The Parable of the Seed Growing by Itself

Mark 4: 26-29

DIG: How does this parable complement Et - the Parable of the Soils? To whom was this parable directed? Why was the Lord trying to ease their minds? How is the planting of an insignificant seed that results in a glorious wheat stalk like the planting of the Gospel seed that results in the kingdom of God?

REFLECT: Does the harvest depend on us? What’s God’s part as far as the Kingdom of God is concerned? What’s our part? Why does He allow us to scatter some seed? How do you do that? How does it make you feel when you realize you are a co-heir with Christ in the kingdom of God and will one day reign with Him? What does that say about what ADONAI thinks of you? How can that make a difference in your life today?

The one main point to the parable of the seed growing by itself is that the Gospel seed will have an inner energy so that it will spring to life on its own.

The first couplet is comprised of the parables of the Seed Growing by Itself (true) and the Wheat and the Weeds (false), which demonstrate a true planting will be imitated by a false counter-planting. This parable teaches us that the mystery of regeneration does not depend on the farmer. This parable is a similitude because it takes an illustration from everyday life and Jesus uses it to make His point. It transfers knowledge based upon what is common to them. Because the apostles would be commissioned to proclaim the message of the Kingdom to the ends of the earth (Mattityahu 28:19-20), it would be easy for them to feel that the harvest depended on their efforts. The Lord of Life wanted to make it clear that any harvest produced would be the result of planting the seed and then allowing the life in the seed to reveal itself in due time by growth and fruit at the time of harvest.689

He also said: This is what the Kingdom of God is like. Once again the coming Kingdom is compared to the harvest. A farmer scatters seed on the ground (Mark 4:26). The inactivity of the farmer after the scattering is vividly depicted. His life is very ordered. He sleeps and works, day and night. But without him taking any anxious thoughts or any active steps, the seed grows from tillering to booting, from booting to flowering, and from flowering to ripening – an unceasing process of growth. Night and day, whether he sleeps or gets up, the seed sprouts and grows, though he does not know how (Mark 4:27). The seed that was planted in accordance with the first parable will inexplicably regenerate and spring to life and produce eternal life in the believer. It has an inner power, an inner energy, so that it springs to life on its own accord. This is the mystery of regeneration.

Forces of life and growth continue to elude our knowledge. Even today we don’t know too much about the growing of a seed into a plant, and then producing fruit? Who can explain the life in a seed that grows and multiplies? How could the essence of life lay dormant for four thousand years in the seeds found in an Egyptian tomb and still spring to life when planted? The mystery of life is the issue of the centuries.690

At the same time, how is it possible for a simple Gospel seed, that Jesus died for our sins, that He was buried and rose again on the third day, result in regeneration? How could something that happened over two thousand years ago cause a person to go from the kingdom of darkness to the Kingdom of light? That is the mystery.

All the farmer can do is scatter the seed on prepared soil. The springing to life does not depend on him. All by itself the soil produces grain – first the stalk, then the head, then the full kernel in the head (Mark 4:28). When we hear people share their conversion experience, we may think that their faith happened all at once. But their salvation frequently carries an extended backstory of spiritual pilgrimage before they made that decision. They needed time to reflect on the Good News. For them, coming to the Savior was a process. This is similar to the process of farming: Months of waiting come to an end and workers stream into the fields to help with the harvest. Our faith, like a crop, needs time to grow.691

The farmer was merely planting the seed. The springing to life was a result of the seed. The earth, therefore, brings forth fruit automatically. But the secret of the growth is in the seed itself. Just so, we plant the seed of God’s Word; the soil, namely the soul, receives it, God the Holy Spirit works on the heart of the sinner, uses the planted seed and causes it to germinate and grow. This is the way of things according to nature, and also the way of things according to the Dispensation of Grace (see my Commentary on HebrewsThe Dispensation of Grace).

As seedtime is followed in due time because the harvest has come, so will the present mystery of the Kingdom be followed by glories of the messianic Kingdom. As soon as the grain is ripe, he puts the sickle to it, because the harvest has come (Mark 4:29). What a great contrast between the seemingly insignificance of the beginning with the end! As the stalk of wheat is the result of the seed, the end is implicit in the beginning. The infinitely great is active in the infinitely small. In the present, and indeed in secret, the outcome is already set in motion. Those to whom it has been given to understand, the mystery of the Kingdom of God is already seen in its hidden and seemingly insignificant beginnings.

This unwavering assurance that God’s hour is approaching is a crucial element in the preaching of Yeshua. God’s hour is coming – no, even more – it has already begun. In Messiah’s beginning the end is already implied. He set His face like a flint (Isaiah 50:7; Luke 9:51) and nothing could stop Him. No doubts with regard to His mission, no scorn, no lack of faith, no impatience, can make the Savior of Sinners waver. We can have confidence that just as He created something out of nothing (Genesis 1:1), The King of kings is carrying out His beginnings to completion. All that is necessary for us to do is believe in Him in spite of all outward appearances.692 Above all, you must understand that in the last days scoffers will come, scoffing and following their own evil desires. They will say, “Where is this ‘coming’ He promised?” But do not forget this one thing . . . the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night (Second Peter 3:3-4a, 8a, 10a).

As far as the coming of the messianic Kingdom is concerned, God has His part and we have our part. As this parable makes clear, the Gospel seed will have an inner energy so that it will spring to life on its own. That’s God’s part. He is all-powerful and stands outside of time. He can make something out of nothing (Genesis 1:1). But, God chose to have us help Him in this great work. Otherwise, He would not have trained the talmidim to keep scattering more seed after He had returned to the Father (see Et – The Parable of the Soils). Not because He needs our help or cannot accomplish His purposes on His own, but because He desires that we participate with Christ as co-heirs in that Kingdom (Romans 8:17) and reign with Him (Second Timothy 2:12). We merely need to be faithful with the spiritual gifts He has given us. When the harvest comes it depends on God and not us. The inner energy is in the Gospel seed, not us. But like little children in the field with their Father, all He asks us to do is help Him scatter the seed of life. That’s our part.

We are going to look at nine parables that develop a basic flow of thought: (1) The Parable of the Soils (Et) teaches that there will be a sowing of the Gospel throughout the Church Age. (2) The Parable of the Seed Growing By Itself (Eu) teaches that Gospel seed will have an inner energy so that it will spring to life on its own.


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