Growing Seed


Bible Store


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.

God alone knows the process, and sees its influence on the heart and mind of its recipient. Speaking of every Christian as an evangelist, the evangelist sows the seed, but can see only the outward signs of its influence on the heart of the new Christian. But God knows.

The process of grace is gradual and progressive - "first the stalk, then the head, then the full kernel in the head." Divine truth first enlightens the mind and convicts the conscience, then comes anxiety, remorse, compunction, and desire, but not everyone continues along the path.

There will be contrition, true penitential sorrow, a forsaking of sin, and finally faith in the Lord Jesus as the only refuge and hope. With this will be produced:

  • A new nature, heavenly, tender, but infantile
    • The blade
  • Evidence of a spiritual life
    • The head
  • Fruits of a Christian character
    • The full kernel in the head

    For this reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness, love. For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ." -- 2 Peter 1:5-8

The divine path of grace in your heart is one leading to perfect maturity

"As soon as the grain is ripe." This is the divine purpose in preparing the seed to be planted, and it was also the objective of the planter. To this, were added the sunshine, the rains, and the dew, all products of God's grace. Caring Christians might help to encourage and to enable the new Christian to reach maturity, much as a farmer might add fertilizer to his crop and do what he can to prevent the insects from destroying it.

Maturity of the Christian character involves:

  • The perfected grace of the Holy Spirit
  • Deadness to the world
  • A will to be Christlike
  • Conformity and resignation to the divine will
  • Titus 2:11-14

God takes the mature Christian to the enjoyment of Himself in glory

“As soon as the grain is ripe, he puts the sickle to it, because the harvest has come." The mature Christian, who has fulfilled his mission, and borne the fruit of his usefulness, can anticipate a home in glory. He falls asleep on earth, and awakes in glory.

Application of the parable

  • Has this work begun in your soul? Have you received the grace of God in truth?
  • Are you advancing in Christian holiness, and moving forward toward perfection?
  • Contemplate your heavenly rewards, renew your soul, and elevate your desire?

Suggested reading

Overview of Bible Study