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Devotional for March 18, 2018 based upon John 12: 20-33

Up to this point in His earthly ministry, Jesus has often said, “My hour has not yet come.” But now He has been welcomed by the Palm Sunday crowds. He knows that His death is near. And He hears that some people who are culturally Greek rather than culturally Jewish or Hebrew have come to Jerusalem for the Passover festival, and they want to meet Him. He sees their request as an indication that His ministry is beginning to reach out into other cultures. He sees the beginning of what is going to result from His death on the cross. So He knows that His hour has come. And because His hour has come, He wants to teach His disciples, His friends, a life lesson. Life will be filled with times of brokenness and turmoil. We will all have to face times and experiences in our lives that will challenge us, test us, stretch us, and push us to the very limit. How will we handle those situations? How will we be changed by and how will we grow from those experiences?

To make His point Jesus uses an illustration. “Unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains just a single grain; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.” Unless a grain of wheat is planted – is buried in the ground – it is never more than just a grain of wheat. But if it is buried, it will sprout and reproduce itself many times over.

Now, generally speaking, there is no comparison between the value of a diamond and the value of a grain of wheat. But it all depends upon what happens to that grain of wheat. If you lock both of them away in a safe or in a safety deposit box for a hundred years, at the end of those hundred years the grain of wheat will still have basically no material value, while the diamond’s value may run into hundreds if not thousands of dollars. The same thing would be true at the end of a thousand years.

But suppose, instead, that you bury that grain of wheat in the warm, moist earth. And year after year, down through the centuries, you let it and everything that it produces keep on producing and producing. Eventually, a single grain of wheat can produce such an abundant harvest that the whole world would barely be able to contain the crop. To save the grain of wheat would mean to lose all that it is capable of producing.

And so, Jesus is saying, GOD USES BROKENNESS. It takes a broken seed to produce a crop. Broken clouds to give rain. Broken grain to give bread. And broken bread to give strength.

It took a broken bottle of perfume to give off such a strong fragrance and to be a love offering for our Lord Jesus to help Him prepare for His death. And it was a broken disciple, Peter by name, who was weeping bitterly after denying Jesus, who returned to greater power and effectiveness than he would have ever imagined. It takes a broken heart to be fully surrendered to the work and will of God. Yes, GOD USES BROKENNESS.

Maybe today you are facing such severe pain – physical, emotional, relational, or spiritual pain – that you wonder how you will ever be able to make it through. Psalm 34: 18 and 19 say – “The Lord is near to the broken hearted and saves the crushed in spirit; many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the Lord rescues them from them all.”

If your heart is broken, you can find God right there. If you get kicked in the gut, He will help you catch your breath. If you find yourself in trouble, He will be right there with you every time. Yes, GOD USES BROKENNESS – to make us whole, to empower us, to help us identity with others, and to draw us to Himself.

Dennis D. Nelson
President of the Board and Director of Lutheran CORE