Very truly I tell you, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds. Anyone who loves their life will lose it, while anyone who hates their life in this world will keep it for eternal life.
~ JOHN 12:24-25
The last half of John 12 records the final stages of Jesus’ public ministry. Prior to this, Jesus had frequently stated that His “hour has not yet come” (John 2:4; 7:30; 8:20). Here, for the first time, Jesus acknowledges that “the hour has come” (John 12:23). It is finally time for Him to die. This was difficult for those around Him to digest. In verse 29, Jesus Himself admits to agonizing over the prospect of being crucified: “Now my soul is troubled.” To help those around Him understand why He needed to die, Jesus shares a pair of proverbs.
In the first proverb, Jesus says, “Very truly I tell you, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds” (John 12:24). Jesus had grown up alongside the bread basket of the Holy Land, the Jezreel Valley. He knew that a single seed of wheat has within it the potential to give life to countless seeds, but it must “die” by being buried in the ground in order to give life. The point Jesus wanted to make is that He could bring life to countless people, but He needed to die to make this possible. His death was necessary so that we could have new life.
But it’s not just Jesus’ death that was required. In John 12:25, Jesus shares another proverb. He says, “Anyone who loves their life will lose it, while anyone who hates their life in this world will keep it for eternal life.” Jesus is saying that we too must die to ourselves if we want to gain new life. We must be willing to surrender our old selves, our old values, and our old desires, so that we can embrace the new life Jesus promises us.
These proverbs were intended to push Jesus’ followers beyond their focus on Jesus’ death to the recognition that they too had to die a kind of death. We are also challenged to stop hanging on to temporary things in this life. If we want to have real life and have it for eternity, we must be willing to surrender our lives completely to the One who died for us.
JESUS COMES TO JERUSALEM AS KING
12 The next day the great crowd that had come for the festival heard that Jesus was on his way to Jerusalem. 13 They took palm branches and went out to meet him, shouting,
“Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!”
“Blessed is the king of Israel!”
14 Jesus found a young donkey and sat on it, as it is written:
15 “Do not be afraid, Daughter Zion; see, your king is coming, seated on a donkey’s colt.”
16 At first his disciples did not understand all this. Only after Jesus was glorified did they realize that these things had been written about him and that these things had been done to him.
17 Now the crowd that was with him when he called Lazarus from the tomb and raised him from the dead continued to spread the word. 18 Many people, because they had heard that he had performed this sign, went out to meet him. 19 So the Pharisees said to one another, “See, this is getting us nowhere. Look how the whole world has gone after him!”
JESUS PREDICTS HIS DEATH
20 Now there were some Greeks among those who went up to worship at the festival. 21 They came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida in Galilee, with a request. “Sir,” they said, “we would like to see Jesus.” 22 Philip went to tell Andrew; Andrew and Philip in turn told Jesus.
23 Jesus replied, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. 24 Very truly I tell you, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds. 25 Anyone who loves their life will lose it, while anyone who hates their life in this world will keep it for eternal life. 26 Whoever serves me must follow me; and where I am, my servant also will be. My Father will honor the one who serves me.
27 “Now my soul is troubled, and what shall I say? ‘Father, save me from this hour’? No, it was for this very reason I came to this hour. 28 Father, glorify your name!”
Then a voice came from heaven, “I have glorified it, and will glorify it again.” 29 The crowd that was there and heard it said it had thundered; others said an angel had spoken to him.
30 Jesus said, “This voice was for your ben- efit, not mine. 31 Now is the time for judgment on this world; now the prince of this world will be driven out. 32 And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.” 33 He said this to show the kind of death he was going to die.
34 The crowd spoke up, “We have heard from the Law that the Messiah will remain forever, so how can you say, ‘The Son of Man must be lifted up’? Who is this ‘Son of Man’?”
35 Then Jesus told them, “You are going to have the light just a little while longer. Walk while you have the light, before darkness
overtakes you. Whoever walks in the dark does not know where they are going. 36 Believe in the light while you have the light, so that you may become children of light.” When he had finished speaking, Jesus left and hid himself from them.