Daying Like a Seed

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John 12, Luke 14, Philippians 2
Lesson Number: 

Lesson 12

Dying Like a Seed

(John 12, Luke 14, Philippians 2)

Copr. 2022, Bruce N. Cameron, J.D. Scripture quotations are from the ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved. Suggested answers are found within parentheses. If you normally receive this lesson by e-mail, but it is lost one week, you can find it by clicking on this link: Pray for the guidance of the Holy Spirit as you study.

Introduction: In John 12:23 Jesus announced a transition from His active ministry to the time of His trial and death. In this context Jesus compared Himself (John 12:24) to a grain of wheat that dies and as a result “bears much fruit.” Jesus is talking about His coming death. Does this idea of dying apply to us? After all, Jesus was literally speaking of His coming death and our faith is not focused on our death, but rather on how we live our life. How should we understand the idea of dying like a seed? Let’s dive into our study of the Bible and learn more!

  1. Jesus, Wheat, and Hate
    1. Read John 12:17-19. What is the assessment of the Jewish religious leaders about their conflict with Jesus over the spiritual leadership of the nation? (They believe they have lost. “The world has gone after Him.”)
    2. Read John 12:9-11. What is the answer of the Jewish leadership to the popularity of Jesus? (They are not only going to kill Jesus, but they are going to kill Lazarus because he is living proof of Jesus’ ability to raise the dead to life.)
    3. Read John 12:20-21. Why is this requested appointment with Jesus important in the context of Jesus’ popularity? (It shows that Jesus’ reputation has now spread beyond the Jewish nation to the Gentile world.)
    4. Read John 12:23. What is Jesus’ answer to the Greeks who wanted to see Him and learn more about Him? (He seems to be saying that His personal ministry time is over. He is entering the time of the end of His life on earth.)
      1. What do you think about this timing? As Jesus’ popularity is peaking, He is going to die?
    5. Read John 12:24. Who is Jesus talking about? (He is not referring to us, but rather to Himself. In the cycle of life He is approaching the time of His death.)
      1. Jesus’ reference to “remains alone” is hard to square with His current situation. Jesus is incredible popular, so much so that the Jewish leaders think that He has won. What does Jesus mean by this? (He is saying that His ministry will explode in popularity when He is gone.)
        1. Is that because of His death? (The reason is not simply His death, but rather His perfect life followed by His death on our behalf. This is a much greater and more complex question than mere self sacrifice.)
        2. Should we look at Jesus’ statement from a very simple point of view? (Jesus is saying something that each of His listeners knows to be true. Wheat has to die to reproduce. Jesus is making a parallel to Himself.)
    6. Read John 12:25. Is Jesus still speaking about Himself? (No. He says “whoever,” this refers to everyone.)
      1. Should we understand this to mean that we must hate life? I certainly do not hate my life. And, I know of no one who is a serious Christian who hates life. Do you hate your life?
        1. If you answered that you hate your life, is that because of your activities to share the gospel? (That seems virtually impossible to me.)
    7. Read Luke 14:26 and John 19:27. Jesus tells us not only to hate our own life, but to also hate our own family. Then we see later that Jesus asks John to take care of His mother just before He died. Did Jesus hate his mother? (Clearly not. He was looking out for her best interests. He shows love to His mother.)
      1. So, what is Jesus asking us to do when He refers to us hating our life and our families? What is Jesus asking us to do to die like Him?
  2. The Context for Hate
    1. We need to explore the story that Jesus told just before He calls on us to hate our lives and our families. Read Luke 14:16-20. Are all of these activities honorable? (Yes. These people show industry.)
      1. Do you see any problem with those excuses? (The invitees prefer their own work over the company of the man who invited them to eat.)
      2. I want us to peek at Matthew 22:2-3. What is Jesus really talking about? (Salvation! Thus, this directly speaks to the “hate” issue and following Jesus.)
    2. Read Luke 14:21-22. Why are these citizens willing to come? (They were willing to put the invitation ahead of whatever they were doing!)
      1. Are you surprised?
    3. Read Luke 14:23. What motivated these people to come to the banquet? (They were compelled!)
      1. What kind of people are these? (Highway and hedge people. Are they the productive citizens in that society? Likely, Jesus is talking about Gentiles.)
    4. Read Luke 14:24. How would you summarize this story in terms of the qualifications of those who attended the great man’s banquet?
    5. Now read the follow-up verses: Luke 14:25-26. What does this suggest that hating family and our own life mean? (Notice that those who rejected the invitation did so because they preferred a member of the family or what was currently of primary interest in their life. When Jesus uses the term “hate” He is not talking about dislike or disgust, He is talking about making a choice.)
    6. Read Luke 14:27-28. Note that Jesus had not yet been crucified, and Jesus’ disciples did not understand that would happen. How do you think they understood the idea of bearing your own cross? (It was part of the punishment and shame of someone that Rome thought should die. Later, the disciples understood exactly what Jesus meant.)
      1. How should we understand these two verses? (Before we decide to be a Christian, we need to accept that it will require a sacrifice through the choices we make in life and those choices might mean that we are mocked for making them.)
  3. Walking in the Right Way
    1. Read Philippians 2:1-2. What kind of sacrifice is written about here? (Being in accord with the group of believers.)
    2. Read Philippians 2:3. What is “selfish ambition?” (One commentator says, “empty conceit.” It means creating a dispute just to promote your vanity.)
      1. I’ve been in plenty of church related meetings. I didn’t count everyone else as being more significant than me because I thought some of the people had stupid or selfish ideas. Was I wrong? (The “interests of others,” would reasonably include the entire church. Looking out for their interests would require rejecting dumb or selfish ideas.)
        1. Why am I an appropriate judge?
    3. Read Philippians 2:4. Is it proper to look out for our own interests? (Yes. But, at the same time we should look out for the interests of others.)
    4. Read Philippians 2:5-7. This tells us that Jesus is our example. Put yourself in Jesus’ place and tell me all the reasons you can think of that He should not come to earth to face a painful and humiliating death?
    5. Read Philippians 2:9-11. Is God’s goal for us that we should choose the path of sacrifice? (Sacrifice is paired with exaltation. It is not God’s goal for us to be harmed and humiliated. His goal is that we should be lifted up.)
      1. So why are we told to take into consideration in our choice to follow God that we should expect to sacrifice? (This is a “reality check.” There is a controversy going on between Jesus and Satan. This is a war, and during a war soldiers sacrifice. The war is not the goal, the war is necessary to reach peace and prosperity.)
    6. Let’s skip down and read Philippians 2:13-15. What is the near term goal of working for God? (That we will be examples of what it means to serve God.)
      1. If the idea is that we will suffer, why is “lights” a good way to describe us? (Others will look at our lives as a good thing. They will, perhaps down deep, admire what we are doing.)
    7. Friend, choosing to follow Jesus makes demands upon us. The first and primary demand is that we choose Jesus over our self. Are you willing to do that? Why not ask the Holy Spirit to help you make and stand by that choice?
  4. Next week: Christ in the Crucible.