Sometimes our enthusiasm for sharing the Gospel deflates when we do not immediately see the fruit of our efforts. Jesus tells two more parables about seeds to explain how the kingdom grows. One is specific; the other is general. These should tame our impatience and build our perseverance.
The first parable elaborates on the previous discussion about the farmer who sows the seed everywhere, and he specifically explains how the results of evangelism take place. Only seed that has been planted can bear fruit. The farmer does his part, and the seed grows but, “He knows not how” Mark 4:24b (ESV). Time goes by, the seed sprouts, the first green blade appears, and eventually comes the harvest. We may not see the harvest after the seed leaves our hands; God takes over.
We don’t always know how God will bring about growth. Paul writes about this process as well. “I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth. So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth” 1 Corinthians 3:6-7 (ESV). Even our gifting is for Kingdom building according to Paul in Ephesians 4:11. Many different workers may touch that “plant” before the harvest comes. Kingdom work is teamwork between God and his servants.
However, the rest of Jesus’ words should more than just help us persevere; they help us have the same excitement Jesus had for his Kingdom. I cannot imagine Jesus speaking these words without passion and delight. The Kingdom “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 is sown 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 (ESV).
Do not despair. Jesus knew that we would wonder if our efforts were effective, or even worth it. God’s Kingdom is spreading throughout the earth and will continue to spread until He returns. He is working in ways we could never imagine. His church is a place of refuge, even giving protection to the weak and broken hearted. Satan knows this, and perhaps the evil that is so visible and seems so prevalent, is the way the enemy is reacting to the power and growth of God’s Kingdom. Satan does not want God’s Kingdom to disturb his wasp nest. But even the smallest effort in the name of Jesus can bring about an explosive blow against evil. Nothing and no one can stand against the Kingdom of God. The victory is ours.