Summary: Jesus our Good Shepherd reminds us that we have other sheep that are not yet part of the fold. It has been said that these Greeks were some of those “other sheep.”
THE OTHER SHEEP
Text: John 12:20 - 33
“Someone (Ernest A. Fitzgerald) tells the story about Lou Gehrig who one day during his famed baseball career came to bat. He swung at two balls and missed. The third ball passed and the umpire called him out. Gehrig threw down the bat in disgust, and muttered something to the umpire, all of which was totally out character for Gehrig. News reporters afterward asked him what he was complaining about. “I didn’t complain, said Gehrig. “I simply said to the umpire, ‘I’d give a thousand dollars for a chance at that last ball again!” (Ernest A. Fitzgerald. Keeping Pace: Inspirations In The Air. Greensboro: Pace Communications, Inc. 1988, p. 61). In baseball, three strikes and you're out. In most video games you get three chances before the game is over. In life, we get one shot. God’s plans never fail! Jesus Christ is the only way to heaven!
Jesus knew the plans that God had for Him (John 3:16; Jeremiah 29:11) but He also knew how to make the time for His ministry on earth count (Psalm 90:12). Jesus our Good Shepherd reminds us that we have other sheep that are not yet part of His fold (John 10:16). It has been said that these Greeks were some of those “other sheep”. (Richard Burridge. Daily Bible Commentary: John . Peabody, Massachusetts: Hendrickson Publishers, 1998, p. 156). Jesus tells these Greeks to make the best of their time by planting their lives in God’s plan and will for their lives.
Every person is like a seed with unlocked potential for doing God’s will until it gets planted. God’s design for true life comes from being planted. The death of the seed is a metaphor for how we must -offer ourselves in sacrificial love and service. How well are we managing our time to do God’s will? How well are we ministering to those who are like sheep without a shepherd?
Are planting and investing the same thing? Spiritually, the two are related because they both involve surrender.
1) Investing: Recalling the parable of the talents (Matthew 25:14 - 30), we are reminded that in order to be successful with what God has given we must be obedient in how we use that opportunity.
2) Planting: In John 12:24-26 Jesus tells these two Greeks [proselytes] advice that seems to echo the advice on talents. We have to be obedient to God’s marching orders in order to be fruitful!
How many of us like to negotiate for control?
1) Apprehensive: How can we obediently serve God claiming to surrender all while refusing to let go and let God? There is the story about a granddaughter who was boiling eggs with her grandmother as she said to her grandmother, “Pity we can’t open them to see how they are doing.” That led the conversation to other things like tomorrow. “Too bad we can’t crack open tomorrow ... to see if it is the way we would like it.” … We have to learn to trust God and leave tomorrow in God’s hands”. (Joanie Yoder. God Alone. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Discovery House Publishers, 2006, p. 97). That is always easier said than done.
2) Faith required: We cannot let go and let God unless we surrender!
Were these Greeks fans or followers? Jesus did not come to be served but to serve and to give His life as a ransom for many (Mark 10:45).
1) Deciphering question: Is there a difference between fans and followers? What separates one from the other? Fans are always fair-weather unlike followers who are “semper fi” which is Latin for always faithful. As one theologian put it, “He [Jesus] came not to entertain but to redeem. Jesus does not offer us a spotlight and gold slippers; he offers us a crown of thorns and a bloody stake”. (Calvin Miller. Once Upon A Tree. West Monroe, Louisiana: Howard Publishing, 2002, p. 78). “… God offers life through the Cross; it is only complete when we accept it.” (ibid. P. 38).
2) Defining question: Which one are you a fan or a follower? In John 6:67 Jesus addressed those in the crowd who wanted to abandon Him because they thought His teaching was too harsh! His teaching separated the fans from the followers.
How can we obey God’s will by hoarding His grace?
1) Reckless versus cautious: Consider how the religious leaders of Jesus day responded to God’s grace. The Pharisees, the chief priest and the high priest Caiaphas were a religious elite. They were conspirators who wanted to kill Jesus. Their opposition for Jesus grew and built up pressure like a volcano that was getting ready to erupt. Consider the list of their complaints …
A) They spied on John the Baptist (John 1:19, 22,24) and wanted an answer about his identity.