September 29th, 2021 – Mark 4:26

Verse of the Day Devotion  Mark 4:26  And He was saying, “The kingdom of God is like a man who casts seed upon the soil.

Today we will look at the Parable of the Seed Growing.  Here is this parable as found in Mark’s gospel.

And He was saying, The kingdom of God is like a man who casts seed upon the soil; and goes to bed at night and gets up by day, and the seed sprouts up and grows—how, he himself does not know. The soil produces crops by itself; first the blade, then the head, then the mature grain in the head. But when the crop permits, he immediately puts in the sickle, because the harvest has come.” Mark 4:26-29 

This parable is only found in Mark’s gospel. Though it shares several elements with the Parable of the Soils, i.e.: a man scattering seed, the seed itself, and the harvest, the idea that is the focus of that parable should not be read into this one.  This parable by itself has its own message to tell. 

In the Parable of the Growing Seed, Jesus compares the Kingdom of God to a man who scatters seed on the ground and then allows nature to take its course. As the man who sowed the seed goes about his business day by day, the seed begins to have an effect. First, the seed sprouts; then it produces a stalk and leaves, then a head of grain, and, finally, fully developed kernels in the head. Jesus emphasizes that all of this happens without the man’s help. The man who scattered the seed cannot even fully understand how it happens, it is simply the work of nature. All by itself the soil produces. 

Many believe the kingdom of God should be likened to something grand and glorious: to shimmering mountain peaks, crimson sunsets, the opulence of potentates, the glory of a gladiator. But Jesus likens it to seeds, something that is small and somewhat commonplace. The theologian James R. Edwards puts it this way. “The parable of the seed growing by itself has its own unique message to convey. Determining the precise focus of the parable is difficult. The sower plays a minimal role. Furthermore, the seed grows without his effort (or lack of effort) and in a way that is a mystery.” And this is the key point.  What brings success to the Christian message is not based upon human effort or understanding, though Christians certainly need to plant/scatter the seed.  Success comes via the power of God through the seeds planted. And this brings success because our God is an active God.  And we see this success comes from God alone.  “The soil produces crops by itself; first the blade, then the head, then the mature grain in the head.” Mark 4:28. Yes, we plant the seeds, but it is God who does the work in the hearts of people.

Then in the final verse, we read of the harvest.  “But when the crop permits, he immediately puts in the sickle, because the harvest has come.” Mark 4:29.  Putting forth the sickle for the harvest often pictures the arrival of God’s kingdom.  “And another angel came out of the temple, crying out with a loud voice to Him who sat on the cloud, Put in your sickle and reap, because the hour to reap has come, because the harvest of the earth is ripe.” Revelation 14:15. The metaphor of reaping, with its inevitable separation of wheat from weeds, or grain from husks), is a common picture in the Old Testament of the end of the age. It always involves the concept of judgment as well as salvation: chaff and weeds are burnt, wheat is saved. This is to be the final realization of the rule of God, which has begun already in Jesus. “Put in the sickle, for the harvest is ripe. Come, tread, for the wine press is full; The vats overflow, for their wickedness is great.” Joel 3:13. 

To summarize the point of the Parable of the Growing Seed: The way God uses His Word in the heart of an individual is mysterious and completely independent of human effort. May we be faithful in “sowing the seed,” praying for a harvest, and leaving the results to the Lord! And we can look forward to this time. “But according to His promise we are looking for new heavens and a new earth, in which righteousness dwells. Therefore, beloved, since you look for these things, be diligent to be found by Him in peace, spotless and blameless, and regard the patience of our Lord to be salvation; just as also our beloved brother Paul, according to the wisdom given him, wrote to you.” 2 Peter 3:13-15.

William Funkhouser MDiv, ThD, Founder and President of True Devotion Ministries. 

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