John 12:20 Now among those who went up to worship at the festival were some Greeks. 21 They came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida in Galilee, and said to him, “Sir, we wish to see Jesus.” 22 Philip went and told Andrew; then Andrew and Philip went and told Jesus. 23 Jesus answered them, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. 24 Very truly, I tell you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains just a single grain; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. 25 Those who love their life lose it, and those who hate their life in this world will keep it for eternal life. 26 Whoever serves me must follow me, and where I am, there will my servant be also. Whoever serves me, the Father will honor.
Lazarus had been raised from the dead and the curious crowds were seeking to know more about this incident. Jesus seemed to have been the man responsible and so even Greeks tried to get close to him. Finding the disciples with Greek sounding names they asked whether they could see Jesus. Upon encountering the Lord he began to speak to them in a story which may or may not have made sense to them. What they didn’t understand was that soon he would die on the cross and so the references to his glorification may have seemed odd. But then he used an illustration from agriculture that would have been familiar to all, for they knew that for a plant to grow the grain must die. A single kernel of grain on its own can do nothing but when it is buried in the ground, it dies and in dying the outer layer breaks down and suddenly all the water and nutrients of the soil bring it back to life and it bursts forth with new fruit. The result is that from the death of the grain comes a new crop, much larger than the original kernel of grain.
Jesus was telling them that those who cling to their individual way of life will remain like a singular grain of wheat. An isolated unit that lives in a self-protective cocoon will be terribly lonely. It is only through giving yourself away in self-sacrifice that you can truly find life. It is this process of dying which is required in order to find new life.
The grain must fall into the ground to die and this is not a pleasant experience. Dying to self can be painful as we allow God to peel away the self-protective layers of our lives, exposing the tender heart which may be nurtured, fed and grown into something spectacular. But the fruit bearing only comes in this way — by the way of the Cross — by the way of death.
Lord, may my life bear fruit for you. Amen.
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