The other day I reached down to pick up something and a bug jumped on my hand. I just about broke my arm as I wildly slung it around like a feather caught in a tornado!
Funny thing was, there was no bug. It was a piece of dark lint.
Did I ever feel stupid, not to mention how much my arm was now aching.
I experienced the equivalent reaction today reading in John. In 12:20-26 I stumbled across Jesus answering a question he hadn’t been asked. A Greek tourist bus pulls up and asks Phillip, a member of Jesus’ church, if he’d introduce them to the senior pastor so they could get his autograph. He happily agrees to do so and hops on the bus, gives directions to the driver and off they go several blocks south of the temple in downtown Jerusalem to the pastor’s office. Hopping off the bus, Phillip runs into the office, finds Andrew, who was the acting secretary on duty, and together they carry the Greek tourists to Jesus’ office. Jesus’ response was not what they were anticipating.
(Okay, so I “modernized” the story a tad…)
He basically said, “Time’s up!”
If my response was “huh?” I can’t image what the Greeks (and Phillip and Andrew) must have thought.
“Listen carefully: Unless a grain of wheat is buried in the ground, dead to the world, it is never any more than a grain of wheat. But if it is buried, it sprouts and reproduces itself many times over.”
Wow! What a word picture he painted! My “mind’s eye” went into overdrive: You are holding the grain of wheat there in your hand. It’s got a hard little shell around it, it’s all by itself, it’s right there in your hand. It’s yours, it’s your life, you control it, you make the decisions. You can decide what you want to do to it. You can hold onto it and keep it. But if you keep it, Jesus says, it will remain alone. Nothing more will ever come out of it.
The Greek tourists came with one agenda in mind, Jesus had another.
How many unfulfilled Christians are struggling with their faith and are full of doubts they are afraid to voice? How many lonely people are there all around us? They are lonely/struggling just for that very reason. They are holding onto that little grain. They are not willing to let it go. And so they have it. It’s all theirs but it’s, oh, so lonely. What’s the alternative? Let it go, drop it. Hand it over to God. Let God take control of it. Be willing to drop into the ground, lose sight of it, and be buried even there in the dark. Maybe people will walk over it, but God’s promise is that a new life will come out of it: a life that’s worth living, a life that’s not just for time, but for eternity.
“If any of you wants to serve me, then follow me. Then you’ll be where I am, ready to serve at a moment’s notice. The Father will honor and reward anyone who serves me.”
I guess they got the pastor’s “autograph”…