Jesus answered them, saying, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. He who loves his life loses it, and he who hates his life in this world will keep it to life eternal. If anyone serves Me, he must follow Me; and where I am, there My servant will be also; if anyone serves Me, the Father will honor him.
“Now My soul has become troubled; and what shall I say, ‘Father, save Me from this hour’? But for this purpose I came to this hour. Father, glorify Your name.” Then a voice came out of heaven: “I have both glorified it, and will glorify it again.” (John 12:23–28)
Jesus was not suggesting that his followers seek out martyrdom. He was not arguing that we should love death. We would have to ignore the context of Jesus’ words about “hating life” to draw that peculiar conclusion. No, Jesus’ paradox that those who “love life” would lose it, while those who “hate” it, would gain it, had to do with eternity. Those who focus all their energy on this life, those who worry about holding on to everything they have here, are fighting a battle they can never win. If all we have is this life, then we are inevitably both miserable and a failure, because all of us will inevitably die. We will lose everything that we have tried to hold onto.
Therefore, Jesus argued that those who serve him, who follow him, who go where he goes, will—even if they die as a consequence—gain the very thing that they seem to lose: life. Those who belong to Christ, who are part of the kingdom, do not stay dead. They will live forever in Paradise with Jesus. Just as a grain of wheat seems to lose its existence when it is tucked into the ground, the reality of a planted seed is something else again. That single grain of wheat comes back far greater and more impressive than it ever was before. It is multiplied a hundred times or more.
Our current lives are nothing compared to the lives we will have with Jesus forever in God’s kingdom, thanks to Jesus’ willingness to give his life for us.