Lesson 20

The Gospel According to Mark

World English Bible translation

 Today's Scripture

4:26 He said, "So is the Kingdom of God, as if a man should cast seed on the earth, 4:27 and should sleep and rise night and day, and the seed should spring up and grow, he doesn't know how. 4:28 For the earth bears fruit: first the blade, then the ear, then the full grain in the ear. 4:29 But when the fruit is ripe, immediately he puts forth the sickle, because the harvest has come."  

Today's Lesson 

In Today's Scripture, Jesus takes up the issue of the Kingdom of God. Jesus had begun proclaiming the Kingdom of God from the very beginning of His ministry. Much that is recorded in all of the gospels is His attempt to explain to His disciples what the Kingdom of God was like. Here, in this agricultural parable is another attempt to explain His concept of the Kingdom of God.


This parable might be compared to the Parable of the Sower. However, there is a decided difference in emphasis. Here the emphasis is on the growth of the Kingdom of God and how that growth cannot be explained by man's reason. In the Parable of the Sower, the emphasis is on the pervasive nature of the Word of God. The Word, in the form of the seed, is broadcast everywhere. Jesus is instructing His disciples to not be disappointed when the seed does not grow in certain places.


In this parable, Jesus uses the same beginning for a completely different purpose. A man goes out and cast seed into his fields. He sleeps and rises and goes about his life. The seed sprouts and grows. The farmer does not fully understand the process or why the seed does what it does. The earth brings forth the life in the seed and there is a progression in its growth. First there is the blade, then the ear, and then the full grain of the ear. When the grain is ripe, the farmer puts forth his sickle and harvests the grain.


Jesus tells His disciples that this illustrates the Kingdom of God. Where the word is given out, the life in the earth will cause the seed to grow. God has prepared the world to hear His Word. The response of those that will bear much fruit from hearing the Word will not necessarily be immediate. God will cause it to grow within its season. But, as sure as the seasons will come and go there will be a harvest from the labor of the sower. He does not need to fully understand the process. His job is first to sow and then to reap.


With every parable, there is only so far that you can press this saying. Jesus is not saying that the Kingdom of God is exactly like this. Nor is He saying that this illustration declares everything that there is to know about the Kingdom of God. Rather, as with most parables, what is being said is that this parable declares one aspect of the Kingdom of God. The Kingdom of God is a natural process. We do not need to understand everything that there is to the Kingdom in order to participate in it with our Lord. The Kingdom is alive and growing. Once it is let loose into the world, it takes on a life of its own.

Are you prepared to work in the kingdom of God without fully understanding how it works? Are you willing to allow God to control the seasons of your life and to trust him with your future?


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