- Sermon Notes
Bearing Much Fruit
Let’s step back and see what’s happening with Jesus over the last couple of weeks of our study. Lazarus, a friend whom Jesus loved, had died and was in the grave four days. Jesus arrived, declaring that He is the resurrection and the life and that whoever believes in Him will live, even if he dies. And then He said, “Do you believe this?”
He then told them to remove the stone that covered the tomb. He raised His eyes, prayed to the Father, and then cried out with a loud voice, “Lazarus, come forth.” He’s leading up to something. He’s strengthening their faith and declaring that He is the resurrection and the life so that when Jesus Himself is crucified, laid into a tomb very much like the one Lazarus was in, and then raised from the dead on the third day, they will have the faith to take hold of it.
After that, they had a dinner. Lazarus was there along with his sisters, Mary and Martha. Jesus was also reclining at the table. Mary came up to Him with a jar of perfume worth perhaps more than $30,000, pouring it upon Him and wiping His feet with her hair. Judas objected, but Jesus explained that she did this to prepare Him for His burial.
On the next day, Jesus came into Jerusalem riding on a young donkey. There was a great multitude coming into Jerusalem with Him shouting, “Hosanna! Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord, even the King of Israel.”
This is that great triumphal entry of Jesus that we celebrate each year on Palm Sunday. As Jesus was descending from the Mount of Olives toward Jerusalem, seeing the city laid out before Him, he began to weep, saying, “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, how I’ve longed to gather you like a hen would gather her chicks, but you would not have it. Behold, your city is laid to you desolate because you did not know the time of your visitation.”
Jesus then entered the temple, braided a whip and began chasing out the money changers, overturning their tables, saying, “My Father’s house is to be a house of prayer, but you have made it a den of robbers.”
That brings us to the verses we’re studying today beginning in verse 20. There were some Greeks among those who were going up to worship at the Passover feast. They wanted to see Jesus, saying to Philip, “Sir, we wish to see Jesus.”
They were sincerely seeking; they were sincerely asking. No doubt, they had heard the great things that Jesus had done; the fame of Him raising Lazarus from the dead was spreading rapidly. They came to Jerusalem to worship and they wanted to see the One whom God has sent.
What a powerful example; that we need to connect those who are sincerely seeking to Jesus. But how do we show the Lord today? These verses are filled with powerful insights into how people come to know the Lord.
Jesus’ answer gives us God’s heart for how to live a life that bears fruit to God and makes a difference in the lives of others.
I. Dying Bears Much Fruit
- At first, that sounds counterintuitive, how does dying bear much fruit? It sounds like an oxymoron, such as, freezer burn, or army intelligence, or government efficiency, or fat-free ice cream.
- But there are two aspects of this that are important to understand. First, it speaks of His death and resurrection. In 1 Corinthians 15:36, Paul wrote, “That which you sow does not come to life unless it dies;”
- Secondly, it speaks about how we should live our lives. This is what Jesus meant in verse 25, “He who loves his life (in this world) loses it; and he who hates his life in this world shall keep it to life eternal.”
- In other words, the way to find life is by dying, but dying to what?
- In verse 25, Jesus said that the one who loves his life in this world shall lose it. In other words, it’s the worldly things that are killing the soul.
1 John 2:15-17, Do not love the world nor the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life, is not of the Father, but is from the world. The world is passing away, and also its lusts; but the one who does the will of God lives forever.
Luke 16:15, “God knows your hearts; for that which is highly esteemed among men is detestable in the sight of God.”
- The things that poison the soul are also things the flesh finds desirable.
- The problem is that the flesh doesn’t consider the consequences; it wants what it wants and it wants it now. You’re supposed to think about the consequences and say ‘no’ to what the flesh desires because you want something better.
- In other words, there’s a part of us that does want the thing we’re tempted by, but we say ‘no,’ we deny ourselves, because spiritual life is more important than momentary pleasure.
- You can’t have both. If you let the flesh have its way, you’ll find your soul poisoned, depression settles in and your whole life feels yucky.
Illus - Why eat healthy? The flesh loves Snickers bars and chocolate cake with milk poured over it for breakfast. If you ate that, you would feel yucky and poison your body. The flesh also loves sexual delights, but if you gave into that, your soul would be poisoned and have no spiritual life.
- You might say, “Man, God is such a killjoy.” Really? It’s actually quite the opposite…
John 15:11, “These things I have spoken to you so that My joy may be in you, and that your joy may be complete.”
B. Bury yourself in that truth
- Jesus said this is the key to bearing much fruit.
- We’ve been learning a new song lately, “Lay Me Down,” that’s exactly what it means.
- Jesus said in verse 26, “If anyone serves Me, let him follow Me… If anyone serves Me, the Father will honor him.”
- Bury yourself in that truth. The one that follows Jesus is the one who serves Him rather than serving self. The result is that you’ll have great spiritual strength and a life that honors God.
- Animals are driven by base desires; the more we allow the flesh to be in control, the more base we are.
Illus - However, even animals can demonstrate mastery over these desires. Before our daughter’s dog, Bella, can eat, she has to sit and wait. Look at how they train Arabian horses.
- However, there is a great difference between self-denial and denial of self by the Holy Spirit.
1 Corinthians 6:12, All things are lawful for me, but not all things are profitable. All things are lawful for me, but I will not be mastered by anything.
Philippians 4:13, I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.
Illus - When you feel grumpy, should you do grumpy things? “I’m just being real, man,” I can hear someone say. No, you’re letting your flesh master you. Bless those around you to the glory of God and he will honor your life.
II. Don’t be a Covert Christian
- The word ‘covert’ means secret, not openly acknowledged, clandestine or concealed.
- There are three groups you see in this chapter. There are believers, both Jews and Greeks, seeking to worship and honor him as the Messiah.
- There are unbelievers, those who saw so many signs performed by Jesus, yet were not believing in Him.
- Then there are covert believers. (Verse 42) “Many even of the rulers believed in Him, but they were not confessing Him, for they loved the approval of men rather than the approval of God.” Why? Because they were afraid of being excommunicated.
- Unfortunately, there are many people like that today, they are afraid of getting excommunicated by their friends; afraid of losing their friends’ approval.
- They are afraid their friends will look down on them if they become serious about spiritual things. Can I say something about peer pressure? You be the pressure; if one of my friends pressured me to do something worldly, he would get some pressure back.
A. Walk in the light of the Father
- Jesus said in verse 32, “If I be lifted up from the earth, I will draw all men to Myself.” He was speaking of the kind of death He would die.
- But He will draw all men to Himself because the world is in darkness and He is the light of life.
- Some in the crowd were concerned; how could He say that? They had heard from the Law that the Messiah was to remain forever. But the scripture actually says that the Messiah must suffer for our sins and be cut off and then will return at the end of the age.
- Jesus then responded, “Walk in the light, that darkness may not overtake you; he who walks in the darkest does not know where he goes.”
- There is something very beautiful and powerful about that. I know that I know that I know where I’m going. And I know He walks with me to get there.
Illus - Jesus said, “That darkness may not overtake you.”
Have you ever been in a situation where you really needed a light? I have. That’s when you know just how valuable light is. Ever been out on a country road, get a flat, and have no light? How about when the power goes out? or when we walked through the lava caves in complete blackness.
Psalm 119:105, Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light unto my path.
John 8:31-32, “If you abide in My word, then you are truly disciples of Mine; and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.”
- Jesus said that He would draw all men to Himself. But many refused to come. Can you imagine? Jesus is right there performing so many signs, yet they would not believe.
- Jesus draws all men; He knocks on the door of their heart. But for some, it only makes their heart harder. What hardens their heart? His knocking on the door their heart, His word they refused to hear.
- That’s what is meant in verses 39 – 40.
Illus - When I was growing up, we lived on a gravel road. If you walk on gravel long enough, your feet get thicker and thicker. The same is true of people’s hearts, they get harder and harder.
- The problem with those who believed, but were not confessing Him, is that they loved the approval of men rather than the approval of God.
- Seeking the approval of men, we understand. What does it mean to seek the approval of God?
- The very next thing Jesus spoke of was faith; believing in Jesus and trusting in the Father.
- In fact, in the very next verses, Jesus said that His Word, which God gives to us as life, as a lamp unto our feet, to draw us near to God our Father, is also the word by which God will judge the world.
- How do you receive the approval of God? Walk in the light and glorify your Father by taking hold of His Word and living by it. In other words, faith.
2 Corinthians 5:9, Therefore, we also have as our ambition to be pleasing to Him.
Hebrews 11:6, Without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him.
- In verse 25 – 26, Jesus said that the one who serves The Lord and follows Him, the Father will honor him. That’s what I want and need, the Father to honor my life because it gives Him glory.
John 12:20-50 NASB