This is one of Jesus’ most profound teachings about our spiritual nature. We are like seeds that fall to the ground. The seed doesn’t choose the place where it lands. We don’t get to choose where or when we live our earthly life. We fall into a certain historical period. Our family may be rich or poor, learned or ignorant, a member of the privileged majority or not. Remember the lines from Jesus Christ Superstar? Judas says to Jesus:
You'd have managed better if you'd had it planned.
Why'd you choose such a backward time in such a strange land?
If you'd come today, you could have reached a whole nation.
Israel in 4 BC had no mass communication.
So even the son of God finds himself constrained by his context. To be in a body is to be in a particular body. We have as much choice over these things as a seed does in where it falls to earth. Do you believe God has a plan for your life? It sure beats the alternative. Gods plan is that you die to your seedy, individualized self. God’s plan is that you learn to live in love and with a desire to use your life in a fruitful way that benefits others. God’s desire is that you stop being alone.
If a seed falls to earth and chooses to live in a competitive way, grabbing what it wants from others, it will be a weed. If a seed falls to earth and chooses security over life, then it will remain alone. Everything God wants from us involves risk. But if we accept death. That we are mortal and human. That the meaning of life is not in what we hold on to, but in what we give away. If we take real risks in who we love and how deeply. Then we will die to the seed-self and rise up to live as fruitful people. We will not be alone.
So Jesus points to his own life. He was the one exception. He could have chosen not to be born in such a backward place and time. Yet he fell where he fell. He died between two thieves. He accepted his calling in life, even though it troubled him to his very soul. Even though it meant being forsaken by God. And so, the one seed who fully understood the injustice of the cross, accepted this form of death. His death allowed the deaths we make to self in his name to be fruitful. Jesus founded a community for us to be a part of; the fellowship of those who die and rise again. We are not alone.