JOHN | Lesson 21 | Lesson Notes / Talking Points
Read John 12.20-33
1/ This lesson will serve two purposes:
 it will conclude this summary survey/study of John we’ve been in for the past six months;
 and it will serve as a companion lesson and follow up on our last study from John 21, “YOU…Follow Me!”
2/ Both of these last two lessons are intensely personal and autobiographical for me. The John 21 lesson is one that was deeply impressed upon me years ago when I learned that Jesus Christ, as my Lord, Savior, and Master, has absolute and sovereign ownership of me and my life’s service to Him. I learned to see myself and my service as my ‘assignment’ from Him. He only commands me: “YOU…follow Me!” He reserves the right to assign to me the place where He wants me to serve Him, assign to me the roles He wants me to fulfill as I serve Him there, and assign to me the responsibility to be content with His assignments and follow Him by faithfully fulfilling them.
3/ THIS lesson also is very personal to me. In fact, this is the text and the substance of the message I preached on 21 May 2017 as I announced to the church I formerly pastored that I would be resigning as pastor the next Lord’s Day. Yes, I gave them a full one-week’s notice that the next Lord’s Day would fulfill the ministry of the past 35 years Debbie and I had served there. It was so short notice because the events of the previous few months had escalated and accelerated quickly. As 2 Chronicles 29.36 says about the haste with which the Judah king Hezekiah cleansed the Temple and restored the sacrifices and worship services, “…for the thing came about suddenly.” So did my resignation.
4/ But the message that I wanted to deliver that day – and the same message I want to communicate now in this lesson – is that wherever Jesus leads us and ‘plants’ us as we follow Him, we must be willing to simply follow Him, ‘die’ in that place and service by giving Him our all, and serve Him faithfully there … leaving to Him the bearing of whatever fruit He is willing to give.
5/ We believed we had followed Jesus to where we were then … and we trusted Him to lead us to where He wanted us to go and serve Him on His next assignment. At that time, we had no idea where that next assignment was or what our roles of service would be. But, we were committed to FOLLOWING JESUS. And that is why we are here where we are now.
“My LORD knows the way through the wilderness…all I have to do is FOLLOW!”
“He leadeth me! O blessed thought! O word with heavenly comfort fraught! What e’er I do, where e’er I be…still ‘tis God’s hand that leadeth me!”
6/ So I want to re-offer this message with personal applications for each one of us to commit and continue the living and giving of our lives to FOLLOWING JESUS: through death into life.
I / v 24 / A PARABLE TO LEARN [a PARABLE about FOLLOWING]
v 24 / Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.
1/ When Jesus employs this short parable in verse 24, He is actually using it to illustrate two examples of FOLLOWING – His and ours:
 First of all – this parable is His own personal testimony of FOLLOWING His own Father’s will and instructions to come to our earth – be planted in death in our earth by dying on His Cross – and then being raised again in resurrection to save us from our sins.
2/ If He had just come and lived a perfectly sinless life of obedience to His Father – but had not died – He would have just remained alone in His sinlessness. Just like the natural grain seed, before it can germinate and bear fruit, it must be planted in the ground…and ‘die.’ But it is in the ‘dying’ that it brings forth fruit, much fruit, more fruit!
3/ But, the Father had sent Him here to us – and commanded Him – to die on the Cross as punishment for our sins. Jesus says in verse 23, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified.” This “hour” – this event had been appointed to Him by His Father [see also John 17.1-4]. He had FOLLOWED His Father’s will to come from Heaven’s Glory to our earth and take upon Himself the form of a Servant and the likeness of man [see Hebrews 10.5-10]. And the time has come for Him to FOLLOW His Father’s will and wishes to His Cross. Philippians 2.8 He became obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross
4/ And so – He FOLLOWED the Father’s commands and will and purpose –and FOLLOWED the Father’s will all the way to the Cross. He will explain this parable as it applies to His FOLLOWING in
verses 27 & 32-33: (v 27) “Now is my soul troubled. And what shall I say? ‘Father, save me from this hour’? But for this purpose I have come to this hour … (vv 32-33) And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.” He said this to show by what kind of death he was going to die.
5/ And so, this grain of wheat seed that falls into the ground and dies is, first of all, Jesus Himself dying on His Cross – to bear the guilt of our sins upon Himself – to be punished for the guilt of our sins – and then to be raised again from death to show that our sins had been actually forgiven and taken away.
6/ This “much fruit” that He bears is all of us whom He saves when we believe upon Him for the forgiveness of our sins – and the free gift of eternal life And, He did this to FOLLOW His Father’s will and commandment.
II / v 25 / A PRIORITY TO APPLY TO OUR LIVES
1/ But, there is also another reason why Jesus employed this parable.
 This parable also illustrates how He is calling each of us to FOLLOW Him and give Him the service of our lives. He is calling each one of us to FOLLOW Him and be willing to be ‘planted’ and ‘die’ – give our lives in service to Him wherever He wants to plant us to live for Him and serve Him.
2/ He explains how we FOLLOW HIM in the very next verse, verse 25:
[read verse 24 again… Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.] verse 25 – Whoever loves his life loses it, and whoever hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life.
Do you see it? The ‘parable’ illustrates the ‘priority’ He is teaching us to apply to our lives – just as He did to His own Life.
3/ To “love your life” means that you want to keep your life to yourself – and live it the way you want to live it. You are NOT following Jesus Christ – you are following yourself. You are keeping the ‘seed’ of your life to yourself. You are retaining ownership of your own life. You are reserving all the rights to your own life to yourself. “I’ll do it my way!” You don’t want to confess that Jesus is Lord – and give your life to Him to serve Him – and follow Him and obey Him in everything you do.
4/ “Whoever loves his life loses it…” If you insist on keeping your life for yourself – then you will lose it … you will lose your life during this lifetime – and you will lose your life forever separated from God
5/ On the other hand, if you “hate your life” – that means that you don’t consider your life as belonging to you…you turn over the title and ownership of your life to Jesus Christ – to belong to Him, to obey Him, to serve Him. You FOLLOW Jesus. When you do that, Jesus promises you will keep your life to life eternal. Jesus will explain what He means by that … and how you and I need to implement that
III / v 26 / A LIFE-PLAN TO FOLLOW WITH OUR LIVES
So, Jesus gives us three simple rules for living a life worth living: You’ll find them in verse 26… And these three rules are so simple that everyone of us can understand them and apply them to our own personal lives and service – but they will require us to ‘die’ to our own self-centeredness, self-governance, self-will, and self-serving. But, if we do, we will ‘bear much fruit’! Jesus promises that and guarantees it by His own death and resurrection to life again!
1. FOLLOW JESUS: “If anyone serves Me, he must follow Me.”
1/ To serve Jesus means that you confess that He is Lord – and Lord of your life, and you obey Him. You read His Word – you commune with Him in prayer – you learn His will…what pleases Him…what He wants from you and for you … you learn from Him what He commands you to do, and you do it. You must FOLLOW JESUS first by believing and trusting in Him to be saved from your sins. Then you continue FOLLOWING JESUS by your daily obeying Him in all things for the rest of your life. See Matthew 11.25-30.
2/ And, in so doing, you FOLLOW JESUS. When you FOLLOW JESUS, you do what He commands you to do. You go where He wants you to go – Jesus gives all life assignments. We just follow…
2. SERVE WHERE JESUS WANTS TO WORK THROUGH YOU
1/ His next words are: “…and where I am, there will My servant be also…” “But, wait…” you say, “I thought Jesus was everywhere!” He is. But, when Jesus says “…and where I am, there will My servant be also…” – He means to say that when we are FOLLOWING HIM, we will be there with Him – wherever He is working through us. This is much of what Jesus was saying in John 5.17 about The Father being with Him where He was … The Father doing His will and works through Jesus.
2/ Yes! Jesus can be everywhere at the same time – but we cannot. We can be in only one place at a time – so we want to be in that place wherever Jesus has led us…and we have followed Him there.
3/ And, we cannot do – not even one thing – on our own. We cannot do anything – except what Jesus Himself is doing through us. He tells us in John 15.5: I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in Me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.
4/ So, if we are going to do anything in our service to Christ, it must be where He Himself is…living and working through us. And so, we just want to be where Jesus wants us to be…so we can be doing whatever He has given us to do…so He can be working through us…to accomplish what He wants to do through us.
5/ And He promises to do just that! This is the promise that is given to us by the Power of the Holy Spirit and the Blood of the New Covenant. Hebrews 13.20-21: Now may the God of peace who brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, the Great Shepherd of the sheep, by the blood of the eternal covenant, equip you with everything good that you may do His will, working in us that which is pleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen.
6/ And so, FOLLOW JESUS to be sure you are where He wants you to be – and where He wants to be working through you to do what is pleasing to Him.
7/ This brings every one of us to a point of self-examination: Where are you now? Where has Jesus Christ led you and ‘planted’ you to serve Him? What has He given you, gifted you, equipped you that you can do? Are you willing to ‘die’ and give your life to that service? If it is only in your faithfully attending and worshiping Him studying His Word and fellowshipping with fellow servants, serve Him in doing that. Whatever opportunities Christ gives us to love and serve one another, build up one another, support and encourage one another, do good to one another, take care of one another, minister to one another’s needs – let us each commit and give ourselves to serve Him this way. [See John 13.31-35]
8/ 1 Peter 4.7-11 bears repeating and re-affirming here:
The end of all things is at hand; therefore be self-controlled and sober-minded for the sake of your prayers. 8 Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins. 9 Show hospitality to one another without grumbling. 10 As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace: 11 whoever speaks, as one who speaks oracles of God; whoever serves, as one who serves by the strength that God supplies—in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ. To him belong glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.
9/ I do need to add here, that when Jesus promises ‘…and where I am, there will my servant be also,” He is also promising us that after our life of service here is fulfilled, and we ‘die’ physically from here, that ‘…if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also’ – that is, with Him in the Father’s House, to share His Glory with Him forever! [See John 14.1-3 & 17.24]
And then, that brings us to the third step in FOLLOWING JESUS…
3. YOU WILL PLEASE THE FATHER WHEN YOU FOLLOW JESUS
1/ Jesus gives this blessing on whoever FOLLOWS Him: “If anyone serves Me, the Father will honor him” That is strange language, isn’t it? You mean: “God, our Heavenly Father, will HONOR us when we serve Jesus?” That’s what Jesus says.
2/ How does the Father HONOR us when we serve Jesus? The Father honors us by BEING PLEASED WITH US – He honors us with HIS PLEASURE. The greatest honor our Heavenly Father could ever confer upon any one of us is to say to us:
- “Well done, good and faithful servant!”
- “You did good!”
- “I’m happy with you! Enter into the joy of your Lord! [Matthew 25.21 & 23]”
- “It wasn’t perfect – but you did what I gave you to do – and you did it the best you could with the gifts I gave you to use!”
- “You followed Me where I led you to go – you ‘planted’ your life and ‘died’ there – giving it your all!”
3/ You want to please the Father, don’t you? Nobody pleases the Father like His Son, Jesus Christ. Jesus said in John 8.29: “And He who sent Me is with Me. He has not left Me alone, for I always do the things that are pleasing to Him” Three times, the Father audibly spoke and thundered from Heaven and said: “This is my much-beloved Son – in whom I am well-pleased! HEAR HIM [listen to Him, obey Him, serve Him, FOLLOW HIM!]” See Matthew 3.17; Mark 1.11; Luke 3.22
4/ And so, the Son PERFECTLY pleases the Father, and everyone who follows the Son pleases the Father also. “If anyone serves Me, the Father will honor him!”
5/ I want the Father to honor me by just giving me the assurance that He is pleased by my serving His Son, Jesus Christ – and FOLLOWING JESUS where I believe Jesus is leading me – and being where Jesus wants me to be and doing what Jesus wants me to be doing…by His working through me.