DYING TO GIVE US LIFE
JOHN 12:20-33 PRINCETON CHRISTIAN CHURCH 06 MARCH 2022
It’s the last week of Jesus' ministry. Before him is the punishment for sins he never committed, betrayal, denial, mock trial by those who should be defending him, turned over to the Romans, being beaten, scourged, spit upon, having a crown of thorns pressed down on his head, carrying the crossbeam, being nailed hands and feet to the cross, hanging naked between two thieves Then worst of all, the lonely cry of a soul forsaken by God. "My God, My God. Why hast thou forsaken me?
These are the final hours leading up to Jesus’ finest hour.
As we come near the end of this 12th chapter, John’s gospel tells us something new. Greeks have come seeking to see Jesus. He tells us this right on the heels of the statement by the Jewish leaders. "See the whole world has gone after him!" These Greeks seek out Philip, who finds Andrew, who together and tell Jesus. The Greeks seem to symbolize the fulfillment of the Jewish leaders' greatest fears. The Jewish leaders feared, of course, that Jesus really is the Son of God, the Messiah.
Jesus' reply is not yes or no. Instead, this is almost like a cue that signals the end. Jesus has several times said before this, "My hour is not yet come." But this time is different. Like a signal known only to Jesus, he responds with these words:
"The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified.”
"Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains by itself alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.
"He who loves his life loses it, and he who hates his life in this world shall keep it to life eternal.”
"If anyone serves Me, let him follow Me; and where I am, there shall My servant also be; if anyone serves Me, the Father will honor him.”
"Now My soul has become troubled; and what shall I say, "Father, save Me from this hour" But for this purpose, I came to this hour.”
"Father, glorify Thy name."
There is a tree which is called the "Live Oak" tree. There are all kinds of Oak trees, but this one is different. It is actually an evergreen. Like the Magnolia, it stays green all year long. The Live Oak tree often lives 600 years. Its wood used to be a favorite of shipbuilders because it is extremely strong and it resists rotting and can last for centuries in the water. These trees become huge at their trunk and even the limbs are massive and useful in building. But to get a great live oak tree you must start with a seed.
It is amazing how so many of the great things we know about today started out very small. Some of the most powerful things in the world begin in microscopic form. We have, over the past two years experienced the Covid virus. The virus is extremely tiny, but school systems, stores, churches have been closed and life pretty much came to a standstill because of that small microscopic virus.
Jesus reflects on this principle in his words. “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.”
This foundational principle applies to us today. What can the Princeton Christian Church do to impact this community? This county? This state? This country? This world? Well, that depends on how we practice this principle. We can follow Jesus to the cross. We can serve him. We can receive the honor God gives to all who deny themselves because they love Jesus more than this life.
Let’s take some time to let this truth sink in. Jesus is the truth. Where did he come from? Why was he here? What did he do here? Who did he do it for? What happened to Jesus? How was he treated? How did he respond? How was he vindicated? What does Jesus want from you?
The history of Jesus is to be our history. His life is our life. In baptism, His death becomes our death. His resurrection, our resurrection, and exaltation is our hope. The church is the body of Christ. In every generation, Jesus lives in this world through the people who call themselves after his name and who walk in his ways.
When Jesus talks about glory in this text, what is he referring to? Verses 27 through 33 make it clear. It was his death on the cross that He was referring to.
This lesson could easily be titled "The road to glory." There is a deep valley on the road to glory, and whoever would take that road must be ready to go through it. The road to glory is only for those of us who will hold on to Jesus with all we’ve got. We can’t have one hand holding his and the other holding on to the things of this life. One of those will win out.
Jesus calls us to look at what we value most. To walk in service to Jesus, we must travel light, holding on to all the things in this world with a very light grasp. Even the life here on this earth that we see as so precious, so valuable, does not compare with the glory of eternal life that is prepared for those who follow Jesus. Do we truly believe this? Jesus shows us the way. He shows us where to place our confidence and values.
I came across this poem which very clearly describes a life that does live prepared to follow Jesus believing that He does show us the way
I had walked life’s path with an easy tread,
Had followed where comfort and pleasure led;
And then by chance in a quiet place --
I met my Master face to face.
With station and rank and wealth for goal,
Much thought for body but none for soul,
I had entered to win this life’s mad race --
When I met my Master face to face.
I had built my castles, reared them high,
Till their towers had pierced the blue of the sky;
I had sworn to rule with an iron mace --
When I met my Master face to face.
I met Him and knew Him, and blushed to see
That His eyes full of sorrow were fixed on me;
And I faltered, and fell at His feet that day
While my castles vanished and melted away.
Melted and vanished; and in their place
I saw naught else but my Master’s face;
And I cried aloud: "Oh, make me meet
To follow the marks of Thy wounded feet."
My thought is now for the souls of men;
I have lost my life to find it again
Ever since alone in that holy place
My Master and I stood face to face.
Do you want the fruit of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control? These are the blessings for those in Christ who choose his way and will over the temporary things and pleasures of this life.
Jesus calls you to give your life to him. Will you answer this call?