He Dared To Die. Do We?
By F. B. Meyer
"But if it die, it beareth much fruit" (John 12:24).
There are many who sigh for fruitfulness who have never yet learned the deep lesson of the cross of Christ. We can never die in quite the sense in which He died. Not by us can there be substitution, or sacrifice, or expiation. Yet there is a sense in which we must drink deeply into the meaning of His death if we would be really fruitful.
If we would save others, we cannot save ourselves. If we would help men, we must be content to be helpless. If we would receive grafts of the wild olive, we must be content to bear the gash of the pruning knife. If we would fill the world with a sweet savor of the precious ointment, we must be content to be broken boxes.
The most fruitful boughs are those from which the foliage and shoots are cut away with unsparing hand, that the sap may accumulate in the swelling clusters.
"He that loveth his life shall lose it, and he that hateth his life shall keep it unto life eternal" (John 12:25). Our Lord deliberately chose death because He knew, first, that He could not be holden by it. Secondly, He knew it was only through the grave that He could reach the resurrection life and the ascension glory. Therefore it was that He went down into the valley of death, singing as He went, "Thou wilt not leave My soul in Hades, neither wilt Thou suffer Thine Holy One to see corruption" (Psa. 16:10).
There is also a deep truth for us all in these marvelous words which He repeated on three occasions, as if He would work them into the very texture of our hearts. Not that we are to make death for ourselves or constantly fling ourselves away into deep, dark furrows at the impulse of our own choice. But we should be on the alert not to avoid, but to take any opportunity that God gives us, of going into the land of Moriah, to any of the mountains of which He may tell us.
Dare to look up into the face of God, O you who long for the richer, deeper life, and tell Him that you will not choose your path, but that you are willing to follow Him through death, if that is the only portal of life. Then wait for Him to teach you each step that must be taken through the deepening shadows which lie between you and the more abundant life which is your true heritage.
Death can never be pleasant to the flesh. The knife is sharp, the fire burns, the cup is bitter, heart and flesh fail. It sometimes seems as if we must relinquish the effort to keep the girded loin and the undaunted attitude.
We learn how Abraham felt as for those three weary days he knew that each step was carrying him deeper into the gloom. We cry, "Let this cup pass from me!" Falling into the ground to die is no pastime to the little corns of wheat.
But He who has gone through death Himself knows every turn of the valley and every ford in the river. He cannot make a mistake, nor will He take us by a rougher path than needs be. See how His footprints, nail-pierced, have trodden and retrodden the way with the many that He has brought hither and brought through.
He would not have brought you by this path unless He had known that you were strong enough to bear it, or that He was strong enough to carry you, if the worst should come to the worst. Since He is there, do not fail to say His name a hundred times a day, if need be, repeating it as the antidote to pain: "Jesus! Jesus! Jesus!"
There are times in such experiences when His voice is very distinctly heard, reassuring the soul of a promise. At other times it seems impossible to detect His voice. But then He infuses strength into our nature in a subtler, tenderer way, and instead of strengthening us by His words, He becomes Himself the strength of our heart and our portion for ever.
Our true attitude is the uncompromising surrender of our will to His will, not trying to effect any great changes in our emotional or mental life, but willing His will, completely and always, and asking Him to work in us to will and to do of His own good pleasure.
Let us not court death or seek to inflict death or worry as to whether we are dying properly. Let us roll the whole responsibility on Him and trust Him up to the hilt. His will is our weal – our well-being.
All along the line of life we must be prepared to erect altars on which we may yield to God in sacrifice – habits, associations, fascinations which He has revealed as alien to our true well-being. The soul that dares to live this life will find streams flowing from every smitten rock and honey in the carcass of every slain lion. I saw a beautiful device once – a hollow cross filled with flowers which fell out as the cross was carried. Shoulder your cross, child of God! After the first step there will be a shower of flowers.
So it must be ever. Day out of night, spring out of winter, flowers out of frost, joy out of sorrow, fruitfulness out of pruning, Olivet out of Gethsemane, the Ascension out of Calvary, life out of death, and the Christ that is to be, out of the pangs of a travailing creation.