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Signposts: Daily Devotions

Tuesday, March 30

Jesus said, "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

Tuesday in Holy Week

Jesus is speaking to his disciples and the crowd gathered around them in Jerusalem during Passover, a few days before he will be crucified.  He has just told them that his “hour” has come, and with the metaphor of the grain of wheat, he tries to explain why he must die.

Jesus' suffering and death are subjects that have occupied theologians for centuries, and if we claim to be Jesus' followers, we need to think about them as well. Holy Week is a most appropriate time to do so. 

In the sermon "Unless a Grain Falls," Barbara Brown Taylor says,

If we really believe there is a connection between our lives and Christ's death, then the least we can do is spend some quiet hours asking God to teach us about that.

I agree.

Taylor continues, 

Jesus had a choice, which is essential to his story. There are so many kinds of suffering in this world that have nothing to do with the gospel. There is nothing redemptive about famine, genocide, or incest. There is no choice for those who suffer from such things, and no one should have to endure them.

She explains that Jesus suffered as a by-product of his goal “to be fully who God created him to be no matter what the cost.”

In being that person, Jesus lost his life. And his seed has borne fruit ever since. His example of confronting unjust suffering, of including outcasts, of healing and teaching and living centered in God has multiplied throughout the world. 

The grain of wheat that fell into the earth when Jesus died two thousand years ago has produced bread for a starving world.

Near the end of her sermon, Taylor writes,

So here we sit, the local field of wheat who owe our lives to him. If he had not died, we would not be here. Because he did, we are. He has spoken to us about the way of life and the way of death, letting us know that these are the only two choices and that none of us may abstain.

Almighty God, help me to be the person you created me to be, no matter what the cost. Amen.

These Signposts originally appeared on explorefaith in 2005.