If there was a theme for the readings for this year’s Holy Week it would be “Follow me.” In John we hear those words – again actually – this time in the context of Philip.
There are some Greeks who wish to see Jesus. They come to Philip, who tells Andrew, who tells Jesus. Jesus responds with a somewhat odd response: “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. Very truly, I tell you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains just a single grain; but if it dies, it bears much fruit…. Whoever serves me must follow me, and where I am, there will my servant be also.”
If you die, you truly live.
OK…if you die to self, you truly live.
This is a wonderful metaphor for the Christian life. In order to have life, you must lose it. In order to follow Christ and come to eternal life, one must be a servant. This flies in the face of all those who were looking for a triumphant king to save them from Rome. It flies in the face of all those who trust in earthly kings and not God.
But here…eternal life is now the focus. (The question is what is meant by eternal life…and I will give you a clue, it doesn’t mean simply going to heaven.)
It also means that in death we find life. That sounds pretty odd too, doesn’t it!?!?! This self-emptying trajectory of the Christian life is certainly something Paul dwells upon deeply.
And this is the heart of Holy Week. Wrapped up neatly in a seven day package, one can discover the entirety of the Christian message of new life.
How are we called to be like that seed? How are we to bear much fruit in the face of our death? What will our fruit look like? What does it mean to be fruit that bears out eternal life?
These are the questions, not of Holy Week, but of our daily lives.