Summary: The Kingdom of God will grow because God is working. Growth comes from Him and it has nothing to do with the size of the seed.
Both parables set out to teach us, "What the Kingdom of God is like."
Note two things,(1) Growth is taking place because God is working, (2) Growth has nothing to do with the Size of the Seed
Growth comes from God.
Jesus uses the illustration of a farmer to emphasize this point.
• The farmer goes out to the field and plants his seed.
• That’s about all he can do. The rest is up to God, literally.
• He does not know how the seed grows. He just waits.
And then the next act of man is in 4:29, the grain is ripe; the farmer puts the sickle to it and reaps the harvest.
• He had two major contributions – throwing the seed and reaping the harvest.
• Nothing in between. Growth comes from God, not from man.
4:28 says “all by itself the soil produces grain…” – Greek automatos (‘automatic’).
• It grows. Man did not produce it. God did it.
• Today, if I were to put a seed in your hand and tell you that within that tiny seed lies the power to grow a plant and produce a tomato thousands of times bigger than the seed, and ten to twenty of them, and they change from green to red, and round in shape, you wouldn’t have any trouble believing that, would you? Why? We’ve seen it. We know it’s possible.
• You know from experience that even though that tiny seed doesn’t look like a tomato, somehow, given the right environment, it will become one.
• Not just one, but scores of them.
This is the natural realm. The same is happening in the spiritual realm.
• God is at work today. You may not be, but God is.
• Night and day, you may be sleeping or doing your own things. But God is changing lives, all over the world.
• The seed of Gospel are being sown by Christians all over, and the Spirit of God is touching lives with it.
The Straits Times had an article in Aug 9 saying that Christianity is growing in Singapore, especially among the youth. The same is happening as in many other nations, especially China.
• It may surprise us because we are not in the thick of the action. But for those who are, they are not surprised.
• This is the way it is with God’s Kingdom, the Lord says. Just like a seed, it has the power of life and it will grow.
• God’s Spirit works in the human heart. Over time, we will see its fruit.
4:27 “Night and day, whether he sleeps or gets up, the seed sprouts and grows…”
• Above ground, nothing seems to be happening. Yet God is working and causing a change unseen by the naked eye.
• God is ALWAYS working. When we feel that God is not working, what we are really saying is that God is not doing it according to MY plan, MY time, and MY way.
• There is a world of difference between “God is not working” and “God is not working according to MY REQUEST.”
• Remember that God is Sovereign, and He is our Lord. We submit to Him and trust Him.
Archibald Hunter summarizes it well,
A new divine force has been released in the world, and grow it will, as surely as the sown seed, by the gracious ministry of God’s sun and rain, ripens to the harvest. A parable of ’agricultural grace’ we might call it.
When a distinguished American surgeon was asked upon what he relied when he operated, he answered, ’medical grace’. By this he meant that recuperative and healing power in the human body which, like the seed in the parable, works ’by itself’, and without which all his professional expertise with the knife would be vain.
[Archibald Hunter, The Parables Then and Now (Philadelphia: Westminster 1971) p.40.]
The body has to respond and continue the work of healing.
• The doctor can do so much; the rest is up to the body to react to the medicine.
• We plant the seed, and wait for the power and grace of God to take its effect.
Paul says (1 Cor 3:6-7), “I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God made it grow. So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow.”
• Farmers have a keener sense of this - crops don’t simply grow because of man’s efforts.
• They are at the mercy of everything else – the sun, the rain, the soil.
(1) WE PLANT THE SEED, (2) WE PRAY
If hearts can be changed only by the Spirit of God, then we need to rely MORE on prayer, than on techniques.