Philip went and told Andrew; then Andrew and Philip went and told Jesus. Jesus replied to them, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified.
“I assure you: Unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains by itself. But if it dies, it produces a large crop. The one who loves his life will lose it, and the one who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. If anyone serves Me, he must follow Me. Where I am, there My servant also will be. If anyone serves Me, the Father will honor him.
“Now My soul is troubled. What should I say—Father, save Me from this hour? But that is why I came to this hour. Father, glorify Your name!” John 12:22-28 (HCSB)
Has God ever asked you to do something really hard? Have you tried to not hear it? Rationalize it right out of your thoughts?
Jesus tried to tell his disciples on several occasions that His mission here on earth was not to establish His Kingdom by overthrowing Rome and mounting a throne here on earth. His mission was to die and so establish an eternal, everlasting Kingdom that is not constrained by time or geography. They did not want to hear that. When the day came, they were shocked and struck down in disbelief. For three days they mourned His humiliating death.
It’s much easier to read this account with 2,000 years of hindsight and know that Sunday is coming with an empty tomb and a risen King. I was pretty comfortable in my distant chair, sitting in the sunny day of my perspective – until God brought this scripture into my life – for real.
Six months before my son died, the LORD brought me to this Scripture and told me that James was also going to be “a grain of wheat” that was going to produce “a large crop”. I had always read this scripture and applied it to my life as He was asking me to “die” to myself. That in dying to my way and taking His way, much would be produced in His Kingdom. That being a servant of the Father meant laying aside my life, my wants and instead be obedient to whatever He might ask. Is there any phrase in there that say, “But I will never ask you to give up your own son, Jody.”? No, it doesn’t say that. In fact, it says, “My soul is troubled.” Yeah, my soul was “troubled”, too.
More than seven years later I can say, “Yes, LORD, there has been a ‘large crop’”. The testimonies are given by those of us left behind who have followed an imperfect young man’s example of courage and faith that was promised and fulfilled by the Savior who loved him and walked with him every step of the way. That same Savior showed an imperfect mother how to be there for her son, to hold him but not too tightly, and to pray. Did I pray for James’ healing? Absolutely! Like David, I did not give up the possibility that God might change His mind (2 Samuel 12:22). But I also prayed for God’s blessings of strength, His joy that was not contingent upon circumstances. God was faithful. God was glorified.
This world exists in a finite amount of time. This world has evil and good that are at war with each other. There are no “neutrals” and no “innocent bystanders”. Evil doesn’t fight fair. Jesus came to save me. He came to show me how to fight in this war with the right weapons (2 Corinthians 10:1-6) and the right heart (Philippians 2:1-11). And when my heart is wounded by grief that is ripe and sharp with pain, it is His Spirit that comforts, heals, strengthens; speaking to me and listening to me. God is faithful.
Great is Thy Faithfulness by Thomas O. Chisholm (1923) and William M Runyan, Sung by CeCe Winans