“New Life”

How can we meet Jesus in our lives and introduce him to others who are searching for him? John tells us that some Greek travelers who came to Jerusalem for the Passover wanted to meet Jesus. They were not Jews, but were devout seekers of God.  It was not unusual for Greeks to travel the then known world.  Greeks loved to journey and discover new things.  When these Greeks heard of Jesus, they wanted to meet him personally, but didn’t know how to approach him.  So they did something a Greek would feel comfortable doing.  They found a sympathetic looking insider named Philip, a disciple of Jesus whose name happened to be a Greek name, and asked him how they could meet with Jesus.  Philip surprisingly didn’t know what to say.  Andrew fortunately stepped in and personally introduced these foreigners to Jesus. How can we help people discover the Lord Jesus today? One of the best ways to introduce people to the Lord is to invite them to “come and see” the Lord present among his people when they gather for prayer, bible study, and the “breaking of the bread” at the Lord’s Table.

Jesus’ response to giving an audience to these Greek visitors points to the reason why he came to Jerusalem at this Passover Feast.  Jesus knew that this was his “hour” — the time of fulfillment when he would be glorified through his suffering and death on the cross.  John in his gospel account points out that is was not only the Jews who were seeking the Messiah, but foreigners as well.  Jesus came to offer his life as an atoning sacrifice not only for the chosen people of Israel, but for all nations as well.

Jesus told his disciples a short parable about the nature of seeds to explain the spiritual significance of death and rebirth.   His audience, including many who were rural folk in Palestine, could easily understand the principle of new life from nature.  Seeds cannot produce new life by themselves.  They must first be planted in the earth before they can grow and produce fruit.  What is the spiritual analogy which Jesus alludes to here?  Is this, perhaps, a veiled reference to his own impending death on the cross and resurrection?  Or does he have another kind of “death and rebirth” in mind for his disciples?  Jesus, no doubt, had both meanings in mind for his disciples.  The image of the grain of wheat dying in the earth in order to grow and bear a harvest can be seen as a metaphor of Jesus’ own death and burial in the tomb and his resurrection.  Jesus knew that the only way to victory over the power of sin and death was through the cross.  Jesus reversed the curse of our first parents’ disobedience through his obedience to the Father’s will — his willingness to go to the cross to pay the just penalty for our sins and to defeat death once and for all.  His obedience and death on the cross obtain for us freedom and new life in the Holy Spirit.  His cross frees us from the tyranny of sin and death and shows us the way of perfect love.

If we want to experience the new life which Jesus offers, then the outer shell of our old, fallen nature, must be broken and put to death. In Baptism our “old nature” enslaved by sin is buried with Christ and we rise as a “new creation” in Christ.  This process of death to the “old fallen self” is both a one-time event, such as baptism, and a daily, on-going cycle in which God buries us more deeply into Jesus’ death to sin so we might rise anew and bear fruit for God. There is a great paradox here.  Death leads to life.  When we “die” to our selves, we “rise” to new life in Jesus Christ.

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  • Llkazlas

    This was a really good homily today and very well written.  That being said, the only thing I disagree with is in the ending:

    “What did he mean when he said that one must hate himself?”

    Jesus said in today’s gospel:  “Whoever loves his life loses it, and whoever hates his life in this world will preserve it for eternal life.”

    Jesus never said “that one must hate himself”.  Actually the 2nd great commandment that he gave us contradicts this:  Mt: 22;39 – You shall love your neighbor “as yourself”.  There is no other commandment greater than these.”  So, Jesus commanded us to love ourselves as much as our neighbor and vice versa.

    However, Jesus gave his life for others and suffered because of it.  Suffering and self sacrifice is the measure of love. Anyone can pursue their own interests and desires and find some measure of comfort and happiness in their lives.  We were born a bit selfish and desiring these things.  But, if we are comfortable, happy and enjoying our lives most of the time, then we are not imitating Christ.  That is why he said “whoever loves his life loses it.”  Giving of our time, talent and treasure for others should cause us a little discomfort.  It should mean we have a little less time and money to live a very comfortable, enjoyable life.  Giving our time to others and to God too, should take away time and money from TV, movies, face book, sports, going out to eat or whatever other things that we enjoy. 

    The last line of this homily states:  “Do you hope in the Lord and follow joyfully the path he has chosen for you?” 

    If we truly do hope in the Lord, then we follow the path that Jesus himself followed:  “Whoever serves me, must follow me.”  And our Lord did not hate himself, but loved God and other people enough to give up his own “comfort” and a happy life for the Father that he loved and for the people that he also loved, more than his own life.  He could have been a successful carpenter with a wife and children, have a comfortable “place to lay his head” and a long, happy life.  He could have kept his beliefs about God to himself, therefore not upsetting anyone (like the Pharisees).  But he didn’t do that.  And the whole whole became a better place because of it.  Not just here on on earth, but for all eternity.

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