“Truly, truly I say unto you, unless a kernel of wheat falls into the ground and dies it remains alone, but if it dies it bears much fruit.” (John 12:24). There’s a lot of truth in that little “kernel” that Jesus shared with the disciples and us. On the most important level He was talking about His impending death and, don’t forget this… burial. He saw His death as a seed being planted before the harvest. Unless the seed is planted, it remains alone. Since it was planted, a harvest came with Jesus the first fruits.
Even the most elementary gardener among us gets that. Planting comes before harvest. Seed in ground = plants and more seed coming out of the ground. But somehow the spiritual impact of that escapes us. It is literally saying, “unless you die you will live alone. If you die you will bear much fruit.” This is not about prearranging our funeral. This is about living an abundant life.
We are all seed, you see. God’s desire is to “fling” us (sorry: Kentucky term) onto the soil and allow us to be “planted.” As we die to ourselves, we will bring forth spiritual fruit. If we refuse to die, we will live alone.
This is a hard but necessary truth. We don’t want to receive it because it means that life is not about keeping ourselves, but losing ourselves. It is about laying our life down for the Kingdom. It is about following Jesus in self-denial.
Dietrich Bonhoeffer, the martyred, German pastor who died during World War 2, put it this way in his classic The Cost of Discipleship, “When Jesus calls a man, he bids him come and die.”
And that we must.
FOR MEDITATION: And Jesus answered them, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. Whoever loves his life loses it, and whoever hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. If anyone serves me, he must follow me; and where I am, there will my servant be also. If anyone serves me, the Father will honor him. John 12:23-26
FOR REFLECTION: How can we begin to die… today?