The request of the Greek pilgrims, that last tragic week, drew out of Jesus wondrous words about the law of sacrifice (Joh_12:24-26). Their request made the necessity for His coming sacrifice stand out more sharply to His view—with edgy sharpness. The realness of that sacrifice of His stands out very vividly in the intensity of His feelings, of which we get only glimpses.
Listen to Him talking: 'if the grain of wheat doesn't suffer death, it lives; but it lives alone. But through death it may live in the midst of a harvest of golden grains. The man who turns away from the appeal of need will live a lonely life, both here and in the longer life. (Is there anything more pathetic and pitiable than selfish loneliness!) He who feels the sharp tug of need, and can't resist the appeal that calls for his life-blood, rises up through that red pathway into a blessed fellowship with the lives that owe their life to his.'
He goes on: 'he that clingeth with strong self-love to his life will find it slipping, slipping insistently out of his fingers, leaving a dry husk of a shell in his tenacious clutch. But he who in the stress of the world's emergency of need, and in the thick of the subtlest temptations to put the self-life first, treats that life as a hated enemy, to be opposed and fought, as he gives himself freely out to heal the world's hurt, he will find all the sweets and fragrance of life coming to him. Their unspeakable refreshment will ever increase, and never leave.'
Then follow the words that go so deep: 'if any man would serve Me, let him come along, putting his feet into my prints. Let him come through a long Nazareth life of common toil in home and shop, then along the crowded path of glad service for others, responding to every call of need. Let him come down into the shadowed olive-grove beyond Kidron's waters, up the bit of a hill outside a city wall, and deep down into the earth-soil of men's needs.
'And where I am there I will surely have that faithful follower of Mine up close by my side. He shall find himself rising up out of the common earth-life into a new life of strangely strong drawing power. And, while he will be all wrapped up in love's service, My Father will give special touches of His own hand upon his person, and upon his service.'
In one of his exquisitely quiet talks, Henry Drummond used to tell the story of a famous statue in the Fine Arts Gallery of Paris. It was the work of a great genius, who, like many a genius, was very poor, and lived in a garret which served as both studio and sleeping-room.
One midnight, when the statue was just finished, a sudden frost fell upon Paris. The sculptor lay awake in his fireless garret, and thought of the still moist clay, thought how the moisture in the pores would freeze, and the dream of his life would be destroyed in a night. So the old man rose from his cot, and wrapped his bed-clothes reverently about the statue, and lay down to his sleep.
In the morning the neighbors found him lying dead. His life had gone out into his work. It was saved. He was gone. But he still lived in it, and still lives in it. He saved not his life, and he found a new life in the world of his art. He that saveth his life shall surely lose it. He that gladly giveth his life up for the Master's sake, and for men's sake, will find a wholly new life coming to him.