Pentecost 4

SERMON                                      4TH SUNDAY PENTECOST              JUNE 2018

Text   Mark 4:26-29. He said, “The kingdom of God is like this: A man scatters seed on the ground, 27 and while he sleeps and rises, night and day, the seed sprouts and grows, though he does not know how. 28 Automatically, the ground produces fruit:  first the blade, then the head, then the full grain in the head. 29 When the crop is ready, he swings the sickle without delay, because the harvest has come.”

            It was JJ’s 12th birthday. As was family custom, Jay lined up with his back to the wall. Dad carefully measured and marked his height. “Hey, you grew almost an inch this last year. I bet next year you will grow even more,” Dad said.  “You’ll grow a lot taller in the next few years.” This made JJ wonder why. He had another question, “How come you stopped growing, Dad”. “Well, it seems our bodies are programmed to grow from little on until about age 18 or so and then it stops. That’s the way God made us. Beyond that, it’s a mystery why it is that way.  For, instance, why don’t we older adults keep growing taller.”

            Our text today also presents to us a mystery. This mystery very much concerns you. It speaks of how the kingdom of God grows. While it tells us certain facts, it still leaves us with questions. Thus, the mystery. Let’s investigate this by studying our text and learning How the Kingdom of God Grows.  As we do this, we will look at various aspects of the parable. We will see what Jesus is saying. We will see how the Lord comes to a person to rule in the heart. Also, importantly, we will see how this applies to you and me.

            As most of you know, a parable is a picture story of an earthly scene, but it has a spiritual meaning and teaching. As one studies a parable the important thing to determine is -what is chief point of comparison. In our parable this point is The Kingdom of God. The Kingdom of God is this, God through Jesus ruling in each believer’s heart. How does this come to be? Our parable answers it for you; but a mystery will remain.

            Now our text says, “A man scatters seed.” Normally, we think of a farmer. But let us remember that many people including you and me at times plant seeds. So, this involves you and others as persons who sow seeds in the Kingdom of God.

            The seed in this parable is the Word of God. This is the same as two other parables in this Chapter 4 of Mark. Now, think of a seed you have planted in a pot or garden. How does that seed look? Usually quite dry. Doesn’t look like it has any value. But that seed has in it the power to produce LIFE. Neither you, nor I, nor any farmer, nor any scientist gives that seed the power to produce life. God gives it that power.

            The Word of God is similar. It looks like dry ink on a page. NO real life. Many people consider is just like other words; you read them and you forget them. But not this word, for it the Word of God. It contains the power to produce life. It does that when it reaches the soil. HowThe word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.” Heb 4:12. God, the Holy Spirit, comes with this word and accuses every human being of sinning. You, you, and you have not done what God says is good and right. You have not worshipped the one true God alone. You have coveted other things; you have hurt others, you have made your own desires your gods. You are guilty before God. You are condemned. You can not save yourself from the punishment that is to come.

            But this Word of God also says, “He chose to give us birth through the word of truth, that we might be a kind of first fruits of all he created”, James 1:18. “He chose to give us birth.” A seed sprouts, God’s Word sprouts. The wages of sin is death. But the Lord wanted you to be forgiven, saved and have eternal life.  In his saving Word God reveals to us who he is and what he does.  First, there are his names; LORD, “I AM”. Jesus, which means Savior. God tells us as he reveals his names, “The Lord, the Lord, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness, maintaining love to thousands, and forgiving wickedness, rebellion and sin.”  Exodus 34:6-7

          All this is confirmed for us when God’s Word tells the story of Jesus. It tells us that Jesus had compassion on two blind men and healed them. He had compassion on the thief on the cross along side him. He was slow to anger when he patiently again and again taught the hardhearted Pharisees. He displayed God’s love when he laid down his life for us. There is no greater love than the innocent Jesus dying for us guilty sinners.

            When this divine seed reaches the heart, there is an automatic reaction. “Automatically, the ground produces fruit:  first the blade, then the head, then the full grain in the head.”  The “ground” or “soil” is the heart and mind of the hearer of the Word. The soil itself cannot produce anything. The farmer can stand in the field and wish and pray that something good would come up. But nothing will. Even weeds that appear are from seeds. Likewise, our hearts by themselves produce no trust in God. But when the seed is sown, a new plant appears. So, it is with the Word and our souls. Peter writes, “For you have been BORN again, not of perishable seed, but of imperishable, through the living and enduring word of God. --- And this is the word that was preached to you. 1 Pet 1:23,25. The Holy Spirit has come to you in his Word and produced the plant we call faith. “Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God,” 1 John 5:1.  Also, the Holy Spirit keeps coming to you and keeps planting his Word in you. ---Then the end comes. Either you and I die or Jesus comes again. Our text says: “When the crop is ready, he swings the sickle without delay, because the harvest has come.” At that time the Lord will be ruling in all the hearts that will saved.

            One additional interesting point. Someone, a believer, sowed God’s Word in your heart.  In some cases, it was your parents at first, then others, a teacher, the pastor. In other cases, it was a friend perhaps or a neighbor, then a pastor. –But now you, being believers, are the farmers. You sow the seed. You know its power. You can tell others, “sin brings death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus.”  You can tell others of the peace, comfort and joy forgiveness in Jesus brings you. It can do the same for them.

            But there still remains a mystery. How does a seed actually have such power to produce beautiful living plants?  It is God given. Remember that next time you are in a grocery store. Seeds play a part with almost everything in the store. ---And how do dry ink words on a page have the power to raise us from the certain death and doom of sin to eternal life? We can’t see nor feel the power of the Word as it creates faith in us.  It’s the power of our compassionate and loving LORD. And you being here today testifies that is what has happened. You see, you are part of the Kingdom of God. Jesus does rule in your hearts and minds. That is why you know his voice. That is why you listen to him. That is why in Jesus you have eternal life in heaven.

            In the Lord’s prayer we say, “your kingdom come”. God, for you personally, has answered that prayer. But we continue praying those words for we want God’s kingdom to come to others. And God’s Word, which we in the kingdom sow, has all the power necessary to convince others.  Just watch a as teen grows a great deal in his/her youth. That’s the way God’s kingdom grows though we can’t see it. It happened in your life. Amen 

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