If we recognize that this life, for all of its pleasures and potential personal gains, is nothing in comparison to Life in the fullest and eternal sense, and if we live in accord with that awareness, we will finally and surely gain our deepest desire, Life unending.
The words of this particular passage of John’s Gospel are profoundly important. We who call ourselves Christians are called upon to reflect on these words and to heed them in our lives today and every day. Jesus has, for the first time here, made reference to the central purpose of his Incarnational mission, the fact that, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified.” (verse 23) What does this mean for us today?
Jesus uses some lovely metaphors in this passage (John 12:23-26) in his effort to get the disciples to understand what must come about in order for his mission to be complete. He compares himself to a grain of wheat which must fall to the ground and die in order to bring forth many more seeds. This metaphor is a perfect comparison to what Jesus is going to do through his own death and resurrection. He must die in order that many may live. After all, it is his singular death that will save the world.
But the message has clear implications for us today as well. For he goes on to say, in effect, that the same must hold true for us. If we cling to the things of this world, to life in the smallest, most narrow and guarded sense, thinking only of ourselves, we will lose the very thing we have hoped to protect. If we recognize that this life, for all of its pleasures and potential personal gains, is nothing in comparison to Life in the fullest and eternal sense, and if we live in accord with that awareness, we will finally and surely gain our deepest desire, Life unending.
How do we do this? As Christians, we know that this is only possible when we love and serve God and our neighbors as he has loved and served us. When we choose with our whole hearts, our whole minds, our whole souls, and our whole strength, to love God, and our neighbors as ourselves, we will gain God’s promise of eternal life. When we choose to follow Christ, we will be where he is in this world today. And he will be with us. Where is that? Wherever there is suffering and need, be that in our own homes, or in the streets. God is closest to those who are suffering, those who are weak, those who are in need, the poor, the widow, the orphan, the alien. As followers of Christ, this is where we should be too. And his promise to us is good. The Father will honor those who follow and serve Jesus by living in his way.
Lord, help us to follow you in all things. Remove any and all of our fears and help us to bury our egos so that we may bear and freely share the riches of your love with all whom we meet each day. For we know that it is in serving you that we find our truest meaning. Strengthen us to bear whatever suffering we may encounter in our efforts to follow and to serve you. In your most holy name we pray, Jesus. Amen!
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