A kernel of wheat

In this morning’s Fruit of the Vine, Paul Almquist reflects on John 12:23-33, a passage in which “Jesus likens his death to a kernel of wheat falling to the ground.” It’s a telling image, illustrating the reality that death is separation and an ending. But it’s more than that. Because, “at the right time [the seed] sprouts up and produces many more seeds.”

Paul reminds us, “Jesus predicted that his death would produce an amazing harvest.”

This is not how I’m used to thinking about death. For instance, we’re in a time of cultural change and institutional decline. Death – or the threat of death to so many of the things I’ve invested in and that I love – makes me tense, worried, fearful. What if everything we’ve worked together to build fails to hold together? What if we’re done?

Paul’s reflection is a reminder that what I fear, although a real possibility, isn’t the whole story. There’s a deeper truth here. The kernel’s death is also the seed of new life. The end is also a beginning. This reality explains the confidence of Jesus, who “resolutely declared he would not turn back. He would not seek safety. This was what he was born for!”

This morning, in light of Paul’s reflection, I’m prompted to think about what this means for Barclay Press. And I’m prompted to think about what this means for us. As old institutions, structures, and forms decline in size, number, and strength, what new things might be birthed? What new opportunities might open for us? What seeds has God already planted?

Where is God already at work, preparing to surprise us with hope? I don’t know. But I do know that “at the right time,” a “kernel of wheat falling to the ground” might take root and “produce an amazing harvest.” And I trust that it will be good.

Eric Muhr