News for the week of Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Sunday School Lesson — Explore the Bible
Dec: 1: Life Selflessly
By David R. Dean

Focal Passage: John 12:24-33, 35-36, 44-48

After Jesus is anointed in Bethany and the triumphal entry into Jerusalem, the crowd hoped He would set up an earthly kingdom. Even the Greeks said, “We would see Jesus.”

In answer to their quest Jesus declares that the Son of Man is about to be glorified — but not the way they had hoped. Jesus predicts His death with the words: “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” (v. 24).”

He introduces the fact of His impending death, and the likelihood that His followers could lose their lives as well.

There is a risk in becoming a follower of Christ. “Whoever serves me must follow me” (v. 26).

Jesus is troubled but resists the temptation to turn away from the Father’s will. “No, it was for this very reason I came to this hour” (v. 27). A voice from heaven glorifies the name of God and Jesus’ obedience. “But I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to myself” (v. 32). John interprets that He said this to show the kind of death he would die. The crowd does not comprehend that their hero, this “son of man” would die. I wonder if we even today can comprehend what Christ has done, and what He expects of us. We are part of the many seeds that came from His willing obedience even unto death. 

What if Jesus had refused to die? On the farm where I live we raise wheat. A couple of years ago I took a plant to church for the children’s message. I showed them a single grain and the ripening stalk of wheat. From one grain of wheat came two stalks of wheat on which were two heads, each with twenty new grains. For that amazing harvest the original seed had to die. So, for the followers of Christ to multiply, He had to die. And when we die to our own selfish desires and live in obedience as His servants, there will continue to be a harvest.

Not only must the grain of wheat die, but it must grow. To grow it must have moisture and light. Jesus is the living water and the light of the world. We cannot grow if we do not avail ourselves of the benefits of a relationship with Him.

Are we wiling to live selflessly for Christ? Jesus is the One sent to save us from our sins. We are the ones sent to share the message of the gospel. Jesus said, “A man believes in me, He does not believe in me only, but in the one who sent me. I have come into the world as a light, so that no one who believes in me should stay in darkness” (vv. 44-45). Jesus is the Light that causes the seed of the gospel to grow in us. His nature in us causes us to produce fruit. Two hundred bushels per acre is a good harvest of wheat. How is the harvest in your church? In your life? We are to be good soil and bring forth much fruit. In order to accomplish this, we must depend upon Him who gave His life for us and live selflessly for Him. We must be willing to be broken. See poem on this page.  

— Dean lives in Orlinda. He is the retired executive director of the Metropolitan New York Baptist Association.


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