New Testament · Parables · Simple Truths

Parable Surprises – Growing Seed

The Growing Seed is a short parable, and straight to the point! It is only found in the gospel of Mark, and it is, like our previous parable, concerning growth.

Mark is a gospel that is efficient. quick and nimble in the way truth is provided. I remember like it was yesterday, when I found out the most frequent word in the gospel of Mark was not Jesus, nor God, but “immediately”

It is as if Mark is on a mission to get the news out. Everything seems to have a time dependency in his gospel, and of course this parable is in no way lacking when it comes to the time factor. But alas, let us read it for ourselves prior to my entering into the story

Mark 4:26-29

26 And he said, “The kingdom of God is as if a man should scatter seed on the ground. 27 He sleeps and rises night and day, and the seed sprouts and grows; he knows not how. 28 The earth produces by itself, first the blade, then the ear, then the full grain in the ear. 29 But when the grain is ripe, at once he puts in the sickle, because the harvest has come.”

Questions to Consider

Who were the audience?

This is likely the same crowd that heard the parable of the sower. Matthew 13 was a busy day of pouring truth out to the crowds through the medium of parables. Many in the crowds were receiving teaching that would challenge men and women for millennium, and that for past saints, had been precious truth they based their lives on. But for the most part, the audience were deaf to the message being provided on this day.

When did the Lord give this parable?

Check out my previous post.

Where did the Lord teach the parable?

Check out my previous post.

Why did the Lord give this message?

During the previous teaching, one element seems to be a recurring thought. The mystery of the Kingdom, especially in the way of growth, and fruitfulness.

Sprouting seeds in the earth is a mysterious action. We don’t see it, or pay any attention to the process, unless you study botany, but that is not the usual setting for those in His audience! Jesus admits to this ignorance on the part of the audience in vs 27, where He states “he knows not how” The process of seeds sprouting and developing into a full plant, able to produce seeds for food (and the next generation) is mysterious to those in His audience. To be fair, although modern man has much knowledge of the process of a seed sprouting, the understanding of the process has much to be desired.

Nevertheless, the Lord’s purpose in providing this short parable seems to point to the mystery and culmination of the Kingdom. And that somewhat startles me, since the Kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, am I correct in stating this parable speaks of it’s culmination?

I think I may be getting ahead of myself, for that questions may be better responded to under the next heading

What was the message for the original audience?

The message for the original audience seems to be simple – the kingdom is like any other growing season. There are a number of elements brought out in this teaching that are worth considering

Time

As mentioned above, time is a critical factor in Marks telling of the good news. This parable does not disappoint in that regard. Jesus adds the description of sleeping, and rising day and night, describing a somewhat anxious farmer. The farmer may be anxious, but the earth is not. The earth, by it’s own ability, produces the growth, and that growth is very orderly, methodical and direct.

Responsibility

The Lord minimizes the farmers role, other than in the initial spreading of the seed, and the harvesting at the end. In the middle, the process is wholly dependent upon the earth. The earth produces by itself.

It is the earth that is responsible for the growth of the grain. The earth is the provider of the energy and sustenance providing growth to the seed.

The Lord is introducing to this audience a truth that has been expressed throughout the ages, and that is that growth comes from God, the uncaused cause, the eternal One who alone is life. He is the giver of life, as Jesus describes “the earth” in this parable.

Purpose

The purpose of a farmer, in spreading his seeds, is not to feed the birds! (My apologies to all those ornithologist’s out there!) The purpose of the farmer in spreading his seed is to produce enough seeds to supply grain for his family, crop to harvest for his income and to store enough seeds for the next year.

The purpose is clearly defined in this parable, where the harvest is described. All in the audience were either farmers or had intimate knowledge of the agricultural life.

Note that the harvest in initiated when the grain is mature. The grain, to be harvested, to meet its intended purpose, needs to be mature, fully grown and in it’s adult stage. At that point the farmer has use of the plant. Until then, the farmer would not think of laying a sickle to the plant, for he would lose all potential for any food or profit.

Maturity is a goal. And the reward of the grain upon reaching this goal is it’s death.

What is the message for us today?

What is the message for today? I can’t help but think that the message we need to consider is two fold.

Maturity

That last phrase is getting “stuck in my craw”, as my momma used to say. “When the grain is ripe…”

The purpose of the grain was found in it’s harvesting. The only indication that harvesting was the correct phase to enter into was the ripeness of the grain, it’s maturity.

Notice, that although the gospel of Mark considers time to be a factor in his telling of the story, this parable does not define the time taken for the grain to ripen. It does refer to time in relation to the farmer, in his anxiousness, but not in relation to the grain itself!! This may not be the focus of the parable, but I can’t help but think that the earth, in this parable, does not worry. The earth provides and produces, it does not fret or worry, for it (the earth) is more than sufficient to meet its responsibilities. (BTW, consider the parallels between the earth in this parable and God the Father in your life!)

Purpose

The purpose of the seed being strewn into the field is the growth and multiplication of the same seed.

Is the Spirit of God being replicated in your life, and extending to others, actually multiplying its effects and influence on those around you?

Remember – the farmer went to harvest when the seed had been duplicated many times over. Consider.



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