Mark 4:26-29

The Mystery of the Kingdom (4) – Trusting God’s Power

Mark 4:26-29 – The Seed that Grows Naturally

26 Jesus said, “With the Kingdom of God, it is like this:  
A man scatters seed over the ground.
27 While he is asleep, while he is awake,
during the night and during the day,
the seed sprouts and grows long.  
He has no idea how.
28 TThe land bears fruit of itself,
first the shoot, then the ear, then the head of wheat in the ear.
29 When the crop is ready, he immediately sends out the reapers
since the harvest is ripe.

What was obvious with regard to the growing grain was not so obvious with regard to the incipient Kingdom of God. Jesus’ comment was based not so much on experience as on hope in his God. As there was an in-built, God-given, energy in the grain that made it grow, similarly, he believed, there was in the Kingdom. God’s design was clear. What had been lacking to date was simply human hope and consequent cooperation.

The illustration is pertinent, especially in today’s world of religious terrorism and counter-terrorism. 

The nature of the required human cooperation would be important. Human cooperation was not to be directed to taking over from God’s creative energy, or in any way acting contrary to it. The growth of the Kingdom would be God’s doing. It would happen in the face of human evil and would have the energy to overcome that evil, not by evil means but by the ways of God. Jesus’ own example showed that such evil was to be actively resisted by justice and inclusion but never by violence. Anything less than free cooperation would become a denial of the Kingdom; anything else would be the victory of evil. As Jesus had remarked above (3:22-30), How can Satan cast our Satan?

The ending of the parable provided the twist. Those schooled in their Hebrew Scriptures, as was Jesus’ audience, would immediately have recognised the quotation from the fourth chapter of the prophet Joel. The quotation in question came from a visionary context where God would summon the military and political powers of the world to a confrontation in the valley of Jehoshaphat.

“Let the nations rouse themselves,
and come up to the valley of Jehoshaphat;
for there I will sit to judge
all the neighboring nations. 
Put in the sickle,
for the harvest is ripe.
Go in, tread,
for the wine press is full.
The vats overflow,
for their wickedness is great.
...For the day of the Lord is near... (Joel 4:12-14)

The reference may have suggested that even the political and military might of Rome, the foreign power (the nations) occupying Palestine, would eventually fall before the irresistible energy of the Kingdom of God. However, it would be God who would provide the real victory of life in line with Kingdom values, and not military engagement.

Next >> Mark 4:30-34