TEXTS: John 18:1-19:42 and John 12:20-33
After this, when Jesus knew that all was now finished, he said (in order to fulfill the scripture), “I am thirsty.” A jar full of sour wine was standing there. So they put a sponge full of the wine on a branch of hyssop and held it to his mouth. When Jesus had received the wine, he said, “It is finished.” Then he bowed his head and gave up his spirit. (John 19:28-30)
“Very truly, I tell you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains just a single grain; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.” (John 12:24)
Years ago, when the Betty Crocker Company first began selling their cake mixes, they offered a product which only needed water. All you had to do was add water to the mix—which came in the box—and you would get a perfect, delicious cake every time.
It bombed. No one bought it and the company couldn’t understand why, so they commissioned a study which brought back a surprising answer.
It seemed that people weren’t buying the cake mix because it was too easy. They didn’t want to be totally excluded from the work of preparing a cake; they wanted to feel that they were contributing something to it.
So, Betty Crocker changed the formula and required the customer to add an egg in addition to the water. Immediately, the new cake mix was a huge success!
Unfortunately, many people make the same mistake when it comes to “packaging” or presenting the Christian religion. They try to make the call of Jesus Christ as easy as possible because they’re afraid people won’t “buy it” if it seems too hard.
Jesus said, unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies it bears much fruit.
Jesus then explained what he meant. He said, “Those who love their life lose it, and those who hate their life in this world will keep it for eternal life.” (John 12:25)
It’s true in life, isn’t it? If we are going to get anything out of it, we have to invest ourselves in it.
Do you remember the second to last album by the Beatles? It was called “Abbey Road”—and for my money it was their best. The last song is a little musical reprise called “The End.”
It’s the last lyrical statement the Beatles make on the album—and it goes like this:
“And in the end the love you take is equal to the love you make.”
The truth of this is written in creation. It is evident for everyone to see. It is even found in something as small as grain of wheat, a seed. Remember what Jesus told us:
- First, when a grain of wheat falls, it dies.
- Second, when a grain of wheat falls, it bears much fruit.
- Finally, Christ is the grain of wheat that dies and bears much fruit.
And that, I think, is the message of Holy Week—from Palm Sunday to Maundy Thursday to Good Friday to Easter. Christ Jesus is the grain of wheat which has become living bread for us.
In his birth amongst us, he became the good and gracious seed which God cast upon the earth for our salvation.
Through his life and his teaching, Jesus spread that good and gracious seed even further, hoping that it would sprout and take root within the hearts of human beings.
By his death upon the cross—and then through his glorious resurrection—Jesus became the gracious seed which died, and which was buried, and which then burst forth in new and unending life to bear much fruit.
The church is that abundant fruit. You and I—we are that abundant fruit! We are the evidence of Christ’s resurrection. We are the carriers of the good news.
And we ourselves are called to scatter the seeds of the gospel—and thereby also to bear abundant fruit for the salvation of humankind and the glory of God’s Kingdom.
What a blessing—what a privilege—that is! Thanks be to God for it. Amen.