I remember the first time I was given the project to plant something. I bought an onion from the market. I got the huge white ones that we barely even use. The onion already had green shoots sprouting from the top so I got it almost free from the vegetable stand vendor. I don’t remember if it did grow up, but I remember hating every moment of it. The onion had a weird smell that I immediately put it in the pot and buried it in earth. The next day I submitted it to my teacher and placed on the plant box in our school. I didn’t care about it afterwards.
The next project was mung beans. I thought it would be the same as the onion. I even doubted if it would ever grow. I was told to put toilet paper on a container and keep it wet. Then I was told to put the mung beans overnight. I thought it was crazy. How could those grow?
The next day was one of the most amazing moments of my life. I saw small green shoots out of the mung beans and it happened just overnight! I didn’t know that was possible. I was sure that it was a big joke but it wasn’t. It was not a huge shoot just a small green growth from a number of small reddish beans. But for someone who was born and raised in the big city, this was a new discovery.
Jesus also said, “The Kingdom of God is like a farmer who scatters seed on the ground. Night and day, while he’s asleep or awake, the seed sprouts and grows, but he does not understand how it happens. The earth produces the crops on its own. First a leaf blade pushes through, then the heads of wheat are formed, and finally the grain ripens. And as soon as the grain is ready, the farmer comes and harvests it with a sickle, for the harvest time has come.” – Mark 4:26-29
I wonder if the farmer that represented the kingdom of God was scattering mung beans. Probably the amazement in the farmer’s eyes was not as much as mine. He must have expected every seed he scattered to grow.
The parable of the growing seed is short and obscure. It is often mistaken for the longer parable of the Sower. While different in some ways, their parallelisms are astounding. The seed for one means the word of God in the longer parable and can be applicable for the shorter parable. The seed is the “Kingdom of God” implanted in the hearts of men and women who are willing to receive it.
This seed however could not just mean the gospel. The seed could be any kind word or gesture done by someone who has Christ in their heart to someone seeking the truth. Any small gesture done with the intention to make friends and to show concern to the person is a small seed planted in their heart. Small deeds and words are often valued by other people. As manifested in the parable, the seed was scattered on the ground which means that it was given freely to people. While most people in the city have heard some form of gospel elsewhere, not many have felt the impact of a good deed or word done with the intention of caring and making friends.
The farmer was said to rise up by day and sleep by night. While this does not indicate the efforts of the farmer such as tilling the soil, watering the plant or removing unnecessary bugs, the whole point of the story is that planting seeds and allowing it to grow takes time. It does take a lot of effort but there is so much a farmer can do. God does the rest for the seed to take root and grow.
Similarly, any good deed or kind word that we have done to others will eventually take root and grow in the hearts of people. They will discover in time, we are people with intentions to do them good rather than harm. This is not the work of any man, but the work of God. We are only there to scatter the seeds. God does the rest of the work. Scatter seeds of kindness and love today, this is after all the essence of what it means to be children of God.
“The point is that the farmer cannot do anything for the seed to grow. He can make the circumstances as good as possible for the seed to grow, but he cannot cause it to grow. The power to germinate, to break forth and grow is of the seed itself, by its own virtue. Man does not create life. He can only discover, rearrange and develop what is already there. Unless God causes the seed to grow, then all the effort of the farmer would be wasted.” – Yves I-Bing Cheng