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Thursday, November 15, 2012

A Grain of Wheat

I assure you, “Unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains just one grain; it never becomes more but lives by itself alone. But if it dies, it produces many others and yields a rich harvest. (John 12:24, AMP). Many of us “gave our hearts to Jesus.” That was something we did during the years we were growing up in America. Have we really looked at this passage though? What does it mean, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies? “Oh, I know that answer,” someone says. “That is referring to Jesus death. We couldn’t become Christians without Him dying.” Good Sunday school answer. How many of us have given it any thought beyond the point in time we gave our hearts to Jesus?
What does Jesus say to the disciples? Does he say, “You have done well to believe in me; now go your merry way?” No, Jesus is not only talking to His disciples but teaching them, too. The purpose of John’s Gospel is “so that you may know.” Read the whole book. We see John the Baptist opened the book by saying that he is pointing the way; he is not the Messiah. He is the one crying out in the wilderness, who is preparing the way of the Lord. So, why does Jesus tell this parable to the disciples?
Let us consider first, what a disciple is. A disciple is one taught and mentored by a teacher. This teaching is not a once off but a daily, moment-by-moment interaction. It is a sharing of life with the teacher. There must be a purpose for this form of teaching, right? There is. This method of teaching is not only so you can gain knowledge, but so you can understand with certainty and put into place the things you are learning as well. This is a life-changing education. For that reason, a disciple is one who learns and absorbs the lessons of God so that his or her life is changed-the way they see things and the way they live. 
How does this definition affect our reading of the passage in John 12 now? Is it only concerning Himself that Jesus spoke? We each are to become grains of wheat that die so God can use our lives to produce a harvest that will return to a relationship with Him. What, you say? Does a seed produce when fresh from the plant? No. Do we live for God if we do not die to self? No. Did you ever give that a thought? What does becoming a Christian mean? It means we no longer do what we want to do but instead we place God’s priorities as the reason for our lives. In baptism, you symbolize this dying to self by being laid down into water and rising out of the water to new life in Christ. The seed, yourself, dies when you become a Christian. You do not follow a life path of your own making; you are dead to yourself. When we are dead to ourselves, from that time God can use us to bring other people to Him, to a life and love relationship with Him. 
Now, let us consider this again. "I assure you, most solemnly I tell you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains just one grain; it never becomes more but lives by itself alone. But if it dies, it produces many others and yields a rich harvest" (John 12:24, AMP). Our lives are useless lived exclusively for ourselves. Getting our wants met is not the priority. Everything we own we cannot take with us after we die nor will it keep us from dying. The only way to possess true purpose in life is to be in a relationship with our Creator. He loves us so much that He made a plan for us to return to Him even before He created us. Additionally, we gain eternal life if we “fall into the earth and die,” as Christ said in this parable. Jesus was not only talking about Himself; He was talking about His disciples, too.
God uses the people who died to themselves and their own purposes to tell others the Good News that God loves them and wants to have a relationship with them. This is the harvest, the others to whom we tell about God’s love incarnate in Jesus Christ. The seed is we, dying to self and living for Christ. We do this because not only have we heard the Good News, but we are being transformed by it until we can say with Paul, “I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me” (Galatians 2:20, NASB). The fields are white and ready for harvesting; will you allow the Word in you to transform you?