Grains of Wheat and Fruit Eternal
John 12:1-36 Grains of Wheat and Fruit Eternal Introduction: I want to be challenged and to challenge you to follow Jesus in a closer way this year…. That what we hear on Sunday’s, and what we read in the pages of Scripture, what we fellowship around together we will live out, by the power of Christ in us…. I think that the big question of this text is - What does it mean to follow Jesus? Jesus says, whoever serves me must follow me… 1. The Context 1. There is so much going on this chapter… the tension has risen in Jerusalem and among the Jewish people to maximum capacity… when we left off the Jewish supreme court had decided that the only thing they could do to keep from losing their place and authority among the Jews and Romans was to put Jesus to death… since Jesus had raised Lazarus, his greatest sign so far, many of the Jews were believing that he truly was the Christ, God’s anointed deliverer… and so that meant that people were no longer following, listening to, or esteeming the Jewish leadership… now it was the time the Passover, the festival that commemorated God’s great deliverance from his people’s slavery from Egypt and really the Birth of the nation… Which meant every Jew would make their way to Jerusalem at this time to celebrate the feast, so Jerusalem was packed. Jesus is also making his way to Jerusalem, and as he approaches the people begin to hail him as the long awaited messiah, the deliverer. We know this not only because of their words… “Hosanna, blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord, even the King of Israel”; but also by their actions: they took branches of palm trees and went out to meet him.. 2. The Palm branch was symbolic, it was the image that the rebels or zealots in Israel used when they minted their own coin to fund their insurrections - an act of defiance against Rome’s economy. The Palm Branch was first used by the Maccabean's in celebration of their victory over the Seleucid Empire.. So we need to understand that the Jews are celebrating because they think that this is the moment when they will be delivered from Roman tyranny and the Kingdom of David will be re-established…The reign of Messiah and God’s peace is now here. 3. Jesus, is going to redefine for them once again what he is all about and what his kingdom is all about… Notice, He doesn’t rebuke them. He is the king, He is God’s anointed Messiah, He is here to deliver, but not in the way that they think… and so Jesus defines himself in one move, he grabs a donkey, and rides it into Jerusalem, while the crowds cheer on, fulfilling the Prophecy of Zechariah 9:9, “Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! Shout aloud, O daughter of Jerusalem! Behold, your king is coming to you; righteous and having salvation is he, humble and mounted on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey.” 4. So, in one word, how does Jesus define himself? -Humble. 1. C.S. Lewis defined humility this way, and I think it perfectly fits our text: “True humility is not thinking less of yourself; it is thinking of yourself less.” (this will make more sense as we go on..) 2. But this doesn’t stop the crowds they still cheer and celebrate.. so much so that the religious leaders despair… “We have failed! The whole world is going after Jesus!” And they aren’t too far off because that’s what we see next. 3. Among those who went up to the feast are some Greeks ( these would have been Greeks not in a nation sense but a cultural sense or more particularly Gentiles who had converted to Judaism, and were also waiting for Messiah) They are at the feast of Passover and they want to meet Jesus. So they came to Philip and Andrew (the two Apostles with greek names to try and arrange a meeting with Jesus) And so the two Apostles go to Jesus and tell him about these inquirers. Now, what we’re expecting here is a great moment where Jesus is revealed to the Greeks, and where they believe to a greater degree and it could be such a great moment, but it doesn’t happen.. we don’t even know what happens with these Greeks, because Jesus is on a mission, he is so focused on the task at hand. So he’s going to take this moment to tune his followers in on what he’s doing and how they are to be with him in it… 2. Jesus Path to Suffering and Glory 1. What does he say?”The Hour Has Come for the Son of Man to be Glorified!” 2. This is really the turning point in John’s Gospel. (Some have actually split the book of John into two different themes chapters 1-11 being the book of signs and chapters 12-21 as the book of Glory). This statement by Jesus is significant because since the beginning of this Gospel, John, as well as Jesus, has reminded us that Jesus hour had not yet come. Jesus continually makes reference to an hour, a moment in his earthly ministry where he will be most glorified… and so here we have it, it has finally arrived… and it is not what the people expect, it is the exact opposite. 3. The glorification of the Son of Man will be manifest through the gruesome death of the Cross, He will be lifted up… but this lifting up, will draw all people, it will be a sign, Jesus greatest sign, for all people to see and to believe on (not all people, but people of all kinds without distinction?). It will be like a grain of wheat, which if left alone doesn’t do much, but if it falls into the earth and dies, (buried in the ground, or planted, a picture of death and burial) it will produce a fruitful crop. What looks like the grain’s demise is in fact its harvest. 4. This is what Jesus is here to do it is the main purpose for which he came, he came to give his life, that through his death, we who were subject to sin and death might have life.. he is the grain of wheat who dies, is buried, but who’s death brings a fruitful crop to the peoples of the earth..Truly he is the King who thinks of others more than himself, as Zechariah prophesied, the humble King who brings salvation… 5. But so we don’t assume that Jesus is the only one who is being humbled, we must read on… 3. Following Jesus through Suffering to Glory 1. Jesus continues, “Whoever loves his life loses it. Whoever hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life”…. a promise. 2. And then again, “If anyone serves me, he must follow me; and where I am, there will my servant be also. If anyone serves me the Father will honor him.” - a promise. Jesus is basically saying the same thing twice.. 1. “These choices cannot be mere self-abnegation. Self must be replaced by another; the endless, shameless focus on self must be displaced by focus on Jesus Christ” - Carson 2. Jesus is using hyperbole here. He means for us to follow him so closely that all our other desires and relationships look like hate in comparison. He says, that if we give our lives over to him, giving him the full authority, letting him define for us what is right and what is wrong, what is good and what is evil, what the purpose of life is and isn’t, to teach us how to live and how to die and everything that comes in between - if we lose our lives by casting them over to him, what others might see as us forfeiting (hating), or wasting our lives and wonderful opportunities in this world.. if we do this, we will be in fact saving our lives for the life that really matters, the full, overflowing, eternal life, the life that will going on and on and on, the life of the age to come. 3. Jesus says, if we want to serve him, we have to follow him - in this particular way: we must cast off or hate our lives in this world. If we do this we will receive eternal life and honor from the Father…. 1. Dietrich Bonhoeffer said, “When Christ calls a man He bids him come and die”. 2. “Jesus is not calling us to hate actively; he’s calling us to hate comparatively. He says, “I want you to follow me so fully, so intensely, so enduringly that all other attachments in your life look like hate by comparison.” If you say, “I’ll obey you, Jesus, if my career thrives, if my health is good, if my family is together,” then the thing that’s on the other side of that is your real master, your real goal. But Jesus will not be a means to an end; he will not be used. If he calls you to follow him, he must be the goal.” -Keller 1. A follower or disciple is someone who has placed love, loyalty and allegiance to Jesus above everyone and everything else. 1. Some of you might be saying to yourselves this sounds like works based salvation.. we do these things and we get Eternal Life.. well Paul definitely didn’t see it that way. "But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. 8 Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ 9 and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith— 10 that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, 11 that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead.” 3. So in fact what Jesus is inviting us into is - his own identity and mission. He is the one who is forfeiting his life, he is walking into a death trap in Jerusalem and even though he has the power to deliver himself, he’s not going to, he is losing his life for the sake of the Kingdom and glory of the Father, and the Father is going to Honor him greatly for it. 1. “And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. 9 Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, 10 so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11 and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” - Philippians 2:8-11 2. Jesus says, “if anyone serves me, the Father will honor him.” Scripture says the glory and honor that God has waiting those who have surrendered their lives to the Lordship of Jesus Christ, has not ever been seen, heard or thought of in this life.. it is beyond compare. Conclusion: Practically Following Jesus in 2015 Today the question is what does it mean for us to follow Jesus in the year 2015. First, it means listening to Jesus - this we do by reading, studying, meditating, and conversing on God’s Word. To follow him, we must know him, his words, his deeds, and his person. Secondly, it means that what we read, we are going to obey, to follow Jesus, by the power of the Holy Spirit at work in us. "True obedience is the refusal to compromise in any regard our relationship with God, regardless of the consequences." AW Tozer Thirdly, it means that we are going to go where Jesus goes. As cheesy as it was, one of the greatest things the Church has ever done was to market the slogan, “What Would Jesus do?” That should be the goal of our lives each day. Given the different paths and situations of our lives, we are going to ask for wisdom and strength to do what Jesus would have done in our situation…Holy Spirit help us as we seek to follow Jesus, and display his love, humility and grace to the world around us!