23 But Jesus answered them, saying, “The hour has come that the Son of Man should be glorified. 24 Most assuredly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it produces much grain.
Jesus now saw the coming of Greeks as a flash point in His ministry. These Gentiles were representatives of all Gentiles everywhere. The supreme point of His life was about to be struck on the cross. These Gentiles would clearly see the purpose of Christ’s coming. Considering this, Jesus now offered a new perspective on how believers are to live their lives.
Jews for the most part reject Jesus as the Messiah, but Gentiles seek Him out. He was in the process of concluding His mission to Israel.
But Jesus answered them [Andrew and Philip], saying,
Jesus answered Andrew and Philip so that they could communicate His thoughts to the Gentiles. He did not reply to the Gentiles directly. Jesus wished His two disciples to share the idea that He was on a course to die with these Gentiles; He had not come to set up a political kingdom.
Jesus’ response was that death was necessary in God’s economy. He gave two fundamental reasons for this thinking: (1) He needed to die for the sins of man and (2) that attitude of sacrifice for others should characterize His followers.
“The hour has come
Finally, the “hour” of which Jesus had spoken through His public ministry had come (Jn 2:4; 4:21, 23; 7:6, 8, 30; 8:20). Up to this point He had said many times that His hour had not come (Jn 7:30; 8:20). By the statement now that His “hour has come,” He marked a strategic turning point in His ministry. The time for His crucifixion had come.
The tense of the verb “has come” indicates that there was no going back from the cross (perfect tense). His course was set.
that the Son of Man should be glorified.
It was now the time for the death, burial, resurrection, and ascension of Christ (Jn 12:23; 13:1; 17:1). Jesus was not humiliated by His death, but He would receive “glorification” or renown by dying for sins and rising from the dead. He was not glorified despite the cross but through the cross. He did what He came to do—die for the sins of the world.
Most assuredly [literally, amen, amen], I say to you,
The words “most assuredly” or verily, verily introduce a solemn affirmation by Christ. What He had to say now was of supreme importance. It was time to give focused attention to what Jesus was about to say.
unless a grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies,
There is a condition for harvesting a seed of grain—that seed must die to produce a harvest. The allusion here was to the death of Jesus.
it remains alone;
A seed has no reproductive value unless it goes through the process of death. Seed must die to reproduce itself. Jesus must die to save the souls of those who would believe on Him.
but if it dies, it produces much grain.
In a technical sense, seeds do not die but simply germinate before they produce a harvest. The idea of dying here is figurative rather than literal.
Since the seed that goes into the ground dies, it will fertilize and reproduce itself. Jesus’ death would produce something far greater than if He would have continued to live. His death would save the souls of those who believe on Him, including Gentiles.
The death of the seed is a metaphor for the death of Christ. A seed must germinate to produce something. If Jesus had not died on the cross, people could not have received eternal life.
Death must precede life.
Death is necessary for eternal harvest. This is a universal principle for the harvest. Death provides fruitfulness. This applied to the Lord and it applies to us. Our lives will remain unfruitful so long as we keep it for ourselves. We will become fruitful if we cast ourselves into the fray of living for the Lord.
From an eternal perspective, death is the way to life, eternal life. This is a biblical paradox. Jesus’ death would lead to life for Himself and others. The cross is cast as the final issue about the sin problem.