Welcome back to our ongoing series, I DARE YOU. This is our look at the unique parables of Jesus Christ from the four Gospels found in the New Testament. Once a week, we will examine one of Christ’s stories and let his challenge to his first-century audience speak to us now and provoke us to live in the Kingdom of God better, more fully, more wholeheartedly. We see these parables as dares to step outside of the norm of the world and enter into what God has for us. We hope that you will be likewise challenged and that you will take the dare to live a more Christlike, Kingdom of God-focused life.
It’s a short parable, one most of us may not be unaware of. But within a few verses, there is a grand challenge. A dare that the original disciples faced, and one that we must face today and respond to now.
So, let’s get right into it!
“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
Doing this series, I DARE YOU, has turned into quite the learning experience. Here’s an example. Sometimes, the Gospel writers would clump them together thematically. Like the parables of the lost sheep, the lost coin, and the lost son; all are connected by a common theme. You might know that last one, the parable of the lost son, better as the parable of the prodigal son. But they are all parables about the same thing, same idea, with different characters in the story.
There are other instances where Jesus seems to keep telling the parable. Like a part two or part three of a parable, without telling the audience that is what is happening. Jesus keeps building on what he has already said, knowing those listening to him would keep listening and learn even more. It isn’t a lost coin, lost sheep, and lost son idea. But rather a parable about seeds, and more about the seeds, and even more about the seeds.
This is what Jesus is doing with this parable. This is technically part two of the parable of the sower.
WHAT IS THE PARABLE ABOUT?
This is a very simple parable, especially when you think of it as Part Two of the Parable of the Sower. This is a quick recap of Part One.
The sower went and scattered seeds on the ground. Some seeds fell on the path, and birds ate the seed. Some seeds fell on rocky ground, with little soil. The seed sprouted quickly because it was shallow. When the sun came out, the sprouts were scorched and died, because they had no root. Other seeds fell on thorns. This seed sprouted but was chocked out by the thorns, so they didn’t produce any crop. But some seed fell on good soil, producing a crop (Mark 4:1-20).
But in Part two, Jesus is not talking about the soil anymore, he is talking about the seed. What happens when it takes root in good soil? What becomes of that Good News when it changes a person’s heart?
Slowly, steadily, the Good News of Jesus Christ takes root in a person’s life and there begins to grow a harvest of Christlike men and women. Those that have shared the Gospel do not know how or when or why that seed will sprout and turn into a crop that will yield a hundred, sixty, or thirty times the original investment.
From this small, simple little parable comes a great dare. A challenge from Jesus that all the disciples had to accept, a challenge that we have to accept ourselves.
Jesus dares you to never quit.
Yes, Jesus doesn’t want you to quit growing and maturing as a Christian, but that’s not what is being said here. Jesus is daring you to never quit sowing the seed.
Look at the parable again. The sower plants the seed. He falls asleep. The verses say that there was nighttime and daytime. Days stretch into weeks. Time passes before anything happens. And that can be very discouraging for sowers.
Think about when you share the love of Jesus with someone. Or when you lead a bible study. Or this past weekend when you stood at the front of the church and spoke. There was no immediate sprouting of the seed you planted, was there? What about next week? Or the week after that?
There might be a bud, a small, green thing poking up out of the ground. Someone in the church might show a little growth or maturity. The bible study might go a little smoother, someone asks a little deeper of a question. But it isn’t instantly. That can be frustrating.
We live in a “right now” culture. A microwave society, where everything is happening at this moment and if it doesn’t happen now, then it probably doesn’t matter. But that isn’t true, especially in the Kingdom of God.
The Kingdom of God is not a factory. It isn’t an assembly line of cookie-cutter Christians being pushed out at a nice moderate pace. We might like that idea. We may think it is easier if it were, but that isn’t how God works. That isn’t how the Good News works.
It takes time. It takes commitment. It takes a person that is willing to keeping going, to stick it out, to go the long haul to be in the Kingdom of God. It takes that kind of person to sow seeds, share the Gospel.
To that, Jesus says, don’t quit.
WHAT DO WE DO THEN?
I’m not saying that you won’t get frustrated. I’m not saying that the results of your seed sowing, Gospel sharing will magically yield results.
What I am saying is that we need to know our role.
What part do we play? What are we responsible for in this? The Apostle Paul spoke directly to it.
“What, after all, is Apollos? And what is Paul? Only servants, through whom you came to believe—as the Lord has assigned to each his task. I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God has been making it grow. So neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow.” – 1 Corinthians 3:5-7
Paul realized that his role was a sower, not a grower. Apollos watered, but he didn’t make the seed of the Good News take root in someone’s life. That was never their role.
If they had tried to take on that role, I’m sure they would have quit. They would have thrown in the towel if they had tried to focus people to mature into a relationship with God.
But they didn’t. They figured out that their role was that of a simple sower. Nothing more. It was up to God to make the seed take root, to grow.
Taking on the role of a sower relieves you of all the pressure to perform. It takes away the angst we often feel when things are going according to plan. Any expectation, any preconceived notion can drift away when we aren’t trying to force something to happen. Leaving someone’s response to God takes all the pressure off you, and leaves it all up to God to work.
The kingdom of God is not a factory. It is a garden where the Good News of Jesus Christ is spread, with people responding and growing as they will. There is no coercion, no force or pressure. Not for those sowing. Not for those growing.
Don’t quit sowing, Jesus says. While the results may not be immediate, it is not up to you. Be free to work without frustration, without anxiety in the field that God has called you to sow in. Don’t quit.
I dare you.
All Scripture references provided by Biblegateway.com Be sure to check them out if you are looking for a verse, some commentaries to help you understand a passage or a devotional to keep you in the Written Word every day. Or for those on the go, check out their app, available at the App Store, Google Play, and Amazon Fire.
Photo credit: The Sower by Vincent Van Gogh, 1888
This article first appeared on Christian Thought Sandbox.