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Sunday, December 9, 2018

posted Dec 10, 2018, 7:23 PM by Site Administrator

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UNLESS A KERNEL OF WHEAT FALLS TO THE GROUND AND DIES 

John 12:20-30 

Key Verse 12:24 

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. 

First, Unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies ... (20-24). Look at verse 20. Now there were some Greeks among those who went up to worship at the Feast...These Greeks were converts to Judaism. In those days, politically, Rome was dominant, but culturally, Greek culture called Hellenism was dominant in the world – in art, in literature, in construction, and in philosophy. People believed and worshiped the gods of Greek myths. But these Greeks who came to Jerusalem were not satisfied with the endless myths, or human philosophy; they were not just vainly proud of being Greeks either. Instead, when they heard about the God of Israel, they recognized Him as the true God and converted to Judaism. Now, according to the teachings of the Scriptures, they came to Jerusalem to worship God at the Passover Feast, making a long journey, spending a lot of money, time and energy. Probably, they used up all their vacation days for this trip. They were sincere truth seekers. In Jerusalem, everyone was talking about a young Rabbi, named Jesus - his teachings and his miracles, and especially, how he raised Lazarus from the dead. They wanted to see Jesus personally. So they came to him. 

What did Jesus say to them? Look at verse 23. The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. Jesus is talking about his death on the cross. Jesus is the Word who was with God in the beginning. But when he came into the world, he lived as a human, the Son of Man. But now through his death on the cross, he would reveal his glory as the Son of God, as the Creator God. Dying means you lose everything – your hope and desire in this life. But Jesus did not see it that way; instead, he saw it as the time when he himself would be revealed as the Son of God, because it was his obedience to Gods will.

Our title is children of God. You are the sons of God, the daughters of God. But the question is, How can you reveal your glory as children of God? Some naïve Christians think that they can do so, if they heal all the sick people at Kaiser Permanantehospital; some others think that if they perform great miracles in front of everyone, they will be revealed as real children of God. Out of this idea, they ask God to help them to do so. But Jesus revealed his glory as the Son of God by dying on the cross in obedience to Gods will and purpose. When you obey God really, you will reveal Gods glory; when your obedience is complete, you will be revealed as true sons and daughters of God. When real selective situation rises, instead of backing out, let’s choose to obey God, sayingThe hour has come for me to be glorified.

Look at verse 24. Lets read this verse together: 

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. 

Here is a kernel of wheat, a tiny seed. As a single seed, it does not mean anything; it cannot be even snack for a sparrow. But it has a great potential to multiply. From this one tiny seed can we harvest 100 kernels, and when they are planted again, they become 10,000, and then, 1 million, then, 100 million, 10 billion, and this calculation goes on until, soon, we cannot count them any longer. It has such a great potential. But potential is potential. It can come true, and at the same time, it may not come true. When its potential comes true, it is great, but if its potential does not come true, a single seed means nothing. The question is: How can that great potential come true? Jesus shows us the two steps of procedure it needs to go through so that its true potential can be realized. 1) It must fall to the ground, and 2) it must die. 

What Jesus talks here is not about farming, but about each individual. Each of us is like a kernel of wheat, coming with a great potential. God created us in his image, and he commanded us, saying, Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it,… rule over,… everything… (Gen 1 :28) Why did God give us such challenging commands? He did so, because He had made us to be capable of such tasks – great creatures that arecapable of fighting against any challenges, conquering them and ruling them. Each of us has such a great potential to be a ruler and conqueror of the world. God commands us to live up to our lifes true potential as he created us to be. When our potential comes true, we become fathers or mothers of many nations; we become a source of blessing; we catch many people for Jesus. When our potential comes true, we become worldwide leaders, and our influence reaches to the ends of the earth; and the whole world will be blessed. But if our potential does not come true, then, as an individual, our existence does not mean that much just like a kernel of wheat; whether we get a good job or not, whether we are fired or not, no one cares; even if we die, no one cares - just one of 7.5 billion people on earth. So, the question is: how we can make our potential come true; how we can live up to our true potential. Through this teaching of a kernel of wheat, Jesus shows us how we can make our potential come true - as a kernel of wheat, each of us must fall to the ground and die, only then you have a chance to live up to your true potential. Just when you go through these two steps of procedure, your potential will be realized, and you bear such great fruit, giving good influence to the whole world. When your life goes that way, it carries real value and real meaningYou will be indeed satisfied with how you live your life; your life will be truly fulfilling. Only these two steps of procedure!

A seed falling to the ground means to be planted, and once it is planted, it does not move around any longer. Before it is planted, it can roll here and there enjoying its freedom; but at that time, it has no chance to bear any fruit. Only after it is planted, it has a chance to produce fruit. And once it is planted, it has only one single direction, that is, to sprout. Otherwise, it decays and is dissolved to the ground. So, once it is planted, sprouting is the matter of life and death. The seed uses all its strength and nutrients to sprout; it does all its best to sprout. And once it sprouts, the old form of a seed is gone, and a new form of a plant is created. The old has gone, and a new one has come. Jesus calls this procedure, dying.

Each person must be planted in one place; it means to accept Gods calling and make true commitment there. Many Christians show a kind of allergic reaction to this idea of making commitment to a church, or to a mission. They want to keep their human freedom continually. So, they enjoy church life for a while, but when they are asked to make real commitment, they move to other church; or when a desirable job offer comes, they just leave the church, and find a new church around their new job. The deciding factor in their lives is not Gods will, or Gods calling or Gods mission, but their job. Trust me: no pastor likes these people. In his book, titled, The purpose driven life, Rick Warren talks about so many people that move from church to church. He calls them, church-hoppers. Even though they go to church, they remain as a single seed, and in their lives, their potential never comes true. When they die physically, their all potential also dies without producing any fruit. In Gods eyes, its complete waste. We must accept Gods calling and be planted in Gods church according to Gods plan and purpose. This is the first step for us to live up to our true potential. This is the first step for us to live a truly successful and fruitful life in God.

 

Now once we are planted, we must go through the second step, that is to die. What does it mean to die? It means to die to ourselves. Before knowing Jesus, we lived according to our own desires and understanding. At that time, how was our life? It was really bad; we were bearing the fruit of death. Now in doing God’s work together with others in the church, our old self should not be presented, but a new person, a child of God. We must die to our old self – our old dreams and desires, our old perspectives and understanding, our old value system and characters. Then, through us people can smell the fragrance of Jesus Christ, not the bad odor of a sinful person. Thus comes Christian’s good struggle. We must die to our sins but live to God so that we may not show any response to our sinful desires, but only to the things of God. We must not fight with people but with God through prayer so that we may live as Israel, not as Jacob. We must not live as our own men, but as shepherds whose hearts and lives are dedicated to the well being of Jesus’ sheep. How can we die to ourselves? By dedicating ourselves to God’s calling, God’s mission really! When a conflicting situation comes, for God’s mission’s sake, use the word, “die” to you, saying, “Ok, I die,” and give in, instead of fighting. Then, a selective situation comes, again you choose to die, giving up.You die to your pride. You die to your style. You die to your perspectives so that in all circumstances, despite all challenging moments, you can still pursue God’s will upon your life. That much you are committed to God’s will and purpose, even willing to die to yourself. Through all these struggles, you come to develop shepherd’s mindset and attitude, shepherd’s perspectives and value system, and shepherd’s characters and lifestyle according to God’s calling. Then, your old self does not exist any longer, but a new person that is for God’s will and purpose in Jesus Christ exists. When you die to yourself, Christ indeed lives in you. True commitment to God’s mission leads us to dying to ourselves. Be a kernel of wheat that falls to the ground and dies so that you can bear great fruit according to God’s plan.

 

Jesus says, 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. When those Greeks wanted his teaching, Jesus did not tell them about divine Bible knowledge or theology; instead, he showed them how they should live their life so that they might live a truly successful life. How should we live our life? Which is the right way to live our life so that we will not have any regret? This is a big question all mankind have. We must not make a mistake in this matter, because life is anonetime transaction, and there is no second chance. At the end of our life, we cannot say, Let me try again, or we should not say, Ah, if I live again... Then, how should we live our life? Jesus today shows us that we must live as a kernel of wheat that falls to the ground and dies. If you do so, you will live up to your potential, doing great things and bearing great fruits; you will live a truly successful life. This is the way of life.

 

Second, The man who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life (25). Look at verse 25. Lets read this verse together:

 

The man who loves his life will lose it, while the man who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life.

 

What does it mean to love his own life? It means to value his own dream or desire and thereby, pursue it, trying to secure it. Jesus says, The man who loves his life will lose it. What is he talking about? Jesus is talking about why people refuse to live as a kernel of wheat that falls to the ground and dies. Even if being a kernel of wheat that falls to the ground and dies is the way of life, still, even after understanding this truth, people refuse to live in that way; they struggle in the church for a while, doing some Christian things, but eventually, they fall away, refusing to be really committed to Gods will. When they do so, they come up with many excuses: they talk about theological matter; they talk about the church’s style. But in Jesus eyes, no matter what they say, it is obvious: They do so, because they love their life. They value their dream for success, their dream for romantic relationships, their dream for a happy family; they want to secure such things, even willing to reject Gods will and Gods calling for them. That much is their commitment to their dreams and desires in this life. But Jesus says that they will lose their life. What does it mean to lose ones life? They have valued and pursued their dreams and desires wholeheartedly. They have secured some of them. But at the age of 40, they realize that those things do not carry any value or meaning in their life – their romantic relationships, their great career, even their family carry no meaning and no value. At the age of 50, 60, or 70, when they look back, they realize that they have done nothing in their life. God gave them one life to live and do something great and meaningful, but they have done nothing meaningful in their life; they have simply wasted it; as a result, now their life carries no value; their life is empty and meaningless. Jesus says that if anyone loves his life and thereby, refuses to be a kernel of wheat that falls to the ground and dies, that person will lose his life. We must not live our life that way. We must not love our life in this world at all. 

 

Jesus also says, while the man who hates his life in this world will save it for eternal life. What does it mean to hate ones life? Some people, out of complete bitterness, say, I hate my life. Thats not what Jesus is talking about. When a doctor or lawyer gives up his license so that he can go to other country as a missionary, his family members and friends are shocked, saying, Are you crazy? A student after accepting Jesus Christ cut off his relationship with his girlfriend. All his friends were shocked. It seems that in the eyes of others, these people hate their licenses, promising future, and romantic relationships; they are the ones who hate their life. While others value such things, these people value them as nothing. Even the Apostle Paul says that he considers them rubbish. Why do they do so? Its all because they love Jesus and want to do what God wants them to do. As those who love their life are really committed to their dreams and desires for the things of this world such as money, success, relationships and happy family, these people are also really committed to Gods will and Gods purpose that they are willing to give up anything and everything in this life so that they can do what God wants them to do. 

 

Jesus says that these people will keep their life. God gave them this one life, and they have not used it for anything in the world, but for God alone; their life has been used for something really valuable and meaningful – for Gods glory, for Gods kingdom, for Gods name, and for the salvation of many lost people. Then, at the age of 40, 50, 60, as they look back, they see that their life carries real meaning and value, and they are satisfied; their life is truly fulfilling. They have kept their life successfully. It is never anyones desire to lose this one life; we all want to keep our life. Then, we must live as a kernel of wheat that falls to the ground and dies. There are only two ways of life. Either you dedicate yourself to your own dreams and desires because you love your life, or you dedicate yourself to God because you love God. Either you live as a kernel of wheat that falls to the ground and dies for God, or you live as a single seed. Either you love your life or you hate your life. What is your choice? We believe in Jesus, so we can understand Jesus words – the way of life has been revealed to us. We are blessed to know it. But when will we really be blessed? When we do it! Be a kernel of wheat that falls to the ground and dies. 

 

Jesus says, while the man who hates his life (psuche) in this world will keep it for eternal life (zoe). Here, Jesus uses two words – psuche and zoe – in one sentence. This sentence reveals what zoe is about very well. When this psuche life is truly dedicated to Gods will and purpose that you live as a kernel of wheat that falls to the ground and dies - that much is your commitment to Gods will and purpose -, when your life is used for God really, your psuche life produces great fruit, carrying real value and meaning; at that time, your life is really fulfilling, and when your life goes that way, you are really happy and satisfied. How long? For ever and ever (BBE). Thats what eternal life, zoe is about. This is how we can have eternal life in Jesus Christ – that truly fulfilling and wonderful life all mankind have ever dreamed aboutThe key theme of Johns gospel is zoe, eternal life. Gods purpose in sending Jesus to the world is that, in him, we may have this eternal life, zoe. God so loved the world that he gave his one and only son that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life (zoe). God wants us to have zoe in Jesus Christ. So far, in Johns gospel, God has shown us what zoe eternal life is about over and over again, in various chapters, in various expressions – zoe is like light shining in darkness, showing us everything clearly of who we are, what to do and how to live our life; zoe, eternal life is like a stream of living water welling up in our hearts; when you have zoe, you will never go hungry and never be thirsty – no longer wandering in the world, but you live for God as a child of God – there is deep peace and rest for your soulzoe is the life of knowing the truth and enjoying freedom in Jesus Christ. And in Johns gospel, God has also shown us how we can get it: you must be born again, you must call your husband and come back to Jesus, you must eat his flesh and drink his blood; you must hold to his teaching; you must believe in him. God has shown us everything in Johns gospel. Yet, still some people wonder about how to have eternal life zoe in JesusThis sentence of Jesus clarifies all these, showing us how we can have eternal life in him – while the man who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. If you hate your life in Jesus and thereby, live as a kernel of wheat that falls to the ground and dies for Gods will and purpose, willing to give up anything and everything for God, -making that much of complete dedication to Gods will, you will have zoe – your life will go really wonderfully, being used by God for his purpose completely, and you will be truly happy and satisfied. When you live that kind of Christian life, you will like it. You will have no regret. Do you believe in Jesus? This is what Jesus shows us today. How do you respond?

Third, “Whoever serves me must follow me” (26-30). Look at verse 26. Lets read this verse together: 

 

Whoever serves me must follow me; and where I am, my servant also will be. My Father will honor the one who serves me. 

 

The word, whoever shows that this is applied to everyone who serves him. There is no exception. Also, the word, mustshows that this is absolute. By the way, who is this whoeverwho wants to serve Jesus? It is all believers. It is all Christiansdesire to serve Jesus. By saying, Whoever serves me must follow me, Jesus defines how we must serve him: We must follow him! And there is no other option for anyone; everyone, every Christian must serve him by following him. Some people think that they are serving Jesus because they are deacons or elders in their churches – thats not the way, not by occupying such positions in the church, but by following Jesus. Some people, out of ignorance or after having some bad experience at a church, refuse to come to church for worship service, saying, I attend online worship service. Or some people say, When I earn a lot of money, I will plant many churches. One student said that he revealed Gods glory through attending paintball tournament. It’s good that they have a desire to serve Jesus. Yet, how should they serve him? Not in those ways, but by following him!  Whoever serves me must follow me. There is only one way to serve Jesus, that is, to follow him. 

 

What does it mean to follow Jesus? It means to live in the way he lived. It means to walk in his footsteps, doing what he did. What did he do and how did he live his life? Jesus himself lived as a kernel of wheat that fell to the ground and diedsubmitting himself to Godwill and remaining faithful to Gods mission even to the point of death. As a result, he has borne great fruit, even today – we are the fruits of his life. Thats how we must live our lifeSometimes, we reject our familys desire for us; sometimes, we cannot attend our siblings birthday party for the sake of attending worship service absolutely; sometimes, we have to let go of a dream job offer for the sake of holding on to Gods mission; sometimes, we shed tears for the pain of dying to our own desires, plans and styles. But thats how we can follow Jesus. Only those who follow his example, those who walk in his footsteps, living as a kernel of wheat that falls to the ground and dies, denying themselves and taking up the cross of mission daily are serving Jesus; they are the ones who follow Jesus.

 

 Jesus gives two promises to those who serve him by following him. He says, and where I am, my servant also will be. Where is Jesus? He is in heaven in glory. His servants who serve him by following his example will also be with him enjoying fellowship with him in glory. This shows us that Jesus knows how much they struggle to love him and serve him; despite such pains and sorrows, despite many rejections and poverty, they struggle to serve Gods salvation purpose; that much they are dedicated to him. Jesus fully appreciates their hearts love for him. He also says, My Father will honor the one who serves me. We are nothing but dust and ashes on the earth, one of the 7.5 billion peoples on earth; the earth is a dust among so many stars in the universe; certainly, we are nothing. But when we serve Jesus by following him, God honors us. Why? Because those who serve Jesus by following his example, by becoming a kernel of wheat that falls to the ground and dies is really great – such commitment to God, such loyalty that they are willing to deny everything for God, they are willing to even die for God – such people are no ordinary people at all, but great people, deserving honor. Even God honors such people. Daniel was highly esteemed by God, and because of that, angels treated him respectfully. Dont you want to be great? Dont you want to be even honored by God? Then, be a kernel of wheat that falls to the ground and dies; make that kind of complete devotion to Gods will and purpose. When we do so, we are no longer just dust and ashes; we are no longer nobodies, but very special ones. All the heavenly angels recognize us and honor us. When we pray, God pays attention to us, and rearranges the whole world only for the sake of answering our prayers; when God honors us, He will not let our words fall to the ground. The world history will revolve around us. God says, Those who honor me I will honor, but those who despise me will be disdained. (Isa 2:30)

 

Look at verses 27 and 28. Lets read these verses together:

 

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, glory your name. Then a voice came from heaven, I have glorified it, and will glorify it again.

 

Jesus heart was troubled at the thought of going through such a painful death. He was not a pain-bearing machine. Even if he was fully determined to take up his cross and die as a kernel of wheat, his heart was troubled at the thought of his impending sufferings, pains and death. Even though he knew full well that through his death on the cross, he would bear much fruit and Gods salvation plan would be fulfilled, still he was troubled, because such pain of dying on the cross was too horrible to even think about. He was like you and me who tremble in the face of sacrifices and difficulties in the service of God. He felt like praying to God for help, saying, Father, save me from this hour. Did he offer that prayer? No. Instead, he said, No, it was for this very reason I came to this hour. Father, glorify your name. At that moment when his heart was troubled, when he felt like avoiding his cross, he remembered why he was there. He was there to reveal the glory of God by fulfilling Gods mission upon his life, and the suffering and sacrifices were inevitable. There is no important mission that is easy or accomplished without any hard efforts and sufferings. If any important mission is to be done, there are sufferings and difficulties that must accompany it. Jesus could not ask God to save him from such a difficult time because he wanted to fulfill Gods mission upon his life. And he had to go through the way of the cross that was filled with pain, sorrow and even death. Dying as a kernel of wheat was not easy even for Jesus. But in order to fulfill his mission, he did not save himself from such a terrible time. Instead, he prayed, saying, Father, glorify your name. Instead of being so concerned about his impending pain and suffering, he positively turned his concern to revealing the glory of God, and he picked up a burning desire to glory Gods name even through his death on the cross. When he had a burning desire to glorify Gods name through fulfilling his mission, he had courage to go through the cross. In this way, Jesus became a kernel of wheat that fell to the ground and died.

 

At this, God was moved by Jesus single-hearted desire to glorify Gods name even through his death on the cross that He responded immediately even with a thunderous voice from heaven, saying, I have glorified it, and will glorify it again.God confirmed with Jesus that through his life thus far, God had glorified his name, and that now, through his death, he would glorify it again. Jesus must have been comforted and encouraged. But he said to the crowd, This voice was for your benefit, not mine. He really wanted all people around him to know who he truly was, the Son of God, who came into the world to save people from their sins. He really wanted all of them to accept the truth of a kernel of wheat that falls to the ground and dies so that they might bear much fruit for Gods kingdom purpose. 

 

One Word:Be A Kernel Of Wheat That Falls To The Ground And Dies

 

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