FROM THE PASTOR
"Most assuredly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it produces much grain. (John 12:24 NKJ)
This is the time of year that many seeds fall into the ground. Across the nation farmers are firing up their machinery and gardeners are digging out their tools to begin the annual cycle of planting and harvest. Truckloads of seeds are rolling down the highways and packets of seeds are sprouting up on the shelves of local stores. Everyone with a slightly green thumb is turning over soil and planting seeds.
A seed is a marvelous creation. Inside a little hard shell are packed a germ of life and enough nutrients to jump-start a new generation of a plant. The outer shell is hard and smooth which makes seeds very durable. They can sit in bags, bins or boxes waiting for the right time to be planted. Archeologists have discovered and planted seeds that are thousands of years old. Many of those ancient seeds have sprouted and produced a new copy of the plant that had produced the seed.
But every school child knows that seeds are not grown to be stored. They are not intended to be museum pieces. They are intended to be planted Seeds are grown to fall into the ground. In the ground, moisture begins to attack the outer shell. It wrinkles and swells until it breaks open and exposes the germ inside.
It is this death of the seed which releases the life stored inside. The new sprout begins to push upward and the tiny root pushes downward. With proper growing conditions and some time, the plant matures and produces many more seeds.
Jesus was talking to farmers and gardeners in John 12, but he was not talking about farming. He was using their experience to teach about his mission. He was the seed that must fall into the ground. If he used his incredible power to protect himself, he could live on eternally, but he would do it alone. If he was willing to fall into the earth in death he would bear much fruit. He would redeem a great family of brothers and sisters who would share eternity with him. On Good Friday the holy seed fell into the ground. On Resurrection Sunday the sprout came out of its tomb. On Pentecost the harvest began.
The fruit of his planting continues to this day. Jesus’ message also applies to the members of his family. We too are seeds designed to bear fruit. We are part of a chain of life which passes from plant, to seed, to plant. We are not intended to sit in some kind of museum. Protecting our pretty outer shell is not our highest goal. We are to bear fruit. We cannot bear the fruit of redemption. That has already been done. Jesus’ death and resurrection were for our justification. We bear the fruit of righteousness when we follow his example.
There is only one way for a seed to bear fruit. It must fall into the ground. It has to die. Those are words we do not like. They strike against our impulse of self-preservation. They press against our ego. They test our faith to the limit. We might ask, “If I really do die, won’t I just be dead?” Jesus said and demonstrated that this is not true. We will produce something of eternal quality only if we follow him into death. As long as we put our efforts into self-preservation we will remain alone. As long as our attention is on keeping a pretty, shinny shell, any germ of life will be trapped inside.
The world is full of people who live this way. They are all caught up in self-justification, self-preservation and self-glorification. They can’t figure out why they are so cold dry and alone. They have not discovered the real purpose of a seed. It has to fall and die, and then it can bear much fruit. They have not discovered the full resurrection message.