20 Now among those who went up to worship at the feast were some Greeks. 21 So these came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida in Galilee, and asked him, “Sir, we wish to see Jesus.” 22 Philip went and told Andrew; Andrew and Philip went and told Jesus. 23 And Jesus answered them, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. 24 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. 25 Whoever loves his life loses it, and whoever hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. 26 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. (John 12:20-26)
Seeking facetime with Jesus
The first thing we encounter in today’s text are some Greek proselytes to the Jewish faith that are seeking some facetime with Jesus. Now among those who went up to worship at the feast were some Greeks. (John 12:20) We know they were they were converts because they are identified as Greeks. We also know they were there to take part in the Passover festivities because it says they were there among those who went up to worship.
Secondly, it’s apparent that they were seeking something more than to physically see Jesus. They could have looked at him the same as the rest of the crowd and probably saw him from a distance. They were seeking a face to face appointment with him, They wanted to talk with him in a personal way.
So these came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida in Galilee, and asked him, “Sir, we wish to see Jesus.” (John 12:21) It’s interesting that they came to Philip since he was the one who had a greek name. Philip went and told Andrew; Andrew and Philip went and told Jesus. (John 12:22)
Christ is glorified through the cross
Jesus’ response , although not uncharistic of him, is surprising to me. He doesn’t as what they are seeking nor does he doesn’t go through formalities. And Jesus answered them, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. (John 12:23)
This statement is significant in the sense that before this time, Jesus is always recorded saying the opposite. He says the hour has not yet come: John 2:4, John 7:6-8, John 8:20. This is a turning point in the ministry of Christ as his focus narrows toward the cross. Christ was glorified through the cross and he will always be glorified through the cross. Even in Revelation, as we look to the future, these will be proclaimed of Christ, “Worthy is the Lamb who was slain”. So, as we proclaim Christ, we glorify his name by declaring his death on the cross. Like the King James says, “But God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ…” (Galatians 6:14)
Only by death comes life
In this text we find a two fold principle. Like so many of Christ’s statements this one has a paradox and a double layered meaning. Look at verse 24. 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. (John 12:24)
The primary principle is that only by death comes life. He’s saying that death is a prerequisite to bearing fruit- death proceeds multiplication.
The principal of substitutionary atonement
The first layer of this principle refers to the substitutionary atonement of Christ in his crucifixion.
For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive in the spirit, (1Peter 3:18)
The principle of being a disciple
The second layer of this principle applies to the life of a disciple. If you love your life in this world you will lose it. If you hate your life in this world and lose it for the sake of Christ you will find true life. Jesus is not just something you add to the life you already love. You can’t come to Jesus if you love your your life. That’s why at Pentecost when the crowd asked Peter what they needed to do to be saved, he said, “repent”. Repentance is the realization that my life is going in the wrong direction and I hate it enough to turn around. It’s agreeing with God that my life is a mess and turning to him to fix it by putting it to death and giving you a new life.
Whoever loves his life loses it, and whoever hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. (John 12:25)
“When Christ calls a man, he bids him come and die.” Deitrick Bonhoffer
Rich young ruler…
Self love… Jesus never said that…
Then Jesus told his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what shall a man give in return for his soul? (Matthew 16:24-26)
The way is demanding
- Verse 24 – Death is necessary
- Verse 25 – Hate your life in this world
- Verse 26a – Serve Christ
- Verse 26b – Follow Christ
The way is rewarding
- Verse 24 – Bears fruit
- Verse 25 – Life is kept to eternal life
- Verse 26a – Be with Christ
- Verse 26b – Honor from the Father
What does it mean to die to self?
1. If you are a Christian, you have already died
It’s important that we know and understand our position before God. And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. (Galatians 5:24)
Practically, we are still living beings, but in position in the sight of God, our old sinful lives are dead! For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. (Colossians 3.3)
That’s the image and significance in baptism. We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life. (Romans 6:4)
When we become Christians, our old lives were put to death by way of the cross of Christ. Christ died the death we deserve on the cross, therefore our lives are counted as dead before God. And as Christ now lives, our lives are seen before God as though Christ was living through us.
I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. (Galatians 2:20)
2. If You’re a Christian, God calls you to die daily
We’re not talking about becoming a Christian all over again…
What in my life must die in order to become a more faithful_______?
It’s putting into practice what we practically what we are positionally in Christ.
This death is a pruning, a burning, a refining process. When I die to self and the ashes of my former life are blown away, the only thing that remains is love.
My prayer is that all of us who are here are truly seeking facetime with Jesus.
- Is there something in me that needs to die in order for me to more fully experience my position in Christ; in order that Christ might be seen more clearly in me?
- Am I trying to keep alive something God sentenced to death when I became a Christian?
- Are my weaknesses as a _______ (dad, husband, pastor, witness, mom sister friend, boss, employee…) something that needs to die in me?Some old habit, some secret sin, some root of pride, some fear of looking silly, some desperate need for approval, some desire for wealth?