4th Sunday after Pentecost

4th Sunday after Pentecost
June 17, 2018
Mark 4:26-34
“It’s What Seeds Do”

God’s grace, mercy and peace be to you all in the name of God our Father and our living Savior Jesus. The basis for the sermon today is the Gospel lesson read earlier from Mark chapter 4.

My Dear Friends in Christ Jesus,

The sun rose on another early June morning chasing away the soft coolness of the night and promised a day with comfortable sunshine without oppressive humidity. It would be a perfect day for any outdoor activity: going to the beach, checking out a farmer’s market, golfing, going for a walk or whatever outdoor activity a person loves to do to relax. But not for Ted. Not today. Ted woke up with a clear purpose knowing exactly what needed to be done.
You see, Ted had spent the previous day planting his garden. Ted had spent the last month selecting his seeds for his vegetables, he had carefully spaced the rows to allow the tiller room, and he had lovingly watered in each seed the day before with a mixture of perfectly-blended water and Miracle Grow. Planting had gone without a hitch. Ted jumped from his bed that following morning and raced around the garage to his newly-sown garden spot just chomping at the bit to get all the necessary work done and turning the corner he saw…nothing. His garden looked the same way it had yesterday when he left it. None of the seeds had produced any vegetables. But Ted had done everything right! Where were the vegetables?! Disheartened, Ted fired up his garden tiller and worked all the soil up in hopes that next year the harvest would be better.
“What’s wrong with this Ted guy!” you might think. “He didn’t give the seeds enough time to grow! Doesn’t he know any better? Seeds don’t mature overnight; they need time to mature…it’s what seeds do.” I hope that you do think that, and will remember that in another 10 minutes.
Mark chapter 4 is the “parable chapter” in Mark’s Gospel. Jesus had recently concluded the healing portion of His ministry, and now comes the teaching aspect of Jesus’ ministry. Jesus leads His disciples to the shore of the Sea of Galilee, and a large crowd follows (4:1). So that everyone could hear, Jesus sits in a boat and pushes out a bit. He then told a series of parables and in today’s Gospel lesson we heard two of them.
Both parables for our consideration today are “Kingdom” parables, that is, Jesus is teaching a heavenly truth about God’s kingdom through human stories; people may not have readily understood the reality of how God’s kingdom worked, but they understood about sowing seeds. When Jesus is talking about “Kingdom” He doesn’t mean a physical territory like a garden spot or a farmer’s field. The “Kingdom” Jesus speaks of is wherever and whenever people are governed by God’s grace through faith in Christ Jesus. Therefore, the Kingdom was there for His hearers, but it is also here, right now, and there is more “Kingdom” to come (2nd petition of Lord’s Prayer).
In both kingdom parables something amazing is taking place – seeds are growing. We are part of generations that have witnessed tremendous advancements in technology, medicine, and science, which causes us to take for granted the miraculous mundane. I am sure that most farmers could tell you the inner working and anatomy of a single seed: coat, embryo, epicotyls, and so on. But what gives the seed its capacity to grow? What makes that seed grow? It is God, isn’t it? Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 3, “…neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth” (1 Corinthians 3:7 ESV). That verse is about faith, but it is also literally true in terms of seed growth.
That process from Paul is absolutely true and be believe it, we trust it, and we even explain it…and how quickly we forget it. As sinful seeds when we don’t see growth in our own lives, we panic. When things go the way that we don’t want them to, we fail to trust the true Gardner – the One who provides all growth. God has provided an ordered sequence in which seeds grow because that is what seeds do: seed, sprout, blade, ear, full grain (4:28). That is the way that God has created the seed to work, the way He ordains seed growth, and the way in which God provides the harvest.
As sinners we are bewildered at times by God’s grand plan for our maturity within His kingdom even while we are in the midst of it. When we don’t see the growth or maturity we expect in life, we are like Ted and we want to grind everything up and admit failure. God has a plan for forgiven sinners – for you – and you will not always recognize that. That’s what seeds do; they don’t always “get it,” but they are equipped to grow – to be built up – until they reach the point of full maturity that God has for them. It is true with corn, cucumbers, Chicory, and children.
God’s ways are often hidden – veiled – in ways we fail to recognize and never expected. He works through thorns and nails. He works through a cross. He is at work in water, in bread, and in wine. The spiritual growth that you and I experience – our maturation growth process – happens because of Christ Jesus crucified and risen again for our forgiveness and salvation. That redemptive act is the soil in which we are planted so that we can grow and reach maturity and produce the fruits of faith.
Your maturity in life and in faith is a divine process. Seeds need time to mature; it’s what seeds do. You’re not always going to see overnight progress or results. So, we patiently endure whatever God’s process is for us so that we can reach that intended maturity and produce a worthwhile harvest for Him. Of course there are going to be things that happen that we don’t understand. But we don’t have to understand to grow; we grow because that is what God does to us and through us. As His people – His seeds – we live by faith not by sight (2 Cor. 5:7). God’s purposes for your life and fulfilled even when you have little proof to go on.
The harvest is coming. But until that time, be open to how God is maturing you and those around you. It’s a process with an ordered sequence; don’t get discouraged if you don’t know “why” God is doing this or that. Trust in God’s maturation process for you. Be patient in that process; give God time to facilitate your spiritual growth. Celebrate your growth and produce a bountiful crop for Him, because that’s just what seeds do. And for crying out loud, please don’t go home and till up your flower gardens or vegetable gardens or relationships or careers or hope. Give it time, just as God is giving you time to mature and produce fruit for Him and His glorious, eternal Kingdom.
Happy Father’s Day. Amen.