N.T. Wright (“Christians at the Cross”) offers a moving meditation today on the words of Jesus: “Unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains just a single grain; but it if dies, it bears much fruit” (John 12:24).
If there is one issue that we all painfully face at various times in our lives, it is the reality of death. We all face it. We face it in the loss of people we love, we face it in our own mortality. Today is my birthday–somehow this day seems a little less exciting than it was when I was 10!
And yet, death is not only part of our reality–strangely enough, it is our calling. In order to live we need to die. We see that in terms of physical death: we will not experience eternity in all it’s glory until we exit this world. But we also see this at work spiritually. We do not truly live until we die. We don’t experience the power of resurrection until we take up our cross.
In this, we are simply following our Leader, who embraced his own death in order that life might explode into the world. Jesus went into the grave–like a seed into the ground–and out of the ground sprang Life, amazing Life!
What this means is that we are able to bring to Jesus all our sorrows, burdens, heaviness, anxiety, pain, frustration–and know that in Jesus, these things will not have the final word. We don’t know when all this “junk” will finally be lifted from us, but we do know that its time is soon up. I love Bishop Wright’s closing words:
And that is why we shall stand at the foot of the cross on Good Friday, to bring our griefs and sorrows, our bereavements and our puzzlement, to the one who has gone down into the darkness on our behalf. And…we learn again and again: that unless a grain of wheat falls into the the earth and dies it remains a single grain, but that if it dies it will bear much fruit.” (p. 28)