John 12:24 Generation
Introduction: Rev. Alistair Brown, General Director of Baptist Mission Society of England, in his challenging message at Swanick, 2003 “Baptist Mission in the 21st Century” said, “ The church of Jesus Christ needs to pray that God would give us John 12:24 Generation. We have seen these generations in the past, to name few of them:
Jim Elliott: to the Aucus
David Living Stone: In Africa
Mary Slessor: in Africa
Adoniram Judson: in Burma
William Carey: in India
Hudson Taylor: in China
Dr. M.D. East: in Burma
When the Greek came and requested Philip, “Sir, we would like to see Jesus.” The Lord answered to their request saying, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. Truly, truly I say to you, unless and grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains by itself alone, but if it dies, it bears much fruit. He who loves his life loses it, and he who hates his life in this world shall keep it to life eternal. If any one serves Me, let him follow me; and where I am there shall my servant also be; if anyone serves Me, the Father will honor him.” Let us look at some of the characteristics of John 12:24 generations:
I. THEY ARE DYING TO SELF: (Vs. 23-24)
My pathway to glory is through death. By dying like the grain of wheat, I will be bearing much fruit. Without dying, the grain of wheat will not produce life. The Lord is ready to give His life for the forgiveness of sin and pave the way to heaven. Death on the cross is not a way of defeat but, rather it is the way to glory. It was the hour of glory because it fulfilled the plan of God.
Why we are not fruit bearing? One of the obvious answers is because we are selfish. “Self” is the dominating our attitudes, views and actions. Selfishness is the root of all sins. It is a natural sin. It comes easy. All of us are egocentric at the core of our hearts. The law of man’s self-seeking nature is that he or she shall strive to make himself or herself the center of the world. We are being driven to seek security by trying to reach self-sufficiency and self-actualization.
We need to crucify the “self” at the foot of the cross. Apostle Paul stated the parallel between Christ’s death-burial-resurrection and baptism in Romans 6:1-4. In baptism we enthroned God and dethroned the “self.” As Jesus was buried in the tomb, so we are buried with Him in baptism. As Christ was raised from the tomb, we are raised from the water (grave) into new life.
My cousin brother, who is now the Principal of ANTS and pastor of Siyin Baptist Church in Yangon, in 1980 he was seeking for admission at Union Biblical Seminary in Maharastra state. He was fervently requesting the Principal and Registrar for a seat in the class of Bachelor of Divinity. He was praying to the Lord saying, “Lord, getting admission in this institution let it be my will, after that everything will be your will.” About two weeks he was wrestling with the Lord, the more and the longer he prayed, his prayer seemed to be reaching to the ceiling and returned. Finally one morning, he could no longer put his agenda, but prayed, “Lord getting admission or not getting, let it be your will. If it is your will that I should return, I am ready to go home and serve You.” He was given the admission in few minutes after that prayer.
II. THEY ARE DEVOTED TO GIVE AWAY THEIR LIFE: (Vs. 25)
The Lord said, “He who loves his life loses it, and he who hates his life in this world shall keep it t life eternal. The Lord explained to the Greek visitors that “there are two kinds of life, and they are put in contrast to each other.” The first is a life that enjoys the things of the world and finds satisfaction in the gratification of the senses. It is the kind of life similar to the Epicurean motto, “Eat, drink, and be merry.”
Loving our life more than God, seeking the pleasures of this world than pleasing God, we will lose it. Many people hugged themselves to death, and lost their lives by over-loving it. Giving over his soul, his God, his heaven, but live for the passing pleasure is like Esau, who sold his birthright for a mess of pottage.
The second part is to “hate life.” It means that if we don’t live for this world or for the things of this world, but live for Jesus, then we get life eternal. Eternal life comes through the death of that grain of wheat that fell into the ground and raised again, the Lord Jesus Christ. That is the way we can save our lives. Such people don’t seek and live for themselves but for the One who gave His life and died for their sake.
It is this reason that Gladys Staines (wife of Graham Staines missionary from Australia in Orissa, India) whose husband and two minor sons were burned to death could say, “Because I have experienced forgiveness in my own life it is possible for me to forgive others.” It is because of this, that she built a hospital in the name of her late husband Graham Staines, who worked among the lepers more than 40 years.
The Saint of the Gutter in Kolkata, Mother Teresa won the hearts of the people around the world by her love and living out her faith day to day. In the heartland of the religious fanatics and fundamentals, her devotion to love and care for the lepers, the sick and the dying is a great antidote to them. It is because of this servant hood and selfless dedication that has captured the Indian people who considered her as a hero. Even though she publicly expressed her opposition to the anti-conversion bill which the fundamentalists were trying to introduce, she was regarded as a saint and a social reformer. That is why she said, “We will allow Jesus in the Light of Charity, in the Truth of Humility, in the Life of Sanctity, to shine in us and through us, and thus bring a multitude of our poor to God, to the glory of the Church and the greater glory of God.”
John 12:24 Generation
On another occasion she said, “I have the feeling that we are in such a hurry that we do not have time to look at one another and smile. When a poor person dies of hunger, it has not happened because God didn’t take care of him or her. It happened because neither you nor I wanted to give that person what he or she needed. We have refused to be instruments of love in the hands of God to give the poor a piece of bread, to offer them a dress with which to ward off the cold. It has happened we didn’t recognize Christ when, once more, he appeared under the guise of pain, identified with a man numb from the cold, dying of hunger, when He came in a lonely human being, in a lost child in search of a home.”
III. THEY ARE DIRECTED TO FOLLOW: (Vs. 26)
“If any one serves Me, let him follow me; and where I am there shall my servant also be; if anyone serves Me, the Father will honor him.” The Greek came to see Jesus, but He told them, it was not enough to see Him, they must serve Him. In service we are to follow His footsteps.
We are to follow His teachings and examples. Like a sheep, we must follow our Shepherd. The challenge is to follow Him in touching those who are sick, feed those who are hungry, transforming the unfriendly situation to become a place where love, peace, equality and truth exist.
Jesus is the King, we are His servants. Our King is on the throne and He is ruling. We have no agenda of our own. We are to fulfill His mission here on earth.
I would like to close by telling a story of a man from my own Zomi community, namely late Mr. Nengzatun. When he was married he was struggling to make ends meet. However, he was so burdened for the perishing souls that, he prayed a bold prayer; saying, “Lord I want to serve you, I cannot sing nor preach. But if you give me money I will used it to support missionaries.” The Lord blessed him step by step. First, he ran a Timber shop. He was conscious that he had that shop in partnership with Jesus. Secondly, he purchased trucks to carry timbers from the forest. Those trucks were also jointly owned by the Lord and him.
He started supporting missionaries through Indian Evangelical Missions and Friends Missionary Prayer Band. Towards the later part of his life he singly supports 35 missionaries who were working in the remotest parts of India.
One morning, one driver said one of the trucks fell in a deep gorge that the timbers and vehicle is gone. He was saddened by the news and yet as his usual practiced he went for his dawn prayer. As soon as he reached the church, he started exclaiming, “Halleluijah” Lord, the truck is your truck and my truck, the support for the 35 missionaries is your responsibilities as they are serving you. I am just a small partner in building your Kingdom. He celebrated silver jubilee ringing the church bell for the dawn prayer, he missed ringing only two times during those 25 years. His greatest desire is to live and give for the Kingdom of God.
The Lord Jesus is searching for John 12:24 Generation once again. We seen Americans have done their parts in the past, you’ve brought the gospel in the remotest parts of the globe. We are the result of those sacrifices you’ve made. The question I would like to ask you is this, “How different are you from those who took the gospel literally around the world?” God is asking are you willing to be among the John 12:24 Generation?
Dr.J.M. Ngul Khan Pau
(Preached at Hinson Baptist Church, Portland, Oregon on October 12, 2006)