Mark 4:26-29, “And he said, “The kingdom of God is as if a man should scatter seed on the ground. 27 He sleeps and rises night and day, and the seed sprouts and grows; he knows not how. 28 The earth produces by itself, first the blade, then the ear, then the full grain in the ear. 29 But when the grain is ripe, at once he puts in the sickle, because the harvest has come.”
There is nothing more exciting to the disciple of Jesus Christ than to see other people come to God through the person and redeeming work of Jesus Christ. The joy of the child of God is to see their Father honored and glorified by more and more people. Very often along the Christian pilgrimage discouragement can creep in and begin to dampen the passion to spread the glorious good news of the Lord Jesus Christ.
Here in this text we find Jesus teaching about the nature of the gospel. There is need of patient, passionate, persevering faithfulness in spreading the gospel to all people because we simply do not see the results of our labor immediately. To encourage us in our gospel work let’s look at a few brief observations from our Lord’s teaching.
1. The Scattering of the Seed - v. 26
This is what Jesus says the kingdom of God is like . . . not like a conquering army with an all-powerful king but like seeds scattered on the ground. The seed is the word of the kingdom - verse 14 - or we would say more clearly, the word about Jesus, the gospel.
2. The Process of the Growth - vv. 27-28
1. It's Mysterious - v. 27 the farmer sleeps and gets up . . . life goes on as normal but as it does there is a wonderful, mysterious thing happening, namely, the seeds are growing. And they are growing apart from any effort from the farmer. They are growing! In fact the only thing the farmer is really doing in this story is patiently waiting, in faith, for the harvest. James 5:7 says, "Be patient, therefore, brothers, until the coming of the Lord. See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, being patient about it, until it receives the early and the late rains."
2. It's Automatic - v. 28 "The earth produces by itself . . ." This phrase is translated from a Greek word that we get our word "automatic" from. The seed contains within itself what it needs to set in motion a process that leads to a harvest. This is the nature of the gospel.
3. It's Gradual - v. 28 "first the blade, then the ear, then the full grain in the ear." There is a natural process in which the seed grows until it is fully ripe. This is the way it is now as people hear about Jesus and slowly, at times, but surely people turn away from sin and trust in Jesus as their Savior. And one day the process of growth will be complete . . .
3. The Joy of the Harvest - v. 29
This was the goal all along - to gather in a harvest! As followers, disciples, of Jesus we are to be faithful to proclaim the gospel to others and trust in confidence that God has come to the world and like a seed his rule in the hearts of people will spread from one to another, and one day there will be a great harvest - a harvest of all of God's people.
Jesus said in John 14:3, "And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also."