Now there were certain Greeks among those who came up to worship at the feast. Then they came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida of Galilee, and asked him, saying, "Sir, we wish to see Jesus." Philip came and told Andrew, and in turn Andrew and Philip told Jesus. But Jesus answered them, saying, "The hour has come that the Son of Man should be glorified. 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. If anyone serves Me, let him follow Me; and where I am, there My servant will be also. If anyone serves Me, him My Father will honor."
- John 12:20-26
Yesterday, we read that a great many people knew that Jesus was at the Passover; and they came, not for Jesus' sake only, but that they might also see Lazarus, whom He had raised from the dead. But the chief priests plotted to put Lazarus to death also, because on account of him many of the Jews went away and believed in Jesus. The next day a great multitude that had come to the feast, when they heard that Jesus was coming into Jerusalem, took branches of palm trees and went out to meet Him, and cried out: "Hosanna! 'Blessed is He who comes in the name of the LORD!' The King of Israel!" Then Jesus, when He had found a young donkey, sat on it; as it is written: "Fear not, daughter of Zion; Behold, your King is coming, sitting on a donkey's colt." His disciples did not understand these things at first; but when Jesus was glorified, then they remembered that these things were written about Him and that they had done these things to Him. Therefore the people, who were with Him when He called Lazarus out of his tomb and raised him from the dead, bore witness. For this reason the people also met Him, because they heard that He had done this sign. The Pharisees therefore said among themselves, "You see that you are accomplishing nothing. Look, the world has gone after Him!"
Now there were certain Greeks among those who came up to worship at the feast. Then they came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida of Galilee, and asked him, saying, "Sir, we wish to see Jesus." Philip came and told Andrew, and in turn Andrew and Philip told Jesus. But Jesus answered them, saying, "The hour has come that the Son of Man should be glorified." The Greeks here at the Passover festival are Gentiles who believed in the God of Abraham and have come to participate in the feast. They are called Greeks because they are not yet full proselytes (converts), says my study bible. Jesus had taught His disciples not to go to the Gentiles (Matthew 10:5, 15:24), so they approach Him before they bring these people to Him who seek Him. The hour in which Christ is glorified is the time of His death on the Cross. My study bible says that Jesus' obscure response indicates two things: first, that the answer these Greeks are seeking won't be found in words, but rather in the Cross; and second, the Cross will be the event that opens all manner of grace to the Gentiles.
"Most assuredly, I say to you, unless a .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. If anyone serves Me, let him follow Me; and where I am, there My servant will be also. If anyone serves Me, him My Father will honor." This image of the grain of wheat that dies in order to produce much grain is the image of Christ's death that will give life to the world. Jesus is prepared to make the sacrifice that will glorify God. To produce much grain is also an image of those who will follow in future. Jesus has already used the image of grain fields white for harvest when speaking of the Samaritans who came to believe in Him after He spoke to the woman at the well (4:35).
The image of the grain of wheat is one that produces countless grain when it dies. Jesus speaks of a willingness to give up what was knows in order to follow God, and to follow Him, and so doing to bear much fruit. He also connects following Him with service and honor from both Christ and the Father. The image of wheat is important: the fruits that might be born are uncountable, unimaginable, so large they may be infinite and indicate successive harvests that one cannot limit as they produce crop after crop, generation after generation, through time. It speaks also of all the world, all the nations, Jews and Gentiles. The grain of wheat is also that which is harvested to make bread -- bread that becomes the bread of life when imbued by the Holy Spirit to be the body and and blood of Christ. Jesus' images work for us throughout the New Testament, producing yet new understanding of what it is to be a part of the Kingdom of God even in this world. That He speaks of serving this Kingdom is made more clear in the words that follow the image of the grain of wheat: to hate one's life in this world is a vivid image of wanting to serve the Kingdom, and just how one comes to sacrifice the things one knows for those which are of Christ, and promised by God, to serve that honor which comes from God. Above all, the wheat that falls to the ground and dies is that which serves and nurtures the life of the world. Jesus is "the living bread which came down from heaven." He asks each of us not to be content only with being nurtured by this bread, but rather to become like Him, to understand the idea of sacrifice for the Kingdom and to follow in His footsteps. What that means for each individual believer can be as varied as each individual grain that follows, for He loves each of us. What is important is that we understand that we live and die within a kind of purpose of serving the Kingdom, of participating also in the glory and honor of Christ, in the fullness of the promise of life from the Father. To hate one's life in this world isn't a prescription for misery or nihilism. Rather, it teaches us about the abundant life that is promised instead, the so much more life that is added to our lives, rather than the limited perspective of a "worldly life." It is for this purpose that Jesus has come, for this purpose He will die on the Cross, for this purpose He has followers to bring this mission into the world. In many Eastern Orthodox churches, a sweetened and spice mixture of whole grains of boiled wheat is served at memorial services, giving us the image of the wheat that will be raised again to eternal life. It shows us that all the images of life in this world are those which carry the promise of an even greater fullness of life, a life in abundance and for an eternity. That is the life for which we exchange our "worldly" perspective, the honor we serve.