The Death of Jesus In The Life Of A Christian (John 12:20-36a)

The Death of Jesus In The Life Of A Christian (John 12:20-36a)


MPS: The death of Jesus draws all people to Himself and His followers see their lives radically change.

I. The death of Jesus gives life to all who follow Him in death. (20-26)

20 Now among those who went up to worship at the feast were some Greeks. 21 So these came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida in Galilee, and asked him, “Sir, we wish to see Jesus.” 22 Philip went and told Andrew; Andrew and Philip went and told Jesus. 23 And Jesus answered them, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. 24 Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. 25 Whoever loves his life loses it, and whoever hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. 26 If anyone serves me, he must follow me; and where I am, there will my servant be also. If anyone serves me, the Father will honor him. 

Greeks worshipping at the feast wasn’t an entirely unusual occurrence as they were probably admirers of Jewish ethics and monotheism. These folks weren’t full proselytes, meaning that they hadn’t yet stepped into the Jewish faith through circumcision and baptism. They were probably coming into the city to enjoy and witness the Passover festivities. This might be the equivalent to people today who acknowledge that there is a God and come to church on occasion to check things out.

Nevertheless the event of having the Greeks seek out Jesus signaled to Him that His hour had come. This is the culmination of the entirety of the Gospel of John. This is the fulfillment of the promises made through redemptive history. We have heard Jesus repeatedly say throughout the Gospel of John that His hour had not yet come. Well here we are.

The parable of the grain points to the necessity of Christ’s death and the assurance of its fruit. So in verse 24 we see the necessity of Christ’s death. If He didn’t die that He wouldn’t have drawn all people to Himself. But the manner in which creation would receive life is through the death of Christ. Because with no death there is no resurrection. The ultimate victory over death comes because of the resurrection. When Paul says, “O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?” it is in light of his teaching on the resurrection.

The fruit of His death is found in being the firstborn among creation. His death produces the fruit of life to all who follow Him. His followers are clothed with His righteousness, promised resurrection of life, and are freed from the bondage of sin. Jesus died so that you and I may live.

Disciples follow in the death of Jesus as they put off the old self and put on the new. “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.” (2 Cor. 5:17) The lusts of your former life must be put to death. John calls us to repent and be baptized. Jesus tells the woman caught in adultery to “Go and sin no more.” Our lives are marked by Christ. We are changed by Christ through the Spirit. Such an experience in being saved by Christ results in our transformation.

The transformation in which God calls us to is impossible apart from the Spirit. He teaches us, comforts us, leads us, and applies the work of Christ to our lives. The work of Jesus frees us from the bondage of sin but the Spirit applies that work to us. As we live our lives in joyful submission to Jesus we are putting off the old self and putting on the new. We are growing into the righteousness of Christ that has already been given to us. That means that nothing in this world has a greater priority in our lives that Jesus. In fact everything else in our lives pales in comparison to Christ.

Disciples follow in the death of Jesus as they serve in His name. We are each called to make sacrifices as a result of our faith in Christ. This means that your good works do not save you. However, your good works are a result of already being saved. So because you have experienced this radical change as a result of the radical sacrifice of God, you now respond by radically serving others in the name of Jesus.

We see pictures of this throughout the New Testament. Jesus charges us with making disciples by teaching them all that He has commanded. James and Paul charge us with serving widows and orphans. The Book of Acts displays for us how the early church cared for one another by meeting each others physical needs as well as spurring one another on in the faith. Paul writes extensively about the manner in which we are to love one another. We are to forgive generously. 

This is a life that is radically different than the ones lived in today’s society. Today we are expected to no longer affiliate with those that we disagree with. It is common to look out for ourselves first, hold grudges, and sow seeds of division. Instead, Jesus sowed the seeds of righteousness and faith through His life, death, and resurrection.

II. The death of Jesus sees Him return fully to His glory. (27-36a)

27 Now is my soul troubled. And what shall I say? ‘Father, save me from this hour’? But for this purpose I have come to this hour. 28 Father, glorify your name.” Then a voice came from heaven: “I have glorified it, and I will glorify it again.” 29 The crowd that stood there and heard it said that it had thundered. Others said, “An angel has spoken to him.” 30 Jesus answered, “This voice has come for your sake, not mine. 31 Now is the judgment of this world; now will the ruler of this world be cast out. 32 And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.” 33 He said this to show by what kind of death he was going to die. 34 So the crowd answered him, “We have heard from the Law that the Christ remains forever. How can you say that the Son of Man must be lifted up? Who is this Son of Man?” 35 So Jesus said to them, “The light is among you for a little while longer. Walk while you have the light, lest darkness overtake you. The one who walks in the darkness does not know where he is going. 36 While you have the light, believe in the light, that you may become sons of light. 

Jesus’ prayer doesn’t show doubt, but helps understand how the Son communicates to the Father. He is speaking rhetorically demonstrating to His audience that His chief mission is to bring glory to the Father. It is also a demonstration of Christ’s human emotion. It displays His active obedience to God’s will and call for His life. Jesus understood what was expected of Him, the pain that He’d endure, and the demonstration of God’s wrath.

The response of God was to reply to His son’s prayer. The voice of God was unclear to those around Jesus possibly because their spiritual blindness. Jesus could hear clearly what was said, some thought it was an angel, while others simply heard thunder. This gives us a picture of how blind we are apart from the work of the Spirit. God speaks and we often remain deaf and blind until the Spirit comes upon us to open our eyes and ears. 

We can often be so caught up in seeking to hear from God, expecting to hear confirmation of our desires, plans, and assumptions. Then, when God speaks through His Word we become confused. We lack understanding. For this reason we must continually pray to God to teach us through His Word and by His Spirit. We need the Holy Spirit to reveal the truth of God to us. Without the Spirit we can never truly know the heart of God.

Then, Jesus says that the “The ruler of this world will be cast out”. This refers to Satan no longer having dominion like he did prior to the glorification of Jesus. Death no longer has dominion over life. God has drawn people to Himself by the sacrifice of His Son and there is nothing that Satan can do about it.

We see this accomplished by Jesus being “lifted up”, which points to His crucifixion and His ascension to the throne. You have no life apart from the cross. You are indentured servants to Satan and partakers of God’s wrath apart from the work of Christ. The cross means everything. The time of Christ’s hour is around the corner and His disciples needed to be prepared.

What can prepare you for such a thing? The disciples of Jesus will have been taught and equipped by God Himself over the course of three years. He repeatedly warns them of His persecution as well as theirs. He informs them of His fate. Yet they’d still scatter the moment Jesus was arrested. It would be Christ’s resurrection when His glory was fully revealed that His disciples would see their lives irrevocably changed.

Has your life been irrevocably changed. Have you witnessed the resurrection of the dead to life? Have you been raised from death to life everlasting? Your Savior has been lifted up for your benefit and His glory.

Jesus is the light and is the divine revelation of God. To walk in the light one must believe in the light becoming sons of the light. He of course calls His disciples to glean all they can from Jesus while His ministry remains here on Earth. He is the light of the world and the closer they get to Him the less they must fear the darkness of this world. 

Knowing that the light of the world would soon leave them is a terrifying thought. However, Jesus says, “I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever— the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you.” (Jn. 14:16-17) Jesus’ glory is revealed to those who believe. He sits at the right hand of the Father, returning to His rightful place. We are the beneficiaries of His glory. We are His disciples.


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