20 Now among those who went up to worship at the feast were some Greeks. 21 So these came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida in Galilee, and asked him, “Sir, we wish to see Jesus.” 22 Philip went and told Andrew; Andrew and Philip went and told Jesus. 23 And Jesus answered them, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. 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. 25 Whoever loves his life loses it, and whoever hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. 26 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.
Father, we ask that You would come and speak to us. I pray that You would teach us what it means to serve You, Lord Jesus, and follow You and hate our lives in this world. Teach us, O Lord. Send Your Spirit. Give us illumination and understanding. Give us eyes to see, ears to hear, and hearts to perceive. May the good seed of Your Word be planted in the good soil of our hearts. Thank you, Lord. In Jesus Name, Amen
I have one point for you today as I always do, and it is this — Jesus is your Shepherd and your Example. Therefore hate your life in this world and follow Him.
Jesus is your Shepherd.
26 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.
Many people think that serving God means serving the church. And if the church has a certain program, you just show up and you do the soup kitchen, you do homeless ministry, you reach out to college students, you feed the poor, you do missions. And if you are serving in these ways, people think, I am serving the Lord.
But that is not the true definition of serving the Lord Jesus. It says, if you will serve Me, Jesus says, you must follow Me. And remember from last week, from John 10, that Jesus is our Good Shepherd. And the Good Shepherd speaks and when He speaks, as sheep, we hear His voice and we follow. And that is part of what it means to follow Jesus, our Shepherd.
And some people have the misunderstanding that Jesus is everywhere. So wherever I am, Jesus is with me. The verse says, wherever Jesus is. Wherever I am, Jesus says, there my servant will be.
That means if Jesus is in that city we go to that city. If Jesus is in this job, you stay in this job. If Jesus moves, you move with Him. That is what it means to be where Jesus is. It’s not the servant who says, well Jesus is everywhere. I can just go wherever I want. Jesus will be right next to me. No, Jesus says, wherever I am. That implies that He moves. Just like He did with the disciples, He moved from town to town. He didn’t pitch a tent. He didn’t build a church and stay in one place. No, He moved and sometimes He moved to a town just to meet one person. Sometimes He moves to another town to preach to a crowd but He’s always on the move.
That means wherever Jesus is, we the sheep follow Him because we are His servants. If the Master says move, we move. The Master says stay, we stay. We’re servants. Jesus is our Shepherd.
Today I want to focus on another aspect of following Him because following Jesus can be following Him in terms of making decisions. Making decisions with Him. Waiting for Him to inspire you. Waiting for Him to lead you. That’s one aspect of following Him. I think that is advanced discipleship — to hear His voice and to follow His voice. That is advanced. I want to go back to something a little more elementary for the disciple of Jesus. It is to follow Jesus as our Example.
Jesus is our Example. How did Jesus do life? What was the manner in which Jesus did life? Jesus never asks us to do something that He didn’t do Himself. For example, it would be wrong if I told my boys to clean the bathrooms and I’m just bossing them around and I don’t clean my bathroom. A good leader does and shows by example, right? The leader is supposed to wash the bathroom and say, here this is how you wash the bathroom, right?
The leader is supposed to show by example, here is how you scrub the toilet. I want you to do it this way. Jesus was that kind of a shepherd. He didn’t just boss people around. He wasn’t just in a palace and then he told little scrubs to to go wash feet of other people. No, Jesus washed the feet. Jesus got His hands dirty. He is showing by example.
And so we follow Jesus, but before we follow His voice, let’s first follow His Example. How did he do life?
There’s one aspect that I want to focus on today. Verse 24.
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.
In verse 24, can we follow Jesus in this one? I don’t think so. Verse 24 is reserved for Jesus.
Because when He’s talking about the grain of wheat, if the grain just sits on your shelf or in a bag, it will remain a single seed – a single kernel of grain, a grain of wheat. But if it falls to the ground and it disintegrates, it dies in the ground, then up comes the crop. The wheat crop will come from that one single seed.
And it says when this seed dies, Jesus is speaking about His own life. It bears much fruit. Is this talking about Jesus growing in compassion or growing in love or growing in patience? No, this fruit is us. We are the fruit. Because He died, all of us are His fruit.
Can we follow Jesus so that if we die, we will produce fruit? Can we save anybody? No, we cannot follow Jesus’ example in verse 24. This one is reserved for Jesus. But why did He do 24?
He listened to His Father’s voice. See, remember Jesus is such a good shepherd and leader because He’s such a good follower. He didn’t do anything it says in John 8 on His own.
He only taught what He heard from the Father. He only did what He saw the Father doing and this time, He does verse 24 because His Father told Him, You need to die for the sake of all the brothers and sisters in Christ who will come to believe in You and they will be your fruit that comes from your life. You are the vine. Everybody is a branch attached to the vine. Jesus is such a good shepherd and leader because He is a follower. He followed the Father’s orders — the Father’s voice. We can’t follow Him in verse 24.
But we can’t follow him in verse 25.
25 Whoever loves his life loses it, and whoever hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life.
Jesus could have loved His life. He could have kept His life intact. He could have been that little seed that stayed on a shelf in a bag, never falling to the ground, never listening to the Father. He could have been self-serving. He could have lived for Himself. He could have loved His life in this world. And He could have said, I want to live until 133. Or 233. He could lived eternally on earth if He so chose. He could have disobeyed the Father. He didn’t have to die at 33. Jesus could have loved His life.
But what did He do? Because He heard from the Father, it’s time, the time has come. In verse 23, Jesus says that the hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. Before this time, Jesus kept saying, my time has not yet come. My time has not yet come.
But here He says, my time has come. People are going to speak to Him, but His office hours are closed. There are no more counseling sessions. Jesus is going to the cross. The time has come. Jesus could have loved His life. He could have held onto His life. He could have maximized His life. He could have had a long life in direct disobedience to His Father. But there would be no fruit. None of us would have become followers of Jesus.
Jesus expects His disciples to follow Him in verse 25 — Whoever loves his life loses it. But whoever hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life.
Love versus hatred. This hatred is not depression. This is not being in a bad mood. This is not being cranky. This is not just everything is going wrong with my life and I hate my life. It’s not that kind of a negative hating of one’s life. It’s reminiscent of Luke 14: 26 where Jesus says,
26 If anyone comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple.
So this is the prerequisite to becoming a disciple, that you hate father, mother, wife, children. Yes, even your own life. This hatred of course — we don’t literally hate our father, mother, children, wife. That would be contradicting Scripture. But in comparison to our love for Jesus and our devotion to Jesus and our desire to inherit the kingdom, our love for this world is so low, that it feels like hatred because the comparison is so great, there is such a big contrast.
So I just want to ask a simple question. Do you hate your life in this world? You must hate your life in this world in order to be a disciple. Do you hate your life in this world? Why is it so essential that you hate your life in this world the way that Jesus hated His life in this world?
Why is it essential? Because if you do not hate your life in this world, every time you pray, every time you make a decision, it will be self-serving. Your thoughts will be twisted in such a way that you will hear what you want to hear. That if you’re lonely, you’re going to pray and hear something that will satisfy your loneliness. I need a spouse.
If you are poor, you’re going to pray in such a way that you think, well, God doesn’t want me to be poor. God wants me to be financially rich, and you’re going to pray in such a way and make decisions in such a way to maximize your wealth.
Our minds are so easily deceived. We don’t realize at bottom, much of our thoughts and our decisions, much of our prayers are, how can I maximize this life? How do I love this life and get more of it?
Jesus says, You must hate your life in this world before you can even call yourself a disciple. You must hate your life in this world — it is the Christian mindset. What’s the context of verse 25?
17 The crowd that had been with him when he called Lazarus out of the tomb and raised him from the dead continued to bear witness. 18 The reason why the crowd went to meet him was that they heard he had done this sign. 19 So the Pharisees said to one another, “You see that you are gaining nothing. Look, the world has gone after him.”
This is the worldly mindset. Jesus raises a dead man. You can’t fake this. Lazarus has been in a tomb for four days. Everybody in the town knows. This is the final straw that sealed Jesus death. And listen to what the Pharisees are saying. The whole world is going after Jesus.
Meaning, who’s following us? What have we to gain from this life? We have gained nothing. What do we have to show for our lives? Nothing. You would only say that if you love your life in this world, if you’re trying to be somebody in this world, if you’re trying to be praised by men in this world, if you’re trying to be somebody or gain something in this world.
And you look at your hands. You have nothing and your life is meaningless. You hate your life because you have nothing. It’s also reminiscent of John 7. Jesus’ brothers, what did they say? Jesus’ brothers — James, Joseph (Joses), Judas (Jude), and Simon — what did they say? This is before they believed.
4 For no one works in secret if he seeks to be known openly. If you do these things, show yourself to the world. 5 For not even his brothers believed in him.
So Jesus is performing miracles in private. He’s teaching in private. He does some occasional public miracles, but He’s very careful because He knows if He raises a dead man to life, like He does in John 11 with Lazarus, He knows that’s the end. That one, there’s no turning back. He’s very careful and the timing of what He does and many things He does, He does in secret. Many times it is just to one person. You could think it’s such a waste of time. Why would Jesus only preach to one person when He is the best Teacher who ever lived? And He can heal anybody, deliver anybody, He can feed the crowd. Why would He waste His talent on one person? Because Jesus was not interested in gathering a following who just wanted to gain things from Him.
His brothers who did not believe say to Him, why are you doing so many things in secret. Show yourself to the world. It’s just like the Pharisees who said, we’ve lost everything. We had a following. Our synagogue was full. Now everybody is following Jesus. We’ve lost everything. We have nothing.
See, Jesus is exposing somebody who loves his life in this world. You’re clutching onto things. You’re trying to amass things. You’re trying to be noticed. And if that’s you, you do not hate your life in this world, which means you are disqualifying yourself from being a disciple. If you love your life in this world, when bad things happen to you in this life, what is your response? When you’re not making progress in your job, or people are on your case at your job or you feel like you’re failing at your job, things are just not working out, whatever it is, what is your response?
Do you get so frustrated because I’m not making progress, because people are against me, because I’m not climbing up the ladder? If that’s your response, you love this life. Just simply put, you love this life.
And you must repent if you want to be a disciple. You must repent and say I love this life too much. I’m trying to squeeze out things from this life that this life was not meant to give me. We must hold things, brothers and sisters, in this life lightly. At any moment, Jesus is moving. Are we going to say, well, I have to take care of this first. I have to bury my father first. I have to take care of things here first. I just got married. I just got sheep and oxen. I just have to take care of these. I’ll follow you later. Jesus said, no, you’re disqualified. Don’t even bother following me. You love your life too much.
We hold things lightly because when Jesus moves He expects that anything in our hands, we let go. And if you follow Jesus, I will guarantee that, to the world, your life will look foolish. Your life will look foolish. You’re going to make decisions that makes it seem like you have gained nothing and you’re losing everything. It’s like there are holes in your pockets and things are just just flowing out. It’s going to feel that way.
And the world is going to criticize you and mock you and say, what have you gained? What have you made out of your life? What is the legacy that you’re going to leave behind? This is worldly talk. This is worldly language. We have to abandon it. If we go to our grave and we have nothing and don’t have even a single penny to our name, is that a failed life?
As long as you believe in Jesus, this is a victorious life. You have nothing, you have nobody around you. Everybody thinks you’re a nobody, you failed, but you have Jesus, that is the greatest life. That is the greatest life because you understand that you must hate this life.
Why do we hate this life in this world? Because the world hates you.
18 “If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you. 19 If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. 20 Remember the word that I said to you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you. If they kept my word, they will also keep yours. 21 But all these things they will do to you on account of my name, because they do not know him who sent me.
Does it make sense for the believer to love his life in this world when the world hates the disciple of Jesus? The world hates you. If people look at your life and say, you’re doing well in this life and I want to imitate, I want to find out what cram school you went to, what study guides you did you use? How did you do your college essay? How did you interview at your first job? Let me learn from you. If the world looks at you and they are attracted, they’re applauding your life, they say you’re making it in this life, you’re making an impact, I want to follow you, can I interview you, can I hear your story, if the world doesn’t hate you, that means you are of the world.
Jesus says it so plainly that if the world is attracted to you, if you’re comfortable in the world, if you want the world, then you’re still of the world. Jesus saved you to bring you out of the world.
And yet there is still so much of the world in us. The same way that Moses brought the Israelites out of Egypt, but the people did not believe. The people grumbled despite all the miraculous provisions of manna, water and quail. These people just did not believe. They were so ungrateful. Because they are out of Egypt physically, but internally there is still so much Egypt in them. That’s why they perished in the wilderness with unbelief.
And so brothers and sisters, you were saved at one point, if you are a believer, out of this world. And yet did you know that there could still be so much worldliness in you? You’re still of the world. And you must repent of that. You can’t even call yourself a disciple. You can’t even follow Jesus if you’re worldly. Because all your ears hear are things that you want to hear. You’re going to perceive prayers and voices as just, how do I gain more from this life?
Unless you hate this life, you cannot be a follower. You will fail miserably in following Jesus if you love this life. The reason why Jesus is such a good Shepherd is that He is such a good follower. He hated His life and when God told Him, it’s Your time, He did not resist. If He loved this life, it would be more than one prayer at the Garden of Gethsemane. He would be bargaining. He would be negotiating, saying, no, I want to live longer. I want to do more. Three and a half years of ministry is too short. He would have bargained. If He loved His life, He would have fought God when He said, it’s time to go.
27 Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid. 28 You heard me say to you, ‘I am going away, and I will come to you.’ If you loved me, you would have rejoiced, because I am going to the Father, for the Father is greater than I.
At this point, when Jesus is talking about his departure, His death, burial, resurrection, the disciples still didn’t quite grasp what was happening. And so they are troubled. They don’t have peace. And Jesus says, if you actually loved me, you’d be so happy that now I get to go back to my Father. That’s somebody who does not love his life in this world. He just wants to be back with the Father. To Him, that is life. That is living.
And if they really loved Jesus, and Jesus says, I gotta go back to the Father, they would be so happy for Him. Christians crying at a funeral is such an anomaly. It just doesn’t make sense. Like if we really believed, if we really loved the person who died, as long as they’re a believer, wouldn’t we rejoice?
He person they loved, Jesus, the person they only caught glimpses of in this life, now they have the fullness of Jesus. If we really love the believer who passed, wouldn’t we rejoice?
Jesus is our Shepherd. We hear His voice and we follow Him wherever He goes. That’s where we are. He moves left, we go left. He moves right, we go right. And we follow Him in specific decisions.
But even more fundamental than is us following Jesus’ example. How did He do life? He did nothing on His own accord (John 8). He only spoke what He heard from the Father. He only did what He saw the Father doing. He never acted on His own. He never spoke on His own. How could He live this way as an obedient Son? It’s because He hated His life in this world. And He gained all of us.
And He expects, Jesus actually demands that all His disciples, we must also follow His example and hate our lives in this world. Because we so look forward to the next life. Because if you do not hate your life in this world, you cannot follow. You’re going to keep fighting Him. You’re going to hear wrongly. You’re just going to hear what you want to hear. The starting point, Discipleship 101 is, do you hate your life? That means you’ve laid it down. That means you have no script. You have no goals. You have no agenda. You have no purpose.
It’s such a false teaching. We talk about Purpose Driven whatever. That the purpose of your life is God’s going to give you something and you’re going to have an optimal life here. You’re going to be have a fruitful life here. You’re going to have a long life here. You’re going to have impact here. That is so false. Jesus doesn’t promise any of that.
He promises eternal life, not your best life here. Not a prosperous life here. Not fulfilling the purpose of your life here. No, your purpose is not to enjoy your life in this world. You have to hate your life.
Do you flaunt how good your life is? Do you show off how good your life is? Do you make people envy your life because of what you have? If so, you’re deceiving people and you’re deceiving yourself. We must hate our lives in this world.
Then you’re ready to follow. Follow Jesus’ example. Jesus hated His life in this world. He did not hold onto His life. He did not clutch onto His life. He let it go. He gained the fruit of all of us. And we must follow His example.
Okay, let’s pray.
Just a simple prayer to wrestle with as we close. Do you hate your life in this world? This is Discipleship 101. This is the foundation. This is the beginning point. Do you hate this life? Don’t believe the lies that God wants you to enjoy this life, or He wants to give you a great life now, with everything going well in this life. Or, He wants you to be prosperous and have no sickness and no tragedy. No, that is completely from hell.
Jesus said, you must hate this life. And all you want is to be close to Jesus. Follow Him and be close to Him, all the way to eternal life.
When it’s your time to leave, will you rejoice? If your life is cut short at 33, would you rejoice?
If your child’s life is cut short, but they believed, would you rejoice? These are the tests that reveal what we actually believe. At our funeral, the people around us, it will be revealed what they believe. Will they be rejoicing, or will they be grieving?
When Lazarus was in the tomb, Mary and Martha and the whole town, they were grieving. And Jesus was so angry. That is the translation. Jesus, you were so angry. They did not understand. They were submitting under the spirit of Death. That’s not how we’re supposed to live. We’re supposed to rejoice that we will overcome death.
Father, we ask You to give us understanding. It’s such a basic teaching, but it’s not taught, Lord. So many churches teach the exact opposite of what You taught. You don’t promise a good life here. You don’t say to love this life. Jesus said, we must hate it, and only if we hate it, are we free to follow you.
Like Ezekiel, sitting on his left side for 390 days. And on his right side for 40 days. He hated his life. That’s why he was so obedient. Who would do something like that? Who would live this way? Only someone who hated his life in this world. Only then can we be obedient. The things you will ask us to do, at times, will be so outrageous, so ridiculous to the world. It’ll feel like we’re losing.
But Lord, you lived that way. Jesus, You don’t ask us to do anything that You didn’t do first. You’re such a good leader because You’re such a good follower. And we want to follow Your example, starting with hating our lives in this world.
Lord, we repent because we love this life too much. We want it too much. We want to be famous. We want to clutch onto this life as if it’s something, as if it’s valuable when it’s nothing. When the world hates us, why do we want to grab more of it? It is so counterintuitive, Lord. Why do we love the very thing that is ready to persecute us and throw us into prison on account of the name of Jesus Christ.
Give us clarity, for the days ahead are going to get difficult. Give us clarity, Lord, so that we don’t buckle when the whole world turns on the believer, as it is in some parts of the world even now. Help us, Lord. Help us to toughen up as we let go of our love for this life in this world. Thank you, Lord. In Jesus Name, Amen