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Here’s another fine mess (6) – overturned...

Now among those who went up to worship at the feast were some Greeks. So these came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida in Galilee, and asked him, “Sir, we desire to see Jesus.” Philip went and told Andrew; Andrew and Philip went and told Jesus. And Jesus answered them, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. 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. Whoever loves his life loses it and whoever hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. 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..." John 12: 20-26
 

Number (6) in the series “another fine mess you’ve gotten me into”? By now you’re probably fed up with the whole thing. You know all about the 3,000+-year-old story in the book of Genesis which sets out the beginning of all fine messes into which we human beings are still constantly getting. The man and woman were strongly warned but three things persuaded them that they were right and the LORD was wrong.

You won’t have forgotten that Eve saw three attractive things about the prohibited fruit: (1) “the tree was good for food”; (2) “it was a delight to the eyes”; (3) “the tree was to be desired to make one wise”. On that day the choice was made to use our own powers for our own ends, our own purposes. And, today, we’ll hear even more about new messes which human desires visit upon human beings.

You also will not have forgotten that pithy statement of John, Jesus’ first century biographer, who put the same matter so succinctly and well. All that is in the world—(1) the desires of the flesh and (2) the desires of the eyes and (3) pride of life—is not from the Father but is from the world. And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever.

 
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‘It was by the selfish and evil use of his free will that man destroyed both it and himself.’ (Augustine, theologian and philosopher, 354-430 AD)

But wait a minute. You might have forgotten that Jesus, alone in a place of total desolation (through human desire?) around AD 30, overcame those same three desires? He was encouraged by his accuser to change stones into bread (1) “The tree was good for food”, and was then offered all the authority and glory of all the world’s nations (2) “It was a delight to the eyes”, and was finally asked to take the initiative, to assert his autonomy over his Father by forcing his Father to save him (3) “The pride of life”. But no – his desire was to do God’s will.

Have you also forgotten that this same Jesus sought to re-focus the desires of Peter, the desires of all his followers and the desires of all people in the crowd to whom he spoke? Calling the crowd to him with his disciples, Jesus says to them, “If anyone would come with me, then (1) deny self and (2) take up your own execution stake and (3) follow me.”  (1) “Deny self” – instead of (1) “the tree is good for food”? (2) “Take up your own execution stake” instead of (2) “it is a delight to the eyes”? (3) “Follow me” instead of (3) “the tree is to be desired to make one wise”?

Take a look at the words in bold above. Some Greeks in Jerusalem for the Passover feast AD 30 desire to see Jesus. There’s something rather staggering about that. Their desire is to see Jesus.

Jesus’ response is cryptic but clear. “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. 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.” He will now be seen by all.

Jesus is saying, in effect, “Yes, the time has come for ALL to see me – to see me in my glory. And when they see me in my glory I shall be falling into the earth and dying - like a grain of wheat.” Is his own death “glory”? Is it really glorious when the desires of this world in opposition to him actually succeed?

 
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‘God is more glorified in the person of his Son than he would have been by an unfallen world.’  (C H Spurgeon, preacher and writer, 1834-1892)

Yes, that seems to be the case. When desires triumph over him, when he is “lifted up” (on a cross) is precisely when he will be - and is - glorified. Why? Because those whose desires are putting him to death are those for whom (on whose behalf and for whose good) he is about to die.

By dying, both to his own desires and to his own life, he will give life – everlasting life – to those who see him. The dying grain will not be alone. As he said: Whoever loves his life loses it and whoever hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. 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.

 
Richard Syvret

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