Week 16 | The Second Sunday in Lent
O God, whose glory it is always to have mercy: Be gracious to all who have gone astray from your ways, and bring them again with penitent hearts and steadfast faith to embrace and hold fast the unchangeable truth of your Word, Jesus Christ your Son; who with you and the Holy Spirit lives and reigns, one God, for ever and ever. Amen
Ecclesiastes 11:5-6: you do not know the work of God...
Psalm 27: wait for the Lord...
Mark 4:26-29: the harvest has come...
Revelation 14:15: the harvest of the earth has come...
The story of the Growing Seed only appears in the Gospel of Mark. Mark places it after the Story of the Lamp, which is interesting because Mark leads with the Story of the Sower, the Seeds and the Soil, the Story of the Lamp, then the Story of the Growing Seed followed by the Story of the Mustard Seed. Why a section about seeds with a story of a lamp in the middle?
It is also interesting that most commentators do not consider the Story of the Lamp to be about the Kingdom of God, but rather a story about understanding, which was part of the story of the Sower, the Seeds, and the Soil.
It is tempting to make this parable about we humans (the farmers) sowing the seeds of the Good News and the seeds then growing because the Word is alive and has a life of its own. Or that there is nothing we need to do but sow the Good news and not worry about the outcome.
That explanation is too simple. It is not necessarily wrong. If you wanted to use the story as a call to evangelism, then it is still not a bad thing. However, we have to be honest with the story and with what the story is saying. Most people hearing this story would not jump to the evangelism idea unless they were led to that conclusion by others.
By telling this story Jesus is teaching that the Kingdom itself is what is sown and that the Kingdom of God has absolute sovereignty over the earth. The Kingdom of God is present on earth ever since the Kingdom had decided to make earth it's home. Notice that unlike the story of the Sower, the Seed, and the Soil, the Kingdom of God is going to grow and do what it wants and needs to do, regardless of birds (Satan) and soils (Human listeners). The Kingdom of God is going to grow no matter what the farmer, the soil, or Satan says or does.
The farmer sows the seed and then lives his life. He gets up, he goes to bed, day after day, and the seed that is the Kingdom sprouts and grows in a way that the farmer knows nothing about. In the Greek, Jesus states that the earth bears the fruit of itself, automatically, meaning perhaps, just put the Kingdom into the world, in any kind of world and a world full of religious leaders, a world full of sinners, deadbeats, thieves, and murderers and the Kingdom of God will come up or rise up as a perfect Kingdom all by itself.
It is important to note that there is a passage of time. The length of that time is entirely up to the Kingdom and not anyone else. After that passage of time comes the harvest. One interesting point is that there is no mention of weeds, or separating the weeds, only a harvest.
Question: Does the idea of a harvest without the mention of separation of weeds cause you to think about your ideas of judgment?
The Take-Away: The intended outcome of this parable is to know the Kingdom of God is growing and you cannot stop it, you cannot understand it completely and there will eventually be a harvest…so what are you going to do about it?
Bow down your ear, O Lord, hear me;
For I am poor and needy.
Preserve my life, for I am holy;
You are my God;
Save your servant who trusts in you!
Be merciful to me, O Lord
For I cry to you all day long. Rejoice in the soul of your servant,
For to you, O Lord, I lift up my soul.
For you, Lord are good and ready to forgive,
And abundant in mercy to all those who call upon you.
Give hear, O Lord, to my prayer;
And attend to the voice of my supplications.
In the day of my trouble, I will call upon you, for you will answer me.