SIR, WE WOULD SEE JESUS
The twelfth chapter of John's gospel contains a record of the final incident in the public ministry of Jesus.
The passage tells us that a group of Greeks had come to Jerusalem to worship, and came to Phillip (perhaps because he had a Greek name) and made a simple request, "Sir, we would see Jesus."
Greeks were wanderers, the world tourists of their day. They were also characteristically seekers after truth. They had seen everything, been everywhere and pried into all the culture and philosophy of their generation. But this particular group had come to the conclusion that nothing shirt of Jesus could satisfy. In the quest of these Greeks is foreshadowed the great multitude form all nations and kindred and tongues which shall eventually be worshipping the Lord Jesus Christ.
THE THREE BASIC ELEMENTSWhen word came to Jesus He was moved to make the most profound statements ever uttered. They are recorded from verses 20 through 32. In them we find three basic elements:
- The Act of Death
- The Principle of Death
- The Life of Service
THE ACT OF DEATHI, if I be lifted up, will draw all men to me." (32) "Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abides alone, but if it dies, it brings forth much fruit. (24)
In these declarations Christ was, first of all, speaking of His own act of death on Calvary's cross.
A seed must be planted. In Psalms, we read, "He that goes forth sowing seed in tears, shall doubtless come again rejoicing." The picture the writer is painting for us is something like this:
At seedtime there was a shortage of grain. But the farmer had to take what there was into the freshly plowed field to sow. His wife would follow her husband with anxious tears running down her cheeks. She would call to him plaintively, "We cannot sow that grain. There will not be enough to eat if you use it for seed!" But the farmer knew full well that he must sow it or there would be nothing whatever for the next year. Hard though it was to see his small supply put into the earth, he knew that the time would come when they would rejoice together over a new crop.
In the same manner, Christ knew that the death of the cross would be cruel and agonizing. But He also knew that if He did not die, there would be no release of resurrection life for the world of men. He deliberately allowed himself to be "planted" to make it possible for us to be forgiven and become a part of the great harvest of souls. Without the act of death we would have no access to God's forgiveness and no hope for resurrection.
THE PRINCIPLE OF DEATH
When Jesus said, "Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die…" He spoke, not only of His own dying, but also of an eternal principle.
We too, must go the same route He went. A crucified Christ must have crucified followers. We too, must be willing to fall into the earth and die. Verse 25 tells us, "He that loves his life shall lose it, and he that hates his life in this world shall keep it unto eternal life." Herein is the essence of the meaning of "dying." The principle of death and resurrection must apply to us as well as to Jesus.
Only by spending ourselves do we retain life. Only by giving de we get. A man who clutches his own life to himself is motivated by selfishness and a mania for security. The spirit of this world cries, "Gather to yourself! Accumulate all you can now! Protect what you have gained!
This is the exact opposite of the way of Christ. The spirit of the age decrees, "Get all you can. Get to the top. Seize all the authority you can, and hold it fast!" The spirit of Jesus call to us, "Give all you can! Take the servant's place! And acknowledge that all authority belongs to God."
THE LIFE OF SERVICEIf any man serves me, let him follow me; and where I am there also shall my servant be; if any man serve Me, him will My Father honor.
Having consented to relinquish our claim on goods and tights and life itself, we must then live lives of service. We must act out what Jesus said of Himself, "The Son of Man came not to be ministered to, nut to minister, and to give Hi life…"
A boy was once asked what parts of speech the words, "my," and "mine" were. His answer was, "They are aggressive pronouns." I'm sure he meant "possessive," but his answer was truer than he suspected. Romans seven is filled with such "aggressive pronouns." In fact, they are mentioned thirty times. They reflect the awful preoccupation with self that is so often the case in the lives of men. But that dreaded selfishness is missing in Romans eight…and so are the pronouns.
A minister once told a young pastor, "I'll give you some advice. If you just keep your mouth shut and your page clean, you'll get to the top." The young man replied, "I guess I 've got a different concept of service. I don't want to get to the top. I want to do what is right, right where I am."
That beginning pastor was always at "the top" in god's sense of the term. But, small low-living men are always struggling to be "big," and end up pulling others down because they can never be as "big" as they wish. They criticize, are touchy, petty, and argumentative. They take themselves too seriously and refuse to take correction of others seriously at all because they are afraid of looking small.
Crucified men, on the other hand, are too big to fight for their own positions, their own egos, and their own rights. They take constructive criticism as a tonic and let destructive criticism fall to the ground without any effort to retaliate.
There are those who are looking for what they call "ministry." They speak much about it. They conceive of it as something invisible, mystical and "spiritual" in some vague sense of the word. But they do not minister where they are in concrete practical ways. As a result, God cannot give them any broader realm in which to serve. "He that is faithful in "little" is faithful also in much," Jesus said. We must begin with the "little" and let God ass the "much." Perhaps the greatest task we can faithfully perform is that of witnessing. It was for this express purpose that God sent His Holy Spirit…to make us witnesses. Jesus was God's witness, and very often He performed this ministry to individuals.
We need to be like Jesus. Let's quietly get together with other people and talk about the things of the Kingdom as He did.
PEOPLE WHO NEED OUR MINISTRY COME AROUND AT THE WRONG TIMES!
In the 58th chapter of Isaiah we are told that the fast which God has chosen is the freeing of captives and the giving of ourselves for others. People who really need our ministry have a way of coming around at the wrong times. Just when we have made careful plans to do something or go somewhere; someone comes with a need. But when we're all primed with prayer, and felt very "spiritual," they are nowhere to be seen. Right at this point comes the testing of our service. It is at such times that we have the opportunities to forget ourselves, our preferences, and our privileges, and act out the life of one who has fallen into the earth and died.
We do not know whether the Greeks ever got their interview with Jesus at that time. But if they overheard what He said, they heard the most incredible principles ever spoken and the most radically demanding way of life ever proposed. What is more important is the fact that We have heard His instructions and the duty is they convey rests heavily upon us. The eternal principles He spoke go on operating whether we heed them or not. But if we do heed them and put them into practice, Jesus left us an incomparable promise, "If any man serve me, him will my Father honor."
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