Jesus knows that the hour has come and he begins to prepare the disciples for it by telling them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but it if dies, it bears fruit.”
“Whoever loves his life loses it, and whoever hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life.” John 12:25
This comment by Jesus comes as a response to Andrew and Philip who have informed Jesus that some Greeks, who had come to worship at the feast being celebrated in Jerusalem, wanted to see him. Jesus’ hour was at hand and this response is connected to that.
Jesus knows that the hour has come and he begins to prepare the disciples for it by telling them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but it if dies, it bears fruit.” (verse 24) Jesus is telling them that he is the grain of wheat that must “fall into the earth and die” in order to bear this fruit of salvation and that this fruit will not be just for the Jews, but it will be for all people. He is also challenging us with the fact that we, as the “new wheat,” grown from that original seed of Jesus, must also be willing to “die” to ourselves, in order to be fruitful enough to pass on this living faith to our children, to our neighbors, and even to our enemies.
We must not love this life more than we love God. We are to have faith enough to let go of all that the world counts as good, for the greater good of the kingdom of God. This is not solely a materialistic idea. It is not only about material wealth, or material things. It is also about things like ego, or our hunger for fame, or to be counted among the important ones. If those things become the drivers in our lives, we will certainly lose our eternal lives. If, on the other hand, we “die” to those things and give our full attention to God, to the eternal things, we will save our eternal lives.
The theme of death and resurrection are at the heart of this passage. We have been called to share in, and to live out the fullness of the Christ life in this world. He came for all and he came to serve, not to be served. When we accept the Christ life we are accepting all that comes with it. We accept the duty to lovingly serve our all of our brothers and sisters, even if it means sacrificing our all. In order to do this we must, like Jesus, put them before ourselves. We must let go of anything that causes prideful thoughts, words, or deeds within us. As disciples of Jesus, we are called on to “die” for others in the sense that we are to be there for them, to love them, to forgive them, to care for them, no matter the cost to ourselves. It is this that bears the fruits of God’s love into the world through us. Most of the time our “dying” will be done without our seeing the effects of grace on the other. God will take care of that. We must die to the need for recognition. For if we serve only for recognition, to be seen and honored, then our service will be fruitless. It will have no life in it. We must die to ourselves first. We must choose this willingly. Of course this is not easy. Wet can do this only through faith and through God’s grace. But this is what Jesus is calling us to in this passage. If we choose this death to self, and begin to walk willingly, if tentatively, in his way, he will always be with us in his Holy Spirit. That is his promise to us.
Lord, help us to deny ourselves for the greater good of serving others out of our love for you. We see the wisdom of this, but we need your graces of strength, wisdom, and courage to be selfless in this selfish world. Make of us your good and faithful servants, Lord, so that we may bear the fruit of your love to all those around us. We pray in Jesus’ name. Amen!
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