John 12:20-26 (NIV): Now there were some Greeks among those who went up to worship at the Feast. They came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida in Galilee, with a request. “Sir,” they said, “we would like to see Jesus.” Philip went to tell Andrew; Andrew and Philip in turn told Jesus.
Jesus replied, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. I tell you the truth, 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. The man who loves his life will lose it, while the man who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. Whoever serves me must follow me; and where I am, my servant also will be. My Father will honor the one who serves me.
Jesus’ life was a model for God’s people, and those of us who profess to have faith in Him must not only obey Him, but follow Him by living out His life in our lives on a daily basis. Jesus understood clearly that a life lived in obedience to God is actually different than a life given wholly to God – a life that is lived not only obediently, but sacrificially.
Many people were in awe of Jesus during His ministry. Many wanted to meet Him, to come into contact with Him. But it was only by the laying down of His life, by His willing sacrifice of Himself that He was able to not just teach and heal these people, but to save them. It was only by hating “his life in this world” that He was able to purchase eternal life for all who believe.
Jesus’ disciples are expected to have this same self-sacrificial mindset. He expects us to hold this earthly life lightly, and to keep our focus on reproducing ourselves, and on the eternal life in Christ that we became a part of when we yielded ourselves to Him. And we are expected to follow Him, even to an ignoble death, if need be.
When Jesus was approached with the news that some Grecian Jews wanted to meet Him, He could have been flattered that news of them had reached the far off corners of the world. But His focus was completely different. If He had wanted to, Jesus could have been very popular. He could have been fawned over, gushed over, and petted by everyone from peasants to governors. But Jesus did not come to be a superstar; He came to lay down His life so that He could pay the penalty for the sins of all humanity, and to take it up again to make eternal life a reality. His time was near, and He would not be distracted by autograph seekers. And He requires the same focus from all of us who want to follow Him.
Father, how different are Jesus’ priorities than those of the world! Most of us would prefer an easier calling than laying down our own lives for the sake of the gospel. But it is exactly our life given wholly for You that You require. I’m reminded of the old song: “I’ll live for Him who died for me; how happy then my life will be! I’ll live for Him who died for me: my Savior and my God!” You expect us each to live our lives totally focused on You and Your agenda. Help us all, Lord, to follow You wherever You lead us, even to a cross. Amen.