Reflection on John 12:24
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.
In his book entitled The Cross and the Lynching Tree, James H. Cone addressed the question of whether there is redemption in modern-day suffering among Black people in America. He argued his premise by comparing the Cross of Jesus to the lynching that took place in the first half of the 20th century. Cone said: “Black Christians believed that just knowing that Jesus went through an experience of suffering like theirs gave them faith that God was with them” (21). He further suggested that the suffering and death of Black people, in this sense, was somehow redemptive.
Within the past few months, the lives of so many young men and women have been lost to senseless acts of violence and lopsided justice. Their hopes and dreams have been planted too soon in the midst of deep sorrow. Now that these precious seeds have been sown, what harvest will be resurrected?
For one thing, I submit to you that conversations need to be resurrected. We, as members of the human race, need to sit down and talk to each other. We need to have critical discussions in the spirit of Galatians 3:28. There needs to be some talk between the haves and the have not’s, between the blacks and the whites, between the males and the females, between those who perceive themselves as slaves and those who regard themselves as free, between the proverbial Greeks and the proverbial Jews — between all manner of people from different walks of life, for we are all one in Christ. We need to start discussing the real issues and listening to each other’s points of view.
Not only that, mirrors of accountability need to be held up, forcing perpetrators and victims alike to dig a little deeper and look a little closer at the causes of violence, injustice, and other critical concerns. Lovers of truth need to start to examine racism and poverty under a super-powered microscope. Prophets, in the manner of Habakkuk, need to be exposing what’s been undercover for too long and advising folks to make the inconsistencies plain; write the vision on tablets so that a runner can read it!
Today’s scripture suggests that for something to be reborn, something first has to die. Maybe our blindness has died. Perhaps, these senseless deaths have given us a new way of looking at the things around us. Perhaps a new vision of people is what’s been reborn. Maybe our inability to count has died. At the very least these deaths have helped us understand that there are no “greater” and “lesser” human beings. There are no people who are 3/5 human or some other arbitrary fraction of the whole. All people are made in God’s image! All lives matter! We are all members of the same humanity for whom Christ died – once for all. And when that realization has sunk in, perhaps the ground will indeed be fertile enough to bear much fruit.
God of Justice, we pray that the lives of our slain brothers and sisters have not been lost in vain. Amen.
Cone, James. (2011). The Cross and the Lynching Tree. Maryknoll, NY: Orbis Books.