Newsletter April 2019
From death to life
“The hour has come that the Son of Man should be glorified. Most assuredly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it produces much grain. He who loves his life will lose it, and he who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. If anyone serves Me, let him follow Me; and where I am, there My servant will be also. If anyone serves Me, him My Father will honour.” (John 12:24-26)
Jesus spoke these words in response to a request. Some Hellenist Jews who had come to Jerusalem to celebrate the feast had evidently heard about him and wanted to meet him personally. So they asked the disciple Philip for an audience with his teacher. Philip told Andrew and together they brought the request of these pilgrims to Jesus.
Like every year, tens of thousands of Roman Catholic worshippers will be travelling to Rome for the Easter celebrations. Very few of them will expect a personal audience with the pope but some may request it and, given the opportunity, few would decline. What would it be like to see Pope Francis face to face and receive a personal blessing from him?
What exactly the men who requested to see Jesus expected we do not know; however, we can assume that neither they nor the disciples who brought the request to Jesus would have expected the reply they got. Jesus spoke of His death; and not just of His. Anyone who desires to follow Him must be willing to die with Him. Just like a grain of wheat needs to be given up to the soil in order to germinate we must give our lives up to receive true life in Jesus. A farmer is willing to commit a portion of seed from his previous harvest to the soil, because he knows that this is the only way he will receive his next harvest. He is confident that his sacrifice will bring much grain.
So it is with our lives. For us to grow into the fullness of God’s purpose, to become what He has destined for us, we need to be willing to die. We need to surrender our will, our plans and our desires to him. Only then can we experience true life.
The disciples wanted to introduce those pilgrims to Jesus, but Jesus’ focus was already on the next stage in God’s plan of salvation. No longer would He be among His disciples in bodily form. Through His death on the cross, He would make the way for God to dwell in His people by the Holy Spirit. No longer would people have to seek an appointment for an audience with Him – they would see Him in those who are His.
Jesus had told His disciples, “As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world” (John 9:5) but now He was leaving the world. He was about to lay down His life as God’s perfect sacrifice for sin and then to rise again and ascend into the Father’s glory from where He had come. His followers would now be His body on earth, the new temple, the dwelling place of God by the Spirit. It is through their lives that people would from now on see God, as they would shine as lights in the world in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation. (Phil. 2:15)
Do you hate your life?Are you fed up of being just another grain in the barn?Have you laid down your life for God?Are you allowing His Spirit to live in you, to direct your life, so others can see Jesus in you?Only a seed that dies can bring forth much grain; and God promises that it will! He will honour those who are willing to follow His Son to the cross so that Hislight can be revealed in them.