With all the buzz surrounding Jesus, both with his spectacular entry into Jerusalem, and his just as spectacular cleansing of the temple, it’s little wonder that first time visitors would wish to see him. In this case, it was some Greek proselytes who became interested in who this Jesus was. Perhaps it was because Phillip had a Greek name that these men approached him first. And together with Andrew (someone who always seemed to be introducing others to Jesus), Phillip brought these men to Jesus.
Jesus responded by saying,
The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. 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. (23-24)
In saying this, Jesus was talking about his death and resurrection. As long as he was alive, his ministry would be limited to what he could do in Israel. But after his death, through the Holy Spirit, his work would spread all over the world, touching not only the Greeks, but every tribe and nation.
But Jesus then said to his disciples,
Anyone who loves their life will lose it, while anyone who hates their life in this world will keep it for eternal life. Whoever serves me must follow me; and where I am, my servant also will be. My Father will honor the one who serves me. (25-26)
Here Jesus says both the blindingly obvious, and the paradoxical truth. The blindingly obvious? That whoever serves Jesus must follow him, and that wherever he is, his servant must be.
It’s very hard to serve a person when you’re never around him. And if you really want to serve Jesus, you need to be in a place where you can see and hear what he wants.
But in order to be where Jesus is, you sometimes need to leave things behind, including things and people you love. And that’s why he says something seemingly paradoxical: Whoever loves his life will lose it, but anyone who hates his life will keep it for eternal life.
This doesn’t mean that we should hate everything and every moment of our lives. But the things and people we love in this world need to take second place to Jesus. If for example, Jesus leads you to leave your country in order to serve him in another, then you need to follow him there. Or if Jesus says, “Leave your high-paying job so you can serve me better,” then you need to be willing to do so for the sake of his kingdom.
Sometimes following Jesus means change. Sometimes it means sacrifice. But we can’t serve Jesus if we’re not where he is. And while the change or sacrifice might seem painful at the time, in the end, we’ll find it was all worth it.
I found that out coming to Japan. I never dreamed that I’d ever leave Hawaii. But when I came to Japan, I found out that I was happier here than I ever was in Hawaii. I found life by leaving what I loved in Hawaii in order to follow Jesus.
And so will you.
How about you? Are you where Jesus is?