Summary: Christians Find Glory In Unlikely Places 1) Glory in death 2) Glory in service
If you had to buy milk and eggs, would you go to a music store? If you wanted to eat a big juicy hamburger, would you stop by a sushi restaurant? No. A music store is an unlikely place to find groceries, and a sushi restaurant is an unlikely place to sink your teeth into a meaty hamburger. What about glory? Where would you go, what would you do to find glory? The world has many ideas and suggestions on where to find glory, but our text today teaches that glory is something Christians find in unlikely places. Real glory is found in death and in service.
Our text takes place just days before Jesus’ crucifixion. When word came to Jesus that a group of God-fearing Greeks wanted to see him, Jesus said: “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified” (John 12:23). Jesus knew that the end of his mission was at hand and that he would soon be glorified. How was it that Jesus would be glorified? Jesus would find glory in an unlikely way. Jesus explained: “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” (John 12:24). With an excellent illustration Jesus helps us see that he would find glory in death. Glory in death? Doesn’t death signal defeat? If we didn’t think death was such a bad thing, we would never bother going to the doctor when we got sick; we would never shed a tear at a funeral. How is that Jesus can say death is glorious? Let’s start by looking at what’s so glorious about Jesus’ death.
We will begin to understand how Jesus’ death is glorious when we grasp the seed illustration Jesus used. Just as the purpose of a seed is to be buried in the ground where it can germinate and grow into something productive, Jesus wants us to know that the purpose of his coming to this world was to be buried. Jesus came to die to pay for our sins. But death would not be the end of Jesus. Just as a seed that is buried sprouts and grows into a seed-bearing plant or fruit-bearing tree, so Jesus would come back to life and bear fruit, eternal life for all those who believe in him. Therefore Jesus’ death on the cross was not a defeat; it was the beginning of the accomplishment of his mission.
When we understand the glorious nature of Jesus’ death, we begin to see how we too can find glory in death, our death and the death of every believer. The death of a believer, like the death of Jesus, is not the end. It’s the beginning of an eternal glory in God’s presence.
Since death is only glorious for those who believe in Jesus for forgiveness, Jesus went on to say: “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” (John 12:25). If you want to find glory, don’t look where the world looks. The world looks for glory in this life. It thinks that money, fame, athletic skill, and good looks are glorious. These things, however, only produce a fading glory. This truth was illustrated in the news last week about Brigette Bardot. Bardot is a French movie star famous for her beauty. She came to Canada to protest the seal hunt and, although at one time she was the toast of motion pictures, the beauty that made her famous has faded, and therefore her influence on politicians and the world in general has also faded.
Because this world can only give us fading glory, keep things in proper perspective. The life we have now is nothing more than a seed. It really isn’t that beautiful, nor is it the kind of glorious life God intended us to have. When we think this life is the only one we have, we start to run after things that don’t matter. We think that a better job, a bigger house, the right kind of MP3 player will make our lives more glorious. But that’s like playing dress-up with Mr. Potato Head. You can dress up Mr. Potato Head in some pretty fancy clothes and accessories but it still doesn’t change the fact that underneath it all Mr. Potato Head is nothing more than a lowly spud. In the same way don’t waste your time dressing up this life at the expense of losing your hold on the next life. This life is only a seed for the next life. Die a believer and God will raise you to an eternal life gloriously free from sin and pain.