Jesus replied, “The time has come for the Son of Man to enter into his glory. The truth is, a kernel of wheat must be planted in the soil. Unless it dies it will be alone — a single seed. But its death will produce many new kernels — a plentiful harvest of new lives. Those who love their life in this world will lose it. Those who despise their life in this world will keep it for eternal life. All those who want to be my disciples must come and follow me, because my servants must be where I am. And if they follow me, the Father will honor them. Now my soul is deeply troubled. Should I pray, ‘Father, save me from what lies ahead’? But that is the very reason why I came! Father, bring glory to your name. (John 12:23-28 NLT)
Jesus knew the path to his glory — and the Father’s glory — ran straight through the cross. The joy of resurrection lay ahead, but intense suffering stood in the way. As much as he dreaded crucifixion, Jesus wanted more to produce the harvest that would glorify God.
The hard truth for us is that our path to salvation also runs straight through the cross. If we want to be Jesus’ disciples, we must follow him to the cross and be with him there. The wonderful truth is that if we are with him on the cross, we also will be with him on the other side, filled with the joy of resurrection life — now and forever.
Jesus told his disciples that they too would glorify God by producing a harvest. (John 15:1-8) The disciples would be fruitful if they stayed connected to him and sought the Kingdom first and foremost; those who separated themselves because they loved the world more would end up being destroyed.
An old proverb says, “A seed hidden in the heart of an apple is an orchard invisible.” In just one season, a tiny apple seed produces a tree that will yield a harvest of 100 apples a year, each bearing five seeds. In that one season, one seed becomes 500. In the fifth season, the single seed has multiplied to more than 3.1 trillion seeds — and each tree produced in each previous generation also continues to yield 100 apples a year.
What potential harvest lies in the heart of a disciple willing to die to self? Jesus was willing to endure the cross and give his life for the Kingdom, and today about 2.3 billion people would identify themselves as Christians. Jesus promises that anyone who believes in him will do even greater works than he did. (John 14:12)
What matters most to you? A sorry, self-seeking existence that ends in the grave? Or would you rather experience the joy of resurrection life and produce a great harvest for the Kingdom? Yes, an awful trial must be endured to get there, but Jesus promises that if you follow him, God will honor you.
How difficult a choice is that, really?