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The Amazing Paradox

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"THE AMAZING PARADOX"

(A Series on Jesus)

 

C.R.6/21/87p.m.                                          John 12:12-50

 

PROPOSITION:  Man   looks   on   glory   as   conquest,  the

      acquisition of power and the right to rule, Jesus looks on it as death to self, the spending of life and the serving of others, all summed up in the cross.

 

I.INTRODUCTION

 

-     I WANT you to picture a scene with me.....you will find it in John 12.

-     JESUS' life and ministry of miracles, all over Judea and Galilee, has culminated in the raising of Lazarus from the dead.

-     THAT happened in Bethany, only 2 miles from Jerusalem, so the word about it spread fast.

-     IT happened right before a Feast of the Tabernacles.....and the Passover.....so the area was jammed with people.

-     AND "many were going over to Jesus and putting their faith in Him." (12:11)

-     THE crowd had heard that Jesus was coming in to Jerusalem for the Feast....so "they took palm branches and went out to meet Him, shouting,

      "Hosanna!" "Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!" "Blessed is the King of Israel!"

-     THE crowd was ready to make Him their king.....they saw Him as the deliverer they had been waiting for....to liberate them from the Romans.

-     THE Pharisees were incensed by His rising popularity with the crowds. In verse 19 they say,

      "See, this is getting us nowhere. Look how the whole world has gone after him!"

-     EVEN the Greeks from the region had recognized the fire of divine light in Him and wanted to know more about Him in verses 20-22.

-     AND in verse 23 Jesus speaks what all these groups had been hoping to hear;

      "The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified."

-     MAN! That is what they were waiting to hear.

-     THEY knew what that phrase meant to them!

-     THEY had been schooled in the book of Daniel.

-     FROM childhood they had learned that the Son of Man, from Daniel 7:13, would come and would be given "authority, glory and sovereign power; all peoples, nations and men of every language worshiped Him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion that will not pass away, and His kingdom is one that will never be destroyed."

-     SO this announcement was great news to the crowd.

-     THEY wanted the Roman yoke thrown off.

-     THEY wanted peace restored to the land of Israel.

-     THEY wanted dominion over the nations of the world....that is what they had been taught they were born to do.

-     THEY wanted military superiority.

-     THEY wanted to be center stage of world affairs again....like they were under men like Joshua and king David.

-     AND here they were hearing this man, who was called Jesus, and had just raised Lazarus from the dead, say that He was the Son of Man and was about to be glorified.

-     THIS was incredible news.

-     THEIR day had finally arrived....their day in the sun was here.......their hearts must have skipped a beat to hear those words.

-     THE trumpet of eternity had sounded in their ears...the march of heaven was about to begin......their victory campaign was around the corner.

-     BY "glorified" they meant that all they had dreamed about in this world concerning their freedom and status and wealth and power would be provided.

-     BY "glorified" He meant the cross.

-     THAT is why the next few sayings of Jesus left them staggered....they couldn't believe their ears.

-     IT is the same paradox that we face in our day and age.

-     THERE are millions of people, whose lives are a wreck, they have no hope for tomorrow, no prospects for success of any kind........and, to them, Jesus looks like a quick fix to their problems.

-     COME to Jesus and have your life put back together, have your heart's desire in the comforts and pleasures of this life, have success and power and dominion.......have a life of personal ease......attach your star to the rising Son and be glorified with Him.

-     SO the "American version" of the Christian is a kind, mildly energetic, middle-class Republican who has a good retirement program, works for a good company, goes to church on Sunday to get God to bless all his endeavors, has a peaceful, quiet and basically moral and also prosperous life.

*     He has at least two cars.

*     He lives in the suburbs and has a white picket fence around his yard.

*     He is a member of a church and his children were all made to go to Sunday School, whether they needed it or not.

*     He buys his polyester suits, which he wears to church and funerals, from Sears.

*     He is appalled at the condition of the nation and can't believe the way the young people act or dress.

-     HIS life is lived in shades of grey and it lacks much of the spark of divine light and color.

-     IT is because today's American Christian wants a God who will protect and even advance his lifestyle....so he can have more of what pleases and comforts him.

-     AND it is to this Christian that the rest of John 12 was written.

-     JESUS said three things that stood in sharp contrast with His world then and now.......concerning His glory and the heart of the real Christian faith.

-     HEAR them in your heart tonight.

 

II.LIFE ONLY COMES BY DEATH

 

-     THE first thing that Jesus said, concerning His glory, that must have jolted those Jews into reality was this;

      "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." (v.24)

-     THE kingdom principle that Jesus taught here, I find glaringly missing from  the "kingdom principles" in many Christian books.

-     THE principle is that "Life only comes by death."

-     BEFORE you can live....you must die.

-     THAT doesn't sound like conquering nations and having world-wide dominion to me.

-     BUT it is a principle that Jesus was soon to demonstrate for us in living color on the cross.

-     THAT grain of wheat is useless if it is preserved in a nice glass case...mounted on the mantle-piece.....a conversation starter at social gatherings.

      "What is that?"

      "It is my grain of wheat."

      "Good looking!"

      "Thank you."

      "Where did you get it?"

      "I was watching a Jimmy Swaggart meeting on   TV when  I got it."

      "Has it changed your life?"

      "O Yes. I sit and stare at it for hours some time. I just love my grain of wheat."

-     WHILE it is safe and secure and quietly protected, it will not produce life, nor will it receive the glory of God.

-     IT is when it is thrown out in the cold, buried under damp soil, exposed to the elements, just like in a grave........then the grain begins to show signs of life.

-     IT was by the death of Jesus that the Life of the kingdom is made available for all mankind.

-     IT was by the death of Stephen and other martyrs that the new church exploded out into the world.

-     EVERYTHING they had come to expect of life in their time, by the world's standards, had to die before real life and the glory of God could be released.

-     BEFORE we can live we must die!

-     THAT is a basic truth, yet an incredible paradox, of the kingdom of God.

-     WHEN you first came to Jesus to be born again.....your old nature had to die.....before you could live.

-     AND that principle holds true for the rest of your spiritual pilgrimage. (Tell story of John Hyde.....his ambition had to die.)

-     THE way to life is death.

 

III.ONLY BY SPENDING YOUR LIFE DO YOU KEEP IT

 

-     HERE is he next principle that Jesus shared that must have come as a shock to His hearers; Only by spending your life do you keep it.

-     JESUS said this in verse 25;

      "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."

-     THE person who loves his life is moved by only two motivations;

*     He is moved by selfishness......what furthers ME.

*     He is moved by a desire for security......to be safe physically, emotionally, spiritually.

-     IF we do all we can to preserve our lives in this life...we may exist longer....but we may never live at all.

-     HISTORY is full of examples of men and women who have decided that it is better to burn out than rust out....and they have changed the face of things where they live as the glory of God has rested apon them.

-     THE only way to have life is to spend it....that's not Alec Rowlands....that's Jesus.

 

IV.GREATNESS AND HONOR ONLY COME BY SERVANTHOOD

 

-     THE next principle that Jesus taught is found in verse 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."

-     THIS is the principle; Greatness and honor only come by servanthood."

-     HERE was something the cheering crowd had not grasped.......the kingdom that Jesus had come to establish was not for the getting of power or dominion or personal glory or anything else.......it was a kingdom for serving.

-     (Tell story about dream of heaven and hell....three foot long spoons...and the banquet table. Hell starving and gaunt and snarling. Heaven feasting and joy and serving.)

-     THE only ones the Father honors in His kingdom are servants...there is no other way to glory.

 

V.CONCLUSION

 

-     LOOK at these three principles borne out in Jesus' words in verses 27&28;

     

      "Now my heart 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. Father, glorify your name!"

-     THESE words were hard to receive....so  many abandoned Him at this point.

-     MANY believed, says verse 42, even among the leaders...but they were afraid of losing the praise of men...so they abandoned Him too.

-     BUT these lessons about the kingdom stand.

-     IN fact, in verse 50, Jesus affirms that these commands He received from the Father and gave to us, lead to eternal life.

-     WHAT are they again?

*     The only way to life is through death.

*     Only by spending your life do you keep it.

*     Honor and greatness comes only through serving.

 

JESUS BE THE LORD OF ALL

     

     

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