Jesus replied, “The time has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. I tell you the solemn truth, unless a kernel of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it remains by itself alone. But if it dies, it produces much grain. The one who loves his life destroys it, and the one who hates his life in this world guards it for eternal life.” (John 12:23,24 NET)
Sacrifice is a four letter word for most people, even though it can be found everywhere in life. A person that gets drunk on Friday nights sacrifices money, time, and the next morning for the sake of alcohol, and is guaranteed to completely destroy his life and family if he keeps it up. But a person can also sacrifice four years of his life to get a college degree by spending large amounts of money, time, and effort, and is almost guaranteed to get a good job when he’s finished. This type of sacrifice is likely to build up his life instead of tear it down.
Even nature itself practices the laws of sacrifice and greater returns. Jesus taught about the simple grain of wheat that has to be stripped from the stalk that it grows on. Only then does it die, fall to the ground and be buried in the soil to be transformed and sprout as a new living plant, totally unrecognizable from the seed it once was. The amount of new living seeds of wheat that grow from one dead seed is typically 50 grains per stalk. That is a perfect example of what Jesus wants us to visualize when we allow our own seed to “die” (our sacrifice), be planted and nourished by the soil, (our prayers and faithfulness to God) be given time to grow (our perseverance in faith) and finally to see the miracle come into full bloom!
Death and resurrection, sacrifice and abundant renewal are all visible in God’s creation around us. What God asks us to voluntarily do should be as natural as a seed that gives it’s life so that more can grow. Why would we want to hold onto one tiny seed that has no power to sustain us, when we could have a multitude? If we try to hold onto our lives, our possessions, our stubborn will, and our control, we destroy ourselves in the end. But when we surrender our lives, and even hate our lives, we actually protect ourselves for all eternity.
This is such a freeing way of life, an answer to all our needs, but only those who are spiritual can grasp it and live by its fruit.