There is no clearer summation of Jesus’ teaching in John 12:24-26 than the teaching of the Apostle Paul recorded in Romans 8. Paul taught that as God’s children, we are “heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him so that we may also be glorified with Him.” (Romans 8:17, emphasis added).
God has ordained that every one of His children must follow His Son and be where He was (again John 12:26), in that we must, and we will indeed “suffer with Him”, or share in His sufferings, in order that we may also share in His eternal glory. With this teaching, given to us first by Jesus and then affirmed by Paul and other New Testament authors as well, we are given the reason for many of the sufferings, afflictions, losses, and troubles that come into our lives as believers, even as we walk in obedience to the word of God.
As young believers, many of us imagine that once we turn from what the Bible tells us is sin that our life will become much easier, and we will obtain release from many of our difficulties. We may also imagine that God will then “bless” us with many of the things that we desire for ourselves in this life.
Obedience to God’s word will eliminate the suffering brought about by the consequences of sin. However at the same time, we can see from John 12:24-26 and Romans 8:17 that God has ordained that every believer must follow Jesus, experiencing in some measure a share in His sufferings.
Though we may not understand it, and we will surely not like it, the Scriptures reveal to us that this is the path that God has chosen through which every believer will bear fruit, and thereby share in Christ’s eternal glory.
The death of the grain of wheat that Jesus spoke about in John 12:24 is the death, or relinquishing, of our own hopes, dreams, aspirations, plans and desires for our lives, and the acceptance of that which God chooses for us. It is being willing to do without anything that God may choose to withhold from us and anything that He may choose to take from us.
With this death to our own will and desires, we are called upon to
accept God’s will for our lives as Jesus did when He prayed to the Father:
“Yet not as I will, but as you will”. Through our obedient submission to the word of God and the sovereign will of God for our lives, we will experience reflections of Christ’s sufferings in our own lives, “becoming like him in his death” as Paul wrote in Philippians 3:10. God our Father has ordained just what these sufferings will be for each of us, and to what extent we will share in the sufferings of His Son Jesus Christ during our present lives.