There have been times in the lives of all of us that something quite significant has happened. Someone said something or did something that had a great impact on our lives. For good or for evil! Or it may have been some sudden realisation we had about ourselves that changed our lives for ever.
I can still remember taking part in a football kicking competition for the Rugby League football club I belonged to. We had 3 attempts to record the longest kick. I was only a junior player kicking in a competition along with older A grade and State representatives. Much to my and everyone else’s surprise, I won. From that day on, until I retired from playing several years later, I was always the line and goal kicker for every team for which I played, including A Grade, representative and Royal Australian Navy teams. From a person of no significance to a person with some slight significance because of a long (but insignificant) torpedo punt kick. However, it was significant for me because for the first time in my life I felt I had something of some significance to offer in life.
There was a significant moment in the life of Jesus. You may say that every moment of His life was significant because He was the Messiah and the Son of God who had come to earth. But He saw something that happened as a very significant moment in His life and ministry.
1). THE SIGNIFICANCE TO JESUS OF THE APPROACH BY THE GENTILES. [A Sign To Jesus That He Was About To Die]
The significant moment for Jesus happened like this, “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.” John 12:20-22.
Nothing significant there you might think. Some Greeks as gentiles (non-Jews) wanted to see Jesus. Didn’t everyone? But this was different.
- Jesus spoke as He heard this news, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified.” 12:23. This was a highly significant moment for Him. He had ministered to the house of Israel (the Jews) who were meant to take that message out to the Gentiles, the non-Jews.
- However now the Gentiles themselves were taking the initiative in wanting to see meet Him. (The word for “see” is derived from horaō [ὁράω] which means more than glancing at.) They wanted to become acquainted with Him, to have a deeper experience of Him, to know Him more intimately, to converse with Him.
- This was a sign that His ministry was about to come to an end as the Gentiles approached Him. The gospel message He proclaimed was to go out beyond the Jews to the wider world. He knew that the time was soon to come for Him to die for the sins of the world.
2). THE SIGNIFICANCE OF HIS DEATH. [He Needed To Die To Release Eternal Life]
Jesus explained the significance of His death in this way. It would be a dying to release His life in others, “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.” 12:24.
A friend of ours is a wheat farmer. However every year he takes some of the seed he harvested in the previous season and puts it back into the soil. Why on earth would you do that? What a waste! No, he tells me that it has to be sown again into the soil in order to enable it to multiply. Otherwise the grain just sits there.
- The wheat seed as it were, dies to allow more wheat to grow.
- That’s how Jesus explained the necessity of His death. Eternal life existed in Him alone among humans. But by dying He could release that life to others who put their trust in Him.
3). THE SIGNIFICANCE OF HIS DEATH. [His Willingness To Die To Self Becomes A Pattern For His Followers To Follow]
i]. Dying to oneself to gain life.
“Whoever loves his life loses it, and whoever hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life.” 12:25.
- That’s what Jesus was about to do. He was to lose His life so that others might gain His life.
- But if they weren’t willing to die to self and to follow Jesus then they would miss out on receiving eternal life.
- Many people confronted with the claims of Jesus on their lives, choose to ignore Him.
- They don’t want to give up their lives to follow Jesus. They want to be free to do their own thing.
- That’s what Jesus is a talking about here. The choice is to follow Jesus by believing and trusting in Him and following His commandments, or to keep on rejecting Him.
- The former brings eternal life.
- The latter means eternal death.
ii.] Dying to oneself to be honoured by God.
“If anyone serves me, he must follow me; and where I am, there will my servant be also.” Jn 12:26. Jesus sees us as His servants. He has work for us to do. It means following Him as disciples, doing what He has commanded us to do, walking in His steps.
- In that way we will be where He is, in the place He wants us to be. In this life and the next.
- If we are faithful in seeking to serve Jesus, God the Father will Himself honour us. “If anyone serves me, the Father will honour him.”
- God honours all those who honour His Son, those who live for Him.
- Conversely God will not honour those who have rejected His Son throughout their lives.
4). THE ETERNAL SIGNIFICANCE OF HIS DEATH. [His death would eventually bring about judgment and life]
i.] Jesus committed Himself to God in prayer. “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.” Jn 12:27-28. That was His commitment. To do the will of God for Him. To die so that others might live.
ii.] God committed Himself to Jesus to receive Him back into glory. “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.” Jn 12:28-29. Jesus would be glorified through His death, resurrection, ascension and session [sitting] at the right hand of God.
iii.] Judgment would follow. Jesus explained to the crowd the significance of what had just happened, ‘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.”’ Jn 12:30. The voice from heaven had authenticated Jesus’ whole message and ministry. The crowd was meant to hear it. The message showed a number of things.
- God’s judgment will fall on the evil one [the devil] as the ruler of this world.
- It will also be a judgment on this world. It will fall on those who live in this world but who never give their lives to Jesus.
- That includes a lot of people in every generation. As Jesus warned, “Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. 14 For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few.” Matthew 7:13-14.
iv.] Life would be offered to perishing people.
Jesus said, “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. Jn 12:32-33.
- Jesus foretold His coming crucifixion as He would be lifted up on a cross to be crucified.
- He would draw people to Himself. Some would be drawn to trust in Him and to place their whole future in His hands. Others would be drawn to Him but would reject Him.
An illustration of the attitudes at the crucifixion. It was the same when Jesus was crucified. Two thieves were crucified on either side of Jesus.
- One mocked Him in His final hours, ‘One of the criminals who were hanged railed at him, saying, “Are you not the Christ? Save yourself and us!”’ Luke 23:39.
- The other rebuked the criminal who had said that, saying, “Do you not fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation? 41 And we indeed justly, for we are receiving the due reward of our deeds; but this man has done nothing wrong.” Luke 23:40-41.
- In faith, he said to Jesus, ‘And he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.”’ Luke 23:42. Incredible words of faith in someone who didn’t look like a King at that moment.
The promise of Jesus. ‘And he said to him, “Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise.”’ Luke 23:43. God accepts those who accept His Son. God honours those who honour His Son. The believing criminal saw the significance of all that was taking place at the cross and chose to put in his lot with Jesus.
The mocking thief witnessed the same things but failed to see the significance of Jesus hanging on a cross. He didn’t believe. He mocked and derided.
Significant moments! Even a significant moment as you read these words. Jesus hung on a cross in the place of sinners, bearing their sins and offering them forgiveness and eternal life [now and eventually in Paradise] with Him.
The choice is yours and yours alone. Will you be like the first criminal there with Jesus as He was crucified on crucifixion day and fail to see the significance of what was happening? Mocking and derision of Jesus on the cross means rejecting all God has planned from eternity for Jesus, the “lamb slain from the foundation of the world.” Rev 13:8.
Or will your choice be like the other criminal who saw significance in what was happening? In spite of Jesus hanging there in what appeared to be utter humiliation and weakness, he was willing to look beyond that and to put his trust in Him? Only the latter heard those words addressed to him, “Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise.”’ Luke 23:43.
Blog No 268. Posted on http://www.jimholbeck.blog on Sunday 4th March 2018