DYING TO LIVE
JOHN 12:20-36 PRINCETON CHRISTIAN CHURCH 14 MARCH 2021
Several times in the Gospels Jesus makes statements concerning His coming death. He publically announces His pending death. He uses the opportunity to explain what His death will produce along with highlighting the same principle for His followers in dying to self.
READ John 12:20-36
1 – Looking For Jesus
Verses 20-22 – The Greeks (Gentiles) came looking for Jesus although they really wanted nothing to do with Him.
What they really wanted was to get Him out of their way. They were willing to do whatever it would take to get rid of this threat that Jesus was to them. Even to go near to the Jewish religious celebration of Passover.
While these Gentiles wanted to get close to Jesus in order to carry out a plot to rid Him from their presence, it does cause us to consider – are we willing to do whatever it takes to get close to Jesus? Do we have a burning desire to do so? What gets in our way to keep us at a distance from Him? What prevents us from being sold out for Jesus? Are we willing to get whatever it is out of the way so we can get closer to Him? People still today want to see Jesus. How can they do that? They are supposed to be able to see Him through His followers --- US! Let’s ask ourselves individually – “When people are looking for Jesus will they find Him in me?”
2 – Die to live
John 12: 23-26 – Jesus says here it is time for Him to be “glorified.” That simply means that He was about to receive the honor that is due Him. Then, he begins to talk about seeds.
When seeds are planted in the Spring some of them sprout and grow – some quickly and some take a little longer. It depends upon the condition of the seed’s coating. It depends upon how the seed accepts the watering it receives and the germination going on inside the seed.
Many times we come to the Lord with hard coatings – barriers to growing in Christ as we should – or could. What is the barrier that is preventing us from dying (like the seed must) to self? Is our heart hardened so that the germination of the Word is stifled? What negative seeds still need to die in order for us to grow in Christ? – Pride – Anger – Lust – Greed, and any number of other barriers. These must die in order for there to be a harvest of positive seeds and positive growth
Dietrich Bonhoeffer, author of The Cost of Discipleship, said, “When Christ calls someone, He bids them to come and die.” Jesus died so that we could live. We must, then, die to self so that He can live through us – and so that others will be able to see Him through us. So, we need to start dying so that we can start really living the blessed life God wants us to experience, and has prepared for us. When a seed dies, it produces something more beautiful and useful than it would have It if it had remained I in its original condition. Really, it would simply have remained dead with no life or purpose at all.
The same thing happens when we shed the hard shell around our heart and allow the love of Jesus to occupy that space. We become someone more beautiful and more useful in the Kingdom than we can ever imagine.
Jesus, here, is not telling us to literally hate our own lives – that isn’t something He would expect of us. In Hebrew thought there is no separate word for “prefer less”. So, Jesus would have used the word ‘sane,’ which is translated into the Greek as ‘hate.’ The Hebrew word for ‘sane’ covers a whole range of negative emotions. It can mean “abandon, leave, aside, quit, relinquish”. It is in that sense that Jesus uses the word that we see as ‘hate’ in our English Bibles.
In order to live in the Spirit, we must be willing to die to the flesh.
In Luke 9:23-25 we find these words – “Then He (Jesus) said to them all: ‘If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will save it. What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, and yet lose or forfeit his very self.’”
We are not conditioned – as humans – to want to GIVE AWAY; to let go of possessions, people we love, or anything we hold dear and valuable. We are conditioned, rather, to GET; to grab hold of what we want and desire.
Even as we come together to worship our mindset may be to come to be fed more that to feed one another. Do we come to be served more than to serve?
If we lose our devotion to pleasing ourselves we will shed off the weight of sin and ungodliness. We will feel better; we will look better. After all, in that condition, we will be looking more like Jesus.
Jesus was here before a huge crowd of people. He has his opportunity to teach people whose motives for seeking Him out might have been a bit deceptive. He says to them – “You are looking for Me, but are you ready to follow Me?” I think He asks the same question to those who seek Him today. If we are only looking for Jesus to get something from Him, our desire to follow Him will weaken with time when His answers to our requests are not what we expect, or that His answers come in His time and not ours. If I follow Jesus for the salvation that allows me escape the flames of hell my devotion to Him will be weak.
Now, of course, we know that God does answer prayers; we know that when we repent of our sin and confess that Jesus is the Son of God and He is our Lord and Savior, we have the promise of eternal life with Him. But, if we understand all that, we may miss one very important aspect of our relationship with Him. That is the reality that we are to not only accept Him, worship Him, follow His teachings, but we are to serve Him as well. We have been saved to serve Him. Look at what Jesus says in Matthew 20:28 – He says that He did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life as a ransom for many. That’s you and me. We are “the many” He speaks of there.We can be assured that wherever He leads us, He will be there with us. We don’t have to be afraid, because He is with us. He doesn’t leave us to fend for ourselves.
In dying to self and serving the Lord there is much effort and sacrifice involved, but with all that comes the blessing of being able to eat the sweet fruit from our labors.
If we want to live in a cocoon; if we want to live only in our comfort zone; then we will remain in a single, unused seed. We must be willing to be planted in the dirt; be willing to get rained on so that we will produce plants with many seeds and the multiplication process happens and continues as we grow stronger in our relationship with our Lord.
Jesus gave the ultimate sacrifice for the greatest regard. We likely won’t match what He did, but He showed us what will happen when we are willing to die to self.
How honoring it is when we know that He is pleased with our life!
How special it is when we know we’ve helped someone!
How satisfying it is to know that you have been an instrument which has made a difference in the life of another person!
How precious it is to know that you had a part in someone giving his or her life to Jesus!
In the end, there is little joy in continuing in our selfishness, remaining in our comfort zone, being takers rather than givers or contributors.
For those who are willing to die to the self-driven lifestyle and serve Jesus, the result is the enjoyment that comes from living a fulfilled life.