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Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Amish pony ride

Amish boys riding on cart behind pony
Photo by Doris High

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"Many Seeds"

"I tell you the truth, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds" (John 12:24).

Portable greenhouse 3/31/10Well, it's the spring season again when Brooksyne gets excited about planting. A couple of weeks ago I made my usual contribution to our family gardening by transporting her portable greenhouse from our barn attic to the dining room where we get a lot of sun from the many windows that align three sides of the room. The greenhouse is merely a light weight, four shelved cart on wheels enclosed by plastic. Plants are accessible by unzipping the two front zippers which also help control temperature and moisture build-up. She can also roll the cart outside depending on the weather conditions. Just over a week ago she planted her annuals and perennials in anticipation of transplanting them outside in several weeks when the threat of a frost has passed. For our area that can be from early to mid May.

Sunflower seed germination 3/31/10
Each morning she enthusiastically takes a careful look and watches to see if any new seeds have burst through the soil in their tiny planter tray. Usually I'll hear a squeal of delight when another batch is springing up and occasionally she will insist that I come and take a look for myself. When I took the photograph this morning I noticed she even has my heavy duty flash light stashed in the corner. I guess she doesn't want to miss the slightest seed that might pop through since some of the new stems appear to be no thicker than a single hair.

Sunflower 9/3/09Presently the sunflower seeds she collected from our neighbor Marion are leading the pack and as the summer progresses they will produce beautiful large sunflowers in our yard yielding scores of seeds. In fact a single sunflower seed will produce a flower with some 2,000 seeds!

Today we're going to consider a teaching Jesus gave regarding seeds. It's an intriguing teaching in John 12:20-36 following His Triumphal Entry into Jerusalem. It begins with a request from some Greeks who were in the city to worship at the Feast. They came to Philip with this request. "Sir," they said, "we would like to see Jesus."

For many years I had a small placard I attached to the pulpit with those same words, "Sir, we would see Jesus." It was visible as I stood before God's people and preached each Sunday and it served as a reminder that it was not me that people came to see, but it was Jesus whom I sought to solemnly represent. It is an extremely important truth for all ministers of the Gospel to keep in mind as they break forth the Word of Life.

The text doesn't tell us whether these Greeks actually saw Jesus or if they were able to speak to Him. In fact they're not mentioned again in this passage. However I have wondered if one of these Greeks might have been Stephen who later had a leadership role in the early church and became the first Christian martyr recorded in Scripture.

Instead it launches into a teaching in which Jesus begins, "The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified." He knew what was ahead for Him culminating with His sacrificial death on the cross in just several days. The next several verses He powerfully and solemnly speaks concerning His glorification. Today let's just consider the next verse:

"I tell you the truth..." Jesus begins by saying something we can always be assured of when He speaks, yet prefacing a statement with these words will likely capture the listener's attention even more, as if to say ,"I'm going to go beyond the surface to tell you the deeper or underlying meaning unknown to others."

"Unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed." Jesus frequently used illustrations from agriculture in His teaching ministry and, as far as I can tell, this is His last one recorded in Scripture.

The cool spring planting season has already arrived in our area. Brooksyne planted lettuce, cilantro, spinach and sugar peas a couple weeks ago in our small garden. Farmers are preparing their fields, servicing their equipment, buying and planting seeds. The imprudent farmer could keep that seed, show it off to others, even remind himself of previous bountiful harvests, but its effectiveness would be nil as it would remain only a single seed. Instead, the productive farmer is interested in multiplication. He will place that seed in the ground and bury it. This is easily observed and indisputably true.

Corn planting
In Lancaster County lots of corn is grown. During the planting season I've often observed the farmers as they sow the corn. A relatively small bin of seeds for each row is attached to the planter for each row as shown in the photo above.

Corn harvestAfter the growing season at harvest time I also observe the combine as it works the same field. One large truck after another comes alongside the combine and soon the trucks are filled to overflowing with corn kernels (seeds). And so the law of dynamics is proven in Jesus' teaching, "But if it dies, it produces many seeds."

So, too, Christ had to give Himself up. His death was needful in order that He might impart new life and everlasting hope to a lost and dying world. Jesus willingly died and God resurrected His body. So, too, our sinful nature must die so that God will resurrect our spiritual nature in Christ. As a result we will bear much fruit as we walk in the righteous ways of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Daily prayer:  Father, we thank You for Jesus who gave Himself as a ransom for many.   He could have possessed His heavenly glory alone, without stooping down to make Himself a servant being made in human likeness.  He could have entered heaven alone even after He took on the nature of man, by His own perfect righteousness without the agony of suffering or death, but then we could not have been saved.  The entire human race would have been lost.  We thank You, God, for Jesus who became obedient to death, even death on a cross.  As a result You lifted Him to the highest place and gave Him the name that is above every name. It is through the obedience of Your Son, Jesus, that many are made righteous and we are forever grateful.  In Jesus name we give thanks.  Amen.

Today's Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources
Click on the link to open and play.
(In some cases you may also need to click again to start the song.)

Today I had a difficult time considering songs that directly relate to the message but these songs are related to themes in the overall context in today's passage.  John 12:20-35

"We Want To See Jesus Lifted High"  Video  

"Be Glorified"  Video

"Lord, I Lift Your Name On High"  Video

"Word Of God Speak"  Video  

"Shine, Jesus Shine"  Video

"I'm Forever Grateful"  Video

"The Bridge"  Video  This powerful dramatic video illustrates the sacrifice God made in allowing His Son to die for our sins.

Doris & Cerwin HighToday's top photo of the Amish boys riding in a cart behind a pony was taken by our friend Doris High. This is from a collection of photos taken at an Amish Mud Sale.

Major Events of the Passion Week

Here's an interesting chart from a Study Bible that may be helpful as you study the Bible this week. It sure helps me to have a sense of when the events took place and is inspiring to read these Scriptures in the daily sequence leading up to Easter.

The four gospels cover the life of Christ, a period of about 33 years. But most of this material deals with just the 3½ year period of His earthly ministry.  However, an astounding 30 of the 89 accumulative chapters in the gospels cover the period beginning with Christ's triumphal entry through His resurrection and post-resurrection appearances.  Mathematically this means that approximately 33% of the written material in the Gospels deals with a mere .05% period of His life!  In the providence of God we have a much greater proportion of Scriptural revelation dealing with God's greatest act of mercy in providing our redemption.

  • Triumphant Entry into Jerusalem: Matthew 21:1-11; Mark 11:1-10; Luke 19:29-40; John 12:12-19
  • Jesus Clears the Temple: Matthew 21:12,13; Mark 11:15-17; Luke 19:45,46
  • Jesus' authority challenged in the temple: Matthew 21:23-27; Mark 11:27-33; Luke 20:1-8
  • Jesus teaches stories and confronts the Jewish leaders: Matthew 21:28-23:36; Mark 12:1-40; Luke 20:9-47   
  • Greeks ask to see Jesus: John 12:20-26
  • The Olivet Discourse: Matthew 24; Mark 13; Luke 21:5-38
  • Judas agrees to betray Jesus: Matthew 26:14-16; Mark 14:10,11; Luke 22:3-6
  • The Last Supper: Matthew 26:26-29; Mark 14:22-25; Luke 22:14-20
  • Jesus speaks to the disciples in the upper room:  John 13-17
  • Jesus struggles in Garden of Gethsemane: Matthew 26:36-46; Mark 14:32-42; Luke 22:39-46; John 18:1
  • Jesus is betrayed and arrested: Matthew 26:47-56; Mark 14:43-52; Luke 22:47-53; John 18:2-12
  • Jesus is tried by Jewish and Roman authorities and disowned by Peter: Matthew 26:57-27:2, 11-31; Mark 14:53-15:20; Luke 22:54-23:25; John 18:13-19:16
  • Jesus is crucified and buried: Matthew 27:31-56; Mark 15:20-41; Luke 23:26-49; John 19:17-30
  • The glorious resurrection: Matthew 28:1-10; Mark 16:1-11; Luke 24:1-12; John 20:1-18
(This material is developed from an outline in the Life Application Bible)

Finally today:  
Doggie dentures? This video has nothing to do with today's message and neither is it spiritually-related but it sure is funny!

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Scripture references are from The Holy Bible: New International Version. © 1984 by International Bible Society; NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1995 by The Lockman Foundation, New King James Version (NKJV) Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. and the King James Version.

Personal Mission Statement: "I am created by God to bring Him glory. Through God's Son Jesus Christ I have been redeemed and I make it my life's goal to please the Lord. My mission in life is to honor God through my faith and obedience and to prepare myself and all whom I may influence for eternity."

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