Tonight, I ate the first fruits of my garden. The leafy greens pictured above have been quietly growing in a make-shift container for the past couple of months. First, I sowed the teensy lettuce seeds in a 12-inch deep cardboard box lined with a garbage bag in my garage back in mid-February. Eventually, I moved the box outside under my plastic tube “greenhouse” for about a month where the magnified sun really turned on the growth. For the past few weeks, the container sat outside under the southeast eave near my garage door thriving in the cool wetness that has characterized our Spring. And tonight, I took the first cutting and enjoyed a delicious salad.
If you’ve never grown any of your own food, you might not be familiar with the joy of first fruits. For someone like me who grows just a small part of my annual diet, the first fruits are more of a surprise than anything. I did it! I actually grew something I can eat! But in most agrarian cultures, the harvesting of the first fruits was so significant it was celebrated as a religious festival.
Typically, the first fruits were given as an offering, and either burned or eaten by the religious leaders. The harvesters didn’t mind giving up the first fruits, however. They were just a sign of the bounty to follow. In fact, the first fruits aren’t always the best tasting or high quality pickings of the harvest. Though a long winter of scraping by on last year’s leftovers certainly makes them taste pretty good by comparison. (And compared to the shipped-in lettuce we’ve been eating here in Indiana for the past four months, my lettuce tasted pretty darn good tonight.) No, the value of the first fruits was not in the food itself, but the promise that more food was to come. This year, there will be enough to satisfy.
Though the tradition of the Jewish Festival of First Fruits actually is counted 50 days after Passover, the Apostle Paul links the concept with Resurrection Sunday, calling Jesus the First Fruits of the Resurrection Life to come in one of his letters to the Corinthians. When the pastor quoted this passage yesterday during the Easter service, and I thought of my flourishing box of lettuce growing at home, the message of Easter took on a whole new meaning for me.
After three days in the ground, the Resurrection of Jesus was glorious and victorious. And not only that, it’s a promise of even more to come. Enough to satisfy us for eternity.
“For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ all will be made alive. But each in his own order: Christ the first fruits, after that those who are Christ’s at His coming, then comes the end, when He hands over the kingdom to the God and Father, when He has abolished all rule and all authority and power.” 1 Corinthians 15:22-24