For the audio version: https://youtu.be/n3QF4ieeYlE
Prepare to Listen. Remind yourself of God’s promise: I will instruct you and teach you the way you should go; I will counsel you with my eye upon you.
Prayerfully Read John 12:20-26
Now among those who went up to worship at the festival were some Greeks. 21They came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida in Galilee, and said to him, ‘Sir, we wish to see Jesus.’ 22Philip went and told Andrew; then Andrew and Philip went and told Jesus. 23Jesus answered them, ‘The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. 24Very truly, I tell you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains just a single grain; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. 25Those who love their life lose it, and those who hate their life in this world will keep it for eternal life. 26Whoever serves me must follow me, and where I am, there will my servant be also. Whoever serves me, the Father will honour.’
We don’t know whether these Greeks who wished to see Jesus ever did. We do know that Jesus used their wish as a crucial teaching moment for his disciples. His teaching isn’t easy to understand. It’s not clear where to draw the line between what he teaches about himself and what he says about his disciples. One thing is clear, he teaches about death, both his own (‘to be glorified’ is a reference to his death), and the necessity of death for disciples.
He used a parable (v24), that I once assumed was only about Jesus’ death and its meaning and thus I failed to see a relation to death in my life. Then one day my life spiraled out of control. I entered a dark pit of doubt and unknowing that felt like a death. The old certainties were scattered in ruin. Thanks to the guidance of a mature Christian, I discovered this is the way of true growth in the spiritual life. We must descend into the ground and die. I stopped fighting the dying process. I learned, as Richard Rohr writes, “the idea that the spiritual life will eventually require us to descend into a dark tunnel, to descend into unknowing and doubt, to descend into a loss of certainty, to descend through a process that feels like dying”  was necessary and healthy. Without this descent into doubt and unknowing there can be no true growth. We can believe that “if it dies, it bears much fruit.”
Recall your own experiences with doubt and unknowing and what growth it led you to.
Respond to Jesus
The call to follow you, Lord Jesus, isn’t a call to a life of ease, but so often that’s what I want. Give me the courage to live with my own doubts and the grace and wisdom to guide others in their journey. Amen.
Go live obediently in the world. Be willing to ‘die’ to bear fruit.
Reflection on Scripture has been a constant in my life ever since I can remember. Reflecting on Jesus in the Gospels has become a necessity to get Jesus right. Join me in reading John to see Jesus more clearly this Lent.