Mark 4:26 He also said, “The kingdom of God is as if someone would scatter seed on the ground, 27 and would sleep and rise night and day, and the seed would sprout and grow, he does not know how. 28 The earth produces of itself, first the stalk, then the head, then the full grain in the head. 29 But when the grain is ripe, at once he goes in with his sickle, because the harvest has come.”
In this fourth chapter of Mark, Jesus again talks about seeds and harvest. This time the harvest is one of spiritual growth within the life of the Christ-follower. Day by day we are to follow Christ, rising and sleeping, and faithfully care for the seed. But we are to remember that it is the Lord who makes the seed grow.
There must be a quiet, continuous and ongoing spiritual life where the seed is cared for and nourished, but there needn’t be anxiety. The seed will grow. How? Not by our own doing but by the hand of God. We can’t make ourselves grow spiritually but we can be faithful in caring for the seed, cultivating the right conditions, and then by the power of the Holy Spirit, it will grow.
The harvest within is a promise which comes to us from the Lord. Not only is it a commentary on the spiritual growth of the believer, but also a realization of a final harvest — or final judgement. Those who cultivate the seeds within will be harvested in the last day.
I find it fascinating that Mark brings us two parables about seeds and harvest. The first was about the different soil on which the seeds may land and about the bountiful harvest that the Lord helps to produce! This is the second parable, and is only found in Mark. This brings us to a place of understanding the kingdom of God growing and expanding within our own lives. The seed which is planted within an individual will grow and develop, if it is cultivated.
We have a responsibility to care for the seed which is within us. Just as a farmer, day after day, cares for the seeds, so we are to daily nurture that which is in us. Jesus describes the gradual growth of the seed. We don’t become spiritual giants overnight and actually — at first it may not seem like anything is happening. As a matter of fact, there may not be anything to see at first, but just as a seed begins to germinate, so that which may seem dormant will eventually sprout and grow.
A number of years ago we were at home on furlough in Idaho and were enjoying the fresh peaches. Our youngest daughter and her cousin were not quite school aged and loved playing together. One day, after finishing our peaches the girls took their seeds out to grandma’s back yard and planted them. My father and I enjoyed watching the girls with their little endeavor. The funny thing was that we noticed the next day that the girls went out to check on their seeds. They came back in the house pretty disappointed that nothing had happened. We tried to explain to them that it took time but they wanted to see something right away. That day my father and I sneaked off to the grocery store and bought some apricots and peaches. The next morning we went out to the yard and we placed two apricots on the ground where the girls had planted their seeds. Then, we waited with expectation for them to go and check on their crop. Imagine their amazement when they went out and found these two small pieces of fruit. They were ecstatic about what their seeds had produced. We decided that the next day we would place peaches where the seeds had been and sure enough — the girls were amazed at what happened. Actually — they sort of figured out their mom and grandpa were messing with them but we all enjoyed a good laugh.
Funny thing, the following spring my mom told that me she was out working in her yard and thought she saw a couple of big weeds growing — only to discover that those seeds had sprouted and there were now two little peach trees growing in her back yard. The seeds had been there all winter long with nothing happening but, suddenly, there was growth. The growth continued and eventually my mother had to replant the two trees so that they would have room to grow. You can imagine our amazement when we returned on our next furlough to find two trees over six feet tall! I think the girls decided that the joke was on grandpa and mom!
God wants us to grow up into strong followers of his son, Jesus Christ. Don’t give up if you don’t see growth, for it will happen. Real spiritual growth will come when we allow God to do the work. But grow we must — for if we don’t, we will die and when the end comes, there will be no harvest.
This is the harvest within.
Lord, please grow your seed in me. Amen.
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