With a grain of wheat, Jesus illustrated how very serious a matter it is that He and we, His followers, die in order to produce life. Even if we had every doctrine right, lived our lives beyond reproach and could move mountains by our faith, it would be insufficient to produce life in others. Without death there is no harvest.
Jesus, being 100 percent God, could have decided to lay down all His glory, become a man and later on go back to heaven . . . alone. But He saw that through death, He would bring many sons to glory. Out of His free choice, He willingly embraced the cross (see John 10:18; Hebrews 2:9–10, 12:2).
So it is with us. Paul wrote, “I die daily” (1 Corinthians 15:31) and “I am crucified with Christ” (Galatians 2:20, kjv). The death he talks about is a continuous present tense. It’s a choice I must make every day of my life to die to my own desires, rights, wishes and decisions for the sake of bringing fruit for the kingdom of God. There is no shortcut and no other way.
In the measure in which you and I are willing to die daily through the grace of God and the cross, in that same measure will life be produced in others. Paul put it this way:
“So then death is working in us, but life in you” (2 Corinthians 4:12).
I am sure when Paul finished his race, he looked back on the death that worked in him—the bloody trail of suffering, hardship, loneliness, shipwreck, prison and rejection— and had no regrets. I am sure there was only praise to God who called him (see 2 Corinthians 4:17). He brought many with him to heaven, and even today, after 2,000 years, his choice to die continues to bring fruit through the words he left behind.