Parable of the Sower, the Growing Seed, and the Mustard Seed
A Retelling on the Parable of the Seeds
The crowds continue to follow Jesus. They continue to grow and grow, until finally Jesus has to hop on a boat to teach the people while they sit along the shore of Galilee. He begins telling them stories of farmers and seeds and soil, illustrating what the Kingdom of God is like. And these parables that Jesus teaches the people, they are shaped by earthly imagery that illustrate heavely principles.
It’s like a farmer sowing seed. Throw seed on packed soil, shallow soil, and untilled soil and the shoots will surely die. But the throw the seed on ready soil, and it will produce crops thirty, sixty, and even sometimes a hundred fold. The farmer is God, the seed the Kingdom of Heaven, and the soil our willingness to hear. Let anyone who has ears to hear listen.
And the Kingdom of God, it is like a farmer scattering seed across the ground. The farmer doesn’t know how the soil causes the seed to grow but it does. The seed grows from a blade, to a shoot, to a head, and then full grain on the head. And when the time is right, the farmer comes back for the harvest. We don’t have to understand how the Kingdom of God grows. We patiently await it’s maturity, trusting God will make it grown, where we enjoy the fruit of it in our lives.
Jesus continues to teach the people. The Kingdom of God is like a mustard seed. Barely noticeable at first. But when it’s planted it begins to grow. And it grows and grows and grows until finally, it’s the biggest of all garden plants. So big that the birds of the air come to nest in it’s branches. God is the sower, the seed the Kingdom, and we’re the birds who can find refuge in the Kingdom.
Those who wanted to listen could understand. Those who didn’t want to understand didn’t. Jesus was planting seeds among the people that day. It would be snatched from some. Others weren’t ready to hear it. But for the ones that were, a Jesus kingdom of forgiveness and love began growing in thier life.
Storyline Commentary on Mark 4
Every story can be broken down into a few parts. The setting, where the story takes place and why it might be important. The characters and their emotions and thoughts invested in the story. A tension that needs resolved. A resolution that brings us through the tension, and a through line (aka main idea) that carries the story through from beginning to end.
The Setting Jesus is teaching his disciples using seed parables. He’s sowing truth into them, and even though it may not make much sense right now, sort of like the parable of the growing seed (Mark 4:26-29), it will grow into something fruitful.
- Jesus the parable teller
- The disciples and others around who are the parable recievers
- The parables which are stories with thier own characters, tensions, and resolutions
In the first seed parable, the Parable of the Sower, the sower is God, the seed is the Word, and the ground represents people in various parts of life.
In the second seed parable, the Parable of the Growing Seed, the man scattering the seed is us, the soil is God that causes seeds to grow, and the Kingdom of God are the seeds that grow to harvest.
In the last seed parable, the Parable of the Mustard Seed, the seed becomes the Kingdom of God. When it’s planted it grows so large that the birds of the air, people, can come and nest in its branches. The kingdom of God may be unnoticeable at first, but it grows and grows and grows into a bush that birds can perch in.
The Tension Some people want to know more of God and some don’t. Instead of teaching plainly, Jesus uses parables to teach about God and the Kingdom of God. It’s not necessarily a western reader’s first impulse on how to teach.
The Resolution There are those that want to hear and understand. And those that don’t will not (Mark 4:12). These parables are stories with meanings hidden in plain sight.
The Through Line The Kingdom of God is like a seed that it seems insignificant at first, grows by God’s design into somethign fruitful that blesses the world.
Reflections on Mark 4
Why has this story endured? Parables were central to Jesus teachings. They invite us into the mystery of God with earlthy imagery. This way of teaching is meaningful for those that, “want to hear.”
What is true for them then that is still true for us today? Parables still work. Sometimes when we try to teach about Jesus and what Jesus teaches, we ignore one of the biggest teaching gifts that Jesus gave us: Parables. If we can accept that it’s not our responsibility to make other understand we can accept that parables are are prime for allowing those who want to hear, understand some of the teachings of Jesus.
How does this story help us love God? The God of the Creation, Jesus the Word from the very beginning, wants to share stories with us in order to share what he has with us. That’s an act of love.
How does this story help us love others? I’m reminded that love doesn’t force itself on others. Jesus didn’t force understanding on others who didn’t want to hear what he had to say. That can sometimes be the most loving thing we do towards our neighbors.