Tuesday, November 14, 2017

The Gospel According To Mark. Day 19, The Parable Of The Growing Seed/The Parable Of The Mustard Seed

Jesus is speaking to an agricultural society and He often uses parables and examples that involve seeds or crops. Today we look at two parables involving seeds.

"He also said, 'This is what the kingdom of God is like. A man scatters seed on the ground. Night and day, whether he sleeps or gets up, the seed sprouts and grows, though he does not know how.'" (Mark 4:26-27) This is a beautiful passage for anyone who shares the gospel. Christ commissioned us to sow the seed of the gospel. (Mark 16:15) God will do the rest. Our main concern should be in getting the message out, not in counting how many people have converted because of our testimony. If anyone has ever converted because of my testimony, I certainly don't know about it, but that's God's business. The seed we sow in someone's heart today may not sprout today, just as seed sown in the ground doesn't sprout on the same day. It may be weeks or months or years before the tiny seed we planted ever takes root and begins to grow in a person's heart. We may never even hear about it if and when that person comes to Christ. That's okay, because our duty is to be obedient to our Lord and to share the good news of the gospel, not to count converts. If we start focusing on how many people have come to Christ through our testimony, we will start focusing on ourselves instead of on the power of our Lord. We will become disheartened and discouraged. The parable of the growing seed assures us that we need only concern ourselves with sowing the seed. God is in charge of everything else. Like a farmer who plants seeds in the ground and then has to depend on the sun and rain to be given by God to make things grow, we merely plant the seed of the gospel and then leave the rest up to Him.

"All by itself the soil produces grain---first the stalk, then the head, then the full kernel in the head. As soon as the grain is ripe, he puts the sickle to it, because the harvest has come." (Mark 4:28-29) The harvest represents the souls who have come to Christ. The seed of the gospel has borne fruit: these believers. We may sometimes feel as if we are telling the gospel in vain. It may appear that no one is listening to us. But we are to keep on doing what Christ has commissioned us to do. The Apostle Paul endured so much hardship and persecution and rejection that we couldn't blame him if he'd ever become discouraged about sharing the gospel, yet he never did, and he encourages us with these words, "Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up." (Galatians 6:9) The harvest will come at the proper time. It will come in God's time. That's not our business. Our business is to keep doing what He's told us to do.

"Again He said, 'What shall we say the kingdom of God is like, or what parable shall we use to describe it? It is like a mustard seed, which is the smallest of all seeds on earth. Yet when planted, it grows and becomes the largest of all garden plants, with such big branches that the birds can perch in its shade.'" (Mark 4:30-32) The mustard seed, while not literally the smallest of seeds, was probably the smallest herbal seed the people of Jesus' time and location planted in their gardens. The mustard seed was often used in hyperbole to represent something exceptionally tiny, and this is the way in which Jesus uses it in this parable. He isn't saying something false when He says the mustard seed is the smallest seed on earth; He's using the slang or the "urban dictionary" of His day. He's using an expression the people listening to Him would have easily understood.

The point He's making is that the kingdom of God starts out very small, like that one tiny mustard seed planted in the garden. But over time it sprouts and spreads out and provides protection and shade for all who want to gather under its branches. Some scholars believe the birds gathered in its shade represent unbelievers who benefit from the church without being a part of the church. Since birds often symbolize wickedness in Biblical examples and parables, this interpretation is possible. The church ministers not only to its true members but to the community at large and even to the world; therefore, believers and unbelievers alike receive aid and comfort from the church. That's as it should be, for who knows how many may come to faith because they first came to the church for other reasons? Perhaps the seed of the gospel will be planted in their hearts while they're there.

"With many similar parables Jesus spoke the word to them, as much as they could understand. He did not say anything to them without using a parable. But when He was alone with His own disciples, He explained everything." (Mark 4:33-34) The parables Jesus taught were intended to cause those with a heart for the Lord to want to dig deeper and learn more. The parables were entertaining, informative, and practical. In other words, they had something for everyone if only everyone were interested. Some, like the disciples, wanted to learn as much as they possibly could. Others had no interest in the gospel no matter how Jesus presented it. This is why to people like the disciples the Lord gave further explanation. To those who want more, He gives more. In teaching parables Jesus wasn't trying to hide the truth from anyone. The parables separated the sheep from the goats, so to speak. The parables made a distinction between those with a hunger for God's word and those with no interest in Him whatsoever. Jesus has never turned away anyone who sincerely wants to know Him.

No comments:

Post a Comment