Come And Die

Very truly I tell you, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds. John 12:24

When our children were young, we would often sing before dinner the chorus, “Come and dine the master calleth, come and dine…” One day our youngest, Melinda, our adopted Filipina asked, “Daddy, why does Jesus say we have to come and die?” The family laughed at this question, concluding that we really needed to work on our singing diction.

But as I study Jesus’ teaching, I’ve come to realize that Melinda was singing correctly all the time. Because Jesus also indicates that discipleship means there is a cross to bear. All too often the cross becomes for us just an historic symbol. One day a North American minister was showing a foreign visitor his newly built church building. Outside, a spotlight illuminated a huge cross on the steeple. The pastor boasted, “That cross alone cost us $10,000.” 

The visitor looked at him quizzically and replied, “Where I come from, Christians can get them for free!”     

A Canadian Christian aid worker was overwhelmed at the enormous need among the believers of southern Sudan. He recalls some children in a village wearing nothing but hand-carved bone crosses fashioned in necklaces around their necks. He pointed to the cross on one emaciated child and questioned her with hand motions.  She smiled broadly, took off the necklace and handed it to him.

His thoughtful analysis is this: “That little act symbolizes the state of the Persecuted Church in Sudan. With absolutely nothing in the way of material possessions, they still have the cross of Jesus Christ. They are prepared to share its hope – even though it means death.”

To Jesus the cross meant the willing denial of self for the sake of others. Seeking to save your life, you’ll lose it while losing your life for Jesus will save it.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer, the German theologian who gave up his life taking a stand against Hitler wrote, “When Christ calls a man, he bids him come and die.” That’s what it means to lose our life in order to save it. Jesus himself was our example being willing to go to the cross on behalf of others—even a lost world.

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