How do you teach a group of 7th grade students the meaning of “firstfruits” in relation to the resurrection?
At the beginning of each year I like to take my students through a simple overview of the biblical narrative with something I have put together under the title of “God’s Redemptive Story.”
Outlined in this story are 7 clearly defined parts: creation, redemption, kingdom (of Israel–or, Man), Jesus, church (kingdom of Heaven/God), resurrection, and new creation. You can read any portion of scripture and locate the reading within one of these 7 parts. It is simply a helpful tool for young students who are now being asked to read and think about scripture anew.
While I was discussing the basic concepts of the resurrection I came upon Paul’s words in 1 Corinthians 15, “Christ the firstfruits, then at his coming those who belong to Christ.” I saw numbness settle upon my students with the word “firstfruits.”
And then it hit me. My colleague had brought in a tomato plant and set it outside our classrooms, and I remembered one red tomato standing out through the leaves. “Alright, outside,” I said.
In the end, it boiled down to Christ being the one ripe tomato, the “firstfruit,” and the rest of us being a bunch of green tomatoes to follow after in like manner. Our hope is to ripen into a perfect red tomato. (No, there was absolutely no mentioning of that vegetable cartoon.)
How could you teach that, that clearly, without a garden?