Intro: One of the subjects rarely talked about is death. It is morbid to talk about dying. People who have illnesses talk about how good their doctor is or they compare notes on how effective their medicines are. The fact is nobody wants die. The only exceptions are those who have lost all hope in life and can’t take the different challenges and guilt they carry that they commit suicide, an example of that in the Bible is Judas. There are also the religious fanatics who give up their lives to kill others so they can receive a great reward in heaven as taught by their religion. But not all who are followers of this religion are also willing to give up their lives. We want to live and live as long as possible. There are also some who live their lives as if it has no end and some even don’t care. But the truth of the matter is,
“Just as man is destined to die once and after that to face judgment.” Heb. 9:27
Those who end their lives intentionally does not know that there is another life that will even be more dreadful, the judgment of God. Whether one believes that or not, that will happen. So do you want to live or die? Someone said if you are not ready to die you are not ready to live.
“The Paradox of the Christian Life”
Now there were some Greeks among those who went up to worship at the Feast. They came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida in Galilee, with a request. “Sir,” they said, “we would like to see Jesus.” Philip went to tell Andrew; Andrew and Philip in turn told Jesus. Jesus replied, “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. 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. Whoever serves me must follow me; and where I am, my servant also will be. My Father will honor the one who serves me.” “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!” Then a voice came from heaven, “I have glorified it and will glorify it again.” The crowd that was there and heard it said it had thundered; others said an angel had spoken to him. Jesus said, “This voice was for your benefit not mine. Now it is time for judgment on this world; now the prince of this world will be driven out. But I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to myself.” He said this to show the kind of death he was going to die.” John 12:20-33
Jesus is now on his last week to live on earth. He knew that His destiny to go to the cross was about to come. The Greeks that wanted to see Jesus must be recent converts to Judaism and were in Jerusalem to observe the religious feast. They heard about Jesus and wanted to see Him. Jesus knew what they needed to hear so He gave them this truth using the “kernel” to illustrate how He was going to be glorified and what they needed to do. He is telling these Gentile Greeks that their conversion to Judaism will not save them.
“Unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed.” A kernel is the core of a grain, like a grain of wheat, rice or the inside of a nut. Outside is the husk and inside is the seed. When rice is harvested the farmer takes most of the grains to be used for food. If he wants to keep on producing rice, he needs to set aside some to replant. So when the farmer replants, he sows the seed into the ground. With water and moisture pretty soon the husk starts to rut. This is the picture of death before the seed can germinate. So after a little while, the seed breaks out of the husk and a plant is born. Soon after, this plant that came from a single seed will now produce many kernels that has seeds also in them. From one kernel it produces many. Jesus first referred this to himself when He said, “But I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to myself.”
This is a paradox. Jesus lived to die. He lived a perfect life without sin, He was never sick of any disease and yet his life was cut short at age 33. What does “paradox” mean? It means a statement or proposition that contradicts itself but in fact is or may be true. Jesus did not kill Himself or committed suicide but He gave up His life as the sacrificial Lamb as payment for the sins of the world. He did not deserve to be punished but was falsely accused and unjustly crucified as a criminal. He knew it but He was willing to be punished for sins He did not commit. His death is good news for those who would believe in Him, because this is what He came and lived for. He died that many may live.
“Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures. That He was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures.” 1 Cor. 15:3-4
Now what did He say about any man or woman. “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.” This is also another paradox for all people. Is it wrong to love ones own life? Who in his right mind would hate himself or herself? Although we sometimes say this when we do foolish things and hate ourselves because of the consequence we suffer for our bad choices. So what did Jesus mean when He said that in order for one to keep his life for eternity, he must hate himself. What one is to hate are the sins we have committed together with our self- centered life. There are many things in our lives that we love starting with ourselves, worldly activities, the pleasures of sin and most of all we want to live our lives our way and hate to be told what to do. When we love ourselves we only want what is good for us without any concern for the good of others and worse of all what God has to say. We work ourselves to death so to speak and go after enriching ourselves so we can indulge in all the pleasures of a good life. The Bible says that anything one loves more than God has become an idol for him and that includes ones self. Jesus says in order for one to keep his life he must lose it. A paradox.
Jesus is telling the whole world that if you want to have eternal life to spend eternity with God, one must first die to self and all the sins we have committed and are committing and believe this truth.
“For the wages of sin is death but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” Rom. 6:23
God will give us the wages we deserve, death, unless someone without sin dies in our behalf and only Jesus Christ can do that and did that.
There is a popular saying in relation to loving people. We are to hate the sin but love the sinner. But does God have that same view? The Bible describes God is love. Jesus preached this message God gave him to proclaim.
“For 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.” John 3:16
God the Father loved the world in this way. The world refers to all the people who are already sinners and condemned to go to hell. Yet God did the only way He can forgive and love sinners. He gave us His Son.
“But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Rom. 5:8
What’s the condition of all people in the world and the reason Christ died?
“Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners – of whom I am the worst.” 1 Tim 1:15
So, what must one be willing to do to receive eternal life? Admit and hate
all the sins he has committed against God. God cannot love both the sin and the sinner at the same time. All the pleasure of sins, love for the world and ones self are to be given up to Jesus for Him to pay. Jesus will only pay for our sins when there is repentance and resolve to sin no more. And one cannot love God, love sin and self. Love for self and sin must go and die. Only then will the love of God reach the sinner. The crossbar in the cross blocks the love of God because God who is holy cannot be one with sin. Sin must be punished to satisfy God’s justice and Jesus took the wages in our behalf. Just as Jesus died for our sins we also must die to self and sin.
Here is a trustworthy saying: “If we died with him, we will also live with him; if we endure, we will also reign with him.” 2 Tim. 2:11
After one gets save and have eternal life should we now follow the footsteps of Jesus our Lord and do everything He says, His way?
“To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example that you should follow in his steps.” 1 Pet. 2:21
What particular step should we follow our Lord? Just like the kernel of wheat, we die to self every day so that we will produce many seeds. The seeds now that we produce are disciples of Jesus Christ. This is what Jesus talked about in this parable, which we will look into in the near future,
“But the one who received the seed that fell on good soil is the man who hears the word and understands it. He produces a crop, yielding a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown.” Matt. 13:23
Did Jesus know what kind of death He would have to go through? Yes. This was revealed long before He was born. He knew it that’s why he was troubled and distressed in his heart and soul. Thank God He did not give up and asked to be saved, for where would we be? Lost, no Savior and no hope.
He accomplished the very reason He came for. Peter also affirmed this truth.
“He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; by his wounds we are healed. For you were like sheep going astray, but now you have returned to the Shepherd the Overseer of your souls.” 1 Pet. 2:24-25
Everything Jesus did was for the glory of His Father. When Jesus said, “Father, glorify your name!” He was trusting in His Father and the power of the Holy Spirit to see Him through the cross because this is the will of God.
“But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels, now crowned with glory and honor because he suffered death, so that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone.” Heb. 2:9
In the same way when we surrender to the Lordship of Jesus Christ and die to self, what will happen? We will be used by Christ to reproduce disciples.
“This is to my Father’s glory that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.” John 15:8
After the resurrection of Christ and before He returned to heaven, He left two ordinances to be observed by His church, Believers Baptism and the Lord’s Supper. Baptism identifies one who has repented of all sins and received Christ as Lord by following the example of Jesus. Baptism does not save anyone for it comes after one is already saved out of obedience to Christ’s command. It is pictured as having died to self and his body is fully immersed to picture the old life being buried then as he comes up out of the water with a new life in Christ.
The Lord’s Supper is for believers to remember the death of Christ by proclaiming it until he comes. We observe this once a month to remember His death so we don’t forget and we affirm our faith as one with Him. If one is not yet a believer because he has not repented and surrendered his life to the Lordship of Christ, then we are forewarned in the Scriptures that we should not take the elements representing His body and blood. At the Upper Room on the night before His crucifixion He told His disciples that one of them was going to betray Him. Judas did not admit it and when he took the bread dipped in wine he received the judgment of God. He took the elements in an unworthy manner. So if you have not made this commitment with Christ I advise you not to take the elements. Or you may already be saved and you know there is sin in your life then repent and confess your sins first and ask for forgiveness before you take the elements.
The Lord’s Supper is for God’s glory and for our good. This means we have died to self by identifying with Christ in His death. We have His promise.
“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” 1 John 1:9
If you are here today and the Holy Spirit is convicting you of your sins and your need to be saved, then come to Jesus. Repent and receive Him into your heart as your Lord and Savior, then you can participate in the Lord’s Supper.