I’ve begun the gardener’s early Spring ritual. I am planting seeds. Most of what I am planting is going into flats, those large trays that have many small sections in them for starting seeds indoors. I start tomatoes, peppers, some herbs and lots of annual flowers in these trays that will stay in the greenhouse until early May when they can go into the ground. I study the seeds in my hand for a moment as I begin to plant. So many different shapes and sizes, some tiny as a period at the end of a sentence; some fat and round, like little brown beads. I bury them in the soil in the tray and wait for the miracle. This process, at once predictable and astonishing, is why I love to garden. Over time, that small gray dot will become a brilliant petunia. The crescent-shaped cosmos seeds will give me white, pink, red and rose-colored flowers. In just a couple of months the little tan tomato seed disks hidden in the soil will have become huge plants bearing buckets-full of tomatoes.
A seed has all the potential for life in itself, but as a seed, it is dead. Nothing is happening in that little hard kernel. No cells are multiplying. But everything is in place inside that seed to produce something greater than itself. When conditions are suitable, the seed’s outer coat absorbs enough moisture to allow what’s inside to swell. Life begins, a sprout forms, bursts open the shell and breaks through the surface of the soil. The seed is no more. New life will now gallop throughout my garden and give me beauty and food and pleasure.
When Jesus said that unless a seed dies it will always be just one seed, He was talking about Himself. (See John 12:23-26). Jesus was that seed that had to die and be buried and then rise up alive out of the earth (grave) so that an innumerable multitude could come to life through faith in Him. If He had not died, none of us could ever truly live. Because we have broken God’s law, our sins have to be punished, paid for. Jesus took our place. His death was the substitute for the punishment and death we deserve.
Jesus was also talking about the way we are to live:
Anyone who holds on to life just as it is, destroys that life. But if you let it go, reckless in your love, you’ll have it forever, real and eternal. If any of you wants to serve Me, then follow Me. (John 12:25 in The Message)