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The Parable of The Seed growing secretly and its application for today’s Christians (Mark 4:26-29 )

The Parable of The Seed growing secretly and its application for today’s Christians (Mark 4:26-29 )

Mark 4:26-29

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

The Parable of the Seed growing secretly does not appear in Matthew and Luke. It is unique to Mark. The parable of the seed growing secretly concerns the mysterious power of the seed to grow apart from human intervention.[1] This parable is being left out by the majority of the preachers/teachers. As a result, we can rarely hear a sermon from this passage. However, through this parable, Jesus intends to give us a significant lesson concerning the kingdom of God. Let’s dig in.

I.                  The man who sows the seed on the ground (v26)

V26: And he said, “The kingdom of God is as if a man should scatter seed on the ground. 
Jesus, in this parable, compares “kingdom of God” with a man who scatters seed on the ground. From this verse, we can come up with two questions: 1) what is the Kingdom of God? And 2). Who is “a man” in this parable?
1). The kingdom of God is the rule of Jesus Christ on earth. The subjects of the Kingdom will enjoy the blessings and advantages that flow from living under Christ’s rule.[2]
2). “A man” in this parable refers to human. In the following verses, we will see that “A man” does not affect the growth. He does not even help it along. He is merely “someone” who only “throws” seed on the soil.[3] This farmer also doesn’t know how the seed sprouts and grows. This emphasizes the mysterious power of the seed (v27).

II.              The man who sows the seed does not know how it sprouts and grows (vv. 27-28)

vv. 27-28: He sleeps and rises night and day, and the seed sprouts and grows; he knows not how. The earth produces by itself, first the blade, then the ear, then the full grain in the ear. 
We have learnt that “a man” in verse 26 is a mere human who scatters seed on the ground. Now, let’s learn together what has happened to the seed that reaches on the ground. The following verses say that “a man” sleeps and rises night and day and the seed sprouts and grows but he does not know.
The phrase “He sleeps and rises night and day” describes the ordinary routine of “a man” as he sleeps at night and then rises when day begins, and all the time the seeds just keep on growing.[4] And he does not know how it grows. And the phrase “by itself” (v. 28) has nothing to do with “Deistic” worldviews (In Deistic worldviews nature functions independently of divine intervention). We should interpret it according to the biblical worldviews. According to the Biblical worldviews, the phrase “by itself” means the seed that is scattered on the ground sprouts and grows by the providence and divine work of God. Mark assumes the biblical worldview that it is God who makes the sunrise, the rains fall, the seed sprouts, and the grass grows (Job 38–42; Isa 40; Matt 5:45). [5]  So, the phrase “by itself” emphasizes that the crops grow apart from any human help or visible cause.

III.           The man who sows the seed puts in the sickle to harvest (V29)

V29: But when the grain is ripe, at once he puts in the sickle, because the harvest has come
Even though this sower does not clearly understand the process how it sprouts and grows when the grain is ripened immediately, he put in the sickle. According to the early Christianity and Judaism, harvest is a common metaphor for the final judgment. The writer of this gospel, Mark and his readers would have understood the harvest in this way.[6] In this final judgment, the wicked will be judged and the righteous will be vindicated.

Application

As I have mentioned earlier that this parable is rarely preached/taught. The reason could be because of the complexity of the parable. And therefore, this led to different interpretations.[7] But understanding the context of the book is the key.  The audiences of this book were facing heavy persecution. So, Mark wrote this gospel to encourage and strengthen those persecuted believers. Coming back to this parable, despite the suffering and trials that they are experiencing, Mark is encouraging his audiences that the coming of the kingdom of God is certain. The righteous will be vindicated and the wicked will be judged in the consummation of the kingdom. Until this takes place, Mark wants his audience to keep engaging in the work which our Lord has commanded us to do and be faithful to Him in their daily living.

Therefore,
1.    Let’s keep engaging in the mission work. Even though the sower, “a man,” does not know the how the seed sprouts and grows, he does his part i.e. sowing the seed. Likewise, we can faithfully engage in soul winning/ church planting work. Reaching the unreached is our one of greatest duties which our Lord has commanded us to carry out.
2.    The sower does not know how the seed sprouts and grows because it is God who makes the seed to sprout and grow. Likewise, the growth of the body of Christ does not depend on our human strength but it is the result from the invisible working of the Spirit. We cannot save souls. Our duty is to actively engage in the mission work by faithfully reaching the unreached. The rest is the work of God.
3.    And more importantly, the coming of the kingdom of God is not depend on human hands. It will happen surely when the time comes. Our greatest comfort is when His kingdom comes, we will be comforted and the wicked will be judged.


[1] Strauss, M. L. (2014). Mark. (C. E. Arnold, Ed.) (p. 197). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.
[3] Gundry, R. H. (2000). 2000 (Mk 4:26–29). Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.
[4] Blight, R. C. (2012). An Exegetical Summary of Mark 1–8 (p. 215). Dallas, TX: SIL International.
[5] Strauss, M. L. (2014). Mark. (C. E. Arnold, Ed.) (p. 198). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.
[6] Strauss, M. L. (2014). Mark. (C. E. Arnold, Ed.) (pp. 198–199). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.
[7] Guelich, R. A. (1989). Mark 1–8:26 (Vol. 34A, p. 244). Dallas: Word, Incorporated.