And he (Jesus) said, “The kingdom of God is as if a man should scatter seed on the ground” (Mark 4:26 ESV). Today at International Lutheran Church we celebrate the Third Sunday after Pentecost with a timely reminder of the season of God’s Word and how it works in our lives.
As we enter the warm days of summer, I am reminded of how quickly things can grow here in Korea! With a break in all the recent rain, I was finally able to plant the ILC Hallelujah Garden after tilling it three times due to all the weeds that kept coming up. God’s “garden” theme runs throughout the Bible. From His action to “plant” the garden in Genesis, to the “harvest” of Revelation, this theme is a profound and beautiful mystery of God’s care for all His creation as He sustains all living things in and through His created order. And as we hear Jesus’ words this morning, this activity of God also has included the planting of the most beautiful promise of God’s love in the person of Jesus Christ.
Jesus’ brief parables this morning reveal two amazing truths. The first is the automatic and built-in power of the seed to do what God designed it to do: grow and produce a crop. The farmer needs only to make sure the seed goes in the soil and then take the sickle to bring in its produce. The growth of the plant happens beyond our ability or even comprehension. While this is true of ordinary seed, this is merely an example of the truth of the most amazing Seed of God’s Word and Promise. The Word sprouts, takes root, grows, and produces a crop all in and through the will and power of God – not the sower or even the soil can add to its amazing work.
The second parable similarly builds on this automatic action and activity of the Word in our lives as it highlights how even the smallest and most insignificant seed – the mustard seed - can and does produce the largest of plants which not only offers its limbs for produce but for rest and shade to all. Yes, we may from a worldly point of view look at the Gospel, the good news of the forgiveness of sin in Jesus Christ, as weak and insignificant. Yet, God is producing in you and me faith in Him that extends to others.
Without our help or effort God is growing in us faith in Him that grows and matures. There is a result in us that extends into the lives of others – His own love. Jesus, the Seed of God, the Word of God made flesh, was planted on Calvary that all would know His love and that we would experience that love at work in and through us today. The life that Jesus gave gives life to all in God’s garden.
Jesus teaches His disciples with the use of these parables the mysteries of the Kingdom of God. As our ears are opened today to these garden stories, His Word promises to create the fruit of faith in our lives even as it moves us to scatter that Word and good news to the ends of the earth!