This is an excerpt from our Flourish Study: 8 weeks on the Fruit of the Spirit. Find it here.
Deep beneath the surface of the earth is a world that rarely meets the eyes. In the darkness of fertile soil, the hands of God are molding, shaping, and cultivating the vegetation we see around us. Trees, flowers, gardens, moss, and plants—all of these have a vibrant life beneath the visible surface.
Plants have survival woven into their DNA. In order for vegetation to survive the winds, heat, and unexpected storms of life, it must be deeply rooted beneath the surface of the earth, clinging to the nutrients that give it sustenance. Before any seed becomes a budding flower, a vibrant plant, or a towering tree with abiding roots, it must first be buried beneath the earth in darkness and isolation.
Flourishing Begins With Dying
In order for a plant to grow and flourish, it must first be small as a seed and humble in its death and burial. It cannot grow without this necessary death. In time, the seed will break open from its shell and stretch its roots into the surrounding soil, grabbing the nutrients necessary for living, growing, and ultimately thriving. Then it begins its ascent, reaching for the light above the surface until it finally breaks free.
With adequate watering, sunlight, and gentle care, the tiny seed will grow into a flourishing plant. Through the gardener’s watering, cultivating, and pruning, the plant’s life above the surface benefits the world around it—adding beauty, offering nutrition, and providing shelter.
Jesus Shows Us How to Flourish
When Jesus slipped his feet into human shoes as God in the flesh, he took on the role of the tiny seed. His mission on earth was to bring glory to his Father by yielding to death on the cross, bearing the penalty of our sins. In John 12:24 he described his impending death to his unlikely and often clueless disciples, saying, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.” Jesus was telling his disciples that he would have to die in order to bear eternal fruit.
Jesus, the perfect Son of God, would eventually yield his life on two pieces of wood that were once a tiny seed buried beneath the surface of the earth as well. For years this tree grew and stretched out its limbs to bring glory to the Gardener of all of life. It was cut down by human hands, sawed into two long pieces, and nailed together. Its splintered wood assisted in the crucifixion of Christ—all so we could experience the fruit of eternal life. Do you see the profound significance? Jesus is the Maker of the wood that he hung on, and he calls his people to follow his example by denying themselves, taking up their crosses daily, and following him (Luke 9:23).
A Better Life
Just like a seed is buried beneath the earth’s surface before it breaks free to produce new life, so was Jesus killed on a cross. He was buried in a tomb, and raised again three days later. Thus defeating death’s grip and making a way for us to embrace eternal life in him. He continued to explain to Andrew and Philip that “whoever loves his life loses it, and whoever hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life” (John 12:25).
Jesus isn’t saying to hate the fact that we are alive and have breath; instead, he is calling us to hate the deeds of the flesh, the sin that wages war in our hearts, and the temporary ways of the world. He is calling us to live for what will last in eternity—the Kingdom of God.
We cannot love the world and follow Christ. We cannot live in sin and walk in the fullness of the Spirit. Jesus requires wholehearted devotion because he knows that only through death do we experience abundant life in him, both in the present moment and in future glory. Death is the way to life, and life in Christ is not merely a life of survival, but of thriving and flourishing in his presence.