Jesus replied, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. Very truly I tell you, 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. Anyone who loves their life will lose it, while anyone who hates their life in this world will keep it for eternal life. Whoever serves me must follow me; and where I am, my servant also will be. My Father will honor the one who serves me.” John 12:23-26
Today, get alone with God, the author of life itself. Contemplate the theme in the last chapter of Jonah about the death to life process in nature. We see it in seeds, plants, insects, animals, and fish. The giving of one life brings new life to another.
Jonah could have died bringing God’s word to a barbaric people, but he didn’t. He wanted to die because the Ninevites received God’s compassion. Jonah could have spent the rest of his life teaching and worshipping in the city of new God followers, but he didn’t. He went out of the city to watch it be destroyed, but it was spared. He wasn’t willing to give himself to their new life; instead he sulked. He was so disappointed and angry at the compassion God showed to his enemies he wanted to die. He was so mad when his shade plant withered he wanted to die. He wanted his life to end not once but twice!
It is ironic that Jonah cared more about the one plant giving him comfort than a whole city of lost people. It is even more ironic how easy it was for all the citizens of that huge lost pagan city to come to God than one prophet of Israel named Jonah to respond to God. Jonah ran, disobeyed, argued and pouted, yet God kept pursuing. Jonah continued to resist God in spite of the grace shown to him by God saving his life miraculously at sea, and providing the shade plant to comfort him. How does death to life transformation take place?
The most important dying that needed to happen in this story was Jonah dying to himself. The Apostle Paul said, I eagerly expect and hope that I will in no way be ashamed, but will have sufficient courage so that now as always Christ will be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death. For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.” Christ himself said, “For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will save it” (Luke 9:24). God orchestrated these teachable moments in Jonah’s life. Has he been doing this in your life too? “For as Jonah was a sign to the Ninevites, so also will the Son of Man be to this generation” (Luke 11:30). Pray the dying to self Prayer of Saint Francis of Assisi in your solitude today:
Lord make me an instrument of your peace
Where there is hatred let me sow love
Where there is injury, pardon
Where there is doubt, faith
Where there is despair, hope
Where there is darkness, light
And where there is sadness, joy
O divine master grant that I may
not so much seek to be consoled as to console
to be understood as to understand
To be loved as to love
For it is in giving that we receive
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned
And it’s in dying that we are born to eternal life
By Donna Burns