A Parable about the Most Humble Power in the World


September 5, 2018

Mark 4:26-34

26 He also said, “This is what the kingdom of God is like. A man scatters seed on the ground. 27 Night and day, whether he sleeps or gets up, the seed sprouts and grows, though he does not know how. 28 All by itself the soil produces grain—first the stalk, then the head, then the full kernel in the head. 29 As soon as the grain is ripe, he puts the sickle to it, because the harvest has come.”

30 Again he said, “What shall we say the kingdom of God is like, or what parable shall we use to describe it? 31 It is like a mustard seed, which is the smallest of all seeds on earth.32 Yet when planted, it grows and becomes the largest of all garden plants, with such big branches that the birds can perch in its shade.”

33 With many similar parables Jesus spoke the word to them, as much as they could understand. 34 He did not say anything to them without using a parable. But when he was alone with his own disciples, he explained everything.


53. Do you remember the last time you looked at a seed? It’s something so common we scarcely pay any attention to it at all. How could something so small hold so much potential?

When Jesus reaches for a way to teach us about the Kingdom of God, he reaches for a seed. He could reach for the tree or the fruit that grows on the tree, but instead he chooses the seed to make his point.

Consider a single apple seed. This seed contains all the compounded possibilities of the entire tree. Every branch and leaf and future apple is contained in the one tiny singular seed. Residing in this one seed are all the trees that will come in the future from the seeds produced by this one seed. I once heard this African proverb, “Anyone can tell you how many seeds are in an apple, but only God knows how many apples are in a seed.”

Maybe I’m stating the obvious, and perhaps that’s the point. It’s so easy to miss the mystery because it is obscured by the ordinary. Maybe this is why Jesus is constantly calling forth eyes that see and ears that hear. The truth is shining like a candle on a lamp stand yet somehow we can miss seeing it entirely. The Kingdom is not meant to be hidden but revealed yet it takes a certain kind of “seeing” to perceive it.

What could be more humble than a tiny seed, yet what could be more grand than the tallest tree? This is what God’s Kingdom is like; on Earth yet from Heaven. In fact, this is what Jesus is like; full of humanity and full of the Holy Spirit.

54. Parables cannot be pinned down, only pondered. They cannot be forced into our categories and systems. They cause us to humble ourselves before a wisdom we would not otherwise discover. A parable leads the curious seeker into the realm of Divine revelation. It takes the learner out of control of the knowledge. Parables put everyone on equal footing, stripping away the prestigious academic robes of distinction, withholding understanding from the proud and revealing it to little children.

Jesus, the text says, never taught them anything without using a parable. Why is it that we so prize our systematic approaches that try to teach everything without them? Parables bring disciples into a different relationship with learning. They take away from us our penchant to master the material and lead us to the place where we are mastered by the Messiah.

A closing thought on seeds from the parables in today’s text: All we do is sow the seed. The seed does everything else. Yet if we do not sow it, it does nothing. That is a massively powerful, obvious yet hidden truth. How do you like them apples? ;0)

Here’s something special–a bonus for your day–something I wrote a few years back about seeds. I think you will like it. Will take you all of ninety seconds. WATCH IT HERE.


Spirit of the Living God, fall afresh on me. Lord Jesus, thank you for becoming the Seed, and thank you for sowing our lives like so many seeds. Open my heart and mind to the sheer possibility of what you can do with a single life yielded to your purposes. Make my life a seed sown, filled with your purposes. Melt me. Mold me. Fill me. Use me. For the glory of your name, Jesus. Amen.


What are your reflections on the potential and power of a seed? How might you look upon your life in such ways?

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For the Awakening,
J.D. Walt

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