************ Sermon on John 12:28 ************
By: Rev. Adrian Dieleman
This sermon was preached on March 21, 2008
"Glorify Your Name"
Good Friday 2008
One of my favorite songs is based upon the words of Jesus in our text:
Father, we love you, we worship, we adore you,I get a thrill up and down my spine whenever this song is sung. How wondrous it is to praise God, to raise up to Him a song that this building cannot begin to contain.
glorify your name in all the earth,
glorify your name, glorify your name,
glorify your name in all the earth.
"Glorify your name." What does this mean on this Good Friday? What are we asking God to do? What are we saying about ourselves? What are we to do to make this song a reality?
"Glorify your name." Jesus tells us today what this means. He tells us that God is glorified when a harvest of life comes from death. More specifically, God is glorified in and through Jesus and God is glorified in and through us.
I Glory to God Through Christ
A The crowds of Palm Sunday bring praise and glory to God. "Hosanna!" they cried. "Blessed is the King of Israel! they cried. "Glory to God!" (Jn 12:13).
Then Jesus said it Himself: "The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified" (Jn 12:23). And how will this happen? How will Jesus be glorified? How will the Father be glorified? Jesus tells us by telling us the law of the seed:
(Jn 12:24) I tell you the truth, 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. The glory of a farmer or of a gardener lies in the harvest. Likewise, the glory of God lies in the harvest. But before the harvest can come about, the seed must be planted in the ground and "die." We know it doesn't really die; what does happen is that the outer husk must rot away as in death.
A couple of weeks ago I did a crop inspection tour at Sierra Village; I inspected Becky Van Dyk's garden. In a good year, Becky is able to grow enough vegetables for everyone in Sierra Village. But before that can happen, the law of the seed must be observed:
(Jn 12:24) I tell you the truth, 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.
The Divine Gardener has established this law of the seed. A kernel of wheat which is kept in the granary does not multiply. It is unfruitful. Yes, it can be ground into flour and baked into bread, but that is not what Jesus wants to highlight. The point is, it can multiply only if it falls into the earth and dies. In the same way, Becky knows that one seed, planted in the soil, can produce many beautiful tomatoes, pumpkins, beans, and zucchini. But if the seed is not planted and does not die, nothing happens, nothing results.
"Father, glorify your name!" On this Good Friday, Jesus tells us that the glory road comes about only when the law of the seed is followed.
B Of course, Jesus is not really talking about seed here. His concern is not with kernels of wheat or seeds of flowers. What Jesus is talking about is Himself. Like a seed, Jesus must be planted in the earth. Like a seed, He must be dead and buried before new life can come. Which means that Good Friday – the crucifixion, the death, the burial – follows the law of the seed.
"Father, glorify your name." Jesus knows what this means. Jesus knows that His Father will have no harvest unless He Himself is the seed planted in the earth.
Many of us think of Good Friday as a dark and somber day. When I left home this evening, my dear wife said to me, "You are not dressed right for Good Friday. You need to wear black." But Good Friday is not all doom and gloom. Why? Because on Good Friday, God planted the seed of victory in the earth.
Let's never make the mistake of thinking this glory road was easy for Jesus to travel. Don't ever make the mistake of thinking that for Jesus this was but a cake walk. For what does Jesus say?
(Jn 12:27) "Now my heart is troubled, and what shall I say? 'Father, save me from this hour'?These words reflect a natural human shrinking from death. Jesus' soul is in turmoil. His heart is troubled. The coming horror of the cross and grave fills Him with agony. The thought of bearing human sin and evil is almost too much to bear. But as quickly as He thinks this, Jesus dismisses it, saying "No, it was for this very reason I came to this hour" (Jan 12:27).
Jesus came to observe the law of the seed. Jesus came to suffer and die. Jesus came to be planted in the earth. As Isaiah puts it, "Surely he took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows" (Is 53:4). This was not forced upon Him. He did this and suffered this of His own free will.
(Jn 10:17-18) The reason my Father loves me is that I lay down my life--only to take it up again. (18) No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord.
Jesus was not helplessly caught up in a mesh of circumstances from which He could not break free. Apart from any divine power He might have called in, it is quite clear that to the end He could have turned back and saved His life. He did not lose His life; He gave it. The Cross was not thrust upon Him; He willingly accepted it.
Topic: SacrificesSimilarly, Jesus did not lose His life, He gave it.
In the First World War there was a young French soldier who was seriously wounded. His arm was so badly smashed that it had to be amputated. He was a magnificent specimen of young manhood, and the surgeon was grieved that he must go through life maimed. So he waited beside his bedside to tell him the bad news when he recovered consciousness. When the lad's eyes opened, the surgeon said to him: "I am sorry to tell you that you have lost your arm." "Sir," said the lad, "I did not lose it; I gave it -- for France."
-- William Barclay, Gospel of John
Why? Jesus knew the law of the seed. Jesus knew He must be planted in the earth so the Father could have a harvest. Jesus knew He must be planted in the earth so the Father could be glorified. Jesus knew that on Good Friday He must follow the law of the seed.
C Our passage starts off with Andrew and Philip telling Jesus about some Greeks who want to see Him. What a commendable request. What can be better than wanting to see Jesus? At first glance it appears that Jesus ignores their request. "We would like to see Jesus," they ask (Jn 12:21). But Jesus responds with talk of glorification and a kernel of wheat. What a strange response!
We need an understanding here of Greek culture and religion. The Greeks thought that the way to God and His glory was through wisdom and knowledge. So they were always on the search for a higher kind of wisdom and excellence. They traveled far and wide to find the secret of a perfect life. They thought it possible to finally attain such a level of knowledge that they would become one with God. But Jesus tells the Greeks that the way to God and His glory is not the upward-bound course of more and more knowledge, but rather the downward-bound course of a grain of wheat: it must fall in the soil and die, and only then can it produce fruit.
The Greek design is up and up and up. But in the end, nothing is accomplished. Christ's Good Friday design is down through death and then up. That's the only way to God and His glory.
In saying the law of the seed, Jesus is correcting not only the Greeks but the Jews as well. The Palm Sunday crowds had just welcomed Jesus into Jerusalem. They thought God would be glorified by King Jesus accepting an earthly crown and an earthly throne and chasing the hated Romans out of the country. But God is not glorified by battle nor is He glorified by a Jewish-controlled Palestine. He is glorified only by the law of the seed.
D After stating this law, Jesus states the words of our text for this evening: "Father, glorify your name!" "Glorify your name in all the earth." Now it is God Who comes out with what seems like a strange response: "I have glorified it, and will glorify it again" (vs 28). "Father, glorify your name!" "Glorify your name in all the earth." "I have," He says. "And I will," He says.
"I have." What is God referring to here? Don't forget, according to the words of Jesus, God is glorified when a harvest of life comes from death. When has God already done this? Over and over again, in John 11 & 12, our attention is directed to the sign, the miraculous sign, done by Jesus in Bethany. In that sign, a seed has been planted and died and a harvest has come. What is that sign? It is the raising of a four-day-dead Lazarus from the tomb. "Lazarus, come out!" says Jesus (Jn 11:43). And the dead Lazarus comes walking out and those who believed saw the "glory of God" (Jn 11:40).
"Father, glorify your name! "Glorify your name in all the earth." "I have," says God. In the raising of a dead Lazarus, congregation, we are to see a first-fruits of the work of Christ. By raising a dead Lazarus, congregation, Jesus is glorifying and praising the name of God. Imagine, someone four days dead being called back to life. Imagine, a soul that has been with God is called back from heaven and put back in a body. Imagine, a body that has begun the process of decay is restored, revitalized, made new. "Father, glorify your name! "Glorify your name in all the earth." "I have," says God.
"Father, glorify your name! "Glorify your name in all the earth." "I will," says God. There is only thing in mind here: the marvellous, wonderful, beautiful event of Easter Sunday. "Father, glorify your name! "Glorify your name in all the earth." "I will," says God. And He does. On Easter Sunday, God is glorified when a harvest of life comes from death.
Think of what happened on Good Friday. Jesus was arrested. He was questioned. He was slapped. He was spit upon. He was whipped. His body became weak and dehydrated. He was rejected. He carried the cross. He was nailed to the cross. He was lifted up in order to die. He thirsted. His blood became thick and sluggish. For three hours He was forsaken by God and experienced the pangs and torments of hell. He died. His side was pierced. He was laid in a grave like seed in the dirt. And, then, on the third day His body was raised to life. The law of the seed was followed and God was glorified.
"Father, glorify your name! "Glorify your name in all the earth." "I will," says God. On Good Friday and Easter Sunday the law of the seed was followed and God was glorified.
II Glory to God Through Man
A God is glorified through the law of the seed. He is glorified when a harvest of life comes from death. He is glorified when Lazarus is raised from the grave. He is glorified when Jesus arises from the dead.
The same principle or law applies to us. In our lives God is glorified when a harvest of life comes from death.
How is God glorified in our life? How does He reap a harvest of life from death in you and me? Don't forget, we are dead in trespasses and sins. We walk and live in darkness (Jn 12:35,40). What is the way to life? What is the way to fruitful living? Three times John tells us: through faith in Christ (Jn 11:45; 12:11; 12:18). When we believe in Jesus, then God – by grace – takes us from death to life. When we believe in Jesus, then God – by grace – reaps a harvest of souls.
"Father, glorify your name! "Glorify your name in all the earth." "I have," says God. "I will," says God. The Father is glorified every time a sinner repents and believes. The Father is glorified every time someone dead in sin becomes alive in Christ Jesus.
"Father, glorify your name! "Glorify your name in all the earth." We're going to be singing a song about the glory of God right after this sermon. Will you mean the words? Do you want God to be glorified? Then you must repent and believe. Then you must no longer be dead in sin but must be alive in Christ Jesus. God is glorified only when yours is new life in and through and by the sacrifice of Jesus.
"Father, glorify your name! "Glorify your name in all the earth." "I have," says God. "I will," says God. And He does. He does in Christ. He does when you and I believe.
B But that's not all. God is also glorified when you and I personally obey the law of the seed. Jesus says,
(Jn 12:25-26) The man who loves his life will lose it, while the man who hates his 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. Life in the Kingdom follows the law of the seed. It is by giving that a man receives, it is by blessing that a person is blessed, and it is by dying that we live. And in this God is glorified.
Car inspection stickers used to have printed on the back, "Drive carefully – the life you save may be your own." That is the wisdom of men in a nutshell. What God says, on the other hand, is "The life you save is the life you lose." In other words, the life you clutch, hoard, guard, and play safe with is in the end a life worth little to anybody, including yourself; and only a life given away for love's sake is a life worth living. A life that brings glory to God is one that follows the law of the seed: a life that dies to self and lives for God and others.
"Father, glorify your name! "Glorify your name in all the earth." If we mean these words, then we must give up our life, our all, for God. We can serve God, we can glorify God, only when we die to self and live for Him and Him alone. We can serve God, we can glorify God, only when we want God as much as we want each breath of fresh air.
"Father, glorify your name! "Glorify your name in all the earth." "I have," says God. "I will," says God. He has in Christ on Good Friday through the law of the seed. He wants to in you and me through the law of the seed. But does He? He does if you have died to sin and are alive to God in Christ. He does if you live for Him Who is your life, your breath, your all.
"Father, glorify your name! "Glorify your name in all the earth." Glorify Your name through the law of the seed.
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