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Worship Series: The Son of God Goes Forth to War
Worship Theme: The Hidden Warrior
The Sixth Portion of the Passion History: Matthew 27:32-61 (NIV)
Sermon Text: John 11:33-37 (EHV)
Hymns & Songs: Gathering Song, CWS715 What Grace Is This!, CW593 Now the Light Has Gone Away (in worship folder)
Message: The Hidden Warrior
Everyone boarded the plane in the same way. The flight attendant scanned all the boarding passes, and everyone walked down the jetway. At first glance, everyone looked the same—normal. But, of course, there were all kinds of differences: men and women, young and old, and people from different ethnic backgrounds. When everyone had settled into their seats, the attendant welcomed everyone on board. Before the required explanation of how to use all the safety equipment, she asked the passengers to welcome one special individual. When she announced his name there was no reaction. Then she shared that the man was a veteran who had earned the Medal of Honor for valor on the battlefield. The surprised passengers clapped their appreciation.
Last week we heard about the Promised Warrior. He came ready for battle. He shouted his war cry and pumped up his troops for battle. We also heard that he didn’t look like a warrior. Jesus didn’t look any more like a warrior than the Medal of Honor recipient on the plane. Jesus, our great Warrior, walked among the people like anyone else. You could say that he was a . . . Hidden Warrior!
Jesus was just like us. He grew up like every other child. “Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and with people” (Luke 2:52 EHV). He faced the challenge of becoming a teenager. There were days when he was tired, hungry, and thirsty.
But there was one difference. Jesus wasn’t born sinful. He didn’t do sins. Can you imagine what a challenge that must have been for Joseph and Mary? Jesus was always respectful, smart, and obedient, even when they lost their temper for the wrong reasons or were grumpy. If they disciplined him without reason, Jesus willing submitted to them. He never deserved a time-out or a spanking, and he never complained about food on the table so they had to send him to his room without supper. Jesus was perfect! Peter called him “a lamb without blemish or spot” (1 Peter 1:19 EHV) and went on to say, “[Jesus] did not commit a sin, and no deceit was found in his mouth” (1 Peter 2:22 EHV).
“Perfect” doesn’t describe you or me! That’s why I am so glad it describes our Hidden Warrior. We can know for certain that Jesus’ death on the cross provided the absolutely perfect sacrifice! There has never been a human being like Jesus! But we couldn’t tell he was sinless by looking at him. He looked like us. He felt compassion for others, he wept, and he even became angry when God’s house was turned into a market.
Even though Jesus is the Hidden Warrior, every once in a while people caught a glimpse of the Warrior’s power. We see it here in John 11. Jesus arrived at the home of friends: Lazarus and his sisters, Mary and Martha. Jesus was late! Lazarus had died and been buried for four days when Jesus arrived. Mary was weeping—loud tears of grief and pain. “When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who came with her also weeping, he was deeply moved in his spirit and troubled. He asked, “Where have you laid him?” They told him, “Lord, come and see.” Jesus wept. Then the Jews said, “See how he loved him!”” (John 11:33–36 EHV).
The Hidden Warrior has a gentle, loving heart! Jesus burst into real, salty tears as grief gripped him. Jesus saw Lazarus’ grave. His friend’s body lay lifeless in that tomb. Even the people who were there to support Mary and Martha could tell that those tears rolling down his face were real. They knew that Jesus had spent time with that family—they had eaten, laughed, and now cried together. Jesus felt their pain. It was a completely human thing.
We know what that is like. We have been at funerals of loved ones. Tears are the outflow of a grieving heart. The pain that comes from loss is very real. Jesus’ heart was as broken as our hearts have ever been.
Think about this for a moment—Jesus’ tears weren’t just for his friends at Lazarus’ death. He saw the root cause of Lazarus’ death, and the reason for his own death in just a few days. The reason? Sin. “The soul who sins is the one who will die” (Ezekiel 18:4 EHV). “For the wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23 EHV). Jesus wept at the punishment. He wept over the pain. He wept over everything we have done to set his feet on this painful path.
How many tears had Jesus shed over the irritation and anger we caused because we’ve spent way too much time on Facebook, YouTube, or internet gaming? How many tears has he shed because we’ve allowed our love for our family to shrivel and starve? How many tears has he shed because we avoided the chance to start a conversation about Jesus and left another soul untouched by our Savior’s love? How many regrets do each of us have because of our sins?
We shed tears when we lose a loved one. We shed tears when our hearts are filled with sorrow over our sin. We grab a tissue and wipe up the overflow of our hearts. Do we realize that we have something better than tissues to dry our honest tears?
The people at Lazarus’ funeral had questions about the Hidden Warrior: “Could not he who opened the eyes of the blind man have kept this man from dying?” (John 11:37 EHV). Why didn’t Jesus do something for Lazarus? He had healed others. He had the power to do it. Martha had wondered too. Earlier she told Jesus, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died” (John 11:21 EHV).
Martha and the rest asked because they knew there was something special about this Hidden Warrior. We know that Jesus made the universe (Hebrews 1:2), which includes us! Think of the awesome power he has! Astronomers estimate that there are one hundred trillion galaxies in the universe, a number so big we can’t even imagine it. They say there are more than ten million different species of animals on earth! Think of the unlimited creativity, brilliance, and power it took to make all that! None of this was an accident. Jesus did it!
The apostle Paul wrote, “Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness” (Philippians 2:5-7).
That means that the man Jesus is the Hidden Warrior, 100 percent fully human and 100 percent fully God. This is the astounding truth: The eternal Son of God, when he was born in Bethlehem, also became a human being! “He made himself nothing,” literally means that he “emptied himself.” In other words, he set aside much of his God nature and put it on a shelf. He hid his power. But once in a while he took it out to give his Father glory for his plan to save the world.
Jesus was about to unshelve his power. He told Martha that she would see “the glory of God” (John 11:40 EHV). The Hidden Warrior went to work. “He shouted with a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out!”” (John 11:43 EHV). Jesus, the travelling rabbi and authoritative speaker climbed into the ring with death and dropped the gloves. He beat death to a pulp and forced it to yield. Lazarus stepped out of the grave, alive. The Hidden Warrior honed his skills in preparation for his upcoming clash with Satan.
We need to see Jesus in action, especially when we see the damage Satan has done and is still doing. His personal goal is to rob us of our faith, take away our hope, and see us burn in hell while he laughs in our face. Satan is too formidable an enemy for us to face on our own. That’s why God’s plan to save this world was so perfect. We have the Hidden Warrior, Jesus, who came to fight for us. He came not only to fight, but also to win!
He came to fight for you and win when you are at a weak spot in your life—kids picking on you in school, your coworkers constantly critical of your efforts, your spouse giving you the silent treatment, or your friends abandoning you. Look at the Hidden Warrior on the cross. Jesus has our backs!
Even in the struggle? In the middle of intense physical pain? When our hearts ache and break? Even while we struggle with our faith? Even in the worst of times, our Hidden Warrior stands and fights for us. Remember, he doesn’t lose. He NEVER loses. He promised, “The one in you is greater than the one in the world” (1 John 4:4 EHV).
So picture this: With one hand the God-man Jesus is controlling our universe, and his other hand is wrapped around us. We may not see him for who he is, just like the airline passengers didn’t see the Medal of Honor hero for who he was. Jesus has chosen to remain hidden from our vision right now. But he’s there—always has been, always will be! We are in a mighty warrior’s hands! Amen.