The parable of the growing seed is only recorded in the gospel according to Mark. It is a short little parable that has a powerful message hidden within the words of the parable. We are going to look at this parable’s meaning and significance to help us develop the best understanding for this parable. Let’s dig in.
This parable is found in Mark 4:26-29. “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.””
Since this parable is only found in Mark, context is imperative to understanding the meaning and significance. This parable comes in a set of teaching from Jesus that contains the parable of the sower, a lamp on a stand, and the parable of the mustard seed. Three of these parables are about seeds with the middle one holding the meaning. The lamp on a stand is about things that are being revealed. What is being revealed at this time? These parables are about Jesus announcing the arrival of God’s kingdom through Him and what the kingdom of God is like. Jesus is revealing through parables what he is doing at this moment in time. This particular parable about a growing seed, fits into this category of announcing the kingdom of God. How does it fit into this category? What about this parable makes it about the arrival of the kingdom?
This parable has many similarities to the parable of the sower just a few passages before. A man scatters seed, the seed grows, and it is harvested. These features all reflect features of other parables that are also about God’s kingdom. The powerful message of this parable lies not in the man or the scattering of seed, but rather in the seed itself.
The mysterious growing the seed undergoes is not known to the man who scatters it. He just sees the growth of the seed. Therefore, we can imply that the seed has the power within itself to grow. It is the seed itself that grows and has the power to grow. Since the kingdom of God is compared to this growing, producing, and harvesting nature of the seed, we can see the seed reflects the word of God or the gospel message that Christ was announcing (Mark 4:14). The kingdom of God is like this man sowing seed because we often don’t see the results of our work. We don’t see or understand all the inner workings of the way the word spreads and grows. We trust in God who allows the hearts of people to grow.
The meaning of this parable is that Jesus is announcing the kingdom of God and the good news about himself. His announcement and nature of the kingdom is like a man who sows seed but he does not know how it grows. The kingdom of God grows in ways we may not understand. The significance for us today is being aware that we may not understand, but trusting that God’s kingdom is growing and we should be a part of the process as we spread the good news of Jesus to the world.