And Jesus answered them, saying, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. 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. He who loves his life loses it, and he who hates his life in this world will keep it to life eternal (John 12:23-25). “
What happened that led to us having to die?
No one likes the idea of death. People run from death, prolong, and agonize from it. I would suggest it was because we were not created for it. But what Jesus says we are is a seed, and what is to fully come out of us only comes by way of death. What is even harder, especially for an increasingly self-centered culture, is dying to yourself. The act of physical death is a one-time event, and death to ourself is a perpetual process.
You see there was a time in the garden when we didn’t have to do that. There was a time where we had so much God that we didn’t need to be emptied out, but then we ate the fruit, and in that process swapped God for ourselves. We did this by our disobedience to His command and our indulgence in a newly-created selfish desire.
What was God’s response to this?
Jesus came to establish a way out of this cycle of self-worship. His way was not elevating Himself in notoriety, but by allowing others to elevate Him on a cross. He submitted to death, which emulates the consequence we deserve. He then came back three days later, which represents our future for those that are in Him.
This new living demonstration invites us to a new way of thinking – dying to live. As a matter of fact, He calls this mission of death the bridge to His “glorification.” We are this seed in Jesus’s example, and when we die to ourselves we are not really dead in the way we would normally think of it, we are planted.
What really happens when we die?
When a seed dies, it doesn’t just die and disappear, it changes shape. It softens to be absorbed and what was in the seed, (the roots and stem) rearrange themselves to grow (Pacific Rural Press Vol. 45, Num.11).
So if instead of self-assertion you choose self-denial. When instead of pursuing your own interests you pursue someone else’s for their own benefit. When you choose to wash the dishes for your family instead of plopping down on the couch and letting your spouse do them your being planted. Instead of reinforcing your own way and elevating your own ego, you keep your mouth shut to let others speak ill of you with no reply, you are being planted.
If you do these things instead, don’t consider yourself merely dead, but planted. You are taking shape for greater growth. God doesn’t let anyone lose their life for His sake without exchanging eternal life in it’s place.
How do I know that growth is on the way?
The great thing is this doesn’t just apply to 10,000 years from now. When you are grounded in Christ through His Word, you bear fruit in your season (Psalm 1:3). These seasons are the seasons of your life even in the present. You won’t grow when you choose your word over His though. As a matter of fact this verse says that if you do that you will keep the shape you have now and will remain alone. You will be alone relationally and emotionally, and in that form your roots can never anchor and the support system of your stem will never grow.
A lot of times we shrink back from God’s purposes because we don’t understand the bridge between death and life. The bridge that we must cross is that of growth.
In another farming parable Jesus shares the mystery of this process, “and he goes to bed at night and gets up by day, and the seed sprouts and grows– how, he himself does not know (Mark 4:27).” No one but God knows how the growth happens, because God can see what we can’t.
You may not think there is much potential in you because of what you see on the outside, but God sees you as a seed and that power is found in what is on the inside. So next time you have to allow yourself to die to your ego, your selfish ambitions, or your self-created view of your future, thank God, because you are taking shape for growth, and growth that leads to life!
Growth in God's Hands: Article by Chase O'Dell -Founder of Bridgeway Ministries.