Sermons

Summary: Jesus asks: Will you come and follow me?

Stiffkey/ Thornage 06-04-03

The True Cost of Discipleship - John 12:24-26

Story: C.T. Studd (Charles Thomas Studd) (1860-1931) was the son of a wealthy Englishman, Edward Studd.

He was an excellent cricket player and at the age of nineteen was captain of the team at Eton.

He attended Cambridge University from 1880 to 1883.

It was while at Cambridge that he became a national hero. Cambridge University challenged the all mighty Australian Cricket team to a match in May 1882 and CT Studd scored 114 runs, which turned out to be match-winning innings.

And he became a household name.

He would equate today to someone like David Beckham, Captain of the England Football Team.

CT Studd was converted at Cambridge to Christ through the preaching of D. L. Moody.

Although he had fame and fortune at his feet, Studd and six other students dedicated their lives and wealth to the Jesus Christ shortly afterwards.

As a result they offered themselves to Hudson Taylor for missionary work in China. They later became well known as "The Cambridge Seven".

They sailed to China in 1885 and Studd continued to work for several years before ill health forced him and his wife to return to England, where they turned over their property to the China Inland Mission.

He went to be the pastor of a church in India from 1900-1906 after which he returned home.

In December 1912, Studd felt the call to Africa and so went with his wife to work in Africa, settling out there for good.

Studd died at Ibambi in the Congo in Africa, in 1931 at the age of 70.

His motto was: "If Jesus Christ is God and died for me, then no sacrifice can be too great for me to make for Him."

C.T. Studd was a real disciple of Jesus Christ . He left the comfort of home to follow the call of Christ in his life.

Discipleship is the subject of this morning’s Gospel reading – John 12:20-33:

As we are in the last week of Lent, it is perhaps fitting that we should look at the cost of true discipleship.

In our reading, we see some Greeks wanting to meet Christ. We are not told why.

Were they intrigued by this wonder worker from Galilee?

Were they attracted by his teaching?

We’ll never know.

But we do know that Jesus responded to them by telling them – and the disciples around him - that if you go looking for Christ - expect Him to call you to discipleship.

What is discipleship all about? Well, in this passage we see Jesus explaining that discipleship is all about dying to your own will and desires.

Jesus said:

24I 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.

25 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. (Jn 12; 24-25)

Jesus is clearly using hyperbole here.

He is not telling us to literally hate our own lives - because elsewhere (Mt. 5:44) Jesus tells us to love our enemies as ourselves – and if we hated ourselves – that wouldn’t be revolutionary teaching!

In Hebrew thought, there is no separate word to ’prefer less’. So Jesus would have to use the word ‘sane’, which is translated into the Greek and English as ’hate’.

Actually the Hebrew word ’sane’ covers the whole range of negative emotions from

’intense hatred of the enemies of God’ to ‘simply something to be avoided’. See Gen 29:31,33, Deut 21:15.

The Hebrew word ’Sane’ also means, “abandon, leave aside, quit, relinquish” and it is this nuance that seems to be present here.

So what Jesus is saying in Jn 12:25 when he says?

25 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.

I would like to suggest that Jesus is saying is that our dedication in following Christ must make our love for ourselves seem in comparison like hate.

Story: Indeed, in the first century AD that was the very option that Jews would have had to make when they become Christians.

And even among the more Orthodox Jews today, they would hold a burial service for anyone converting from Judaism to Christianity. For them this would signify that that person is now dead to their family – all because they renounced their faith and becoming Christians.

In the first Century AD becoming a Christian cost them everything – sometimes even their own lives. Their family and circle of friends turned on them and rejected them.

Indeed for some Christians today converting from Islam to Christianity has a similar effect today. In some Muslim countries, like Saudi Arabia, it is a capital offence to convert from Islam to Christianity.

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