Palm Sunday Sermon: Jesus at the center of it all.

Points Covered: A Palm Sunday sermon based on Jesus being rejected by the Jews and received by the gentiles. In the process Jesus is sharing how we can have Jesus at the center of our life.

Man has been trying had through the ages to find out the force behind the universe, the hand behind the creation and the one who is in charge everything that we see around. If you clearly understand, there is only one person at the center of it all – The Lord Jesus Christ. He is the beginning and the end. Colossians 1:17 He is before all things, and in him all things hold together.

Now the question is: Do you have Jesus at the center of your life? As we study our passage this morning, the question whether Jesus is at our center of not is answered.

Open your Bible to John’s gospel chapter 12. We have come to the last week of Jesus. On Saturday, He had been in Bethany with Mary, Martha, and Lazarus in the home of Simon the ex-leper.

Then on Monday, He left Bethany, and headed towards Jerusalem riding on the foal of a donkey. Soon the people took palm branches and shouted: John 12:13 “Hosanna!” “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord” Blessed is the King of Israel.”

So, when Jesus comes into the city of Jerusalem on this occasion with the word going everywhere about raising Lazarus from the dead, they are thrilled and hailed Jesus as king. That however is going to be short-lived because the Pharisees are not happy and they are going to change the opinion of the crowd soon.

When God originally called Israel, He want the world to have salvation through them. That was God’s purpose. That was what God promised Abraham. Instead of doing that, they became isolated, prejudiced, and narrow. They turned to hate the very people they were to reach. You see this in the case of Jonah when he was told to go to Nineveh and preach, ran the other way. This is a sort of symbolic reflection of how the nation felt about Gentiles coming to know their God. They hated the idea of that.

By the time, you get to the life of our Lord Jesus, the hope is that the Messiah will come, but they can’t see beyond their own nation, their own people. In Jesus they have seen somebody who will not only set up a kingdom and rule but rule over all other nations.

As we come to John 12, Jesus is offering one final chance to Israel to accept him as their Messiah. It looked like they were in a position to accept Jesus with all the, “Hosannas.” But the truth of the matter is by Friday, they’re screaming, “Crucify Him! Crucify Him!”

Rejected by Israel.

They rejected Jesus and had failed to do that. God is going to identify a new people group. The question is who will be God’s new people? Who will take the gospel to the world?

Acts 13:46 Then Paul and Barnabas answered them boldly: “We had to speak the word of God to you first. Since you reject it and do not consider yourselves worthy of eternal life, we now turn to the Gentiles.

The apostles adopted Jesus’ method. When Jesus saw opposition and rejection from the Jews, he shifted his focus from Israel to the world, the gentiles. That is why Paul says in Galatians 3:28 There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. God’s kingdom, the NT church is made up of people from all nations of the world.

John 12:19 So the Pharisees said to one another, See, this is getting us nowhere. Look how the whole world has gone after him.” They come to Jesus during that week, asking question after question to trap Him, trying to indict Him. All their traps fail. All week long, whatever they tried to do failed.

This is the sum of it: “This is getting us nowhere.” Our strategies have failed. and the Herodians were in on it. The Sadducees were in on it. The Pharisees were in on it. It wasn’t going anywhere, and then they make an amazing statement. “Look, how the whole world has gone after Him.” Look at the transition from Jews rejecting Jesus and Jesus moving to the world with the gospel.

This is an ignorant prophecy of what is about to happen. This is the Jews who have rejected Jesus and Jesus opening his gospel to the world. God always had the world in mind. When God thought about the world, he thought about you and me.

He’s going to have a witnessing people, and they are going to take the gospel to the world. Remember the Great Commission? Go into all the world and preach the gospel.

V20 shows some real transition. John 12:20 Now there were some Greeks who went up to worship at the temple. Listen, there were some non-Jews among those who were going up to worship at the feast, proselytes. Here’s the first fruits of the church and Jesus was working throughout for this.

Received by Gentiles.

In fact, in John 4, Jesus first revealed His Messiahship to a Samaritan woman, not even to a Jew. In John 10 when He was talking about being the Good Shepherd, He said, “I have sheep of another fold,” talking about the Gentiles.

So we come to verse 20, we have the dawning of a new era: Gentiles seeking Jesus. John 12:21-22 21They came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida in Galilee, with a request. “Sir,” they said, “we would like to see Jesus.” 22Philip went to tell Andrew; Andrew and Philip in turn told Jesus.

There was at the temple area an outside court, a court of the Gentiles. Then it was the court of the women; then it was the inner court. Gentiles couldn’t go past the outer court. Jesus might have been in the inner court, and since they couldn’t get in there, they needed somebody to arrange a meeting with Jesus. We heard about Jesus, a man who raises dead people, a man who heals diseased people, gives new limbs to people, creates new organs, controls nature, controls the systems of darkness, the demonic world. We want to see him.

This is so wonderful because this is the beginning of what we are. One day we came to Jesus. One day we said, “Sir, we wish to see Jesus.” We came in faith.

Jesus received the Greeks because he said, “Him that comes to me, I will never turn away,” So we go from the rejection of the Jews to the initial reception of the gentiles.

I want you to see one final thing: The provision for the world to have Jesus at the center of their life. John 12:23 Jesus replied, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. There can’t be any conquering unless I die. The hour has come for Him to be glorified, but He will be glorified not in triumphant conquering, but in substitutionary death. There can’t be a kingdom unless I die.

John 12:24 Very truly I tell you, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds. As long as a seed remains in the storehouse, it is preserved by its outside shell. Only when the seed is put in the soil, and when the shell decomposes and rots away, the life inside begins to flourish. It gives life to a huge plant, which produces more seeds and more seeds and on and on it goes.

If I don’t die, I remain alone. If Jesus didn’t die, heaven would be empty of human beings. He can only take people to heaven by putting sin away by the sacrifice of Himself on the Cross.

Jesus closes with a general invitation: John 12:25-26 25Anyone who loves their life will lose it, while anyone who hates their life in this world will keep it for eternal life. 26Whoever serves me must follow me; and where I am, my servant also will be. My Father will honor the one who serves me.

How can you have Jesus at the center of your life?

This is a wide open, general invitation, but I want you to notice this

1. Deny Yourself.

John 12:25 Anyone who loves their life will lose it, while anyone who hates their life in this world will keep it for eternal life.

It’s an invitation to die. If you love your life, you what? You lose it. If you love the life you have, you lose your life forever. If you hate the life in this world, if you hate what your life is, full of its sin and self-centeredness and godlessness and hopelessness – but if you hate that and you want to say not to sin and its pleasures, you will receive eternal life. It isn’t simply believing that Jesus is or that Jesus is who He said He was and did what He did. It is how you die to yourself that makes the difference.

This particular principle is all through the gospels. Luke 14:26 If anyone comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters—yes, even their own life—such a person cannot be my disciple.

Salvation is given or heaven is open not only to people who believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, but people who turn from their sin, repent of all that they have done.

2. Follow Jesus.

John 12:26 Whoever serves me must follow me.

It is one thing to accept the Lord Jesus Christ and another thing to follow him daily. If you want to have Jesus at the center of your life, follow Jesus daily. Luke 9:23 Then he said to them all: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me.

How do you follow Jesus?

a. Abide in Jesus.

John 15:5 “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.

You see in Jesus’ ministry many came to him but only a few remained in him.

It starts out early in John 2 when He began His ministry. It says, “Many believed on Him, but He didn’t commit Himself to them,” because He knew what was in their hearts, and He knew it was superficial. In chapter 6 when there are disciples who follow Him and then turn their back on Him and leave Him permanently. Jesus then asks the 12 disciples, “Do you not want to go?” Peter said, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life,” and the true disciples stayed, the little group. But the mass of disciples left, they did not remain.

True disciples remain with Jesus. Such people have Jesus at the center of their life.

a. Allegiance to Jesus.

Be committed to the Lord Jesus Christ. 42Yet at the same time many even among the leaders believed in him. But because of the Pharisees they would not openly acknowledge their faith for fear they would be put out of the synagogue; 43for they loved human praise more than praise from God.

These are religious leaders who loved the approval of men more than the approval of God. They believe in Jesus. They will not commit to Him. It’s one thing to believe. It’s something else to commit your life to Him. John 8:31 To the Jews who had believed him, Jesus said, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples.

Reward of having Jesus as the center of your life. 

1. Eternal Life.

John 12:25 Anyone who loves their life will lose it, while anyone who hates their life in this world will keep it for eternal life.

2. God will honour them.

John 12:26 Whoever serves me must follow me; and where I am, my servant also will be. My Father will honor the one who serves me. 

Friends, God will honour us when we honour God. The sons of Eli—Hophni and Phinehas—were priests, but they did not honor God. The people despised them and God thrust them out of the priest’s office. Eli, I have no doubt, wished to have honor in his own house. He knew that they were doing very wrong, but he spoke very gently to them. Parents honour God in your family and God will honor you.

Illustration: Once Queen Elizabeth said to one of the London merchants of her day. “I want you to go to Hamburg to attend to some business of mine.” The merchant said, “But Your Majesty, my own business will suffer in my absence.” “No,” said the queen, “it will not, for if you attend to my business, I will attend to yours.”

And the Lord says to us that if we honor Him, He will honor us. And even in this present life He will give us a hundred fold for anything we give up for Him—and in the world to come? LIFE EVERLASTING!

Conclusion: Is Jesus at the center of your life and home? Will you stay committed to Jesus when the going gets tough? Jesus is in absolute control over everything in heaven, on earth and below and one day he is going to rule this world and for eternity to come, Jesus will continue to be the center of everything. Let’s commit to make Jesus the center of our life.

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