Lectionary blog on John 12:20-33
Text for the fifth Sunday in Lent, March 25, 2012
When I think about discipleship, I can’t help but remember the song I was taught as a small child.
(sung to the tune of “Jesus Loves Me”)
Jesus called them one by one,
Peter, Andrew, James and John;
Next came Phillip, Thomas too,
Matthew and Bartholomew.
(Refrain)Yes, Jesus called them,
Yes, Jesus called them,
Yes, Jesus called them,
He called them one by one.
James, the one they called the less,
Simon also Thadaeus.
Twelve apostles, Judas made,
Jesus was by him betrayed.
The Gospel reading for the fifth Sunday in Lent paints a beautiful picture as Jesus talked about what it means to be his disciple and what it means to live out our Christian vocation.
My favorite part is when Jesus uses the image of a grain of wheat to demonstrate what discipleship is all about. The grain of wheat must not only fall onto the ground, but it also must die in order for it to produce fruit.
This had to be shocking to the disciples. While Jesus spoke about a grain of wheat dying, he was also reflecting on himself and foretelling what the future will bring. Jesus, who became one of us in the flesh, was obedient even to the point of dying on the cross so that we could have the promise of eternal life.
But Jesus is also talking about us in the Gospel lesson. He is talking about all of us. We often face the struggle to surrender when it comes to discipleship. We find ourselves trying to do it all our own way when our journey would be much smoother if we would just allow Jesus to take hold of the wheel.
The picture of a grain of wheat falling onto the ground and dying so that it may produce fruit is exactly what each one of us is called to do as Christ’s disciples. We have to die to ourselves. We have to let go of the things we hold onto that slow us down and control us.
While we have many images of disciples in the Bible, the fruitful grain of wheat is one important image that Jesus sets before us so that we might grow more and more into him. Through our growth, we become a sign — a witness to others — of Christ’s love through words and actions.
Through the waters of baptism, we are brought to new life to bear fruit for all the world to see.
- What in your life needs to die in order for discipleship in Christ to grow? To what do you cling that prohibits following Christ?
- How does your congregation lift up and encourage disciples of all ages?
- What does discipleship look like in today’s world?
June Bair is pastor of Zion Lutheran Church, an ELCA congregation in Womelsdorf, Pa. She graduated from the Lutheran Theological Seminary at Philadelphia in 2006. She lives in Womelsdorf with her furry children: two cats and a dog.