Tuesday, March 23, 2021

Jesus is the Seed

Jeremiah 31:31-34; John 12:20-33

A year or two ago someone gave me an amaryllis bulb. It came in a box with some instructions to make it blossom. It was a lovely bloom for a while. I trimmed off the dead flower and left the stalk and leaves to put nourishment back into the bulb. Then, it went into the garage where I forgot about it.

 One day last week, I went into the garage looking for a printer cable – which I didn’t find. 

 But I did find this: My amaryllis was beginning to grow. I gave it some water and some plant food. However, the leaves are sagging and the bulb looks pretty empty, so I don’t know if it will have enough energy to bloom.


You see, when a seed is planted, all the parts of the seed are used. The husk protects it until it is exposed to water and sunlight. The part that grows, the embryo, is a tiny portion of the seed itself. Much of the seed is food for the plant which will produce first roots and then leaves.

 We’ll come back to this idea of seeds and plants in a few minutes. Let’s turn to the gospel reading. Some “Greeks” approach Philip saying, “We want to see Jesus.” These Greeks are non-Jewish people. They could be folks who worship many gods, including the Jewish God. They could be folks who know little to nothing about the Jewish faith but are nonetheless attracted to what they hear about Jesus. They could be folks who don’t believe in any gods.

For whatever reason, they want to see Jesus, up-close and in person. Philip goes to his brother Andrew, and together they approach Jesus. “Some Greeks want to see you.” The text never does tell us whether Jesus meets with the Greeks or not. Instead, the story continues with Jesus’ message.

 “Now is my time.” It seems to mean that the good news about Jesus and the reign of God has reached outside the Jewish community and caught the attention of non-Jews as well. This is perhaps a sign Jesus was waiting for.

 Jesus begins a sermon about his coming glorification. There are many things we could discuss here, but let’s go back to the idea of seeds. Jesus says, “Unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it can’t produce fruit. But if it dies, it produces much fruit.”

 We know today that seeds don’t really die, they just go dormant. But they look dead. When we add water and soil and sunshine, things change. Once a seed sprouts and grows, it produces fruit. At this point, though, Jesus is not focusing so much on the fruit but the process. In order to produce fruit, the seed first must be buried.

 Jesus doesn’t specifically say, “I am the seed”, in the same way he says, “I am the shepherd”, “I am the gate”, and I am the vine”. But he does use the concept of the need for a seed to be buried to help the disciples understand that what is about to happen is necessary.

 In the other Gospels, Jesus is regretful about his coming death, praying that perhaps there is a Plan B. He wishes there were another way to get God’s message across. But there isn’t. The crucifixion is God’s Plan A.

In contrast, in John’s Gospel, Jesus is looking forward to it. He is a seed ready to be planted so the fruit of eternal life can spread to reach all people. Jesus is excited to be planted in the earth so he can rise again. He is ready to be glorified, even though it will not be a pleasant experience.

 Just like a seed uses everything within the seed to sprout, Jesus is willing to give his all. He is ready to be prepared for planting (his crucifixion), planted (his burial), and exposed to soil, water, and sunlight (his time in the tomb), in order to rise from the earth (his resurrection).

Jesus considers this whole process as his glorification. God allows Jesus to be planted as a seed in order to raise him up to new life, and to give us a new life, eternal life.

 … Today, we include the Brief Order for Healing in our service. Because we are still not touching each other or breathing near each other, we are using symbols other than oil on our foreheads.

 Today’s symbol is a packet of seeds. 

I suggest that as you touch the packet of seeds you chose, you will imagine the seed of Jesus’ healing touch growing in your heart. This is not such a far-fetched idea. Centuries before Jesus, Jeremiah tells us that God promises to plant a new covenant in our hearts. So, the seed of God’s love is already and always there. It just needs soil, and water, and sunlight (in other words, a little of God’s Spirit) in order to grow, to produce fruit.

May these seeds become plants that become a blessing in your yard or garden or kitchen shelf. I hope that each time you see them, you are reminded of God’s love for you, and that you will find some healing and peace. Amen