Jesus answered them, “The hour has come for the
Son of Man to be glorified. Very truly,
I tell you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth
and dies, it remains just a single grain;
but if it dies, it bears much fruit.”
Ronald Reagan never tired of telling the story about a little boy who was an incurable optimist. He was so happy and hopeful that his worried parents took him to a psychiatrist to be ‘cured’. Trying to dampen the boy’s optimism, the psychiatrist took him to a room piled ceiling-high with horse manure. But you never saw a more excited boy as he eagerly scrambled to the top of the smelly pile, dropped to his knees and started scooping out handful after handful of the manure. “What do you think you’re doing?” the horrified psychiatrist yelled. “With all this manure,” the boy replied, beaming, “there’s got to be a pony in here somewhere!”
That’s optimism! But a far greater story of optimism and faith is seen in today’s scripture as Jesus meets rejection and crucifixion with confidence. Jesus envisions His suffering and death like a grain of wheat buried as in a grave, covered over with dirt, and forgotten. It looks like the end for the grain of wheat; it dies, breaks apart, and disintegrates. But then life bursts forth! And not just life, but life multiplied times over, abundant and fruitful for all. The wheat grain’s death brings life!
Jesus wants us to understand that His suffering and death will generate life for the whole world. On one level Jesus sees His death producing life for all. On another level, Jesus sees a profound spiritual truth: the many deaths we suffer this side of the grave will produce new life and blessing for us. There can be, for example, the death of a dream, career, relationship, finances, loved one, and health, to name a few. There are times we feel like that grain of wheat: dying, coming apart and coming to nothing. Watch the Lord of Life go to work! Even in these many deaths, the God of Resurrection brings forth new life multiplied times over.
Before the joy of Easter comes the loss and pain of Good Friday. George MacDonald rightly said, “The Son of God suffered unto death, not that men might not suffer, but that their sufferings might be like His.” (George MacDonald, Unspoken Sermons). God can take whatever I am suffering right now and make it fruitful, not just for me, but for others. There’s a pony in here somewhere!
PLANT A THOUGHT… Repeat, Tell, Write, Create
A Fellow Traveler,