The Mysterious Growth | Mark 4:26–29
26 And he said, “The kingdom of God is as if a man should scatter seed on the ground. 27 He sleeps and rises night and day, and the seed sprouts and grows; he knows not how. 28 The earth produces by itself, first the blade, then the ear, then the full grain in the ear. 29 But when the grain is ripe, at once he puts in the sickle, because the harvest has come.”
While we know a good bit about the growth cycle of plants, we don’t know everything. That’s not to say that we can’t know much more through investigation, but we must admit that we have neither observed nor concluded all there is to know. In a similar way, Scripture gives us need insight into spiritual botany, but God alone knows the full mystery of kingdom growth.
First, we must note the spiritual mysteries of our own growth. It’s clear that salvation is monergistic, worked by God alone (Eph 2:8–9). Still, Scripture presents tension between repentance and regeneration—some places seem to describe one giving rise to the other, and vice versa. Similarly, our efforts seem to be maturing us, yet it is the power of God that actually works within us (Phil 2:12–13). So, both the salvation and the sanctification processes are largely mysteries to us. Moreover, we don’t know the number of days of our lives, and God will harvest when He decides our time has been sufficient.
Second, we must note the spiritual mysteries of the kingdom. We move from the individual stalk to the entire crop, the size of which is also unknown to us. The kingdom of God gains citizens every day. In Revelation 20–21, we read about the future, earthly reign of Christ that then moves into God’s eternal reign over the New Heavens and New Earth.
Today, the kingdom of God is not yet ready, with each conversion being another sprout appearing in the field. Christians share the gospel, but we must trust the unseen Spirit do His mysterious work to bring kingdom growth. As Paul said in 1 Cor 3:6, “I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth.” Once God determines the growth to be ready, He’ll apply the sickle and bring all of His people into His future kingdom.