The Grain of Wheat
A humble grain of wheat, falling into the ground, dying, and bringing forth a multiplication of life; it is perhaps the simplest picture Jesus gave to explain His earthly life and death. Yet to His disciples, it must have been very confusing. Flushed with the excitement of their leader’s surging popularity, they had just told Jesus that yet another group of people had asked to see Him. But His answer revealed the dominant purpose of His life, not earthly admiration and fame, but eternal fruit that would come by laying down His life.
“Unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone.” Would there have been anything wrong with that? The eternal God, all-sufficient, complete, and perfect, dwelling alone in unapproachable light? What a mystery it is, that somehow God should have thought it not good for the Christ to be alone, the sole heir of all things. What could be lacking in the perfect love and fellowship between the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit? Nothing that I can think of, except the opportunity to demonstrate love, grace, and mercy to those who are unworthy. Yet it was God’s intention that His only begotten Son should be the means of “bringing many sons to glory” (Heb. 2:10).
But what a costly proposition, to purify for Himself a people for His own possession! Only the death of Christ could accomplish it. For this reason He had to take on a body that could “fall into the earth and die”. As the writer to Hebrews explains, “when He comes into the world He says ‘…a body Thou hast prepared for me…Behold, I have come to do Thy will.’” Nothing could distract Him from accomplishing the will of the Father. Not the hosannas of the expectant multitudes, or even the mutterings of His enemies.
Thus the Christ must die. And, as He reminded the disciples, “if [the seed] dies, it bears much fruit”. That holy grain of wheat would produce fruit in His likeness. “For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the first-born among many brethren.” (Rom. 8:29) Because of the death of the Son of God, heaven will be peopled with “a great multitude which no one could number, of all nations, tribes, peoples, and tongues” bringing glory to God for all of eternity. Only Christ, the divine grain of wheat, could produce such a glorious harvest!