As we begin Holy Week, this passage in John gives us four vivid portraits of Jesus. The last moments of Jesus’ public ministry recorded for us in the Gospel of John. These four portraits are unmistakably vivid so that everyone may know just who this Jesus really is.
- The King of Israel: Our 1st Portrait of Jesus comes from the out-of-town crowds who traveled to Jerusalem for the Passover feast. We see Jesus riding into town on a donkey. What on earth is Jesus doing here? Kings don’t ride adolescent donkeys. Donkeys are service animals for grunt work, bearing burdens, hauling refuse. Kings don’t ride donkeys! Jesus rode this young donkey to make a statement, and to fulfill a prophecy from Zechariah 9:9. Because Jesus is the King of Israel! But he did not come as the people expected. This King comes not to crush his enemies, but to be crushed by them; not to mow them down, but that they might mow him down; not to strike, but to be struck; not to pierce, but to be pierced.
- The Savior of the World: Our 2nd portrait is made by some God-fearing Greeks who were in Jerusalem for the feast, and they want to see Jesus. Now, this may seem to us to be nothing more than the trappings of celebrity with fans to please. But there’s something in this moment that signals to Jesus… it’s time. What triggered this realization in Jesus that it was time? It may be the fact that the nations were seeking him, and it was in being lifted up that Jesus would draw all men to himself! The Jews have given their “Hosannas” and now the Greeks ask to see Jesus. It’s time for glory through death. Jesus says his dying is what unleashes life.
- The Son of Glory: Our 3rd portrait is by God the Father. With suffering and death staring him in the face, Jesus is moved in prayer. He is deeply troubled because of the weight of the cross ahead; and yet he exhibits such incredible resolve. The Father adds His thunderous endorsement to the mix: the Jews called him King of Israel; the Greeks sought out this Savior of the World; now God the Father endorses the Son of Glory.
- The Word of Life: Our 4th portrait is self-made by Jesus himself. This is his final public appeal, a final offer of light and life. Jesus says: “I am here as light…won’t you come to the light?” When Jesus speaks it brings accountability. Before we were ignorant. But now we know that we’re responsible. Jesus’ word carries the weight of the Father’s authority as well. Jesus is the living Word of God and therefore speaks God’s living Word. The Word can bring judgement, or that Word can bring eternal life.
Takeaways: Jesus says, “What does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul?”
- Jesus + Nothing = Everything
- Everything – Jesus = Nothing