I don’t know about you all, but I for one am enjoying this fall weather. The fallen leaves giving off a golden glow, as one by one they turn the trees into skeletal silhouettes against the Autumn sun hanging in the sky like a bowl of burning fire; as the crispness of the air and the apples bring out the sweetness of the season, the plumpness of the pumpkins and the tartness of the cider refresh our sight and smell with a feast for the senses. Yet despite this scenic season, when we slow down to consider what Autumn actually is, it is really the early, on setting days of death.
Summer is done, the crops are harvested and what’s left are dry, withered shells and browned, crumpled stalks; the lifeless leaves cover our lawns awaiting bagging and burning. The warm air is fading away as the cold is setting in. Everything is going through a kind of death. But for those of us who understand how seasons affect agriculture, we know this autumn death we’re now witnessing, and later in Winter, is really just giving shape to what will become life later in the Spring and Summer. Whether it’s leaves, weeds, and seeds decomposing to fertilize the soil or the rains and snow adding moisture, it is death at work cultivating life.
Jesus himself incorporated this picture prior to his crucifixion; in a moment leading up to the “last supper”, Jesus told his disciples “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. 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.”
Death is often an uncomfortably grim topic; it feels so final and absolute. But Jesus’ death, as he illustrates in his comment, is only the beginning of something better. His death is the fertilization of a whole new season of life and fruitfulness. Christ-on-the-cross is cultivation of new creation. He is the root that gives fruit for a whole new vintage of salvation.
Much like our Autumn season, his is a beautiful death, one that put his glorious worth and value on display for all the world to behold and be saved.
As we stroll through these days and weeks of Autumn, let the beautiful death of this scenic season remind you of the life that is being given shape and how in Christ Jesus Life springs anew in each of us as we remember and rejoice in his resurrection bringing forth Life from a lifeless season.