A parable is an earthly story with a heavenly meaning. Do any of you remember that Sunday school definition of parables? I don’t recall when I first heard it, but it has always stuck with me and I find it helpful. Jesus teaches in parables to help us understand the kingdom of God. He also speaks in parables to fulfill scripture, and Mark chapter 4 is full of parables.
The parable that stands out to me in this chapter is the parable of the growing seed. The farmer scatters seed, and then he does nothing. As if almost by magic, the seed sprouts and grows and the earth produces its crop. A leaf pushes through the ground, heads of wheat form and then the grain ripens. Then it’s harvest time and the farmer comes in to finish the job, but he doesn’t understand how it all happened.
The New Testament Challenge is similar to this parable to me. We are like the farmer. Our job is to scatter seed, the Word of God, and then watch what happens. As we read scripture with our friends, the Word takes root and begins to sprout and grow. We don’t understand how it happens, or make it happen. We just scatter, which doesn’t sound like an overly precise or strategic effort.
Then the grain ripens and it is harvest time. What started as a seed is now a useful food. Lives are changed. People are healed. The kingdom of God grows, and it all started by just scattering seed.
In this New Testament Challenge, we are scattering seed amongst our family, friends and colleagues. This parable reminds me that we don’t have to convince, coerce or persuade people into the faith. Our job is to just invite them to read the Word along with us, and share our thoughts about scripture. The Holy Spirit will bring about the fruit. Please pray that God brings about an abundant harvest from all the seeds we are scattering through the New Testament Challenge.