THE SIGN OF A GRAIN OF WHEAT
The third sign in John 12 is the sign of a grain of wheat (vv. 23-26). In verse 24 the Lord Jesus said, “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.” At the time the Lord spoke these words, many visitors had come to Jerusalem to keep the feast of Passover. Many wanted to see the Lord Jesus and Lazarus, and the name of the Lord Jesus became well known. At this time, “Jesus, having found a young donkey, sat on it, as it is written, Fear not, daughter of Zion; behold, your King comes, sitting on a donkey’s colt” (vv. 14-15). A crowd took branches of palm trees, went out to meet Him, and cried out, “Hosanna, blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord, even the King of Israel!” (v. 13).
Not long afterward, certain Greeks who had come to Jerusalem to worship at the feast came to Philip and said, “Sir, we wish to see Jesus” (v. 21). Philip came and told Andrew, and then Andrew and Philip told Jesus. No doubt, they were excited to see their Master exalted and gaining a great name. They were pleased that others wanted to see Him. However, the Lord Jesus did not take this opportunity to get a name for Himself. He answered Andrew and Philip, saying, “The hour has come for the Son of Man 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” (vv. 23-24).
The Lord Jesus seemed to be saying to His disciples, “I will not accept this kind of exaltation. After six days, I shall be crucified. I’m not here to be exalted—I’m here to die. I know that the hour is coming for Me to die. This is according to the will of My Father, and I shall not seek to escape it. I must die on the Passover as the Lamb of God. I am ready for crucifixion. This is not the time for Me to be exalted. Now is the time for me to fall into the ground and die as a grain of wheat. But when I fall into the ground and die, I will rise up with many grains.”
The Lord knew that the miniature of the church life in Bethany was very good. But that church life was too small and too limited. Hence, there was the need for Christ’s multiplication through death and resurrection. It was impossible, of course, for Lazarus, Martha, and Mary to produce this multiplication. This was the reason the Lord Jesus said that He would be a grain of wheat falling into the ground to die and then to bring forth many grains.
The Lord knew that through His death many things would be accomplished. However, most people think that nothing can be accomplished by death, for they regard death as the end, as termination. But with the Lord Jesus, death is not the end. On the contrary, by passing through death, He accomplished many things for the fulfillment of God’s purpose. Therefore, in John 12 the Lord Jesus was not willing to be exalted. That was not the time for exaltation. That was the time for Him to be sown into the earth as the grain of wheat to produce multiplication through death and resurrection.
THE SIGN OF THE ALL-INCLUSIVE DEATH OF CHRIST
In 12:27-34 we have the sign of the all-inclusive death of Christ.
For the Release of the Divine Life
The Lord’s all-inclusive death was for the release of the divine life. Just as a grain of wheat releases its life by falling into the ground, so Christ released the divine life within Him through death. The life of a grain of wheat is concealed in the grain. Likewise, Christ’s divine life was contained and concealed within the “shell” of His flesh. Through His death on the cross, that shell was broken, and the divine life contained and concealed within it was released.
(The Fulfillment of the Tabernacle and the Offerings in the Writings of John, Chapter 32, by Witness Lee)