Jesus Speaks About His Death
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 honour.
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 judgement 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.
It is easy to read the Bible (okay, it’s definitely not, but bear with me)... It’s easier to read the Bible without throwing your hands up in despair or furrowing your brow in confusion, when you know how it ends. The narrative is an arc, with everything leading to God’s incredible decision to become human in order to show us how much love and grace is at our fingertips, accessible when we stop, breathe, and allow the Spirit to enter our lives.
Without this knowledge, it would be understandable for one to read this passage with a furrowed brow, and perhaps even a scoff or a sigh of despair. Jesus is confusing! He is cryptic and elusive and mysterious, and it may be thrilling to decipher his statements now, but back then? You can almost imagine it: the disciples left scratching their heads and shrugging at one another, while Jesus walked away calmly, having said something like “the hour has come for the son of man to be glorified” when Peter had simply asked him what he wanted for lunch.
Our understanding of Jesus’ wisdom and radical outlook is based on our knowledge of how the story ends. Particularly during difficult times in life, it can be impossible to see how we will grow in ways we cannot predict. What are you facing now that might turn out to be the making of you? The ultimate life lesson that knocks the edges off, or puts the edges on, builds your strength or encourages your vulnerability to emerge?
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.
In Jesus’ upside down kingdom, his death means life is available to us. This is a world in which strength is seen in weakness, and victory might initially be considered defeat. What does this mean for how we live our lives today?
Those who love their life lose it, and those who hate their life in this world will keep it for eternal life.
Clinging to something, even if it is something good, can lead to exhaustion, tension, and pain. It takes courage to allow life to have its way with you. We can see Jesus’ fear when he says ‘My soul is troubled. And what should I say — Father, save me from this hour?’ It is an option; Jesus knows he could pray this. But he also understands how detrimental this would be. It reminds me of the phrase “A ship is safe in the harbour, but that is not what ships are built for.” What are you built for?
Paul Tillich has a fantastic line in his book The Courage to Be:
‘Joy is the emotional expression of the courageous Yes to one’s own true being.’ (p. 14).
There is far more joy on the other side of what you are clinging to. Let it go, allow God to fulfill the divine plan that was set in motion with your life. It takes courage to have faith. It takes courage to say “I don’t know.” It takes an unbelievable amount of courage to let go of your life.
Faith is a lack of hindsight. We don’t know how things will turn out, but we believe that there is a spiritual realm in which our decisions and choices are important. Knowing that you are part of a much bigger tapestry than your life alone makes this courage slightly easier. We can let go of the fears and anxieties, the worries and the control, and allow life to teach us what it will. Fighting against the tide is fruitless: it is stronger than you are. Allow life, spirit, the ground of being, to direct you and change you, and wait for the divine beauty to come — it won’t be what you pictured. I can guarantee it will be a thousand times better
Katie is an aspiring writer, an eternal intern, and a passionate Jesus-Feminist. With a Master’s in International Development and a Bachelors in Sociology and French, she is qualified for ... making lattes and pulling pints (skills that she has put to great use). Currently in New York on a Graduate visa, and having lived in Edinburgh for two years.