The Pentecostal Community (4): Sowing and Growing (Mark 4:26-34)
The Pentecostal Community (4): Sowing and Growing
Mark 4:26–34 NRSV - He also said, “The kingdom of God is as if someone would scatter seed on the ground, 4:27 and would sleep and rise night and day, and the seed would sprout and grow, he does not know how. 4:28 The earth produces of itself, first the stalk, then the head, then the full grain in the head. 4:29 But when the grain is ripe, at once he goes in with his sickle, because the harvest has come.” 4:30 He also said, “With what can we compare the kingdom of God, or what parable will we use for it? 4:31 It is like a mustard seed, which, when sown upon the ground, is the smallest of all the seeds on earth; 4:32 yet when it is sown it grows up and becomes the greatest of all shrubs, and puts forth large branches, so that the birds of the air can make nests in its shade.” 4:33 With many such parables he spoke the word to them, as they were able to hear it; 4:34 he did not speak to them except in parables, but he explained everything in private to his disciples.
In the first parable, The Parable of the Soil, we have the teaching that the soil produces growth all by itself (literally the Greek word is “automatically” v28). This growth happens “without visible cause.” It does not depend upon men and refers to the work God does (invisibly). The second parable, The Parable of the Mustard Seed, is well known (v31). It teaches that what starts in a tiny way can grow very large. The tiniest seed can produce a giant plant. In fact, the Mustard plant (of this region) could reach a height of 12-15 feet in just a few weeks. This parable teaches us to expect great growth of the reign and rule of Jesus at God’s right hand.
Many people get their view of what God is doing in the world and what He is going to do from the newspaper or CNN. Prophecy teachers pronounce “the end is near.” However, the Parables of the Kingdom give us clear images of what to expect regarding Christ’s Kingdom in the world. And what do they teach? A defeated King and a depleted Kingdom? Not at all. This Kingdom is not a result of human works or effort, but the work of God’s Spirit. It will grow to fill all the world. The Kingdom started with a few followers of Jesus and has grown to a billion people. That’s growth and were not done yet. The promise is that it will fill the world and “the world will be saved through Him” (Jn 3:17) so that people from every tribe and tongue and nation will be redeemed (Rev. 5:7).
Gregg Strawbridge, Ph.D., is the pastor of All Saints Church in Lancaster, PA. He became a committed follower of Jesus Christ at age 20, discipled in the context of a University Navigator Ministry. As a result of personal discipleship he went on to study at Columbia Biblical Seminary (M.A., Columbia, SC, 1990), as well as a Ph.D. in education and philosophy... read more