“Truly, truly, I tell you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone. But if it dies, it bears much fruit.” – Jesus
The verse above is Jesus’ words to His disciples. To get a better understanding of what He means here, let’s start with a little background information.
In verse 20 of this chapter, we see a group of Greeks, who were among those who went up to worship at the festival (the Passover), go to Philip, a disciple of Jesus, with a request. “Sir,” they said, “we would like to see Jesus” (verse 21). In turn, Philip went to tell Andrew, another disciple, of the request, and they both went to tell Jesus. On hearing this, Jesus said, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified” (verse 23). Then, He quotes our verse of the day: “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” (verse 24).
Now, why does Jesus say, upon hearing about the Greeks’ request, that the time has come for the Son of Man to be glorified? And, why does He follow that statement with the parable of the seed, or grain of wheat? (Note: the words seed and grain of wheat will be used interchangeably.) According to theologian Matthew Henry, Jesus is here foreseeing the plentiful harvest in the conversion of the Gentiles, of which these Greeks were the first-fruits. By the addition of the Gentiles to the church, Jesus would be glorified. However, for this to happen, Jesus had to first go through a process, which brings us to the parable of the seed.
Before we talk about how this seed relates to Jesus, though, let’s talk, generally, about the process of a seed—its germination process. If a seed, or grain of wheat, is kept in a “safe place,” like a jar, or in a box on one’s dresser, nothing will happen to that seed. It will sit, and sit some more, never producing anything. But, if that grain of wheat is put into soil and dies, it will grow and produce much.
In this parable, the grain of wheat represents Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection. In order for the entryway to be opened for the salvation of many Gentiles (like you and me), Jesus, like the grain of wheat, had to first die, be buried, and rise again (defeating sin and death). Had Jesus refused to follow the plan of His Father—atonement for the sin of mankind through Jesus’ death and shed blood—and submitted to His feelings instead (see Matthew 26:36-44), salvation for the Gentiles would not have been possible, and many souls would have suffered as a result. However, because He chose the route of obedience and self mortification, much good has come from it—many people have been, and will be, brought into the Kingdom, having their souls saved from eternal destruction and separation from our God.
Like Jesus—our Lord—who chose to die to self and submit to the will of His Father (although painful), we, too, must make that same choice. Jesus makes this truth clear to us in verses 25 and 26, where He says: “Anyone who loves their life will lose it, while anyone who hates their life in this world will keep it for eternal life. Whoever serves Me must follow Me; and where I am, My servant will also be.”
Dear friend, suffering, I know, isn’t easy. It’s actually quite tough, as there are, oftentimes during the process, prolonged dark days and nights. However, like it was with Jesus, it is with us—the darkness is working for good. No, it doesn’t feel good while going through it, but the harvest that will produce from it (if we’re obedient) will be plentiful and good, and will work for the fulfillment of God’s purposes.
The crucifixion, even the thought of it, wasn’t easy for Jesus. But for the joy set before Him, He endured it. And because of that endurance, He is now seated at the right hand of the Father, “far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every name that is invoked, not only in the present age but also in the one to come” (Ephesians 1:21).
That said, sisters, understand that our suffering and sacrifice for the Kingdom is never in vain. If God has ordained it for us (and He has), it must be for our good, as well as the good of those He has for us to reach.
So today, if you found yourself down and out about your circumstances before reading this message, it is my prayer that your soul has been uplifted by this reading. As I said, I know firsthand that suffering isn’t easy, by any means; but I also know that, together, we will rejoice in the end (cf. Romans 8:18).
Stand firm, sisters!