Jesus' comments about the value of death run counter to our culture. We are inclined to flee from death and fear its power. When somebody senses the nearness of death and wants to talk about it, we often urge them to have a more positive attitude. Yet Jesus reminds us that a seed must die so that a new plant can live and multiply. The seed illustrates how our death is a doorway leading to God's gift of a new life.
"Anyone who loves their life will lose it," Jesus observes. Now, it's not about death, but life itself. Like the prodigal son who sought the fullness of life apart from his loving father, we can lose everything of real value by forsaking our home with God. Jesus urges us to follow him, for in him we find the fullness of life and become the children of the light who can sense the grace of God that embraces us.
Loving Jesus, teach us how to follow you as children of the light. Amen.
John 12:20-36 (NRSV)
20 Now among those who went up to worship at the festival were some Greeks.
21 They came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida in Galilee, and said to him, "Sir, we wish to see Jesus."
22 Philip went and told Andrew; then Andrew and Philip went and told Jesus.
23 Jesus answered them, "The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified.
24 "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.
25 "Those who love their life lose it, and those who hate their life in this world will keep it for eternal life.
26 "Whoever serves me must follow me, and where I am, there will my servant be also. Whoever serves me, the Father will honor.
27" Now my soul is troubled. And what should I say--'Father, save me from this hour'? No, it is for this reason that I have come to this hour.
28 "Father, glorify your name." Then a voice came from heaven, "I have glorified it, and I will glorify it again."
29 The crowd standing there heard it and said that it was thunder. Others said, "An angel has spoken to him."
30 Jesus answered, "This voice has come for your sake, not for mine.
31 "Now is the judgment of this world; now the ruler 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 indicate the kind of death he was to die.
34 The crowd answered him, "We have heard from the law that the Messiah remains forever. How can you say that the Son of Man must be lifted up? Who is this Son of Man?"
35 Jesus said to them, "The light is with you for a little longer. Walk while you have the light, so that the darkness may not overtake you. If you walk in the darkness, you do not know where you are going.
36 "While you have the light, believe in the light, so that you may become children of light." After Jesus had said this, he departed and hid from them.