Jesus answered them, â€œThe time has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. Most certainly I tell you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains only one. But if it dies, it bears much fruit. He who loves his life will lose it. He who hates his life in this world will keep it to eternal life. If anyone serves me, let him follow me. Where I am, there will my servant also be. If anyone serves me, the Father will honor him.â€ John 12:23-26 (WEB, JN revision)
â€œGreater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.â€ John 15:13 (WEB)
Take a deep breath before you begin reading this. What I am about to say is hard to read and consider. I hope you will stay with me through the whole devotion.
The first Scripture is one that really came into my heart after my son, James, died. There was a phenomenal amount of spiritual fruit that grew among my son’s friends. Through the pain of their grief they battled with God and most of them are closer to God than they were before James died. â€œunless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains only one. But if it dies, it bears much fruit.â€
I am not saying that James died for his friends. Whether James lived or died was God’s decision, not his. However, he learned the truth like Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, (Daniel 3) James had been given the knowledge that whether he lived or died â€“ God could do either â€“ and he, James, was at peace with that and God deserved praise. I can see Jesus’ words in John 15 in that.
Most of us may not be asked to literally die as a witness to our faith, but we are asked to die to our life’s game plan and live in God’s plan. And that should not be minimized in it’s difficulty. There is a death that must occur in our ego. God may ask that we change direction in our life. He may lead us in a path that does not show â€œsuccessâ€ in this world and that brings a death so that humility may live!
Jesus Jesus told us that the work we are to do is to believe in Him. (Wednesday’s devotion) He said we are to â€œGO!â€ (Matthew 28) and â€œbe my witnessesâ€ (Acts 1). And the greatest gift we can give throughout these three â€“ is to lay down our life for our friends â€“ including our friend, Jesus, as we build His kingdom.
As we go to gather in worship this weekend, let us lay down our lives and die in ourselves so that we really live in Jesus Christ.