The Ignorant Farmer: Mark 4:26-29

Focus Passage: Mark 4:26-29 (NIrV)

26 Jesus also said, “Here is what God’s kingdom is like. A farmer scatters seed on the ground. 27 Night and day the seed comes up and grows. It happens whether the farmer sleeps or gets up. He doesn’t know how it happens. 28 All by itself the soil produces grain. First the stalk comes up. Then the head appears. Finally, the full grain appears in the head. 29 Before long the grain ripens. So the farmer cuts it down, because the harvest is ready.”

Read Mark 4:26-29 in context and/or in other translations on BibleGateway.com!

One of the topics Jesus seemed to like using for parables was the topic of farming. In a number of places in the gospels, we can read Jesus using this occupation to help teach the crowds about spiritual truths. In Mark’s gospel, we read a parable about farming that sounds similar to other farming parables, but is also pretty unique.

In this parable, Jesus begins in verse 26 by saying, “Here is what God’s kingdom is like.” This preface tells me that everything that is about to be described will symbolically relate to God’s kingdom. A good percentage of Jesus’ parables begin this way, so we can conclude that this subject is something that Jesus wants us to understand.

Jesus then continues by sharing the illustration. “A farmer scatters seed on the ground. Night and day the seed comes up and grows. It happens whether the farmer sleeps or gets up. He doesn’t know how it happens. All by itself the soil produces grain. First the stalk comes up. Then the head appears. Finally, the full grain appears in the head. Before long the grain ripens. So the farmer cuts it down, because the harvest is ready.” (v. 26b-29)

What strikes me as odd in this parable is that in almost every other parable were God’s kingdom is represented, God shows up as one of the characters. In this parable, the most likely character to represent God is the farmer, but Jesus describes the farmer has being ignorant about how grain grows – and since God knows everything, this doesn’t seem to fit.

But perhaps there is an element of mystery in a being created with free will. While God can step outside of time and see the future and the past, when He is within time, in the moment we are experiencing right now, I wonder if He experiences surprise or excitement when we do something unexpected.

In this parable, God plants seeds in our hearts, and He tries to give the right set of circumstances to help these seeds grow. At the end of our lives, when we have fully “ripened”, God will harvest us. This is because our current life is simply a preparation stage for the life to come.

I wonder if the farmer’s ignorance is because God has chosen to allow us the freedom of choice regarding salvation. I wonder if God has purposely limited Himself to allow us to choose whether we will grow the seeds He has planted in our hearts. If we grow the grain He planted, and produce “fruits of the spirit”, then when we are ripe, we will be harvested and brought into the future life in heaven to live with Him forever!

This thought was inspired by studying the Walking With Jesus "Reflective Bible Study" package. To discover insights like this in your own study time, click here and give Reflective Bible Study a try today!

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