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s20050327ms_Experiencing Jesus

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Experiencing Jesus’ Resurrection

John 12:20-26

I am glad you are here this morning. It says a lot about your faith and love for God. And I am humbled to share a few thoughts with you. My spiritual family the Vaughn Hill church of Christ is honored that we can serve you. We love you and we all welcome you as our neighbors and friends. Again thank for sharing this Easter morning with us.

Cemeteries like Roselawn have always been unique places for me. My father died in 1991 and his grave is in a small central Arkansas community. When I visit his grave I have a variety of emotions that are contradictory. Maybe you feel the same way when you visit the grave of your loved ones. For example I feel lonely for my father. I feel deprived of the blessings he brought to my life. I have yet to visit his grave without shedding tears.

And it is most often at this point I find contradictory emotions welling up in my heart. I begin to remember the way he treated and loved me. I think about our fishing trips or the wisdom about life he gave me. I remember how it was with my dad and there is great warmth in that. I find some peace, and it at this point God leads me to think one step farther.

I remember that my dad is a Christian and he knows Jesus. I begin to remember that his death did not occur on March 4th 1991. The passing of his spirit from his body on that day was the conclusion of his life experiencing the resurrection of Jesus. He died many years ago when he was 15 when he gave his life, his heart, and his body to Jesus the Christ. God helps me to remember that Jesus came to die and rise so that we humans could experience his glory and power.

Note I said “my dad is a Christian”, and not “he was a Christian.” My dad is more alive today than anyone of us sitting or listening to the lesson because he knew the resurrection of Jesus. He has completed what all of us desire for ourselves. He is forever alive and immortal because he experienced the resurrection of Christ. And Jesus invites all of us to partake in the experience of his resurrection. He wants every one of us to share and participate with him in the glory and power of his unending life.

The day after his triumphal entry into Jerusalem there were Greeks who wanted to meet this famous prophet Jesus. John tells in John 12:20-26, 20 Now among those who went up to worship at the festival were some Greeks. 21 They came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida in Galilee, and said to him, “Sir, we wish to see Jesus.” 22 Philip went and told Andrew; then Andrew and Philip went and told Jesus. 23 Jesus answered them, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. 24 Very truly, I tell you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains just a single grain; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. 25 Those who love their life lose it, and those who hate their life in this world will keep it for eternal life. 26 Whoever serves me must follow me, and where I am, there will my servant be also. Whoever serves me, the Father will honor.

The Greeks came to Phillip asking to see Jesus. Phillip having a Greek name and being from Bethsaida a town in northern Galilee made him their natural contact. There were many Gentiles in the first century who became God fearers. These are gentiles who would not give up their national identity to become Jews, but had accepted God and the Old Testament as his word. So Phillip goes to Andrew and then they both go to Jesus. Phillip and Andrew may have said “Jesus! There are some Greeks who would like to see you. We didn’t know if that would be okay so we came to ask you.”

Within a few paces of Jesus stood the world of Jews and Gentiles desiring to experience what he offered them. And he is not going to disappoint them or us. He will explain how you can experience God through him. It may be a surprising response. At first even a shocking one. It is an invitation to follow him to his cross and then his resurrection. There are two steps he wants you to take.

The first step is to understand how he was to be glorified. In verse 23 Jesus answered them, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified.” The word glorified has several meanings, but in this context it means “to cause the dignity and worth of some person or thing to become manifest and acknowledged.1” Jesus says now is the time for my dignity and worth to the world to be manifested. The hour of his glorification is upon him and if you want to experience him then you need to acknowledge his death and resurrection is what gives Jesus his dignity and worth to you.

He is far more than a good moral teacher. He is the Son of Man or the Messiah sent by God to harvest a crop of souls so vast it is beyond our imaginations. The glory of Jesus is the crucible of Calvary, and the exaltation of the Sunday morning defeat of death. Jesus bled and died and like most men had his body interred in a cemetery. He was buried in the ground, but his body did not see decay. His bones were not put in an ossuary. He rose out of the ground with the power of a resurrected indestructible life. He lives never to die again by the power of the Holy Spirit. And if you truly want to experience him you must believe this.

He gives us a picture to help us understand. He says, “24 Very truly, I tell you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains just a single grain; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.” The grain of wheat that God planted 2000 years ago is Jesus his Son. He sent him to a virgin who brought him forth. He lived his life by God’s will. And he willing planted it on the cross and in the tomb so that we can die to sin. He died to bear much fruit. When a seed dies it is then resurrected. It comes forth out of the ground and ripens into a plant that has many kernels. Jesus came forth and he ripened into the church of the living God. For 2000 years that church has had his indestructible life.

The second step is to participate in his death and resurrection. Please note that Jesus stands before Jew and Gentile and says, “25 Those who love their life lose it, and those who hate their life in this world will keep it for eternal life.” Jesus gives us the shocking truth about participation in his indestructible life. It has to do with love and hate. He says if you love your life you will lose it. The word lose here is the same word used for divorce. When I love life in this world then the consequence is I divorce myself from Jesus’ indestructible life. And when I hate my life in this world and I get to keep for eternal life. Eternal life is according to Jesus in John 17:3 to know God forever. It is participating in the intimate knowledge and relationship of God and Jesus. It is not for the by and by, but begins with our decision to die with Jesus and be raise with him. And that is what he means by hating your life in this world.

Eternal life is experienced by serving Jesus. He says, 26 Whoever serves me must follow me, and where I am, there will my servant be also. Whoever serves me, the Father will honor.” He says whoever serves him must follow him. Where was Jesus going when he said thoe words? For the last six months of his life he traveled slowly towards Jerusalem for one purpose. That purpose was to die for sin, be buried, and to be raised to His former glory. His death, burial, and resurrection then is the model for our service to him. We travel down life’s path dying to self, burying our old selfish natures in his grace, and rising by the power of his Spirit to a new life.

Christian baptism is the beginning of our travel in life with Jesus. It is the model that every one can understand. Paul says in Romans 6:4-6 “… all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? 4 We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.  5 For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his. 6 We know that our old self was crucified with him so that the sinful body might be destroyed, and we might no longer be enslaved to sin.”

Baptism is our act of faith or pledge to follow Jesus to where he is. Paul says all of us who have been baptized were baptized into his death. We have joined Christ in separating ourselves from sin. The reason he says is that when we are buried with Jesus in baptism we are raised to walk in a new life by the glory of Christ’s resurrection. Like Jesus who came out of the ground that first Easter Sunday we come out of the water to a new walk with God. Paul then uses Jesus’ picture of a seed in verse 5 where he assures that if we have been planted in his death we will be planted in his resurrection. Our old self is crucified and dies so that we can now walk with God in Eternal life. We are united to the life of Jesus, and we have become one of his kernels.

We are now free from sin to grow in the powerful life of Jesus. He lives an indestructible life for God, and we have followed him into that life by pledging our hearts, minds, and body to Jesus. So allow me to challenge you for a moment. Paul is using baptism to remind Christians that we are not to keep on sinning because of Grace. It is not, that living by the power of His life means we never sin. Once we have followed Jesus into His death, burial, and resurrection at baptism we are committed as Paul says to yield our bodies as instruments of righteousness. This is a life long process.

We are planted in his death and the outward kernel of our flesh grows old as it dies in Jesus. By faith the inward person is renewed daily by the presence of Jesus. He lives in our hearts and spirits transforming us into his image. And someday soon Jesus will end time and space or you will die physically. We all have an appointment with eternity. Every person in this cemetery who lies in a grave either gained or lost their life by the choices he or she made. If they hated their life in this world then they gained it forever. Like my dad they are more alive then you or me. And you are making choices today to either travel down the road of the cross or not. You will never be perfect, but you can love Jesus and throughly enjoy eternal life with him. Why not seek his path, and if you are why not determine to look deeper into it.

Jesus promises you that if you will follow him then God will honor you. He will love you, walk with you, care for you, and transform you into the likeness of his son. What an honor this is for us. You can not be perfect, but you can trust and walk in faith. God bless all of you.

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