God’s Plan of Glorification
“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.’”
- John 12:23-26
At this point in the text, the Greeks are seeking Jesus. In fact, they have requested to see Jesus. When that request is presented to Jesus, he provides a surprising response: “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified”
(verse 23). John’s Gospel is shifting directions. Three times in the Gospel we read that it is not the hour (John 2:4, 7:6-8, 8:20). Now, the hour has come. Jesus will speak of his impending death and speak of it frequently. Where Jesus had been quick to respond to the requests of the people, he is now focused on a bigger plan, a plan of glorification.
When people thought of being glorified, the cross would be the last place they would expect that to happen. The cross was about shame and humiliation. Jesus frequently spoke of the time when he would be lifted up; of course, we know that means lifted up on the cross. For the disciples of Jesus, this term held great ambiguity. The disciples wanted Jesus to be lifted up in earthly glory so that all would see and understand him to be the king of Israel. However, Jesus was focused on a heavenly glory where Jesus will transform shame into glory and humiliation into exaltation. After his death, the earth shook, rocks split, dead were raised, and the curtain in the temple was torn in two. The centurion who was keeping watch over Jesus declared, “Truly this man was the Son of God”
(See Matthew 27:51-54). Never before and never again would they behold a crucifixion like that of Jesus Christ. Jesus overcame the shame of the cross to be declared the Son of God.
Jesus knew that through his death, many would receive life. Just as a grain of wheat must die to produce fruit, so must the Son of God die to produce fruit in those who would put their trust in him. The gift of the Holy Spirit within the believer creates the fruit; Jesus is the vine and from that vine comes growth, sustenance, and renewal. As Jesus taught his disciples, the Spirit would not come unless he departed this world to return to his Father (John 16:7-8).
Jesus would invite his followers to walk as he walked, to live the abundant life in this world and then eternal life in the world to come. Like Jesus, his followers must die to the ways of this world to embrace the ways of the kingdom of God. Those who accept this invitation will find that abundant and eternal life. Die to live. Let go of the kingdom of this world to embrace the kingdom of God.
As we see in the life of Jesus, the way of abundant and eternal life is not always easy; nevertheless, the rewards will be great. Those who follow Jesus will be honored by his Father, honored in this world and the world to come. Reflection:
How do you receive these words of Jesus? Have you been willing to die to this earthly kingdom to fully pursue the kingdom of God? Is there anything the Lord would have you die to today so that you may walk more abundantly with him and through him?
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