Mark 4: 26-29
26 He also said, ‘The kingdom of God is as if someone would scatter seed on the ground, 27and would sleep and rise night and day, and the seed would sprout and grow, he does not know how. 28The earth produces of itself, first the stalk, then the head, then the full grain in the head. 29But when the grain is ripe, at once he goes in with his sickle, because the harvest has come.’
Have you noticed that there are a lot of parables about seeds and plants? It makes sense. If Jesus wanted to provide an illustration that his rural listeners would understand, crop farming was always a good choice. One of the things we see in this parable is an insight that is still applicable in 2023. Most of us have no idea how a dry seed thrown on the ground can sprout into a seedling, stalk, flower, seedpod and finally more seeds. The biology and chemistry, for the vast majority of us, including farmers and gardeners, is a mystery! And Jesus says that the kingdom of God is like that, too!
As disciples of Jesus, we proclaim the word made flesh like a farmer broadcasts the seeds. Then, like the farmer, we wait to see what happens. When the word takes root and begins to grow, we, like the farmer, don’t really know how it happens. What we do know is that we don’t make it grow. We can plow, fertilize and water the seeds, but the biology and chemistry that cause the seed to transform over time into a full-grown seed producing plant is a mystery to us. That part is out of our control, and entirely in God’s control. This is comforting because we are unsure of what to say to a person in order to convince them that our faith claims are true. We just “testify” to what we believe and let God take it from there.
But there is a second part to this parable that is also comforting. If you are the recipient of the seed, the timing and mechanism of its growth within you, is equally out of your hands. God is in control of that as well. Your spiritual growth, while it can be fertilized and watered, will come to maturity in God’s time, not yours. I find that comforting as well.