Truly, truly, I say to you, Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it stays alone: but if it die…
I. THE SELF-DENIAL IN WHICH WE SHOULD FOLLOW JESUS.
1. It was free. Voluntariness is the essence of this virtue. For others to deny us a benefit or to constrain us to hardship we would avoid is not self-denial. Christ "emptied Himself," etc.
2. It was wise. It was not placed in trifles. If He restrained innocent desires or endured what was painful it was for noble and generous ends.
3. It was extensive, reaching from the humble stable to the malefactor's cross, and all was foreseen.
4. It was disinterested. Many deny to serve themselves; but "ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ," etc. Would we be Christ's followers? Our self-denial must be like His — free, wise, etc.
II. THIS SELF-DENIAL IS THE PATH TO TRUE HONOUR AND GREATNESS, because —
1. It is great and honourable in itself. These qualities arise from character and conduct, and are independent of the judgments of men. They are not derived from noble descent, magnificence, dominion, etc. To rise above self-love requires a vigour in which there will always be found true greatness of mind.
2. It conducts to true greatness. Voluptuousness rusts the best talents, blunts the most undaunted courage, perverts the soundest judgment, and corrupts the purest heart. All these qualities a habit of self-denial improves. That which the world counts greatness can only be achieved by self-denial — learning, statesmanship, war. But Christian self-denial makes man truly great.
3. It is honoured by God. This is seen in the case of Christ. For His self-denial God gave Him a name above every name.
(J. Erskine, D. D.)
Where I am there shall also My servant he. I have heard that a noted Methodist preacher, who commenced his ministry very early in life, suffered not a little at first because of his humble origin and unpromising exterior. Being sent on the circuit plan to a certain house on a Saturday night, to be in readiness for preaching on the Sunday, the good woman, who did not like the look of him, sent him round to the kitchen. The serving man was surprised to see the minister in the kitchen when he came from labour. John, rough as he was, welcomed the despised preacher, and tried to cheer him. The minister shared John's meal of porridge, John's bed in the cockloft, and John's humble breakfast, and walked to the House of God with John in the morning. Now, the preacher had not long opened his mouth before the congregation perceived that there was somewhat in him, and the good hostess, who had so badly entertained him, began to feel a little uneasy. When the sermon was over there were many invitations for the minister to come home, and the hostess, fearful of losing her now honoured guest, begged he would walk home with her, when, to her surprise, he said, "I supped with John, I slept with John, I breakfasted with John, I walked here with John, and I'll walk home with John." So when dinner came he was, of course, entreated to come into the chief room, for many friends wished to dine with this young minister, but no, he would dine in the kitchen; he had supped with John, he had breakfasted with John, and he would dine with John. They begged him to come into the parlour, and at last he consented on the condition that John should sit at the same table. "For," he said, very properly, "John was with me in my humiliation, and I will not sit down to dine unless he be with me in my exaltation." So on they went till the Monday morning, for "John was with me at the beginning, and he shall be with me to the end." This story may be turned to account thus: our Master came into this world once, and they sent Him into the servants' place, where the poor and despised ones were. Now the name of Christ is honoured, and kings and cardinals, popes and bishops, say, "Master, come and dine with us." Yes, the proud emperor and philosopher would have Him sup with them, but still He says, "No, I was with the poor and afflicted when I was on earth, and I will be with them to the end, and when the great feast is made in heaven the humble shall sit with Me, and the poor and despised who were not ashamed of Me, of them will I not be ashamed when I come into the glory of My Father, and all My holy angels with Me."
(C. H. Spurgeon.)
If any man serve Me, him will My Father honour. —
Parallel VersesKJV: Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone: but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit.