Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Cross (as in the Cross of Christ) (08/17/06)
TITLE: Dying to Live
By Charles Salmon
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“Be careful how you put those seeds in the ground!” Mom shouted at me from across the garden. Our garden occupied about half an acre on the lower part of the yard at my boyhood home. In my mind, I can still picture it flanked with peach trees on one side and mulberry trees on the other. Along the side where the mulberries grew flowed a small stream of water, its bed yellowed by sulfur from the strip mine where it originated. Occasionally, that stream would swell in a storm and flood the garden, depositing a rich layer of silt and fertilizer from the farm upstream. The garden was very important to my mother.
She was fussy about the planting. Each bean, for example, had to be carefully placed in the row. Good gardening practice demanded they be planted six inches apart in rows three feet apart. I don’t know where she learned these practices, but she did produce a marvelous harvest every year the creek didn’t rise and bury her crops.
In those days my curiosity outweighed discretion and I uprooted a seedling recently sprouted from the soil. On the bottom of the infant plant, I found the shriveled, rotting remains of the bean I had hidden so carefully in the earth just days earlier. The bean had within it the mysterious spark of life that would make it grow, flourish, and multiply itself (If I had the good sense to leave it in the ground.) But, in order for new life to arise, the seed must perish, providing nourishment for the emerging seedling.
Jesus was looking toward the cross when He spoke the words recorded in John 12:24; “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.” (New International Version.) He comforted His disciples with the knowledge His death would bear fruit far beyond any they could imagine at the time.
It’s trite to say anything worth accomplishing requires sacrifice. Jesus was going about the most worthwhile enterprise conceivable, the salvation of lost humanity. It would require of Him the ultimate sacrifice.
We are often required to sacrifice for the greater good. We expect to place family before personal pleasure, others before self, and right before profit. A Christian knows, if his life is to bear fruit in eternity, he must make a sacrifice. He must surrender his life to God.
Just like the bean, the kernel of wheat, or any other seed, one must die to live the larger life. This is what the Apostle Paul meant when he wrote, “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me.” (Galatians 2:20.)
Jesus also said, “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.” (John 12:25 NIV.) Death must precede resurrection. The way to really live is to die to sin, self, and Satan. God required it of Jesus and He requires it of us.
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