Summary: When the seed takes root, there will be fruit.
God Brings Growth
Rev. Brian Bill
Probably because I’m not real handy, I often have no clue how certain things work. I have some visuals up on the stage to show what I’m stumped about. I was going to bring a video of the moon walk from Apollo 11 but apparently it’s been erased. Let’s start with this microwave. I know you plug it in and punch some numbers and it cooks your food but I have no idea how it works. I did learn this week that it was invented after a researcher walked by a radar tube and the chocolate bar in his pocket suddenly melted.
I have no insight into how this iPod works either. It’s so small and yet it can hold about 2,000 songs and sermons. I have no clue how this sermon can go through this wireless microphone, be recorded on the computer upstairs, uploaded to iTunes and then by the time I get home and plug my iPod in, the sermon will download in seconds to this credit-card size device so I can play it as a sleep-aid tonight when I have a hard time falling asleep. Incidentally, I subscribe to 18 different podcasts, which include sermons by three other pastors (Ray Pritchard, Steve Brown, and James MacDonald) and other interesting programs like “Bill O’Reilly’s Talking Points,” “The Dog Trainer,” “Focus on the Family, “60 Minutes,” “Plugged In Online,” “Stuff You Missed in History Class,” and my current favorite called, “How Stuff Works.”
The most recent “How Stuff Works” episode was called, “How Twinkies Work.” Invented in the 1930s, these delectable delicacies have 39 different ingredients, with two of the flavors coming from petroleum. Their long shelf life is legendary. The company that makes them states that they can last 25 days before they go bad but we all know that they’re essentially indestructible – especially if they’re deep fried. These yellow cakes are baked first and then the cream is squirted in through three small holes on the bottom. Would anyone like this one? I bought it back in 1978 but I think it’s still good.
Last week we looked at four different soils on which the seed is sown. Since seed sowing in souls can be discouraging, today we’re going to study a short story that is found only in the Gospel of Mark. It’s located right after the parable of the sower and its aim is to bring encouragement to us. The parable of the sower demonstrates the importance of the quality of the soil. This parable shows the power of the seed itself. We could summarize it like this: When the seed takes root, there will be fruit. We might not know how God works, but we know that He is working.
Let’s listen to this very practical parable from Mark 4:26-29: “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.”
I like what a commentator said about the parables of Jesus: “There is no easy take-home message for us in these parables. They ask that we engage our imaginations to follow the possibilities and incongruities that we distinguish between a world where everything is planned, linear, and logical, to one filled with mysteries and surprises into which a Sovereign God invites us.” This parable certainly contains some mysteries and surprises. The first thing we notice is that Jesus is talking about the kingdom of God, which was one of his favorite topics. Basically, the kingdom of God represents life as lived under the Kingship of God. When we recognize God’s right to reign supreme, this is how things will work. I see two main characteristics of the kingdom in this passage.
1. We can sow but we can’t make the seed grow (26-27). One of our tasks as Christ-followers is to sow the seed of the Word of God: “A man scatters seed on the ground.” That is our responsibility and according to Spurgeon, “Holy seed sowing should be adopted as our highest pursuit.” We must get the seed of God’s Word into the souls of people because if Jesus is to be known, the seed must be sown!
Ecclesiastes 11:4 challenges us to not delay or procrastinate: “Whoever watches the wind will not plant; whoever looks at the clouds will not reap.” Some of us have been perpetually plowing but we’ve not scattered the seed in the souls of our friends, co-workers or family members like Isaiah 28:24-25 says: “When a farmer plows for planting, does he plow continually? Does he keep on breaking up and harrowing the soil? When he has leveled the surface, does he not sow caraway and scatter cumin? Does he not plant wheat in its place, barley in its plot, and spelt in its field?” I love what Josh Marchetti said last week when asked what advice he would give to those who don’t know Christ: “What are you waiting for?”