The kingdom of God in this world is a direct and fierce attack on the kingdom of darkness.
Painting Pictures Through Parables (26, 30, 33-34)
Mark now records two more parables of Jesus. He relayed the parable of the 4 soils, the lamp in the living room, and now we come to two more parables: the growing seed and the Mustard seed.
What are parables?
- Some of our most beloved passages are parables: The Prodigal Son; the Lost Sheep; the Good Samaritan; the Sheep and the Goats; the The Rich Man and Lazarus; the Priceless Pearl.
- Parables are short stories of earthly things used to convey some heavenly truth.
- Parables are very visual – not that Jesus painted pictures with a brush, but, rather with His story-telling. The visual helps paint more permanently in people’s minds the idea He is trying to teach.
- The key words here are “is like”. The kingdom of God is like….and Jesus goes on to tell a parable. His intention with parables is not to convey concepts, not exactness.
- Parables help people see the Kingdom of God accurately, although not totally or comprehensively. Jesus is trying to impress on people’s minds the likeness of the kingdom of God by showing its similarity to earthly things. He wants its aspects to be seen in aspects of earthly things
Now, Jesus wants people to learn about something in heaven, but, the problem is that it is so out of their world. The Reality is so transcendent, He can’t talk to them as though they know it the same way He does. So, the parables help bring it from up there down here. “I have spoken to you of earthly things,” Jesus told Nicodemus, “and you do not believe. How then will you believe if I speak to you of heavenly things?” (Jn 3:12). His next statement explains the use of parables even more, “No one has ever gone into heaven except the one who came from heaven – the Son of Man” Since Jesus is bringing heavenly realities to an earthly audience He needs to use things that are familiar to His audience to convey things that are spiritually unfamiliar. He needs to use the earthly things to bring home heavenly realities. That’s why the stories are so easily relatable for those listening.
I’ve used this teaching method, parables, in preaching and in parenting. Every illustration in a sermon is in someway a parable. Some aspect in an anecdote corresponds with a truth I’m trying to make, and, so, the analogy helps my sermon point make more sense. I remember one time a father used a parable to teach an important lesson to his oldest son, who was only about 7 years old. The oldest son was annoyed by the behavior of a little brother, who was only about 2 years old at the time
Now, they typically have one main point that is being driven home – which means don’t get lost in details. Once you get the main point in the parable, and you get the concept, you can then apply that to how you understand the Kingdom of Heaven.
Parables make up a large amount of Jesus’ teaching. The Gospel of John has no parables. Of the remaining three, Mark has the least with only 9. Matthew and Luke record 23 and 28, respectively. Out of the 9 recorded by Mark, 8 of theme are repeated in the other Gospels. One, however, is unique to Mark. And that one we are studying today, the parable of the growing seed.
The Kingdom of God
Both parables we are looking at today are explicitly meant to convey the idea of the kingdom of God. But we have to ask the question: “What is the Kingdom of God?” The kingdom of God is very simply defined as this: the rule of God over His creation. It is His authority actively governing the sphere of creation.
God’s rule is seen on two levels. First is society. This would refer to God’s kingdom established over the whole earth, over all people, where all people are bound to God’s rule and authority overtly and publicly. “Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven”.
Second is the individual person. God’s kingdom is growing one individual at a time. The citizens of God’s kingdom are being identified first. Then, one day, the world will be handed over to them in the coming kingdom of God Daniel
The Kingdom of God is Proclaimed (v26, 30)
The farmer scattering seed pictures God’s chosen ones who proclaim the kingdom of God to this world. Now the very fact that the kingdom of God must be proclaimed means that the world is unaware of the kingdom of God and needs to be made aware. Somehow, the knowledge of the kingdom of God is unknown to the people of the world.
That’s because the kingdom of God is an invasion of the kingdom that currently rules this world. Satan’s kingdom of darkness is the power in this world.
The kingdom represents a new rule, a new king, a new authority, a new sort of community, a new morality, a new knowledge, a new man. The kingdom of God in this world is a direct and fierce attack on the kingdom of darkness. There is no compatibility, there is no alignment. Both kingdoms are striving to destroy the other becuase they are mutually exclusive kingdoms.
It speaks to the reality that this world belongs to Satan right now. Within this dark world, run by Satan, are outposts of God’s kingdom. To help understand this lets illustrate. The CPUSA exists legally within the USA. Yet, the very purpose of the existence of the CPUSA is to destroy and overthrow the USA. “Members of the Communist Party USA are dedicated to helping advance the day-to-day struggles of the working class and all people on the road to a socialist USA.” Then it goes on,
The struggles for the immediate demands and reforms needed by working people today are essential steps toward our ultimate goals of the revolutionary transformation of society and the economy, toward socialism and then communism. The constant battles over issues large and small are where workers learn the lesson that more fundamental changes are necessary and that people need socialism to have a truly humane society.”
The Kingdom of God Grows (27-28, 31-32)
Perhaps most important is to realize that the kingdom of God grows. ….
The growth is not caused by the farmer. He doesn’t know how the growth happens the parable says. All he does is participate in the process by spreading the seed. Once he does that the seed does its work. The word is the seed. God’s word does its work. God’s word does not return void to God. It accomplishes all God sent it to do. God’s word is sharper than any two edged sword. God’s word pierces us deep within. God’s word is effectual because of God. “I planted, Apollos watered” Paul said in 1 Cor. 3, “But God gives the growth.” Verse 26 says, …..” God’s Kingdom is a man-made phenomena, it is supernatural. The spread of God’s Kingdom is literally proof of God’s existence and activity because it does not spread by the power of man. The Kingdom of God as a kingdom grows becasue God is behind it. That guarantees its success and it the failure of any opponent to stop it. “Who can resist God?” That kingdom happens one soul at a time too. God causes His word to grow in us individually as well.
Somehow God’s Kingdom needs to be planted and start small and grow because it is really an invasion in this world. God is doing to Satan’s rule what Satan did to God’s rule. God created all existence outside Himself: the angels, the heavens, man and earth and so on. Satan’s heart became filled with pride and he turned in rebellion against God. He was the seed of creaturely rebellion that grew. Now, within God’s creation an opposing kingdom has grown up in defiance to Him. That kingdom has a sphere where it rules and reigns (under God still). That sphere includes earth, as Satan is the prince of this world, the god of this world, the ruler of the air. Yet, now, a seed has been planted within Satan’s realm, the seed was also an individual. This time it was God’s seed, Jesus Christ. He was planted in this world and died and now from Him is continuing to grow the kingdom of God. “Unless a seed falls to the ground and dies it does not bear fruit” He said in John 12.
The Kingdom of God Harvest (29)
Finally I want us to see the “Harvest of the Kingdom of God”.
Now this is not speaking of the gathering of the wicked for judgment. There are passages that speak very similarly (Mt. 13:49-50). However, this passage is talking about the planting, the growing, the fruitbearing, and the harvesting of the kingdom of God. It’s a parable about the righteous, not the unrighteous. God will collect the saints at the end of the age and separate them from the wicked.
In the mustard seed parable next you have the kingdom of God being described as something so big that the birds of the air can perch in it. It really conveys the idea of a home, and in context, its the home of righteousness that God is bringing.
Conclusion: What kingdom are you part of?
Jesus said that to be part of the kingdom of God you must be born again.