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Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Follow Until Others Come







Monkey See. Monkey Do.

John 12:20-33

New International Version (NIV)

Jesus Predicts His Death

20 Now there were some Greeks among those who went up to worship at the festival. 21 They came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida in Galilee, with a request. “Sir,” they said, “we would like to see Jesus.” 22 Philip went to tell Andrew; Andrew and Philip in turn told Jesus.
23 Jesus replied, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. 24 Very truly I tell you, 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. 25 Anyone who loves their life will lose it, while anyone who hates their life in this world will keep it for eternal life. 26 Whoever serves me must follow me; and where I am, my servant also will be. My Father will honor the one who serves me.
27 “Now my soul is troubled, and what shall I say? ‘Father, save me from this hour’? No, it was for this very reason I came to this hour. 28 Father, glorify your name!”
Then a voice came from heaven, “I have glorified it, and will glorify it again.” 29 The crowd that was there and heard it said it had thundered; others said an angel had spoken to him.
30 Jesus said, “This voice was for your benefit, not mine. 31 Now is the time for judgment on this world; now the prince of this world will be driven out. 32 And I, when I am lifted up[a] from the earth, will draw all people to myself.” 33 He said this to show the kind of death he was going to die.

 Monkey see, monkey do is a pidgin-style saying that appeared in American culture in the early 1920s. The saying refers to the learning of a process without an understanding of why it works. Another definition implies the act of mimicry, usually with limited knowledge and/or concern of the consequences. - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

You are most likely familiar with the phrase. You've probably used it more than twice in your time. You know what it means. People will do what they see other people doing. We use it when speaking of children, most generally. If one kid is getting into something then, pretty soon, you might have two or three kids getting into something. When asked why they are all getting into this unwanted disturbance there is usually some finger pointing back to the original culprit. The original "monkey".

I thought it would be interesting to investigate how monkeys learn. So, I typed that very phrase into Google and away we went. "how monkeys learn" Right off the top, the first article was from a 2007 article from Science Daily that said that Monkeys learn in very much the same ways that humans do. It seems that humans increase their learning capacity when they are actively involved in the process of investigating and digesting the information. In other words, it's a "hands on" means of learning rather than just being force fed the information passively. There was more than one search result that had to do with monkeys being able to learn to recognize themselves in the mirror. One of the neat moments in life is when we see our children recognizing themselves. They come to understand who they are and what they can do. Most often, we humans, and our monkey counterparts, learn what we can do by imitation. The copycat. We see somebody doing something and we begin to wonder if we can do it too. So, we try. And, pretty soon we learn our limitations and our boundaries. We learn to stretch them too. We learn what is too much for us to handle and what load we can bear.

As we approach this scripture today, lets keep all of this "monkey business" in mind.
 The scripture says some "Greeks" have come and they want to see Jesus.
It says here that they come to Phillip. John's account makes special note that Phillip is from Bethsaida, which in Hebrew means, "house of Fishermen". Didn't Jesus call these disciples to be "fishers of men"? It seems that in fishing, the fisher has to keep moving around while trying to find that perfect place to catch those fish. And, sometimes, the fish just come to you.

Phillip seems a bit unsure as to what to do. They haven't had much contact with the Greeks. In their travels they have come to the edge of the Decapolis, those ten Greek cities just beyond the borders of Israel. They have seen several foreigners come to Jesus with requests. They want healing. They want an audience. But, this looks like the most direct moment for any of the disciples. Now, these people want to see Jesus. What does Phillip do?

You can't blame Phillip for wanting to consult someone. He approaches Andrew. Funny that he would choose this disciple. Andrew has some history with bringing people to Jesus. Andrew is one of the first to follow Jesus. One of the first things Andrew does is to get his brother, Peter, and bring him to Jesus. Andrew might know what to do here. I think they make a wise choice when they are not sure what to do. They both go to Jesus, together. When we are not sure what we are to do or how we are to do it approaching Jesus, by yourself or with a friend, is the most logical and prayerful choice you cam make.

There is something about this moment that is a sign for Jesus. Something about these people approaching him makes him focus ahead down the road. There are other moments in the gospels where Greeks or other foreigners - non-Jewish people, have come to see Jesus. In each opportunity, Jesus is either amazed by their faith or puts them off, saying "I came not to reach out to the Greeks, but to the Lost sheep of Israel." Now, in this moment, there seems to have been enough of these visits. It triggers a sign that the end has come. It's time to really start thinking about  the cross.

Jesus has words for those who would come to follow him. His audience must be his own disciples as well as the Greeks who have come. The message is for all who would listen.
23 Jesus replied, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. 24 Very truly I tell you, 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. 25 Anyone who loves their life will lose it, while anyone who hates their life in this world will keep it for eternal life. 26 Whoever serves me must follow me; and where I am, my servant also will be. My Father will honor the one who serves me.
 What is he saying?
As spring time approaches, it's time to get ready to begin tilling soil and preparing the ground for planting seeds. Seeds actually are dead and live at the same time when put them in the ground. They hold life in their delicate frame as we drop them into the soil and cover them over. But, burying them also smothers them. They need water and air in order to spring up and have life. But, it only happens when a seed is placed in the ground. It's a strange process to explain and Jesus uses it to describe what our mission is and what his own purpose is for all of us in need of salvation.

To dies and give oneself in this manner means to give all we have inorder to fulfill the purpose of the kingdom. We follow until others come. We follow until people we don't even know wander up to the gates of heaven looking for an audience with Jesus. We meet the needs of people we don't even know. We give of our lives until they are spent of and used up. 

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