Sir, We Would See Jesus
18 March 2018
When I was in US Army Chaplain’s school, we had to complete lots of written assignments. One exercise my instructor graded with the word “BLUF” in big red capital letters. Does anyone know what that means? I certainly did not at the time. I later found out, this stands for Bottom Line Up Front; it is thing we want people to remember or the most important idea.
In today’s gospel text, we have an example of BLUF; Jesus told his followers what he thought was worth remembering or most important.
My text is John 12:20-33: Jesus’s words is a message for us on how we are to put him first in our lives and truly live out the gospel.
20 Now among those who went up to worship at the festival were some Greeks. 21 They came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida in Galilee, and said to him, “Sir, we wish to see Jesus.” 22 Philip went and told Andrew; then Andrew and Philip went and told Jesus. 23 Jesus answered them, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. 24 Very truly, I tell you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains just a single grain; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. 25 Those who love their life lose it, and those who hate their life in this world will keep it for eternal life. 26 Whoever serves me must follow me, and where I am, there will my servant be also. Whoever serves me, the Father will honor.
It was the final week in Jesus’ life and the time of the Passover; when thousands of pilgrims had converged on Jerusalem to celebrate this important Jewish festival. Among this number were certain Greek speaking Jews who wanted to see Jesus.
Now I suppose the reason they wanted to see Jesus was that they could tell he was different. He was nothing like the teachers of the law or for that matter, Greek philosophers. While at the same time, it appeared that Jesus had the answers to life. And it was here, our Lord told present and future believers the BLUF, Bottom Line Up Front, that true discipleship is costly when he said, “those who love their life will lose it and those who hate their life will keep it for eternal life.”
2 Corinthians 5:20 tells us that we are Ambassadors for Christ and because of this special relationship with God; we can point people in the right directions. Let me give three examples of those lived out these words and placed the kingdom of God ahead of their own interests.
The first involves an incident that took place on May 29, 1914. This was when the cruise liner, the Empress of Ireland, accidentally collided with a coal freighter and began to sink. Like on the Titanic, there were not enough life preservers. However, there happened to be 167 members of the Salvation Army on board. Realizing the grave situation, they all gave up their life preservers to others saying, “I can die better than you can.” The reason they could confidently say that was because they were confident in their relationship with Christ and not fearful of eternity.
My hope for all of us that as we live out our lives to the Lord and do it with confidence as we seriously commit Christ’s words to our hearts.
My second example was an individual who put the gospel before his own personal needs and comfort. Dr. Thomas Lambie had a dream and saw a man with an extended a leprous hand; the message from the dream was, “Take that hand.” When Dr. Lambie awoke, he knew this was a sign from God and accepted the call. Once in the country of Ethiopia, Dr. Lambie realized that a leper hospital was needed, but Ethiopian laws would not allow land to be sold to foreigners. So he gave up his American citizenship to buy the needed land and built the hospital. Later in life, his American citizenship was restored because of his great work among the lepers.
In Dr. Lambie’s discipleship he gave up comfort, prestige and country for those in need. And the thought came to me, could we do the same? Again this goes back to losing one’s life for the gospel.
The third example was someone that I knew. Her name was Sybil, and I first met her at the San Antonio Ft Sam Houston Army Chapel while I was in Physical Therapy training. There were two things unique about her: one, she was confined to a wheel chair, and the second thing was that she had a certain glow about her. I would attribute her glow to the close walk she had with the Lord. Because she had that special spiritual presence, I would bring my Army friends over to her house, and she could talk to them about their faith. Though she was physically handicapped, she wasn’t spiritually.
To me it was obvious that Sybil had given up her old way of life (any type of sin, any negativity, and the self-centeredness she might have had) in exchange for a personal relationship with Christ. Just knowing her, she has inspired me, to the same.
These are three examples of those who put the Kingdom of God first. There are countless others down through the ages who had done the same.
Consider this story. Once there was a hen and a pig who were in deep conversation when they walked past a church. The pastor’s sermon -“How can we help the Poor?”- was written on the outdoor sign. After a moment’s reflection the hen said, “I know what we can do. We can give them a ham and egg breakfast.” But the pig protested and said, “The breakfast would be only a contribution for you, but for me, it would mean total commitment.”
Let me close. This week, as we go through all of your daily activities, consider our individual walk with the Lord. Ponder what it means and how we are to lose one’s life for the gospel. What kind of a change in attitude would that be?
- Perhaps make peace with your Maker or someone you don’t like.
- Confess your sins to the Lord.
- If an opportunity for service comes your way, and you know it’s from God, say yes.
- Dive deep in your faith and let the peace of God rule in your hearts.
When you do this, other people will begin to notice. Our scripture text at face value seems absurd, but if we want fulfillment, we need that change in attitude to follow Christ.