SCHOOL OF DIVINITY
The Parable of the Growing Seed
Submitted to Dr. Pardue, in partial fulfillment
of the requirements for the completion of the course
Research, Writing, and Ministry Preparation
Emily Ann Laws
September 15, 2018
A parable can be defined as being a simple story used to illustrate a moral or spiritual lesson, as told by Jesus in the Gospels. A parable is essentially a story that is told, which compares things to each other. The parable that will be discussed, which is known as the Parable of the Growing Seed can only be found in the Gospel of Mark. This parable is told in the context of two other parables, which are the Parable of the Sower and the Parable of the Lamp. After these Parables are told the Parable of the Growing seed follows. Isaiah 55:6-11 is a verse that depicts the Lord speaking to Isaiah about the effect his power and word have had on the achieving of his purpose.
This verse states,
Seek the Lord while he may be found; call on him while he is near. Let the wicked forsake their ways and the unrighteous their thoughts. Let them turn to the Lord, and he will have mercy on them, and to our God, for he will freely pardon. “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord. “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts. 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 (Isa. 55:6-11).
The Parable of the Growing Seed implies the exact same thing this verse does through pointing out that the word of God causes for the achievements of his purpose. The parable’s original design was to equate Jesus’ ministry with the sower, and the temporary hiddenness of the kingdom of God with the seed that lies hidden in the ground . It is articulated that the word of God results in the development of the kingdom of God until he reappears. Through reading this paper, these simple points can be understood by looking at the context of this parable, the meaning of this parable, and how this parable applies to us.
The Parable of the Sower is the first parable in the Gospel of Mark chapter 4 that Jesus tells the audience that gathered around him. This parable illustrates the reactions that are shown towards the word of God. Following this Jesus explains to his disciples why he speaks in parables, which can be shown in Matthew 13:11-13.
This Passage states that,
He replied, “Because the knowledge of the secrets of the kingdom of heaven has been given to you, but not to them. Whoever has will be given more, and they will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what they have will be taken from them. This is why I speak to them in parables: “Though seeing, they do not see; though hearing, they do not hear or understand (Matt. 13:11-13).
These verses are saying that the ones who misunderstand who Jesus was are confused and those who do understand the expectations to in return act on them properly will be rewarded when he reappears. Jesus then tells the Parable of the lamp, which shows that those who listen to and understand the secrets of the Kingdom of God will gain more understanding. This parable also makes known that any secrets or hidden things will be exposed in due time. Right after this point, Jesus then precedes to talk about the Parable of the Growing Seed. With the Parables before in mind, it is known that Jesus intended for this parable to be of comparison to the Parable of the Sower. This point can be illustrated through Herbert Lockyer stating that “this parable can be regarded as supplementary to the Parable of the Sower, being designed to complete the history of the growth of the good seed which fell on the good ground” . The Parable of the Sower discusses the importance of human accountability through pointing out that it is our job to listen and understand what is being told to us and then act accordingly to what we just learned. In reference to this, the seed was not able to produce good fruit unless it fell on the good soil. Luke 8:15 states that “But the seed on good soil stands for those with a noble and good heart, who hear the word, retain it, and by persevering produce a crop”. The parable of the Growing Seed discusses the effectiveness and amount of power that is within the word of God. A good and noble heart cannot produce good fruit by itself; it takes a seed that has it within them the power to sprout and grow in the good soil. This parable also makes it known for the ones who sow to have faith and believe in the power of the seed, which is essentially the word of God. Some Christians may not fully understand the workings of that power, but this parable is there to articulate how we can use what we do understand.
The kingdom of God may begin in a person’s life in an instant, but its growth becomes visible only with the passing of time and the practice of faithfulness. The description of the Kingdom of God that Jesus speaks about can be found within the parable of the growing seed.
Mark 4: 26-29, which is known as the Parable of the Growing Seed states that “He also said, “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). This parable is all about the kingdom and the growth of the kingdom. This kingdom parable is an allegorical elucidation by Christ that tells about how God’s Kingdom works. Within this parable, Jesus is speaking to his disciples and telling them in a secret way of how the Kingdom of God should function.
In reference to this parable the main character is the man, which can be shown in Matthew 4: 26. This verse states that “he also said, this is what the kingdom of God is like. A man scatters seed on the ground” (Matt. 4:26). The man or farmer represents all the people God used to make sure his kingdom was instilled in the hearts of men. He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation” (Mark 16:15). This verse is saying that the work has finished, and God has casted the responsibility of his followers to go out and spread the good word to the entire world. God brings people to Christ and gives them everlasting life through the works of the Holy Spirit, which brings those spiritually dead to a new life with Christ in it. Matthew Henry states that we know not how the Spirit by the word makes a change in the heart, any more than we can account for the blowing of the wind, which we hear the sound of, but cannot tell whence it comes, or whither it goes. This statement shows that as believers one may not understand fully of how God’s Kingdom works , but we are called by God to spread the good news of the Kingdom.
When it comes to this parable, the overall point that Jesus is making comes from the last verse, which states that “As soon as the grain is ripe, he puts the sickle to it, because the harvest has come” (Mark 4:29). The seed in this parable, as well as the other parables represents the word of God. The sower and reaper or the man in this parable are the people that are part of the kingdom of God. We as God’s people may be ignorant in knowing how God made the seed grow, but we still have the responsibility of speaking the word to others and leading them to wholeheartedly and faithfully follow God. Matthew 28:19-20 states therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely, I am with you always, to the very end of the age” (Matt. 28:19-20). This verse is relevant and noticeable in the parable due to the fact that we are called or have the responsibility of being the reaper or farmer in God’s harvest. Another verse states “Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field” (Matt. 9: 37-38).
Looking at this parable one can see that Jesus discusses past the soil, like with the Parable of the Sower and goes to the seed itself. This parable is put there to remind us that the Kingdom of God, the Spirit of God, and the Word of God is not dependent on us to make it active but has its own power . The focus is not on the good of the soil, but on the power and potential within the seed. Just having good soil is not enough, a good seed is also need. With all this in mind, the parable has several details within it that have deeper meanings. Some of those details include the man, the seed, and the ground. The man’s activity is not the main focus, instead it is on the growth process, which is not because of the man’s actions but the result of the seed and the ground . The seed, which is the word of God is very important to the growth of the Kingdom of God. The ground is where the seed is placed and while in the ground the power that the seed has to grow is released and growth is then automatic. With these details, Jesus is teaching his disciples that the Kingdom of God has arrived, and the process of growth has begun. Jesus expressed within this parable that the Kingdom of God has arrived, the overall growth process, and the assurance that the Kingdom of God will reach its full potential and power.
From this parable there are five lessons that one can learn from it. The first lesson is that the primary focus of the parable is the Kingdom of God. Mark 1:14-15 states that after John was put in prison, Jesus went into Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God. “The time has come,” he said. “The kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe the good news!” (Mark 1:14-15). This verse proves that Jesus was directing the attention of his listeners to what the Kingdom is all about. The second lesson is that a strong desire for the Kingdom of God is needed.
Joshua Infantado states that,
The Kingdom of God is like the action of planting seed on the ground. Little do people know at that time, that Jesus was actually planting the seed of the Kingdom of God in their hearts. Christ was starting to motivate them to have a yearning for God’s kingdom. He was helping them to focus their minds on the Kingdom of God and make it their top priority to be part of it in the future (Infantado, 2017) .
The third lesson is that God gives the increase. From the parable of the growing seed, it states that “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” (Infantado, 2017). In the same way, we scatter or preach the seed, which is the word of god and the Kingdom of God through what we say and do. As we do that, the seed is planted within others over time and then God takes it from there. Lesson four is that there are different stages when it comes to God’s plan of salvation. The Parable of the Growing Seed portrays that God’s plan has different stages, which is done through a systematic process of offering salvation to all. “All by itself the soil produces grain—first the stalk, then the head, then the full kernel in the head” (Mark 4:28), which shows that there is a process for a plant to form and it takes time. The same way as it takes time for a plant to grow, God’s plan follows the process of saving as many people and giving them the chance to belong to the Kingdom of God as it develops. The last lesson is that Christ’s saints will be gathered upon his return. This parable states that “as soon as the grain is ripe, he puts the sickle to it, because the harvest has come” (Mark 4:29). The gathering of all the saints upon the return of Christ is similar to a harvest seeing that Jesus will essentially harvest his saints from all of earth. God being in our lives is very rewarding, which means that we need to strive to develop the fruit of the Holy Spirit. Top priority needs to be on following God seeing that the very moment we are ripe and produced the right fruit we can then be part of God’s first harvest.
The end goal of this parable is that as followers of Christ are calling is to share the Gospel with others, but we cannot cause a response of faith to be formed within them. Our main job is to plant the seed in them and trust that God will do the rest within in them. It needs to be remembered that “for I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes: first to the Jew, then to the Gentile (Romans 1:16). With this in mind, we need to stay confident in the power of the Gospel to be able to change lives. A person that is ripe can only then be harvested. A ripe fruit does not need to be pulled, which is the same concept with a person who is ripe when it comes to their response to the Gospel. The power of the seed of the Gospel that you planted in them will grow on its own time to full maturity.
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