COVER STORY – Lent
“But Jesus answered them, saying, ‘The hour has come that the Son of Man should be glorified. 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.’”
As you read this article, the weather is probably not looking very springlike. If you live in a northern region of our country, the temperature outside may be downright frigid. Snowflakes may be floating in the air. Even if you live in a region that enjoys warmer temperatures, you’re probably not thinking about engaging in outdoor gardening activities like planting flowers or sowing vegetable seeds. The time for doing such things is spring, and spring is a long way off.
It’s interesting, though, that the church year season we recently entered (Lent) comes from the Old English word, lencten, which means “spring.” And though it is true that we aren’t thinking about outdoor gardening work now, there is a seed-sowing that we love to think about especially at this time of year: the seed-sowing that Jesus speaks about in the Bible verse above.
It was Tuesday of Holy Week. Two disciples had just placed before the Savior the request of some Greeks to see Him. Apparently these Greeks had heard about Jesus’ reputation as a prophet and were looking forward to meeting Him. When Jesus heard about their request, His mind turned immediately to the work of redeeming mankind that He was soon to bring to completion. In three days He would be betrayed, arrested, falsely accused, condemned, crucified, and His body buried in a grave. The result of it all would be that souls out of every nation (Greece and countless others!) would be saved for eternity, a thought that filled His heart with joy.
The story is told of a Christian man, born and raised in a log house, who visited his boyhood home after being away for forty years. As he walked into the front yard, he remembered how he had planted some walnuts next to a stream that ran through the family farm. When he walked down to the stream, his eyes were met by a row of stately walnut trees, the product of the seeds he had sown there many years before. He also recalled how he had hidden some nuts in the attic. Curious to see if they were still there, he climbed up to check it out. Sure enough, lying in the corner was the same pile of nuts he’d stowed there when he was a boy. “What a difference,” he thought, “between these dry, dusty walnuts and the ones I planted down by the stream!” He then also remembered the Savior’s words about the kernel of wheat that produces no fruit when it is left unplanted; but if it is planted, it produces a rich harvest.
This Lenten season, set aside time to ponder on, and praise God for, the bountiful harvest that has resulted from Jesus’ Passion. Think what a glorious difference it makes for you that He allowed His lifeblood to be drained from Him and His body buried in a tomb. May your heart brim over with joy to think of the willing sacrifice of Jesus’ sinless life for you and His resurrection from the grave three days later. For it is because of these that you enjoy the blessing of forgiveness for your sins, a loving relationship with Him now, and eternal salvation at His side in heaven when the brief season of your life on earth ends.
Sweet the moments, rich in blessing,
Which before the cross we spend,
Life and health and peace possessing
From the sinner’s dying Friend.
Here we rest in wonder, viewing
All our sins on Jesus laid;
Here we see redemption flowing
From the sacrifice He made.
Lord, in loving contemplation
Fix our hearts and eyes on Thee
Till we taste Thy full salvation
And Thine unveiled glory see.
Thomas Schuetze is pastor of St. Paul Evangelical Lutheran Church in Lakewood, Colorado.