These are my notes from a sermon series I did through the gospel of Mark. It has not been proofed for spelling or grammatical errors. I present it to you as-is.
Take your Bibles and turn to Mark 4. We are currently going through the gospel of Mark. We are learning what it means to be a follower of Jesus. We are discovering who Jesus is, what He can do, and what His kingdom is all about. We are learning how to live for Him and because of Him based on a kingdom perspective.
Jesus has been doing a lot of miracles up to this point and He now switches His emphasis to helping His followers understand His kingdom and the spiritual world. To help His followers understand His kingdom He has been telling parables that are illustrations and object lessons that take something physical to help us understand something spiritual.
Today we are focusing on the parable of the growing seed.
Jesus also said, “The Kingdom of God is like a farmer who scatters seed on the ground. 27 Night and day, while he’s asleep or awake, the seed sprouts and grows, but he does not understand how it happens. 28 The earth produces the crops on its own. First a leaf blade pushes through, then the heads of wheat are formed, and finally the grain ripens. 29 And as soon as the grain is ready, the farmer comes and harvests it with a sickle, for the harvest time has come.” (NLT)
There are two important perspectives regarding this parable. The first perspective deals with God’s role in the spiritual growth of people and the second deals with our role in the spiritual growth of people. A couple of weeks ago we looked at this parable from God’s perspective.
- We looked at what the “kingdom of God” We saw that it includes the realm of salvation (past, present and future / justification, sanctification, glorification).
- We also learned that the “seed” is God’s Word. We discovered that God’s word has automatos It has built in power to do what it is designed to do. You plant it in good ground and it will bring about a transformation. There will be a harvest. It’s automatic.
- We learned that spiritual growth involves God’s Word, God’s timing, God’s power, God’s process, and God’s harvest.
For details on all that you can listen to the lesson on our website.
Today, we are going to take a look at your role in the spiritual growth of others. God has a part and you have a part in helping people come to know Christ and become a mature follower of Jesus. From this parable we need to consider several things.
We are to be ordinary
Number one, we are to be ordinary. Spiritual growth involves ordinary people. You don’t have to be something special or do something extraordinary. Look at verse 26, Jesus also said, “The Kingdom of God is like a farmer who scatters seed on the ground. During the days of Jesus, a farmer was a very ordinary and common job. Spotting a farmer was not like spotting a sasquatch. A farmer was an ordinary person doing an ordinary job. He was not a superstar.
I think some believers think they need to do something special or do something big for God, when in reality the big things are in the ordinary things. The man that was the most influential in my younger years was my grandfather. He loved me. He liked me. He spent time with me. He talked about Jesus, but in a very quiet way. He was an ordinary grandfather who loved Jesus and loved me and who made an extraordinary impact on my life.
We are to be faithful
Number two, we are to be faithful. Again, look closely at verse 26, Jesus also said, “The Kingdom of God is like a farmer who scatters seed on the ground. The farmer was doing what he is supposed to do, “scatter seed on the ground.” The farmer was faithful to plant the seed at the right time. He knows that some of the seed would fall on good ground and some on hard ground. He knew that some of the seed would produce a harvest and some would not. However, He was faithful.
To be faithful is to be dependable, loyal, trustworthy, and reliable. Every year the good farmer is faithful to scatter the seed. In the same way, you and I are to be faithful to scatter the seed of God’s Word. Whether it is answering someone’s question about our faith, giving advice that is Biblical, preaching on Sunday morning, or having a discussion about what is happening around us. We are to be faithful to bring a kingdom perspective into the conversation. We are to be faithful to scatter the seed.
We are to be trusting
Number three, we are to be trusting. The farmer trusts the seed to do its work. Look at verse 27, Night and day, while he’s asleep or awake, the seed sprouts and grows, but he does not understand how it happens. The farmer has confidence in the growth of the seed. The farmer knows there is inherent power (automatos) in the seed when planted in good ground. He plants it knowing it will do what it is designed to do. Even though he doesn’t understand how, he knows that something is happening underground. Below the surface where he cannot see the seed is at work and eventually he will be able to see a little blade come growing out of the ground.
The same is true for us. We must leave room for God to work. We must expect God to do something when we sow the seed. The seed sprouting and growing is a God thing, not a you thing. We are faithful to do our part in planting the seed and we trust God to do His part in growing the seed on good ground.
We must expect this process to take some time. The seed does not grow up overnight. I want you to see something significant that Jesus said in Luke 17:20 about the kingdom of God. Luke tells us, When he was asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God would come, he answered them, “The kingdom of God is not coming with something observable; 21 no one will say, ‘See here!’ or ‘There!’ For you see, the kingdom of God is in your midst” (CSB). You cannot see the Kingdom of God with your eyes. There is this invisible aspect to God’s kingdom. Part of that kingdom happens in the hearts of men and women when we plant the seed of God’s Word into their life. It begins to grow inside of them where we cannot see. Because of this we must be patient, let God do His work and trust the power of God’s Word working in their life.
This principle of God’s kingdom being at work where we cannot see applies to many situations. It applies to the individual heart and what God is doing there, but it also applies to what God may be doing in an entire nation. Just as you cannot observe what is truly happening in the heart of a person, you cannot truly observe what God is doing in a nation. For example, you can look at a nation and see that sin is rampant, people don’t seem to care about God, they are worshipping other things, and even have the government of that country band Christianity. But then the Iron Curtains falls and low and behold underneath the surface there were secret churches all across the country where people gathered to pray and worship God.
What Jesus is saying is that kingdom activity is not always easily seen. Don’t judge what God is doing based simply on what you can see. Be patient, plant the seed of God’s Word, and let God do His thing.
We are to be patient
Number four, we are to be patient. The farmer waits for the seed to do its work. Look at verse 27 again, Night and day, while he’s asleep or awake, the seed sprouts and grows, but he does not understand how it happens. The phrase “night and day, while he’s asleep or awake” refers to activity that is repeated continuously, signifying a long process.
All the farmer can do is leave everything to God while continuing his daily routine, waiting patiently until the grain is ready to be harvested.
The farmer went back after he had sowed the seed and lived a normal life. He rose in the morning and slept at night. He did normal things. You and I are to do the same. We share the gospel and God’s Word with others, but in between all that we mow our yards, wash the dishes, go shopping, pay our bills, clean the house, work on projects, exercise, study the Word, go to church, attend Life Group and go to bed and get up do life the next day.
All the while knowing that some of the seed we planted has and will fall on good ground and God will cause it to grow.
We are to be humble
Number five, we are to be humble. Even though the farmer plays a major part in growth of the crop because he plants the seed, he is okay with not understanding everything. Look at verse 27 again, Night and day, while he’s asleep or awake, the seed sprouts and grows, but he does not understand how it happens. You don’t need to understand how God’s Word works for it to work. It has automatos power. It has built in power to do what only it can do. That’s how God designed it. Trust it. Be patient with it. Be faithful to plant the seed of God’s Word.
There is an element of humility here. Some people need to know everything about something before they will trust it. God is showing us in this parable that it’s okay to not understand how everything works. It’s okay to not understand everything about the Kingdom of God and spiritual growth. There are some things you need to know and some things you don’t need to know. This takes humility, faith, and trust.
We are to be joyful
Number six, we are to be joyful. Look at verse 29, And as soon as the grain is ready, the farmer comes and harvests it with a sickle, for the harvest time has come. The farmer who planted the seed and let God’s sovereign power do its work comes along and gets to enjoy the “harvest” that comes from that person’s life. That’s what the kingdom of God is like.
- You share the gospel, you share God’s Word. Someone receives it into their heart. But you don’t know it yet. You pray for them. You don’t see any change. But something is happening inside them. Then you see a little “leaf” of righteousness and obedience and hunger for God and His Word. It’s not much, but it wasn’t there before but now its there. That leaf turns into a “head of wheat” with substance and there is no doubt they are a believer. It’s plainly evident and then they “ripen.” They are a mature believe blessing others, investing in others, sharing the gospel, significant part of the body of believers, they are caring, loving, gentle, joyful, and patience. They are producing much fruit from their lives.
As the farmer who God used to plant the seed that started all of this, you get to enjoy either here on earth or in heaven with them or both.
- Being a part of the spiritual growth of others calls for ordinary followers of Jesus to something very ordinary like planting the seed of God’s Word into people’s lives.
- As you share God’s truth with others be faithful with it, trust God’s Word to do its work, be patient and give it time to work in their life.
- Be humble through all this. It’s okay that you don’t know how God is working in someone life or what is happening underneath the surface where you cannot see.
- But when it’s all said and done, you will get to enjoy the harvest that comes being a kingdom farmer.