Growing up, I always enjoyed working in the garden with my mom. I caught the love for growing things from her. Today, at 83, she still loves her flowers. This love of growing things, has led me to always be intrigued by Jesus’ teaching on seeds: The Parable of the Sower; The Parable of the Mustard Seed, and His metaphor of a seed dying to produce fruit.
Jesus said, “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. 25 Anyone who loves their life will lose it, while anyone who hates their life in this world will keep it for eternal life” (John 12:24-25).
Jesus wasn’t teaching a horticultural lesson. He wasn’t speaking scientifically. We know a seed that dies decays and returns to the soil. Jesus’ metaphor however helps us understand a spiritual principle:
We have to die to self to live.
Just as a seed has to die to being a seed or it cannot produce its fruit, we have to die to our sinful nature if we are going to experience the life we were created to live.
All this talk about dying doesn’t sound like good news. It actually sounds like bad news. But the real bad news here is this: If we hold onto our earthly life, it will drag us into destruction. The Good News is Eternal life is found in following Jesus.
Jesus’ death lead to the resurrection. Baptism is a snapshot of this idea of dying to self to live. Listen to what Paul writes in Romans 6:4-5, “We were buried with through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead, through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life. For if we have been united with Him in His death, we will certainly be united with Him in His resurrection.”
There are three conditions for a seed to experience the change from a seed to a fruit producing plant: 1). Moisture; 2). Temperature; 3). Nutrients. We can look at the process of dying to self in these three conditions as well.
A seed is dry and parched and needs moisture to germinate. Dying to self begins with a thirst for God. Psalm 63:1 says, “You, God, are my God, earnestly I seek You. I thirst for You. My whole body longs for You, in a dry and parched land where there is no water.” Psalm 42:1 says, “As a deer pants for streams of water so my soul pants for God.”
Jesus said that everyone who drinks the water of this earth will become thirst again, but the person who drinks the living water He gives will never thirst again. And the living water will produce springs of water within them (see John 4:13-15).
What we see in this world is a mirage. It is not real. This world is broken. The Kingdom of God is reality. Eternity comes when we are willing to die to this world and embrace the Kingdom of heaven.
To germinate the seed not only needs moisture but the correct temperature. No one ever finds eternal life through apathy. God hates mediocrity. The temperature of your soul has to rise if you are going to experience the breakthrough of transformation.
Jesus told believers in Laodicea, they were lukewarm. He didn’t like their apathetic attitudes. They had become complacent with their life in this world. They couldn’t see how broken it, no they were in it. He offered them a deep and satisfying relationship, but they had to pursue it (see Revelation 3:14-22).
The Jesus we like accepts everyone. And He does, but we have to pursue Him with passion if we are going to find Him.
Seedlings rely on the nutrients provided by the parent plant in the seed until it has morphed enough to extract what is needed from the soil itself. Without a food source it quickly dies. Early on we have to become self-feeders as well.
The nutrients we need is God’s word. Deuteronomy 8:3 says, “…man does not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord.” James says we cannot just listen to the word. We have to put the word into practice (see James 1:22). Jesus said the same at the end of His most famous sermon. He said the wise man applies His words the fool doesn’t (see Matthew 7:24). Jesus went on to say that the nutrients we need for life is the productivity of completing God’s will (see John 4:34).
It is in God’s word we recognize the work God has for us. It is in the work we grow and produce fruit!
There has to be a hunger for God, His word, if we are going to die to self and produce the fruit God intends for us.
A seed has to die to the idea of being a seed if it is going to grow into the seed producing plant it was intended to be. We have to die to the idea of our earthly life if we are going to grow into a reproducing follower of Jesus.
We cannot compartmentalize our lives. We cannot live duplicity. The double-minded person is unstable (see James 1:8). We can’t say God you can have my fears but not my finances. We have to give God full access to every part of ourselves.
God is a gentleman. He will not take it from you. You have to surrender it to Him.
Here is a prayer to pray:
Abba Father, Daddy, I choose eternal life! I choose to be single-minded. I will trust You and give You full access to my life. No more compartmentalizing it. No more deciding what I can and cannot trust You with. I give it all to You. Nothing is off-limits. You have full access to everything that I am, everywhere I go, every minute of my day. I know I cannot do this in my strength. I will need the strength of Your Holy Spirit and the grace of Your son Jesus. Amen.