The Grain of Wheat

Good morning. It is Monday, March 23, 2015. 14 days until Opening Day! I might also add that I have purchased tickets for two games in May when the Red Sox are in town!

Today’s word of the day is marquisotte. You might be surprised to find that this is a verb, meaning “To shave or trim (the beard) with exaggerated fastidiousness; of a person: to have the beard so trimmed.”

Today is Puppy Day. How doesn’t love a puppy? If you feel so inclined, go ahead . . . adopt one today. You know you want to.

Yesterday turned out to be kind of strange. We didn’t really do much of anything until around 7:00 PM, when I got up to go get the groceries, and Christi went outside to mow the yard. We watched a bit of TV, including the latest SNL episode, and several of the new show, Secrets and Lies. We like S & L, but the main guy in it, Ben Crawford, is quite the idiot. Every time he turns around, he’s doing something that makes him look more and more guilty.

This morning, it’s back to work for the first full week, for me, since the first ice storm in February! Seriously, between days off due to ice and snow, and birthday vacation, and my mother’s eye surgery, it’s been almost a month since I’ve worked a full week. I have a feeling it’s going to be a loooooong week!

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL

Who shall ascend the hill of the LORD? And who shall stand in his holy place?
He who has clean hands and a pure heart, who does not lift up his soul to what is false and does not swear deceitfully.
He will receive blessing from the LORD and righteousness from the God of his salvation.
Such is the generation of those who seek him, who seek the face of the God of Jacob. Selah.

Psalm 24:3-6

(From Knowing Jesus)

Today’s reading is “Jesus, the Grain of Wheat.”

Now among those who went up to worship at the feast were some Greeks. So these came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida in Galilee, and asked him, “Sir, we wish to see Jesus.” Philip went and told Andrew; Andrew and Philip went and told Jesus. And Jesus answered them, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. Whoever loves his life loses it, and whoever hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. If anyone serves me, he must follow me; and where I am, there will my servant be also. If anyone serves me, the Father will honor him.
“Now is my soul troubled. And what shall I say? ‘Father, save me from this hour’? But for this purpose I have come to this hour. Father, glorify your name.” Then a voice came from heaven: “I have glorified it, and I will glorify it again.” The crowd that stood there and heard it said that it had thundered. Others said, “An angel has spoken to him.”

John 12:20-29

This is an interesting passage, and I confess that I have not read it quite as closely as this reading calls me to. It begins with a group of Greeks asking to see Jesus. We don’t know why, but we can assume, I think, that they had converted to Judaism, because they were in Jerusalem to “worship at the feast.” They had come to observe Passover. The stories of all of Jesus’s miracles must have reached them. At any rate, they wanted to see Jesus.

From the rest of the passage, we can also assume that this never happened! Jesus’s response is both puzzling and troublesome. He begins his reply with an agricultural lesson that most of them probably already knew. The grain of the wheat must be put in the earth and die before it can bear fruit. But Jesus does something different, and perhaps unexpected, with this idea. He casts against the backdrop of what is about to happen to him. The hour of his glorification is at hand. His heart is troubled; the cross beckons. Jesus is the grain of wheat! He says that the key to eternal life is losing one’s life in this world. His focus is not on “his immediate acceptance by the Greeks and the accolades of the crowds but on Golgotha.”

He states that this is the purpose for which he has come to this hour. His death is necessary “for the production of a bountiful crop.” Jesus then called upon God to glorify God’s name. To validate what he had just said, a voice thundered from heaven, and said, I have glorified it, and I will glorify it again.

So Jesus’s response to the Greeks, who had requested to see Jesus, was, “Look at that dying kernel of wheat. Look at this man telling you to lose your life. Look at this man agonizing over his imminent crucifixion.”

We have no idea what the Greeks thought of this. They are not mentioned again. But we have our own instructions from this passage. If anyone serves me, he must follow me, said Jesus. “We must be like that grain of wheat and lose our lives for Jesus’s sake.” In this, we learn “the profound lesson of Christian discipleship. Only death to self leads to life everlasting. Only death to self links us inextricably with Jesus and his mission.”

Our world, our culture, beckons us to preserve and protect our lives, “to pamper and indulge ourselves, to clamor for the best things in life.” The lesson from the grain of wheat, and all other seeds, reveals the key “to real success and prosperity, here, now, and forever.”

Father, I pray that you help me to lose my life. I go through periods of time that it seems like I am doing okay at that, and then I begin to try to take some of it back. I pray for your Spirit’s help to lay my life down at the foot of the cross and keep from picking it up again. Help me to follow Jesus and be a true disciple, and help me to show others how to do the same.

I pray for this day, that you would give Christi and me safe travel to work and back home again. I pray for a good work day for both of us. I pray that my work load will not be overly heavy after missing three days last week. I pray that Christi’s new hire will be catching on to her responsibilities quickly, and be a great help to Christi in their work environment. I pray for Stephanie, that you would show your great love to her, and that she would focus on your Word some, today.

Thank you that my mother’s recovery is going well, and that her eyesight is getting better each day. I pray for that to continue, and that you would keep them safe in their home. May you also give Rachel and Justin whatever they need most for this day. May your kingdom come and your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.

Your grace is sufficient.

Take the lesson from the grain of wheat. Even Jesus did not seek the accolades of the crowd, but kept his face set toward his purpose, the cross. May we, his disciples, truly follow him and lose our lives for his sake.

Grace and peace, friends.

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