Summary: It occurs to me that a life resurrection that brings one closer to God involves three simple things, Removal, Replanting, and Receiving.
The Practice of Resurrection
April 3, 2007
The Christian Mission
Text: JN 12:20 Now there were some Greeks among those who went up to worship at the Feast.  They came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida in Galilee, with a request. "Sir," they said, "we would like to see Jesus."  Philip went to tell Andrew; Andrew and Philip in turn told Jesus.
JN 12:23 Jesus replied, "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.  Whoever serves me must follow me; and where I am, my servant also will be. My Father will honor the one who serves me.
I have come to learn that the Christian life involves several deaths and resurrections that lead to the ultimate experience of separation from this life to be resurrected to be with our Lord. Death, after all, is the separation of the soul and spirit from the body. Resurrection is when the body is recreated and joined with the soul and spirit. Figuratively, people experience a sort of death whenever they are separated from some thing that gives them life. When a person loses a loved one, they experience a sort of death. When a person loses a source of livelihood, a sort of death is experienced. When a person loses a relationship to divorce, separation, or breakup, a sort of death is experienced.
During this Easter season, we take time to reflect upon the meaning of Jesus’ death and resurrection. We are reminded that to follow Christ is to follow him who carried a cross and gave his life for the redemption of fallen man. We, too, are called to death and resurrection. And, I would submit to you this morning that now is a good time to take up the practice of death and resurrection in preparation for that ultimate experience when we take up permanent residence with our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
Death and resurrection are necessary. In the passage I read, Jesus points out that “now is the time for the Son of Man to be glorified.” It seems like a strange way to answer a request from the Greeks to see him. But, it does make sense that Jesus would recognize that his fame was in danger of spreading outside of the region to which He was called. Jesus was called to preach to the people of Israel, not primarily to the Gentiles. That would be the responsibility of the apostles. But, gentiles were starting to pay attention to him. Jesus faced the prospect of international fame. He realized that he could become bigger than nationalistic Israel, and perhaps out of the reach of the authorities. He would be in danger of fulfilling his mission if he stayed longer than necessary on this earth.
Jesus Christ knew that his time had come to step aside to fulfill God’s plan, to redeem fallen man through the death of the Lamb and to pour out the Holy Spirit upon His followers so that they might preach the Gospel throughout the world. The apostles were to minister salvation to the Greeks who were asking to see Jesus.
My point is this: Death and resurrection is the means by which an insufficient life is discarded and a new life is given that brings a person closer to God and closer to fulfilling the specific purpose for his or her life.
How does that happen? It occurs to me that a life resurrection that brings one closer to God involves three simple things, Removal, Replanting, and Receiving.
I. Removal from an Inadequate Way of Life
A. Jesus had to move toward crucifixion because to stick around would be inadequate for fulfilling the purpose for which God anointed him.
i. First, Jesus was meant to be the sacrifice once and for all that would redeem sinful man. His death on the cross was necessary for the salvation of anyone who came to God by faith. Had Jesus not died, there would be no redemption from sin. Could our Lord have cast a vision of a world of peace and safety that would have brought the nations together under his leadership? Sure. But then, people would still die in their sins. There was a better way.
ii. Second, everything Jesus would be temporal in nature. Anything done for the betterment of this world benefits only for the generation of those who work at it. But, this world is destined for destruction. A new heaven and a new earth are in store. Jesus’ rule would have been inadequate for God’s purposes. The only way to fulfill God’s will was through sacrificial death.