Farmers should be the most faith-filled people in all the world. They can plant the seed. They can water it. But they can’t make it grow. Growth is mysterious.
Jesus used parables to both reveal and restrict the truth. Some heard only the external story, others were shown the internal reality. The ‘secret’ of the kingdom of God was given by God to the disciples of Jesus but kept from the cynical religious crowd who surrounded them.
In Mark 4:26-29 Jesus, using the illustration of a seed, teaches principles of spiritual growth.
“A man scattered seed on the ground.” Like the parable of the soil, the analogy of seed-sowing was very familiar to the people of Israel. There was a season for planting if one hoped to gain any kind of harvest at a future date. There were different crops to be planted and the farmers who had readied the soil began the arduous task of sowing.
Having planted the seed, presumably in properly tilled soil, the farmer waits. Jesus continues his description – “Night and day, whether he sleeps or gets up, the seed sprouts and grows, though he does not know how.”
Something happens to the seed. It dies, but in dieing in the ground, it sprouts and grows. Though botanists have analyzed the process and sought to explain it, there is an element of mystery. The man does not know exactly how the speed sprouts and grows, but if it is good seed–if there is indeed life in it, it does grow.
“All by itself the soil produces grain–first the stalk, then the head, then the full kernel in the head.”
Growth is slow but progressive. The sprouting seeds combine the nutrients of the soil with moisture and their embedded life and burst through the round as stalks. There is nothing more beautiful than to see crops of all types bursting through the farm fields as another year of farming continues. Yes, there will be pesticides and insecticides to apply (at least in our modern methodologies) but the farmers labour is rewarded. In due course the stalks produce heads and soon the heads fill out with a multiplied quantity of the seed that was planted.
Spiritual growth is slow but progressive. Spiritual seeds which have rooted in the soil of fertile hearts begin to produce evidence of change. Who knows what character changes will take place? One word, one verse, one truth if properly rooted may alter the course of a life for years. On the other hand the rejection of one word, one verse, one truth may likewise alter the course of a life for years.
May today be a day when we receive truth, combine it with faith and act upon it. O to grow in grace and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ!