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. (Jn.12.24 NIV)
The immediate previous context of this verse has Gentiles inquiring of Jesus’ Disciple Philip asking to speak with Jesus. No record exists that their request was fulfilled. Instead, Jesus indicates to Philip and Andrew that His glorification is now at hand. Jesus’ glorification would be an expression of love to humanity. Love is what Jesus is fundamentally: God is love (1Jn. 4.8,16). Granted, God is not only love, He is holy as well. In God’s love He shares His holiness with us in forgiving our sins and imputing righteousness to us.
In John 12.24, Jesus gives a parable likening His redemption of humanity to agricultural production. While Jesus used the word “wheat,” I would like to illustrate the same principle with the corn plant (Maize). Most folks are unfamiliar with wheat production while many are familiar with eating corn on the cob. Just imagine an ear of corn containing numerous rows of kernels. Each kernel can be a seed to produce a corn plant. Also, most corn plants are bred to produce three ears of corn. Hence, a corn plant can produce hundreds of individual kernels of corn.
Jesus died, voluntarily, for us that we should be saved is the point of His parable. In Mt. 26.53, Jesus shows that He could have easily wiped out His enemies: Do you think I cannot call on my Father, and he will at once put at my disposal more than twelve legions of angels? (NIV). He could have also slipped away miraculously like He did with the murderous crowd at Nazareth (Lk. 4.29). In Himself, of course, many powers were available to defeat His enemies, all without saving us.
Jesus, next, applies this same principle to His disciples’ future ministry since Christians follow their Master: 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 (Jn. 12.25-26a NIV). Why spend this short life in a terrible world, living for self, when God’s eternal life will be so much better and never ending?