I assure you, most solemnly I tell you, Unless a kernel of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains [just one grain: never becomes more but lives] by itself alone. But if it dies, it produces many others and yields a rich harvest (John 12:24).
Do you believe the word of God - every word from God? If you do what do you do with John 12:24? Jesus said to those who had been asking, you have to die to become fruitful. But how do you die? Religious people in centuries past, even Martin Luther in his earlier years, felt that the way to die was to inflict punishment upon themselves. They deprived themselves and tortured the flesh - they beat themselves. But if we look at Christ for our example of dying we would see that he never attempted any such thing.
There is no record of Christ inflicting punishment on himself. Rather in one case when the Jews in his own hometown pushed him out of the city on to the brow of a hill to throw him headlong over a cliff and kill him, he miraculously passed through the crowd, and disappeared from among them. They could not find him to throw him over. (Luke 4: 16-30) Nor did he travel up to Jerusalem with his brothers when they derided him, telling him that if he claimed to be such a great man, he should go with them into Jerusalem at the time of the feast so everyone could see him and his wonderful deeds. It wasn't done in love. They wanted to embarrass him and expose him to his enemies, the Chief Priests and Jewish leaders, who wanted to kill him. Jesus did not fall for the trap: he told them that it was not yet time for him to make himself known. He did go into Jerusalem but alone, after his brothers left him.
One of the first things we learn from Jesus' example is that we need to be in tune with God to know the appointed times of death in our lives. How did Jesus die? By accepting the moment of death. He did not kill himself. He succumbed to the circumstances because he had been walking closely with God. He told his disciples at the Last Supper that his time had come to fulfil God's ultimate purpose for his life. He knew. So when his antagonists came to capture him he went with them willingly. When they slapped him and spat in his face and mocked and accused him, he remained silent. He spoke not a word. He was led as a lamb to the slaughter. We are the fruit of that death.
How do you die? By not running from the test that God is allowing you to go through; by humbling yourself before God and acknowledging your sinful inclinations in the face of temptation; by not retaliating when others, even your brethren, speak evil of you; by not complaining when times of hardship come your way; and by submitting to the will of the Father even when you don't understand. If you keep resisting you will not die: you have to let yourself die: you must choose to die.
If you don't determine in your own heart to know God and to trust him at all costs, and if you complain and insist on standing up for your own rights, you will miss when your opportunity comes to die. And if you don't allow yourself to die, you will die, nonetheless. But the tragedy is that there will be no fruit remaining.
Remember, after the grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it does not bear fruit at once. It takes time to bear fruit. At what point are you?
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