Sunday Service Sermons
Life out of Death
I would imaging that all of you have heard the example of life out of death regarding a seed.
The seed has to die to sprout into a plant.
We must die to ourselves to sprout into what God intended for us to become.
Jesus died on the cross to bring a new life to those who accept him and his sacrifice.
New life in Christ was brought to the world through the death of God.
Scripture Lesson is John 12:20-36.
Focus Scripture: I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself. He said this to show the kind of death he was going to die. John 12:32-33.
The scripture lesson focus on the Monday after Jesus enters Jerusalem.
Finally, this Jesus that has caused such a stir has come into the city.
It is a festive time because of the Passover Celebration.
He has come into the city in a triumphant manner.
The symbol of the palm branches goes back to the Maccabean victory.
It symbolized victory over the Jew’s enemies.
Was this Jesus going to drive Rome out of Israel?
Was that the hope that brought the people out as he entered the city?
Most likely this was the hope of the Jews.
They wanted Jesus to be a military savior.
They cried Hosanna which means Save us now!
Or Deliver us now!
But Jesus was not on a warrior’s stallion, but on a donkey, to symbolize his mission as a man of peace.
As I said last week, the imagery of the Priest, King who comes as a suffering servant known as “The Son of Man” was in other literature that Jesus, and many Jews, knew well.
Today’s scripture tells a incident of Greek Jews wanting an audience with Jesus. John 12:20-21
They were most likely Gentile proselytes who had come as pilgrims to worship in the temple during the Passover.
It is thought that they might have been in the court of the Gentiles when Jesus cleared the temple of the money changers.
They asked Philip if they could have an audience with Jesus.
Though they had embraced the Jewish faith they were not blind to the bigotry and prejudice of the Jews toward the Gentiles.
They were most likely inwardly amused as well as outwardly amazed at what Jesus had done.
Whatever the reason the Greek’s had a hunger within their hearts driving them to find Jesus and talk with him.
Philip did not know what to do so he consulted with Andrew, who suggested that they take the matter to Jesus.
Through this exchange Jesus, for the first time, declares his intention in coming to Jerusalem.
“The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified”. Verse 23.
When Jesus thought of these Greeks was he thinking of the innumerable host of Gentiles who would believe in him?
Since his mission was not complete, he had not been crucified and raised from the dead, he did not receive the company of Greeks.
He was still “in the flesh” and had come first to his own people as King of the Jews.
In this role he was not fully ready to be received by the Gentiles, though he had been received by a few in his ministry.
Before he turned to the Gentiles as a people, the loneliness and rejection of his own people had to occur.
He had to be lifted up on the cross and accepted as a sacrifice for sin and not just as a son of David.
Jesus told Andrew and Philip that the hour has come.
By this he meant the time was at hand when his mission would be infinitely expanded.
For in a few days he would die on a cross and be resurrected on the third day, providing once and for all redemption from sin for anyone who believes in him.
He made this clear by stating: “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified”.
Remember that the Greeks wanted to “see” Jesus.
They wanted to be introduced to him, to understand him, to discover or comprehend his mission.
Jesus was saying: Not Yet!
Why? Jesus knew that at this point these Greeks would see him only as a miracle worker, an appealing teacher, and a potential military leader.
They were unable to see him in his role as Savior of the world.
When Jesus tried to explain his death and new life he used the example of wheat.
John 12:24 “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.”
Wheat has a small husk covering a small piece of grain.
When you look at the grain you cannot see what is inside of it.
The disciples could not see what was included in the mission of Jesus The Christ.
They only saw what was in front of them, in the physical present.
They could not see Jesus in the fullest sense of the word.
Just as no one can see what is inside a tiny grain of wheat, so they could not see all that Jesus was and came to accomplish.
What do we do with the grain?
We put it in the ground and it dies, disintegrates.
But that is not the end of it!
Something happens at that point.
We stand aside, and presently a tiny blade appears, then the stalk, the head and finally the full head of grain.
And if conditions are right, it stools out and many stalks come out of that one grain of wheat.
If it has to struggle it multiplies.
We do the same when the Holy Spirit is with us.
Jesus knew that no one could truly see him until he died and completed his mission.
His true identity would not be released until he experienced death.
His life was perfect and sinless, yet no one is saved by Jesus’ life.
He performed many miracles in his daily ministry, but there was no saving power in his ministry.
It was simply a demonstration and proof of his deity.
It was his death that provided salvation.
The company of Greeks could not see Jesus yet, but if they waited awhile , they could see him in a way that they could never have seen him before!
One cannot find eternal life until first there is a death, the death of Jesus on the cross.
Jesus expands this concept to those who would follow him.
It is a matter of spiritual priorities.
Many Christians are completely earthbound, and their chief concern is with this life, its things, its tangibles.
Jesus drove his illustration even closer to home when he said: “Whoever serves me must follow me.”
Where was Jesus going?
He was going to the cross.
But where beyond that?
He would be resurrected in glory and triumph.
The grain of wheat would fall into the ground and die.
And through that death, life would spring forth and a harvest would result.
And what is the message for us today?
First, he was telling us that true life is released only after a death takes place.
While the grain of wheat was preserved in safety and security, it was fruitful.
When it was planted in the ground, it bore fruit.
It was by the death of martyrs that the church grew in the ancient past.
As an old saying puts it, “The blood of the martyrs is the seed of the church.”
Because they died, the church became the living church.
Second, Jesus is saying that only by giving our lives away do we retain life.
When Joan of Arc knew that her enemies were strong and that her time was short, she prayed to God, “Lord, I shall only last a year; use me as you can”.
And finally, Jesus is telling us that only by service comes greatness.
At another time, Jesus said, “For it is the one who is least among you all who is the greatest” Luke 9:48
True life in not realized until you identify with God through Jesus Christ.
Then you learn that life is found in giving yourself away so that Christ may be top priority in your life.
Jesus is saying: “Whoever serves me must follow me, and where I am, my servant also will be, My Father will honor the one who serves me.”
Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!
Oh Lord, Come!