The Very Best Reason To Die
by Pastor Gene
John 12:20-26: “Now among those who went up to worship at the feast were some Greeks. So, these came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida in Galilee, and asked him, “Sir, we wish to see Jesus.” Philip went and told Andrew; Andrew and Philip went and told Jesus. And Jesus answered them, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. Whoever loves his life loses it, and whoever hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. If anyone serves me, he must follow me; and where I am, there will my servant be also.”
This is a wonderful passage. Jesus ministry had almost exclusively been to the Jews. But here come some Greeks, Gentiles – and it’s significant. Edwin Blum calls them the “wanderers of the ancient world and the seekers of truth. These Greeks were probably God-fearers who attended Jewish synagogues and feasts. Their coming was symbolic of the coming of Gentiles to worship God through Christ.”
All of this took place in the buzz of a recent and shocking news story that was lighting up the land: Jesus, this Rabbi from Nazareth, had raised to life a man who’d been dead for four days! So, these Greeks, these God-seekers, desperately wanted an audience with Him.
The Greeks sought out one of Jesus’ disciples to arrange a meeting with the Teacher. They chose one with a Greek name, Philippos (Phillip) – not a bad strategy! So, Philip told Andrew and together they went to Jesus about it.
Immediately, Jesus recognized the significance of this. The Jews had sought Him, some Samaritans (ethnically mixed Jews) had sought Him, and Gentiles were seeking Him too. This was a picture of the whole world, and the symbolism wasn’t lost on Jesus! After all, He was about to give His life as a sacrifice for the whole world.
He answered them, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.”
‘Unless I die,’ He says, ‘I’ll remain alone. But if I die, I’ll bring many sons to glory!’
Here, Jesus is in the shadow of the cross. He’s contemplating His own soon-coming death as God’s Lamb, the One who would take away the sins of the world.
But then He shifts gears radically. He moves from His own death to ours!
“Whoever loves his life loses it, and whoever hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. If anyone serves me, he must follow me; and where I am, there will my servant be also.”
Jesus uses the image of a grain of wheat falling into the earth to tell us something that He’s told us many times and in many different ways: the only way to life is through death. That means one thing for Jesus as the Savior of the world, but it means something else for those who would be His “servants.”
The Greek word translated “servant” is loaded with meaning. According to noted New Testament Greek scholar Kenneth Wuest, it was “the most abject, servile term used by the Greeks to denote a slave.” It described “one who was born as a slave, one who was bound to his master in chords so strong that only death could break them” and “one whose will was swallowed up in the will of his master.”
What a powerful word picture! Wuest explains that a Christian is “born a slave of sin at his physical birth,” but becomes a servant of the Lord when he is born again. The chords that bound us to our old master, Satan, fell clanging to the ground the very moment we identified ourselves with Jesus and His death. And now, the chords that bind us to our new Master will never be broken since He lives forever (Romans 6:9)! So, while our lives were “at one time swallowed up in the will of Satan,” they are “now swallowed up in the sweet will of God.”
WOW! There it is! Death broke the chains that bound me to my old master, Satan, and, at the same time, freed me to serve my new Master, Jesus, out of sheer love.
This new life that Jesus offers the world comes only through death. So, He says, “Whoever loves his life loses it, and whoever hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life” (John 12:25).
But then He says something truly, truly beautiful, something that should really melt our hearts. He gives us, I think, the very best reason to die daily: “If anyone serves me, he must follow me; and where I am, there will my servant be also.”
There it is! The very best reason to lay my life down before Him every single day is this: when I do, I will be where He is.
To consider …
- Romans 6:12-14 tells us that sin no longer has to have dominion over us, but that doesn’t mean it never does! We have a new Master who has set us free from sin and death. “Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, to make you obey its passions. Do not present your members to sin as instruments for unrighteousness, but present yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life, and your members to God as instruments for righteousness. For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace.” While sin no longer has a right to us, we often give it reign in our lives. Who or what reigns in your life most typically?
- Does sin reign in your “mortal body” regularly or does Jesus? Remember, whatever is reigning is the thing you’re serving!
- Do you obey sins passions rather than the Lord’s commandments?
- Do you present the members of your body to sin as instruments of unrighteousness?
- Is there something you need to have a talk with Jesus about?
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