The Parable of the Growing Seed
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. 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 4:26-29
This parable is sometimes referred to as the Parable of the Spiritual Vegetation.
This parable can be interpreted and applied either to the origins and growth of Christianity in the world, or to the establishment, growth and perfection of God's grace in the soul of a believer. Both views are applicable, and both views are useful.
The principle of Christianity is divine
It is the seed scattered on the ground. It is not something that is natural to our hearts, or inherent, but something that has been given to it. This seed is divine truth, the gospel of the grace of God, and heavenly doctrine.
- The seed is spiritual
- The seed is pure
- The seed is vital and imperishable
The tools that are used to spread the seed of Christianity are human
"A man scatters seed on the ground." In New Testament times, the apostles were entrusted with the seed of the kingdom, and they were commissioned to spread it throughout the whole world. God still uses human instruments to accomplish this task today.
- Priests, pastors, ministers of the gospel
- It is their special avocation to sow this seed
- Missionaries, evangelists, Christian speakers
- They are also entrusted to this task
- Sunday school teachers, Bible study leaders, etc.
- They are equipped and enabled to this task
- Christian parents
- Who train their children in the knowledge of God's word
- All Christians
- Today, the great commission is for all of us
- It is not enough to sit back and pay someone else to do the work
The work of divine grace is invisible and mysterious
"Night and day, whether he sleeps or gets up, the seed sprouts and grows, though he does not know how." Many of the laws of vegetation are known to man, and predictable. For example, it is understood that the seed must be decomposed, or die, and that from it, comes new life and fruit. But the process is invisible, hidden from the eyes of the observer, and we don't understand precisely how it all works.
So it is with the process of grace within the soul, mysterious and invisible to the eyes of man. The gospel of John quotes Jesus saying, "The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.”
We may know a lot more about the weather now than we did in New Testament times, but anyone who has depended on a weather report knows that there is much that mankind does not know about the weather.