Letters to the Prison - Week 141

Hello, everyone.  We’re studying John 12.  Jesus has just challenged a group of Greeks (and us) with his 17th “truly, truly” statement:
  • Whoever loves his life loses it, and whoever hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life.  -John 12:25

What does the first part of this mean?  Are we supposed to be miserable forever?  Keeping for eternity a life that we hate?  Forfeit a life that we love?  Of course not!  The challenge Jesus is making here is one of commitment, loyalty, and obedience… to Jesus over and above everything else.  So, what Jesus is asking here is: What is most important to us?  If the answer isn’t Jesus, there’s a problem.  So, it’s a problem if our family members (parents, children, spouse) are more important than Jesus?  Yup.  So, then we’re supposed to hate our families instead of loving them?  Definitely not.  Can we hate people we don’t like because Jesus needs to be more important?  

Nope.  We could ask many such questions of this verse, but really all we have to do is keep reading:
  • If anyone serves me, he must follow me; and where I am, there will my servant be also. If anyone serves me, the Father will honor him.-John 12:26

Here we find clarification and promise.  The clarification is this:  Anyone claiming to serve Jesus must follow him to the point that wherever Jesus is, so are his servants.  In fact, Jesus will soon go so far as to say that his true servants are found abiding in him.  We learned earlier in our study that “abiding” means “dwelling.”  This means that those who claim to follow and serve Jesus must live their lives in him and for him.  There is no room in such a life for selfishness or hatred or for neglecting important relationships.

The promise is that the Father will honor such people.  Going back to our study of what Jesus says about himself, this becomes a profoundly important statement.  Here, Jesus clearly asserts that people who wish to be honored by God must follow Jesus so closely that they can be found abiding in him.  We will discuss this much more fully when we being to study John 15.  We encourage you to read ahead!

To someone who doesn’t believe, such a sacrificial life that puts following Jesus before all other considerations might sound completely undesirable.  Even to believers, the idea of being willing to give up everything that we might value or hold dear for the sake of following Jesus seems intimidating.  But take a moment to consider this:
  • Delight yourself in the LORD, and he will give you the desires of your heart.  -Psalm 37:4

This is not some ticket to acquire whatever we want.  We don’t manipulate God into giving us the “desire of our hearts” by “delighting” in him.  No.  Instead, this verse is telling us that if we put God first… if we abide in him, he will give us entirely new desires… desires we never knew our hearts could have… desires that will bring us true joy forever.  Friends, what is it that we truly desire?  How might that desire change if we follow Jesus and prioritize him over all things?

Pray that God would give us wisdom and courage to live for Jesus every day.  We love you!

Dean A.

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