Very truly I tell you, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds. (John 12:24 NIV)
Jesus speaks words that can be hard to swallow. Let's start with the agricultural part.
Jesus says for a seed to grow it must do at least two things: 1) Rest in the ground, and 2) Die.
Jesus said unless a seed falls to the ground AND DIES, it remains only a single seed. It doesn't sprout. It just sits there. Useless.
The purpose of a seed is to sprout into a new plant that will grow, bear more fruit (to eat or sell) resulting in many more seeds. This is what the seeds was created to do.
The key to this process is that the seed must die (dry out) before it can sprout. Yes, it must also be planted in the ground--that's essential too. But the paradox is that for life to come forth, it must first exit. This is a picture of how life overcomes death in our world.
The enemy kills and destroys. God brings life where there is none. He does this to show the world his power over death. God is life. He speaks life. He resurrects the dead. Death cannot resist him.
The win here is not just life but a multiplicity of abundant life. "When the seed dies, it produces many seeds." Many seeds is part of the fruit that the mature plant yields. It bears more fruit which we sell, give away, or eat. We harvest the seeds from the eaten fruit so that we can plant again--and much more than before.
One more thing. What kills the seed? Exposure to our world. Jesus willingly exposes himself to the world. The world doesn't recognize him as Creator. The world crucifies him. He dies.
This verse is a picture of this. It's Jesus telling the disciples that he must and will die for his kingdom of life to come, grow and flourish.
Jesus is the first seed to die, be planted, and bring life from death. The next generation of seed are his disciples. They too must live and die to yield more fruit.
We are more of that seed. We too are called to live--and die--for Christ. He is not only the power of the Gospel--he is our example of how to live out the Gospel.
Jesus said he chose his disciples to go and bear fruit that will last. (John 15:16) That's us, his followers. We are to live in such a way that we are so convinced of his goodness and greatness that we choose to die to self and live for him. Even when the world wants to kill us, we embrace that as Jesus did knowing that it is through our death (because of his death) that our true life arrives.
This is a picture of what God does. He is the God of life. Creator. Sustainer. Redeemer. And this God of life creates life, sustains life, and redeems life. He resurrects the dead. That's what he does because of who he is.
God gives us eternal, abundant life when we trust Christ. We are dead in our sins until he plants his gospel in the soil of our heart. By his grace he opens our eyes and we see what is true. He gives us faith so that we can trust and follow him from death to life--abundant and eternal!
But here's the part that we forget. We must die before we can live. We must die to our old way of life. We must die to trusting in ourselves or anything or anyone else. We must die to being lord of our life. We must die to believing we know best. We die to self.
Then the gospel takes root in our heart giving us a new allegiance and a new God. Instead of worshiping ourselves, we worship our Creator and Redeemer--The LORD Almighty.
Not only do we die to self to be born again, we must die daily to the temptations to put ourself back on the throne of our heart.
God, give us to faith to trust you fully in life--and in death. In Jesus' name we pray, amen.
What is God saying to you today?
What are you going to do about it?