Uncover the profound insights of Jesus' mission and discipleship, highlighting his paradoxical path to glorification through sacrifice.
John 12:20-26 — Sacrificial Glory — Aneel Aranha
Hello and welcome to the Bite-Sized Gospel. Today we will reflect on John 12:20-26. Listen.
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.
This passage, which is set in the context of Jesus' impending crucifixion, offers a profound insight on the nature of his mission and the call to follow him.
The passage begins with some Greeks seeking to see Jesus, an indication of his increasing popularity. His reach was growing beyond the Jewish community. It also serves as a turning point in the narrative, indicating the beginning of the end of Jesus' earthly ministry. Jesus says, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified.” This statement is paradoxical because his glorification is achieved through his death on the cross. The world still has difficulty understanding how death can glorify a person. They look upon the cross as an immense failure. However, the glorification is in the submission and obedience to God’s will, even unto death. Are you listening?
Jesus uses the metaphor of a grain of wheat falling to the ground and dying to produce many seeds. This is not only a reference to his impending death and resurrection but also a broader principle about life and sacrifice. Have you ever grown a fruit-bearing plant? It all begins with a seed being planted. Or buried. The seed must die to bring forth new life, symbolizing that true life comes through self-sacrifice and surrender. In the same way, Jesus' death would result in the spiritual rebirth of many. His listeners would have understood what he was saying because many of them were familiar with agricultural practices.
Then, Jesus contrasts loving one's life with hating it in this world. This is a call to prioritize spiritual values over worldly ones. He is not telling us to despise life, but rather to redefine what is valuable and lasting. The choice to follow Jesus involves a willingness to let go of temporary gains and comforts for the sake of eternal values.
Jesus follows these shocking statements with an even more shocking invitation to follow him, saying that where he is, his servant will also be. This invitation is not just a call to belief but to active participation in the way of Christ, which includes service and sacrifice. It sums up the essence of discipleship - being with Jesus and following his path, which leads through suffering to glory.
The apostle Paul would later write: The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. Now if we are children, then we are heirs —heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory (Romans 8:16-17).
Want the glory? Make the sacrifice.
God bless you.