Four great sermons on John!

Photo by Jodi. 2012

IX. The Sermon: So What? – Rev. Kyle McClellan, Senior Minister, Grace Presbyterian Church – The Sermon Passage: John 20:1-29

The Big Idea: Based upon the testimony of three sets of eyewitnesses, John calls us to believe that Jesus is both Lord and God!


I. Listen to the witnesses (vv. 1-23)
A. Mary Magdalene (vv. 1-2, 11-18)
B. Peter and John (vv. 3-10)
C. The Ten Disciples (vv. 19-25)
He appears to them on both Resurrection Sunday and 7 days later.

It is not surprising that John gives us witnesses as he has been doing the whole book. But what is interesting is that Mary is told as the first eye witness and at that time her testimony being a woman was not admissible in court. If the gospel account was somehow concocted, this would never be in there as a woman as the first eye witness. Why did he do it? He is not creating a story, but he is telling it as he saw it.

The Bible has a very high view of women. This is different than our culture and many other cultures too.

Our faith is based upon facts and eye witnesses. Our faith is not a leap in the dark.

II. A Divine Command (v. 27).

Thomas’ problem is not that he doubts but has unbelief. That is why Jesus doesn’t say, don’t doubt, but rather he says believe. It’s our problem as well. We can “church-it-up” in how we talk about doubt, but at the end of the day, we face unbelief. That is our problem. It is not that we doubt God’s promises – we flat do not believe it.

Sometimes also our disbelief is that we just forget. We forget what the promises are, who God is, and that we have facts and eye witness accounts, etc.

III. A Dangerous Confession (v. 28).

At the same time Cesar is on the throne and John is writing this, the Romans made you proclaim that Cesar is god. John writes, 28 Thomas answered him, “My Lord and my God!”

All of our idols are inherently violent. They do not deliver what they promise and also displace all other things in your life. Like Adam and Eve in the garden, we want to be Cesar and God. We want to decide what goes first in my life. When God says do this or believe this, we bow our necks and hate it. It’s against our grain. I am the measure of me. God is there when I need a helping hand.

So what? The confession that Thomas makes changes everything. No longer is he at the center as the captain of his own ship. Jesus is.

Tomas does not just say, you are Lord. Rather he says, MY LORD AND MY GOD.

So what is he for you this morning? Is he a / the lord, or is he YOUR Lord? Do we know it in our heads that he is lord, but have we bowed the knees of our heart to him as our captain?

The passage.

1 Now on the first day of the week Mary Magdalene came to the tomb early, while it was still dark, and saw that the stone had been taken away from the tomb.
2 So she ran and went to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one whom Jesus loved, and said to them, “They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid him.”
3 So Peter went out with the other disciple, and they were going toward the tomb.
4 Both of them were running together, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first.
5 And stooping to look in, he saw the linen cloths lying there, but he did not go in.
6 Then Simon Peter came, following him, and went into the tomb. He saw the linen cloths lying there,
7 and the face cloth, which had been on Jesus’ head, not lying with the linen cloths but folded up in a place by itself.
8 Then the other disciple, who had reached the tomb first, also went in, and he saw and believed;
9 for as yet they did not understand the Scripture, that he must rise from the dead. 10 Then the disciples went back to their homes.
11 But Mary stood weeping outside the tomb, and as she wept she stooped to look into the tomb.
12 And she saw two angels in white, sitting where the body of Jesus had lain, one at the head and one at the feet.
13 They said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping?” She said to them, “They have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid him.”
14 Having said this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing, but she did not know that it was Jesus.
15 Jesus said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you seeking?” Supposing him to be the gardener, she said to him, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have laid him, and I will take him away.”
16 Jesus said to her, “Mary.” She turned and said to him in Aramaic, “Rabboni!” (which means Teacher).
17 Jesus said to her, “Do not cling to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father; but go to my brothers and say to them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.'”
18 Mary Magdalene went and announced to the disciples, “I have seen the Lord”-and that he had said these things to her.
19 On the evening of that day, the first day of the week, the doors being locked where the disciples were for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said to them, “Peace be with you.”
20 When he had said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples were glad when they saw the Lord.
21 Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so I am sending you.”
22 And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit.
23 If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you withhold forgiveness from any, it is withheld.”
24 Now Thomas, one of the Twelve, called the Twin, was not with them when Jesus came.
25 So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord.” But he said to them, “Unless I see in his hands the mark of the nails, and place my finger into the mark of the nails, and place my hand into his side, I will never believe.”
26 Eight days later, his disciples were inside again, and Thomas was with them. Although the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you.”
27 Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here, and see my hands; and put out your hand, and place it in my side. Do not disbelieve, but believe.” 28 Thomas answered him, “My Lord and my God!”
29 Jesus said to him, “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”

IX. The Sermon: God’s Passover Lamb – Rev. Kyle McClellan, Senior Minister, Grace Presbyterian Church – The Sermon Passage: John 19:31-42

The Big Idea: Jesus dies as the ultimate Passover Lamb, a fact testified to by a pair of witnesses and a pair of unlikely disciples.


I. God’s Passover Lamb is dead (vv. 31-34).

Jesus dies according to the Old Testament scriptures. He fulfills what begins in the Old Testament. When the Israelites left Egypt, they were to kill a lamb and put its blood over the doorpost of your house. It is no mistake the Jesus was killed right at the Passover festival. When Jesus takes this meal with his desciples early in the week long festival, there is no mention of meat on the table because the lamb was AT the table.

John wants us to make sure we see two times in this passage that Jesus’ bones were not broken. The Israelites in leaving Egypt were to eat a lamb with no broken bones.

II. Two reliable witnesses (vv. 35-37).

A. John is a reliable eye witness to confirm that Jesus is dead. John is not telling us this story, confirming Jesus is dead, hoping that in some way it benefits him, because it does not. He was dipped in a pot of boiling oil that did not kill him before being exiled to an island. He also got another mother – Jesus’ mother Mary. He did tell us this, rather, that we might believe.

B. The water and the spirit bears testimony. 1 John 5:6-8. Zachariah 12.

III. Two unlikely disciples (vv. 38-42).

Joseph of Aramathea and Nicodemus. We have heard a lot about the 12 disciples. Yet in this passage, John points out Joseph whom we have not heard anything of so far in the Bible. It is one thing to follow someone who is doing miracles but another thing to want to identify with a dead man. The only time you use 75 pounds of embalming fluid is when you bury royalty.

One thing we can learn from this is that followers of Jesus are a work in progress. You are not yet what you will be – Wendell berry.

Secondly, we need to be careful not to think there is one template on what following Christ looks like. Pray for our Covenant children that they may say. We also need to be careful not to do this with our children as well. Our kids are certainly like us but also so different too. The Holy Spirit will do his work in his own way – don’t question him.

The passage

31 Since it was the day of Preparation, and so that the bodies would not remain on the cross on the Sabbath (for that Sabbath was a high day), the Jews asked Pilate that their legs might be broken and that they might be taken away. 32 So the soldiers came and broke the legs of the first, and of the other who had been crucified with him. 33 But when they came to Jesus and saw that he was already dead, they did not break his legs. 34 But one of the soldiers pierced his side with a spear, and at once there came out blood and water. 35 He who saw it has borne witness-his testimony is true, and he knows that he is telling the truth-that you also may believe. 36 For these things took place that the Scripture might be fulfilled: “Not one of his bones will be broken.” 37 And again another Scripture says, “They will look on him whom they have pierced.”

38 After these things Joseph of Arimathea, who was a disciple of Jesus, but secretly for fear of the Jews, asked Pilate that he might take away the body of Jesus, and Pilate gave him permission. So he came and took away his body. 39 Nicodemus also, who earlier had come to Jesus by night, came bringing a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about seventy-five pounds in weight.
40 So they took the body of Jesus and bound it in linen cloths with the spices, as is the burial custom of the Jews.
41 Now in the place where he was crucified there was a garden, and in the garden a new tomb in which no one had yet been laid.
42 So because of the Jewish day of Preparation, since the tomb was close at hand, they laid Jesus there.

IX. The Sermon: Accomplished – Rev. Kyle McClellan, Senior Minister, Grace Presbyterian Church – The Sermon Passage: John 19:12-30

The Big Idea: King Jesus accomplishes all God the Father sent him to do, perfectly fulfilling the grand plan of redemption.


Point One: Choose your king wisely (vv. 12-22).

It is ironic that though they think they have Jesus on trial, he really has them on trial. They are to decide who their real king is. When they say they have not other king but Cesar, it means they are agreeing with the Roman belief that Cesar is divine. Ironically, too, in 70 AD Cesar will destroy Jerusalem and the temple and everything they hold dear. So much for calling out to a king for leadership and protection.

If you chose any other king than king Jesus, he will ruin you and make shambles of your life in the same way. All kings other than Christ can promise life but ultimately will destroy you. Which king will you choose?

Point Two: Not helpless, but according to plan (vv. 23-27).

A. Scriptures fulfilled (vv. 23-25)

This is a perverse scene. Jesus is beaten beyond recognition and now naked hanging on the cross. The seamless undergarment is rolled for in a game of chance by the soldiers. This is not random but fulfills the old testament reading we had today on Psalm 22. As one commentator points out, this is Jesus’ coronation and everything is scripted according to plan.

B. Keeping the 5th commandment (vv. 26-27).

John is there as an eyewitness – John and all the three Mary’s. Most scholars believe Jesus’ earthly father Joseph is dead meaning Mary’s care would fall to the oldest son. With Jesus dying, Jesus is fulfilling the fifth commandment: honor your father and mother. Jesus said that he came not to abolish the law but to fulfill it. What a striking example of this!

C. Fulfilling the Pasove completely

Verse 29 is when the hyssop branch was raised with the sour wine. Why a hyssop branch? Wy does John point this out? This is the third Passover in John’s gospel. Remember, the Passover feast applied the blood to door posts of your house with a hyssop branch. This is the fulfillment of the Passover in every detail.

Point Three: Drained to the dregs (vv. 28-30; cf.: John 18:11).

What is finished? The cup of God’s wrath. Jesus had drank the cup to the dregs. It is accomplished. He who knew no sin became sin for us that we might become the righteousness of God in Him – 2 Cor.

3 Practical Considerations:

1. I’m not OK, and neither are you.

God does not grade goodness on a relative scale or on a curve. There are no curve busters in heaven. It takes a holy, perfect God to pay the debt that evil you and me racked up. Do you understand the God’s own son was just slaughtered. If you are okay and I am okay, then this is one screwed up sick joke. But if we are not okay, then God’s son had to be slaughtered.

2. “Working hard to get to heaven”?

Common idea we have that is captured in an Alan Jackson song. Do you think you could drink God’s cup of wrath to the dregs? Do you live that way? Why does lazy work ethic drive us crazy in other people? At the root we still think deep down inside that my strivings somehow impress God and he is happier with me than the one who does not. Are we resting in the gospel or are we tired and exhausted in our soul because Christ is not our rest?

3. All will be well.

When cancer hits, for example, people ask, “why is God punishing us?” God is redeeming all the nonsense in your life as a follower of his – he does not have to punish us as he punished his son fully. There is no punishment. Nothing in your life as a follower of Christ is there for punishment. It is and will be fully redeemed!

So which king will you choose?

The passage.

12 From then on Pilate sought to release him, but the Jews cried out, “If you release this man, you are not Caesar’s friend. Everyone who makes himself a king opposes Caesar.” 13 So when Pilate heard these words, he brought Jesus out and sat down on the judgment seat at a place called The Stone Pavement, and in Aramaic Gabbatha. 14 Now it was the day of Preparation of the Passover. It was about the sixth hour. He said to the Jews, “Behold your King!” 15 They cried out, “Away with him, away with him, crucify him!” Pilate said to them, “Shall I crucify your King?” The chief priests answered, “We have no king but Caesar.” 16 So he delivered him over to them to be crucified.

So they took Jesus, 17 and he went out, bearing his own cross, to the place called The Place of a Skull, which in Aramaic is called Golgotha. 18 There they crucified him, and with him two others, one on either side, and Jesus between them. 19 Pilate also wrote an inscription and put it on the cross. It read, “Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews.” 20 Many of the Jews read this inscription, for the place where Jesus was crucified was near the city, and it was written in Aramaic, in Latin, and in Greek. 21 So the chief priests of the Jews said to Pilate, “Do not write, ‘The King of the Jews,’ but rather, ‘This man said, I am King of the Jews.'” 22 Pilate answered, “What I have written I have written.”

23 When the soldiers had crucified Jesus, they took his garments and divided them into four parts, one part for each soldier; also his tunic. But the tunic was seamless, woven in one piece from top to bottom, 24 so they said to one another, “Let us not tear it, but cast lots for it to see whose it shall be.” This was to fulfill the Scripture which says,

“They divided my garments among them, and for my clothing they cast lots.”

So the soldiers did these things, 25 but standing by the cross of Jesus were his mother and his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. 26 When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby, he said to his mother, “Woman, behold, your son!” 27 Then he said to the disciple, “Behold, your mother!” And from that hour the disciple took her to his own home. 28 After this, Jesus, knowing that all was now finished, said (to fulfill the Scripture), “I thirst.” 29 A jar full of sour wine stood there, so they put a sponge full of the sour wine on a hyssop branch and held it to his mouth. 30 When Jesus had received the sour wine, he said, “It is finished,” and he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.

IX. The Sermon: freedom and authority – Rev. Kyle McClellan, Senior Minister, Grace Presbyterian Church

The Sermon Passage: John 19:1-11

The Big Idea: in a passage fought with irony, we are called by John to decide for ourselves as we witness the true nature of freedom and authority.

I. So who’s really free? (Pilate, a second-class diplomat caught between a rock and a hard place). Vv 1-5

Matthew 27, Pilate’s wife is in his ear too. She tells him the visions she has about Christ. He is trying to placate the Jews. He is not free from the whims of the crowd. Ironically, Jesus, the one who looks to not have freedom here as a prisoner is the one most free.

II. Marvel at how God’s plan moves forward spledendly while man’s fails totally. vs 6-8

The Bible is full of examples like this. Jonah’s story is a good one. He tries to foil God’s plan but cannot. In John, we read that Jesus came to his own but his own received him not. This was the plan from the beginning.

III. John calls us out. vs 3, 6

There are considered two types of people: jews and Gentiles. This is not just an isolated event of people rejecting Jesus’ kingship from God. It is all humanity – sons of Adam and daughters of Eve. What about you? I rejected him and he still died for me. That is what WE have done. Have you submitted your will to the rightful reign of your creator?

IV. Know for certain who has absolute authority. Vs 9-10

Pilate is now more afraid. He asks where Jesus is from and he gets no answer. Do you know what a big deal it is when God stops speaking to you? In scripture, it is a big deal. King Saul hs nothing from God so he consults a medium and conjures up dead Samuel. Romans 1 says God gave mankind over to its lusts.

The gospel turns our world upside down. If you are making an authority claim, it is a naked grab for more power. We would think that the next phrase of Jesus might be, my father gave you power and I am out of here. He does not. Instead, Jesus SUBMITS to the will of his Father.

Freedom does not mean I have a right to do whatever I please and am not held to the consequences. It means Jesus is so free he can go back – he can love us who crucified him.


1 Then Pilate took Jesus and flogged him. 2 And the soldiers twisted together a crown of thorns and put it on his head and arrayed him in a purple robe. 3 They came up to him, saying, “Hail, King of the Jews!” and struck him with their hands. 4 Pilate went out again and said to them, “See, I am bringing him out to you that you may know that I find no guilt in him.” 5 So Jesus came out, wearing the crown of thorns and the purple robe. Pilate said to them, “Behold the man!” 6 When the chief priests and the officers saw him, they cried out, “Crucify him, crucify him!” Pilate said to them, “Take him yourselves and crucify him, for I find no guilt in him.” 7 The Jews answered him, “We have a law, and according to that law he ought to die because he has made himself the Son of God.” 8 When Pilate heard this statement, he was even more afraid. 9 He entered his headquarters again and said to Jesus, “Where are you from?” But Jesus gave him no answer. 10 So Pilate said to him, “You will not speak to me? Do you not know that I have authority to release you and authority to crucify you?” 11 Jesus answered him, “You would have no authority over me at all unless it had been given you from above. Therefore he who delivered me over to you has the greater sin.”

IX. The Sermon: Two Questions – Rev. Kyle McClellan, Senior Minister, Grace Presbyterian Church

The Sermon Passage: John 18:28-40

The Big Idea: In Jesus’ initial encounter with Pilate, two questions emerge – questions we ourselves must also answer 2000 years later.


I. Hypocrisy defined (vv. 28-31).

II. The first question: in what sense is Jesus a King? (vv. 33-37)

A. The Church/sphere sovereignty (cf.: Ephesians 4:11-14).

B. The King of the Nations (cf.: Matthew 28:18; Psalm 2).

C. Now and not yet (cf.: Revelation 19:11-16).

III. The second question: what is truth? (v. 38).

IV. Beware playing politics (vv. 38b-40).

The passage.
28 Then they led Jesus from the house of Caiaphas to the governor’s headquarters. It was early morning. They themselves did not enter the governor’s headquarters, so that they would not be defiled, but could eat the Passover. 29 So Pilate went outside to them and said, “What accusation do you bring against this man?” 30 They answered him, “If this man were not doing evil, we would not have delivered him over to you.” 31 Pilate said to them, “Take him yourselves and judge him by your own law.” The Jews said to him, “It is not lawful for us to put anyone to death.” 32 This was to fulfill the word that Jesus had spoken to show by what kind of death he was going to die.

33 So Pilate entered his headquarters again and called Jesus and said to him, “Are you the King of the Jews?” 34 Jesus answered, “Do you say this of your own accord, or did others say it to you about me?” 35 Pilate answered, “Am I a Jew? Your own nation and the chief priests have delivered you over to me. What have you done?” 36 Jesus answered, “My kingdom is not of this world. If my kingdom were of this world, my servants would have been fighting, that I might not be delivered over to the Jews. But my kingdom is not from the world.” 37 Then Pilate said to him, “So you are a king?” Jesus answered, “You say that I am a king. For this purpose I was born and for this purpose I have come into the world-to bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth listens to my voice.” 38 Pilate said to him, “What is truth?”

After he had said this, he went back outside to the Jews and told them, “I find no guilt in him. 39 But you have a custom that I should release one man for you at the Passover. So do you want me to release to you the King of the Jews?” 40 They cried out again, “Not this man, but Barabbas!” Now Barabbas was a robber.

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