Now is the judgement of this world, now the ruler of this world will be thrown out. And if I am lifted up from the earth, all will be drawn towards me.
As we come towards the end of this Lenten season, we hear from Jesus towards the end of His ministry. He’s been going from place to place speaking to people, just as we have; going from reading to reading hearing His Word. As His earthly ministry to the Jews comes to a close the Greeks are beginning to seek Him; to seek the Gospel. And yet we had to wait, to wait for it to make sense. For Gospel, Evangelion in Greek, is a proclamation of victory! And it is not yet Easter, Jesus was not yet lifted up victorious that all, these Greeks included, would be drawn to Him. The goal of His mission, the goal of Lent; the Easter Victory over and against this fallen world of sin and death, and the power of the devil. Jesus today is prophesying His crucifixion and what it means. He is proclaiming, Christ is Victor!
When we turn on the news we hear what is happening across this world, abuse, corruption, lies, slaughter, destruction and death. The pain this virus has brought, the frustration of the restrictions; corruption in foreign countries, the murder of countless in Ethiopia and Myanmar; the lies and mistruths spouted by politicians and even those near us; destruction by bomb, flood and mouse, and death from cancer. Yes, we know that there is good and beauty in this world, for truly God made it (Genesis 1-2); and yet this world in which we live is sick, we are broken, creation is hurting. And God’s creation has been hurting for a long time (Romans 8:22), this is why those Greeks were seeking Jesus, for in His earthly ministry God has begun to answer, He has begun healing, raising the dead, and proclaiming His immanent Victory, the Gospel (Luke 7:22). God sent His Son to save the world (John 3:16); this world afflicted by sin, by death, and by demons. Yes, it sometimes seems the devil rules over this sinful world, in our anxieties, our depression, despair, even our pride. But Jesus declared, all those years ago, ‘Now is the judgement of this world’ and on that cross He proclaimed the Good News, “It is finished!” (John 19:30).
Today’s reading is just days before His crucifixion, and on His cross this prophecy is fulfilled. This broken world is judged, the devil is thrown out and Christ is crowned King of kings (Hebrews 2:9; Psalm 136:3; Revelation 17:14). The glory of God hidden in that crown of thorns (1 Corinthians 1:23). Now is the judgement of this world, now it’s ruler is thrown out. In fulfillment of His Word, ‘if I am lifted up from the earth’, Jesus was lifted up on that cross, He was raised from the grave, and He ascended into the heavens. Now by His Holy, Powerful, Enduring Word carried by His apostles with the Holy Spirit, by all Christians down the ages, and today now by you; all people are drawn to Him. He brings us into His healing, into His great victory, into His New Creation. It isn’t a once long ago thing, God Almighty brings His victory here to us.
Here today we have seen it, and we will see it. This Lenten time of preparation is a focussed living out Christ’s victory, given us in baptism; a time of focus on our baptismal life. Elsewhere we are promised that baptism is a union with Christ’s death and raising from the dead (Romans 6). And this too is what Jesus is speaking of. This is what God has promised each of us in baptism. This is what Cooper has just received! According to the ways of this broken world, Cooper is afflicted by sin; His parents won’t need to teach him to do what is wrong; just like I didn’t teach Nathaniel tantrums, that’s all him. But at Cooper’s baptism, his union to Christ’s crucifixion according to the promise, what Christ promised today has been done. His sin afflicted self, Cooper of this fallen world, has been judged, that old sinful man drowned in the waters of baptism (Ephesians 4:22). The ruler of that corruption, the devil, has been thrown out, denounced and rejected by Cooper and his parents and godparents. What is true of Christ’s crucifixion is now also true of Cooper in his baptism. Now is the sinful world judged, now the devil thrown out, here today for Cooper. His enemies are now defeated; Sin drowned in Christ, the devil and his demons thrown out. But what of our final enemy, death? Know that Jesus did not just up and leave after defeating our enemies; He rose from the dead, destroying the power of death for Cooper and for all us who are baptised. He remained and taught the first disciples, living with them. Then He sent them out to make disciples of all nations, baptising and teaching; and truly He is with us always to the very end of the age (Matthew 28:18-20).
He is with us as we gather in His name, just as He promised (Matthew 18:20). He is with us as we pray with Him His prayer (Matthew 6:5-15). He is with us as we hear His Word. As we serve those in need (Matthew 25:40). As we receive again His absolution (John 20:22-23). As we taste again His Body and Blood (Mark 14:22). As we, with Cooper, participate in His lifting up, on the cross, from the grave, and to His throne on High, in our baptismal life (Romans 6; 2 Timothy 2:12). Now is the judgement of Sin, Death, and the devil; here is their defeat; again He is exalted and today we are again drawn to Christ, we hear the Good News, we taste everlasting life, and we see again Christ’s victory over Sin, Death and the devil. Christ is Victor. And we live in His everlasting life, drawn into His victory so that others maybe drawn as well.
And so the peace of God which surpasses all understanding, guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus, now and to life everlasting. Amen.
Pastor Joseph Graham.