The Mystery of the Growing Seed

Jesus said, “the kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe the good news!” He also said, “the kingdom of God does not come with your careful observation.” You can’t point to it and say, “here it is” or “there it is.” In the gospel of Mark, Jesus explained what the kingdom of God is like by comparing it to a growing seed.

The Parable of the Growing Seed.

This is what the kingdom of God is like. A man scatters seed on the ground. Night and day, whether he sleeps or gets up, the seed sprouts and grows, though he does not know how. All by itself the soil produces grain—first the stalk, then the head, then the full kernel in the head. As soon as the grain is ripe, he puts the sickle to it, because the harvest has come.

Mark 4:26-29

The parable of the growing seed is found only in the gospel of Mark. It follows the parable of the soils, the one in which a farmer sows seed by scattering it on the ground. As in the parable of the soils, the seed represents the word of God.

Who sows the seed? Those who teach, preach, and otherwise share the word of God with others. The apostle Paul said that those who believe are assigned a task by God. Some plant the seed, some water it. Neither the one who sows the seed nor the one who waters it has a role in making the seed grow. The one who sows does not even know whether the seed will take root.

What, after all, is Apollos? And what is Paul? Only servants, through whom you came to believe—as the Lord has assigned to each his task. I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God has been making it grow. So neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow.

1 Corinthians 3:5-7

The parable of the sower hints at the mysterious ways God works in the hearts of those who hear his word. The sower does not cause the seed to grow. The one who waters does not make the seed grow. Only God can make the seed grow. Only God can change hearts.

The word of God contains everything a person needs for eternal life. But sometimes the word falls on deaf ears. Oftentimes the distractions and temptations of the world keep the seed from taking root. As a sower of the seed, I don’t know what words will get through to a person who has hardened his or her heart to God. Fortunately, God does.

God does not waste his words. His word will not return to Him empty. His word will achieve the purpose for which he sent it.

As the rain and the snow
    come down from heaven,
and do not return to it
    without watering the earth
and making it bud and flourish,
    so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater,
so is my word that goes out from my mouth:
    It will not return to me empty,
but will accomplish what I desire
    and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.

Isaiah 55:10-11

This parable gives me hope for unsaved loved ones. It gives me hope for a world that is hungry for the Good News. The kingdom of God is near. God is actively working to build his kingdom. No matter what we do, the seed sprouts and grows. We can trust that God will accomplish what he desires at the right time.

In the parable, I see myself as a sower of the seed, trusting that God will make his word grow. But I also see myself in the parable as one who heard the word and believed. Like a sunflower that turns its face towards the sun, I am drawn to God, the giver of life. The kingdom of God is within me.

You, God, are my God,
    earnestly I seek you;
I thirst for you,
    my whole being longs for you,
in a dry and parched land
    where there is no water.

Psalm 63:1

Praise the Lord, O my soul, all my inmost being praise his holy name!

Once, on being asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God would come, Jesus replied, “The coming of the kingdom of God is not something that can be observed, nor will people say, ‘Here it is,’ or ‘There it is,’ because the kingdom of God is in your midst.”

Luke 17:20-21

****

Photo by Domenico Gentile on Unsplash