John 12: 24-26 (MsgB)
“Listen carefully: Unless a grain of wheat is buried in the ground, dead to the world, it is never any more than a grain of wheat. But if it is buried, it sprouts and reproduces itself many times over. In the same way, anyone who holds on to life just as it is destroys that life. But if you let it go, reckless in your love, you’ll have it forever, real and eternal. If any of you wants to serve Me, then follow Me. Then you’ll be where I am, ready to serve at a moment’s notice. The Father will honor and reward anyone who serves Me.”
Earlier in John’s gospel, we find Jesus making this amazing promise about life:
“I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” John 10: 10 (NIV)
As we discussed in our last blog, the ancient Greeks had three different words for our common English word, ‘life’. The Greek word ‘bios’ refers to the common plant and animal life found on planet earth. We get our words ‘biology’ and ‘biological’ from this Greek word. The second Greek word for the common forms of human life found on earth was ‘psyche’ from which we get our words ‘psychology’, ‘physics’, etc. ‘Psyche’ emphasizes our unique human ability to think, reason and relate to our surrounding environment. Finally, the Greeks had a unique word for ‘life’ that was beyond our human limitations. A spirit-breathed life. A life that came from the gods. This highest form of life, a life that excels far above our human existence, is the Greek word ‘zoe’.
Much of the New Testament uses this word ‘zoe’ when describing the life that Christ gives us. John, the gospel writer, particularly loves to use this unique Greek word, ‘zoe’ when he writes about the quality of life found only through relationship with God’s Son. Eugene Peterson, in The Message, translates John’s use of the Greek word, zoe, as ‘real and eternal life’. The NIV uses English words such as ‘life to the full’.
Zoe. A mysterious, God-breathed life that towers far above this lesser life (‘bios’ and ‘psyche’) found on this planet. A life breathed down on us from above. A gift of life that continues to give both now and forever. A life that is eternal in nature, yet very present and helpful in the everyday world in which we live.
But how, exactly, do we obtain this life, this ‘zoe’, that Jesus speaks so much about? How does an earthly vessel like you and me, filled with our earthly ‘bios’ and ‘psyche’ life (as the Greeks would define it) grab a hold of this ‘zoe’ life?
We begin to find the answer to that question here in today’s passage from John’s gospel. Here we find Jesus giving us some very important insights about how this ‘real and eternal ‘ (zoe) life becomes available to us in this lifetime.
“…anyone who holds on to life just as it is, destroys that life. But if you let it go, reckless in your love, you’ll have it forever, real and eternal.”
Apparently, Jesus knows full well that you and I can only handle one life at a time. So if we stand before the Lord, wanting to receive this ‘zoe’ (real and eternal) life that He has to offer, we must be willing to lay down the ‘life’ we presently have in order to have room for His life in ours. In other words, I need to let go of my ‘bios’ and ‘psyche’ life, letting it drop to the ground like a seed falls onto the soil, so that my hands will be empty. And it’s into those empty hands, Jesus pours out His ‘zoe’ life, life that is full and complete. Life that is full of ‘reckless love’, (agape). Life that is forever, real and eternal.
So here’s the catch. What’s in our hands right now? Are we trying really hard to keep life (bios and psyche) in control? Are we at wit’s end trying to keep life from falling apart? Working our fingers to the bone, trying to keep life from dying? How about if you and I take a tip from Jesus here and drop that ‘bios’ and ‘psyche’ life to the ground, so that our empty hands can get a big dose of ‘zoe’ life that Jesus promises to give us, if we only ask?
Hmm? Sounds pretty inviting and refreshing to me? What say you?
My prayer: Lord, thank You for revealing to me the true secret to receiving You and Your ‘zoe’ (real and eternal life). Spirit, empower me as I willingly choose to lay down the ‘bios’ and ‘psyche’ life that I hold in my hands, so that You may give me ‘zoe’ real and eternal life in return. For Your name’s sake. Amen.
My questions to ponder: What fears keep me from laying down my earthly life (my ‘bios’ and ‘psyche’)? Is it a control issue? Is it a fear of the unknown? Is it selfish pride and self-consumption? Do I truly believe Jesus’ promise here that God will pour out His ‘zoe’ life in me and through me, as I lay down my life for Him?
So what is God speaking to you today as we follow Jesus the Nazarene, the Leader of the Church?
Between now and the end of 2015, we will be sharing with you a blog series we first developed in 2013. We call it Follow The Leader: Re-defining Successful Leadership from the Gospel of John. In order to keep all 46 blog sessions organized, we suggest you bookmark our Follow The Leader home page for ease of use. ENJOY!
Click here to go onto the next blog in the series