Ezekiel 17:22-24, 2 Corinthians 5:6-10, Mark 4:26-34
Literally, a seed is an embryonic stage of a plant that is capable of reproducing more plants. Seeds can be in form of grains or nuts etc. One special quality of a seed is that it can give birth to a plant higher than its original form and appearance.
In application, A seed is anything that we sow with a full expectation that it will grow one day. In today’s gospel, Jesus uses the analogy of the seed and the farmer to reveal one of the secrets behind the growth of the kingdom of God.
The readings of today have a spiritual, psychological, inspirational and psychological undertone.
The Jews had been expecting the messiah who would come to lead them to the kingdom that God promised.
The Kingdom of God is a place where God reigns. So gradually, Jesus uses some metaphors, allegories and some known settings to expose the secret of the Kingdom of God.
As a matter of fact, the main reason for the coming of Jesus is to preach the kingdom of God. In Luke 4:43, Jesus said, “I must preach the kingdom of God to other cities also: therefore for this, am I sent.”
So, preaching and teaching the people about the kingdom of God was the primary task of Jesus while on earth. So gradually, Jesus uses some illustrations that people can understand easily to teach about the kingdom of God.
In today’s readings, Jesus employs some agricultural settings to teach the Jews the secret behind every successful growth. This growth applies both in our spiritual life, moral life and physical life.
The Hidden Nature of God’s Power.
In the first reading, God says through the prophet Ezekiel that He will take a shoot from the highest branch and plant it on the high mountain of Israel, and later it will sprout branches and bear fruit, to the extent that it will attract every kind of bird and every winged creature.
He says that later every tree will then learn that He is the one who stunts tall trees and makes the low ones grow. He is the one who can wither green trees and make the withered green.
Allegorically, Ezekiel was talking about how the Kingdom of Israel who experienced exiles in the hands of the Kingdom of Babylon can rise again. So, in this allegory, God is trying to let the people know that every power is in His hands.
He makes one grow and one fall. Therefore, behind any growing seed, there is a hidden power that no one can explain and understand.
This is the first thing to note here. The point is that behind everything that we do for God’s kingdom, there is someone who grants the increase and every power belongs to Him.
Secondly, in the gospel, Jesus gives an example of God’s kingdom through two “seed parables”. In the first seed, the growth and sprouting happen even when the sower was sleeping.
The second seed which is the mustard seed is very tiny at the time of its sowing in the soil but when it is sown it grows into the biggest shrub of them all and puts out big branches so that the birds of the air can shelter in its shade.
Therefore, what happens at this time no one can actually say. These then draw our attention to the mysterious and hidden nature of the Kingdom of God.
The growth of the Kingdom is always through a power greater than what we think and the fruits it may bear may be beyond our expectations.
So, in whatever we do, in either growing our spiritual life, investing, touching lives and preaching the word, let us always know that what matters is what we do.
How it will grow and the fruits it can bear are always under the power that we may not expect. So,behind a growing seed is an invisible power of growth that is inherent in it.
God is the one in charge of everything. He is the one in charge of the work. He is the one in control. So, behind a growing seed is a great power that controls all things.
The Farmer, The Seed and The Throwing.
One peculiar characteristics we can observe in today’s parable are the seed and the farmer and the throwing of the seed. In the Gospel parable, we have the farmer who throws the seed and the seed itself.
Therefore for the seed to germinate, there must be the sower, the action of the sower and what he is sowing.
Remember that the Farmer Has to throw. Throwing, or sowing is the farmer’s efforts in sowing the seeds. Therefore for the growth of God’s Kingdom, both the farmer, the seed they sow and the sowing efforts are all important. Behind a growing seed, these factors must be involved.
The farmer is the one who sows or one who throws the seed and goes away to rest. Therefore behind any growing seed, first of all, there must the farmer who sows.
Then the question is “who is the farmer here? Jesus did not give us an explicit explanation of who the farmer is. But since He aims to preach and establish the kingdom of God, the Farmer first if all is Jesus and the seed that He sows is the word of God.
Other farmers are those who are interested in promoting the Kingdom of God just like the apostles did.
The seed is what it is sown. From Jesus’ previous explanation of the parable of the sower in Mark 4::14, one can derivatively conclude that what is sown is the word of God.
Therefore, the farmer throwing the seed is Jesus spreading the gospel of God’s Kingdom. By implication, it is all of us who in one way or the other is promoting the gospel message.
From the nature of the first seeds, Jesus is teaching us that what we need in life is to continually do God’s work and promote the Gospel of God’s kingdom.
Let us always know that it is God who grants the increase. And just like the Mustard seed, everything begins small and in the end, will expand into what we may not expect.
For example, Jesus began His mission with only the twelve apostles but today, it has grown to almost everywhere in the whole world. So, what we owe God is to sow His word often and promote the message of His kingdom.
Thereby every effort that we make in promoting the kingdom of God is not in vain. We may never know who is touched by that little effort, that little write up, that little prayer, that few minutes of encouragement and words that you say. Whatever you do, despite how seemingly insignificant you may feel it is, do it often.
For the growth to happen, the farmer must come out to sow otherwise the seed will decay. Thereby Behind a Growing seed is the effort of the farmer who works and what He is sowing.
The farmer must make an effort. Also to succeed in life, you do not fold your hands and be waiting for manna from heaven. There must be something that you do. There must be that little effort that you make every day. Thereby, the problem is not the much you do, but the effort you make in doing what you do.
Despite how little, you may never know where it will lead you to. So the question today is what are you doing?
What efforts are we making despite how small? And finally what kind of seed are we sowing? The nature of the seed that we sow determines the nature of the fruit that it will bear.
When we sow good things, good things come. In essence, what you get from your investment is tantamount to what you invested.
Why We Do Not See Results.
The message of today is clear: there is a time to sow and a time to harvest. We make mistakes when we sow and expect to harvest.
Therefore do not expect to harvest immediately when you are sowing the seed. This is where a lot of us make mistakes.
This is the actual reason we do not see results in what we do. There are some reasons why we are yet to see results despite our efforts. We can take our ground from the readings of today and they are :
1.When we are yet to sow anything. This is when we have done nothing and we are expecting results. In the readings, the farmer has to sow.
2. When we are still sowing the seed and expecting immediate results. This is when we are just starting and we begin to expect miracles to happen overnight. By doing this, many have made mistakes and become frustrated in life. In the gospel, the farmer has to sow and wait.
3. By quitting when we have sowed but the time of harvest became too long. Like I said previously, in the above parables, Jesus did not tell us the years it took the seed to bear fruits. So, behind a growing seed is also the determination, faith, patience of the farmer on the seed He sows.
The truth here is that it will surely take time. So, during this time, continue to water and nurture your garden, continue doing what you can for God, continue preaching the word, continue singing for the Lord, continue writing, continue working, the time God will uplift you will surprise you.
1. The first message to grab from today’s readings is that God is the one in control of everything that we do. Despite however wise, intelligent, gifted we may be, God is the one who grants the increase.
How this happens is not in our hands to try to figure it out. Paul explains it better in 1 Corinthians 3:6-9.
At a time when the church of Corinthians is divided on whom to follow. Some groups were saying that they belong to Paul and others said that they belong to Apollos (1 Cor 3::4). Paul warns them to stop such rivalry among them. Then He says that our function is to plant and water but God is the one who grants the increase. In His words Paul advises the Corinthians who are competing among them on who to belong:
“ I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God is the one making it grow. So, neither the planter nor the one who waters counts for anything but God who makes things grow.
So, The one who plants and the one who waters have one purpose, and they will each be rewarded according to their labour”.
When we understand it, we will understand that in life you do not compete with anybody. Always face what you can do for God.
Therefore, like the seeds in the gospel growing without the farmer not knowing how it happens, what we do for God can touch many lives without us knowing how it happens.
Today the church has grown to almost every part of the world but the church started with just the twelve apostles.
So, whatever you do in life, do not be worried about growth. Only work and follow God’s inspiration. Behind the growing seed is an invisible force that makes things grow even without our knowledge.
2. Secondly, everything begins small. The problem we always make is to think that we can make it overnight.
In the first reading, the farmer throws the seed and leaves. In the second seed, the mustard is very small. Yet in these, there was a growth at last.
So, the problem in life is not how we begin and what we have when we begin. It is not the little things that you do. The issue is if you are consistent with it. The end may surprise you.
Every successful journey today has a little beginning, every great man today has a starting point. No one made it in life overnight. So do not wait until you have that big amount of money, the bigger support and every instrument to start.
Start with that little thing that you can do. You can start with yourself. Start with your gift. Begin small. The journey of every small beginning may have a successful ending.
3. Like the mustard seed and every seed of the earth, the fruit does not come out once. Remember Jesus did not tell us how many years it took the mustard seed to bear fruit at last.
Remember also that it passed through some chemical and physical changes before it became what it is.
So, the Kingdom of God does not come all at once. It goes through different stages. In these stages, there may be challenges, problems, persecutions and difficulties. So, do not make the mistake of expecting something to happen overnight.
There are stages. And do not quit before you reach the final stage. The seed arrives in stages like the stalk, the head and the full-grain.
So, when you go through any stages in life, always be focused on where you are going. Our job is to continually work, pray and serve God with any little thing that we can do in life.
So, like the seeds, God’s kingdom grows slowly. Hence this demands perseverance, patience and faith. Therefore, behind any growing seed is the heart that is willing to serve God without giving up on any challenges in life.
4. Finally, What every farmer can do is to plant the seed, water it and nurture it. But He cannot make the seed grow.
The farmer does not even understand how the seed grows. How the seed grows depends on that invisible power of God.
So, whenever and in whatever you are doing for God, do it with all your heart and continue to promote it. Where God will take you with it may be beyond your knowledge and expectation.
5.So, The main point of today’s message is that the kingdom of God is like what happens to the mustard seed. It has insignificant and weak beginnings, but a day will come when it will be great and powerful.
So, everything in life may have a weak and little beginning. Do not give up when you are still at the beginning.
May God give us the grace to continue to understand the mysteries of His Kingdom. May He continue to bless and protect you. Amen.