SERIES: 20/20: Seeing Truth Clearly
MESSAGE: The Atonement: His Death, Our Life
SPEAKER: Skip Heitzig
SCRIPTURE: John 12:20-33

The Atonement: His Death, Our Life - John 12:20-33 - Skip Heitzig


God isn't really something to worship.

He's just waiting to destroy--


I guess there's a god out there somewhere.

I hope there is a God.

God isn't really something to worship.

God, Allah, Buddha.

God is everywhere.

How are you today?


I want to clap for you. I'm glad you're here. I'm glad you're with us. It's something I look forward to all week to gather together with God's people, worshipping together as we should.

It's good to be together again after all this time. And we want to welcome those who are seated outside. Hopefully it's cool out there under the trees and you got some shade. There are people next door in the hub also gathered as well.

So thank you all for being here. And would you turn in your Bibles, please, to the Gospel of John, the 12th chapter-- John chapter 12.

Some years ago, not long ago, but there was a movie called the Last Emperor about a young child who was anointed the last emperor of China before they ceded the throne. And this young child lived a life of luxury, had thousands of servants. There was in fact, 1,000 eunuch servants who would do his bidding no matter what he wanted.

He could call on them. He could ask for it. And they pampered him. And he was a petulant little child in charge of a country.

On one occasion in the film, his brother came to him and said, what happens when you do something wrong? And a little child King said, when I do something wrong, somebody else is punished. So he gave a demonstration.

He took a lovely jar and he smashed it, broke it on the floor. And then one of his servants was taken and beaten because of it. Now, that is precisely the opposite of what happens in Christianity. In Christianity, in God's way of doing things, when his servants do something wrong, the King is punished. We call that atonement.

We get life for his death. We get rewards for all of the cruelty and injustice that was done to him. We get the benefits. That's what we mean when we tell people, Jesus died for your sin. He died on your behalf. Satisfying the wrath of God, and all the favor and goodness comes our way.

William Evans said "Cut the Bible anywhere and it bleeds." What he meant by that is that the scripture, no matter where you read, points to atonement, points to the cross, ultimately. The scripture makes much of atonement.

But while the scriptures make much of atonement, the world doesn't make much of atonement. In fact, the world by and large, mocks the idea of atonement. I've had conversations with people who have just flatly said the idea of a bloody cross and a man dying on it is not attractive to me. It's repulsive to me. There's nothing that would draw me to that.

And you should know that the Bible even anticipates that reaction. Paul said in first Corinthians chapter 1 verse 18, "For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to those of us who are being saved it is the power of God." To them, it's foolishness, it's utter foolishness. It's ridiculous. But that's just an indication that they are perishing. To those of us who are being saved we go, thank you for the cross.

I've always loved the story about the college professor, an agnostic professor, who visited the Fiji islands. He looked around and he noticed that it had been influenced by Western missionaries in the past. There were churches. There were Christian schools.

So missionaries had made their mark. When the professor was having a conversation with one of the chiefs of the tribes, he said to him, you know, it's a shame really that you guys have been duped by missionaries-- Christian missionaries. I see churches, and I see these schools around here. He said, no one really believes the Bible anymore.

That story of Jesus dying on the cross for the sins of mankind, it's a worn out story. It's a threadbare story. And he made light of it.

And the chief is listening to, and he finally breaks in and he says to the professor, Professor, you see that rock over there? He turned and he looked at it. He goes, yeah, I see it. The chief said, on that rock, we used to smash the heads of our victims before we ate them.

And do you see that oven next to that rock? That's where we used to roast our victims and then eat them. He said, Professor, were it not for those Western missionaries who brought to us the love of Christ and the gospel of Jesus Christ that changed us from cannibals into Christians, you'd have been our supper by now.

To us, it is the power of God. Thank you for the cross. Say that out loud. Thank you for the cross.

Say again to him. Thank you for the cross. We are always thankful for atonement. The question comes, why was it necessary for Jesus Christ to die? Why is this idea of His death on a cross so dominating the story of the Bible?

I mean, why wouldn't His life be enough? It was an exemplary life. He showed people how to live. He lived a life like no other.

Why weren't His words enough? He spoke some of the most beautiful sermons ever?

Why wasn't His perfect life, and why weren't His monumental words enough? Why the death part?

Well, to answer that question, we go to John Chapter 12. And we hear from the lips of Jesus himself, as he answers a request in a very unexpected way. In our chapter, John 12, beginning in Verse 20, it's where I want to pick it up.

Now there were certain Greeks among those who came to worship at the feast. And they came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida of Galilee, and asked him, saying, "Sir, we wish to see Jesus."

Philip came and told Andrew, and in turn Andrew and Philip told Jesus. But Jesus answered them, saying, "The hour has come that the Son of Man should be glorified. Most assuredly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it produces much grain. He who loves his life will lose it, and he who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. If anyone serves Me, let him follow Me; and where I am, there My servant will be also. If anyone serves Me, him My Father will honor.

"Now my soul is troubled, and what shall I say? 'Father save Me from this hour? But for this purpose, I came to this hour. Father, glorify Your name.'

"Then a voice came from heaven, saying, 'I have both glorified it and will glorify it again.' Therefore, the people who stood by and heard it said that it had thundered. Others said, 'An angel has spoken to Him.' Jesus answered and said, 'The voice did not come because of Me, but for your sake. Now is the judgment of this world; now the ruler of this world will be cast out. And if I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all peoples to Myself.' This He said, signifying by what death He would die."

Let me give you a little background of where we are in the text, the background of the setting. It is the Feast of Passover. It is in the city of Jerusalem. It is the last Passover Jesus will ever be at. In a few days from this time, He will be on a cross. He knows that hour is approaching.

At the Feast of the Passover, there is a group looking to see Jesus, a group of Greeks. We are not really told much about them. We're not told why they come. We're not told what they want to talk about. We're just told in the text that they went to a guy named Philip. Now, that's interesting, because Philip is a Greek name, as is Andrew. They are not Hebrew names. So maybe they knew him from a previous encounter.

It also tells us in the text that Philip was from a town called Bethsaida, which is on the shore of the Sea of Galilee in the northeastern section, right on the border of Gentile territory, in fact very close to the area the Greeks dominated, called the Decapolis.

So they come to Philip, and they request an audience with Jesus. And then Jesus, beginning in Verse 23, gives this answer.

Now, before I get into Verse 23, there's something else you got know. Jesus has just entered Jerusalem on a donkey. At the first part of the chapter, he enters the city to the cries of Hosannah, recognizing Jesus is their messiah. There is worship going on.

And all of this has culminated. People have been talking about this miracle worker from Galilee. He has healed people. But just before his entrance into Jerusalem, he had been in Bethany where a guy who had been dead for four days just got raised up. Everybody knew about that. It was the talk of the town.

When you get a guy who didn't just recently die but has been buried for four days and he gets raised to life again and is walking around town, that makes news. So people were talking about this messiah, and he has just presented himself as their king in that donkey ride on what we call Palm Sunday.

So that is the background that is the setting of this. So when you get to Verse 23, it's more meaningful. Jesus answered, saying, "The hour has come that the Son of Man should be glorified." I am convinced a hush fell over the crowd, if not an applause erupting, like yes, this is it. He's going to establish the Kingdom. He just said the hour has come, and He's talking about glory. This is it. We're ready for it. They were expecting the Romans to be overthrown at any moment.

But Jesus kept talking. And what he says after that announcement seems diametrically opposed to everything he said in Verse 23. The hour has come the Son of Man must be glorified, then he starts talking about death, a seed being put in the ground and being buried, and you can't bring life unless it dies. And then he speaks about if I'm lifted up, and John said, He's speaking about His death. It is not what they expected. He is-- they are shocked by what He says.

Now, what I'd like to do briefly, because we don't have a whole lot of time, unfortunately, with this text today, is show you four aspects of the Atonement, four aspects of the Atonement, four facts about the death of Jesus Christ that would soon take place, from the lips of Jesus himself.

Number 1, his death was a priority. It's all he was thinking about at this moment. He had been speaking about His hour, His hour, His hour, all the way leading up to this moment. The cross had been His priority. It has been His focus. He set his face steadfastly to go to Jerusalem, the Bible tells us.

In Verse 24, we get a hint of that priority. "Most assuredly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it remains alone. But if it dies, it produces much grain. He who loves his life will lose it. He who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. If anyone serves Me, let him follow Me. And where I am, there my servant will be, also. If anyone serves Me--" I love this-- "him My Father will honor."

Now, Jesus does not seem to be addressing their request. They came and said, we just like to see Jesus. We'd like an audience with him. And he launches into this death narrative. We would call this in language a non-sequitur, where you answer something and it sounds like the words you use have no relation to what has previously been spoken.

We'd like to see Jesus. Let me tell you about a grain of wheat being put in the ground and dying. Huh? What does that have to do with anything? Here's what it has to do with everything.

Jesus is living by priorities. He has a priority in mind, his priority, and what he says their priority should be. What was his priority? Death.

Jesus was on this earth for one purpose, to die. He was here to die. He was like a grain of wheat that shrivels, and dies, and is buried. And that would take place within a few days, and he knows that is coming.

Now, the illustration in verse 24 is pretty simple. If you take a kernel of wheat, and hold it in your hand, and look at it, you do not see the potential. It's only when you put it in the ground in planting season, and that encasement around the seed begins to decompose and break down. And after a period of time, emerges in a resurrected form bringing much grain with it, bringing resurrection fruit with it one.

Expert source says, if it is a good seed, each grain contains a million similar offspring. So understand the analogy is pretty straightforward. When Jesus dies, and is buried, and is resurrected, many will be saved. The gospel will be able to spread around the world, so the Greeks come. And they want to see Jesus, but Jesus wants to reach more than a few Greeks.

They're looking for an audience. They're pursuing Jesus. Jesus is pursuing the provision for their future and for the future of the world. So he is living by priority. His death was a priority.

When I grew up in the church that I grew up in, there was always a crucifix at the front of the church hanging over the altar. Some of you grew up in a similar situation. So whenever I came to church with my parents, I'd look up, and I'd see that crucifix.

There's Jesus hanging on the cross. I'd always sort of hang my head. I just felt sad, because I felt bad for him. Because I was always reminded of that, and then I also sort of felt bad for me. Because I was ashamed of my behavior that week.

You know, it's like I've been a bad boy, and I look up. Oh, great, it's me again. I've come to find out that the cross is God's centerpiece on the table of time. It's not the end of the story.

It's the theme of the story. It's the theme of the Bible. The Bible always anticipates it, and the New Testament always looks back to it after the event. For example, Abraham and Isaac walk up on Mount Moriah.

Abraham is told to sacrifice his son. What's that all about? It's foreshadowing the cross. The very next book of the Bible, the Book of Exodus, we have the story of the Passover, Exodus chapter 12. What's that all about? It's visualizing the cross.

We get to the next book, Leviticus. We have all those sacrifices going on. What's all that about? Those are depicting the cross.

We get to the prophets in the Old Testament, Isaiah, Jeremiah, so many others, looking forward. They are predicting the cross. Then we get to the New Testament, and we have Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, presenting the cross. And boy, do they present the cross. Between 20% and 40% of the gospel narratives are all focused on the cross.

In fact, if you were to tally up all the chapters in Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, you discover that only four chapters have anything to say about the early years of Jesus from his birth to age 30, only four chapters. 85 chapters deal with the last three and a half years of his life. Of those 85 chapters that deal with the last three and a half years of his life, 29 of them deal with the final week of his life, and 13 of those deal with the final 24 hours of his life.

Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John are clearly focused on one event. That is the cross, the crucifixion, the Atonement. When Jesus was born, he was brought to the temple by Mary and Joseph. An old man was there named Siemian, who took Jesus in his hands and blessed him.

But then he turns to Mary, the mother, and he says, a sword is going to pierce your own soul. What's all that about? It's a veiled prediction of the cross.

After that event, they go back home. Not long after, some visitors from the east called Magi show up with interesting gifts, gold, frankincense, and embalming fluid. That's what myrrh was. Why do you give that when a kid gets born? You don't, unless it's prophetic of the reason for his birth that he would die.

When he goes to the Jordan River and his cousin John the Baptist is baptizing, as soon as he sees Jesus coming, he stops everything and says, behold the Lamb of God, which takes away the sins of the world. Then it was something Jesus himself predicted. Often in advance, he told his followers, I just want you to know what's coming. I want you to know why I'm here.

He did it to them personally. He did it to people publicly. In John chapter 2, Jesus said, destroy this temple, and in three days, I will raise it up. And they're all thinking he's talking about that stone temple in Jerusalem.

John says, he starts speaking about that. He's talking about is body. He's talking about his death. Then in Matthew 16, Jesus just sort of unveils it without any cryptic language whatsoever.

He says to his disciples, I must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things at the hands of the elders, and the chief priests, and the scribes, and be killed. It does not get any plainer than that. I'm going to Jerusalem. They're going to kill me. But he says this, and I'll be raised on the third day.

Now, just imagine knowing exactly when you're going to die and exactly how you're going to die. You'd live differently if you knew that. This is why Jesus always talked about his hour. That's why you could have Greek saying, we want to see Jesus. We want to hang out.

And he says, I have a mission here. I have a priority here. That's what all this is about. His death was a priority.

A second fact about the death of Christ, the Atonement, is that his death came with agony. Now, those of us who have read the gospels know that. We know about crucifixion, but did you notice verse 27? Jesus in the midst of this little narrative says, now, my soul is troubled.

I want that word to hang in the air for a moment. It's a very strong Greek word, tarosso. It means to shake up or to stir up. It's a word you'd use in the kitchen if you were mixing something. You'd stir it up. You'd shake it up.

It means to be agitated. It means to be unsettled. It means to be emotionally, spiritually distraught, almost disconnected. It was used of the Pool of Bethesda when they said the angel stirred up the water.

It was used of the disciples when they saw Jesus walking on the water, and they were terrified, the text says, agitated. Jesus says, now, my soul is emotionally, spiritually, mentally agitated, unsettled. Why did he say that? No, a better question, why did he feel that? Why?

What is he so agitated about? I mean, he's God in human flesh. He knows what's happening. He knows why he's on the earth. He says, now, my soul is troubled.

Well, there's a few things you could think of. No one, you could say, well, he's troubled about what he knows is coming physically. If he knows he's going to the cross, if he knows exactly when and how he's going to die, certainly, he is contemplating the physical horrors of the cross, the whip across his back, opening up his subcutaneous tissues, the spikes being driven through the wrists hanging from a cross. That would trouble him.

When he gets to the Garden of Gethsemane a couple days after this, in Mark 14, Jesus said, my soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death. That's emotional agitation. In the same evening, but now, told by Luke, Luke chapter 22, he's in the Garden of Gethsemane. He says, he prayed more fervently, and he was in such agony of spirit that his sweat fell to the ground, like great drops of blood.

Doctors tell us that a person can become so emotionally agitated that it's possible in extremely rare cases for the tiny capillaries in and around the sweat glands to burst. So that when a person sweats, it looks like he's sweating blood. That's what Jesus experienced.

Jesus knew his body would be suspended on a cross. A victim of crucifixion slumps his body out of joint. Suffocation takes place. The organs begin to shut down. Typically, it takes days for a victim to die.

Jesus knew all that was coming, but I don't think that is the main reason why he felt troubled. I think the agony he was talking about is not so much the physical agony. Oh, yes, that's part of it, but he always knew that. Right now, toward the end, he knows something else is going to happen.

He knows that when he dies, in effect, all of the sins of humanity, yours, mine, past, present, future will all be deposited on him. They'll all be deposited on him, the one who knew no sin. Second Corinthians 5:21. God made Him who knew no sin to become sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in him. That is atonement in a nutshell.

That is substitution. The real pain would be that at that moment when that sin is placed on him, there would be a separation between him and the Father that he had never known ever before. Jesus always referred to God never as God, always as Father, or my Father, or the Father, or our Father.

But on the cross and only on the cross, he cried out, [NON-ENGLISH SPEECH]. My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? He knew that there would come a time, where all of that intimacy he had always known with the Father previously in heaven and even while he was on the earth doing the will of the Father. There would be a separation, and with that, a deep anxiety and trouble came over him.

Now, my soul is agitated. However, I would like you to think of this agony in a positive light. You're giving me that look like, how is that possible? How can you look at this kind of excruciating agony in a positive light?

I'd like you to think of it as something that is actually attractive about God, something that would be a reason to make you want to follow this God. Let me explain by reading to you what John Stott once wrote. He said, I could never believe in God if it were not for the cross. In the real world of pain, who could worship a God immune to it?

Think of it. You're suffering, and you're praying to a God who's always been in heaven, never knows what pain is like. He's in heaven. He wouldn't know what that feels like.

He does now. He does now. He experienced rejection. He experienced emotional duress. He experienced physical pain. He experienced excruciating pain, death.

So Stott says, in a real world of pain, who could worship a God that's immune to it? And then he wrote about God stepping into our world of agony, and he said, that's the God for me. And I'm here to say, that's the God for me. That's our God, a God who suffered with us.

So his death was a priority. His death came with agony. Here's the third fact about the Atonement. His death accentuated glory. It accentuated glory.

Did you notice how Jesus described his death in these terms? For example, in verse 23, he says, the hour has come that the son of man not should die. Should what? Be glorified. What? Is he speaking about his death?

Well, John says he was in verse 33. Thus, he said, signified by what death he would die. Now, go down to verse 27. Now, my soul is troubled. What shall I say? Father, save me from this hour. But for this purpose, I came to this hour.

Verse 28. Father, glorify your name. Then a voice came from heaven, saying, I have both glorified it and will glorify it again. Four times in the text, glory, or glorify, or glorified appears. And if you know this section of John well enough, you also know that this term shows up a lot in Jesus' vocabulary in speaking about his death.

In fact, in a couple of chapters, in John 17, Jesus prays to the Father, that great high priestly prayer, that intimate prayer. He begins. It says, Jesus spoke these words, lifted his eyes to heaven, and said, Father, the hour has come. Glorify your son that your son may glorify you.

Question. How can death be a glorifying event? How can death be a glorifying event? I'll give you two quick answers. Number one, because it would mark the end of a successful mission.

I mean, if, indeed, this is his mission as he stated, then his death would be the seed that gets planted in the ground that produces a crop. It's this death put in the ground that will enable him to seek and save that, which is lost. So his death would glorify not only God, but himself. Because it marks the end of a successful mission.

Number two, it would become the portal to restoring his own glory. You see, Jesus knows that this is going to hurt. This trouble is going to last, but for a little while.

Afterwards, I'm going to raise from the dead. I'm going to ascend back into heaven. I'm going to be back into the glory that I had with a father before the world was.

By the way, Jesus' goal in life and in death was always to glorify God, always to glorify God. We've brought this up on so many occasions. He said, I always do those things to please the Father. Not my will, but your will be done.

We looked at that a little bit last time. It was always to glorify God. Now, the word glorify is the word doxazo I just wanted to explain what it means. It means to have a good opinion of somebody or to make renown.

So the idea of Jesus glorifying God is simply, I want to make you, Father, so renown that people have a good opinion of you. That's what it means. I'm going to make you renown, so that people of a good opinion of you. So the way I live, the way I die, I want to do it in such a way that it makes you renown. So that people have a good opinion of you.

So in verse 28, notice that. He just says, Father, glorify your name. Today, we would put it differently. We would say, let's do this. I'm ready.

We've come to this hour. Let's do this. I'm going to now put your plan before my comfort, because it's going to glorify you and me. Now, I've discovered that many, if not most, Christians neglect this basic fact of the purpose of their life.

If you were to ask people, tell me about your life. What's the reason you exist? Most people would say something as stupid as to be happy. That's it. That's about as deep as you get.

In Revelation 4 verse 11, by the way, you're going to be singing this in heaven. Here's some of the lyrics. You should know them. The part of the anthem of heaven, we will sing for you created everything, and it is for your pleasure they exist and were created. There it is.

Why do you exist? Why are you here? To please God, to glorify God, to make him renown. So that people get a good opinion of him. That's glorifying God.

That is not what we are told by our culture. What we are told by our culture is it's not about God. It's about you. We are told, focus on yourself, love yourself, be true to yourself, be your own best friend. I Googled that.

I can't tell you how many web sites there are that give that advice. It's all about narcissism, worshipping yourself. Here's what Jesus said counter to that. If anyone comes after me, let him deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me.

It's the exact opposite. An old catechism, which is a training manual on Christian faith-- an old catechism asks questions and then answers the question. So the question asked by what's called the Westminster shorter catechism begins by saying this. What is the chief end of man? Question mark. What does the chief end of man?

Answer. The chief end of man is to glorify God and enjoy him forever. The chief end of man is to glorify God and enjoy him forever. And those two go hand in hand. When you glorify God, you enjoy God.

If you want to enjoy God, you glorify God. And if you live for yourself, you won't have much enjoyment. If you live for God, you will have much enjoyment. You've heard me say this for years that the more you do as you please, the less you are pleased with what you do.

So the quickest road, the quickest route to enjoyment and pleasure in this life, joy, is to not live for yourself, but to live for him. Seek, first, the kingdom of God, and all these things will be added unto you. Jesus promised.

So his death accentuated glory. Let me give you the fourth and final fact about his death or aspect of the Atonement. His death brought victory. He is able to crystallized in just a couple of sentences an incredible theology of the cross verse 29.

Therefore, the people who stood by and heard it said that it thundered. Others said an angel spoke to him. Jesus answered and said, this voice did not come because of me, but for your sake. I don't need an audible voice.

The reason you heard this articulation from heaven is to strengthen your faith, not mine. Then he says this. Now, it is the judgment of this world. Now, the ruler of this world will be cast out, and I, if I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people's to myself.

Now, we have the result of that grain of wheat being put in the ground after death. Now, we have the results of Jesus' death, his atonement. What are the results? There are three of them.

Number one, the world will be judged by it. Verse 31, now is the judgment of this world. When the world put Jesus on the cross, it signed its own death warrant. When the world rejected Jesus and stapled him to that cross, it's as if the world signed its own death warrant.

Because, you see, the question is always, what will I do with Jesus? That's why a pilot asked. A pilot was standing in front of Jesus. The pilot was the judge. Jesus was on trial, and he said to the audience, what shall I do with Jesus, who is called the Christ?

You know what he did with Jesus. He sentenced him to death, and then pilot walked off the pages of history. But do you know that, one day, pilot and Jesus will meet again? And when they meet, again, Jesus will be the judge, and pilot will be on trial.

And what pilot decided to do with Jesus will determine that judgment. So when Jesus died on the cross, it can be said the world was judged. Jesus said it.

Second thing is the world's ruler was cast out by it. Look at verse 31, the second part. Now is the judgment of this world, and now, the ruler of this world-- who's that? Satan. All right, he is called in scripture, the God of this age or the God of this world, the prince of the power of the air.

Now, the ruler of this world will be cast out. The cross was the beginning of the end for Satan. He got cast out. He got put on notice that his domain, the worldlings in rebellion against God, had just indicted themselves.

So this is the first casting out of Satan at the cross. There will come another casting out. In the tribulation period, we are told that Satan will be permanently cast out of heaven.

Now, you're going, wait, wait, wait, what do you mean cast? He's going to be cast out of heaven? I thought he was cast out of-- well, he was. But he has access to it. I mean, he stood before God somehow and ratted on Job, accused Job.

By the way, the Bible says, he is the accuser of the brethren who accuses us before God day and night. So he some access to God. In the tribulation, he will be cast out completely from God's presence.

The third casting out takes place at the end of the tribulation, where he's cast into the bottomless pit for 1,000 years during the millennial kingdom. And the fourth casting out, he's going to get his beating. The fourth casting out is at the end of the Millennium.

He is cast into the Lake of Fire and will be punished for all eternity. So he's not just going down. He's going down, down, down, down. That's his future.

There is a third benefit, a third victory, and this really is the victory. And that is the world's people are saved by it. That's verse 32, and I, if I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all peoples to myself.

Now, please do not stop there as most people do. Please read the next verse, which explains what he just said. This, he said, signifying by what death he would die.

Now, the reason I have to point that out is because I cannot tell you how many people I have heard over the years saying, let's lift Jesus higher. Let's lift Jesus higher. And what they mean is, Jesus said, if I am lifted up, I'll draw people to myself. They interpret that as let's lift him up and praise. Let's lift him up and worship.

No, Jesus doesn't mean lift me up metaphorically. He means, I'm going to be lifted up literally, physically, off the ground on a cross. If I am lifted up, I will draw all peoples to myself. That's what he's speaking about, his death.

He means the same thing he meant back in John chapter 3 when he said to Nicodemus as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness. The son of man will be lifted up. The cross. People understood that term 2,000 years ago.

When people got lifted up, they knew what that meant. That meant crucifixion. Now, by the way, that little story back in the Old Testament that I just mentioned when they looked at the serpent on the pole, remember the story in numbers 21 when snakes were biting people, and they're dying right and left?

And God says, hey, Moses. Get a serpent, put it on a pole, lift it up, and tell people to look at it. And when they look at it, they'll live. They will be healed physically.

So he does it. It worked. Now, it seems silly. I mean, let's say, there's a professor who goes, excuse me. I don't get the rational idea of looking at a serpent on a pole. I don't see how that would have any physical benefit.

I don't know either, but just try it. Because it works. In the same way, you can say, you know, I don't really understand this whole thing of Jesus dying on a cross. You know, I don't either, but it works. Look to him. It works.

If I be lifted up, I will draw all people who believe to myself. That's salvation. His death brought victory, so this is atonement. And in a nutshell, it means the eternal that you and I could never pay, God paid. God paid.

Boy, it'd be great to have somebody pay all your debts. Wouldn't it? Somebody comes along and says, you know what? You've had a tough season this coronavirus viruses. You've stacked up some debts. I'm going to take care of your debts. Awesome.

You have an eternal debt that you can never pay off. Jesus said, I'll pay it. My death will bring your life. I'm going to close with a story of a man who fell into a pit.

He couldn't get out of this pit, and a whole bunch of people came by and looked down inside that pit of that man. And a subjective person came along and said, I feel for you down in that pit. An objective person came along and said, well, it's only logical that somebody would fall into a pit.

A believer in Christian Science said, you only think that you're in that pit. A Pharisee said, only bad people fall into pits. A mathematician calculated how he fell into the pit, and a news reporter wanted the exclusive story on his pit.

A legalistic Christian said, you deserve your pit. Confucius said, if you would have listened to me, you would not be in that pit. Buddha said, your pit is only a state of mind. A realist said, yep, that's a pit. A scientist calculated the pressure necessary, pounds per square inch, to get him out of the pit.

A geologist told him to appreciate the rock strata while in the pit. An evolutionist said, you are a rejected mutant destined to be removed from the evolutionary cycle. In other words, you are going to die in the pit, so you can't produce any pit falling offspring.

The county inspector asked if he had a permit to dig a pit. A professor gave him a lecture on the elementary principles of the pit. A self pitying person said, you haven't seen anything till you've seen my pit. Jesus seeing the man, took him by the hand and lifted him out of the pit.

All of the philosophies, all of the wisdom, all of the science, all of the math can't get you out of the pit or me out of the pit caused by sin. But, Jesus can, and in a word that is his atonement. Father, thank you that the pit that mankind finds itself in. We sense it probably more now with the agitations in our culture and in the world brought on by an invisible virus.

That kind of agitation that we are feeling simply shows how deep our pit is, that all of the scientists, and all of the politicians, and all of the mathematicians, and all of the philosophers really at the end of the day cannot save us from any of it. That's why we look to the cross, where you had your son die for us in our place. So that we never have to.

Thank you for that. I pray for those who may have never trusted in Christ. I pray they would do it today. I pray, if some need to come back to Christ, they would do it today. And if that describes any of you, if you're here right now and you want to say, yes, to the Savior, maybe it's the first time that you said, I'm going to just stop being religious. And I'm going to follow Jesus really.

I want to give you that invitation to do so. If you are willing to do that or you've strayed from him and you need to come back home, I want you just to raise your hand up in the air. Just raise it up. Let me pray for you as we close this service.

Hold your hand up, so I can acknowledge you. And you're saying, yes, to Jesus. I'm going to come to you, or I'm going to come back to you. Could you turn the lights up just a little bit, so I can actually see people?

Thank you for that. Anybody at all just, raise your hand up. God, bless you. I'd love to pray for you. Anybody else in the back, God, bless you.

Right here to my left up front, up here to my right. Father, I pray for those that I can see. There may be others in the amphitheater. There may be others in the room next door, the overflow room, the hub, maybe several online. I don't know.

But Father, I pray for them. I pray you will strengthen this choice for them and in them. I pray you will fill them with your spirit, give them a deep sense of satisfaction as they now turn their life to follow Jesus. Wherever you are, would you say these words if you lifted up your hand? Would you say to God, right now, in a prayer, I know I'm a sinner, Lord. Please forgive me.

I believe Jesus died for me, shed his blood for me, and rose, again, from the grave. I turn from my sin. I repent. I turn to Jesus. I turned to him as Savior and as master.

Help me follow your ways and follow Jesus personally all the days of my life. It's in his name I pray. Amen. Let's all stand to our feet.

Let's close with a quick song of worship. If you raised your hand, if you prayed that prayer, we'd like you to make yourself known to our leadership who will be up front. We'd like to give you something and encourage you.

We hope you enjoyed this special service from Calvary Church. We'd love to know how this message impacted you. Email us at And just a reminder, you can support this ministry with a financial gift at Thank you for joining us for this teaching from Calvary Church.


The Atonement: His Death, Our Life - John 12:20-33 |
Page |