October 11, 2020
Now there were some Greeks among those who went up to worship at the festival. They came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida in Galilee, with a request. “Sir,” they said, “we would like to see Jesus.” Philip went to tell Andrew; Andrew and Philip in turn told Jesus.
Jesus replied, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. Very truly I tell you, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds. Anyone who loves their life will lose it, while anyone who hates their life in this world will keep it for eternal life. Whoever serves me must follow me; and where I am, my servant also will be. My Father will honor the one who serves me.
I call them the twenty-three most challenging words in the Bible.
Anyone who loves their life will lose it, while anyone who hates their life in this world will keep it for eternal life.
We so want the Christian life to be reasonable, but it is not. To give a little or even a lot is the same as giving nothing at all. The life hid with Christ in God will be everything or it will be nothing. Think about it. Jesus will either give all of himself or he will give nothing. There is no halfway with Jesus.
The powerful thing is that in exchange for my everything, Jesus will give me his everything. It’s hardly even a trade. After all, my everything is not actually that much. Sure, it’s a lot to me, but in the grand scheme of things it’s five loaves and two fish. On the other hand, Jesus’ everything is more than can be comprehended or even imagined. Jesus’ everything is the very fullness of almighty God.
It’s a very good deal. In exchange for my smallness I am given his greatness. In exchange for my weakness, I am given his strength. In exchange for my selfishness, I am given his selflessness. In exchange for my extreme limitations, I am given his extraordinary capacities. Who wouldn’t take this offer?
Very truly I tell you, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds.
The unsurrendered life is the same thing as the unplanted seed—a waste. Why on earth would we go another day holding on to the tiny seed of our life? It’s time to sow our small, fragile selves into the field of God’s dream for our lives.
What if the little boy had shared his five loaves and two fish with the crowd? How far would it have gone? Exactly nowhere. Instead, look what happened when he surrendered all he had to Jesus. Precisely unimaginable. We think the gospel is about sharing our lives with others, as though a seed could be shared. No, it’s about surrendering our lives to Jesus, who will make of our lives an unending, unimaginable gift to the world. Sharing will never get it done. Only surrender will.
This is not unreasonable. It’s absurd—that God could be this good. I mean, are we holding out for a better deal? If not you, then who? If not now, then when?
Abba Father, we thank you for your Son, Jesus, who would not take us to the cross but through it and into a world beyond our imagining. Thank you that though it cost us our everything it returns your everything to us. Come, Holy Spirit, and awaken us to the magnitude of this offer of life. We pray in Jesus’ name, amen.
1. What are the implications of your life as a seed sown into the ground of God’s kingdom? What are the implications of not sowing it?
2. What do you make of this notion of Jesus’ offer being all or nothing? Is that unreasonable to you?
3. Why do we cling to ourselves? What keeps us from surrendering it all to Jesus?
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