The Grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Love of God, and the Fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all. Amen.

Mark 4:26 “And He was saying, ‘The kingdom of God is like a man who casts seed upon the soil; 27 and goes to bed at night and gets up by day, and the seed sprouts up and grows– how, he himself does not know. 28 the soil produces crops by itself; first the blade, then the head, then the mature grain in the head. 29 But when the crop permits, he immediately puts in the sickle, because the harvest has come.’ 30 And He said, ‘How shall we picture the kingdom of God, or by what parable shall we present it? 31 It is like a mustard seed, which, when sown upon the soil, though it is smaller than all the seeds that are upon the soil, 32 yet when it is sown, grows up and becomes larger than all the garden plants and forms large branches; so that THE BIRDS OF THE AIR can NEST UNDER ITS SHADE.’ 33 And with many such parables He was speaking the word to them as they were able to hear it; 34 and He did not speak to them without a parable; but He was explaining everything privately to His own disciples.” (NASB)

Instantaneous and automatic. We’ve gotten use to things being done automatically and instantaneous. Emails, pictures, files and more are sent and received instantly. Remember when one hour photos were impressive.

Most people today get paid electronically. The money is automatically and instantly transferred from one bank account to another. A lot of money leaves your bank account the same way. We set up automatic payments and when the specified day of the month shows up the money automatically and instantaneously leaves our account. We don’t have to worry about it.

But automatic and instantaneous things also have drawbacks. Who among us hasn’t sent a confusing or embarrassing text to someone because our phone quickly auto-corrected a word that didn’t belong. Off it went before we caught it. In our increasing technological world automation and speed is becoming the norm.

Mark chapter four contains three parables–the sower and the soils, the mystery of the growing seed, and the mustard seed.

The first parable, which our lesson this morning did not include tells us the four ways in which the Word is received. The second parable is where our reading picks up this morning is called the mystery of the growing seed. The third parable is the mustard seed. The mustard seed was one of the smallest garden seeds, yet within it is the power to produce one of the largest plants in the garden.

All three parables have one underlying theme. The Word of God and the kingdom of heaven is the Seed in the parables. And the Seed contains His all sufficient power to create and grow the kingdom of God here on earth in the form of the church and in you.

Verse 26, “And He was saying, ‘The kingdom of God is like a man who casts seed upon the soil.’” the phrase “And He was saying” shows that this is a continuation of the lesson Jesus began teaching in the first part of chapter four wherein He was comparing the kingdom of God to certain aspects of 1st century agricultural life.

Here Jesus teaches that “The kingdom of God is like (or “is as if) a man who scatters seed on the ground” (v 26). The seed is the kingdom of God. Think about that for a second. In that little seed is the entire kingdom of God and all the fruits thereof. This is the point of our second parable this morning–the parable of the Muster Seed, the smallest of all “the seeds that are upon the soil, 32 yet when it is sown, grows up and becomes larger than all the garden plants and forms large branches; so that THE BIRDS OF THE AIR can NEST UNDER ITS SHADE.’”

The Seed that we have been entrusted to sow is the Kingdom of God and what does Jesus tell us to do with the kingdom of God? Throw it on the ground and go about your other business.

Unlike the Parable of the Sower and Soils there is no distinction between the kinds of soil into which the seed is sown. Each parable is constructed to teach a particular lesson about the nature of the kingdom of God. The lesson to be taught here is that the seed is cast on the soil, then the sower “goes to bed at night and gets up by day.” While the sower does nothing in regard to the seed or soil “the seed sprouts up and grows how, he himself does not know.”

This is the point of the parable. The sower, that would be us, doesn’t know. This is the point that many church denominations (some that bear the name Lutheran”), congregations, Christians, and movements choose to ignore. The revival movement of days gone by, the contemporary church movement, the church growth movement, and the here’s another growth program salesman that thinks they know.

They think they know how to grow the kingdom. They how to fertilize the soil and the seed.

But the sower of the seed in the parable doesn’t have anything to do with the growth of the seed. Jesus tells us “he himself does not know.” The sower not only doesn’t have anything to do with the growth of the seed, the sower doesn’t know how the seed comes to maturity. The sower can’t do anything to help the process along because he doesn’t understand how it goes from a seed to the fully matured plant.

Jesus said, 28 “The soil/earth produces crops by itself; first the blade, then the head, then the mature grain in the head.” The Greek term here means “automatically.” The soil/the earth produces the blade, the head, and the mature grain automatically—no further intervention is needed. What we do know is that we have a promise that in time the harvest will be plentiful.

There is among Christian people (we are a among them) a sinful disposition that does not trust God to tend to the seed and grow His kingdom. We want to figure out what we can do to grow our congregation or explain its decline and mitigate the damage.

For some 28 years now I have watched church attendance, membership, interest in Christian education, and a life centered around the Word and sacrament ministry decline. I have watched so called “good Christians” tear apart their own congregations and so have some of you.

Your Pastor, our working groups, and the electors would love to come up with a sure fire way to reverse Immanuel’s decline. If the truth be known when we meet each month we have this little bit of hope that we can come up with some event, some program, some way to reach people in our community that will get people to show up in church.

We’re not alone. There is no shortage of programs, articles, and even professional church developers out there offering all kinds of ideas that are suppose to help dying churches turn the ship around.

Then there is the problem of all those people we know, family and friends who seem to be outside the kingdom of God. What secret words could we speak that would bring them back to the faith they learned as children.

But all of that wishful thinking as pious as it sounds boils down to this. We think that there is something to be done, something that we can do to help God grow the kingdom.

The way to fix a dying church, or how to get our loved ones to believe, or even how to become better Christians ourselves is not in what we can do, but what God has already done. To ask what can be done or to think we can do something is to assume that something is missing, that God has left something out.

As tempting as it is, we have no business inserting ourselves into the process. In temporal matters, it is a bad idea to meddle in things that we do not understand. Even more so in regard to the kingdom of God and the mysteries associated with His kingdom. We are not to be about the business of forcing God’s hand so that the kingdom grows at a pace pleasing to us. The growth of the kingdom of God is up to God, not us.

Christ’s death on the cross has redeemed the whole world, and the kingdom of God is already sown everywhere that Gospel is preached—in you and me, in the people of God in the Church, in your unbelieving loved one and in your atheist neighbor, when they’ve heard the Gospel.

The only growth that is going to happen will occur by God’s design, not by your effort, pressure, stress, or badgering. It is God who grants the growth automatically.

We are to be about business of sowing the seed. We are to be about the business of making the most of our opportunities given to us to speak the Gospel. We are to be about the business of serving our community and neighbors.

Paul said it this way in 1 Corinthians 3:6-7 “I planted, Apollos watered, but God was causing the growth. So then neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but God who causes the growth.”

The Word of God is the seed and it works in two ways, corporately, growing the church on earth, and personally, creating and sustaining faith in the heart of every believer. We plant, we water, but God causes growth where and when He pleases.

And the kingdom of God is growing all the time, every time a child is properly baptized, everything a sinner repents, the power in the seed is unleased. And it does what is in its nature. It grows up, it becomes what it is suppose to be, and it bears fruit.

In another parable Jesus told his disciples that the seed had to fall to the ground die before it could grow and bare fruit. John 12:24 “Truly, truly I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.”

That brings us to the Old Testament lesson. Ezekiel 17:22-24 “Thus says the Lord GOD, ‘I shall also take a sprig from the lofty top of the cedar and set it out; I shall pluck from the topmost of its young twigs a tender one, and I shall plant it on a high and lofty mountain. On the high mountain of Israel I shall plant it, that it may bring forth boughs and bear fruit, and become a stately cedar. And birds of every kind will nest under it; they will nest in the shade of its branches. And all the trees of the field will know that I am the LORD . . . I am the LORD; I have spoken, and I will perform it.’”

In the seed of God’s Word we have everything needed for growth in the grace and glory of God. It is all in there, because Jesus Christ is the Seed. He is the Word of God. He is the kingdom of God. Remember what He said when He first sent out His disciples. Matthew 10:7 “And as you go, preach, saying, ‘The kingdom of heaven has come near.’”

Jesus was the twig that was set on the high hill of Golgatha who died and withered away. He is the Seed that became the tree which God has caused to flourish. He started with 12 disciples and the Word of the Lord grew into the New Testament church.

Now if the atom itself, which was created by God is so powerful, if the genetic code of DNA holds the key to every unique person, if a little seed can produce the giant California Redwoods, the largest trees in the world, then know this, in the little seed of God’s Word, which is at work in you this very movement and at work in this congregation, is the power of forgiveness, life, salvation, and a new creation. It is all in There, In the Word spoken, in the Word baptized, in the Word consecrated. It is all there.

The question still lingers doesn’t it? What do we do about declining churches? What do we do about our seemingly lost loved ones? How do we increase our faith? The answer to those questions is also in the parable today: “[The man] sleeps and rises night and day, and the seed sprouts and grows; he knows not how” (v 27). Like the man, we go about our day-to-day business as a child of God in our God-given vocations.

We confidently ask for God to grant the growth that he wills for us, for those we love, for the holy catholic Church throughout the world, and for those in whom the kingdom of God is still but a seed. In the end, the harvest will come only when the grain is ripe and when the Lord has given growth to the kingdom as he desires.

We will be tempted along the way to try to help things along by our own effort or strength. But just as you cannot force a flower to bloom or don’t always know exactly what makes the coffee cake so good, in time, the kingdom’s beauty and goodness will be revealed and will be far more joyous than you could have imagined.

Thy kingdom come: Conclusion: So rather than stress, know that when it comes to kingdom growth and faith development, ignorance is bliss, for by the Gospel of Jesus’ death and resurrection, God will grant the growth in his time and his way. For now, we each live in faithful patience night and day as a child of God, praying in hope for the growth that he has promised will come. Amen.



In the smallest seed of His Word is found all the glory and power of God. In the Gospel of Christ, there is forgiveness of sin, a new nature, a promised victory over sin, death, and the devil, eternal life, a heavenly home, freedom, peace, and much more.

The most immediate and radical change that will ever occur in the life of a person takes place right there, in that baptismal font. Nothing else will even come close to that conversion worked by God through the means of Grace. In that moment when a person is baptized, a saint is created. In that seed of baptism everything that belongs to the Gospel is given. In the moment when the words are spoken, in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, the mustard seed of God’s Word planted and starts to grow and so has the church. That’s what is meant when the parable tells us that birds for every kind take nest in the tree. The tree is the church, and the birds the baptized children of God who come from every nation.

That is the quickest work of God anyone will ever see. Yet, it is only grasped by faith. Now that takes living by faith, to look at a little mustard seed called God’s Word and know that in it lives the very power of God. Verse seven of the epistle reading said, {7} for we walk by faith, not by sight.” From the moment of that baptism the seed of God’s Word is working its way, slowly, hidden, and throughout the entire life of the Christian to produce great fruit. And it all started from the seed of God’s Word, in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.

The older we get, the longer we live in these sin ridden bodies, the more we long for the heavenly body that is to come. Take a look at some of us, it is hard to see God working in our bodies to produce something great. It is hard to believe that all the power of God is working in us when it appears to us that we are wasting away. But it is true. That is what Paul meant when he wrote in 1 Cor. 5:{4} “For indeed while we are in this tent, we groan, being burdened, because we do not want to be unclothed, but to be clothed, in order that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life.”

Third Sunday after Pentecost, 2021 – Automatically

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *