Monday, August 4, 2014
John 12:23-28 Three invitations
This week we will find three invitations from Jesus in these verses.
Let's dive in!
Many people are attracted to Jesus on different levels. They are amazed at His ability to heal. They are thunderstruck by His wisdom. They find (as many humans do) the idea of His power very attractive. They even think that they might be like Him . . . until they begin to realize what He did, and the sacrifices that He made. They might like to live His life, but they would not like to die His death. But as we will learn in this passage, there is a sense in which He is inviting us to do exactly that.
Jesus replied, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. 24 Very
truly I tell you, 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. 25 Anyone who loves their
life will lose it, while anyone who hates their life in this world will keep it for eternal
life. 26 Whoever serves me must follow me; and where I am, my servant also will be.
My Father will honor the one who serves me. 27 “Now my soul is troubled, and what
shall I say? ‘Father, save me from this hour’? No, it was for this very reason I came
to this hour. 28 Father, glorify your name!” Then a voice came from heaven, “I have
glorified it, and will glorify it again.”
The first of the three invitations is that Jesus is inviting us to share in His death. That is kinda shocking in today's world, so let's look at this closely. It is not a literal death on a cross, or any other kind of physical death, necessarily, but it is a death that can be drastic and painful.
Look again as He describes (His own) death and says, "I tell you the truth, 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." Farmers know that a seed that doesn't die is not good for anything. It just lies on the ground and never germinates, never grows a plant, never fulfills its potential.
When the right kind of seed lies in the ground and comes into contact with moisture, it looks like it is rotting, but as it dies a beautiful green shoot begins to rise from it. It's being transformed! Death has transformed it to become something greater than it was. Because of the death of that one seed, a plant will live that will produce a great deal of fruit -- and many more seeds.
Jesus knew that like that seed, His death would lead to life for many. It would also lead to life for Himself. Just imagine what would have happened if Jesus had clung to His life and not been willing to die . . . there would have been no resurrection for Him, or for us. There would be no salvation from our sins, and there would be no Savior to whom we could go and ask forgiveness. There would be no grace, only the law.
You see, Jesus knew that His death was necessary in order to bring eternal life to those who believed in Him. Only by His dying, could they live. He quickly followed by saying, "The man who loves his life will lose it, while the man who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. Whoever serves me must follow me; and where I am, my servant will also be." (John 12:25-26) If we are to follow Him, we must join Him in a death of sorts . . .
Here is what we mean: it is a death to self. It is dying to the life we want to live, in order to live the life that He wants us to live. If we cling tenaciously to OUR lives, OUR plans, and our sin, then we will die spiritually. If we lay down our lives, then we discover a life that we never would have known was possible.
If I die to what I was, to what I planned and desired, then I become something else; I become something far greater than my former self could ever have been.
We must die to those plans that are not a part of His plan for us. We must die to the desire to have total control of our lives. We must also die to pride, and to demanding our own ways. We have to put aside stubbornness, selfishness, and those sins that we would like to just overlook and say, "oh, that's not a big deal."
But look at the discovery we will make: when we die to those things, we come to life for the first time! We can say with Paul, "I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me." (Galatians 2:20)
You see, when we think we are "really living" or "living it up" we are fooling ourselves. There is no real contentment or fulfillment there. We are just existing. In order to live, we must die to anything that we are depending on for meaning, for purpose, and for happiness --- other than God. There's no other way. But if we lose our lives, we will find them. There are lots of people who can tell you that they have found life only by dying to their old lives.
And they will also tell you it was more than worth it.