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Just Jesus

This article is adapted from a sermon preached by Adam Brock entitled Just Jesus.

What if all we had to offer was Jesus?

Would that be enough? Would you be satisfied? Would you be whole?

I want to share with you some lyrics that I think articulate this idea really well. This is a song by Shane and Shane. If you haven’t already, you’ll quickly discover that the group is my very favorite. And for good reason.

Let me read you the lyrics to “Without Jesus.”

Just three chords and a melody
Won’t leave you a living legacy
Without Jesus, oh

Just four songs and a parable
Might leave you something terrible
Just five bucks in an offering
Won’t buy you some prosperity
Just a sixth sense of morality
Won’t get you out of your depravity
Without Jesus, oh, without Jesus

You could memorize
Become a Mennonite
You could speak in tongues
And raise the dead to life

You could build a big church, call it ministry
Teach ’em all they need to know to run a family
You could sell it all, be burned at the stake
But what in the world have you to ever gain
Without Jesus? Oh, without Jesus

If all I ever get out of laying my life down
Is thorns in the shape of a crown
On the brow of a man from Nazareth
And if all I get is what Jesus did
And said and put within my heart
Then I get it all, I have it all

Oh, I have it all
Everything is mine
Oh, I have it all
I have it all

Just three chords and a melody
Won’t leave you a living legacy
Without Jesus

The idea here is that your greatest need is Jesus. With him, you have everything. If you miss him, you have nothing.

This is incredibly important for us today. We live in a time where the world wants the fruit of Christianity: justice, hope, morality, virtue, compassion, unity … but they don’t what Christ. And those things are not possible without Christ, but even if they were, if you could do all that and immeasurably more good, but you didn’t have Jesus, it’d still be worthless. We are called to feed the hungry, but what good does it do to feed a man today, and then let him starve spiritually for all of eternity.

We’re calling this message “Just Jesus.”

Let’s turn our attention now to the Word of God; let’s read John 12:32: “And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.”

This is our fifth message from the gospel of John in our 27 in 22 series. So far in John, we’ve noted some of the key statements and events in the life of Jesus, and in chapter 12, we see a turning point in the story. Jesus has entered Jerusalem for the final time and the last few chapters are all devoted to the redemptive act of Jesus on the cross. Before the actual crucifixion, however, John slows way down and gives us a rich account of this time in Jesus’ life.

The first thing to notice from verse 32 is the person, Jesus.

There is probably no more obvious answer. Of course, the person is Jesus. But getting this right is of the utmost importance.

The scripture begins with Jesus saying, “I, when I am lifted ...”

This is not just anyone. This is Jesus, the very Son of God. This is The Messiah. This is the Savior of the World. This is the Lord of all. This is the Alpha and Omega. This is the Redeemer. This is the Bread of Life. The is the Good Shepherd.

Here at Trinity, our commitment is to make much of Jesus. Because we believe he is the irreducible minimum.

What we see practiced in some churches today is a Christianity that active, caring, motivational, and even encouraging to a degree. But in the words of Pastor Dean Inserra, if our faith is “clothed in Christian language but doesn’t find its definition and identity in the person and work of Jesus Christ then it is not a Christian faith.”

Make no mistake, you’re not here for me today. You’re not here for the worship team. If you’re a student, I hope you’re not just here to sit next to some cute guy or girl. Mom and Dad, I hope you’re not just here for kids. Although all that is good. I think you need to bring your kids to church, and we strive to lead well from the stage, and if you’re hoping to meet someone, the church is actually a really great place for that. But we gather here, every week, to make a big deal about Jesus. Because he’s the only one who brings salvation.

So, whatever the reason you think you are here today, I’m glad you’re here. But I believe more than anything God has brought you here for the chief purpose of introducing you to Jesus and for capturing your hearts and minds with Jesus.

That means if you are not yet a Christ-follower, God wants you to step into that relationship today.

If you are a Christ-follower, God wants to remind you of your identity, equip you for ministry, and mobilize you for service. And Jesus is the source and the power for all that we’ve been called to be and do.

The person is Jesus. The position is lifted.

Notice the Scripture says, “when I am lifted up from the earth.”

This is the third time in John this phrase has been used. The first was with Nicodemus back in chapter 3.

Then again, in chapter 8, John records this, “So Jesus said, “When you have lifted up the Son of Man, then you will know that I am he and that I do nothing on my own but speak just what the Father has taught me.” (John 8:28)

All three references draw from the Old Testament Prophet Isaiah. In chapter 52 it says, “See, my servant will act wisely; he will be raised and lifted up and highly exalted.” (Is. 52:13)

The word “lifted” is one that John uses with a double meaning. It means both the lifting up of Jesus positionally on the cross but also the lifting and exalting of Jesus into glory. And they are no doubt connected because the cross led to Jesus being crowned with glory.

Today we also have a choice. You may refuse the cross or ignore it. You have the choice to run from the cross, but make no mistake, if you and I don’t embrace the cross we’ll never reach glory.

Think about this with me: Jesus knew how he would die — he knew his death would be from being “lifted up” on a cross.

We know this for certain from verse 33, which says, “He said this to show the kind of death he was going to die.” (Jn. 12:33)

This showcases both his divinity, in that he knew, and his determination, in that despite knowing, he persevered.

Let that sink in, Jesus knew what he would have to go through before it happened.

Before he suffered, before he was beaten, before he was tortured, he knew about all of it. And yet he would not turn back. His love and purpose were too great, and so he willingly suffered so that you and I could be rescued.

To be lifted means to be put on a cross. For the Christ-follower, the cross is the centerpiece of our faith.

And so, I want to run through a series of truths very quickly with you that a crucial for how we understand the cross. If you are taking notes, be sure to write these down. If you’re not really a note-taker, I’d encourage you to consider making a note of these truths of the centrality of the Cross.

1. The gospel is the message of the cross.

“For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified.”  (1 Cor. 2:2)

“For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel—not with wisdom and eloquence, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power.” (1 Cor. 1:17 NIV)

We must be clear about the gospel. Working toward gospel clarity must be a shared goal of ours. The gospel is not “how to be a good person,” or “how to get the life you want.”

The gospel is the good news that Jesus Christ stepped into our place and on the cross died a sacrificial death for the sins of the world. Without the cross of Jesus, we have no hope of ever being forgiven. The gospel is the message of the cross.

2. The cross redeems us from the curse of the law.

“Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us, for it is written: ‘Cursed is everyone who is hung on a pole.’” (Gal. 3:13 NIV)

When Jesus hung on that cross, he was cursed in our place. He became our substitute. What our sin rightly deserved; Jesus received. The full fury of God’s wrath toward sin was poured out on him.

3. The cross brings reconciliation and justification.

“And through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross. Once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds because of your evil behavior. But now he has reconciled you by Christ’s physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation.” (Col 1:20-22 NIV)

“He was delivered over to death for our sins and was raised to life for our justification.” (Rom. 4:25 NIV)

In the cross, God demonstrates his justice. God would be a wicked Judge if he excused our wickedness.

How could his love for sinners be reconciled with his justice? The answer is the cross.

At the cross, justice and mercy met in the body of Jesus Christ. In that act, God judged our sins by executing justice on Jesus. And as a result, we can now be reconciled and justified.

Growing up I would hear this definition of justified: “It’s Just-As-If-I’d never sinned.”

While that’s catchy I actually don’t like it at all. I think it stops short. To me it makes it sound like my sin was just minimized. When in reality the idea of justification is that our sins are not counted against us because Jesus at the cross dealt with them. It’s not just that I don’t have a debt any longer, but the reality that he paid the debt.

4. The cross destroys the power of Satan.

“When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins, having canceled the charge of our legal indebtedness, which stood against us and condemned us; he has taken it away, nailing it to the cross. And having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross.” (Col. 2:13-15 NIV)

Jesus’ death glorifies God by demonstrating his holiness and by defeating Satan. Though it appeared to be the opposite, Satan’s ultimate defeat was accomplished on the cross.

The cross was his moment of bruising Jesus’s heel (Gen. 3), but just as God promised Adam and Eve, the King crushed the serpent’s head.

When Jesus rose from the grave, he liberated us from the grip of sin. Sin and condemnation no longer have power over us who have been rescued. The cross assured the victory of Jesus and sealed the defeat of Satan.

5. The cross is a stumbling block.

“Jews demand signs and Greeks look for wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, but to those whom God has called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God.” (1 Cor. 1:22-24 NIV)

There is no option B.
The cross is the only option for life. And many will stumble over it because they refuse to see Jesus for who he truly is. Who is he? He’s our hope of heaven. There are no alternatives, no plan b.

6. The cross brings unity.

“All the believers were one in heart and mind.” (Acts 4:32a)

Because of Jesus unity is possible, both with God and with each other. This is something that is produced by God, and the world cannot replicate it. This is why despite calls for unity and “we’re all in this together” humanity is just as divided as ever.

Only the cross makes unity possible.

7. The cross is a symbol of discipleship.

“Then Jesus said to his disciples, ‘Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.’” (Mt. 16:24 NIV)

The cross represents both the way into the kingdom of God, but also the way of the kingdom of God. To follow Jesus means we go where he leads.

You can’t follow and stay where you are.

And despite what we naturally want to hear and what the world is selling, the point of life isn’t comfort. The cross calls us to deny self and die to sin.

Sinclair Ferguson writes, “The cross is at the heart of the gospel; it makes the gospel good news. Christ died for us; he has stood in our place before God’s judgment seat; he has borne our sins. God has done something on the cross which we could never do for ourselves. But God does something to us as well as for us through the cross. He persuades us that he loves us.”

I hope you see love when you look at the cross. If ever you wonder about God’s love look to the place where he demonstrated it fully. The cross stands as a reminder for all eternity, that yes, God loves you.

So, remember, when we talk of Jesus “lifted” we’re talking about the cross. And when we’re talking about the cross, we’re talking about the centerpiece of our faith. And at the heart of the cross is an invitation for you, to wake up to the reality that God loves you and has made a way for you to be forgiven.

The thing about that though is we must respond to the cross. We must place our faith in the finished work of Jesus. To ignore the cross is to ignore your only hope.

In your life, are you lifting up the cross? Or something else?

  • Are you lifting up your job, or a relationship, or accomplishments or possessions, hoping they’ll give you identity?
  • Are you lifting up the next promotion, the next person, or the next event as the thing that will fill you with hope?
  • Or, are you lifting up the cross, and looking squarely at Jesus?

Because, just as the person is Jesus, and the position is lifted, the plan is salvation.

The latter part of verse 32 says, “And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.”

What Jesus didn’t say was that this building would draw people, or that my preaching would draw people, or that the music or the programs would draw people. He said, “If I am lifted up, I will draw them.”

Here’s what Jesus was stressing when he said, I will draw all people.

  • First, he’s talking about providing salvation to all types of people. He is saying he will draw people from every walk of life. Every nation. Every race. Every language. From every situation and circumstance. This is an invitation for all people.
  • Second, if anybody is saved, they will be saved by believing in the work of Christ on the cross.

If you’re a believer, my hope for you is that the cross still captivates you. We have a mission and today, may we leave here with a renewed sense of awe and dependency on the cross.

Every time we wake up and choose to live for our desires and purposes, we are taking our eyes off the cross and we are sinning against the savior.

We must come to the cross every day. Not for salvation, that’s a gift we’ve already received. But we come to the cross each day for the sake of transformation so that we might be sanctified and look more like Jesus, so we can be used by Jesus.

If you’re not a believer, then know this: The cross is the way to life. Jesus demonstrated that he is Lord of all when he died upon the cross, defeating death, and paying for sin.

The only thing that is keeping you from receiving salvation today is your desire to be the lord of your own life. You must lift high the cross, and in doing so make Jesus Lord. Reject yourself as lord and make Jesus the ruler of your life.

The Bible says, whoever will confess with their mouth and believe in their heart that Jesus is Lord, will be saved.

Today will you place your trust in Just Jesus?

If you are ready to surrender to God or want to know more, reach out to us by emailing or calling 337-480-1555.