Lesson 6: Growth and the Kingdom (Mark 4:26-41)

 

LAST WEEK IN REVIEW

 

Mark 4 is a sampling of the parables of Jesus, and is the only place where Mark records them. These parables are all interlinked to refer to truths about the growth of the Kingdom, but also have implications and applications for our own personal lives. In our prior study, we examined the meaning of the terms parable and mystery and how these concepts were a part of understanding the Kingdom of God. The primary focus Mark led us to last time was the parable of the soils. This parable told us much about the impact of the Gospel on various lives, depending on how receptive they are to its message. Jesus told the people to listen to these things if they had ears to hear, to hear with perception; yet He had to explain this parable even to His closest followers. We also examined how these things specifically impact our own lives when we examine God’s Word, and that we must proactively prepare our own heart’s soil so that we become people who will bear fruit for the Kingdom.

 

This week we conclude this brief look at the parables of Jesus. We will at once see that the theme of the soils and the seed is continued on, and again there is more than one way to interpret it. This week we will also do something different. We will examine Mark 4:26-41 for the first three days of study, and spend the following two days focusing on how these things relate to our own personal growth in Christ.

 

DAY ONE:  Patience and Spiritual Growth

Please carefully read Mark 4:26-29 and answer the following questions.

 

1.  What is the next parable that Jesus related (v. 26, 27)?


2.  Verse 27 is an awkward phrase in Greek at least to us, but probably not to Mark’s readers of the day. The nlt translates this phrase as “he went on with other activities.” Others say that it means whether he rises up and checks to see if there has been any change, he can’t do anything to make that growth occur, but it occurs mysteriously and eventually.[i] What will happen to the planted seed in good time (v. 28)?

 

3.  What will the farmer’s reaction be to this (v. 29)?

 

4.  “The earth yields crops by itself.” This comes from the Greek word automate; autos meaning self, and memaa meaning to desire eagerly. It is where we get our word automatic. This is an automatic process of the seed germinating and growing, and while we may sit and stare at a plant to watch it grow and bear fruit, or even water and feed the soil, we don’t make it grow. This is helpful for us to remember when we share the Gospel, planting seeds in others’ hearts. We must be patient and let God do His work in bringing the person to Christ. John Phillips well said it: “Ultimately all life comes from God. The most zealous believer can no more convert a soul than he could create a star. Life, especially spiritual life, remains a mystery.”[ii]