“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...” — Mark 4:26-27
Four pictures hang together in a church I served as pastor. The pictures show the growth of a seed, as described in our verses today: the seed sprouts, the stalk grows, the head forms on the stalk, and eventually the full kernel develops. These pictures remind the church that we all grow in the Lord.
Jesus’ parable of the growing seed is well illustrated in the growth of the early church. In 1 Corinthians 3:6 the apostle Paul says, “I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God has been making it grow.”
A person can plant a seed, tend it, and watch it grow—all without knowing just how that happens. Even though scientists today can manipulate some things about plant genetics and growth, the process remains mysterious and can’t be forced.
Similarly, we cannot force spiritual growth; we cannot make people grow spiritually. The way God works in the heart of an individual is mysterious. A person can read God’s Word and be taught, but God’s work in someone’s heart is independent of human effort.
This kingdom parable illustrates for us that, by God’s power, we are able to respond and grow. Because we are made by God, we are able to respond to his prompting, able to respond to God’s Spirit. We can let the Holy Spirit work in our lives so that we will grow in him.