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John 12

But the chief priests plotted to put Lazarus to death also, because on account of him many of the Jews went away and believed in Jesus. John‬ ‭12:10-11‬ ‭NKJV‬‬

These verses are a perfect example of how sin gives rise to more sin.  The religious leaders were supposed to lead the Israelites and be outstanding models for them to follow.  When Jesus entered the scene, He threatened their authority, which made them angry and jealous.  They very quickly came up with a plan to kill Jesus to secure their political and social standings.  Nice.  Now, since Lazarus was a living example of Christ’s power over death, they planned to kill him too!  Sin is a very slippery slope that can quickly turn one sin into many.  Jesus’ brother James wrote about how temptation starts this downhill slide:  “Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death” (James 1:15).  What does this mean, that sin leads to death?  Sin is rebellion against God, which separates us from Him.  Jesus said, “I am the way and the truth and the life” (John 14:6).  Our spiritual life comes from God, so without Him we are spiritually dead.  Jesus came to give us life, and to save us from spiritual death.  Once we accept this gift, we are no longer at risk for being eternally separated from God.  However, this does not mean that, as believers in Christ, our sins have no consequences.  Every time we sin, it hurts God and grieves the Holy Spirit.  If we continue to sin without repenting, we will start to feel some of the symptoms of spiritual death, such as: guilt, emptiness, lack of joy and peace, confusion, fear, and being distant from God.  One way to ensure that we will not be trapped by sin is to practice something called Threshold Thinking.  This is the process by which we do not allow negative or sinful thoughts to dwell in our minds or lead our actions even one step in the wrong direction.  You cannot stop a thought or temptation from coming to you, but you can control where it leads after that.  As Martin Luther said, “You cannot keep birds from flying over your head but you can keep them from building a nest in your hair.”  Thoughts that do not line up with God’s Word need to be dealt with immediately.  Don’t entertain sinful ideas in your mind, get rid of them!  2 Corinthians 10:5 says, “We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.”  Preventing a sinful thought from reaching the threshold where an action could take place may be difficult, but it is entirely possible with Jesus’ help.  Try replacing the thought with one of Paul’s suggestions from Philippians 4:8: “Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable–if anything is excellent or praiseworthy–think about such things.” 

But Jesus answered them, saying, “The hour has come that the Son of Man should be glorified. Most assuredly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it produces much grain. He who loves his life will lose it, and he who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. If anyone serves Me, let him follow Me; and where I am, there My servant will be also. If anyone serves Me, him My Father will honor. John‬ ‭12:23-26‬ ‭NKJV‬‬. Jesus used wheat as an analogy for why His death and resurrection was necessary.  A single blade of wheat, no matter how perfect, is just one blade of wheat.  But once the blade of wheat dies and falls to the ground, it produces many seeds that can be scattered, buried and then bring forth new life.  Jesus pointed out that this is true in the plant kingdom, as well as being true in God’s Kingdom.  The death and resurrection of one person set in motion an almost 2,000 year process (so far) that would lead to BILLIONS of lives being born again into a new life.  God is not asking us to die physically in order to bring in more new believers.  Jesus was the One and Only sacrifice needed for the salvation of all mankind.  However, once we accept the gift of salvation that Jesus died to give us, we are expected to live a life that reflects the fact that our old self has died and that we have new life in Christ Jesus.  What does this look like practically?  Pride must die in order for us to walk in humility.  Insisting on having our own agendas and desires met must die in order to put the needs of others ahead of our own.  Giving in to temptation and sinful habits must die in order to stay in line with God’s will.  Possessive feelings over money and materialistic things must die to pave the way for generosity and cheerful giving.  Although our new life does start the minute we accept Christ into our hearts, the process of dying to self takes time for most people.  Remember that putting God’s priorities above our own has eternal blessings for us.   This is what Jesus meant when He said “the man who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life” (verse 25). 

What is it in your life that needs to die in order to produce more seeds for God’s Kingdom?   

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