I know that I said I'd say more about love in my next blog, I am talking about the sacrificial love that Jesus demonstrated. This isn't the blog I'd planned, but I thought I'd share my sermon with you. As always, I don't take my notes with me and so it wasn't identical to what is written here, however, it will give you the idea.
We have been on holiday. The majority of the time, we were safely tucked up in our lodge when the darkness fell, however, on the last evening, we went out for a meal. As we left the lodge, there was light behind me from the lodge and a little light ahead of me, but it was pitch black in between. I don’t have very good eyesight at all, and going from light to dark, is like someone throwing a black hood over my head, I called out that I couldn’t see.
I’m not a lover of any kind of ride but braved the Cyclone on holiday. My daughter and her husband went down a flume. My husband was trying to persuade me to go down next. I sat down and looked at the instruction to put your legs this way, hands that way, but then panicked. I got up saying that I wasn’t going to go down it, just as my daughter appeared. She had run as fast as she could up several flights of stairs to tell me that I shouldn’t go down it as I'd hate it. Instead we went down on the Cyclone together. I told her that I wanted to go backwards as I hate going forwards. The Life Guard, a young lady, ensured that was the case and off we went.
Later, before we left, we decided to have a last go on the cyclone. I’ll come back to this later.
In the Gospel reading for the day, John 12: 20-33 (BibleGateway.com), Jesus is going to Jerusalem for the Passover Meal for the last time. He was coming from visiting his friend Lazarus, who as we know, He had raised from the dead.
Our Bible story begins with a group of people wanting to see Jesus. They ask Philip who tells Andrew and they go to tell Jesus, and Jesus, asks,
“Who is ‘them’?”
Anyone who listens to Jesus or reads the Word, is “them”, which includes you and me.
We all know that seeds need to be planted and nurtured in the correct conditions in order for them to grow and multiply. Our passage talks about wheat but there are many other examples we could use to demonstrate this. If we eat all the fruit and vegetables we grow instead of either allowing some of the seeds to fall into the ground (or keeping some to plant), it would mean that the food chain couldn’t continue. We have to put some of the seeds back into the ground for them to grow into new plants.
In our reading, Jesus is really beginning to prepare everyone for what is about to come regarding His own life.
The Jews had an idea on what their saviour would look like and how he would save them. If I said that they thought he would be a great warrior, a king, rising up to conquer them from the oppression they were living in, I don’t think that I would be far wrong.
Jesus did not meet those expectations at all. He was a carpenter, Joseph and Mary’s son, but perhaps now, the penny was beginning to drop. He’d brought Lazarus back from the dead so maybe there was more to Jesus than meets the eye.
In verse 23, Jesus says that the hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified, but then goes on about grains of wheat falling to the ground. What on earth is He going on about?
We know, in hindsight, that Jesus was talking about His death. As God the Son, Jesus knew that He had a job to do. God the Father had sent Him to save humanity.
Jesus began His life, like we do, growing in His mother’s womb. He grew as a child, as we do, before beginning adult life in His profession/ministry.
Can you see the similarities to a grain of wheat growing up, especially when Jesus was lifted high on the cross at the top of a hill?
And then can you see the similarity to a grain of wheat, when Jesus (fell) to the ground, placed inside the tomb, and then burst forth on Easter Day, risen, conquering death and giving new life?
In verse 30, Jesus talks about driving out the prince of the world, He is referring to satan.
Back to my time away. The Cyclone, involved a long steep climb up several flights of stairs and I knew that the route down was full of twists and turns with a sheer drop along the way. I braced myself for the journey, clinging hold of the raft. As the Life Guard prepared to push us off, she whispered into my ear,
“I’ll make sure you are going backwards.”
I wasn’t making the journey alone, there were two of us on the raft with Life Guards at the top and bottom.
With my eyesight the way it is, when I move into darkness it’s as though I have had a black hood suddenly thrown over my head.
I called out to my family who had moved ahead of me,
“I can’t see!”
Hearing reassuring voices in the darkness enabled me to step more confidently forward.
Back to the cyclone; moving backwards doesn’t seem to make sense because I always like to see what I am getting into. However, in this instance, after the first time on the cyclone, when I saw the sheer drop suddenly appear, and so the potential danger, I didn’t want to see it coming.
Instead, I sat clinging hold for dear life, with my eyes closed, bracing myself for the perceived danger, I told myself that as long as I did as was recommended by those in authority, I would be safe. Plus, I wasn’t alone. My companion each time, viewed the ride differently to me, loving every minute of it and not a bit afraid of what was to come.
We can liken our lives to that cyclone ride. It’s full of twists and turns, exhilaration and fear all rolled into one. Before I married, if someone had told me what tragedies I would be facing during my married life, I would have thought twice about getting married; I probably would not have had children as it would have seemed far too much to to bear. God tells us not to dabble in the likes of fortune tellers/predictors, we are only to concern ourselves about today. Yes we do need to make provision for the future, but that is different to trying to get predictions for how it will turn out. If we live life as it happens, we will be much more able to ride the storms.If we keep our eyes focused on God as the One Who guides us, we will not be alone and He will remain with us through all the twists and turns.
As the Son of Man, Jesus was not looking forward to what lay ahead for Him. He knew that He would have to take on all the sins of the world and, therefore, become separated from Father God. He was in no doubt about the agony and suffering He would go through on behalf of you and me.
We only need to concern ourselves with the present and what we need to do to secure our place with God for eternity. Firstly, we must love God with all our heart, all our mind, all our soul and all our strength. How can we not, knowing what He has done for us?
Secondly, we must love others as we love ourselves. With that in mind; as with the wheat; we cannot and must not keep our faith to ourselves. We must sow the seeds of our faith in order to produce fruit. If the disciples, throughout the ages, had kept their faith to themselves, Jesus would have not been shared with you and me.
If we keep our eyes on God, study His Word, listen to His voice, we will produce fruit and we will be able to go through our lives better able to trust in Him to guide us through even the roughest of times.
If Jesus hadn’t fulfilled His purpose we would have no hope and future. He responded to, and obeyed His calling, are you responding to Him?
Photo by Johannes Plenio on Unsplash