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Friday, June 25, 2010

6/25/10- Mark 4:25-34 Kingdom Growth

26 He also said, "This is what the kingdom of God is like. A man scatters seed on the ground. 27 Night and day, whether he sleeps or gets up, the seed sprouts and grows, though he does not know how. 28 All by itself the soil produces grain—first the stalk, then the head, then the full kernel in the head. 29 As soon as the grain is ripe, he puts the sickle to it, because the harvest has come."

30 Again he said, "What shall we say the kingdom of God is like, or what parable shall we use to describe it? 31 It is like a mustard seed, which is the smallest of all seeds on earth. 32 Yet when planted, it grows and becomes the largest of all garden plants, with such big branches that the birds can perch in its shade."
33 With many similar parables Jesus spoke the word to them, as much as they could understand. 34 He did not say anything to them without using a parable. But when he was alone with his own disciples, he explained everything. (Mark 4:25-34)

Mark has put three seed stories in one chapter- the parable of the sower (emphasizing our differing responses to the gospel); the parable of the growing seed (emphasizing the power of the Gospel itself); and the parable of the mustard seed (emphasizing how the kingdom may start small but grow large).  Jesus lived in a day in which many worked all day just to get enough food to live.  In an agrarian environment it was easy to see how dependent we are on God, and how much is out of our control.  The parable of the growing seed is unique to Mark.  It has an allusion to Joel 3:13 when God comes at the end of time to bring his harvest home.  This too is alluded to in the popular hymn: "Come Ye Thankful People Come" in which the hymn says, "first the blade and then the ear,

then the full corn shall appear; Lord of harvest, grant that we wholesome grain and pure may be."  Paul perhaps alludes to this parable when he says, "I planted, Apollos watered, but the Lord gives the growth" (1 Cor. 3:6). 
All Christians are called to bear fruit for Christ by sharing God's good news with friends, family members, neighbors as the opportunity arises (and even seek to make such an opportunity).  We do not need to worry so much about what happens to the gospel after we share it, but entrust the sharing to God. 

Prayer:  Lord, may your Word bear fruit through me today.  Give me peace, that once I have shared your word, I can leave it to your Holy Spirit to help it bear fruit and growth.  

John Calvin abridged: Christ is trying to encourage them about the gospels small beginnings.  In Mark Christ appears to speak directly to the ministers of the word, that they may not grow indifferent in their duties simply because they do not see fruit from their work immediately.  He holds the example of farmers before them who sow seed but do not torment themselves with uneasiness and anxiety but go to bed and rise again- or pursue other daily work until the corn reaches maturity. Though the seed of the word is concealed and choked out for a time, Christ enjoins pious teachers to be of good courage, and to not allow their alacrity (cheerful readiness) to be slackened through distrust.

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