Support and Resources For Pastors and
Christian Ministry Professionals
Thomas F. Fischer, M.Div., M.S.A., Editor
Fifth Sunday In Lent
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; Ps 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 into 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)
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, but it is not. I am to die; and if you will serve me, you must follow me ...be willing to endure trial and to bear shame, looking for future reward."
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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. He planted oats 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. 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 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 some 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)
· The fundamental structure of Johannine symbolism is twofold. The primary level of meaning concerns Christ; the secondary level concerns discipleship. For 12:24, the primary level is Christological--the preceding verse had announced that the hour has come and Jesus’ ministry comes to fruition only in his death. The secondary level refers to the Christian life--12:24 introduces sayings about the need to die to self through service to Christ. (Koester, p13)
· In 12:19, the Pharisees complained that the whole world had gone after Jesus. As evidence of this, in 12:20 some Greeks arrive with the desire to see Jesus.
· The arrival of the Greeks was an indicator to Jesus that his hour had come. Previously, Jesus had said that his hour had not yet come. In 2:4, at the wedding feast at Cana, he tells his mother that his hour had not yet come. In 7:30, Jesus was teaching in the temple courts and they tried to seize him but his hour had not yet come. In 8:20, he was again teaching in the temple and again they did not seize him because his hour had not yet come.
· Now the hour has come for: 1) 12:27-28: “Now my heart is troubled, and what shall I say? ‘Father save me from this hour?’ No, it was for this very reason I came to this hour. Father, glorify your name!”; 2) 12:31: “Now is the time for judgment on this world; now the prince of this world will be driven out”; 3) 13:1: “Jesus knew that the time had come for him to leave this world and go to the Father”; 4) 17:1: “Father, the time has come. Glorify your Son, that your Son may glorify you.”
· Unlike the other Gospels, John’s Gospel does not mention any exorcisms among the miracles Jesus performed during his public ministry. Then at 12:31, “Now is the judgment of this world, now shall the ruler of this world be cast out.” The one "exorcism" in John’s Gospel is the crucifixion itself.
· The victory of the Son of God over the forces of Satan glorified both God and Jesus. (Koester, p210)
o 13:31: Now is the Son of man glorified and in him God is glorified. (Judas had just gone out into the darkness.)
o 3:14-15: And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of man be lifted up, that whoever believes in him may not perish but have eternal life.
o 8:28: When you have lifted up the Son of Man, then you will know that I AM and that I do nothing on my own authority but speak thus as the Father taught me.
o 12:32: And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to myself.
· The cross symbolizes the victory of the Son of Man over the demonic ruler of the world, yet it also exemplifies the way of servanthood which Jesus and his disciples must follow for their lives to bear fruit. (Koester, pp221-222)
· The community was the “fruit” of Jesus’ glorification, and the cross gave shape to its corporate life. (Koester, p214)
Point: Jesus’ death defeats Satan and glorifies God. We, in turn, are drawn to Christ and serve him, further bearing fruit and glorifying God.
Problem: We do not strive to give up our lives but instead focus on our own desires.
Promise: The victory over Satan is complete and we are drawn into eternal life in Christ.
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This page was revised on: Monday, November 13, 2006 12:08:46 PM