4 “... And Jesus answered them, ‘The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. Whoever loves his life loses it, and whoever hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. If anyone serves Me, he must follow Me; and where I am, there will My servant be also. If anyone serves Me, the Father will honor him.’”
John 12:20-26 (ESV)
The funny thing about reading the Gospels is that we know how the story ends. While reading this particular passage, we get the sense that the story in John is coming to a close.
It’s pretty clear that all of this talk about seeds dying and falling to the ground has something to do with Jesus’ impending death.
Yet, Jesus’ figurative description of His death includes implications for how those listening should consider their own mortality. He tells them, “Whoever loves his life loses it, and whoever hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life” (John 12:25).
What is Jesus getting at? Does He desire His followers to literally hate life itself? Has Jesus become some sort of masochist? Highly unlikely. Here again, Jesus uses strong language for emphasis.
For Jesus, the cross was His destiny. A gruesome, painful and shameful death was the reason He came to earth.
Avoiding this would have been a much easier route and likely would have resulted in Jesus having a long life here on earth. However, the cost of Jesus choosing to live on rather than accept the difficulty of what awaited Him would have meant sure destruction for the rest of us.
When Jesus speaks of loving and hating one’s life, He is speaking of the choice we all have to choose either living out the purpose for which God created us or living the life we’d rather have now, on our own terms.
The life of faith isn’t an easy one. It requires that we set aside our own goals and desires in order to take up the ones that Jesus has for us. Often, living for Jesus means pursuing things that aren’t popular in the world nor easiest in this life. Yet it will always yield a far better reward in eternity.
Reflect Take some time to consider your own life. Have you been “loving” this life to the detriment of your eternity? Are you trusting that forfeiting what’s easiest and most desirable now in order to follow Jesus will yield a greater reward than you can imagine in the life to come?
My prayer is that we count the cost and find that it’s no comparison. Whatever following Jesus here will cost us can not compare to what we will receive with Christ in eternity.