Sabbath, December 14, 2013
“How was Christ to bring these poor souls where Satan would not gain over them a decided victory? How could He show that a mere profession of discipleship did not make them disciples, or insure them a place in His kingdom? How could He show that it is loving service, true humility, which constitutes real greatness? How was He to kindle love in their hearts, and enable them to comprehend what He longed to tell them?” –The Desire of Ages, p. 644.
Connecting with searching souls
1. What was the wish of some Greeks who came to worship at the feast? Are there many today who want to meet Jesus and hear His message?
John 12:20-22 And there were certain Greeks among them that came up to worship at the feast: The same came therefore to Philip, which was of Bethsaida of Galilee, and desired him, saying, Sir, we would see Jesus. Philip cometh and telleth Andrew: and again Andrew and Philip tell Jesus.
“… Christ was approaching the consummation of His work. The great event which concerned not only the Jewish nation, but the whole world, was about to take place. When Christ heard the eager request, ‘We would see Jesus,’ echoing the hungering cry of the world, His countenance lighted up, and He said, ‘The hour is come, that the Son of man should be glorified.’ In the request of the Greeks He saw an earnest of the results of His great sacrifice.
“… So these Greeks, representing the nations, tribes, and peoples of the world, came to see Jesus. So the people of all lands and all ages would be drawn by the Saviour’s cross. So shall many ‘come from the east and west, and shall sit down with Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, in the kingdom of heaven.’ Matthew 8:11.” –The Desire of Ages, p. 621.
Introducing God’s plan
2. What did Jesus say when He introduced the most important subject to the people? What did He see in the interest of those who came to search for Him?
John 12:23 And Jesus answered them, saying, The hour is come, that the Son of man should be glorified.
“The hour of Christ’s glorification had come. He was standing in the shadow of the cross, and the inquiry of the Greeks showed Him that the sacrifice He was about to make would bring many sons and daughters to God. He knew that the Greeks would soon see Him in a position they did not then dream of…. By making this propitiation for the sins of men, Christ knew that His kingdom would be perfected, and would extend throughout the world. He would work as the Restorer, and His Spirit would prevail…. In these strangers He saw the pledge of a great harvest, when the partition wall between Jew and Gentile should be broken down, and all nations, tongues, and peoples should hear the message of salvation. The anticipation of this, the consummation of His hopes, is expressed in the words, ‘The hour is come, that the Son of man should be glorified.’ But the way in which this glorification must take place was never absent from Christ’s mind. The gathering in of the Gentiles was to follow His approaching death. Only by His death could the world be saved. Like a grain of wheat, the Son of man must be cast into the ground and die, and be buried out of sight; but He was to live again.” –The Desire of Ages, pp. 622, 623.
The necessity of death
3. What follows death? What illustration from nature did Jesus use to depict the abundant fruit that His death would produce?
John 12:24 Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone: but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit.
“Christ presented His future, illustrating it by the things of nature, that the disciples might understand. The true result of His mission was to be reached by His death. ‘Verily, verily, I say unto you,’ He said, ‘Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone: but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit.’ When the grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it springs up, and bears fruit. So the death of Christ would result in fruit for the kingdom of God. In accordance with the law of the vegetable kingdom, life was to be the result of His death….
“The grain of wheat that preserves its own life can produce no fruit. It abides alone. Christ could, if He chose, save Himself from death. But should He do this, He must abide alone. He could bring no sons and daughters to God. Only by yielding up His life could He impart life to humanity. Only by falling into the ground to die could He become the seed of that vast harvest–the great multitude that out of every nation, and kindred, and tongue, and people, are redeemed to God.” –The Desire of Ages, p. 623.
4. According to this explanation, what is the principle of preservation? What is the result when one lives for self?
John 12:25 He that loveth his life shall lose it; and he that hateth his life in this world shall keep it unto life eternal.
Thought question: Was it only Jesus who had to die, or does the same thing happen to our sinful tendencies?
“With this truth Christ connects the lesson of self-sacrifice that all should learn: ‘He that loveth his life shall lose it; and he that hateth his life in this world shall keep it unto life eternal.’ All who would bring forth fruit as workers together with Christ must first fall into the ground and die. The life must be cast into the furrow of the world’s need. Self-love, self-interest, must perish. And the law of self-sacrifice is the law of self-preservation. The husbandman preserves his grain by casting it away. So in human life. To give is to live. The life that will be preserved is the life that is freely given in service to God and man. Those who for Christ’s sake sacrifice their life in this world will keep it unto life eternal.
“The life spent on self is like the grain that is eaten. It disappears, but there is no increase. A man may gather all he can for self; he may live and think and plan for self; but his life passes away, and he has nothing. The law of self-serving is the law of self-destruction.” –The Desire of Ages, pp. 623, 624.
Service and discipleship
5. What is implied in true discipleship? Is partial fellowship sufficient? What will naturally follow consecrated discipleship?
John 12:26 If any man serve me, let him follow me; and where I am, there shall also my servant be: if any man serve me, him will my Father honour.
“ ‘If any man serve Me,’ said Jesus, ‘let him follow Me; and where I am, there shall also My servant be: if any man serve Me, him will My Father honor.’ All who have borne with Jesus the cross of sacrifice will be sharers with Him of His glory. It was the joy of Christ in His humiliation and pain that His disciples should be glorified with Him. They are the fruit of His self-sacrifice. The outworking in them of His own character and spirit is His reward, and will be His joy throughout eternity. This joy they share with Him as the fruit of their labor and sacrifice is seen in other hearts and lives. They are workers together with Christ, and the Father will honor them as He honors His Son.” –The Desire of Ages, p. 624.
In view of the sacrifice
6. What overwhelming burden did the Saviour start to feel at this point? Where alone could He find help for the very difficult test that was approaching?
John 12:27, first part Now is my soul troubled; and what shall I say? Father, save me from this hour.
“The message of the Greeks, foreshadowing as it did the gathering in of the Gentiles, brought to the mind of Jesus His entire mission. The work of redemption passed before Him, from the time when in heaven the plan was laid, to the death that was now so near at hand. A mysterious cloud seemed to enshroud the Son of God. Its gloom was felt by those near Him. He sat rapt in thought. At last the silence was broken by His mournful voice, ‘Now is My soul troubled; and what shall I say? Father, save Me from this hour:…’ In anticipation Christ was already drinking the cup of bitterness. His humanity shrank from the hour of abandonment, when to all appearance He would be deserted even by God, when all would see Him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. He shrank from public exposure, from being treated as the worst of criminals, from a shameful and dishonored death. A foreboding of His conflict with the powers of darkness, a sense of the awful burden of human transgression, and the Father’s wrath because of sin caused the spirit of Jesus to faint, and the pallor of death to overspread His countenance.” –The Desire of Ages, p. 624.
7. Of what was Jesus fully conscious in the fulfillment of His mission? He needed the help of His Father, so how much more should we ask for such help to face our tests and fulfill His commission?
John 12:27, last part … But for this cause came I unto this hour.
“Then came divine submission to His Father’s will. ‘For this cause,’ He said, ‘came I unto this hour. Father, glorify Thy name.’ Only through the death of Christ could Satan’s kingdom be overthrown. Only thus could man be redeemed, and God be glorified. Jesus consented to the agony, He accepted the sacrifice. The Majesty of heaven consented to suffer as the Sin Bearer.” –The Desire of Ages, p. 624.
“There are those who profess holiness, who declare that they are wholly the Lord’s, who claim a right to the promises of God, while they do not render obedience to His commandments. These transgressors of the law claim everything that is promised to the children of God, but this is simply presumption; for John tells us that ‘he that saith, I know Him, and keepeth not His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him. But whoso keepeth His word, in him verily is the love of God perfected; hereby know we that we are in Him. He that saith he abideth in Him ought himself also so to walk, even as He walked.’ Jesus says, ‘I have kept My Father’s commandments, and abide in His love.’ John 15:10. Obedience is the true sign of discipleship. ‘Not every one that saith unto Me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of My Father which is in heaven.’ Matthew 7:21.” –Gospel Workers (1892), pp. 226, 227.