Multiplication through Dying (John 12:20-26, 32-33) Palm Sunday


Sermon by Daniel L. Sonnenberg  | April 13, 2014

Notes:

The hour for which J came into the world, was the hour in which he left it.” (Stott)

  • The paradox of the incarnation.
  • Jesus’ purpose for living was dying – that many might live.
  • How would you like that to be your sole purpose in life? To die!
  • In a very real way it is!
  • Pratt: looking fwd to day when one of you is first martyr from RTS
  • Until now J had been saying repeatedly “my hour has not come” (since Cana)
  • Coming of the Greeks – a sign that his hour had come – to be glorified – beginning with his death
  • Normally his death is considered an aspect of his humiliation – yet here it is also an aspect of his glorification
  • The first step in his glorification was his suffering and death
  • His suffering was the means to his resurrection and ascension
  • As Isaiah’ suffering servant – J’s suffering was the necessary condition to bring light and justice and salvation to the nations
  • J spoke of himself when he said “unless…dies, remains alone, but if dies, bears much fruit.
  • The OT and NT are clear that in order to bring salvation to the many – Jews and Gentiles – one man, the last Adam must die.
  • But here we see this is also true of J’s disciples. The servant is not greater than the master.
  • For J and his disciples, suffering and service go together.
  • Suffering is indispensable to fruitful or effective service.

SINCE J’S SUFFERING AND DEATH WAS NECESSARY

TO BEAR THE FRUIT OF SALVATION TO THE NATIONS,

WE SHOULD BE WILLING TO SUFFER FOR CHRIST

IN ORDER TO BEAR FRUIT FOR SALVATION IN OUR OWN DAY.

Here we find: the principle, the application, the invitation and the incentives for doing so.

  1. The principle: life only comes from death. – V. 24

24 …”unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.”

Home

  • Submit to one another out of reverence for X
  • Husbands love your wives as X loves the church, laid down his life
  • Love your wives as your own bodies, sacrificially

Church

  • Pastors should neither dominate nor neglect the sheep, but lead to green pastures, equip for ministry
  • People should love one another, looking out not only for your own interests but also for interests of others

World

  • Church not preoccupied with own affairs only, but incarnationally and sacrificially sharing the gospel and giving aid to a needy, lost world

 

  • Bill Rasch CDC Coord (Illustration):
    • Renewing Vision of Stonebridge church – answering the questions of
      • who we are, who are the people around us,
      • what has God called us to do, and how are we to do it?
      • Vision statement of one of his churches: taking the gospel to our neighbors
  1. The application: give up self-life (psuche) to gain divine-life (zoe)25
  • 25 “He who loves his life loses it, and he who hates his life in this world will keep it to LIFE
  • A contrast not apparent in English
  • Psuche refers to the life of the mind, we call it ego,
    • means the human personality that thinks, plans for the future, and charts its own course.
    • This is what must die.
    • The independent will of man must die, so that so that the follower of X actively submits his will to him.
  • Zoe, joined to the adjective eternal, means divine life.
    • Every Xian has received this gift of eternal life or divine life, and possesses it in part now, if fullness in next life.
    • This life is not merely length of life, but also quality of life, the life, the character of Christ indwelling us.
    • This life is growing in us by the work of the HS, and by our daily, momentarily, surrendering our will to his.
  • When Jesus says the one who loves this self will loseit he does not mean “misplace” it but rather “destroy” it (apollyei).
  • What is needed is a detachment from this self, and this is what is meant in verse 25 by hates(Michel 1967:690-91).
  • When Jesus says the disciple must hate father and mother (Lk 14:26) he does not mean despise, reject and abominate in an absolute sense.
  • He is speaking about choices and attachments.
  • He means the devotion and obedience to himself must be so thorough that nothing else is distracting.
  • The same language is used when he teaches that one can only serve one master (Mt 6:24 par. Lk 16:13).
  • So Jesus is not speaking of a hatred of the “self” itself but rather of a rejection of the self’s claims to autonomy and control.
  • Rejecting the false claims of the self in this worldis actually a way of caring for one’s true self, for thereby one will keep it for eternal life (v. 25).
  • Thus, this passage is not referring to self-destruction or masochism; it calls one to reject the way of rebellion and live in the light of eternity.

Jim Elliot illustration:

  1. The invitation: put it into practice by following him – V. 26a

26a “If anyone serves Me, he must follow Me

  • If only I’d been there… we think of all we might have done to help Jesus during his earthly ministry, but much of this is mere sentiment.
  • If we would serve X we can do it now. he says “anyone who really wants to serve me must follow me.”
  • How can we follow him? Self-denial and service
  • Follow him by self-denial:
    • take up your cross daily and follow him. It may mean a minor change or a total change.
    • The issue is the will. Are you willing to do whatever X calls you to do?
    • To be poor, despised, nearly forgotten, surrender your leisure time, your retirement time, hobby time, cherished sin or pastime?
    • You and God know the details. Will you obey him?
  • Follow him by service: how can you serve him?
    • He came not to be served but to serve.
    • He gave his disciples an example to follow when he washed their feet.
    • He taught ‘Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine, even the least of them, you did it to Me.’ (Matthew 25:40 NAS)
    • Speaking of those who fed the hungry, welcomed the stranger, clothed the naked, vistited the sick and in prison.
    • Was a time when evangelical church led the way:
      • founded missions, built hospitals, launched welfare programs, cared for widows and orphans.
    • We have allowed unbelieving churchmen to drive a wedged bt evangelism and social service and push us into only one half.
    • Diff bt outreach (social action) and evangelism (sharing the message of the gospel) per Priddy.
    • We must be content to let a minority do the work while we enjoy our middle class comforts.

Illustrations:

  • Doug and Beth Wright
  • Steve and Annette Kohl
  • Tom Pickles
  • Bill Waddell
  1. The incentives: the presence of Christ and the honor of the Father – V. 26b

26b…and where I am, there My servant will be also; if anyone serves Me, the Father will honor him.

  • Jesus has been living in the presence of God and is returning to the presence of God, so this is a promise of being with Christ in the presence of God.
  • The honor we receive from the Father comes from our union with Christ, the one whom the Father honors.
  • Such union with God in Christ and such honor from the Father are what we were created for and what we rejected in the rebellion in the Garden of Eden.
  • It is only through a death to the false, rebellious self that we can receive such life and return to our true humanity in union with God.
  • In a sense, then, these verses contain the core description of discipleship.
  • “Self must be displaced by another; the focus on self must be displaced by focus on Jesus Christ, the supreme revelation of God” (Carson 1991:439).
  • Love is essentially self-giving. Since our most valuable possession is our own life, the greatest love is expressed in laying it down for others.
  • Just as the essence of hate is murder (as in Cain), so the essence of love is self-sacrifice (as in Christ).
  • With the love of God both revealed to us and indwelling us we have a double inescapable incentive to love one another. (Stott, 292)

ILLUSTRATION:

  • Count Nicolas von Zindendorf

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