Will we die as a fool or a lover? As we are traveling through Lent, we are hoping to see our faith in Christ to grow. We know by this point in time that Jesus is not a fool. Hopefully we are seeing Jesus as a lover. As we follow Jesus, we carry our cross. Since Jesus died on the cross, if we are carrying our cross, then we too will die. Will our arms be open like Jesus’ arms were open on the cross?
We find a Merriam-Webster definition of “fool” is a person who is lacking in judgment or prudence. This would like the person who walks around with a “Kick Me” sign on April 1st. We find a Merriam-Webster definition of “lover” is an affectionate or benevolent person. This would be like a person who buys the homeless guy a meal. Let’s catch what is going on with Jesus.
A. The Greeks are coming! (12:20-23)
1. Philip & Andrew had been called by Jesus to “Come & see” (John 1:35-46)
2. Now they hear some Greeks who want to see Jesus
3. So they tell Jesus about the Greeks
4. What a great opportunity for Philip and Andrew! They get to take people to see Jesus. When they tell Jesus about the Greeks, they don’t get the response they are expecting. Jesus recognizes what time it is.
B. What are we doing with our life? (12:24-28)
1. Jesus prepares his disciples for his coming death
2. Jesus has to die (the seed being buried) in order for the church to grow (the seed bearing fruit)
Augustine wrote in his Commentary on John: “He called Himself the grain of wheat that must be mortified by the unbelief of the Jews, multiplied by the faith of the nations.”
3. Curious saying: If we love our life, then we lose it; if we hate our life, then we keep it for eternal life
a. If we love the life of sin has brought us, then we lose our life for the rest of time
b. If we hate the life that is offered us to in Jesus, then we keep the life we have that does not include Jesus
c. We end up denying ourselves so that we may have life
4. John Wesley lived & encouraged the Methodist people to live lives of self-denial & stewardship
a.”Self-denial is, quite simply, ‘the denying or refusing to follow our own will, from a conviction that the will of God is the only rule of action to us.'” Wesley considered self-denial the “grand doctrine of Christianity.”1
b. Stewardship – all we possess is not our own, but “properly belongs to God.”
c. Methodists practice self-denial & stewardship so that we may serve, “in order to be a suitable instrument which can be used by God to shower his blessings on humanity.”
5. So, we have to figure out how we serve Jesus
a. Our society does not know how to serve anyone
b. We think we “deserve” much from society
c. “Deserve” means that we are worthy of merit
d. “Deserve” used to mean (Middle English) to devote oneself to, to serve
e. It turns out that we can deserve Jesus, that is we can devote ourselves to Jesus, to serve only him
7. Jesus was going to die. He knew it. If we are going to follow Jesus, then we are going to have to die. We die to our sins. We die to our attitudes. We die to our over-inflated egos. Since Jesus went to the cross, we go to the cross. Jesus says we must follow him. We can serve Jesus. For all that love that God has for us, we can serve Jesus. This is how the church grows, by serving Jesus. That is why Jesus came, so we could be his fruit.
8. Jesus’ Father will glorify his name by Jesus’ death
9. The crowd heard God through the thunder, or the angel’s voice (it depends how the hearers understood God’s voice)
10. God is praised for Jesus’ death. Why? For by Jesus’ death, God is able to restore all people to himself. That is if we want to be restored to God. Will we be fools or lovers? This is the question we have as we follow Jesus or don’t follow Jesus. We know what Jesus desires for us.
C. Jesus will draw all things to himself (12:29-33)
1. The judgment is this – we choose if we follow Jesus
a. Choose Jesus – we live
b. Don’t choose Jesus – we don’t live
2. It is by Jesus’ death, resurrection, and ascension that we are drawn to him
3. God has good for us, if we choose to follow and serve Jesus. What love there is from God! He allowed his Son to die for us, so that we may have life. We get to choose to have life. This life is lived in the light. We can choose to get out of the darkness.
Will we die as a fool or a lover? It is our choice. If we are going to follow Jesus, then let us be the fruit from his death. As we die to sin, our attitude, and in faith, may there be fruit from our death. May many come to know Jesus through our death.
***** I am indebted to Kenneth Collin’s book, A Faithful Witness: John Wesley’s Homiletical Theology, (Wesley Heritage Press; Wilmore, KY 40390; 1993) for information about Self-Denial and Stewardship.