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Love It Or Lose It

John 12:20-33

The Rev. Jon Roberts

21 March


Calvary Episcopal Church

Indian Rocks Beach, FL

20 Now among those who went up to worship at the feast were some Greeks. 21 So these came to Philip, who was from Beth-sa′ida in Galilee, and said to him, “Sir, we wish to see Jesus.” 22 Philip went and told Andrew; Andrew went with Philip and they told Jesus. 23 And Jesus answered them, “The hour has come for the Son of man to be glorified. 24 Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. 25 He who loves his life loses it, and he who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. 26 If any one serves me, he must follow me; and where I am, there shall my servant be also; if any one serves me, the Father will honor him. 27 “Now is my soul troubled. And what shall I say? ‘Father, save me from this hour’? No, for this purpose I have come to this hour. 28 Father, glorify thy name.” Then a voice came from heaven, “I have glorified it, and I will glorify it again.” 29 The crowd standing by heard it and said that it had thundered. Others said, “An angel has spoken to him.” 30 Jesus answered, “This voice has come for your sake, not for mine. 31 Now is the judgment of this world, now shall the ruler of this world be cast out; 32 and I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to myself.” 33 He said this to show by what death he was to die.


The Gentiles ask to see Jesus by James Tissot, 1886-1902

Life is a series of choices to which you must decide whether to love it or lose it. [1]

Twelve years ago (2008) HGTV began to air a series of shows that belonged to both reality and realty. Out of Toronto, “Love it or List It” quickly became one of the most watched tv shows on basic cable. Over 12 million people watched the show in two months alone in 2019 when it crossed 200 episodes.[2] Over two hundred homes were remodeled in their target fields located in the Raleigh-Durham area of my home state of North Carolina. The show’s concept was simple. Two hosts, Hillary Farr and David Visentin, would make an offer to a home owner to remodel their home. If they didn’t like the end result after the project was completed in a few months, then they had the option to list it and make a profit. They could then move to buy another house on the market that they preferred. Hillary tried her best to make the couple love the renovation, while David went shopping for homes to which may be even more desirable. The temptation was great for many, who were attached to their homes but also thought about the joy of starting anew. You could tell it was a surprise to them, how well most of the projects turned out. The struggle was real. Over the years, most people decided to “love it,” keeping what was familiar, of course, with a new look.

When we hear Jesus say, “If you love your life, you will lose it” can we apply the same, for both the reality and realty of our souls? [3] Jesus, in the Gospel today, is met by some Gentiles who wanted to see him. We must remember that for his three years of Galilean ministry he was changing lives. He was confronting people left and right, challenging them to make a decision to leave what they knew and follow him or remain where they were. Out with the old and in with the new, they had to decide whether to love it or lose it. In another Gospel account we hear Jesus say, “Whoever finds their life will lose it and whoever loses their life for my sake will find it.”[4]

In order to appeal to the larger audience, it was necessary to indicate “Gentiles” came to see Jesus. For three years he was mainly around the twelve disciples with occurrences of larger crowds who came to hear and see. His message was radical and wonderful, associated with a personal choice to love the status quo or to lose it for something far better. Letting go, losing something in hopes of gaining something better, Jesus refers to a single grain that must die, in order for fruit to be produced. Much like a renovation, you have to break things down in order to build them up. He was, no doubt alluding to the Cross which was not far away from his entry into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday. This is why we are hearing this lesson today. It is to prepare us for what is to come; to challenge us to reflect on one last Lenten Sunday of our sinfulness and what we are willing to let Jesus remodel in our soul. He knows the hearts and minds of his people and what suits them best. He is good at persuading you to keep what is familiar only if you are willing to have it changed for the better. The problem lies in why it is so hard for us to let go of the things we love, not for Jesus’ sake, but for our own. The Collect/prayer today gives us further attestation by pleading to God, who, “alone can bring into order the unruly wills and affections of sinners. Grant your people grace to love what you command and desire what you promise.” Love it or Lose it, we discern how God wants to put us good order.

When we look into the place we live, where our hearts and our minds dwell, we may complain about it, but we either do not want to, or do not know how to make it better on our own. Think about how much a challenge it is to cohabitate with others. You can’t find your keys because somebody put them in a drawer. You trip on somebody else’s shoes, so you move them. The dust, the clutter, although distressing to the visitor, is what we become comfortable. When things are moved, much less torn apart and thrown out, we become unruly and anxious.

We have some examples of such homeowners from the Bible, who had a tough time deciding, when hearing Jesus’ message, whether to love it or lose it. Peter was a good example of that renovation. Although he was refusing to change and even denied Jesus’ invitation to be his true disciple, he came around. He let go and trusted the improvements. Jesus knew his mind and his heart best, knowing what he needed to help him on his journey. Others may need a complete change, moving away entirely in order to be restored to God. Paul was a good example of that conversion. He thought it was God’s command to rule out and persecute those who did not adhere strictly to the Torah, the Temple and the Tax of the Law, but he was wrong. Jesus knew a better place for him to live and Jewish Saul, changed his name to Gentile Paul to reach out to a larger group of listeners. Some may hear what Jesus is asking, to be born again, like Nicodemus or the rich young man, but unwilling to let go. They remain in their habitat, learning neither how to love nor to lose their lives for the sake of following Jesus.

What is Jesus calling you to do about your life? Are you afraid of his design to remodel, to tear down and to build up? If all of this sounds Greek to you, look at the upcoming Holy Week as a time when God is called to renew a clean heart within you; [5] a time when you see the demolition caused by the crucifixion and the reconstruction by his resurrection. In these moments, in those places you are called to come and see. There, you will need to make a choice for your life; to love it or to lose it.

[1] The Rev. Jon Roberts
[3] John 12: 25
[4] Matthew 10:39
[5] Psalm 51:11

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