Most assuredly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it produces much grain. He who loves his life will lose it, and he who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. John 12:24-25 (NKJV)
Jesus uses the phrase, “Most assuredly, I say to you…” to get their attention to the fact that He was about to say something very important. What He is going to tell them deals with His coming death and resurrection, but it also teaches us a great deal about following Jesus.
He speaks of a kernel of corn being planted and dying. Of course, He is using this as an illustration of what is about to happen to Him. He knows that in a few days time the crowd will go from shouting His praises to shouting for Him to be crucified. For Him to fulfill God’s plan for His life, He will have to surrender His life unto death. This was what He came to do.
As followers of Jesus, we are expected to surrender our lives and our will to that of Jesus. Surrendering control of our lives to the Lordship of Christ is one of the most important teachings of the Bible. I also believe it is the least understood. The Bible is clear that those who follow Jesus are to surrender complete control of their lives to Him. We are to surrender our wills and our lives to the will of God. Let me give you a few things that it means.
It means that we are willing to forsake everything for Jesus. “So likewise, whoever of you does not forsake all that he has cannot be My disciple.” Luke 14:33 (NKJV) Jesus said that we couldn’t be His disciples unless we are willing to give up everything for Him. Those who surrender their lives to Christ recognize that He is so much greater than anything this world offers that they are willing to forsake it all for Christ. As Paul said, we willingly give up all things and count them as rubbish compared to Christ (Phil 3:8)
It means that we deny ourselves. “…If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me.” Luke 9:23 (NKJV) Most of the time our biggest hindrance to being a follower of Christ rather than a fan of Christ will be ourselves. One of the greatest struggles we will have in being a follower of Christ is with our self-will. What Jesus wants us to do will not always be what we want to do. Being a follower of Christ means that we are surrendered to Christ and so we will deny ourselves to do His will.
It means that we strive to be more like Jesus than the world. “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.” Romans 12:1-2 (NKJV) Being surrendered to Christ means that we pattern our lives after Christ and endeavor to live a life that pleases Him, even though it may not please men. God’s opinion of your life is the most important thing to you, even though you may be mocked or rejected by others.
I’m afraid that too many times what we want is a Savior that comes with no strings attached. We want to be forgiven of our sins but we don’t want the One that forgives us to meddle in our lives. Of course, He needs to be there when we get in trouble. Otherwise we would rather He leave us alone to live our lives. The problem with this is that the Savior in that picture isn’t Jesus. While Jesus is Savior, He is also Lord. For Him to be one in our lives, He has to be both.
Jesus says that if we love our lives we will end up losing them. The idea in this statement is so important that it is included in all four Gospel accounts. The idea of saving or losing one’s life is not speaking of saving or losing physical life, but saving or losing eternal life. The person that chooses to keep their lives for themselves by not surrendering everything to Jesus is putting their will for their life, over Jesus’ will for their life. When we choose to hold on to our life and reject Jesus’ will, Jesus says we will end up losing out eternally.
Some will say, “Oh c’mon Stacy. Isn’t that a little much?” I’ll give Jesus the final word and let you decide for yourself if it is a little much.
“If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me. For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will save it. For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and is himself destroyed or lost? Luke 9:23-25 (NKJV)