Dave Ayling a follower of Jesus
John 12: 24-36 “Very truly I tell you, unless a grain 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 honour 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 from the earth, will draw all people to myself.’ 33 He said this to show the kind of death he was going to die. 34 The crowd spoke up, ‘We have heard from the Law that the Messiah will remain for ever, so how can you say, “The Son of Man must be lifted up”? Who is this “Son of Man”?’ 35 Then Jesus told them, ‘You are going to have the light just a little while longer. Walk while you have the light, before darkness overtakes you. Whoever walks in the dark does not know where they are going. 36 Believe in the light while you have the light, so that you may become children of light.’ When he had finished speaking, Jesus left and hid himself from them.”
Today I am privileged to conduct the burial service of a friend and colleague of 30 years. Dave Ayling was known by many in the UK and around the world, a local Church Pastor with a global apostolic heart. I will stand (within the social distancing requirements) with his amazing wife Julia and their fabulous boys, Ben and Tom along with Dave’s siblings as we lay to rest his body. Though I know Dave is having a fantastic time in heaven I will grieve and weep with the family. I am thankful that today we can read the above verses of not only a description of the death of Jesus but the comfort it brings to all the followers of Jesus who will enter heaven the same way that Dave has done, through death. Unless we are alive when Jesus returns we all will go the same way. Some will go aged 54 years, others a lot younger and others older. Some will go immediately, tragically or after a long illness. The way we go will seem unfair or a relief from the suffering, but we will go that way. However, how we really die is determined how we have lived and whether or not we have died beforehand.
Dave lived as a follower of Jesus. He had died to himself, surrendering his life to live for God and for others. Death had no final victory. Eternal life did.
For whoever follows Jesus:-
- Death is a planting, v24-26
Jesus cleared the pathway for us to follow. God honours us as we follow Jesus in life and death. Most people live their lives for themselves or for their very own. Dave lived for Jesus and in surrendering he was buried in Christ a long time ago before today. Jesus said that this kind of death (and a position followers need to keep fixed) is like the planting of a seed.
Today not only the wonderful Derby City Church but the many people from across the world, especially leaders in the Church, will be pausing at 11am to give a prayer of thanks for the life of their loved friend who died in Christ. They are where they are today because of the impact Dave had in their yesterday. People like my son, Daniel, who will be with me today ministering in the service. I saw how Dave poured his life into my son as his assistant Minister. People like Matt Atkins, now a Pastor in Birmingham, who sent me this moving blog last night: https://mattatkins1.wordpress.com/2020/03/29/leaving-a-lasting-legacy/
I could list so many people. So many seeds.
- Death is still painful, v27
Jesus says he is troubled about his own death and in doing so we are greatly encouraged.
For Jesus, the Incarnation of God to be troubled as we all are is a huge comfort.
Within days of these verses Jesus will be in anguish in the garden of Gethsemane, but John has this recorded before.
The one who could do incomparable miracles, healing people, raising them from the grave, is troubled by his own death.
You see the story isn’t pain free. Perfect isn’t without trouble.
Some cannot cope with weakness and they certainly cannot believe in a weak God.
Others are confused and they debate and discuss (was it an angel, thunder or God?)
But others, like Dave, know that this trouble leads to something beautiful.
- Death is Glory, v28-36
Power and might, boasting, pushing others down, desiring to be seen and heard and known, this doesn’t bring Glory.
The love that surrenders our own desire, wants and ambitions for the sake of the Kingdom, for others, this is what brings the Glory.
Love that is generous and kind. Love that smiles and is fun.
This is the death that magnifies God, that brings His presence into situations and that causes the Glory to fall.
This is the light.
The call is to walk in the light, believe in the light and become children of the light.
For one day, like Dave did, we will walk into the Light of Heaven.