S (Scripture): John 12:23 Jesus replied, “The time has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. 24 I tell you the solemn truth, unless a kernel of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it remains by itself alone. But if it dies, it produces much grain. 25 The one who loves his life destroys it, and the one who hates his life in this world guards it for eternal life. 26 If anyone wants to serve me, he must follow me, and where I am, my servant will be too. If anyone serves me, the Father will honor him.”
O (Observation): Jesus has made his triumphal entry into Jerusalem and now he is acknowledging that his time on earth is nearing an end. He will empty himself completely. He will be challenged, but he knows that God protects him.
Jesus also puts this challenge forth to the disciples. He gives them a visual that they would all understand: a grain of wheat.
As a grain of wheat dies, it produces more fruit. The grain “empties” itself in a way. In sacrificing itself and being placed into the ground, it will bear more grain.
And what lies in wait for those who make the sacrifice? Honor. Not just any honor: honor from God the Father.
A (Application): Being a seminary graduate and pastor, I get accolades from lots of folks. Being humble can be a challenge when you stand in front of a group every week, even to lead worship.
Sometimes (as a pastor) I will say or do things that challenge the people (or even myself). And with that comes discomfort and nervousness. But unless that grain of wheat dies…
And in the midst of challenge, I will screw things up. I will forget to thank someone or recognize a special moment (even in the midst of worship) and even if no one else notices, I will. And that tears me up on the inside, a little.
But…Jesus doesn’t call me to perfection. Jesus calls me (and you) to be faithful…and that when we empty ourselves, God will fill us up.
Yesterday, as we remembered the saints who now rest from their labors, we acknowledged that vulnerability and dependence upon God are the key to being a saint. And today, I can say the same is true for that disciple, who, like a grain of wheat, empties herself or himself….and trusts that from that death comes new life… from that emptying, one becomes truly full of life and joy and compassion…as a gift from God.
P (Prayer): Lord, as we empty ourselves…fill us up…to send us out. Amen.