ESV - 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.
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I believe Matthew will give us insight into what The Lord meant by that statement. As he commissioned the disciples he gave them specific orders, a command concerning their ministry. Matthew 10:5-6 "These twelve Jesus sent forth, and commanded them, saying, Go not into the way of the Gentiles, and into any city of the Samaritans enter ye not:But go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel." In Matthew 15:24 he responded to a Syrophoenician lady who asked him to help her daughter who was possessed with a demon. "But he answered and said, I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel." As a Gentile, the woman had no claim on Messiah as she addressed him in v. 22 ".....thou son of David..." This was a Jewish title, a claim specific to Israel. However, when she worshipped him and said "Lord, help me" he responded. In the passage referenced we see that The Lord never responded to the Greek men but responded to his disciples Andrew and Phillip: "And Jesus answered them, saying, The hour is come, that the Son of man should be glorified. Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone: but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit." (John 12:23-24). Prior to his death, burial and resurrection salvation was not available to the nations corporately. Yes, there were a handful of Gentiles who believed but very few. I believe The Lord made this parabolic statement explaining that like a seed, Christ had to die, be buried in order to emerge and then produce much fruit. I believe "much fruit" spoken of here is the nations, the mass of Gentiles who would come to a saving knowledge by and through his substitutionary sacrifice, burial and resurrection. The apostle Paul explains. Ephesians 2:11-13 " Wherefore remember, that ye being in time past Gentiles in the flesh, who are called Uncircumcision by that which is called the Circumcision in the flesh made by hands; That at that time ye were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world: But now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ."
Jesus was referring to his human death and resurerection. He must die that Christianity with its millions of followers can begin. One seed is planted that millions may be formed.
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 (John 12:24). When Jesus said this, He was referring to how much His death would bear much fruit. Yet the same statement can immensely carry lessons to us. It required Jesus to die because the wages of sin is death... (Romans 6:23). That Jesus offered Himself to die in place of the rest meant that He couldn't have escaped death. For all the people in the world have sinned and have all fallen short of the glory of God (Rom 3:23). Thus while the rest were pretty oblivious of what he could have meant, being the high priest at the time, Caiaphas made a statement that even he personally didn't understand what exactly the hidden meaning of it was for. For he said that; it was better for one person to die in order to save the nation (John 11:50-51). Jesus ought to have died so as to make meaning of His mission to save man from eternal spiritual death. Thus it is pretty of much significance that when Jesus gave up His Spirit, many saints were resurrected and were seen on the streets of Jerusalem (Matt 27:50-53). But away from simply looking at it quantitatively, it also pretty brings us many lessons in terms of quality. For apart from having many come to Jesus (the billions of Christians), there is the part that He made it pretty real that there is life after death. That His death and His subsequent resurrection brought Him (Jesus) indisputable glory, but it brought us (His followers) assurance that that He had resurrected (which only comes after death), if we yield to Him in faith, He surely brings us eternal life (John 3:16, 5:24, 11:25, 14:6). By what He went through, Jesus assured us that the mortality of the flesh is not an end in itself. Thus, much as those who refuse to embrace Jesus will resurrect to eternal damnation, the rest of us who have accepted and followed Him will resurrect to eternity in heaven with the Father (John 5:28-29). Thus because Jesus accepted to die so He could resurrect, should make us have the confidence of life after death, though ideally the fear of death (the state of unconsciousness) can't completely be done away with. Jesus had pleaded with the Father to avoid it (death) (Matt 26:39), (Mark 14:36), (Luke 22:42). Yet He had to live up to His statement; that a seed can only bear much fruit only after it is planted and dies so it can give way to a new bearing. There was no another way for Jesus to do it. Equally so, there is no another way for you to go to heaven unless you have faced physical death, or you are caught up in the rapture (if you are sure you unceasingly stand well with the Lord). But this also teaches us that in the literal world and life we are, when we came to Christ, it is pretty a requirement that we die to the former self and thereby assume another life in Jesus Christ. The kind of life that allows us to bear fruit. Jesus came to save us from the sin which we inherited by being the offspring of Adam the first man to live on earth. Thus if we insist to remain in the life that we lived before we met Christ, then we can't bear fruit. And if we can't bear fruit, then we can't be accepted by the Father. Thus when a person is Born Again, he is a new creature and all the old has gone and the new has come (2Corinthians 5:16-19). In this then, we begin to live a life that is not of us, but which is of Christ which enables us to live profitably and to the glory of God. We ought to note that we are the ambassadors of the heavens. An ambassador is simply a copycat of what he represents. Having not been like Him (Jesus or God for that matter), by coming to Him, we are given an opportunity to share in both; His suffering (though we may not have to hang like He did) and victories. When we come to Him, we accept that He died for the right cause and then He (Jesus) exchanges life for death for us (Galatians 2:20).
Jesus willingly died so that billions of human beings, since Adam and Eve, could be reconciled to God, by having their sins forgiven. Jesus was resurrected from the dead to new life, so that each person who believes in him, would receive the gift of eternal life, by the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit. That’s a huge harvest. Jesus is the first fruits example. When we hear the gospel message and come to faith in Jesus, we are united with Christ in his death. Our old self and life dies. When the Holy Spirit comes to live in us, we are united with Christ in his new life. Our dead spirit comes alive and we begin a new life as a brand new person. With the Holy Spirit as our teacher, guide and power source we are able to complete the good works that God has prepared in advance for us to do. What are these works? To share the gospel message with everyone who will listen, so that many more people can come to faith in Jesus. But also to deliver God’s love to a lost and dying world, by loving other people with the same sacrificial love that Jesus had for them. Delivering love creates the fruit of righteousness and advances the kingdom of God. As Jesus said, the harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. Pray to the Lord of the harvest to send out more workers, so the bountiful harvest may all be brought in, for God’s kingdom and eternal family.
While Jesus may very well have been referring to his own death and resurrection, I do not believe that is the main point of the parable. If you look at the Parable of the Sower (Matthew 13,Mark 4) there is a clear implication that there is reproductive power that goes far beyond the original seed, which is, of course, Jesus. In the Parable of the Sower, Jesus says that the seed sown in good soil produces "a crop thirty, sixty, and a hundred fold." Where does this crop (aka fruit) come from? From faithful believers who multiply...from those who "die" like Jesus...in many cases, they die for real as we well know. This is the power of muliplication. This is the kingdom of God "which is like a mustard seed..." Don't forget. God created mankind to be fruitful. He commissioned us to make disciples. A disciple without reproducing ability is not a disciple. That would be like an apple without any seeds. (This is not to say if you haven't reproduced yet that you are not a disciple, but merely that you have the ability to.) To create life that is incapable of making other life would defy the very purpose of God's creation..."be fruitful and multiply." We have the original seed of Christ in us, but the power of multiplication is that when we plant that same seed in others...rather than holding on to it like the seed of wheat which does not fall...we will see a harvest simply based on the nature of the seed and its ability to reproduce. An observation from author Neil Cole says it best: "A single shaft of wheat, when left unhindered, will produce crops big enough to feed the entire world in 8 years."
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