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Friday, October 9, 2009

dying to follow Christ

Thought: Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone: but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit. He that loveth his life shall lose it; and he that hateth his life in this world shall keep it unto life eternal.

If any man serve me, let him follow me; John 12:24-26

I read something that prompted me to give this scripture thought. The author was saying that the kernel of wheat is referring to Christ and the necessity of His dying on the cross. It was, I don’t know if you’d call it a revelation, but certainly a new angle of thought… Now that is a strange thing for somebody who has read the scripture uncounted times in the course of their years of living for the Lord. But it certainly goes to demonstrate how the Word of God is always new and the Lord is always showing us new things.

This particular scripture, I’ve always thought of in the sense of being applicable to the child of God who must give up his own feelings and ‘life’ to bear fruit for the Lord. And it certainly is applicable under that logic. We must be willing to lose our life in the life of Christ and we must hate our worldly life in order to participate in that life.

But the other lesson here is one of Christ’s willingness to lay down His life to bring us life eternal. He is called in various places the seed of the woman, the seed of Abraham, the seed of David. We know further more that of Mary’s pregnancy the angel told Joseph that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost. So we find Jesus, the spiritual seed who chose to ‘fall to the ground’ and bring forth much fruit. He chose the route of the cross in order to bear spiritual fruit.

Without Christ’s death, the ‘fruit’ of Salvation would never have been possible. His death was as necessary to the process as for the kernel of wheat to be planted. He ‘hated,’ disregarded, rejected, his earthly life to the point that He was willing to suffer the pain of the cross to bring about eternal life for all mankind.

Now we most often separate the next verse from the one just before it. If any man serve me, let him follow me. We consider it as simply following the teachings of Christ and doing as He taught us. But during this entire passage, Jesus was speaking of His death on the cross and coming resurrection. If we will serve Him we must be willing to follow Him in that death. Possibly we will never be required to lay down our literal life, but we are most certainly required to lay down our ‘spiritual’ life. Each of us has a ‘spiritual’ life. Generally the word ‘spiritual’ is considered to apply to the good things of God, but actually the word spiritual is applicable to the things of the soul, or the spirit of the man.

For this reason we find many people saying they are ‘spiritual’. We take that to mean they are following the Lord, but most often it merely means that the individual is keyed into the supernatural side of their being -- that they believe in something, a force, a reality, beyond the literal physical side of life. Each of us has a ‘spiritual’ side that pursues either Christ’s way or our own way. We must be willing to lay aside that pursuit of our own way, to crucify our old man--that old ‘spiritual’ side of us that lived contrary to the way of God.

As Christ had no regard for his own life on this earth, as He pursued His Father’s purpose, so must we do. We must lay down our ‘spiritual’ life, give it up, die to the fleshly man, the old man. We must have such a desire to pursue the life of Christ that our own way is repugnant to us. We must hate it to the extent that we are willing to follow Christ in death and resurrection, not the literal death and resurrection, but in the spiritual. We must die to the side of us that is ‘spiritual’ the fleshly pursuits of our own ways, the soul-side of us that would follow after the ways of Satan. When we die that death we are resurrected in holiness.

It is the only way to truly follow Him....and I knew that. But I'd never connected it to this particular scripture this way.

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