Week 3 Day 15
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.
I think it is safe to say that the fear of death ranks very high on the list of things we are afraid of. If it is not our own death that we fear, we most certainly fear the loss of someone important to us—a parent, a friend, and perhaps most unthinkable, the death of a child. Death is mysterious to us, and it is often harsh, tragic, and painfully irreversible.
In today’s passage, Jesus is telling his loved ones that he is going to die, and he surely understands that this must be one of their greatest fears. The men who had left everything to follow him, and who had come to know and love him as their teacher and mentor, were now faced with this horrific forecast. As was his tendency, Jesus offers them a metaphor, and the bigger picture. He describes how the “death” of a seed, and it’s fall to the earth, is absolutely necessary to bring new life and “much fruit”.
While this metaphor may have been accurate, it’s hard for me to imagine that it brought much comfort to the disciples at the time. Surely, Jesus’ life is more valuable than that of a plant or a seed. But Jesus is intensely committed to a larger plan, one that the disciples would not understand fully until later.
As modern day Christians, we have the benefit of knowing how the story ends, and we have seen how Jesus took our most dreaded fear – death – and redeemed it. We marvel at redemption. Great stories are built around the theme of bad things becoming good—people, events, history – that are redeemed and lead to something new and beautiful. Somehow, Jesus is able to take our greatest nemesis, and turn it into incredibly beautiful good news for those who choose to follow him.
How does this passage, and especially Jesus’ words, challenge your view of death? If we truly believe and trust the words and example of Jesus, how might it play out in our lives? How could you live this out more fully in your life?
Jesus, thank your for taking something that we are so afraid of – death – and showing us how you have turned it into something that brings us life. It is your death that has brought us eternal life, and allows us to live in faith and hope, rather than in fear. Help us to live out that faith, and to hold fast to that hope. Amen