Sermon at First Presbyterian Church Lockhart

"Die To Be Fruitful"

Psalm 71:1-18, I Corinthians 1:18-31,John 12:20-33

March 30, 2010†† by James Greene

 

†††††††††† We see cars speeding down the Interstate doing 85-90 miles per hour and know that the person driving is breaking the law, but sometimes we forget that those are not the only laws.In the modern world of technology, and electronic gadgets we often forget and many times ignore Godís Laws, Godís commands, or Godís rules.The person driving 90 MPH forgets that at that speed, with sudden turns and swerving in and out of traffic, can and often does break the laws of physics.They only realize the problem when the tires loose traction, and the car that is going straight, is now doing it sideways.

†††††††††† We all remember the law Ė ďa body in motion will continue in motion unless acted upon by another forceĒ Ė like the back end of a slow moving dump truck, or a stationary tree.There are laws of agriculture Ė water always seeks the lowest level (because of gravity) - unless itís frozen,or when you put a seed into the ground, and it has sun, water, and soil it will grow.It seems a miracle to us.Something that looks dead and dormant is buried in the ground, but it brings forth abundant life that gives back 100ís of seeds, because of the spirit hidden inside.The seed has to die to be fruitful.Just look at any stalks of corn, cotton, or sorghum.Itís part of Godís Law, and part of Godís Physics.

In Psalm 71, we see how the psalmistís calls for Gods help in the Past, the Present, and the Future.He calls upon God to deliver and rescue him.†† Like Jeremiah, he reflects upon how he has relied upon God from birth; how God has been his rock and fortress in the Past.Because God has been his hope, and confidence, he also acknowledges Godís help in the Present.

He declares that God is also our hope and confidence for the Future.In the end

it is the realization, that we praise God in all times - Past, Present, and Future.

God is the reason for him to always have hope, and be the source of his salvation.Looking at the Psalm from a New Testament point of view we can see an overlay of Christís anointing call.How in both his and our own humanity, we call upon God to deliver and save us.The psalmist is shown in his willingness to praise, and declare, that God will always be his strength and refuge.Just as this church remembers its history, the psalmist remembers his history and relationship to, and with - God.

 

In I Corinthians we see how God has made the wisdom of this world foolishness because they did not know God.God has chosen foolish and weak things to disprove the wise and the strong of this world.It is part of Godís physics.It is part of Godís wisdom displayed through Christ who is our righteousness, holiness and redemption.

In reading of John this morning, the Greekís came to worship at the feast and seeking Jesus.These are Gentiles coming to worship Jesus and to see Lazarus after he

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was raised from the dead.Jesus tells them that the hour has come for the Son Of Man to be glorified.He then describes a Hebraic Parallelism in dying to be fruitful.†† It deals with loss and faithfulness in his parable about the grain of wheat.He demonstrates how, in being faithful, we must experience loss, to be fruitful.V 24-25 "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.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."Here a seed, by itself, is only one seed.But if it dies, when it goes into the ground, it produces many seeds.The man that loves this life is like that single kernel.He only dies.But if the man who hates this life (dies to sin in faithfulness) he is like the seed that dies in the ground.He becomes fruitful in eternal life.So his loss becomes a gain, through his faithfulness.

Jesus (The Word) reverently submitted to the Word (the commands) of the Father, to be fruitful, like the seed planted in the ground.He had to submit his will (die to himself) in order to live in abundance, and be fruitful like the seed.He was following Godís Law by allowing that law and spirit to dwell in him, it allow him to live into his call, to serve, in the Father's Will.This was to fulfill Godís covenant and promise to bring about the salvation of all.

 

†††††††††† This is the way it will be in the resurrection.It will be the fruitful gaining of what we have lost, in the bounty of reunion, with all of those in Christ.Just like the gain and loss that we experience in life.We can see a modern expression of this emotion in

Kahlil Gibran's book "The Prophet" on ďJoy and SorrowĒ(P.29)"Your joy is your sorrow unmasked." ..."Is not the cup that holds your wine the very cup that was burned in the potter's oven?" ... When you are joyous, look deep into your heart and you shall find it is only that which has given you sorrow that is giving you joy.When you are sorrowful look again in your heart, and you shall see that in truth you are weeping for that which has been your delight."

 

We find the answers, for the text, in the good news of the Gospel.We all in dying unto sin, and living unto Christ, experience that Loss, and Gain.But through faith, we are reassured, that we all will eventually meet again, so that our greatest Loss will also be the seeds and planting of our greatest joy.(Our greatest gain)Just like being at a family reunion, we will see all of our ancestors and friends in The Kingdom.V-26 Who ever serves Jesus, "must" follow Jesus.We must die to sin in this world, to be fruitful and live abundantly in eternity.We must "Take up our cross" (dying unto sin) and follow Jesus.This is what he means when he says Where 'I am' - - my servant will be also.My father will honor the one who serves me.The one who dies to sin - lives to Christ, will be honored by the Father)Jesus in his human condition, is committed to his cause in wrestling with his duty/destiny/mission to save humanity.

V-31 "Now is the time for judgment on this world; Now the prince of this world will be driven out." In this verse, Jesus is completing the prophesy of his ministry.

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Remember when he started his ministry - in the synagogue (Luke 4:18-19) and read from Isaiah 61:2 "The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to preach gospel to the poor; He has sent me to heal the broken hearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised.To preach the acceptable year of the Lord."

He stopped in the middle of V-2.Now, near the end of his ministry he finishes that prophetic verse from Isaiah in this V-31.Jesus is now completing and fulfilling the prophesy in Isaiah 61:2 -following on in V-3.Isaiah 61:2-3 "To proclaim the acceptable

year of the Lord, and the 'vengeance' of our God; to comfort all who mourn; Now is the time for the Judgment of this world; Now the prince of this world will be driven out. To appoint for them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty for ashes, and oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, -- that He might be glorified."

 

Again reference back to John 12:28 "Father glorify your name!" "I have glorified it, and will glorify it again." Jesus glorified God's name in dying for the sins of mankind.†† Those who submit, to Godís Will;Those who die to sin: those who are righteous, -are the trees of righteousness.They are- the planting of the Lord.They are - dying to sin to be fruitful in righteousness: to bear fruit in resurrection that ĎHeí (The Lord) might be glorified.Jesus will go to death, and beyond and overcomes death in resurrection.He must die to be fruitful in redeeming Godís people.

In the lastV-32 -33 Jesus is lifted up over the earth - draws all men to him.In his death he over comes the death in this world.This verse comes from the verses in Psalm 80:14-15 "the son of man you have raised up for yourself."The word Vine is a metaphor and symbol for Israel. God is asked to watch over Israel, and calls it the son you have raised up for yourself.It is an image of the Messiah, and an allusion to Jesus.

In the light of the New Testament, we see Jesus (the ďson of manĒ) raised up for God in the message of the gospels.We see, how God is called upon by the people. In their call to be saved.It is a blue print of the coming of Christ and his purpose to redeem not just the people of Israel, but all of creation.He is Godís presence dwelling in the flesh.He is the living word, the presence of God that seeks us.If we are the followers of Christ,-he dwells in us, and we in Him.Again, God wants his Word

(His commands) to be in us Ė in our hearts and minds.†††

Through this, Godís presence is reflected in us,to those around us.In this manner, we bring the Kingdom of God into here and now.When Christ truly dwells in us, then we die to sin and become fruitful in Godís righteousness.

Finally, like the laws of the seed, God is putting His Spirit within his people.It tells us that, - we will all know the Lord.We like that seed, will grow and follow Godís Law.We will know what the Lord commands us to do.We will be apart of Godís plan and purpose, but we must die to our sin, to be fruitful in His will and Righteousness to be saved Ö††††† In the Name of Ö††† the Father,†† the Son,†† and the Holy Spirit.Amen

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