“. . . 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.” – John 12:24
An artist friend once explained to me that as a rule of thumb when an artist dies his or her works almost instantly double in value. As a businessman it makes perfect sense to me; for once the creator no longer exists his or her works become finite, thus making them increasingly more valuable.
I wonder, though, if there is not something deeper than the mere supply-demand dynamics of the marketplace. Could it be that artists are never fully appreciated for their good works, and the perspectives they reflect on the world and on life, until after they are gone? Perhaps that’s true for all of us, not just artists. Consider, for example, Lincoln who was merely another president – and a controversial one at that – until after his death. Then and only then did history consider him as having been our country’s greatest president, and a role model for his successors.
Jesus was trying to teach this to his followers in preparation for his own death. “I tell you the truth,” he explained, “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.” Consider the fact that during his lifetime Jesus traveled no more than a few hundred miles mostly within the region of Galilee. Most likely he did not encounter all that many people, especially compared to today’s mass media capabilities, and his most faithful followers were but a small ragtag group. Yet the seed that fell to the ground from the cross where he died that then sprouted in the hearts of his ragtag group of followers transformed the world.
“In that lies the mystery of life,” adds gospel singer and songwriter Michael Card. But first we must die to our self-centered ways; then and only then will the purpose of our lives turn toward serving mankind and God. And it is in that dying to self where lies the mystery of life that Michael Card is referring to; for that is where we discover not the loss of life but the abundance of it. And from that abundant life we build an abundant legacy that after we’re gone – like the artists – becomes increasingly more valuable.