Sermon – Lent 5
Last week, I had the pleasure of visiting Victoria B.C. It was a lovely break from the routine of
every day and it gave me time during this Lenten Journey to spend some time reflecting on my last year,
the lessons I have learned and absorbing truths that surrounded me. I loved looking at nature; flowers,
the ocean, and mountains. One thing I certainly did was to dine on the Salmon of the region.
Did you know that salmon has an instinct inside of it to bring it back to the place of its birth?
After spending a year or two out in that big vast ocean, they swim thousands of miles back up stream.
That is incredible to me. And to top it off, then they prepare to die. These salmon come back to the
place of their hatching, being driven over rocks/ dams / waterfalls, past hungry killer whales, and human
fishing nets. A guess one or two did not make it past all these obstacles…. as I saw a few on my plate.
Never the less, salmon at the end of their long labourious journey, lay their eggs and that is it for them. BUT out of those eggs comes new life. For it is through dying that there is new life among the salmon.
Those salmon were not pre-occupied with the ending….. just the journey. That got me thinking
about this passage today. Jesus knows what lies ahead - only six days until he is going to die. Jerusalem
was bursting with people who had come to the city due to the season of Passover. In the midst of all of
this, Greeks wanted to see Jesus and made the request to do so. Scripture tells us that Jesus gives an
answer, but I figure it must have seemed like a strange answer. He referred to a seed. “Very truly I tell
you, 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.” NIV John 12:24
This is echoed in other scripture passages also:
1 Corinthians 15:36
How foolish! What you sow does not come to life unless it dies.
For this very reason, Christ died and returned to life so that he might be the Lord
of both the dead and the living.
Now I am sure not a scientist, but there is something about seeds that I love – I plant my garden every
year with anticipation of good veggies and beautiful flowers and the joy of watching those seeds poke
through the mud toward the sun….. I just take if for fact, that if you plant a seed, water it in and weed it
on occasion, it will grow and produce fruit and more seeds.
According to biologists, every seed embryo has a root and a shoot; and inside that little seed there is an
“on” and “off” switch. There is a thin coat around that seed which protects the oxygen from coming in
prematurely. When this dormant seed is planted into the ground and the seed takes in water,
and it miraculously begins to expand, and the seed coat is broken, it begins to mature and produces
sugar and protein which leads to the production of more seeds and more fruit.
“Unless a seed dies, it remains a single seed; but if it dies, it produces many seeds and then much fruit.”
St. Francis of Assisi knew this law well in his famous prayer for peace; “it is in giving that we receive; it
is in dying that we are born again.”
To multiply, to produce a crop for the future, to be productive, a seed must be planted and then
it will produce a great harvest. Jesus is the one kernel of wheat – He is on the way to the cross where he
is willing to die for us all. The Gospel of John is known for acknowledging the ability to see what is not
accessible to ordinary sight.
The whole process of looking at death is tough for most of us. This is not an easy message to
hear. Looking at death is uncomfortable for us: It brings up unspoken fear and a lot of “what if”
questions. What if I lose the one I most love? We just don’t want to go there - but there comes times
that we have no choice but to acknowledge our fragile state. Really looking at our mortality -
acknowledging and facing death is some of the most difficult work we ever do. It is soul troubling. It
shakes us to the core. Ultimately, death, in whatever way it comes to us, means that we entrust all that
we are and all that we have to God. We have the promise of Christ’s resurrection after death, and
Christ’s ascension into heaven. This promise of hope is what gets us through the tough times. This is not
When we are pushed to soul troubling times in our lives, it is not that we as Christians are in denial of
the weight of the troubles we are in the midst of. Maybe it is a job related issue, a family member may
be struggling – so you are worried , issues of health and wellness, sorrow or grief. I think that I can
realistically assume that some of you in the pews today have soul troubling issues today.
No matter what our struggles, remember that Jesus knew his end and the Cross was weighing heavily on
his mind. Would he say: “It’s too great a sacrifice?” “ Okay, that’s it – that is as far as I’m going?”
NO…. God was Jesus’ source of strength, and that must be our lesson as well. The Gospel today tells us
12:27 "Now my soul is troubled. And what should I say--' Father, save me from this hour'? No, it is for this reason that I have come to this hour.
It is totally human to feel vulnerable and fearful but there is hope. It was totally DIVINE that Jesus took
on the sin of all the world and died for you and me. He had a choice and he affirmed, “ it is for this
reason that I have come to this hour. “
We have a choice to follow Christ… and that choice is not always an easy choice. As Christians we are to
encourage each other to walk in the light of Christ and trust in him. Does that mean that there will not
be any suffering? The answer is no. The way we live life, day by day, in the light of Christ, will mean that
your life can multiply its effectiveness in a dark and sinful world.
God of suffering and glory, in Jesus Christ you reveal the way of life through the path of obedience.
May we be people of hope and strong resolve. Amen.