Text: John 12:25
Whoever loves his life loses it, and whoever hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life.
25 Whoever loves his life loses it, and whoever hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life.
Father, We desire to learn from Jesus today what our attitude should be about life in this world. Lord, there are many different opinions about what this life holds, how we should view this life, how we should seize and take hold of this life and maximize this life. So Lord, we just ask that you would help us to learn from the Teacher, our Great Shepherd, our Chief Shepherd. We want to learn from you and we want to follow your example and follow your thinking regarding this life, this one life that we’ve all been given. In Jesus Name, Amen
What should our attitude toward this life be according to Jesus? He says, you must hate your life in this world. And that’s how you keep it for eternal life. He uses two different words for “life.” The first word when it says “hate your life,” it is psuche, which means a breath. Like when God breathes into humanity and gives every person a soul. Life is a breath. And then there is zoe, which means all of life, the span of life, lifetime, physical life. In addition, zoe, especially in this case, means spiritual life. Life now and forever. So this is future-oriented. This is life that spans all of eternity.
So Jesus says, regarding this short breath of life, you are to hate it, and that is how you keep hold of eternal life. And the word hate is the same word that he uses when Jesus says, hate your father and mother. It is renouncing one in favor of something that is better. And so we are to hate father and mother in comparison to how much we love Jesus and are loyal to Jesus. And so in the same way, we’re not literally hating this life. We’re not depressed. We’re not angry. We’re not sad in this life. But in comparison to our attachment and our longing and our desire for eternal life, our attitude toward this short breath of life feels like hatred compared to the love and longing for eternal life.
There are many different worldly people who have all sorts of worldviews concerning this life. There are many religious people who have a very similar worldview regarding this life. And I just want to cover some of the worldviews that I came across as I read the gospel of John.
15 Perceiving then that they were about to come and take him by force to make him king, Jesus withdrew again to the mountain by himself.
This is the crowd that was fed by Jesus, the group of 5000 men, so 10,000 to 15,000 in total. Their attitude toward this life is, we’ve got to make this guy king. He just fed us and I want to be fed over the course of this life.
It’s almost like communism. They want a communistic dictator who will feed them. That’s all they care about. They just want food. That’s their attitude toward this life. This life is about food. I want to make Jesus king to ensure that He will multiply food for me for the rest of my life so that I can be satisfied. All that they’re looking for in this life is physical food.
And then you have John 7. Jesus is speaking to His brothers.
3 So his brothers said to him, “Leave here and go to Judea, that your disciples also may see the works you are doing. 4 For no one works in secret if he seeks to be known openly. If you do these things, show yourself to the world.” 5 For not even his brothers believed in him. 6 Jesus said to them, “My time has not yet come, but your time is always here.
If you live in LA, we all know who passed away this week. You cannot turn on the news without reading some kind of a tribute to Kobe Bryant. And he was nicknamed the Black Mamba and he had a Mamba mentality. And I think it’s similar to what’s being described by Jesus’s own non-believing brothers. Their basic position is, you have one life, Jesus. I know you’re powerful and you’re performing all of these signs in secret. Why aren’t you gifting yourself to the world? Why aren’t you showing off to the world? Why aren’t you revealing your talent to the world? You know how successful you can be?
If you are a religious-minded leader and you just gathered 15,000 people, what would you do? You would take an offering. The second thing you would do is take down everybody’s information and tell them, we’re meeting exactly in this spot next week. We want to grow this thing. Bring your friends. We can go from 15,000 to 30,000 in one week.
Think of how successful Jesus could have been. He could have had the biggest megachurch around, but he was not religious in His mindset. And his brothers, they see the talent of Jesus. They hear the testimonies of 15,000 people being fed and their attitude is, show yourself, be a Mamba. You have one life. Take advantage of this opportunity. Seize it. Don’t let life slip you by. That is a worldly attitude. That is also a religious attitude.
Next, let’s turn to John 9 where we read about Jesus healing a man born blind.
22 – (His parents said these things because they feared the Jews, for the Jews had already agreed that if anyone should confess Jesus to be Christ, he was to be put out of the synagogue.)
The Jews want to get more information. Was this man really healed? Was he really born blind? Was he blind from birth? They’re asking the parents and the parents can’t give a straight answer. Shouldn’t they be so excited that their son is healed? Wouldn’t they want to testify about what happened? Wouldn’t they be so bold and courageous? And yet, they’re so fearful. The gatekeepers of the religion were these Jews. They were the leaders of the synagogue and the parents were cowards before these religious leaders because they didn’t want to be kicked out.
And I don’t know if you’ve ever been a part of a religious group with this kind of influence. I was part of one, and the herd mentality is so strong because the leaders of the group tell you how to think. It’s a groupthink. Everybody thinks the same way. Everybody acts the same way. And if you are a nail that sticks up, the leaders want to hammer you down.
There’s a Japanese saying that a nail that sticks up, you need to hammer it down. Everyone needs to conform. The influence of this herd mentality, this groupthink is so powerful. And fear is one of the major tools of religion to control people.
If you actually think about it – Israel was a conquered nation. They were subjects under Rome. And we know the ruler of this world is Satan. And so Satan is the one who is really in charge. He’s in charge of Rome and he’s in charge of the Jewish religious system. Romans are playing their part with State power. You have the religious system working together with the State. Their objective is to control the people. As long as the Israelites don’t cause a fuss to the emperor, everything’s fine. That’s how it works.
And then you have John 11:48. The Pharisees are speaking. And they have been plotting not only the death of Lazarus because many people believed on account of him being raised from the dead, but now they’re also plotting the death of Jesus.
48 If we let him go on like this, everyone will believe in him, and the Romans will come and take away both our place and our nation.
These are religious leaders who are under the thumb of Rome, and they’re so insecure. All they want to do is to preserve their place within a slave system. And what a metaphor for life! We want to preserve our little space, forgetting that the whole system is a slave system ruled by a deceiver. This is self-preservation at all costs.
And then John 12:5. You have Judas Iscariot, he says…
5 “Why was this ointment not sold for three hundred denarii and given to the poor?”
His attitude is, think about the greater good. Does he care about the greater good? Does he care about the poor? Obviously not. It says it right there. But he is trying to pretend like he cares. And religious people will keep doing that. Think about the greater good.
If you follow their words you will be bound. The attitude of worldly people and the attitude of religious people are very similar. I want to have a king who will ensure that I’m fed. You have one life. Show yourself to the world. Just be a part of the groupthink. Don’t stick out. Don’t deviate from what everyone is saying. Let society dictate how you should think. Self-preservation at all costs. That is the world’s view of this life, and that is also how religious people view this life.
And what does Jesus say about this life? Jesus says to His non-believing brothers,
6 Jesus said to them, “My time has not yet come, but your time is always here.”
Worldly people have no sense of timing because every day is now. Like if you are praying about whether you should take this job which pays more money or just wait on Him, it’s obvious you take the job with more money. There’s no sense of timing. There’s no waiting on the Lord. This idea that every good idea is a yes from the Lord, you assume it. But from what Jesus says, timing is everything. Timing is everything. Jesus for 30 years was a carpenter. He was just a carpenter. He was living in anonymity. Nobody knew him. It was preparation.
For 3.5 short years, He was thrust into the spotlight. And actually, even during those 3.5 years, Jesus was so careful because when the crowd witnessed the feeding, they wanted to make Him king. And what does Jesus do? He withdrew out of the spotlight because for Jesus it was not about being famous and having a big following. He did not have a big following. He had 120 people gathered in the upper room in the end, which is slightly larger than the average church in the world. He was not famous.
For Jesus, timing was everything. Everytime people were impressed for the wrong reasons, He withdrew. But at the end of Jesus’ ministry, what does He do? He raises a man from the dead. And now the spotlight is on Him. And now there is no turning back. This miracle was so big that when Jesus went into Jerusalem, the same crowd that witnessed Lazarus being raised from the dead, they are the ones saying Hosanna because they witnessed the miracle upon miracles, the raising of a man from the dead. And so many people are believing in Jesus.
Because of this miracle, the chief priests and Pharisees gather in a council. And they say, we’ve got to kill Lazarus and we’ve got to kill Jesus. He’s that much of a disruption into their nice, neat system. See, you cannot box Jesus in. He’s not part of a system. As followers of Jesus, we’re not part of a religious system, we’re out of the system.
And Jesus does things so unconventionally. So you could think that for Jesus, His timing was was wait, wait, wait. And at the very end, He does the miracle upon miracles, he raises a dead man. And now there’s no turning back. When Jesus talks about life, timing is everything.
And so there are many opportunities in life. If you do not know that there is a timing for everything, you will assume that everything that looks better is a yes. Everything that is more is a yes. Everything that you want to do is a yes. But timing is everything. Jesus is showing us that we cannot be worldly and say yes to every good idea. Yes, for more money. Yes, for every promotion. No, we have to wait upon the Lord.
So 15,000 people gather. We have to do a ministry to the poor. It’s a yes from the Lord. Look at how many people He brought. But Jesus doesn’t think that way. As soon as He saw the crowd and he discerned their motives, He withdrew. That’s Jesus’ attitude toward this life. It is not Mamba mentality. He’s not trying to maximize his life. He’s just trying to be obedient. And he’s waiting upon the Father’s green light. We have to learn timing. Timing is everything.
Another thing we learn from Jesus about this life is from John 7:7, the next verse.
7 The world cannot hate you, but it hates me because I testify about it that its works are evil.
What do you say about life in this world? Jesus says the world will hate you the same way that it hated Him. And why did the world hate Jesus? Why was Jesus not a popular figure? Because Jesus is always testifying about the fact that the works of the world are evil. Would Jesus be able to draw a megachurch? Obviously, He will not be able to do it. He did not do it in His earthly ministry. If He were preaching today, He would not be able to do it because He would be calling out the sins of this world.
There are many preachers who will make a very seeker-sensitive, easy message that will never offend you. Never talk about your sin and they will lead their congregation to hell. Jesus says the world will hate you because you will have to testify that its works are evil.
25 Whoever loves his life loses it, and whoever hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life.
How many times have you heard a sermon that says you have to hate your life in this world? This breath of life, this short life compared to eternal life, you need to hate it. This is almost the complete opposite of Mamba mentality which says this life is so important. You gotta work hard. You are to succeed. You gotta make your mark in this life. You gotta leave a legacy in this life. It is completely opposite of what Jesus says. Jesus says you need to hate your life in this world because life in this world is short. Eternity is long.
Psuke – breath of life. This breath life is, as soon as you breathe it, it’s gone. It’s just one breath. It’s that short compared to eternity. Eternal life which never ends. And so where should our focus be? Where should our heart be? It is not here. We’re not trying to make our mark. Even as believers, even as ministers, we’re not trying to leave our legacy here. We’re not trying to be famous here.
We want to be famous in the kingdom of God. We want God to know our name. We want the angels to know our name. It is not because we’ve made such an impact here. It is because we trust in His Son. And we believe what Jesus said that you must hate your life in this world and you will love eternal life. And Jesus preaches this right after going to Lazarus’ funeral.
33 When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come with her also weeping, he was deeply moved in his spirit and greatly troubled.
When it says that He was deeply moved in His spirit, this means He was downright angry. He is raging inside. It’s what you do when you admonish somebody. He is so upset. That’s the original Greek word for deeply moved in his spirit. Greatly troubled means He is agitated. He is shaken violently back and forth.
Jesus is witnessing people so upset that Lazarus’ life was cut short. And He sees how people’s attitude toward this life is, that it means so much to them. They should have been so happy that Lazarus is now really living life in eternity. They should have been so excited, so happy for him.
In the same way then, when Jesus is speaking about His own death, all the disciples are troubled. And Jesus says, why are you troubled? Don’t you know I’m counting down the days. I’m home sick. I want to go back home. That is Jesus’ attitude toward this life. I wish I could leave a day sooner. Thirty-three and a half years is too long. I wish it were shorter. That’s Jesus’ attitude toward this life. And for many of us, our attitude at a funeral is that it is so tragic because life was cut short. Because our heart, our attachment is in this life, and Jesus sees this and He tears. And that’s what makes Him so upset.
Let us repent of all worldliness, all traces of Mamba mentality. It is completely from Satan to leave your mark in this world, to seize this world, to try to leave a legacy in this world, to try to be famous in this world, to be worldly. It’s completely opposite of what Jesus says we should be. As disciples of Jesus, we should hate this life.
I hope at least once a week you can say to the Lord, I’m homesick. At least once a week, I hope you can say that there’s nothing in this life that you’re looking forward to. I mean, there are many joyous things, many memories, that you can have. Getting married, having children. There are many joyful things, but really are these things so important that they will ground you in this life and cause you to be so attached to this life so that when Jesus says it’s time to go home, you’re kicking and screaming because you want to stay a day longer here?
Jesus says no, you have to hate this life. There’s nothing to look forward to compared to what you will see and witness in the next life. And so Jesus is very clear. We must hate this life. Why do you seek to gain more of the world? Don’t you know the world hates you? Why do you seek more of it? If you testified that the works of the world are evil, you would know right away the world hates you. Why are you trying to fit in? Why are you trying to gain more of the world while you’re trying to leave your mark in this world? Don’t you know it’s all passing away? Don’t you know it’s all going to be burned up? Don’t you know it’s just a breath? Your life is just a breath compared to eternity.
And let’s learn from Jesus. Timing is everything. Let’s wait on the Lord. You want to obey the Lord when He tells us, do it and says no to all the good ideas. Jesus also knew the world would hate you, ultimately, because it hates Jesus. It hates the Jesus in you. Right now the world may just hate conservatives, but at the heart spiritually, they are hating Jesus. And they’re coming for you and me. Let’s not pretend that this world is okay with Christians. Know this world from the beginning because it is ruled by Satan and he hates you. You’re not gonna fit in. Life is short. Eternity is long. And so let’s express our homesickness. This is not our home. This is not our home.
Father, we are so thankful for the life of Jesus who teaches us how to view our life in this world. We almost never here in the Sunday preaching that we are to hate this life. But you said it, Lord, that you’re not trying to save this world and leave your mark in this world or be famous in this world. You just wanted to be obedient to the Father and to gather as many disciples as you could and to equip your church with the Holy Spirit so that we would go out to the ends of the earth and gather more people into the household of God.
Father, forgive us. Our attention and our focus is so grounded in this life, so anchored in this life. Our sense of timing is off. No wonder we cannot wait. Because every good idea we assume it is a yes. We just want more of the world. We want more memories in this world. We want success in this world, we want people to respect us in this world. Jesus, you didn’t care about any of this. When people wanted to make you king, you withdrew. That’s not the kind of kingdom you came to establish.
Father, teach us how to hate our life in this world. We repent of all traces of worldliness. We repent of all traces of a religious mindset that operates in a religious system, in a worldly way just to control people and to feed our ambition. That is not why you came and established your true church.
Father, we want to follow the example of your Son who was so ready to go home at any moment. He was so ready to go home. Thirty-three and a half years was too long. I’m sure he was dying to go home. He couldn’t wait to go home. Lord, I pray that you would grow that attitude in all of us. That we have many things to look forward to in this life, many memories, many joyous things, many celebrations, but none of that can compare to what awaits us.
And so, Lord, may we never be fooled that this is our home and that we have to make it perfect. It is not going to be perfect. We want our home to be in heaven. And, Lord, you’ve been preparing it for our lifetime. You’ve been preparing it for 2000 years, and so we cannot wait. We cannot even imagine how great heaven is going to be like, so we put all of our attention there.
I pray that you meet us as we remember your body that was broken. As we partake in your bread, we remember your blood shed. As we take the cup of the new covenant. I pray that you instill in each of us the same attitude that we would hate our life in this world because that much we desire eternal life with you. Thank you. In Jesus Name, Amen