Four Witnesses

Four different items become unanticipated witnesses to the tuning fork of history. These four things — seed, towel, promise, and torchlight — tell us a story that belies their simple and unadorned places in our everyday worlds. With Jesus, however, these everyday items become pivot points of God’s grace for the Messiah on his way to the horrors and darkness of Golgotha, “Skull Hill.”

Four simple things — seed, towel, promise, and torchlight — are caught up in the story that changes everything.

A seed is fascinating in its small and simple hope that something big can come out of something small. It is a subtle reminder that life can arise from death and beauty can spring forth from dirt. A seed reminds us that fresh hope can be born out of darkness and despair.

A towel is a simple piece of cloth used to absorb water. They are forgotten tools in a world of complex and fancy things. They are a soft touch after cleaning off the grime of hard living. Towels are largely unimportant until their services are needed, then they are thrown in the rag pile or hung to dry.

Promise: People make all sorts of promises. Many promises are never kept. They are just words of reassurance without any collateral or real substance, to verify their validity. We treat most promises today with suspicion, unsure whether to believe that the one who promised can deliver as promised when it is needed most. What do we do with the promises of “never” — I will never leave you as orphans or abandon you?

Torchight: The flickering light of torches pushes back the darkness only enough to reveal just how deep the darkness around us has grown. But this torch’s light, even when flickering, cannot be extinguished as it becomes the beacon of hope for millions who will follow the true light and leave behind their darkness.

For the next four weeks, we will look at these four items: seed, towel, promise, and torchlight. We will pause together and let them tell their story of Jesus.

For now, however, let’s use our time between now and Friday to listen for the seed’s voice. Let’s ask the Holy Spirit to prepare our hearts to hear the seed’s testimony about our Savior’s sacrifice and the explosive grace buried under the weight of sin’s dirt and humanity’s inhumanity.

Introduction to the Seed

Still other seed fell on good soil, where it produced a crop — a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown (Matthew 13:8 — Jesus is speaking.).

One of my very first jobs was selling flower seeds. As a fifth and sixth grader, selling flower seeds was not hard. I loved to look at the seeds. I loved to compare the seeds. I loved to plant the seeds in clear glass containers so that I could see the seeds germinate. The great mystery of how a little water, dirt, and seed could explode into life still fascinates me to this day. How all the root system, stem, leaves, and flowers could come from that tiny seed. Small, ugly, and insignificant becomes large, beautiful, and important. Yes, the seed is still enough of a mystery to keep me interested while I wait for the full blessing of its secrets to reach full bloom.

He gives life to the dead and calls into being things that were not.
Many other kinds of seeds become other wonderful kinds of plants. Flat, black, watermelon seeds become big, rounded, colorful watermelons. Small acorns lose their caps and are buried in the leaves and dirt to become massive oak trees. Delicious grapes give up their tiny seeds to become growing vines.

Nothing quite describes the seed’s hidden power for me quite like this description of Abraham’s faith. Of course, we are saved by Abraham’s “seed” (Galatians 3:16), so maybe we shouldn’t be surprised by the Holy Spirit’s description of his faith sounding very much like the power of a seed:

As it is written: “I have made [Abraham] a father of many nations.” He is our father in the sight of God, in whom he believed — the God who gives life to the dead and calls into being things that were not (Romans 4:17).

The same Jesus who as Creator “gives life to” a dead seed and “calls into being” great plants that are nothing more than tiny seeds, uses the promise of a seed to describe his greatest glory, giving up his life for us. But then, that is getting ahead of ourselves. So pray to hear the testimony of the seed buried in the words of our Savior.

A Look Ahead

And if you want a sneak peek, click the link on the verses that follow, and meditate on the wonder, mystery, and testimony of the seed!

John 12:20-33