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Parable of the Growing Seed

Mark 4:26-29, the parable of the growing seed: “He also 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”.

In the parable of the growing seed Jesus teaches when it comes to God's Kingdom the natural eye doesn't see all that is going on; He teaches there is a hidden aspect to true growth in God's Kingdom and true growth within the church, a hidden sphere where God is at work in ways we are not aware of. One commentator says, “just as there are underground movements and invisible organisations working below the surface in this world, so it is with the Kingdom of God”. The 18th century hymn writer William Cowper picked up on this hidden, mysterious work of God in many of the hymns he wrote, for example in one he wrote of “God moving in a mysterious way, His wonders to perform”. Cowper was simply acknowledging what Jesus teaches in the parable, that God often works, moves and builds in ways the natural eye of man can't always perceive.

At the time when Jesus lived there was a common belief that when the Messiah came He would establish God's Kingdom in an instant, that God's Kingdom would come with immediate effect and that Roman occupation in Israel would end and the Messiah would claim His throne and rule the nations with an iron rod. In other words, people thought the growth of God's Kingdom would be quick, immediate, extra-ordinary. To their disappointment this was not the way Jesus did things, which in turn led to many wondering whether or not He really was the Messiah. It seemed that Jesus wasn't fulfilling Messianic expectations; there was no sign of the quick, immediate victory they hoped and believed would come.

Many of God's people today have similar expectations as God's people back then, in that we too want quick and instant Kingdom growth and quick-fix Kingdom solutions. We want this both in our church life and in our own personal life.