Focal Passage: John 12:20-33
One of the great privileges we had while serving in a previous church was a missional partnership in Haiti. We would send ministry teams at least once a year to serve in one of the most impoverished places in the world, both materially and spiritually.
However, on one of our trips, we were connected with a group from another state and worked alongside them for a day. But to our disappointment, rather than hearing about their heart for the Haitian people and their desire to tell them about Jesus, all they seemed to do was complain about the extreme heat, the food, the lack of cell phone coverage, the grueling work involved and how they were all ready to go back home.
For many church groups, the idea of serving on a short-term mission trip in a remote place seems exciting and fulfilling until they discover what real life is like in these parts of the world. The same is true when it comes to those who are interested in following Jesus.
While most get excited about the possibilities of forgiveness and eternal life, not everyone remains eager after hearing Jesus’ words about repentance, self-denial and daily commitment. However, Christ wanted everyone to know upfront the true cost of following Him in faith, and we see an example of his concern here in John 12.
Jesus had just made his triumphal entry into Jerusalem, where people lined the streets with palm branches and cheered him on as the long-awaited Messiah. With all this excitement surrounding His arrival, many were curious to learn more about Him.
John records that among those seeking were some Greeks, who came to Philip and requested to see Jesus. However, after Philip and Andrew told Jesus about these visitors, our Lord said something that was both prophetic and descriptive: “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” (v. 24).
These words were prophetic in the sense that Jesus was describing His own sacrificial death, where unless He died in the place of sinners the fruit of salvation would not blossom for those who believe.
However, these words were also descriptive because the same metaphor applies to those who want to follow Him in faith.
In the next two verses, our Lord describes, “Whoever loves his life loses it, and whoever hates his life in the 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” (vv. 25-26).
Therefore, following Jesus in faith is expressed by dying to self, abandoning our old rebellious life, and committing ourselves to follow Him in obedience as Lord. Only through this personal death to sin will the fruit of righteousness and hope spring forth in the life of a believer.
When we share the gospel, we must be sure to help people understand what true faith looks like. Otherwise, we might be guilty of promoting “easy-believism,” where death to self and commitment to Christ are optional. However, Jesus said we must die before we can live, and He demonstrated this in His own life. Soli Deo Gloria! B&R