One of the hardest concepts for us to embrace is that life can come from death. And yet here in California, the land of massive forest fires, we have a dramatic image of this very thing. In the wake of fires that burn thousands of acres of plant life, fledgling Lodgepole pines will be among the first species to push their way up and out of the charred earth. God designed these plants to need the searing heat of fire to melt the resin within their cones so that their seeds might be released and scattered by the elements. And so, life emerges in the wake of death. God planned for this to happen. He also planned for the death of Christ so that abundant life might burst forth in this world and into all eternity.
In today’s passage, one of the disciples encounters “some Greeks” who are going up to Jerusalem to worship during the Passover. They want to see Jesus. The request from these cultural outsiders is brought to Jesus and he appears to completely ignore them…or does he? In vs. 23 he declares that the “hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified.” Jesus goes on to share that “unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.” With these words, Jesus again foretells his death and explains to his disciples (and us) why it was necessary.
In this short passage, Jesus points out two powerful realities that are about to unfold. First, the ruler of this world, Satan, will be cast out (vs. 31). As painful as the ordeal of the cross will be, Jesus knows that Satan’s rule and the power of death will soon be broken. Satan may celebrate the killing of the “Son of Man,” but God had already planned this moment. By willingly passing through the torture of the cross, Jesus would settle our sin debt – a debt that we could never pay. He would sacrificially bear the punishment for mankind’s sin and extend to us his righteousness. A few days later, Jesus would use his God-given authority to bring himself back to life through resurrection (John 10:18). Therefore, the crucifixion would become the gateway to resurrection power. Through the cross and the empty tomb, Satan would no longer be able to condemn those who are in Christ Jesus, nor would the sting of death hang over their heads.
Second, Jesus tells us that his sacrifice will draw all people to himself (vs. 32). Here, we return to the Greek worshippers of vs. 20 and realize that indeed Jesus was responding to their request. Jesus would soon offer a heart-melting demonstration of God’s love for humanity. Word of his sacrifice would reach to the very ends of the earth and as the Holy Spirit worked through the testimony of God’s people, many would be drawn to a saving faith in Jesus Christ.
We all recognize that a seed is not truly dead. While it may appear so to the casual observer, there is a potent energy within that can bring forth much life. As we consider this passage and the subsequent death of Christ, we do so knowing that today, fully one third of the world’s population – more than 2 billion people – have responded to Jesus’ sacrificial death. The grain of wheat that fell into the soil has brought forth a great harvest indeed!
· Jesus says in John 12:25 that “whoever loves his life loses it, and whoever hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life.” This means that our love for God is to overshadow everything else in our lives. What competes with your love for Christ? Profess your faith in Jesus out loud. Ask him to help you overcome temptations, distractions or idols so that your love for him might grow.
· Vs. 26 says that if anyone serves (Jesus), he must follow Jesus. This means that to be his disciples, we must move with sacrificial service towards the world. How will you intentionally walk in Jesus’ footsteps today? How will you sacrificially serve so that Jesus might be formed within you?
· Vs. 36 invites us to “believe in the light that we may become sons of light.” Pray that the light of God’s goodness, mercy and love would inspire you afresh today so that the Lord may shine through you brightly.
Dan joined the Cornerstone team in November 2018 as the Pastor of Missions. His focus is on empowering the church family to step beyond the boundaries of CCLB to declare the Good News, so that the Body of Christ might be established where it would not otherwise occur. In addition, Dan provides oversight for Cornerstone’s Care ministries.