Living by the heartbeat
For reading & meditation: John 5:16-30
“‘ the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing ‘” (v.19)
Although we do not know exactly why the Greeks came to Jesus, it is clear that their arrival aroused powerful emotions. He soliloquises: “Unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit” (John 12:24, RSV). Some commentators think that although there is no record of the Greeks having actually conversed with Christ, they might have sent a message via Andrew and Philip to the effect that He could have a long and fruitful life if He brought His message to their shores. Was this so? We will never know – at least, not this side of eternity. But if it was, this was His answer: life comes through giving life, and fruitfulness through falling into the ground and dying. Jesus did not live by the hourglass, but by the heartbeat. He knew that when we remain alone by ourselves – when we are like the “corn of wheat afraid to die” – we will find life shallow and fruitless. A refusal to pay the ultimate price – the price of giving ourselves – is to find ourselves paying the price of the deadness of life itself. Again we hear Him cry: “The man who loves his life will lose it, while the man who hates his life in this world [as I must do] will keep it for eternal life” (John 12:25). If the Greeks were coming to ask Him to love His life and save it – and thus save others – they were asking Him to bless without bleeding. Jesus knew that could not be done. There is no life without death, no gain without pain, no crown without a cross, and no victory except through surrender.
My Father and my God, soon I will leave this theme and focus on another. If I have not yet settled this issue of where my allegiance lies – with myself or with You – then help me to settle it today. For Your own dear Name’s sake. Amen.
For further study:
1. What did the prodigal son have to learn?
2. What is the lesson of the man with one talent?