Continuing our series on The Treasure in the Field, The Growth of the Kingdom
Our scientific minds want to know how a tiny seed can become a tree! Jesus’ listeners were content to leave that as a mystery and simply worship the God who could make it possible for an insignificant speck to become a tree where the birds made their nests. And their wonder should be ours – that out of the tiny beginnings of Jesus’ message, a kingdom is emerging in which the nations of the earth can find shelter.
We want to know how! But Jesus moved on to the story of the growing seed (in Mark 4). And this story makes it clear that the “how” of growth has nothing to do with us (v.27)! The farmer has seasons of busyness (sowing, harvesting) – and there is much for us to do in the work of the kingdom. But the parable strikingly stresses the inactivity between the exertions. And it is when the farmer does the least that the most seems to happen. All he can do is to wait for the life in the seed to do its work! The worst thing he can do is behave like a child poking around at newly planted seeds; they need to be left well alone.
The parable speaks of the farmer simply going to bed at night and getting up in the morning. It even says that the seed grows “all by itself” (v.28). Our human effort is not required to build the kingdom. There are things we have to do. But in essence we are to go to bed and get up in the morning (i.e. go about our daily lives faithfully in obedience to the Word of God). But the life is in the seed. The Word will do its work. The coming of the kingdom depends on God, not on us.