Growing in God’s Design

Mark 4: 26-34
2Sm 11:1-4,5-10,13-17/ Ps 51

. . . night and day, the seed would sprout and grow, he knows not how.
(Mark 4:27)

The Word we’ve sown God makes it grow,
In faithful hearts it will take root;
How it has grown we may not know,
But it will bear abundant fruit.

Jesus said, “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.” Again He said, “What shall we say the kingdom of God is like, or what parable shall we use to describe it? It is like a mustard seed, which is the smallest of all seeds on earth. Yet when planted, it grows and becomes the largest of all garden plants, with such large branches so that the birds of the sky can dwell in its shade.” With many similar parables Jesus spoke the word to them, as much as they could understand. He did not say anything to them without using a parable. But when He was alone with His own disciples, He explained everything to them. (Mark 4:26-34)


Our Lord uses a figure of speech called “simile” to compare the kingdom of God to seed sown on the ground. Like the farmer, we do not know how both of them sprout and grow. The soil produces first the stalk, then the head, then the full grain in the head. “But when the grain is ripe, at once the farmer goes in with his sickle, because the harvest has come.” (Mk.4:26-29) Then He compares it to a mustard seed, the smallest of all the seeds on earth; “yet it grows and becomes the largest of all garden plants, with such large branches so that the birds of the sky can dwell in its shade.” (Mk.4:31-32)

Most of the lessons that Jesus taught were related to seeds, trees and sowing as these were familiar to the Jews, Israel being basically an agricultural country. Thus, He taught that a tree is known by its fruit; seeds that fall into fertile soil produce a hundredfold; an enemy can sow weeds among the wheat; the kingdom is like a landowner hiring workers in his vineyard; and the Pharisees are like the unworthy tenants. Jesus also described His relationship to his disciples by using the image of the vine and its branches. “I am the vine, you are the branches.” (John 15:5)

As in any agricultural venture, success can only come from a cooperative effort. God employs us to sow the seeds of His Gospel. We do not know how, but He nourishes the Word that we have planted in the hearts of our listeners (or readers). Some would turn away, others would attend for a while, and still others would stay on, but only as fence-sitters. But there are a few who turn out to be the best of the crop, and through them the Good News will flourish like so many branches. Numbers are not that important to God. It is the quality of His tenants. Nor do we have to worry about the size of our ministry, or our efforts. However small our share may be, God will use it for an important purpose. Trust God to make it grow into the biggest shrub. Who can tell how God can employ a small act of kindness to break a stubborn heart? Who can see the transforming power of the Holy Spirit in words of encouragement or inspiring text messages? We all have a story to tell, a witnessing to share. We are God’s sowers, His instruments of propagating His kingdom here on earth. As St. Paul said, “We have this treasure in earthen vessels, to show that the transcendent power belongs to God and not to us” (2 Cor.4:7).

Lord, thank You for employing me in Your vineyard, and helping me grow in the nourishment of Your Word. May Your Holy Spirit enable my complete transformation to become a worthy tenant of our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.

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