Guests: and

Opening Question

What makes people so fearful of dying?

Dying is the end of all flesh. Almost every person who has ever lived before this current generation has also died. But death is also a metaphor used for spiritual growth; that is, we must die to our own desires and our self-rule before we can truly live. There is a great paradox here, as Jesus says, the one who seeks to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospels will find it. So, do we seek to save our lives by dying? Our lesson this week is about dying to self and becoming a seed that will bear fruit.

The Seed
There are no parables as such in John’s gospel, but here in John 12 we find one that may be like a parable. Jesus was a master at drawing lessons from the natural world His Father had created. And here Jesus speaks about a kernel of wheat. The only way for the wheat—the hard, knarled, knotty little grain—to grow, it must be buried. Metaphorically, Jesus notes the dead, apparently life-less seed must also be put back in the ground. But there, a miracle happens. The seed still has life at its heart, but it cannot grow without the right conditions.

How else is the seed dying and being buried a metaphor for Christian experience?

What aspects of our lives must die if we are to have the life God intends for us?

Dying with Christ:
So human nature must be put to death. We cannot truly live for Christ unless He crucifies us. Paul uses this analogy in Romans 6:1-9. This passage speaks about dying to self and being freed from sin. Perhaps, though, Paul’s analogy goes too far… for surely nobody can be free from sin, right? Or do we fail to recognize the power of death to self? Ephesians 2:5-10 affirms that we were fully dead in our trespasses and sins already. What do we have to lose by dying with Christ?

How can I know that I have died to sin? Will I ever have such evidence?

What should happen in my life if I’m certain sin still lives in me and rules over my life?

How is Christ’s resurrection essential to Paul’s analogy between Christ’s final hours on earth and my own identity with Him?

Christ’s Example
One of the early church’s first hymns is found in Philippians 2:3-11, a song of Jesus’ condescension in the incarnation, and ultimate exaltation. Paul asks us to emulate Jesus by having the same attitude.

What was this attitude and how do I become more like Him?

Should I humble myself in order to be exalted, or is the humility complete in itself?

Living Sacrifices—Alive While Dying
Paul further encourages us in Romans 12:1-2 to offer ourselves as living sacrifices. But this doesn’t mean the death of our physical bodies. It means far more to God that we offer our hearts to Him. The Old Testament parallel seems to be Psalm 51:15-17 where the Psalmist cries out, “O Lord, 1aopen my lips, That my mouth may declare Your praise. For You ado not delight in sacrifice, otherwise I would give it; You are not pleased with burnt offering. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; A broken and a contrite heart, O God, You will not despise.”

If someone asked you how to present your body as a living sacrifice to God, how would you respond?

Closing Comments
If you haven’t read the Voyage of the Dawn Treader by C.S. Lewis, consider this an invitation to read the story of Eustace, who through selfishness and pride became very dragon-like; only Aslan (the symbol of Christ) could strip him of his dragonish self. Eustace said it hurt like everything, but felt delicious at the same time. Nothing hurts more than allowing yourself to be sacrificed—your hopes, dreams, motivations, desires, and habits formed throughout life. Asking God to sacrifice the god (little-g) on the throne of my heart hurts like everything.

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