sitting on a donkey's colt!” 16 His disciples did not understand these things at first, but when Jesus was glorified, then they remembered that these things had been written about him and had been done to him. 17 The crowd that had been with him when he called Lazarus out of the tomb and raised him from the dead continued to bear witness. 18 The reason why the crowd went to meet him was that they heard he had done this sign. 19 So the Pharisees said to one another, “You see that you are gaining nothing. Look, the world has gone after him.” 20 Now among those who went up to worship at the feast were some Greeks. 21 So these came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida in Galilee, and asked him, “Sir, we wish to see Jesus.” 22 Philip went and told Andrew; Andrew and Philip went and told Jesus. 23 And Jesus answered them, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. 24 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. 25 Whoever loves his life loses it, and whoever hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. 26 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.
Some Greeks were among the people who came up to Jerusalem to worship at the Passover. They asked the disciples to let them see Jesus. These people were Greeks, so they were Gentiles from the Jewish faith, but they were probably converted from polytheism to monotheistic Judaism. Jesus said in verse 23, " The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified.” This may seem a bit out of line for a conversation or message to Greeks who he has never met.
But I imagine that the author, John, wrote here to emphasize that salvation is not only for the Jews but also for the Gentiles (other religions) and even for all people throughout the ages.
Jesus went on to say in verse 25, " Anyone who loves their life will lose it, while anyone who hates their life in this world will keep it for eternal life.”
The "grain of wheat" spoken of here is Jesus. That "fruit" is the precious "fruit" of "eternal life.” And “falling to the ground” means the death of Jesus on the cross that is about to be accomplished. Jesus' death on the cross shows us that His death is the true meaning of life. We have often talked about why Jesus had to go to the cross.
I would like to share with you a true story here.
Rev. Sotohiko Masuzaki gave me the greatest influence in my life.
He was the heir to a venerable Buddhist monk who became a pastor.
The following story is from his biography, "Water Springs in the Wilderness," written by Mr.Yoshizo Tanaka.
One day, Rev. Masuzaki took in a boy named Chuichi Yamamoto. The boy had been taken in by relatives as an orphan. He suffered from encephalitis at a young age and became mentally handicapped. So he was abandoned as a beggar, but Rev. Masuzaki took care of him. However, after a while, he disappeared due to his wanderlust.
One day, several years later, a gentleman came to see Dr. Masuzaki out of the blue and asked, "Aren't you the same Dr. Masuzaki who took care of a child named Chuichi Yamamoto some years ago?” "Oh, do you know anything about Chuichi?" The man said, "He did a great job and died. This is his memory." He held out the tiller wheel of the ship. The man was the captain of the sailing boat on which Chuichi had sailed. He continued to tell the story. "One day, the sailing ship, Koujuma Maru left the port of Owase, fully loaded with cargo. Soon after setting sail, a storm hit the sea, and when we were off the coast of Shingu, we just couldn't get the ship going in the direction we wanted, and finally, we hit the bottom of the ship on a reef. No matter how hard we tried to drain the water from the torn bottom of the ship, there was nothing we could do.
Just as we were about to give up, then, we heard the sounds, "Boss! Get the boat!" from the bottom of the ship, a man waving his hands and shouting. I looked around and saw that it was Chuichi.
Strangely enough, the water hadn't risen a bit since then. As the sailors struggled to clear the water again, Chuichi plunged his thighs into a hole in the bottom of the boat, struggling to get out and shouting frantically, "Get the boat, get the boat." We were saved, but poor Chuichi had his right thigh ripped off, and he bled out and died before we landed. He always said one thing, "No one has greater love than that of a man laying down his life for his friend. He did it.”
He did just that. All the crew was so moved by his sacrificial act and love they became Christians.
Chuichi Yamamoto’s actions and Jesus’ message are not meant to us, “Sacrifice your own life. Jesus wants us to cherish our lives and to live us with joy.” That is why Christ the Lord died on the cross so that we could be forgiven of our sins, have our relationship with God restored, and live anew.
No matter how we love and cherish our lives, we cannot attain eternal life. Even when we try to protect it, it will be lost one day.
But if we can surrender our lives to God and be confident that there is a Lord who will lead us to eternal life, we can live a life of peace and hope. To say it another way, it is to know that we are blessed to be alive in God's love. Then, even during all kinds of suffering, sorrow, anxiety, and fear, we will be able to live out our lives with gratitude, never losing hope for eternal life beyond our physical lives.