Sometimes the best sources of wisdom come from the strangest places. “The Guy Who Couldn’t Make Up His Mind” from Dr. Seuss is one such place. All of us have experiences were we have to make choices.
Jesus, the Man presents us with such a choice. The Man we met last week who was God’s Son, born to a young virgin in the midst of difficult circumstances in the first century. We know who He believed Himself to be, but we still have not answered the question, “Why did He come?”.
This Jesus has been called a number of things. Just as you saw this morning, at the end of his life, He was crucified on a Roman cross, dying the death of a common thief. If he was God, why would His life end this way? Why did He come? The Sunday before the crucifixion of Jesus great crowds gathered and waved palm branches at him. Several took off their garments and laid them before Him as He rode a donkey into Jerusalem. They yelled, “Blessed is He who comes in the Name of the Lord!”. They hailed Him as King. Five days later, many in that crowd would stand before a Roman governor and cry out, “Crucify Him!”. Why did He come?
The gospel of John has a particular focus on answering the question of who Jesus was and why He came. This morning, let’s answer the question of why Jesus came by looking at four Scenes from Jesus’ time on earth.
Scene 1: Jesus & the Religious Leaders
Jesus was pretty straightforward and challenged the view that keeping the religious system was all that was required. The Jewish people were very religious (for example, the Pharisees had taken the 10 commandments and broken it up into 613 rules…248 commandments and 365 prohibitions, and bolstered those with 1521 emendations.), but many times their hearts were far from God. In an early chapter of John, Jesus had an encounter with a Pharisee named Nicodemus. Nicodemus had apparently grown tired of the treadmill of keeping all those religious regulations. He came to Jesus at night and they talked about real spiritual life. Jesus instructs Nicodemus and closes with these words…
John 3:13 No one has ever gone into heaven except the one who came from heaven–the Son of Man.14 Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the desert, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, 15 that everyone who believes in him may have eternal life.16 “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.18 Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son.
Jesus declared God’s purpose very clearly. God sent Jesus because He loves us. God’s will is not to condemn people but to save them. Our reaction to God revealed as love should be amazement and ecstasy.
Scene #2. Jesus is the “Bread of Life”
By this time in Jesus’ life, He has performed a number of miracles, including feeding five thousand people with just five loaves and two fish. The people had begun to crowd around Him, many of them only looking to be fed again. In this context, Jesus says the following…
John 6: 32 Jesus said to them, “I tell you the truth, it is not Moses who has given you the bread from heaven, but it is my Father who gives you the true bread from heaven. 33 For the bread of God is he who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.”34 “Sir,” they said, “from now on give us this bread.”35 Then Jesus declared, “I am the bread of life. He who comes to me will never go hungry, and he who believes in me will never be thirsty.
John 10: 7 Therefore Jesus said again, “I tell you the truth, I am the gate for the sheep.8 All who ever came before me were thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not listen to them.9 I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved. He will come in and go out, and find pasture.10 The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.11 “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.
Jesus declared Himself to be the source of real life. The issue is not what you believe, or how religious you get, but Who you have a relationship with!
Scene 3: Jesus with His disciples
In the life and ministry of Jesus, he cultivated twelve special relationships with His disciples. Those relationships included Judas, who ultimately was to betray Him. In the hours before His trial and ultimate crucifixion, He shared a last meal with His friends. In this context, He said the following…
John 14:1 “Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God ; trust also in me.2 In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you.3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.4 You know the way to the place where I am going.”5 Thomas said to him, “Lord, we don’t know where you are going, so how can we know the way?”6 Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.
Jesus made claims that are exclusive. His claims either are true and He is Lord, or He was a liar or lunatic.
C.S. Lewis in “Mere Christianity” said, “A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic-on the level with the man who says he is a poached egg-or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God; or else a madman or something worse”
Scene 4: Jesus in the Garden.
His public work is drawing to a close. He is facing His toughest hour. Perhaps the garden was ultimately more difficult than the cross…it was here that He had to choose obedience. Either obedience or safety. Hear His prayer.
John 17: 1 After Jesus said this, he looked toward heaven and prayed: “Father, the time has come. Glorify your Son, that your Son may glorify you.2 For you granted him authority over all people that he might give eternal life to all those you have given him.3 Now this is eternal life: that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent.4 I have brought you glory on earth by completing the work you gave me to do.5 And now, Father, glorify me in your presence with the glory I had with you before the world began.
Later that night Jesus would be tried by a mock court on charges ranging from blasphemy to treason. He would be led down the Via Dolorosa(the “Way of the Cross”). And on a Stormy Friday, some 2000 years ago, Jesus Christ, the Son of God, who came to earth and was born as a helpless babe, would hang on the cross by choice, and not by force. The one who could have called 10,000 angels would, while hanging on the cross and bearing the insults and pain of the people gathered around Him, cry out only for the forgiveness of those who gathered there.
That was Friday. But the greatest story ever told does not end there. It ends with Sunday. Between the death of Jesus on Friday and the discovery of the empty tomb on Sunday are all the hopes and dreams of the world for life. That’s why Jesus came.
Jesus came that all people might have life. Real life is knowing God. Eternity is in your hearts. Eternal life comes from knowing Him.