Jesus presents two parables in this excerpt from Mark 4:26-29 (the sown seed). In Jesus’ time, people thought that there was only so much of anything to go around, e.g. wealth, honor, etc. We would call it “zero sum gain;” you can’t make the pie bigger so more would be available. Anyone who suddenly realized an increase in wealth, for example, would have been considered a thief. He would have taken someone’s wealth away. One persons gain was another persons loss. (That’s why “rich people” are often presented in a negative light; they got richer by taking it away from some else.) There were exceptions to this rule, like crops, livestock, children. If someone realized a sudden increase, he should share it with others. To not do this was considered greed. (Remember the parable in Luke about the guy who tore his barns down to build bigger ones and died suddenly?)
So, what about the parable. Notice the farmer does nothing to increase the yield, yet the crop grows. Maybe, God is saying if you depend solely on your own efforts, the Kingdom won’t grow. You need to rely on God. Yes, you work but realize that God is necessary to be with us in our efforts. We see this through the psalms. For example, Psalm 127: “Unless the Lord builds the house, they labor in vain who build.” And, again: “It is vain for you to rise early and put off your rest at night, to eat bread earned by hard toil-all this God gives to His beloved when they sleep.” Does this mean that we don’t need to do anything? Of course not. But, we must realize God is present in what we do and we are not alone in our endeavors; God is there. We need to trust in Him.
That’s one interpretation of the parable. What do you think? (To be continued: a mustard seed plant!)