MSG - 24 Listen carefully: Unless a grain of wheat is buried in the ground, dead to the world, it is never any more than a grain of wheat. But if it is buried, it sprouts and reproduces itself many times over. In the same way, anyone who holds on to life just as it is destroys that life. But if you let it go, reckless in your love, you'll have it forever, real and eternal.
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As I see it, Jesus was using a physical example from agriculture to teach a spiritual truth. For a seed to be more than just a seed, it had to be buried in the earth (and, thus, in a manner, die), after which the life-generating elements within the seed would cause it to germinate into a plant containing many such seeds. From a spiritual perspective, Jesus was saying, first, that the humility that He would exhibit in His own suffering and death would yield a similarly bountiful result by making forgiveness of sins and eternal life possible for all humanity through faith in Him. He was also saying that those who exercised that faith, by similarly "dying to themselves", and putting Him and His will first in their lives through the spreading of the gospel (whatever suffering that mission might entail), would produce similarly abundant results through bringing multitudes of others to salvation.
The Greeks, who were among the disciples of Jesus and were now wanting to come to Him, were being told to follow Him in His ways. And not just by being a follower, because one needs to sacrifice his life to death of worldly things (John 12:25), for then only will he be drawn unto Him (John 12:32) in spirit, and the Father will honor him (John 12:26) to walk in His ways. As we were born in sin from our mother’s womb, (Psalm 51:5) and yet chosen before the foundation of the world that we should be holy and blameless before him in love (Eph 1:4), this kernel of wheat as we are, when we grow up and are matured we need to bow, fall to the ground, and die of these worldly desires. For we were born in a natural body and need to be raised in a spiritual body (1Cor 15:44); for then a man can be born from above to see the Kingdom of God. (John 3:3) To produce many seeds, one needs to understand that though we are baptized into Jesus Christ, we were baptized into his death. Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death and raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father so that we should walk in the newness of life to bear many seeds. (Rom 6:2-4)
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