Is the Lord explains the significance of His death in relation to Himself in John 12:23-33, we previously noted three particular points, including: v 24 – His heart rejoices further in anticipation of a bounty of blessing.
He is thinking of the outcome of His selfless sacrifice, the great bounty of blessing that will be secured, the “much fruit” of Calvary’s sacrifice.
The Corn of Wheat
In verse 24, the Lord in His divine wisdom uses a picture, readily appreciated by all men in all cultures, of a corn of wheat to explain His death. He causes us to think of a man with a corn of wheat in His hand, and the man has a decision to make. Either he can preserve that one perfect corn of wheat intact, and that is all it will ever be, or he can let it fall into the ground where it will appear to die. The ground will swallow it up; it will seem to have become worthless at first. But at the subsequent times of harvest, there will be “much fruit,” waves and waves of corn that all came from that one initial corn of wheat that died.
We are caused to appreciate the absolute necessity of the death of Christ by the wording of verse 24. Notice it is one of the 25 “Verily, verily, I say unto you” statements of our Lord, all found in John’s gospel alone. This one is the last spoken in His public ministry before men. These are the authoritative and veritable words of the divine Son of God. His words conveyed the truth of the eternal Godhead, and every word He spoke can be totally relied upon. Truly then, He had to be that “corn of wheat” that would die, and truly there will be “much fruit,” because He died.
The Fruit of Fellowship
“Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone.” So Christ’s death was necessary because had He gone back to heaven without dying, He would remain abiding “alone,” a Man alone in heaven, with all other men excluded by their sin. Heaven would be obliged to receive Him Who is sinless, “Whom heaven must receive” (Acts 3:21).
Without His sin-atoning death, however, all of sinful humanity would be forever excluded. Here in John 12 we have the incarnate Son, the Son of Man, and He declares that it is not good that the Son of Man should be alone (see Genesis 2:18). His delight to be with the sons of men (Prov 8:31) brought Him down to this world. His further desire to have those whom the Father had given Him out of this world eternally with Himself, beholding His glory (John 17:24), motivated Him further to go on to Calvary, to be obedient unto death.
The Lord has just been enjoying the fellowship of those who loved Him and believed on Him in the house in Bethany (John 12:1-3). Such fellowship is precious to Christ, and it could only continue in heaven if He lays down His life, for the only basis for man to have fellowship with divine Persons is the death of Christ. Our Lord does not desire to be a Man alone in glory, but rather to have all His own, His Bride the Church, all with Him and eternally sharing His glory.
The Fruit of Salvation
As the Lord considers the final outcome of His death, all that will be eternally saved, His heart rejoices in anticipation of the bounty of blessing; “but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit.” Something of this vast fruit of Calvary is illustrated by three representative groups in John 12:
a) The Church: The home of Martha, Mary, and Lazarus in Bethany would be representative of the Church, where there is true appreciation for Christ in the day of His rejection by men (vv 1-9). All the saints of this Church age are part of the “much fruit” of Calvary. The Lord is the Captain of our salvation, the File-leader, “bringing many sons unto glory” (Heb 2:10), He will be “the Firstborn among many brethren” (Rom 8:29).
b) Regathered Israel: We read of how the Lord was acclaimed by the Jews on His triumphal entry into Jerusalem (vv 12-15), a picture of the future restoration and regathering of Israel, when they receive their Messiah. They cried (v 13) “Hosanna: Blessed is the King of Israel that cometh in the Name of the Lord.” Hosanna means “Save now”; they were beseeching the Lord “send now prosperity” (Ps 118:25). But they did not appreciate that there could be no immediate salvation and no spiritual prosperity, without there first being the death of Calvary. But His death and shed blood secure future blessing and salvation for the Nation of Israel (Rom 11:26). Old Testament saints will be included; their salvation depended upon Calvary’s sacrifice, for all God’s forbearance in the past anticipated the death of Christ (see Rom 3:25). Also, there will be tribulation saints (see Rev 7:14) contributing to the “much fruit” procured by Christ’s sacrificial death.
c) Millennial Earth: We have the enquiry of seeking Greeks (Gentiles) who “would see Jesus” (vv 20-21). This prefigures the future millennial blessing of all the nations of earth when Christ is established upon the throne of His father David, and globally acknowledged as King of kings and Lord of lords (see Psalm 22:27-31).
Truly then, we can appreciate that Christ’s death will bring forth “much fruit.” All blessing for the Church, Israel, and the Gentile nations depends upon the finished work of Calvary. In Isaiah 53:11, “He shall see of the travail of His soul, and shall be satisfied,” when He is surrounded in heaven by the “much fruit” His death accomplished.