"Growing the Seed"

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“Growing the Seed”

Sermon 05/26/2019

 

When Jesus spoke these parables, He did so illustrating things people could understand.  This is why we have so many references to growing crops and other homey things, these are things that they could grasp.  

 

We don’t have such familiarity.  Also, we don’t have the same connection to the Old Testament that they did.  It’s harder for us to connect Jesus’ parables with those things that people of that culture would know immediately.  

 

Remember also, that Jesus would speak these parables to the people.  They heard it once and that was it, unless He mentioned it again.  We have the luxury of pouring over these parables and dissecting every word and phrase.  That’s not something the hearers could do.  

 

For this reason we have to take these things in mind as we go.  The parable was to generally have one main point, one that could be grasped in the original hearing. 

 

In our Gospel reading today, Jesus strings these parables one after another.  We begin with seed, and Jesus takes on a trip through Judean agriculture making and expanding on points as He goes.  

 

There are five main points to look at today and we’ll review them together.  

 

Jesus explains that he speaks in parables but tells the disciples everything.  Mark outlines the section as a whole by framing it by these ideas. (Explain) *Since there was no punctuation in the original writings, these method was used to block out a group of thoughts.  This section includes what we heard last week.  *

 

 He told them, “The secret of the kingdom of God has been given to you. But to those on the outside everything is said in parables so that,‘they may be ever seeing but never perceiving, and ever hearing but never understanding; otherwise they might turn and be forgiven!’”  Mark 4:11-12

Secrets, we like them, we like telling them.  So here we are about to receive the secret of the Kingdom of God! Sounds good to me!

 

Like Pastor Don explained last week, it’s our job to spread the word, it’s God’s job to make it grow.  

So our first point today is that: *

God’s Word goes out to grow the Kingdom. 

God has more to say about this.  *

As the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return to it without watering the earth and making it bud and flourish, so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater, so is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose  for which I sent it.  Isaiah 55:10-11. 

 

God’s Word will do what God intends, His power is in it.  

Going back to the discussion about secrets…

Why a secret?  *

 

He said to them, “Do you bring in a lamp to put it under a bowl or a bed? Instead, don’t you put it on its stand? For whatever is hidden is meant to be disclosed, and whatever is concealed is meant to be brought out into the open. If anyone has ears to hear, let them hear.”  Mark 4:21-23

So, the secret is to be told, although many can’t/won’t understand it.  It’s not a matter of it’s too hard to understand, it’s that circumstances make it not understandable.  (Last week, soil discussion - hard ground, shallow soil, thorns).  It’s a spiritual problem. 

This leads to our second point:  *

God’s Word is to be proclaimed, not hidden.  

As the Word is proclaimed the hearers have an option: to accept, or not accept.  This is a life (eternal life) altering decision.  

Jesus says this about that:  *

“Consider carefully what you hear,” he continued. “With the measure you use, it will be measured to you—and even more. Whoever has will be given more; whoever does not have, even what they have will be taken from them.” Mark 4:24-25

Hearing the word imposes a responsibility on a person, and also confers a benefit.  Every message compels a response.  *

“With the measure you use, it will be measured to you…”. Mark 4:24b

The more you take in, the more you have, (obviously).  So to have, take it in, have more, take in more.  Not taking in = not having.*  “whoever does not have, even what they have will be taken from them.”  Mark 4:25b

The third point is:  *

The more Word you take in, the more you will get and the more you will have.  Take in more!

Jesus now changes focus.  We read:*

He also said, “This is what the kingdom of God is like. A man scatters seed on the ground. Night and day, whether he sleeps or gets up, the seed sprouts and grows, though he does not know how. All by itself the soil produces grain—first the stalk, then the head, then the full kernel in the head. As soon as the grain is ripe, he puts the sickle to it, because the harvest has come.”  Mark 4:26-29

This growth occurs without human action.*  “the seed sprouts and grows, though he does not know how.” Mark 4:27b

There is an interaction between the Word of God, faith and the Holy Spirit which causes growth.  

Faith as the unseen mover in the growth. Holy Spirit is the giver and nurturer of faith.  This is invisible, and mysterious.  No matter, it happens!

Our fourth point is:  *

God’s Word is made to grow up and develop in the believer.  

We aren’t just to take in the Word and that’s it.  The Word must grow into faith and knowledge.  The Kingdom is a reign of relationship.  Us and Jesus.  Us individually with each other as a family, as a community. A Kingdom with Jesus as King and us as His nation.    

Also, there’s a harvest to come. Why plant and not harvest?  There’s always a harvest, otherwise, what’s the point? 

Jesus regularly says, “The Kingdom of Heaven (or God), is near”. Matthew 3:2, Matthew 10:7, Luke 10:10-11, Luke 17:20-21 among others.  

In Luke 17:20-21 Jesus says:  *

Once, on being asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God would come, Jesus replied, “The coming of the kingdom of God is not something that can be observed, nor will people say, ‘Here it is,’ or ‘There it is,’ because the kingdom of God is in your midst.”  Luke 17:20-21

Harvest of an internal field - internal Kingdom.  

And yet… *

 He said, “What shall we say the kingdom of God is like, or what parable shall we use to describe it? It is like a mustard seed, which is the smallest of all seeds on earth. 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.”  Mark 4:31-32

Starts small, grows large.  

It’s internal, and also external. It’s the picture not only of our development individually, but also of a nation, a Kingdom too.  

Our fifth point is:  *

God’s Word is to grow the believer and the Kingdom together to the fulfillment of God’s plan.

Note the picture that’s painted by Jesus.  It’s a picture of peace.  We, when grown up and mature are to bring peace.  To our homes, communities, and world.  

The first reading today concerned a description of the mighty nation of Assyria.  The Assyrians conquered the Northern kingdom of Israel and were at that time the mightiest kingdom in the east.  

See a description of the majesty of that kingdom:  *

Consider Assyria, once a cedar in Lebanon, with beautiful branches overshadowing the forest; it towered on high, its top above the thick foliage… All the birds of the sky nested in its boughs, all the animals of the wild gave birth under its branches; all the great nations lived in its shade… Ezekiel 31:3,6

 

This description of the might and majesty of Assyria would have been known to the people.  They would also have seen a correlation between that description and Jesus’ description of the Kingdom of God that he would usher in.  That they wouldn’t understand the nature of that kingdom was described by Mark as he closed this section.  He noted:  *

 

With many similar parables Jesus spoke the word to them, as much as they could understand. He did not say anything to them without using a parable. But when he was alone with his own disciples, he explained everything.  Mark 4:33-34

As disciples today, (disciples are those who learn from a teacher), we are given to understand the plan of God.  We are a part of it!  *Here’s the plan:

 

God’s Word goes out to grow the Kingdom. 

God’s Word is to be proclaimed, not hidden.  

The more Word you take in, the more you will get and the more you will have.  Take in more!

God’s Word is made to grow up and develop in the believer.  

God’s Word is to grow the believer and the Kingdom together to the fulfillment of God’s plan.  

Soon we’ll come up to this altar, walking past the baptismal font, the place where so many people have joined the family.  It sits as a symbol of all of our calling by God to join His family.  At the altar, we eat and drink a “foretaste of the feast to come”, a meal we will share with Jesus and all the church at the end of all things.  We come here to hear the word and grow, both individually and as a family, Jesus’ family.  That’s why the church is so important.  

 

Strawberries.  

 

     They grew from seeds just like advertised, and even bigger.  There were more and bigger than we hoped for.  

 

God’s work, which we are a part of is just like that.