Summary: When it comes to reaping a harvest, we are very limited in what we have control over. All we can do is plant the seed, share the Gospel, but the harvest rests in the Lord's hands. We are not called to produce life, but sow the seed that leads to life.
Incapable, yet Faithful
Mark 4: 26-29
Our text today once again deals with sowing and harvest. While the sower must put forth sufficient effort in preparing the soil and sowing the seed, he has no control over the harvest. He can faithfully cultivate the ground, keeping the field free of weeds that rob the plants of nutrients and hinder growth, but the Lord is responsible for the harvest. The sower is incapable of causing the seed to germinate in the ground, producing much needed rain at the right times throughout growth, or making the sun to shine on the field. While the sower does all he can, he must depend upon the Lord for a good harvest.
Our work in ministry is guided by these same principles. We are called to share our faith, planting the seeds of the Gospel, but we have no control over the harvest. We can be faithful to plant good seed, but the Lord must prepare the hearts of those who hear and cause the seed to germinate and take root in their hearts. He alone is responsible for the harvest.
As believers, this can be frustrating at times. We like to share our faith and see immediate results. While this can happen, most of the time it doesn’t. When we are met with immediate success while sharing our faith, very likely someone has already come before us planting the seed, and we have been used to water that which has been planted. We must always remember that the Lord is responsible for the harvest. We are not called or able to save anyone; we are called to present the Gospel. While we have limitations regarding the harvest, we must remain faithful to sow the good seed. Let’s take a few moments to consider the principles of this parable as we think on: Incapable, yet Faithful.
I. The Activity in the Harvest (26-27) – In the opening verses we discover Jesus’ description of the activities involved in the growing process, leading up to the harvest. Consider:
A. The Sowing (26) – And he said, So is the kingdom of God, as if a man should cast seed into the ground. Again Jesus reminded the hearers of the necessity for seed to be sown if there was to be any hope of a harvest. In order for the farmer to reap a harvest, he had to be committed to sowing good seed. This was foundational for the harvest. Apart from sowing seed, one could never expect to reap a harvest.
We will discuss several aspects of the harvest that are completely out of our control, but this principle will never change – if we ever expect to reap a harvest, we must be willing to sow good seed. This principle is true in the physical realm, as well as within the spiritual realm. A farmer can’t expect a harvest if he never takes the time to plant the seed. Likewise, we can’t expect those apart from Christ to come to Him in salvation if the Gospel is never presented. If we desire a spiritual harvest, we must be willing to sow the Gospel.
B. The Waiting (27) – And should sleep, and rise night and day, and the seed should spring and grow up, he knoweth not how. Jesus revealed that following the planting of the seed comes a period of waiting. The farmer has done his part; he has prepared the soil and sowed the seed. Now all he can do is wait for the Lord to provide the harvest. There will be some work along the way to keep the weeds removed, but the farmer has no control over the growth of the plants or the yield of the harvest. Only time will reveal the abundance within the harvest.
This is often the hardest aspect of sowing and harvest. Many of us lack patience. We desire immediate results. However, reaping a harvest never happens overnight. We must do our part, faithfully sowing the seed, and wait patiently for the Lord to provide the increase.
C. The Hoping (27) – While the farmer waits for the plants to mature and yield their fruit, he is required to depend on the Lord and hope for a good harvest. The amount of yield is totally out of his control. No doubt he tends the field as the harvest is producing, but he cannot cause the plant to produce her fruit. He must patiently wait, with hopeful anticipation for the harvest.
This too is a difficult aspect for many who sow the Gospel seed. We must be careful not to pick green fruit. We have no control over the harvest. We lack the ability to save. As much as we would like to see folks come to saving faith in Christ, the harvest is out of our hands. We must do our part, bathe our efforts in prayer, and trust the sovereign will of God for the harvest.