Summary: By using the mustard seed as an illustration for the growth of the kingdom Jesus is demonstrating the amazing power of the gospel and its effect on people.
Spiritual Growth in the Kingdom of God
The Book of Mark
A. As we have seen the parables of Mark 4 primarily concern themselves with issues of the Kingdom of God.
1. Specifically they deal with the spiritual aspect of the Kingdom.
a) That is the realm in which we live today.
b) There is another aspect which is physical and future that is yet to be realized.
2. Jesus is using these stories to illustrate biblical truths which will be understood by those whom God has given the ability to hear.
B. The three parables recorded in Mark 4 follow a pattern.
1. The sower sowing seed which falls on different types of soil.
a) That which fell on good ground produced fruit.
b) The point being that unless there is a seed there will be no produce.
c) And unless a seed germinates it is useless.
2. The next parable the parable of the growing seed focuses in on the process of growth. Vs.26
a) The seed’s growth is not dependent upon the sower although they are inseparable.
(1) It is vitally important that there be a sower.
(2) If there is no seed planted there can be no growth.
(3) Mark uses the definite article before the word seed calling attention to a particular kind of seed he is sowing.
b) The sower scatters the seed and then waits for the result vs.27.
(1) The verbs are in the present tense indicating that he has nothing more to do than wait to see if the seed comes to fruition.
(2) Although he may understand the process involved it is still a mystery.
(3) He cannot watch it developing and growing in the earth until it appears above.
c) The plant will grow in its own time vs.28.
(1) The earth yields corps by itself…The planter has no control over the process.
(2) He must patiently wait for the process to take its course.
d) Vs.28 also speaks of a process.
(1) Plants don’t suddenly spring out of the ground fully grown.
(2) They grow in stages.
e) The harvest takes place as soon as the plant comes to full fruition.
(1) It is obvious when it is time to put the sickle to the grain.
(2) If taken too early it will not be mature.
(3) If taken too late it will be spoiled.
3. The mustard seed.
a) After explaining the Spiritual aspect of the Kingdom in terms of a seed limited in its productivity to a certain type of soil and then further explaining that the growth is both measured and under the control of things outside of the sower’s capability Jesus turns to the manifestation of the seed.
b) A mustard seed is very tiny but it produces a plant that can grow to 8 or 10 feet in just a few weeks.
c) The birds of the air find shelter.
(1) They are able to hide among the branches of the bush.
(2) They eat the seeds for nourishment.
d) So in using the mustard seed as an illustration for the growth of the kingdom He is demonstrating the amazing power of the gospel and its effect on people.
II. What does all this have to do with us and how do we apply these parables to our lives right now?
A. These parables accurately illustrate the work of God in the life of a believer and in the church as a whole.
B. As I said before the parable of the sower has to do with salvation - that is the beginning.
1. Unless the word of God penetrates your heart and takes root there will be no spiritual life.
2. If a person doesn’t have a heart made receptive by God to receive the seed of His word there will be no fruit.
C. The second parable builds on this by showing us how God’s word and grace work in the life of a believer to produce spiritual growth.
1. The seed has been planted; the job of the sower has been completed now the rest is up to God.
2. There is no magic formula for spiritual growth.
3. There have been many, many books written on the subject but the truth is it is sort of a mystery.
4. There are some things we can do to enhance spiritual growth and make it a bit easier.
a) Cultivate a habit of reading the word daily.
c) Bible Study
d) Cultivating and weeding as you would in a garden.
e) The growth however and the result of it are up to God.
(1) 1Cor.3:6 I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the increase.
(2) Phil.2:13 It is God that works in you both to will and to do His good pleasure.