Thus far, our series, “Follow Me,” has been exploring the Gospel of Mark and exploring many of the issues related to discipleship. Last week, Brad Blocksom looked at Mark 4:21-25, “A veiled message destined to be revealed.” This week we’re diving right into the next four verses:
Jesus also said, “The Kingdom of God is like a farmer who scatters seed on the ground. Night and day, while he’s asleep or awake, the seed sprouts and grows, but he does not understand how it happens. The earth produces the crops on its own. First a leaf blade pushes through, then the heads of wheat are formed, and finally the grain ripens. And as soon as the grain is ready, the farmer comes and harvests it with a sickle, for the harvest time has come.” (Mark 4:26-29 NLT)
Imagine that you are minding your own business, going about your life, and along comes Jesus… teaching on the kingdom of God. If you and I probably started talking about the subject of the kingdom, we’d likely use words like “glorious” and “powerful” and “authoritative” and “beautiful.” Jesus says the kingdom is related to the world of farming. The kingdom is like a farmer… a dirty, overworked, and smelly farmer. But what’s that farmer doing? He’s scattering seed. The kingdom of God can be understood related to a farmer. I mean, Jesus used a farmer in his parable. That just seems so… well… un-royal (is that a word?).
It just seems like we need to pause for a minute and recognize just how upside down this is. A farmer!!
But I digress…
One thing we need to realize is that the world of farming is contingent on things that are beyond the control of humans. We can’t control the weather, right? We can’t control the amount of sun that shines. We can’t control the rain. We can’t control a lot of things that are related to agriculture. And it’s very, very, very frustrating. Especially if you are a farmer and you are in the middle of a drought and you realize that if it doesn’t rain today, all of your crops are going to die.
Now anyone who is in ministry will understand how easy it is to fall into the assumption that good things can only happen to the people are we are ministering to if we are involved. It’s very easy for pastors to fall into the trap of assuming that without our work, churches would fall apart. In fact, I know that for a number of years I simply assumed that all of my evangelism efforts were entirely and completely contingent on my efforts. I had better be on my “A” game or people wouldn’t and couldn’t become followers of Jesus! I essentially had no room for the Holy Spirit… I didn’t even have a framework to assume that the Spirit was at work in people’s lives before I came into the picture!
Wow, how arrogant is that!
Along comes Jesus, talking about a farmer. And that farmer can try and understand why and how certain seeds grow and others die off. She can try to comprehend the in’s and out’s of all the growth, but at the end of the day… things just happen.
Or do they?
Might there be something behind all of these “random” occurrences? Or better yet, might there be someone who is sovereignly behind the work that the farmer is focused on?
Yes, there is someone behind it — God. And God’s Spirit is at work and when the harvest starts to come we need to be the good farmer that marvels at the harvest, but also is about the Father’s work, sowing and reaping.
Is it harvest time? Yes… yes it is.
Luke is a pastor-theologian living in northern California, serving as a co-lead pastor with his life, Dawn, at the Red Bluff Vineyard. Father of five amazing kids, when Luke isn’t hanging with his family, reading or writing theology, he moonlights as a fly fishing guide for Confluence Outfitters. He blogs regularly at LukeGeraty.com and regularly contributes to his YouTube channel.