Summary: Death comes before resurrection. In John 12, Jesus is telling us death comes before ministry.
OPENING: Two engineers, one from I.U. and the other from Notre Dame, were out in a yard standing by a flagpole, vigorously discussing something. A student from Purdue happened by and asked what they were arguing about. "Oh," replied the student from I.U., "we were discussing how best to determine the height of this flagpole and what equation to use."
"That’s easy enough," declared the Purdue student, and he took the pole out of the ground, laid it down on the grass, pulled out his tape measure and declared: "It’s 10’ 6" long."
As the student from Purdue walked away, the engineer from I.U. turned to the one from Notre Dame and declared: "Isn’t that just like a guy from Purdue. You ask him for height and he gives you length."
APPLICATION: We live in a world where heavenly things confuse our earthly minds.
ILLUS: We see unseen things (2 Cor. 4:18)
We conquer by yielding (Rom. 6:16-18)
We find rest under a yoke (Mt. 11:28-30)
We are exalted by being humble (Mt. 23:12)
We become wise by being fools for Christ’s sake (1 Cor. 1:20, 21)
We are made free by becoming His bond servants (Rom. 6:10)
We wax strong by being weak (2 Cor. 12:10)
We triumph by defeat (2 Cor. 12:7-9)
We find victory by glorying in our infirmities (2 Cor. 12:5)
But perhaps most difficult of all for us:
"The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. 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 man who loves his life will lose it, while the man who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life."
Jesus is basically telling His disciples that to live they need to die. That’s not a comfortable teaching. Why not? Because most of us are not in a big hurry to die.
As much as our hymns may talk about going home to heaven. "When the roll is called up yonder..," "When we all get to heaven," etc.. When the time comes to cross the great divide, even the most spiritual tend not to be too homesick. We’ve grown accustomed to this world. We’ve trained ourselves to defend our lives, our loved ones, our possessions. We’ve trained ourselves to survive
ILLUS: When the Apollo project was beginning, there arose an argument between the engineers and scientist over how to make the best use of the space on board the rocket.
The scientists wanted as much space as possible for lab work, the engineers wanted it for back up systems in case something failed. They were at a stalemate until they asked the astronauts. What would you have decided for - lab space, or back up units? What do you think they opted for? That’s right - survival.
II. And yet, Jesus tells us our very usefulness - our fruitfulness for God - is tied to our willingness to surrender our lives (etc.) even to die for Him.
One Commentator noted that there are 6 instances where Jesus mentions BEARING FRUIT as a Christian - and 5 of those are tied to the cross or dying.