mean, when we think of Christ, we don’t see a glory seeker do we? When we think of God, we don’t think of someone whom needs the praise of billions do we? God is not pleased with us when we glorify ourselves, so wouldn’t it follow that when he does the same thing that it is wrong?

Answer: absolutely not.

The unstoppable, unquenchable, unshakable, unquestionable glory of God is the very fountain of the universe itself. We are right to say that God does not need billions to praise his glory. He does not need anything. He stands alone as the only independent, self-sufficient being in the entire universe. Instead of creating us out of need, by creating he freely gives everything.

When Adam and Eve were created and invited into fellowship with God, it is his glory that they were enjoying in the garden. They were made to reflect the image of God and enjoy the glory of God. Everything they did pointed back to the magnificence of the artist who created them. And this was not only acceptable; it was good. It was good to God because he delighted in the delight of his children. They were made to enjoy him and it pleased his heart when they did. It was good to Adam because his everyday existence included the enjoyment of God and his glory in unfettered amounts. Adam and Eve were invited to feast on the glory of God with all their might and power, and as they did so the glory of God was magnified more and more. Like a snowball effect, the more they enjoyed God, the more he got the glory. We honor an artist by marveling at his work, and in that same way Adam and Eve honored God and glorified him by marveling and reveling in his work. Like a beautiful song that you never want to end, the song of God’s glory got louder and louder and sweeter and sweeter as the children of God relished in his light and grace.

Then the serpent enters. He beguiles Eve into believing that she as missing out on something. If she was simply to disobey God she could find real life and be God herself. In other words, the serpent convinced her that she could defy the very fabric of her being. She and Adam had been made to enjoy God, but never could they be God. They were image bearers, but not the image itself. She was coerced that because she so enjoyed the glory of God, she might as well cut out the middleman and become God herself. Then she would always be able to have the same level of joy, but without God.

Ultimately the sin of Adam and Eve was not mere disobedience, it was a rejection of the God that made them.

Here we see that for God to be committed to his glory is for God to be committed to us. The two affections are the same pursuit. Or as John Piper so elegantly puts it:

“God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in Him.”

Now back to John 12. So, what is Jesus getting at here. After the Father speaks from heaven, there is a disagreement about the author of the voice. Some say it thundered, others say it was an angel. Jesus doesn’t try to convince them of the origin, but instead explains the purpose. He says, “This was for you, not me.” He goes on to discuss judgment and a promise. He says that judgment has finally come to the world.

I don’t know about you, but based on the story I just told about Adam and Eve, righteous judgment is the last thing I want to hear is coming for me. A righteous God would demolish the children of Adam and Eve. Yet, Jesus says something different. He says “Judgment is here and the ruler of this world is cast out.” Then he says “And when I am lifted up, I will draw the world back to me.”

Let’s recap. Jesus looks to the cross and says “God, make it about your glory.” God says, “I have always done that, and I will do it again.” We know that God’s glory is our ultimate source and our reason for being created in the first place. We were made to be wrapped up in the glory of God, enjoying him and magnifying him. But Satan tricked us, and we willingly staged a treasonous takeover resulting in our fallen condition.

So what is God’s response?

Here is the judgment of God: Jesus will take our place.

It is as if the judge heard all the facts, saw the defendant was guilty and rather than asking the bailiff to take him away, stepped down from his chair, was stripped of his robe and led away in chains on his behalf.

Jesus will live the life that we could not live, Jesus will die the death that we deserved, and Jesus will rise again on Easter Sunday and begin to draw the world back to himself and relationship with the Father. He will begin to restore what was lost in Eden. We will be able to drink from the fountain of God’s glory again. We will get to enjoy him again. And we will get to glorify him with our actions again.

What about the serpent? What does he get?

Jesus doesn’t leave you in the dark there either. He had his season to rule. But when Jesus breathes his last breath on the cross, Satan is cast out. As the old hymns say “the Ole Deluder Satan” has been defeated! By one death, life has returned!

We were on our way to the gallows and Jesus beat us there and laid his neck on the wood. The nail pierced hands were meant for me, but my God would have none of it! My father Adam wanted a crown of glory, but he deserved a crown of thorns. But my King Jesus embraced my crown of thorns, so I could receive a crown of glory!

Oh how Holy this week truly is! Sinners like me get a saints reward. The outcast is brought near, the villain is celebrated, the criminal is forgiven, the dead are brought to life, and the slave is set free! These sinful stains that tarnish my heart are cleansed by a spotless life and a vicarious death! This is the crux of Holy Week! The glory of God wrapped in human flesh and then broken on a cross so that the whole world can see; our God loves us and desires us to be free.

But wait, its only Tuesday. Just wait for what tomorrow brings…