It has to be this way!

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Every fortnight people from a farming background, or who have a heart for the countryside, offer a personal reflection on faith and rural life. They hope that you will be encouraged by it.

I think spring must be my favourite time of the year, although the changing seasons in our part of the world all bring their own charm.

Rev Kenneth Patterson

Rev Kenneth Patterson

I remember long ago speaking to someone who had been in West Africa for a number of years, and he said that there they have just the wet and the dry seasons, and he missed the yearly cycle of spring, summer, autumn, and winter.

In this country, of course, spring is ‘seed-time’, and I think back to 50 years or so ago when I used to help a small farmer who always put in a few acres of corn at this time. Some prefer to call it oats, rather than corn, but most country folk will know the crop I mean. In those days my farmer friend used few, if any, chemicals, and so there were usually some thistles or other weeds in the crop, and yields were not as good as farmers now would hope for.

The corn was harvested using a binder, although the field was usually ‘opened’ with a scythe and my job was to tie the sheaves by hand…not very pleasant when there were thistles in it. But did you ever think much about what happens to seed sown in the ground in springtime (or autumn for winter crops)?

There is a sense in which the seed dies. This can be appreciated better, perhaps, if you consider seed potatoes. The original potato sown in spring is just an empty or rotten shell among the new potato crop when it is harvested in the autumn. It is as if the seed gave its life to produce new life.

Jesus spoke of this in John’s Gospel (John 12:24). His main point here is that seed sown must die, or else it remains alone and will not multiply and produce a harvest. That is the way it has to be!

Jesus was at that moment referring especially to Himself (and not just a seed) because He had just spoken in the previous verse about the hour, or time, of His coming death.

But this time of year is also the time when we remember especially the death of Jesus on the cross. So it is important that we understand that, like the seed sown in the ground, Jesus had to die. The cross was essential for the salvation of men and women who have sinned against God - as we all have.

The whole of Jesus’ life and ministry led to the cross and it was only through His sacrifice and death that the punishment which our sin deserves could be paid by Him, and He would then give eternal life to all who repent and turn away from that sin and truly trust in Him for their salvation.

And that is what we have to do, to know Christ as our Saviour. Let me encourage you this Easter to think much of the Cross of Christ, and understand that Jesus was like a seed sown in the ground, and in dying He gave life to His people. It had to be that way!

May we know Him and trust Him, and experience that eternal life.

Rev. Dr. Kenneth Patterson is a former GP who was ordained for the ministry in 1990. He retired in 2013 after 19 years as Minister of Castledawson and Curran Presbyterian churches in South Derry. Having worked on farms during his student days, before coming a minister, as a hobby he now enjoys restoring vintage farm machinery.

If you would like to talk to someone about this article, please email Rev. Kenny Hanna at khanna@presbyterianireland.org or call him on 028 9753 1234.