It sounds like a trite phrase but I think it's the best wording to describe them.
I was really struck last year when my son, James, went through a seed collecting phase. Initially I did it to humor him but then it became kind of fun. When we ate whole grain bread we would pull out the seeds. Whenever we ate a piece of fruit we would save a seed. If we found a seed somewhere in nature he would inevitably stick it in his pocket.
Ultimately he had a whole bowl full of seeds. It was cute. It was an innocuous collection. Several weeks of finding random seeds had provided the diversion we could both have fun with. That was until it turned into a miracle.
James had decided that he would plant all of his seeds in one pot. Rather than going about it in some reasonable adult way, he went about it exactly the way a six-year-old should. He got out his bowl of seeds and he began pushing them into the dirt.
As I watched his seed sprout, many of them into many different plants, I saw the miracle.
Jesus describes it in John 12:24-26,
Very truly I tell you, 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. Anyone who loves their life will lose it, while anyone who hates their life in this world will keep it for eternal life. Whoever serves me must follow me; and where I am, my servant also will be. My Father will honour the one who serves me.
Those dead seeds, some of which had been baked in bread, came back to life!
Here in John chapter 12, Jesus is offering preemptive comfort to his disciples who will soon be grieving his impending death. Jesus assures them that his death will be a miracle which provides much more life to many once he has gone through it.
This seems like a metaphor. Wikipedia says it's "an allegory on resurrection, sacrifice, and ego death, given by Jesus in the New Testament (The Gospel of John)," which isn't bad for a crowdsourced encyclopedia.
I personally think the best way to describe it is a microcosm. Jesus is pointing to a small and therefore seemingly comprehensible truth in order to illustrate a larger and eternal truth.
Today, on Good Friday, we celebrate the willingness of our God to enter into the creation that he made, reveal His love to us and then accept a death that he didn't deserve in order to raise many to New Life. But today I am struck by the myriad of ways in which he wove the truth of our Eternal hope into everything that he's made.
Unless a kernel of wheat dies...
What an amazing
Kind and generous
Creator of everyday miracles.