When the Christ came to bring his kingdom, it wasn’t what his people (the Jews) expected. They were keeping an eye out for the climactic and decisive moment when the dirty and sinful would be condemned, and the clean and righteous would reign victorious.
Instead, Jesus explained it to them in pictures :
“It is like a grain of mustard seed, which when sown on the ground, is the smallest of all the seeds on earth, yet when it grows up and becomes larger than all the garden plants and puts out large branches, so that the birds of the air can make nests in its shade.” Mark 4:31-32.
Thus, the kingdom is one of gradual growth – not apocalyptic climax.
What is this seed? It’s the truth Christ came to reveal. Jesus explains this in the parable of the seed. The kingdom grows as the word (the seed) is spread widely and people react differently to it.
“A sower went out to sow. And as he sowed, some seed fell along the path, and the birds came and devoured it.”
Jesus interprets this for his disciples later on:
“These are the ones along the path, where the word is sown: when they hear, Satan immediately comes and takes away the word that is sown in them.”
First possible response to the word: Outright rejection.
“Other seed fell on rocky ground, where they did not have much soil, and immediately it sprang up, since it had no depth of soil. And when the sun rose, it was scorched, and since it had no root, it withered away.”
“And these are the ones sown on rocky ground: the ones who, when they hear the word, immediately receive it with joy. And they have no root in themselves, but endure for awhile, then, when tribulation or persecution arises on account of the word, immediately they fall away.”
Second possible response to the word: Eager acceptance without growth and endurance and so when the tough times come, they don’t last.
“Other seed fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked it, and it yielded no grain.”
“And others are sown among thorns. They are those who hear the word, but the cares of the world and the deceitfulness of riches and the desires for other things enter in and choke the word, and it proves unfruitful.”
Third possible response: You can hear it, but replace it with the distractions and temporary satisfactions of the world.
“And other seeds fell into good soil and produced grain, growing up and increasing and yielding thirtyfold and sixtyfold and a hundredfold.”
“But those that were sown on the good soil are the ones who hear the word and accept it and bear fruit, thrityfold and sixtyfold and a hundredfold.”
Fourth possible response: Acceptance and growth.
This reminded me of what we were looking at in Bible Study last night. In 2 Peter 1, Peter is writing a letter to a church that is surrounded by false teaching and as he lies on his deathbed he reminds them of the truth they have in Christ. One thing that came up in discussion was what makes you a Christian? And we concluded it wasn’t that you believed but that you believed and are fruitful (Look at 2 Peter 1:5-11 to see what that looks like), that you are active in your faith, which is a huge challenge when you think about it. I think Jesus illustrates just that in the parable above.
So can I challenge you, to think about which reaction you are going to take to the gospel or the reaction you have taken, and consider what’s best. Just let me, before you do that, remind you as Peter does:
“Therefore, brothers, be all the more diligent to make your calling and election sure, for if you practice these qualities you will never fall. For in this way there will be richly provided for you an entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
Therefore, I intend always to remind you of these qualities, though you know them and are established in the truth that you have.” 2 Peter 1:10-12