Have you ever imagined how a tiny acorn has the potential of growing into a tree the size of a house? This is potential God has created but it is only unleashed as the seed is planted and dies. The even more amazing by-product is that as the seed is transformed into the tree it forms hundreds and thousands of more seeds each with the potential for life! Jesus makes the same parallel in our scripture passage, and invites us to the same fate. Die to self and truly live. And not just live but be a source by which God can bring life to others. What a life!
When you have or work with small children you recognize the need for discipline to help them understand boundaries to have good relationships. God did the same for Israel in their desert wanderings when they were being very disrespectful. But even more than a good parent, he provided a way of salvation with a snake on a pole (see Leviticus 21:4-9). Even more Jesus says that he is that way of salvation for us. He tells us the deepest character of God is love for his creation seeking not to condemn, but offer even stubborn people like us a new start and a new life. If we simply look, we will live!
I’ve watched fathers who grow up loving baseball get more and more obsessed with winning and the stats of the game that when they teach their sons, the kids end up hating the sport. It’s so easy to miss the point in the things of our lives, nothing more-so than with the life of faith given by God. John 2 gives a rare portrait of a dysfunctional religious system and how Jesus responds to it. The question we ask this lent is, ‘Where, Lord, do you need to drive out things in my life, even seemingly good religious things, that keep others from knowing you?’
There is a two-sided coin of being a human. One is wanting what we want, and it is shocking what people do to get what they want. The other side is fear that if we don’t secure life for ourselves then we will be lost or forgotten. Jesus, though, flies in the face of these two human realities saying, if you want to save your life then it means dying to yourself, taking up your cross, and following him. For the fearful it means trusting God in the very face of their fears. For the graspers it means letting go and submitting to God to give what we need and change what we want. For both it means dying to an old way of life. But Jesus says that if we trust him and let go, we will find the life we’ve always been looking for. The very life God created us for.