The Seeds of Following Jesus

We call ourselves Christ-followers. We’ve stated our allegiance and rejected the world’s counterfeits. We study Jesus’ words and even memorize them. But following Jesus means more than that—it means patterning our life after his. It means dying to self for the sake of others.

Jesus gives us this word picture, “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” (John 12:23-26).

A single seed in the ground produces more than the one seed planted. One apple seed can produce an entire tree full of new seeds. Jesus’ body represents the one kernel of wheat which falls into the ground and dies. His death produces many more seeds, in fact, a great harvest—eternal life for many.

Jesus then shifts his focus, same principle, now applied to his followers. If they will die to their own agenda, and to the pleasures of this world, their dead seed will produce many more seeds, a great harvest—eternal life for many.

Jesus calls all believers to follow him into death (physically & metaphorically) so that our seed will be multiplied, bringing life to others. The sacrifice we make is temporal. The gain is eternal. And the harvest will be plentiful.

On my daily morning walk I pass by a mystery tree with large seed-pods (never have been good at identifying trees). The branches hang over a driveway to an apartment complex. At this time of year the pods fall off. In the natural process, pods die, decompose, split open, the seeds get carried by the wind and planted somewhere, eventually producing many more mystery trees with seed-pods.

In the case of this tree, the process accelerates because cars drive back and forth crushing the pods, which exposes the seeds. Then scattered by the wind they plant somewhere with a multiplying effect.

Seeing this reminds me of Jesus’ words about the seed that dies. In God’s master plan he allows the various hurts in our lives to crush us in order to speed up the fruit-bearing process. It’s painful. We get pulverized and exposed, blown by the wind, stomped into the soil, and some days we feel like we’re decomposing in dark dirt.

But this is God’s plan, to use our hurts to connect us to other hurting people who need the hope we have. This is why Scripture tells us to always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give a reason for the hope that you have (1Peter 3:15). No one will ask about your hope if your life is perfect. People will ask when they see you living with hope in the midst of trying circumstances that would rattle them.

Our testimony of hope in the midst of hurt reaches those we love the most and those we’re praying for. Accepting this process of dying to self is part of following Jesus—being willing to be used by God even though its painful.

Death is necessary to resurrection. That’s the model Jesus gives us. His death gave me life. My death-to-self will lead someone else to life—probably someone I love and pray for.

Share your thoughts so we can all be challenged and encouraged.

4 comments to The Seeds of Following Jesus

  • Joanne

    ” No one will ask about your hope if your life is perfect. People will ask when they see you living with hope in the midst of trying circumstances that would rattle them.”

    Thank you for these words Janet. I have heard the concept before, I think, but it never made sense until you explained it this way.

  • Janet, This is so good and true. Thinking of Colossians 3, a chapter committed to memory a few years back. Chapter 1:3-4 says, “For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also shall appear with him in glory.” Dying to self is going to be a struggle that stays with us this side of heaven, but it is so good to know that as far as Christ is concerned, it is finished! Everyday we need to be scattering seeds, so more will know of our hope in Him.

    • Vickie, We need to continually remind each other of this because it is so counter-cultural. The world will never understand this, but we must. Thanks for your comment.