Scripture: Mark 4:26-29
The dandelion may be the most resilient plant ever to grow from the ground. Dandelions put down thick, fragile taproots that can extend over ten inches long, and even a fragment of a taproot can regenerate. They produce seeds without pollination and can germinate from spring until autumn. If that weren’t enough, a single dandelion plant can live for years and produce over 2000 seeds.
Jesus may not have had dandelions in mind when He told this parable in Mark 4, but He certainly communicated the resilient growth that characterizes them. The Parable of the Growing Seed is unique to Mark’s Gospel, and takes place in a series of parables about the spread and growth of the Kingdom of God. It is distinct from the Parable of the Sower and the Parable of the Weeds due to its focus on growth.
Jesus emphasizes three things. First, the sower does nothing but scatter seed. He is not identified, but given his position in the parable we can surmise that he is more of a messenger than a stand-in for God. Second, the seed produces grain independently. While the environment does affect growth, the ultimate growth of the Kingdom of God does not rely on cultivation. Third, Jesus places emphasis on progression ‒ “first the stalk, then the head, then the full kernel in the head” (v. 28) right up until the grain is ripe. The Kingdom of God takes time to develop. Patience, as every farmer knows, is key.
Paul’s words in 1 Corinthians 3:5-9 are applicable.
“What then is Apollos? What is Paul? Servants through whom you believed, as the Lord assigned to each. I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth. So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth. He who plants and he who waters are one, and each will receive his wages according to his labor. For we are God’s fellow workers. You are God’s field, God’s building. (1 Corinthians 3:5-9)
In his response to the Corinthians’ arguments over who to follow, he downplays human cultivation and points them to God’s work. Instead of fighting over who gets the credit, the Corinthians should be giving thanks to God for the growth. As Paul points out, we are “co-workers in God’s service.” We would prefer to see immediate results and often, to get the glory for the work when we build lives ‒ the sooner, the better. But God will receive the glory for His work, in His time.
Give thanks to Him for His timing, and ask Him for more opportunities to scatter seed!