5th Sunday of Lent

Written by Tom Moffat

“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.”

(John 12:24)

John 12:20-33

20Now among those who went up to worship at the festival were some Greeks. 21They came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida in Galilee, and said to him, “Sir, we wish to see Jesus.” 22Philip went and told Andrew; then Andrew and Philip went and told Jesus. 23Jesus answered them, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. 24Very 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. 25Those who love their life lose it, and those who hate their life in this world will keep it for eternal life. 26Whoever serves me must follow me, and where I am, there will my servant be also. Whoever serves me, the Father will honour.   27“Now my soul is troubled. And what should I say—‘Father, save me from this hour’? No, it is for this reason that I have come to this hour. 28Father, glorify your name.” Then a voice came from heaven, “I have glorified it, and I will glorify it again.” 29The crowd standing there heard it and said that it was thunder. Others said, “An angel has spoken to him.” 30Jesus answered, “This voice has come for your sake, not for mine. 31Now is the judgment of this world; now the ruler of this world will be driven out. 32And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.” 33He said this to indicate the kind of death he was to die.


The opening verses of chapter 12 leave no doubt as to how we are to interpret our text for the week. Jesus is at the home of Mary, Martha and Lazarus, in Bethany, just to the north of Jerusalem. Lazarus has been raised from the dead by Jesus and is present at the shared meal. Mary has anointed Jesus’ feet. She is reprimanded for such extravagance by Judas, to whom Jesus replied, “leave her alone, it was intended that she should save this perfume for the day of my burial.”

I would imagine that everyone at that dinner table would be surprised and mightily shocked by Jesus’ remark. Everyone that is, but Jesus himself.

For this was no casual aside, but rather the continuing unfolding of the seed sown in the testing wilderness of Judaea. Deliberate intention and focussed action.

An unfolding that caused him to “set his face steadfastly toward Jerusalem”. An unfolding that would find its fruitfulness in a life laid down for others, and in an empty cross.

And now in this parable he prepares his disciples – past and present. He uses the metaphor of wheat to underline that death alone can bring new life – the death of the ego, the death of the old ways.

That ‘resurrection’ comes only after ‘crucifixion’.

When Christ calls us, he calls us to die.

What in us needs to die that Christ may reign as Lord?



make me an instrument of Your peace.

Where there is hatred, let me sow love;

where there is injury, pardon;

where there is doubt, faith; where there is despair, hope;

where there is darkness, light; where there is sadness, joy.

O, Divine Master,

grant that I may not so much seek

to be consoled as to console

to be understood as to understand;

to be loved as to love;

For it is in giving that we receive;

it is in pardoning that we are pardoned;

it is in dying that we are born again to eternal life.

St Francis of Assisi

Your item – seeds

In your, pack you will find some cress seeds for you to grow.

Questions for further reflection

Where the birth of the new calls for the death of the old

Is there any life without the death, the unfolding of a seed?

All life, all thought, all action begins with a seed.

If the action we were about to take,

the word we were about to speak,

the silence we were about to keep,

were each thought of as a seed about to be sown,

what harvest would we expect?

and would such a harvest honour Christ?

For previous parts of our Journey through Lent go to: https://wellingtonchurch.co.uk/category/lent/Lent2021/

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