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March 17, 2024

John 12:20-26

Now among those who went up to worship at the festival were some Greeks. 21 They came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida in Galilee, and said to him, “Sir, we wish to see Jesus.” 22 Philip went and told Andrew, then Andrew and Philip went and told Jesus. 23 Jesus answered them, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. 24 Very truly, I tell you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains just a single grain, but if it dies it bears much fruit. 25 Those who love their life lose it, and those who hate their life in this world will keep it for eternal life. 26 Whoever serves me must follow me, and where I am, there will my servant be also. Whoever serves me, the Father will honor.


Jeremiah 31:31-34

The days are surely coming, says the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah. 32 It will not be like the covenant that I made with their ancestors when I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt—a covenant that they broke, though I was their husband, says the Lord. 33 But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the Lord: I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts, and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. 34 No longer shall they teach one another or say to each other, “Know the Lord,” for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest, says the Lord, for I will forgive their iniquity and remember their sin no more.


In John 12:20-23 some Greeks come to see Jesus. He responds by saying, "The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. Very truly, I tell you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains just a single grain, but if it dies, it bears much fruit." This event signifies the coming of the Gentiles to Jesus and symbolizes the universal nature of the new covenant. Jesus is pointing to His upcoming sacrificial death on the cross, which will bring about the fulfillment of the new covenant prophesied in Jeremiah. This metaphor of the grain of wheat falling to the ground speaks of Jesus' purpose on earth, which was to fulfill His divine mission of dying for humanity's sins. By laying down His life, Jesus brought hope and new life to the world. Just as a seed must be buried in the ground and begin to decay before it sprouts new life and bears fruit, so too must Jesus lay down His life to bring salvation and new life to all who believe in Him. The seed is sacrificial. It is a reminder that although death may seem final, it is often the necessary precursor to new and abundant life. Jesus' death on the cross was not in vain; it was for the redemption of humankind and brought the hope of new life to the world.


Interestingly, a recent website I found is related to seeds. The Svalbard Global Seed Vault is a secure storage facility for seeds located in a remote part of Norway. The vault has been in the news recently because it has received a large deposit of seeds, including rare and endangered varieties, from around the world. The deposit was made to ensure that the seeds are protected and can be used in the future to help feed the world's growing population. The Svalbard Global Seed Vault is vital to humankind because it serves as a backup for the world's most important crop seeds. In the event of a natural disaster or other catastrophic event that could wipe out a particular crop, the seeds stored in the vault can be used to help restore that crop.

Additionally, the vault helps to preserve the genetic diversity of crop seeds, which is essential for maintaining healthy, resilient crops that can adapt to changing environmental conditions. Each of the seeds in the vault is chosen to be the savior of its species of plant. Those seeds, if necessary, will be placed in fertile soil, buried, and then die. If the conditions are right, they will sprout new offspring from that species of plant. Just as a seed must die to produce new life, Jesus had to die in order to bring new life to humanity. Additionally, just as a seed carries within it the potential to make a great harvest, so too did Jesus carry within him the potential to bring salvation to all who believe in him.


In 2 Corinthians 5:17, the apostle Paul writes, "So if anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation: everything old has passed away; look, new things have come into being!" This verse is often interpreted as Paul's teaching on being born again in Christ. Paul emphasizes the transformative power of being in Christ – when a person believes in Jesus and is united with Him, they experience a spiritual rebirth and become a new creation. Paul further elaborates on this idea in his letter to the Galatians, where he writes in Galatians 2:20, "And it is no longer I who live, but it is Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me." Here, Paul describes a death to the old self and a new life lived in union with Christ. This concept of dying to self and being born again in Christ is a central theme in Paul's teachings on salvation and the Christian life. But it also suggests something else.


Paul's teachings on being born again emphasize the radical transformation that occurs in a believer's life when they put their faith in Jesus Christ. This spiritual rebirth leads to a new identity and a new way of living in a relationship with God. Jesus is the seed; we are the soil. When we “die to ourselves,” it is Christ that grows, and we are reborn a new creature in god’s image. I like this metaphor. The death and resurrection of Jesus are the ultimate act of sacrificial love through which all believers are redeemed and given new life. And as a seed must be buried in order to bear fruit, so too must we die to our old selves and be reborn in Christ in order to experience the fullness of life and fruitfulness in Him. This spiritual death and rebirth are a continual process of sanctification for believers as we grow in faith and become more like Christ. Just as an acorn grows from a sprout to a sapling to a mighty oak, we are on a spiritual journey of rebirth and reconciliation with God.


The concept of a seed dying to bring life ties in with the core message of the Gospel – that through Christ's sacrifice, we are made new and are given the opportunity to bear fruit. Jeremiah 31:31-34 and John 12:20-23 both speak of the coming of a new covenant. When we turn to the book of Jeremiah, we see a passage that has been considered a prophecy of the new covenant that Jesus Christ brought to humanity. Jeremiah describes this new covenant as one that is marked by God's mercy and forgiveness of sins, as well as the Holy Spirit's indwelling in the hearts of all who put their faith in Him. The old covenant, which was established with Israel through the Mosaic Law, was unable to bring about genuine transformation of the heart and true repentance. It was because of this limitation that God promised to make a new covenant with His people, one that would be different from the old covenant. The new covenant, described in Jeremiah, made possible by Christ's sacrifice, offers salvation to all who believe in Him. This powerful expression of God's grace and mercy represents a new way of relating to God, one that is not based on human effort but on faith in Jesus Christ. It is a testament to His never-ending love and compassion for all humanity, providing hope to all who seek redemption and transformation in their lives.


When we study these two passages, we can see God's hand at work in the Old and New Testaments in numerous ways. One of the most significant ways is through the tie between Jeremiah and Jesus. The prophet Jeremiah foretold the coming of a new covenant, which Jesus fulfilled through His death and resurrection. The new covenant established through Christ extends to all people, regardless of nationality or background. This is made possible through Jesus' sacrifice, which makes the promise of forgiveness of sins and the presence of the Holy Spirit available to all who believe in Him. Christ demonstrates the incredible love and grace of God in providing salvation to all who come to Him through faith in Jesus Christ.


Tying all this back to the seed in John 12:20-26, we see that just as a seed must die in order to bear fruit, so too did Jesus have to die in order to bring about the new covenant and offer salvation to all people. But that seed did not come right away. There are hundreds of years between Jeremiah and Jesus. The seed metaphor emphasizes the idea of continuity, as the life of the seed is passed down from generation to generation, but it also shows us that it can be stored to come in God’s time. In the same way, the promise of salvation through the new covenant has been passed down from the time of Jeremiah and fulfilled in the time of Jesus, and it continues to be passed down to believers today. The question we must ask ourselves is this: are we the fertile soil needed for Christ to grow in us, or are we sterile and unable to allow the seed that is Christ to grow? To serve God, we must follow Christ. To follow Christ, we must die to ourselves and allow the Spirit to flow throughout our very being. Jesus is the seed; we are the soil.


In the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.



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