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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 Fourth 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! Just before leaving for the US in May, I was able to plant the ILC Hallelujah Garden. Now just a month later, the bean plants and tomatoes are really growing up. It is a true mystery of God’s creation and beautiful to see. But even more beautiful is to see God’s “garden” theme that runs throughout the Bible. From His action to “plant” the man and the woman in the garden of Eden in Genesis, to the “harvest” and welcome of every tribe and nation spoken of in the Book 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. As we hear Jesus’ words this morning, this activity of God also includes 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 truth focuses on 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 to only make sure the seed goes in the soil. When it matures, the farmer only need take the sickle to it to bring in its produce. The growth of the plant happens beyond our ability or even comprehension. While this is true of ordinary seed, it serves as an example of the truth of the 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. This truth also reveals in the action of “planting” it in the ground the reality of the Seed. The debasement of the very thing to be harvested must be given up in complete humility and trust. The seed goes into the ground! Jesus will be buried under the weight of our iniquity so that the fruit of His righteous life and innocent death would bring forth a harvest not otherwise imaginable – a home for every “bird.”

The second parable similarly builds on this truth about the “automatic” action and activity of the Word in our lives. Here Jesus highlights a second truth: how even the smallest and most insignificant seed – in this case the mustard seed – can and does produce the largest of plants in the garden. The image is of a tree which not only offers its limbs for produce, but for rest and shade to all the birds. 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. The “good news” is singular. But this One, this Jesus, becomes many so that the whole world is saved, delivered, and brought into God’s Kingdom – His reign and rule. We all have a place in Him!

Jesus, the Seed of God, the Word of God made flesh was planted on Calvary that all would know His love. We experience the power of His death and resurrection in Baptism so that His love is at work in and through us today. Without our help or effort the Holy Spirit is planting in us faith in Jesus which only grows and matures. As a result, this faith then extends into the lives of others.

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!

Pastor Carl