Matthew 10:38-39 “And he who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me. He who has found his life will lose it, and he who has lost his life for My sake will find it.”
It’s harvest season at the Sheridan house. Every day we bring in a whole new batch of produce. Cucumbers, tomatoes, green peppers, onions, and pumpkins — these are the delicious fruits we are enjoying. But we have some seeds that didn’t produce anything this year.
These fruitless seeds are those that are sitting in the brown paper bag in our storage closet. Despite all their potential, there is nothing to show because these seeds were extras and never planted. Jesus used the analogy of a seed to teach His disciples that death is necessary to produce spiritual fruit.
Matthew, one of Jesus’ disciples, wrote his version of Jesus’ life story to his fellow Jews to prove that Jesus is the Messiah, the eternal King. He used many examples to prove the authority Jesus has over all things, both physical and spiritual.
In chapter 10, Matthew records Jesus’ instructions to the twelve disciples on serving and testifying to others. They were given a strategy that included a place to begin, a packing list, and a persecution plan. Now Matthew explains the power behind their life and ministry. The power doesn’t come from within or from working harder. It comes from taking up your cross and dying.
John, in his narrative, picks up the same theme and expounds on it. There he shares Jesus’ analogy of a kernel of wheat falling into the ground. When it dies it produces many seeds. Jesus used this example to explain why it was necessary for Him to go to the cross. Jesus’ death and resurrection for the sin of the world made eternal life available for all mankind.
In order to receive this life a person must believe in Christ, die to his own desires, and allow Christ to live through him. This death to self is necessary for our personal salvation and our testimony before others. The author of Galatians puts it this way, “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.” (Gal. 2:20)
Those who publicly acknowledge identification with Jesus Christ are apt to face persecution in one form or another. But Jesus calls us to honor Him first before all others, including family members, despite the consequences. “Those who love their life will lose it, while anyone who hates their life in this world will keep it for eternal life.”
Seeds produce a bountiful harvest only when they are planted in the dark ground and die. There they can grow and render a whole harvest of fruit.
Similarly, the only way to have everlasting life and to experience God’s power is to identify with Christ in His death and resurrection. There is no one who can bear the fruit of eternal life within himself. Like seeds, we all need to die in order to live!
Sandra Sheridan is a midwest wife and mother of five. She shares her letters to her children with our readers. Visit her at www.VersesFromMama.com.