26 He also said, ‘The kingdom of God is as if someone would scatter seed on the ground, 27and would sleep and rise night and day, and the seed would sprout and grow, he does not know how. 28The earth produces of itself, first the stalk, then the head, then the full grain in the head. 29But when the grain is ripe, at once he goes in with his sickle, because the harvest has come.’
Jesus continues to compare the Kingdom of God to the farmer sowing seeds – only now he turns to the question, who makes the seeds to grow? The farmer can prepare the soil, scatter the seeds, but then he must be patient and wait for God to cause the seeds to grow. The farmer cannot do that – he goes home and sleeps and gets up in the morning, through the cycle of time until the season comes when the seed germinates and begins to grow.
An interesting note about this parable – Paul makes reference to it, or something like it, in 1 Corinthians 3:6, “I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth.” We would tend to think – so, Paul is quoting Mark; but that cannot be because Paul wrote before Mark wrote. This then would tell us that Jesus’ parables, and likely his sayings, were widely circulated among the new churches long before any of them were written into the gospels that we know. Paul is familiar with this one, understanding the meaning, for he goes on to say, “So neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth.” The planter and the care-giver are simply God’s servants. He is talking to the church in Corinth, which has become divided over whether Paul or Apollos is the greater preacher – ever hear that one? But Paul says it’s not about that; it’s about God doing God’s work.
Look at Africa, where Christianity is growing by leaps – even under persecution. Years ago, missionaries went to Africa, and to China – they endured difficult conditions, many of them died, they got a lot of things wrong, and a lot of things right; most left when they had to, feeling like failures. But the seeds they planted are even now growing! We never know what God will do with the seeds we plant.