Holy Week Tuesday
“Losing and Finding Life”
Jesus replied, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. Very truly I tell you, 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. Anyone who loves their life will lose it, while anyone who hates their life in this world will keep it for eternal life.
John 12: 23-35
Jesus’ Holy Week discourses take on a decidedly direct and even harsh tone. The softer language of the parables and Beatitudes are replaced with direct rebukes of the Jewish leaders, condemnation for the Temple moneychangers, graphic descriptions of the end times through the Olivet Discourse, and direct challenges to His disciples to listen and understand. Jesus knew His time was short, and it comes through in the growing terseness of His teaching.
In our text, Jesus is talking life and death, or more accurately, death and life. In the fallen world, everything moves from life to death. In this encounter, Jesus is proclaiming the radical idea that in the Kingdom of God the movement is from death to life. Simply put, if we are to follow Jesus, the journey begins with death.
In The Cost of Discipleship, Dietrich Bonhoeffer echoes this idea, “When Christ calls a man He bids him come and die.” This is the ultimate act of the faithful steward. We steward our life by losing it to the true Owner and letting Him give us back our sanctified life. The discipleship journey is a continual process of dying and rising. And it is a real death. It is death to self, to control, to the need to be right or applauded or first or best or successful or secure in earthly things. It is a death we all must die if we are to live for Christ.
In this pandemic, there is a fixation on death. There is fear over illness and great anxiety about the loss of control we all feel as this invisible killer floats around in our airspace. Yet in the midst of this, and during this Holy Week, can we consider what it means to lose our life, surrender our control and trust God to give us our true life? If there was ever a time to die to our self and let God live in and through us, it is now.
- Why is it so hard for us to die in the way Jesus is describing? What keeps us from it?
- Name one thing you must die to in order to live for Christ in these times.
- Does the idea that ‘our life is not our own, we are only stewards of it’ bring you peace? Why or why not?
- What would be the effect on our fear if we truly died in this way?
Lord God, Heavenly Father, we live in a time of fear and death and it is hard not to have it affect us. Yet you call us not to hold on to life but to lose our life for you. Come Holy Spirit and help us die to self that we might rise with you and experience the abundant life you promised. Help us, Lord, to truly be stewards of this life, to hold it loosely, and to surrender to surrender it back to you that we might live fearlessly and confidently and serve with freedom and joy. In the name of the One who overcame death, our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen.