John 12:24 MEANING

John 12:24
(24) Verily, verily, I say unto you.--He is passing to the deeper truth which underlies His words, and calls attention to what He is about to say by the usual and solemn "Verily, verily." (Comp. Note on John 1:51.)

Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die.--The truth is one of those of the spirit-world, lying beyond the ordinary language of men. He prepares them for it by what we call the analogy of a physical law, but what is really an instance of the working of the great law of life, which God has given to the moral and physical worlds alike. All knew that a grain of wheat, though containing in itself the germs of life, would remain alone, and not really live unless it fell to the earth. Then the life-germs would burst forth, and the single grain, in its own death, would give life to blade, and stalk, and ear of corn. Its death then was the true life, for it released the inner life-power which the husk before held captive; and this life-power multiplying itself in successive grains would clothe the whole field with a harvest of much fruit.

This law Christ now teaches to be a law also of the moral world, and one to which His own life is subject. Here too life issues from death. The moral power which is the life of the world finds its source in the death of the Son of man. "He is life." "In Him is life." "He quickens whom He will." "Whosoever believeth in Him hath eternal life." These truths this Gospel has told us again and again: but Christ now tells that while He is still on earth this life exists, but in its germs; and that in His death it will burst forth, and grow up, and multiply itself in the great spiritual harvest of the world. Such was the prophecy. The history of all that is best, and truest, and noblest in the life of eighteen centuries comes to us as the fulfilment. Hearts hardened, sinful, dead, that have been led to think of His death, and in thoughts of it have felt germs of life springing up and bursting the husks of their former prison, and growing up into living powers which have changed their whole being; this is the individual fulfilment that has come to many and may come to all.

Verse 24. - The oracle is introduced with a solemn Ἀμὴν ἀμὴν λέγω ὑμῖν: Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except the corn (or, grain) of wheat, having fallen to the ground, die, it abideth by itself alone: but if it die, it beareth much fruit. The simple illustration of life through death, life triumphing over death. "Even nature protests against the Hellenic fear of death" (Lange). As long as the corn of wheat is scrupulously kept from decomposition and death in the granary, the hidden germ is dormant; let it be sown as "bare grain" (1 Corinthians 15:36, etc.), then the strange force within it puts forth its hidden faculty, the outer covering of this point of energy falls away, and the new thing appears. God gives it a body, and much fruit is brought forth. Thoma suggests that the Johannist here is putting into the lips of Jesus the thoughts of Paul. How much more probable is it that Paul grasped the thought of Jesus, and applied a part of it to the grand argument for the resurrection, both of Christ and Christians! Compare with this the teaching of John 6, where the Bread of life is given for the food of men. Even the "bread-making" for man involves, in another way, the temporary destruction of the living germ in the grain of which it is composed, that it may become the life of men. Christ is himself the "Son of God," the "Logos incarnate," the "Son of man." By becoming, in his death, the food of man's soul, he created thus a new life in the hearts of men. Over and over again our Lord has declared himself to be "the Life," and "the Source of life," for men; but he here lays down the principle that this life-giving power of his is conditioned by his death. The great harvest will be reaped only when he shall have sacrificed his life and put away sin by the sacrifice of himself. It is, too, only as every believing man dies to himself, is crucified with Christ, is dead with him to the world, that he rises again in the newness of life.

12:20-26 In attendance upon holy ordinances, particularly the gospel passover, the great desire of our souls should be to see Jesus; to see him as ours, to keep up communion with him, and derive grace from him. The calling of the Gentiles magnified the Redeemer. A corn of wheat yields no increase unless it is cast into the ground. Thus Christ might have possessed his heavenly glory alone, without becoming man. Or, after he had taken man's nature, he might have entered heaven alone, by his own perfect righteousness, without suffering or death; but then no sinner of the human race could have been saved. The salvation of souls hitherto, and henceforward to the end of time, is owing to the dying of this Corn of wheat. Let us search whether Christ be in us the hope of glory; let us beg him to make us indifferent to the trifling concerns of this life, that we may serve the Lord Jesus with a willing mind, and follow his holy example.Verily, verily, I say unto you,.... This is a certain truth in nature, Christ was about to assert; and what he signifies by it would be a certain fact, and which he mentions, that his death might not be a stumbling block to his disciples, or any objection to his glorification; but was rather to be considered as a means of it, and necessary in order to it:

except a corn of wheat fall into the ground; or is sown in the earth; for sowing with the Jews is expressed by the falling of the seed into the earth; See Gill on Matthew 13:4; and is a very fit phrase to set forth the death of Christ by, who fell a sacrifice to justice by the hands of men:

and die; or is corrupted, and putrefies; and which is done in three days time in moist land, but is longer in dry ground ere it perishes (z): and a corn of wheat is almost the only seed, that being cast into the earth, does die; and therefore is very aptly used by Christ:

it abideth alone; a mere single corn as it is:

but if it die; if it wastes, consumes, and rots, as it does, being cast into the earth, in the time before mentioned:

it bringeth forth much fruit; it shoots out, and rises above ground, and appears in blade, and stalk, and ear, and produces many corns or grains of wheat; all which our Lord intends should be accommodated to himself, and to his death, and the fruits of it. He compares himself to a corn of wheat; to wheat, for the choiceness and excellency of it above all other grain, he being the chiefest among ten thousand, angels or men; and for the purity and cleanness of it, he being, even in his human nature, pure, and free from sin; and for its fruitfulness, he being fruitful in himself, and the cause of all fruitfulness in his people; and for its usefulness for food, he being the bread of life, and the finest of the wheat: and whereas the wheat must be threshed, and ground, and sifted, and kneaded, and baked, before it is fit for food; all this may express the sufferings and death of Christ, in order to be proper food for the faith of his people: and Christ here compares himself to a single corn of wheat, because he was of little account among men, and but little or nothing was expected by them from him; and chiefly because he was alone in the salvation of his people. The death of Christ is signified by the falling of the corn of wheat into the ground, and dying, and shows that Christ's death was not accidental, but designed; it was determined in the counsels and purposes of God, and intended for his glory and the redemption of men; even as wheat falls out of the hands of the sower, not casually, but on purpose, that it may die and spring up again, and produce an increase: and also, that the death of Christ was voluntary, both on his Father's part, and on his own; and was real, and not in appearance only, and yet was but for a short time; as the corn of wheat that dies, soon revives again, and is quickly above ground, so Christ, though he really died, did not long continue under the power of death, but rose again the third day, and now lives for ever. Moreover, Christ intimates by this simile, that if he had not died, he should have been alone; not without his Father, and the blessed Spirit; nor without the holy and elect angels, but without any of the sons of men, who all fell and died in Adam; and had not Christ died, none of them would have lived; none of them could have been justified; nor could their sins have been expiated; nor would any of them have been regenerated: Christ must have been without them in heaven; wherefore he chose rather to die for them, that they might be for ever with him, than be alone in the human nature. And he further observes hereby, that his death would be productive of much fruit; which may be understood both of a large harvest of souls, that should be saved, among Jews, and Gentiles, and especially the latter; and of the blessings of grace, as redemption, justification, peace, pardon, and eternal life, that should follow upon it.

(z) Rabbenu Samson & Bartenora in Misn. Celaim, c. 2. sect. 3.

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