Friday, May 12, 2006

Into The Ground and Die

One thing I enjoy doing is gardening. But there is a problem-I’m not really good at it. I have in the past attempted to plant seeds in the garden, follow the instructions on the back of the seed package, and keep them moist, only to never see that seed sprout. So, I thank God for the half grown plants that I can buy from Lowe’s or Home Depot! Someone else better at it than me, under the proper conditions planted those seeds that did sprout, and became a young, healthy plant, ready to be transplanted into my garden.

I say this because for the past couple of days, there has been one scripture on my heart, John 12:24:

“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.”

First of all, it’s important to realize the context in which Jesus spoke these words. It was during a feast time, when many Jews from around the known world flooded to Jerusalem to celebrate what God has done for them. In addition to the Jews, there were also Greek converts to Judaism that came to worship God as well. So, the city was extra busy at this time. Jesus had quite recently performed one of his greatest miracles, raising his friend Lazarus from the dead. He also had just triumphantly entered the city, with scores of people praising him, and spreading out palm branches and clothing for him to ride over on the donkey in the city. Well, some of the Greeks in town to worship at the feast caught word of Jesus and the great things he did, and decided to come see him one day. They came to Phillip, and asked if they could see the Lord. Phillip then told Andrew about them, and they both went to Jesus, and told him that these Greeks wanted to see him. With that, Jesus began to speak about the grain (or seed) of wheat that falls into the ground and dying. He spoke of our need to deny ourselves, to hate our natural, sinful life, only to gain eternal life from him. He spoke of us as his servants following him wherever he goes. “Where I am, there my servant will be also” (vs. 26). Then, he clarified where he was going a few verses later:

“And I, if I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to myself”- vs. 32

Everyone around him listening understood what he meant. He was going to the cross. And if Jesus had a cross to bear, friends, so do we. He even said in Luke 9:23 that we must take up our cross daily and follow him. Our cross may not be a physical one, but we have a cross to bear nonetheless. The cross was where people died. It was where crime was punished by the criminal’s life being taken. It was there that Jesus took our sins upon him, the sinless dying in place of sinful humankind, so that we could be forgiven, and have a relationship with God through Christ. It was his sacrifice on the cross, and his dying that abundant fruit came forth as you and me, and all who have come to Christ through the centuries. He died, and he bore much fruit.

So we must die to ourselves, to our sin, our ambitions and our desires. As we die to ourselves and live for Christ, we will find the true eternal life that Jesus spoke of. Paul put it like this:

“I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the {life} which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me.”- Gal. 2:20

And also said this in Colossians 3:5:

“Therefore consider the members of your earthly body as dead to immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and greed, which amounts to idolatry”

We are to consider our sinful nature dead. We have been crucified with Christ. But as Paul says, when we die to ourselves, and live for Christ, others who we minister to will benefit from it (see 2 Cor. 2:14-16). The only way for the Lord to use us and receive the glory from our ministry is when we “fall into the ground and die”. We must die to ourselves and to our wants and comforts in this life to really make an impact for God’s Kingdom. Paul even looked upon the past achievements in his own life and said, “It’s all nothing but a pile of rubbish!” (see Phil. 3:4-14). At the end of that passage, he then encourages us to be like-minded (vs. 15).

Friends, if you love the Lord today, then you certainly want to please him, and do great things for him. But only workers in his field that realize the task at hand of bringing in the harvest of souls will do. We can’t be double-minded in the work of the Lord, and in our relationship with him, for that matter. So be encouraged to set your sites on heavenly concerns (Col. 3:1-2), for it is only the heavenly things and the mind of Christ that will push us through to being the man or woman of God that he has called us to be. God bless you today!

No comments: