cup of wrath

John 12.24: Do Seeds Die?

In John 12.24. Jesus says that a wheat seed must die to bring forth fruit. Some people use John 12.24 to say that Jesus was ignorant and believed that seeds had to die to sprout and grow. What is 12.24 saying about seeds?

John 12.24 reads, "Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone: but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit" (John 12.24 KJV bible). Critics like to quote verses such as John 12.24, to try to prove that the bible is false. They want people to believe that the bible contradicts science and fact, and that no reasonable person should believe in it.

Regarding John 12.24, the ignorance of these critics is stunning. One would think that if you're going to attack the bible on scientific grounds, you'd check whether science really supports your argument. It turns out that mainstream biology supports John 12.24, and it's the skeptics who are ignorant about the natural world.

Alot of the confusion about John 12.24 comes from the fact that we talk about seeds being alive or dead. When we talk about seeds being alive or dead we are referring to whether or not they are viable. A viable seed has the potential to sprout and grow, whereas a nonviable seed does not. Referring to seeds as being alive or dead is nothing more than our choice of words in how we describe their potential to grow.

A seed must die to become a plant

The truth is that in the process of sprouting a seed must sacrifice itself, or "die", in order to become a plant. This is because a seed is biologically similar to an egg. Just like an egg, a seed contains an embryo of living tissue. The remainder of the seed is designed to feed, protect, and sacrifice itself for this embryo. The seed doesn't turn into a plant, but is used up for the success and survival of the embryo it carries.

The most obvious feature of a seed is its outer shell. Seeds generally have an outer shell to carry the embryo, and protect it from its environment. When conditions are right the seed draws in moisture, and breaks open this shell. Having served its purpose, the shell is discarded.

Seeds generally store energy in the form of carbohydrates and fats. This is why many of the foods we eat are seeds, because they have bits of energy stored in them. When the seed sprouts, the embryo uses up this energy reserve to get started. The embryo needs this bit of energy to send down a root for water, and to send up leaves to gather light. The bit of energy within the seed is sacrificed in order to establish the new plant.

In John 12.24, Jesus compares his life to a seed of wheat. A seed of wheat must be sown into the earth and die to create a new plant, bearing more seed. This is the glorification of the humble seed, that in sacrificing its substance it rises from the earth. In its death, the seed doesn't disappear, but multiplies itself many times over in the world.

In John 12, the time of Jesus' crucifixion is approaching, "...The hour is come, that the Son of man should be glorified" (John 12.23 KJV bible). In Jesus' crucifixion, his life would be sacrificed, and spiritually sown into the earth. By his sacrifice, Jesus would not remain alone, but bring forth many children in the world.

Just as the seed multiplies itself through sacrifice, we are reborn through Christ's sacrifice. Through the crucifixion are sins are forgiven, and we are born of the Spirit as children of God. Being the spiritual fruits of Christ, we follow in his path so that we may share in his glory, "He that loveth his life shall lose it; and he that hateth his life in this world shall keep it unto life eternal" (John 12.25 KJV bible).

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