John 12: 20-25
© 2008 John H Mattox

    New Testament truth concerning Christ is hidden in the Old Testament in many different guises; the keys to which are given in the New Testament, if we are able to perceive them. For example, many truths concerning Christ are brought out in a study of the Hebrew words for grain. John 12: 23-24 is one of the passages that point out the connection:

"And Jesus answered them, saying. The hour is come, that the Son of Man should be glorified. 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."

Note the expression, Son of Man, which Jesus applies to himself in vs. 23. Son and wheat (or grain) are related ideas in Hebrew, for one of the Hebrew words for grain, bar also means son. Bar is the Aramaic word for son and is the equivalent of the Hebrew ben. However, bar is used several times in the Hebrew Old Testament for son, as for example in Psalm 2:12:

"Kiss the son, lest he be angry, and ye perish from the way."

Since bar also means grain, there would seem to have been a connection between son and grain in the Hebrew mind. There are several other Hebrew words which mean grain and a study of these words will elicit some blessed truths concerning the son who was also the corn of wheat that fell into the ground and died that he might bring forth much fruit.
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Christ, As A Grain Of Wheat (cont)

    The word bar, besides meaning son and wheat also means chosen, beloved. It is the word used by the bridegroom in Song of Solomon 6:9a:

"My dove, my undefiled is but one; she is the only one of her mother, she is the choice one of her that bare her."

Here the word bar is rendered choice. Surely Christ, as the bar, is the beloved and chosen one of the Father.
    Another meaning of the word bar is clean or pure. It is used in Psalm 19:8:

"The commandment of the LORD is pure."

Also it is found in this sense in Psalm 24:4:

"He that hath clean hands and a pure heart."

In both of these passages bar is rendered pure. Thus Christ as the grain of wheat is seen to be pictured as the chosen One of the Father, pure and clean.
    But the humiliation and condescension of Christ are also suggested by this word bar, for it has also the meaning of empty - an extension of the idea of clean. Christ is said, in Phil. 2:5-8, to have emptied himself when he took upon himself the form of a servant. The correct translation of the words made himself of no reputation is emptied himself. This refers to the condescension and humiliation of Christ in leaving the glory which he had with the Father, and taking upon himself the form of a servant to be despised and rejected of men.
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Christ, As A Grain Of Wheat (cont)

    Another Hebrew word for grain, the word riphah graphically depicts the oppression and suffering of Jesus. Riphah properly denotes grain that has been pounded or ground in a mortar, and is derived from a verb which means to crush or grind as in a mortar. This crushing, breaking and oppression of Jesus is further pictured by another Hebrew word for wheat, sheber, which is derived from the verb shabar, meaning to break, to crush, to destroy, etc. It is the word used, for example, in Exodus 12:46:

"Neither shall ye break a bone of it."

    The fruitfulness, to which Jesus referred in John 12:24, is contained in still another Hebrew word for grain, dagan. This word comes from the verb dagah, which means to be multiplied, increased, prolific. This latent meaning of one of the Hebrew words for grain seems to have been played upon by Jesus when he said:

"But if it (a corn of wheat) die, it bringeth forth much fruit."

John H Mattox

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