THE ATTRACTION OF SACRIFICE

TUESDAY – John 12:20-50

The Attraction of Sacrifice

I know “The Attraction of Sacrifice” is a strange heading for this sermon of Jesus delivered on Monday of Passion Week. Yet, it conveys the lesson intended by Jesus in these verses. It is noteworthy that this message was delivered to Hellenistic Jews (John 12:20).

Note the language that Jesus’ uses to describe His crucifixion.  In 12:23 He calls His crucifixion the hour of glory (12:23) and that the crucifixion was ‘The hour of purpose!’ (12:27). He also asked the Father to use ‘The Hour’ to glorify His Name (12:28a). The Father responded by promising He would (12:28b). Jesus’ purposed to focus on the results rather than the means of His work on the cross, thus eliminating discontent with the plan.

To help the Disciples and the Hellenistic Jews understand the crucifixion, Jesus used an agricultural metaphor (12:24). In order for wheat to be living and productive, it must first die. But once it dies and is buried, it becomes fruitful.

Jesus said He was willing to die and be buried in order to be fruitful for the Father’s glory (12:28, 32, and 33). He indicated in this teaching that finding one’s life and identity in this world is a losing mindset. Instead, He proposes that abandoning one’s earthly identity (i.e. dying to self) results in eternal fruitfulness (12:25). But not abandoning one’s earthly identity will forfeit eternity. Therefore, He implores us to identify with His purposeful work and gain eternity rather than holding onto the worthless material life we can see and presently trust.

After this teaching session, Jesus left and hid Himself (12:36b). It was not profitable to remain around those who would not believe (12:37). There was a reason for their unbelief. Isaiah is quoted as saying that their hearts were hardened by God (12:40). And although it seems that God is maliciously hardening their hearts and keeping them from the faith, we see in 12:43 that the hardening of a man’s heart is not arbitrary on God’s part but rather a response to man’s misplaced loyalties. John 12:43 tells us that those whom God hardens and keeps from the truth are those who live to please men rather than God. Or said a different way, they fear man more than they fear God.

What kind of person are you? One whose focus is self-centered and in this world? One who fears man more than God? One who lives pleasing men to gain the approval of other men, or one who lives shows love for God through obedience to His will in order to express appreciation for His purposeful plan on the cross? Jesus taught in John 12 that it was time to die. For Him it meant setting aside His desires, His will and His physical life in order to experience spiritual and physical death as our substitute of the punishment for sin to accomplish the plan of God. For us it means setting aside our love for this world and the approval of men in order to gain an eternal inheritance through faith in His person and work (12:25, 43, 44-50).

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