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Whoever serves me must follow me;  and where I am, my servant also will be. My Father will honor the one who serves me. John 12:26

Jesus came to serve, to sacrifice and to suffer. We are told we must follow Him and do likewise. Where He is, we must also be. The verses immediately prior describes the kind of “service” which ultimately costs our Lord His life:

Very truly I tell you, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds. Anyone who loves their life will lose it, while anyone who hates their life in this world will keep it for eternal life. (John 12:23-25)

Most of us will not be called to follow our Lord to the point of spilling our own blood. However, Christians always risk persecution when they take a stand for Jesus and go forth in His name. There is a daily call to “death to self” unique to each disciple, which may fall short of physical death, but is marked by service, sacrifice and even suffering for the cause of Christ. In this respect, it is the goal of the disciple to imitate, and so to become like Jesus, being willing to go as far as discipleship requires by God’s grace.

In the words of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, the famous German theologian who was murdered by the Nazis for speaking out and taking action against Hitler, states in his book, The Cost of Discipleship: “When Christ calls a man He bids him come and die”. Ultimately, Bonhoeffer sealed his testimony with his own blood. It was his belief that to have suffered is to have known in some vague sense the experience of Christ. Bonhoeffer preached that “to endure the cross is not tragedy; it is the suffering which is the fruit of an exclusive allegiance to Jesus Christ”.  He also taught that discipleship is ours alone; each of us must die alone.

Jesus compares his life — and death — to that of a kernel of wheat. If the grain of wheat remains the same, according to the words of Jesus, it will never change. But if it dies, it produces many seeds. When many stalks are harvested and replanted (the grain “dies”), acres of wheat can be grown. Some farmers have demonstrated that eighty pounds of wheat seed per acre will harvest about sixty bushels of wheat from that one acre.

Our Saviour not only understood the cost of discipleship, He understood and explained its honour and reward. Multiplication and increase are directly proportionate to our embracing concepts of self-denial (service, sacrifice, and suffering).

Jesus, through His suffering, has brought many children into glory (Hebrews 2:10). We, too, by our obedience, carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in us (2 Cor. 4:10).

Living for ourselves will never supply what we really need; neither is it what God desires.

True service — following our Lord’s example by His grace and power — transforms our lives and the lives of those around us.

Soli Deo Gloria!

Ruth A.M. Ross

– This article comes from AI’s “No Higher Calling,” a devotional for lawyers.