Summary: A sermon about Christian service and dying to self and living for Jesus.
What about me?
Living the selfless life
Introduction: Today we begin our march to the cross. Next Sunday will be Palm Sunday and then of course Easter Sunday, the following week. This message is not filled with eloquence or syrupy words, but if you take it to heart, you won't hear another sermon that will serve you any better all year.
William Barclay said “There are two great days in a person's life: the day we are born and the day we discover why.”
We live in a selfish culture, a culture that glorifies the self. The reason kindness, goodness, charity is notable is because it is so rare. It isn't every day that you see people being nice, returning a $100 bill that dropped out of a man's pocket, a bystander helping someone who is getting mugged in a parking lot, or a good Samaritan that sacrifices his time and money to help someone in need. We don't see these things very often because we go about life in a hurry thinking only about ourselves. Even when we Christians help others in this world, it seems they expect the help, rather than appreciate it. Don't misunderstand, I'm not saying we only help those who will appreciate it. Frankly, it is more noble to help those who won't appreciate it.
We were created for a purpose, as I mentioned last week we are not to just sit back and do nothing until we get to heaven. We must do good, serve God, and participate somehow in winning souls to Jesus. When this life is over we will be judged by how well we did these things. We read Jesus explaining his purpose and ours: To live the selfless life.
Scripture: John 12:23-26
Jesus is the Example (v.23, 24)
“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.”
Jesus said “the hour has come for the son of man to be glorified.” This tells us that the resurrection is coming! The great day when the age of grace begins is upon them. Oh what a great day that was! Without it, we have no hope. Jesus shows us his purpose and in it we find our purpose. That is to die, be born again, and produce fruit. Jesus explains this by illustration: A kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, but if it dies it produces many seeds. (v.24) Jesus uses the law of nature to make his point. Something must die before it can live. Just like a farmer sows his dead seeds in the ground, God the father sows his dead son into the earth, where he will be buried like a kernel of wheat. What happens when you bury a seed into the ground? Something that went into the earth dead, comes back out of it alive! So will our LORD Jesus, just like a seed, He will spring up out of the ground alive. And after a seed springs up out of the ground, it produces fruit, which also has seeds. Jesus will bring forth many converts (fruit), and they in turn will produce fruit for him. (he is the vine and we are the branches)
If Jesus is going to die, come back to life, and produce fruit, then his followers must do the same: we die (crucify the flesh), we come back alive (born again), and produce fruit (fruit of the spirit & winning souls)
Ill. Tyrtaeus, an old Greek poet who lived before the time of Christ, wrote, “The man who risks his life in battle has the best chance in saving it; the one who flees to save it is most likely to lose it.”
(Sermon central: Walter Bauer, from a sermon by C. Philip Green, 4/14/2011)
Transition: We all remember the playground phrase “finders keepers, losers weepers.” Well according to this scripture, keepers are losers.
Keepers are losers (v. 25)
“The man who loves his life will lose it,...”
Those who do nothing but live to keep their life, waste their time because anyone that loves their life better than Christ will lose it. This is the calamity of self-love: Matthew Henry said “There are fatal consequences of an inordinate love of life; many a man hugs himself to death, and loses his life by over-loving it.”
From an unknown source comes an article titled, "How To Be Miserable." It says, "Think about yourself. Talk about yourself. Use "I" as often as possible. Mirror yourself continually in the opinion of others. Listen greedily to what people say about you. Expect to be appreciated. Be suspicious. Be jealous and envious. Be sensitive to slights. Never forgive a criticism. Trust nobody but yourself. Insist on consideration and respect. Demand agreement with your own views on everything. Sulk if people are not grateful to you for favors shown them. Never forget a service you have rendered. Shirk your duties if you can. Do as little as possible for others." (Daily Walk June 29th 1993)