Now among those who went up to worship at the feast were some Greeks. So these came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida in Galilee, and asked him, “Sir, we wish to see Jesus.” Philip went and told Andrew; Andrew and Philip went and told Jesus. And Jesus answered them, “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 earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. Whoever loves his life loses it, and whoever hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. If anyone serves me, he must follow me; and where I am, there will my servant be also. If anyone serves me, the Father will honor him. (John 12:20-26)
If anyone serves me, he must follow me; and where I am there will my servant be also. If anyone serves me, the Father will honor him.
Jesus says this after one of his cryptic he who loves his life will lose it statements. He deals in paradox. He talks of his glorification and he speaks of the cross and suffering. If you serve him you will follow him, and it isn’t on a walk through the Galilean country side with picturesque views of the lake and the Golan Heights. No, it is to the cross, it is with the cross that you have to pick up.
And it is real suffering, this cross we carry. It isn’t self-chosen, it isn’t the type of suffering a man undergoes to show how macho he is. It is the kind of suffering that no one chooses, but you have to endure anyway. It is the kind of suffering a person undergoes when they do the right thing, rather than the easy thing. It is the kind of suffering for which the world looks at a man and says, why did he throw it all away? And it comes to us all as it comes. But there we follow him, but then he is there with us in that time, and he carries us with his cross. He lifts us up, even as he is lifted up. And we suffer in him who suffers with us, but it is there he is glorified, and there we are glorified with him. Dying to this world, we rise to new life.