Summary: We easily get sidetracked from our walk with God in our traditions or preferences. The key to worship and a walk of faith is to focus on Jesus above ourselves.
A preacher described a special interest he had as a guest speaker to various congregations. "Whenever I preach in a church I haven't been to before, I am always anxious to stand behind the pulpit to get a feel for it. I want to stand there and look out at the still empty pews and imagine how I will be making eye contact with the people. I want to hold the pulpit to see how it feels. Most of all, however, I want to sneak a peek inside the pulpit -- just to see what's back there.
"There are a couple of shelves in most pulpits, and you often find unusual sorts of odds and ends back there.
"A pretty tame pulpit will have a box of Kleenex; maybe a couple of hymnbooks; and a Bible. [Ours has an emergency water bottle.]
"I can remember preaching in one church and inside the back of the pulpit was a fire extinguisher. One can only wonder what kind of fire and brimstone preaching would make it necessary to have a fire extinguisher behind the pulpit. Or, was the preacher using it to quench/extinguish the Spirit?
"I can remember visiting another church and finding, of all things, a telephone. Throughout the sermon my mind kept wondering, 'What do I do if it rings? Stop preaching and answer it? Ignore it?
Behind the pulpit in a congregation in Atlanta, GA, is a small sign. It is a brass plate with an inscription, quoting the New Testament lesson for today.
'Sir, we would see Jesus.'"
2. John 12.20-26
3. Crowds had come to Pesach (Passover) -- within the crowd was a group of Greeks (Jews or God-Fearers) who had come to the Feast their request was to see/inspect/examine/observe/perceive Jesus with delight/pleasure
4. To whom are we looking in our lives? -- Selves? People we respect? Jesus?
I. Intention to Seek Jesus
A. Not merely as spectators (vv. 9-19) but participants with him
1. We hunger for a close, intimate relationship with God (v.21 -- see Jesus = perceive/examine/look at) -- Jesus is unafraid of our examinations, unlike us
A South Korean woman who was hoping to earn her driver's license finally passed the written exam -- after 950 tries! Cha Sa-Soon had set the goal of passing the test without knowing how difficult it would be to see her dream come true. She had to take the exam repeatedly for more than four years before she succeeded, but her efforts finally paid off.
2. God has always wanted relationship
3. Examine Jesus -- Matthew 11.28-30; Following Resurrection -- Thomas' offer
B. Sidetracking is easy
1. Jesus as teacher; prophet; rabbi; miracle-worker; Religious Founder -- MORE
2. In the midst of Festivals
3. Even scripture can sidetrack us -- concentrate so much on the minutia of the text that we miss seeing God
C. Seek until Find -- Jeremiah 29.10-14
10 "For thus says the LORD: When seventy years are completed for Babylon, I will visit you, and I will fulfill to you my promise and bring you back to this place.11 For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. 12 Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will hear you. 13 You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart. 14 I will be found by you, declares the LORD, and I will restore your fortunes and gather you from all the nations and all the places where I have driven you, declares the LORD, and I will bring you back to the place from which I sent you into exile.
II. Intention to See Jesus
A. A Disciple's Role -- Point People to Jesus
1. God's plan in Mishnah -- Avot 1.1 -- Moses to Joshua to Elders to Prophets to Great Assembly:
Be Prudent in Judgment; Raise up many disciples; Build a fence around the Torah
2. Jesus' Command -- Matthew 28.18
3. Philip and Andrew did their job; Paul (1 Corinthians 11.1);
4. [We are hungry beggars bringing other beggars to be fed.
B. A Teachable Spirit is Required to See Jesus (v. 24)
1. Some refuse to see; some see quickly; some take longer (Saul)
2. Be prepared for surprises -- Jesus gives the Greeks a deep vision of who he was
a. Grain of Wheat -- [Feast of Unleavened bread -- His burial
b. Fruit to come -- [Feast of First Fruits -- Resurrection Day; Pentecost
c. Clear -- 12.32f; John 3.14-15
III. Intention to Seize Jesus (Identify with Him) -- vv.25-26
A. Seizing Jesus begins Counting the Cost
1. Our Natural Tendency is for Self-Preservation