The Creator who called forth the grass, the herb yielding seed, and the fruit trees with seeds in the fruit is the same Potter who formed man. Earth’s vegetation was then symbolically employed for humankind and used as an object lesson to teach about the spread of the gospel and the realities of the resurrection. Jesus referred to the process of seed germination to teach about death, resurrection, and propagation of the kingdom of God.
23 But Jesus answered them, saying, “The hour has come that the Son of Man should be glorified.
24 Most assuredly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it produces much grain.
25 He who loves his life will lose it, and he who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. NKJV
Paul also employed the process of seed germination to teach about death and resurrection.
1 Corinthians 15:35-38
35 But someone will say, “How are the dead raised up? And with what body do they come?”
36 Foolish one, what you sow is not made alive unless it dies.
37 And what you sow, you do not sow that body that shall be, but mere grain — perhaps wheat or some other grain.
38 But God gives it a body as He pleases, and to each seed its own body. NKJV
Resurrection requires death. This is the lesson of seed germination. The plant to be cannot come to life unless the seed sown dies. In the account in John, Jesus highlights the fruitfulness that results from the death of the seed. In 1 Corinthians, Paul is focused on the form the plant takes and its drastic difference from the form of the seed.
26 And He said, “The kingdom of God is as if a man should scatter seed on the ground,
27 and should sleep by night and rise by day, and the seed should sprout and grow, he himself does not know how.
28 For the earth yields crops by itself: first the blade, then the head, after that the full grain in the head.” NKJV
The seed sprouting and growing is the resurrection of the seed. The seed grows and takes shape—it exhibits a distinct morphogenesis—in a manner the farmer does not comprehend. “He himself does not know how,” Jesus said. His statement resonates with the morphogenetic mystery discussed in the previous post and our ignorance regarding how bones take shape in the womb. Though we do not know how the process is directed, we can observe the process outcome: first the blade, then the head, after that the full grain in the head.
A grain of wheat measures on average between 5 to 9 millimeters. A mature wheat stalk measures on average between 70 to 120 centimeters. The resurrected seed—the plant—is over 100 times its original size and has a spectacularly different shaped body. “So also is the resurrection of the dead,” Paul said. The resurrected body will be greater than the seed sown. The table below lists the enhancements highlighted in 1 Corinthians 15:42-49.
We do not have to wait for the rapture or the new heaven and new earth to taste the fruits of a resurrected life. Our lives can be resurrected when we die to ourselves and live to serve Christ. We move from glory to glory in the process. We move from unclean and inordinate affection to holy and beloved; from anger to bowels of mercies; from wrath to kindness; from malice to humbleness of mind and meekness; from blasphemy to longsuffering and thanksgiving; from filthy communication to songs, hymns and spiritual songs; and from lying to the word of Christ.
An examination of the conditions required for seed germination give us insight into why the process was used to teach us about the resurrection. Most seeds have germination inhibitors that require certain elements to help break them down. The primary conditions needed for germination to occur are:
- A period of dormancy – a time lying in the ground (i.e. burial), particularly in the cold season.
- Scarification – a scarring of thick skinned seeds (by His stripes we were healed). This usually occurs by animals scratching or biting the seeds while consuming the exterior fruit or other environmental factors like the seeds being beaten against the rocks by a pounding surf or a rolling river.
- Temperature – Correct temperature is necessary for germination. After the dormant period of cold that breaks down inhibitors, the warming spring wakes the seed up. “Awake thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee light” Eph. 5:14.
- Water – Water is always needed to allow vigorous metabolism to begin. It is also sometimes needed to leech away germination inhibitors within the seed. Water is used as a symbol for both the Spirit and the Word. They not only leech away the things that inhibit us from exhibiting the character of Christ, they also provide the necessary ingredients for a vigorous metabolism, for it is the Spirit that quickeneth (John 6:63).
- Oxygen – Oxygen is needed for life.
In one of the most dramatic revelations of resurrection, the Lord commanded Ezekiel to prophesy to the wind.
9 Then said he unto me, Prophesy unto the wind, prophesy, son of man, and say to the wind, Thus saith the Lord God; Come from the four winds, O breath, and breathe upon these slain, that they may live.
10 So I prophesied as he commanded me, and the breath came into them, and they lived, and stood up upon their feet, an exceeding great army. KJV
As seeds need oxygen to germinate, we will need God’s breath of life to abandon the grave. What a glorious day it will be to stand in His exceeding great army!