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Fifth Sunday In Lent
Series B

Option One: "The Growing Cycle in God's Kingdom"
John 12:20-26
Rev. Wayne Dobratz, M.Div.

  I. Death--John 12:32-33; Ps 22:15c; Isa 53:10-12

 II. New Life--Matt 10:39, 16:25ff, 19:29; Mark 8:35; Luke 9:23ff, 17:32-33; Rev 12:11

III. Multiplication--v24; John 12:32-33; Psalm 22:30-31; Isa 53:11-12; Heb 2:9-10; Rev 7:9-17

Richard Lenski writes re John 12:24: "The point of comparison is fruit through dying. As in nature, so in Jesus. ...If a grain of wheat be not put into the soil, it will indeed not die, but it will remain alone and produce nothing. ...But if the grain falls into the earth, dies and is consumed, it brings much fruit. So the Son of Man, God’s incarnate Son, by dying will produce millions of children of God, fruit in most glorious abundance. ...In this petition of Greeks Jesus sees the great harvest that will go on and on as the product of the great Grain of Wheat (Jesus) which fell in the earth."

Re verse 25: "The children of God are all like Jesus as regards loving their life; they aim to achieve something higher, that is, eternal life. HE WHO LOVES HIS LIFE WILL LOSE IT. He who clings to his earthly life with passionate attachment, Jesus says, by that very act of clinging to it with such love will lose it.

The world is full of these blind lovers who love themselves to their undoing. Many will at last hate themselves bitterly for not having hated themselves properly in this life. HE WHO HATES HIS LIFE IN THIS WORLD--that is, he who is ready to go contrary to his natural inclinations and desires in this life, to wound, grieve, deny, crucify, mortify self in repentance and in sanctification. ...To follow Jesus is to keep close to him, to walk in the path of his choosing (true obedience), to hear his voice and word (not relying on our own wisdom). Service and following always go together. Yet it has been said--only too truly--that Jesus has many admirers, but few followers." (Richard Lenski, Interpretation of John, pp862ff, passim)

Title: Barnes Notes on the New Testament re JOHN 12:26:

Serve me--will be my disciple, or will be a Christian. Perhaps this was said to inform the Greeks (John 12:20) of the nature of his religion.

Let him follow me--let him imitate me; do what I do, bear what I bear, and love what I love. He is discoursing here particularly of his own sufferings and death, and this passage has reference, therefore, to calamity and persecution. "You see me triumph--you see (me enter Jerusalem) and you supposed that my kingdom was to be set up without opposition or calamity; but it is not. I am to die; and if you will serve me, you must follow me even in these scenes of calamity; be willing to endure trial and to bear shame, looking for future reward."

Where I am--see John 14:3; 17:24. That is, he shall be in heaven, where the Son of God then was in his divine nature, and where he would be as the glorified Messiah. See the notes at John 3:13. The natural and obvious meaning of the expression "I am" implies that he was then in heaven. The design of this verse is to comfort them in the midst of persecution and trial. They were to follow him to any calamity; but, as he was to be glorified as the result of his sufferings, so they also were to look for their reward in the kingdom of heaven, Rev 3:21: "To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne."

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Lamb's Message on John 12:24

There are some things that Jesus said which are hard for us to understand. And there are things that we understand but find hard to do. This is one of them. Jesus said: I tell you the truth, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds.

He said this right before he went to the cross. It’s one thing to look at Jesus on the cross; it’s another thing to go there with him. Jesus didn’t want to go to the cross anymore than you or I would; it hurt a lot to be on the cross. But he went there so you and I could have eternal life.

I want you to imagine something with me. I have some kernels of grain. This happens to be oats. Jesus was talking about wheat. When I was your age, my father always planted oats so that we could have feed for our cows. You planted a few of these in the ground and a few months later, after the sun and the rain, you had a beautiful crop of oats. When it was harvest time, it turned a beautiful yellow color. When my dad ran the combine through it, you had to have a truck standing by to haul the loads of oats those few seeds grew into.

Now let’s pretend something. You know how to pretend, don’t you? Let’s pretend that you and your friend here are supposed to be some of the oats that will be planted in the ground. You're oat #1 and you're oat #2. Ready?

Oat #1: "It’s springtime again. Pretty soon our old friend the farmer will come looking for us."

Oat #2: "What does he want with us?"

Oat #1: "He’s going to put us in his grain drill and then plant us in the ground."

Oat #2: "He’s going to kill us?"

Oat #1: "Not really. It may look like that, but he plants us in the ground because this is what God has made us for. When we’re in the ground, we will grow into thousands of children."

Oat #2: "It doesn’t sound like any fun to me. I don’t want to go. Besides, I have a party to go to tonight."

Oat #1: "Party? Jesus said that when we follow him and give up ourselves to serve him and other people, we will join him in eternal life. That’s a happy time that will never end. Come on. Let’s go! We have growing to do!"

Jesus said: The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. I tell you the truth, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds. (John 12:23-24)

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Option #2: "Stressed and Blessed!"
Hebrews 5:7-9
Rev. Kelly Bedard, M.Div.

A. Fearing = Hearing

    1. We fear that God doesn't hear and/or answer our prayers

    2. We complain about and try to avoid pain and suffering

B. Suffering=Honor

    1. Suffering is just, necessary and beneficial

    2. God suffers for and with us, empathizing with, sustaining, and empowering us in the midst of it 

Notes:

1. hiketeria {hik-et-ay-ree'-ah}, v7: an olive branch; for suppliants approached the one whose aid they would implore holding an olive branch entwined with white wool and fillets to signify that they came as suppliants; supplication. (Strong's)

2. Indeed, His human nature needed the support of omnipotence; and for this He sent up strong crying and tears: but throughout his whole life He showed that it was not the sufferings He was to undergo but the dishonour that sin had done to so holy a God that grieved His spotless soul. The consideration of its being the will of God tempered His fear, and afterwards swallowed it up; and He was heard not so that the cup should pass away but so that He drank it without any fear. (John Wesley)

3. It is not about Jesus developing moral perfection, as if the suffering knocked the bad out of him! What he learned in the process was not how to be 'good' or 'perfect,' but what it is like to face such human suffering and the pressure to give up. In other words he learned to face pressure comparable to what the hearers were about to face! (William Loader)

4. We are told that the Captain of our salvation was made perfect through suffering; therefore we who are sinful, and who are far from being perfect, must not wonder if we are called to pass through suffering too. Shall the head be crowned with thorns, and shall the other members of the body be rocked upon the dainty lap of ease? Must Christ pass through seas of His own blood to win the crown, and are we to walk to heaven dryshod in silver slippers? No, our Master's experience teaches us that suffering is necessary, and the true-born child of God must not, would not, escape it if he might. But there is one very comforting thought in the fact of Christ's "being made perfect through suffering"--it is that He can have complete sympathy with us. "He is not an high priest that cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities." In this sympathy of Christ we find a sustaining power. One of the early martyrs said, "I can bear it all, for Jesus suffered, and He suffers in me now; He sympathizes with me, and this makes me strong." Believer, lay hold of this thought in all times of agony. Let the thought of Jesus strengthen you as you follow in His steps. Find a sweet support in His sympathy; and remember that to suffer is an honourable thing--to suffer for Christ is glory. The apostles rejoiced that they were counted worthy to do this. Just so far as the Lord shall give us grace to suffer for Christ, to suffer with Christ, just so far does He honour us. The jewels of a Christian are his afflictions. The regalia of the kings whom God hath anointed are their troubles, their sorrows, and their griefs. Let us not, therefore, shun being honoured. Let us not turn aside from being exalted. Griefs exalt us, and troubles lift us up. "If we suffer, we shall also reign with Him." (Charles Spurgeon)

 

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