Today’s reading: John 11-12.
If you plant for a year, plant grain.
If you plant for ten years, plant trees.
If you plant for 100 years, plant men.
If you plant for Eternity, plant the Word.
Jesus stood in the center of a storm of converging events in the final week of his life. His acclaim was surging because of the miraculous resurrection of Lazarus, but as a result the religious leaders had decided to kill him. It was Passover and he had entered the crowded city of Jerusalem triumphantly. Even the Gentile foreigners were starting to seek him out. Knowing his life would soon be over, and remaining the teacher to the end, he told another parable that explained his life and challenged us to follow him.
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. The man who loves his life will lose it, while the man who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. Whoever serves me must follow me; and where I am, my servant also will be. My Father will honor the one who serves me. John 12:24-26
The need for planting. The power of the seed lies in its fruitfulness. The fruitful seed doesn’t add one or two more grains to the farmer, but yields a multiplied harvest which is ten, twenty, or a hundred times greater. The kingdom of God needs that kind of multiplying power to grow. Jesus needed that power to pass the kingdom to his disciples. We need that kind of power to grow spiritual fruit in our own lives and disciple others.
The secret of the seed. The power of the seed can only be released when it is buried. We are only useful to God when we bury self and let the Spirit lead, when we give up our desires for this world and seek the next. “I am crucified with Christ; nevertheless I live. Yet not I but Christ lives in me.”
The method for growing. We bear much fruit by abiding in Christ, following him by obeying his word, and serving his will. “I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.”
The reward of the harvest. God is always offering us rewards to do his will (he wired us to respond to rewards), and it’s no different in this case. When Jesus said God would honor us for serving him, he meant that God would put a high value on us. I can’t think of a better reward than that.
When planting season comes in the poorest countries, the only seeds that remain are the grains for sowing that year’s crop. The choice must be made whether to eat those grains, the only ones that remain, or in faith to bury them in the dirt in order to receive back a larger harvest later. Jesus tells us to give up everything we have, our lives, in order to reap a bountiful harvest later. Do you have the faith to plant yourself in God’s garden?
Image by M. Dolly on Flickr, CC by-sa 2.0.