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Apr 24, 2016

Seeds and the Kingdom of God

Passage: Mark 4:1-34

Speaker: Scott Jeffreys

Series: Mark: An Action Packed Gospel

I got grass!

If you have ever been to the church manse you know there has never been any grass in the front yard, ever. Up until a year ago there were two large maple trees in the front yard and they kept the grass from growing for two reasons. First, they produced a tremendous amount of leaves and those leaves blocked the sunlight from hitting the dirt, thus causing the grass to die. Second, the maple tree, I have come to learn, is the gas-guzzler of all trees.

It is comparable (parabolically speaking) to an 18 wheeler. The transfer truck driving down the highway drinks gas likes it going out of style, getting only a few miles to the gallon. Likewise, maple trees suck up all the nutrients from the ground. Consequently, there is nothing left in the dirt to feed the grass, so PH of the soil gets out of whack and the grass dies. This is what happened to our yard.

To fix this the two trees were cut down last year and this year the soil was tilled, lime was put down to bring the PH back into balance, and Kentucky grass seed was sown. Johnny Hoover, the sower of the seed, did all this about three weeks ago and now we have grass in the front yard. It’s not perfect yet but we are well on the way to having a beautiful front yard.

Kingdom Parables

Mark is known as the action packed gospel. It moves quickly and it, more than any of the other gospels, focuses on the deeds of Jesus as opposed to his teaching. But there are two exceptions to this and today’s text is one of them. Today we slowdown from all the action and encounter one of the two man teachings sections in Mark’s gospel.

The theme of our passage today is Jesus’ teachings on the Kingdom of God and the controlling metaphor is seeds. In our text Jesus tells three parables about what the Kingdom of God is like and in each one of them he uses seeds to make his point. Thus, today’s message is called “Seeds and the Kingdom of God.”

In the first parable Jesus tells the story of a farmer who went out to plant seed. Some of the seed fell along the path and the birds came and ate it up. What he planted never got a chance to grow. Some of the seed fell on rocky ground, with little soil. Consequently, the seeds sprung up quickly but the roots could not grow deep and the plants soon died. Other seed fell among weeds and thorns and they choked the life out of the plants and they too died. But finally some of the seed fell on good soil, and it came up and produced a huge crop.

In interpreting this parable Jesus tells us that the seed that fell along the path is like the person who hears the Word of God but then gets it robbed by Satan. The seed that fell along the rocky soil is like the person who hears the Word of God and they make a decision to give their life to Christ, but they do so perhaps rashly or without counting the cost, so they eventually quit Jesus when things get tough because their roots are shallow. The seed that is sown among the thorns is like the man who hears the Word of God but does not respond because he is in love with making a lot of money and having a good time. The final seed sown on good soil is like the person who is ripe for the gospel. He knows he is a sinner and he knows that his sin has breached his relationship with God. Consequently, he knows he needs a Savior. He encounters God’s rescue plan in the Word and he is converted to faith in Jesus Christ, his heart is regenerated, and he is born again by the Spirit of God. This genuine conversion produces a bountiful crop, thirty, sixty, a hundredfold, in the life of the one who has good soil.

In the second parable we are told that the farmer scatters the seed on the ground and from that point on the seed just grows. To a great degree it is beyond his control to cause it to grow. Sure there are some things he can do to make it grow but for the most part, especially in the days before sprinkler systems, lime, and fertilizer, it was out of his hands once he planted the seeds. God did the growing. The farmer didn’t understand the science of it all but he knew if he planted seeds he would get a crop. There is only so much he can do and after that it is in God’s hands to make those seeds grow. This is what the Kingdom of God is like.

In the final parable we are told that the kingdom of God is like a mustard seed, the tiniest of seeds known to people at that time. It starts off small but eventually- slowly but surely- that seed sprouts up into a tree over 10 feet tall. This is what the Kingdom of God is like- a tiny insignificant beginning but in the end when it is fully grown, the tree will be large and it will be full of birds. In the OT scriptures birds perched in trees was used as a metaphor for the Gentiles being engrafted into the family of God, thus fulfilling the promise of Abraham to bless all the nations of the earth.

Three Simple Truths about the Kingdom of God

There are three simple truths that we can derive from these parables on the kingdom of God.

First, not everybody will be in the Kingdom of God. News flash, not everyone is saved. Some soil of the heart is not conducive to the seed of the gospel. Some of it is rocky, full of weeds, and robbed by Satan, thus they remain lost and dead in their sin. For many (according to the Parable of the Sower about 75%) the gospel falls on deaf ears. Don’t be surprised.

Second, we do the sowing and God does the growing. When it comes to the Kingdom of God there is not much we can do to make it happen beyond planting the seeds of the gospel. According to the second parable God must make the seed grow.

In I Corinthians 3 the apostle Paul says something to the church that goes along beautifully with this second point. The church in Corinth was fighting about who their heroes were. “I am a follower of Paul! I am a follower of Apollos! I am a follower of Peter! I AM A FOLLOWER OF JESUS!!!” And then Paul said to them “What is Apollos? What is Paul? Only servants through whom you came to believe- as the Lord assigned to each his task. I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God made it grow.” You’re called to plant the seeds of the gospel and God does the growing. You can’t do it. The Holy Spirit converts the sinner’s heart and enables the sinner to trust in Christ for salvation.

Third, the Kingdom of God, like the mustard seed, starts off small but gets larger and larger.

The Kingdom of God is growing! Right now in America, we have a lot of rocky seed and thorny seeds in our land, and a lot of seeds that are being stolen, but praise God that Christ’s Kingdom is expanding in China, the Middle East, and Africa. I hear also that Japan is now ripe for the gospel. God will grow His family and God will engraft all whom He intends to engraft into His family and the gates of hell will never prevail against the church of Jesus Christ. Individual churches may close their doors for a variety of reasons and denominations may go belly up but the Spirit of God will blow and he will blow where He wills and He will lead to Christ all whom the Father wills to save, and that small mustard seed (the church) will continue to grow and grow into a giant tree full of birds until Christ returns.


And if I had to emphasize one thing over all else in this text it would be plant seeds. The Kingdom of God to some extent is a mystery. We don’t always fully know why it grows over here but not over there or why this person believes the gospel but this person doesn’t. But one thing is for sure, nothing ever happens in the church or in a person’s life as it concerns their relationship with Jesus until seed is sown. God has ordained that we plant seeds. This is how God grows the Kingdom in us and beyond us. Plant seeds.

He who has ears let him hear, he who has a heart let him receive, and he who has hands let him do. Amen.