TEXT: John 12:20-33
THEME: Instead of believing in Jesus so that we can receive something from Him, we are called by the Gospel to forget ourselves and serve Him.
TITLE: “Deny Thyself”
Fifth Sunday in Lent
Our Savior Lutheran Church
Pagosa Springs, Colorado
April 9, 2000
(Self denial is about as unpopular a concept as exists anywhere in western culture. Our society values quite the opposite idea. We want to provide for ourselves, bring recognition to ourselves and think highly of ourselves. The entire notion that we should deny ourselves is totally foreign to our thinking. In our Gospel lesson today, we find that we are not the first self-centered society that has ever walked the earth, but without a moment’s hesitation our Lord brings His message of self-denial even to the Greeks who come to Him after the Lord has raised Lazarus from the dead and made His triumphal entry into Jerusalem. Let us listen in on Jesus as He speaks with the Greeks and to the crowds that have come to acclaim Him.
THE GREEKS WANTED TO SEE JESUS BECAUSE THEY FOUND HIM INTERESTING.
They were interested in His power!
Power is always attractive to the world:
We are impressed with people who hold high and powerful positions.
Who wouldn’t be impressed with an invitation to the White House?
Who would be excited about being invited to address a joint session of Congress?
The Greeks were attracted to Jesus:
Because of what He had done:
Cured the sick.
Raised the dead.
Provided food for multitudes.
It’s always good to brush shoulders with the powerful…and so they came
Perhaps they were motivated by the thought that if Jesus was so powerful, perhaps He would do something for them just as He had done for others.
How many today come to Jesus and His Church because they too are impressed with what Jesus can do for them?
People often come to Christ because they want something for themselves:
“I need to look respectable, and being in a church is a respectable thing to do.”
“I want personal peace in the midst of all the difficulties of life.”
“I want eternal life in heaven, so here I am to make a deal with God.”
So many see their faith only in the receptive mode.
Many come not to honor God, but to get something for themselves.
Many are not the least bit interested in giving of themselves to glorify their Creator, but simply want their Creator to take care of their own needs.
THE GREEKS MUST HAVE BEEN SHOCKED BY JESUS RESPONSE!
Jesus quickly outlines a life-view that is diametrically opposed to their interests.
He points them to His own impending death.
Jesus uses an illustration to help the Greeks see that this life is not the most important thing.
Instead of finding glory in the things of this life, Jesus finds His glory in glory of the Father.
And what will glorify the Father?
The service He will render to the Father on the cross so that the mission on which He has been sent will be accomplished.
In honoring the Father’s will, life will be engendered in fallen humanity.
Ultimately, the Father asks the sacrifice of His only Son so that the creatures He has made will be His forever and not lost to the consequences of their sin in hell forever….This glorifies the Father!
As is true of all sacrifice, it is troubling to the Lord’s human nature.
Does it shock you that the eminent suffering and death of the Lord also troubles Him?
It might if you don’t recognize that this man is both human and divine.
Here and again in the Garden of Gethsemane we find the human nature being repelled by the task at hand.
ILLUS: Many today are desirous of being able to know the future. Millions of dollars are spent on “Psychic Readings” over the phone who have no personal knowledge or concern about you or your future. If I had known some of the things that would happen to me in my own future, personally, I would rather have not known about them!
Imagine knowing if all its fullness what it will be like to suffer on a Roman cross of cross of crucifixion….or to know fully the coming agonies of hell that would be experienced.
Jesus did know…and He knew them completely!
No wonder His human nature and heart was troubled!
Yet, knowing full well all that lie ahead, Jesus will not be dissuaded from accomplish that for which the Father has sent Him.
Why? Because Jesus seeks the glory of His Father in heaven.
Nothing else will be permitted to get in the way.
To glorify God is the chief end of man!…Including this man!
Why? Because it is the glory of God to rescue His fallen creatures who otherwise have no hope of eternity.
With the illustration of the seed that dies to give life, Jesus puts all things into their proper perspective…As precious as this life is, it doesn’t hold a candle in importance to the life which is to come.
WHY DO YOU WANT TO SEE JESUS?
Do you want something from Him? Are you drawn by His power?
Then listen carefully to our Savior’s words: (vv. 25-26)
The only good reason to want to see Jesus is to put away everything else so as to better serve Him.
Our chief aim in life is to glorify Him!
To love the things of this life, to concentrate on ourselves: our success, our comfort, our own gaining of power, or even the acquisition of personal peace, is to lose what matters more than anything else.
ILLUS: Solomon discovered this very lesson. (Eccl. 2:10-11)
It has been said that one-half of our problems come from wanting our own way. The other half come from getting it.
Be drawn, instead by Him and His love for us.
Be drawn by the God He is, greater than anything or anyone in the universe.
Be drawn to your Creator, because He has made you and you are His.
Be drawn to your Savior, for this One in His greatness has become your servant…even to death on a cross.
Be drawn by His total commitment to love you with a no-holds-barred-love.
Be drawn to serve Him for no one and nothing else is deserving of such service.
Conclusion: Here is greatness in life, to love God and serve Him only. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
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