REGENERATION AND RESURRECTION
We have seen that John selects nine cases and arranges them in a particular sequence in chapters three through eleven. The first case, that of Nicodemus, is a case of regeneration. The last case, that of Lazarus, is a case of resurrection. Both regeneration and resurrection are according to the same principle, a new beginning for something that is of the old creation. With both regeneration and resurrection something of the old creation has a new beginning. In fact, all the nine cases recorded by John in his Gospel follow this principle.
GLORIFICATION AND FRUIT-BEARING
According to John 12, after the nine cases, the Lord Jesus enjoyed a feast in Bethany. During that feast there was a strong testimony of resurrection, a testimony of the old becoming new. After attending that feast, the Lord Jesus received a warm welcome by the crowd in Jerusalem.
When the Pharisees realized that the Lord was welcomed by the crowd, they said to one another, “You see that you are profiting nothing; behold, the world has gone after him” (v. 19). It seemed to the Pharisees, those who opposed the Lord Jesus, that the whole world was welcoming Him. The following verses indicate that He was received not only by Jews but also by Greeks: “Certain Greeks…came to Philip…and asked him, saying, Sir, we wish to see Jesus” (vv. 20-21). Philip told Andrew about this, and together they spoke to the Lord concerning it (v. 22). No doubt, this was a golden time for the Lord, a time when He could have been exalted by men. If we had been the Lord Jesus, we probably would have been thankful for this opportunity to receive men’s exaltation.
However, the Lord’s response was quite unexpected: “Jesus answered them, saying, The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified” (v. 23). When they heard this, the disciples may have said to themselves, “That’s right, Lord. This is the time for You to be exalted and glorified. For years You have been regarded by others merely as a lowly Nazarene. Now is the time for You to be exalted. This is the opportunity for You to be glorified.” If we had been there, we probably would have had such an understanding of the Lord’s word concerning being glorified. According to the human concept, to be glorified is to be exalted in the presence of others. For example, if a young person is elected as president of his class at school, he will feel that he is exalted and glorified.
In verse 24 the Lord Jesus goes on to explain what it means for Him to be glorified: “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it abides alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.” Here the Lord indicates that for Him to be glorified does not mean that He will be exalted; it means that He will fall into the ground as a grain of wheat and die in order to rise up and bear much fruit. Hence, to be glorified is to bear much fruit. This means that glorification is a matter of fruit-bearing.
Once again we may refer to a carnation flower as an illustration of glorification. If a carnation seed is left alone and is not sown into the ground, it would be impossible for the glory within the seed ever to come forth and be expressed. The glory of a carnation seed can be seen only when the seed is sown into the soil. In a sense, by being sown, the seed dies and eventually grows up in resurrection. This thought is similar to that of Paul in 1 Corinthians 15, where he uses the sowing of a seed as an illustration of resurrection. When a seed of a carnation plant dies by being sown into the earth, it will grow up, and this growing up will be the resurrection of the carnation seed. Eventually, the plant will blossom, and this blossoming will be its glorification. A grain of wheat, on the contrary, will eventually produce fruit, and this fruit-bearing will be its glorification. Both the blossoming of a carnation plant and the fruit-bearing of a grain of wheat illustrate glorification. A carnation seed is glorified when the plant blossoms, and a grain of wheat is glorified when the wheat brings forth fruit.
Jesus Christ is God incarnate. When He was incarnated, He entered into humanity and put on humanity as a shell. As a result, the Lord’s divine life and nature were confined and concealed within the shell of His humanity. Through incarnation, He became a seed that needed to bear fruit. This fruit-bearing was to be the Lord’s glorification. The only way for a grain of wheat to be glorified is for it to fall into the ground and die and then grow up. In this way the life within the seed is released to bring forth much fruit, and this fruit-bearing is glorification. By going through the process of death and resurrection, the Lord terminated the old creation and germinated the new creation in resurrection. In this resurrection He produced many grains. Those who believe in Christ are these many grains. As the many grains brought forth by Christ in His resurrection, eventually we are ground and blent together to be one loaf, one Body. This loaf, the Body, is the church. According to the New Testament, this church is the house of God, which will consummate in the New Jerusalem.
If we understand this matter, we shall be able to grasp the main point in chapter twelve of the Gospel of John. After the Lord Jesus took care of the nine cases recorded in chapters three through eleven, there was no need for Him to do anything further except to fall into the ground as a grain of wheat and then rise up in resurrection in order to have Himself released and expressed in the many grains. This is what it means for the Lord to be glorified.
(The Fulfillment of the Tabernacle and the Offerings in the Writings of John, Chapter 52, by Witness Lee)