Unless A Seed Dies…

seed podNext week I’ll be preaching at one of our community Holy Week services here in Pikeville.  The text I was assigned is John 12:20-36.  In this passage Jesus speaks of his impending death and draws an analogy from nature to do so.  He says in verse 24, “I tell you the truth, 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.”

For many reasons, this is an interesting verse to me.  On the one hand the seed imagery reminds me that all the new growth I’ll see around me this spring came at a cost.  In a sense seeds had to “die” in order for there to be new life.  The cold and darkness of winter were necessary to bring about the bounty of spring. 

On the other hand, the seed comparison reveals to me something of the mystery of Jesus’ death.  Over the centuries there have been many attempts to explain the meaning of the crucifixion–theologians refer to these as theories of the atonement.  Obviously this is not the place to discuss these but I do find it fascinating that in the Fourth Gospel Jesus uses the analogy of the life/death/life cycle of the seed to explain his mission.

In a little over a week Christians will observe Good Friday and pause to remember the death of our Savior.  Perhaps on that day we ought to look around and take note of the new growth spring has brought us and remember Jesus’ words—“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 boldly declares that Jesus willingly gave up his life (died on the cross) so that there might be an abundant harvest.  That harvest includes all those who follow Jesus. 

I’m glad that Good Friday and Easter always come in the spring.  There’s a powerful connection there.  There truly is!


(The seed pod above was photographed at Grayson Lake State Park in northern Kentucky.)