Summary: Using John 12:20-26 I talk about genuine servanthood. (A pre-mission trip sermon.)
What A Real Celebrity Looks Like
Intro: Our world is mesmerized by celebrities. We want to know what they wear, eat, do on vacation, who they are marrying or divorcing. Maybe its because we sometimes think celebrities are almost superhero. Maybe we want to see ourselves in them. I come from a small town called Brackettville. There’s not much to this town but there is one thing that puts us on the map. There’s a place called “Alamo Village” where many western movies are made. We’ve actually had some very popular stars come through there: John Wayne, Kenny Rogers, Travis Tritt, Reba Macintire. I think it was my senior year in high school when a certain movie was being filmed and Drew Barrymore was in it. My best friend made it his mission to meet her. And you know, because of his persistence, before the movie producers and actors and directors packed up and went back to Hollywood he was able to meet her! He just had to meet her.
Many go out of their way to get up close and personal with someone “famous.” That’s what we see here in John 12:20-26. In this context Jesus is on his way to Jerusalem to celebrate the Passover. He had just raised his friend Lazarus from the dead (among other miraculous events). A large crowd greets him on the road and throw a parade/party for him. This crowd was convinced that Jesus was their political Messiah! He was going to save them from political injustice. It was quite the parade.
As we focus on our text tonight we see in verse 20 that some Greeks who were on their way to worship at the Feast came to Philip with a request. The request was, they wanted to see Jesus. Maybe it was because they wanted to get his autograph, or maybe it was because they were ready to follow him. Maybe they realized that what Jesus was preaching wasn’t just for the Jews but for the whole world! (See verse 19).
Philip tells Andrew about the request then both Philip and Andrew tell their Master about the request. But Jesus doesn’t just give an outright answer. Why didn’t he just give a simple yes or no? How he responded was much more important than that.
“The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified.” What he meant by that was the appropriate time had come for him to fulfill his mission. It was the opportune time because now the world (symbolized by the word “Greeks”) were ready to see him. Then he goes on in verse 24 and says, “I tell you the truth…” By the way, when Jesus says this you better be paying attention. “…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.” Jesus makes a profound statement about himself and his purpose using the kernel of wheat illustration. You see, unless his body falls to the ground and dies (and buried) there is no way there will be a harvest. Unless he goes to the cross, what these Greeks really need (instead of an autograph or their picture taken with Jesus) will never attain. His death produces a harvest of life, hope and purpose for us! Glory comes through death.
He then turns from talking about himself to talking about you and I. “The man who loves his life will lose it, while the man who hates his life 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.”
Verse 24 is about Jesus: only is his death necessary for our being a part of his harvest, of his life. Only through death was he truly glorified. But I believe Jesus is calling us to a certain death as well. Not a physical death but a death to business as usual. We must be grains of wheat that fall to the ground. How do we do that? By being a follower/servant of Jesus Christ. We need to see our lives with a different perspective. What is that perspective?
That perspective is, life is change what your life revolves around. “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.” Greatness for us is not found in titles, fancy cars, a lucrative career, a beautiful spouse. When Jesus says we are to “hate our lives” we need to understand what he is saying. He is NOT saying a literal, mean hate or despising of our lives. Jesus is using a Hebraic expression that means “love less”. We are to keep our lives here in the right perspective. Our relationship to him is far more important than anything else. How do you find greatness or celebrity status in this world? By becoming a servant. Verse 26 says “whoever serves me”. How do you view servanthood? Those who love their lives think servanthood is beyond them. “There’s just things I’m not willing to do because I’m afraid of what people will think of me. I’m afraid it’s beyond me”—this is the attitude of one who loves their lives too much. A servant is wondering whether or not it’s too small a task to do or worries what people will think about them. Notice he says, “Whoever serves me must follow me.” A servant wants to serve. He wants to follow where Jesus would serve. So if someone asks you, where do you serve, our answer is valid if we say “wherever Jesus is at.”