March 23, 2011

The Wisdom of God

John 12:20-29

“[If] a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies … it produces many seeds.”
John 12:24


As we’ve learned through our readings this month, the cross is central in the transformation of our lives. So far we have focused on the power of the cross, on what God actually did at the cross. But we also want to look at the wisdom of the cross, on what God teaches us through the cross. That wisdom changes us too.

In today’s reading Jesus illustrates the first lesson of God’s wisdom by pointing to his upcoming death. For Jesus, his last week on earth had begun. His crucifixion was just five days away. Now was the time to clarify what would happen so that his disciples would understand when it did.

So Jesus used a picture from agriculture that his listeners would understand: “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.” Everyone knew that the death of seeds in that sense was necessary for a harvest. But Jesus was referring to his own death. He was saying, in effect, “Unless I die, there cannot be an abundant harvest of changed lives.” His death was necessary for the salvation of many lives.

That sounded foolish to the Jews who heard this farmer’s wisdom, because they thought their Messiah would never die (see v. 34).

But Jesus spoke the truth, and then he carried it out.

When our wisdom conflicts with yours, O God of truth, help us to live by the wisdom of the cross, so that our lives can be truly fruitful. Amen.

About the author — Stanley Mast

Beginning in 1971, Rev. Stanley Mast has served churches in Missouri, Colorado, and Michigan. After teaching at Calvin Theological Seminary for a few years, he was the minister of preaching at LaGrave Avenue Christian Reformed Church in Grand Rapids, Michigan, until his retirement in 2012. Stan and his wife, Sharon, enjoy time with their two sons and five grandchildren.

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