"I assure you: Unless a grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it remains by itself. But if it dies, it produces a large crop. The one who loves his life will lose it, and the one who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. If anyone serves Me, he must follow Me. Where I am, there My servant also will be. If anyone serves Me, the Father will honor him. – John 12:24-26 HCSB
The gardener carefully tilled the bed, gently turning the soil over and over. He mixed in the fertilizer, making sure that the soil would be sufficiently healthy to sustain life. As he moved quietly from bed to bed, the sun shone down warmly on his shoulders and the lazy buzzing of the bees could be heard as they first started searching for food after the long cold winter. His boots squished in the mud formed by the last night’s spring rain. The damp earth smelled wonderful because it smelled of life.
Finally, he bent over, dipped his finger into the soil and made a little hole. Into that hole he placed one small, insignificant ugly piece of plant matter. Though totally unattractive, the seed nevertheless carried tremendous potential; not merely the production of a plant, but of even more seeds. Each of those seeds could in theory produce hundreds more, which would produce thousands more after them. A potentially never-ending bounty was locked into one hard, dry, seemingly innocuous lump.
Two thousand years ago, a young man died. He was not particularly attractive. He was described as being like a root out of dry ground. No one would look twice at him if he were walking down the street today. He was not wealthy. He was not politically powerful. In fact, most of the area’s leadership was dead set against him. He never wrote a single word that we know of.
Yet millions of people have chosen to look upon his act of sacrifice and to declare him to be their God. That decision has driven them to live lives marked by gratitude, humility and sacrifice for their fellow humans. That man’s death and burial created millions of books, thousands of cathedrals, hospitals, schools and orphanages.
Where his death bought the possibility of our redemption, his resurrection brought the possibility of hope. There is life after death. There is something more than this awful place. There is meaning in the midst of chaos.
Two thousand years ago, God bent over and dipped His finger into the soil of our planet and planted a Seed of eternal life. That Seed took root and produced the Church. But that seed is seeking a place in your heart. It wants to replicate itself in your life. It wants you, in turn, to become a seed. But like that young man whose name was Yeshua ben Adonai, achieving your full potential will involve dying to self. It will involve a sacrifice.
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