Isaiah 49:1-7, Psalm 71:1-14, 1Corinthians 1:18-31, John 12:20-36
A homily preached by Rev. John Warner
As I walk around my yard, I can tell spring has arrived. The daffodils are topped with golden crowns. The camellia bushes display contrasting colors of green and red. Pink blossoms can clearly be seen on the leafless Japanese magnolia tree. Marsha receives much of the credit for this palette of colors that surround our home. Her efforts earlier in the year have paid off. Seeds were planted, bulbs separated and flowerless plants lovingly repotted. All this effort is done with the hope for a rainbow of colors. Although Marsha’s preparations do contribute to the result, God is ultimately responsible for the growth.
Today Jesus tells a parable concerning a wheat seed to those present, both Greeks and Jews. Very truly, I tell you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains a single grain; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. (John 12:24). He uses this parable to teach them three things:
1. He was saying that he must die.
2. God is in control.
3. His death has purpose.
Jesus tells all that he must die for God’s glory. Using the image of a single grain of wheat, he tells all present that he must die. A seed that remains safely and securely in a cupboard is ineffective. It is only when that seed is buried in the cold ground that it has the potential to bear fruit.
Jesus willingly places his fate in God’s hands. God is in control of future events. His death is in accordance with God’s intentions and is offered up for God’s glory. God’s purpose will be realized.
Jesus’ death was not meaningless; it had purpose. His death was not just for the sins of the few but the sins of the entire world. His death was not just for the Jews, it included the Gentiles, too. Jesus died for you. Jesus died for me.
Life comes from death. What parts of our life need to die? Only by the death of our personal desires and self-centeredness, do we truly become the servants of God. Historically, the world would have been a dismal place if men and women had lived only for their personal safety and selfish gain. The world owes everything to those who became servants of God and to their fellow man and woman. A life with concern for only the self might be tempting, but it isn’t a life worth living.
What in your life needs to receive a burial? What needs to die to reap a grand harvest? Amen.