Sermon – Lent 5

March 22, 2015 ()

Bible Text: John 12:20-33 |

Series:

Last week, I had the pleasure of visiting Victoria B.C.  It was a lovely break from the routine of

every day and it gave me time during this Lenten Journey to spend some time reflecting on my last year,

the lessons I have learned and absorbing truths that surrounded me.  I loved looking at nature; flowers,

the ocean, and mountains. One thing I certainly did was to dine on the Salmon of the region.

Did you know that salmon has an instinct inside of it to bring it back to the place of its birth?

After spending a year or two out in that big vast ocean, they swim thousands of miles back up stream.

That is incredible to me. And to top it off, then they prepare to die.  These salmon come back to the

place of their hatching, being driven over rocks/ dams / waterfalls, past hungry killer whales, and human

fishing nets. A guess one or two did not make it past all these obstacles…. as I saw a few on my plate.

Never the less, salmon at the end of their long labourious journey, lay their eggs and that is it for them. BUT out of those eggs comes new life.  For it is through dying that there is new life among the salmon.

Those salmon were not pre-occupied with the ending….. just the journey. That got me thinking

about this passage today. Jesus knows what lies ahead - only six days until he is going to die. Jerusalem

was bursting with people who had come to the city due to the season of Passover. In the midst of all of

this, Greeks wanted to see Jesus and made the request to do so. Scripture tells us that Jesus gives an

answer, but I figure it must have seemed like a strange answer.  He referred to a seed.  “Very truly I tell

you, 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.” NIV  John 12:24

 

This is echoed in other scripture passages also:

 

1 Corinthians 15:36

How foolish! What you sow does not come to life unless it dies.

Romans 14:9

For this very reason, Christ died and returned to life so that he might be the Lord

of both the dead and the living.

Now I am sure not a scientist, but there is something about seeds that I love – I plant my garden every

year with anticipation of good veggies and beautiful flowers and the joy of watching those seeds poke

through the mud toward the sun….. I just take if for fact, that if you plant a seed, water it in and weed it

on occasion, it will grow and produce fruit and more seeds.

According to biologists, every seed embryo has a root and a shoot; and inside that little seed there is an

“on” and “off” switch. There is a thin coat around that seed which protects the oxygen from coming in

prematurely.  When this dormant seed is planted into the ground and the seed takes in water,

and it miraculously begins to expand, and the seed coat is broken, it begins to mature and produces

sugar and protein which leads to the production of more seeds and more fruit.

“Unless a seed dies, it remains a single seed; but if it dies, it produces many seeds and then much fruit.”

St.  Francis of Assisi knew this law well in his famous prayer for peace;  “it is in giving that we receive;  it

is in dying that we are born again.”

To multiply, to produce a crop for the future, to be productive, a seed must be planted and then

it will produce a great harvest. Jesus is the one kernel of wheat – He is on the way to the cross where he

is willing to die for us all.  The Gospel of John is known for acknowledging the ability to see what is not

accessible to ordinary sight.

The whole process of looking at death is tough for most of us. This is not an easy message to

hear. Looking at death is uncomfortable for us: It brings up unspoken fear and a lot of “what if”

questions. What if I lose the one I most love? We just don’t want to go there - but there comes times

that we have no choice but to acknowledge our fragile state. Really looking at our mortality -  

acknowledging and facing death is some of the most difficult work we ever do. It is soul troubling. It

shakes us to the core.  Ultimately, death, in whatever way it comes to us, means that we entrust all that

we are and all that we have to God. We have the promise of Christ’s resurrection after death, and

Christ’s ascension into heaven. This promise of hope is what gets us through the tough times. This is not

the end.

When we are pushed to soul troubling times in our lives, it is not that we as Christians are in denial of

the weight of the troubles we are in the midst of. Maybe it is a job related issue, a family member may

be struggling – so you are worried , issues of health and wellness, sorrow or grief. I think that I can

realistically assume that some of you in the pews today have soul troubling issues today.

No matter what our struggles, remember that Jesus knew his end and the Cross was weighing heavily on

his mind. Would he say:  “It’s too great a sacrifice?”     “ Okay, that’s it – that is as far as I’m going?”

NO….  God was Jesus’ source of strength, and that must be our lesson as well. The Gospel today tells us

 12:27 "Now my soul is troubled. And what should I say--' Father, save me from this hour'? No, it is for this reason that I have come to this hour.

It is totally human to feel vulnerable and fearful but there is hope. It was totally DIVINE that Jesus took

on the sin of all the world and died for you and me.  He had a choice and he affirmed, “ it is for this

reason that I have come to this hour. “

 

 

We have a choice to follow Christ… and that choice is not always an easy choice. As Christians we are to

encourage each other to walk in the light of Christ and trust in him.  Does that mean that there will not

be any suffering?  The answer is no. The way we live life, day by day, in the light of Christ, will mean that

your life can multiply its effectiveness in a dark and sinful world.

 

 

 

God of suffering and glory,  in Jesus Christ you reveal the way of life through the path of obedience.

May we be people of hope and strong resolve.  Amen.

 

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