Jesus said to his disciples: “Amen, amen, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains just a grain of wheat; but if it dies, it produces much fruit. Whoever loves his life loses it, and whoever hates his life in this world will preserve it for eternal life. Whoever serves me must follow me, and where I am, there also will my servant be. The Father will honor whoever serves me.” (John 12:24-26)
The Gospel passage today establishes two key beliefs of the Christian faith: Christ dies so the fruit of humanity can be reconciled with God and grafted to Him. Implicitly, Jesus also addresses His listeners and readers, too. He gives us the “how” of living a Christian life so that we can, in fact, dwell with Him.
In ministry, we often discuss the concept of dying to self. Yet, to many, it is a pulpit statement. The fact is that it is far from a phrase in preaching. Jesus is offering us a path to life that seems counter intuitive—in order to live, you have to die. It’s not just about keeping the ten commandments. Christianity is not keeping the rules and being somewhat interested in Jesus.
Jesus dying for our salvation is also His design for our imitation. He is saying to us: if you want to be with me then prepare to become like me. Prepare to follow me on the road I am going. How?
By adopting His plans as our plans. Do the things he did. Care about the things he cared about. Christians are those people who see the glorified Jesus and serve him. We are those who are changed by the work of Christ so that we give ourselves to the work of Christ. Christians work the works that God sent Jesus to do. Christians serve Christ and follow Christ by joining in the grain harvest. Serving and following Jesus demand our everything.
The faithful in Christ must die to the self-serving allurement of this world. The allurement of this world, lies in the emphasis of self. When we die to the ideology of worldly thinking, we gain eternal life in Christ. Jesus is not telling us to forget the life we live in this world. He is telling us, instead, to imitate Him in living it: Mercy, unconditional love, self-giving, forgiveness, welcoming the marginalized, and service to others are ways in which we can imitate Christ. For Jesus states that “Whoever wants to serve me must follow me.”
Our thinking and living must be transformed.. Although our thoughts gravitate toward self-will, self-comfort, and self-satisfaction, the answer lies in the life of Jesus. He provides the road map to living. Through His example and grace, we can all imitate and live a life guided by loving God and neighbor.
When we do that, we are assured that the Father will honor anyone who seeks to live a life modeled on Him. Surely, imitation of Christ is inescapably the standard of Christian perfection.
Prayer of The Day
“Lord Jesus, help me to choose to follow you with my whole life. I want to empty myself so that I can serve others. I want to bear much fruit for your kingdom!”
We become a Christian by a decisive surrender to Jesus Christ through which, by faith in him, he becomes our Lord. Then comes a lifelong experience of becoming in practice what we are by our position. And that becoming strengthens our assurance that we are real. If we are not living a life that focuses on being His light to those around us then we are only pretending to be His followers.