John 12:24- 25 “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. Whoever loves his life loses it, and whoever hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life.”
Luke 9:51 “When the days drew near for Jesus to be taken up, he set his face to go to Jerusalem.”
Jesus set His face toward Jerusalem and didn’t look back. He went towards danger. Towards loss and affliction, persecution and pain. He knew the only way to return to the Father was through death. He couldn’t return to heaven and leave the mission undone. He knew the only way to provide eternal life to His brothers and sisters was going towards the danger – towards death.
On D-day, as the men came off the boats they were ripped up with machine gun fire. Their only option was to press forward and keep moving – toward the machine guns. There was nothing behind them but the sea.
They could run back to the sea and drown or run towards the machine guns and maybe… live. It was counterintuitive to every self-preserving cell in their bodies but the twisted logic was run toward the guns to live. Run toward the impregnable defenses.
Run toward death to live.
But moving forward they could survive and liberate a continent. And the miracle was as each man ran toward death and did his part, Normandy was conquered by the allies.
We need this kind of example. The army has grown lazy and fat with inaction or it cowers in the trenches with now will to move forward.
But Jesus went ahead of us to show us how, to make it possible for us to follow.
By Laying down one’s life in obedience to the Father – dying for righteousness – is eternal life, glory and joy.
You know you lie. You know you covet. You know you curse. You know the loneliness of sin; the despair and the pain of sin.
You know that loving your wife as Christ loved the Church, raising our children in the fear and admonition of the LORD, making disciples of the nations, being Holy as God is Holy – it’s an impregnatable fortress.
You can’t scale its high walls. You are too weak and feeble to claw that elevation.
Getting out of bed, going out the front door, facing your loved ones – it’s like a machine gun of failure and despair.
The lies and fiery darts of the enemy are like tracer rounds revealing the rotten creature that you are – exposing you to the watching world and its onslaught of fleshly desire, misplaced aspirations and despair.
But look, there is a man running towards the guns. His face is set toward victory.
He’s headed toward the tomb for sure. And see, he went into it with a shout – what foolishness but lo, the bunker of the enemy, the tomb, is ripped open from within like a 50-ton bomb went off.
The stronghold is shattered. Forward, forward – victory is forward toward the guns.
Christ says – see how I set my face toward obedience and certain death and won – come follow me. The grave couldn’t hold me and it can’t hold you.
Christ ran forward, toward the guns of the enemy, toward pain and death – and shattered the stronghold of the enemy.
He’s calling all of us to follow.
And for holding back, for cowardice in the face of the enemy. For wallowing in easy safe-selfishness.