Life, Death, & Glory: Words to Live By

Life, Death, & Glory: Words to Live By

Life, Death, & Glory: Words to Live By

Meaning; Purpose; Life; Death; Eternity / John 12:9–50; John 12:24–25

Words to live by should be big enough to guide us through all of life. Am I living by words that are too small?

 

“Do not pray for an easy life, pray for the strength to endure a difficult one.”
Bruce Lee

“When something bad happens you have three choices. You can either let it define you, let it destroy you, or you can let it strengthen you.” Anonymous

“The world ain’t all sunshine and rainbows. It is a very mean and nasty place […] it will beat you to your knees and keep you there permanently if you let it. You, me, or nobody is gonna hit as hard as life. But it ain’t about hard you hit; it’s about how hard you can get hit, and keep moving forward.”
Rocky Balboa

“Enjoy the little things, for one day you may look back and realize they were the big things.“
Robert Brault

“Everyone is a genius. But, if you judge a fish on its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing it is stupid.“
Albert Einstein

“Obstacles are those things you see when you take your eyes off the goal.“
Henry Ford

“Be who you are and say what you feel because those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind.“
Dr. Seuss

Words to Live By

Words to live by should be big enough to guide us through all of life. Am I living by words that are too small?

All these AXIOMS are great and they make sense, but if you took one of these and made it the moto of your life, your life would be lacking because these are insufficient for life.

Even Paps’ words, while he was a wise man and his advice is great, it’s also limited. The only place to go for true words to live by is scripture, the words of God who created us and understands our purpose better than we ever could hope to.

Today’s text contains some of those words. Words that when applied to your life can reveal purpose and direction. These words apply to almost any situation. In fact that’s why they are so amazing is because they transcend our situation, our generation, our culture. These words always apply to us.

Make sure you get the scene in your mind, in a town built for a probably 100,000 people but during the Passover the population would swell to over a million. People were everywhere. The city was packed, the country side was a campground.

Jesus has just left the party with Lazarus, Martha, and Mary, going to Jerusalem. Everyone in town knows about Lazarus. We talked about this a couple of weeks ago, but like in Rock Hall, you can’t die and everyone know, much less come back to life.

So when Jesus came into Jerusalem, he was greeted with a parade of sorts. People cheering, lining the street with palms in front of him as he rode a donkey into town. They did this because they had heard or seen what he did for Lazarus.
They believed Jesus was the promised Messiah they had been waiting for, a new King for Israel. A king that would deliver them from the Roman occupation.

Jesus just seemed to be the one. The miracles he did, the way he taught, If it’s not Jesus then who else could possibly be a more perfect fit to be the king of the Israel? It’s obvious to everyone, he has the right birth right, he does the right things, he says the right things, it’s just a matter of time for him to claim the throne, and it seems that this is the time. Even the Pharisees could read the writing on the wall

John 12:19 NIV
19 So the Pharisees said to one another, “See, this is getting us nowhere. Look how the whole world has gone after him!”

And then, maybe later that day or a couple of days later, we aren’t sure; but, something happened that seemed to change the flow of the story.

And here, in this conversation, we will find what I believe are the most profound words to live by. Let’s look:

John 12:20–24 NIV
20 Now there were some Greeks among those who went up to worship at the festival. 21 They came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida in Galilee, with a request. “Sir,” they said, “we would like to see Jesus.” 22 Philip went to tell Andrew; Andrew and Philip in turn told Jesus. 23 Jesus replied, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. 24 Very truly I tell you, 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.

At first glance it seemed pretty normal. Some Greeks showed up and wanted to see Jesus. Now people from all over the world are coming to Jerusalem, but when this group asks for Jesus, it seems to change the arc of the story. Jesus, known to respond to requests in unique ways, does so here as well to their simple request.

“Hear this, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds.”

It’s finally happening. For the first time in Jesus’s ministry, Gentiles are seeking him out. He has ministered to them before, but it was him going to them, now they come to him wanting to know him. They don’t want a miracle, they don’t seek a blessing, but they are moved to know Jesus. This is different and we see Jesus begin to change the way he teaches, because now time is limited.

Death: Significance

He explains to them how he was about to be glorified in death.

Now for many, death is the end of your influence. But Jesus understood that his life was different. While they were looking for a KING to save them from their situation, he was coming as a savior, to save them from themselves.

But the only way to be saved meant this life had to end. Death you see had a purpose, it wasn’t the end. He was teaching them a new understanding of the significance of death.

2 Corinthians 4:11 NIV
11 For we who are alive are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that his life may also be revealed in our mortal body.

2 Cor talks a lot about the sufferings of this world and how they work in our lives. Here Paul explains that death is the way Jesus’s resurrection works in us. Death you see, is to be a blessing.

So is life; as John continues in v24:

John 12:24 NIV
24 Very truly I tell you, 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.

Think of the seed. What is produced? another seed? yes but seeds don’t come out of the ground, but a plant and that plant in turn produces a harvest. The significant thing about death is new life, and about life it is fruit.

Life: Fruit

I know seeds can’t talk, but if they could do you think they would say… no don’t plant us. Do anything but put us in the ground. Can’t you just take the bag and put it in a drawer some where?

No seeds have a purpose, that is to be planted and produce a crop.

And yet, we will do anything we can to keep our life going, rather than use our life for others. Our culture loves this life. We are all about right now, no need to wait. And where does that get us?

As Paul wrote in 1 Cor:

1 Corinthians 15:36 NIV
36 How foolish! What you sow does not come to life unless it dies.

Just a bag of seeds, never accomplishing what they could have, should have… what a waste to miss out of the life we were created to have.

Jesus then explains the role or purpose of Life and Death v 25:

John 12:25–26 NIV
25 Anyone who loves their life will lose it, while anyone who hates their life in this world will keep it for eternal life. 26 Whoever serves me must follow me; and where I am, my servant also will be. My Father will honor the one who serves me.

Remember now, Jesus has just realized that his time on earth is fast approaching the end. His time has come… and what does he tell his followers? The purpose of life. His life is like a seed, he has to die. Then he applies that to all his listeners.

This is a hard teaching, to hate our life in this world.

But what Jesus is getting at here is our purpose:

Purpose: Serve

Our life, just like Jesus, was intended to be an opportunity to glorify God in serving him. Living for him as some might say. If we miss that, if instead we fall into the trap in thinking this life is about us… we are like that seed that refuses to be planted… I’m not going to die, I’m beautiful, flawless.

Matthew 16:24 NIV
24 Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.

I heard someone say recently, you have to love yourself before you can love anyone else. I think that so misses the point. It sounds right, but the reality is, as Jesus teaches it, don’t even know what love is without looking to God first.

Everything in this life finds it’s purpose in God.

Think about what Jesus was facing.

John 12:27 NIV
27 “Now my soul 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.

Jesus wasn’t looking forward to dying, and yet he was because this was his purpose.

I think of the apostle Paul

Philippians 1:12–13 NIV
12 Now I want you to know, brothers and sisters, that what has happened to me has actually served to advance the gospel. 13 As a result, it has become clear throughout the whole palace guard and to everyone else that I am in chains for Christ.

Not less of ourselves… but of ourselves LESS

Knowing we should think not less of ourselves… but of ourselves less is one thing, but how do we do that?

Paul knew what Jesus knew – key to life was keeping it in the right perspective.

Jesus also knew we couldn’t do it without him. That’s why he died for us, because we couldn’t die to our selves. The fact of the matter is, I’m selfish.

But he God has given us the means to live this life; this less of me more of him life- that is Jesus.

You were made for MUCH MORE than this

I don’t know what you are facing, hardships, difficulties, challenges, opportunities… But I know this, we were made for much more than this.

And yet, many fail to believe these words of Jesus. It was the same back then, as John explains in v37

John 12:37 NIV
37 Even after Jesus had performed so many signs in their presence, they still would not believe in him.

Many saw but couldn’t believe because as he goes on to explain, their hearts are hard. They had turned against God’s love so many times, they were unable to see the truth. And that’s why Jesus came, to be light for those living in the darkness.

Jesus is for everyone, you can’t be so far from God that God can’t reach you… Jesus said in v 47 and 48

John 12:47–48 NIV
47 “If anyone hears my words but does not keep them, I do not judge that person. For I did not come to judge the world, but to save the world. 48 There is a judge for the one who rejects me and does not accept my words; the very words I have spoken will condemn them at the last day.

that he has come to be the light for those who are living in the dark, he’s not not here to pass judgement on people who reject him… that the time for judgement will come.

But while we can, we should hear his voice and follow him.

As Paul prayed for us in Eph 1:

Ephesians 1:18–19 NIV
18 I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people, 19 and his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is the same as the mighty strength

Today you hear the word of God and you want to build your live on these words to live by. You want to think of yourself less… and God more. You want your life to be that of a servant, that your significance would be because of Jesus.

Lord, I pray that as your disciple, one who knows you love and has experienced your forgiveness and grace, that I might think of myself less and more of you and others. That I might die to myself and live to you. That while I find joy in this life, I would continue to understand that you, not life, are the source of such joy. And as I invest my life into your purpose for me, you would produce fruit that proves to be a blessing to your kingdom, here on earth and into eternity. AMEN!

Feeling God calling you into a relationship with him, to re-align your live around these words of Jesus.

Lord, thank you for showing me your truth today. I want to be your child. I repent of my sin. I thank you for forgiving me and making my life brand new. I give you my life God. I live for you. I thank you for giving me your Holy Spirit living in me, empowering me to live my life for you just as you created me to live. Amen!

Share

Recent Sermons