Parable of the Growing Seed
The Parable of the Growing Seed (also called the Seed Growing Secretly) is a parable of Jesus which appears in only one of the Canonical gospels of the New Testament. According to Mark 4:26-29 it is a parable about growth in the Kingdom of God. It follows the parable of the Sower and the lamp under a bushel, and precedes the parable of the Mustard Seed.
The parable is as follows:
He said, "The Kingdom of God is as if a man should cast seed on the earth, and should sleep and rise night and day, and the seed should spring up and grow, he doesn't know how. For the earth bears fruit: first the blade, then the ear, then the full grain in the ear. But when the fruit is ripe, immediately he puts forth the sickle, because the harvest has come."
— Mark 4:26-29, World English Bible
This parable can be seen as related to the parable of the Sower, although it does not follow that parable immediately. One interpretation is that it serves as a "correction provided for any ancient or modern disciples who might be feeling discouraged with the amount of fruitless labor they had extended toward those" who failed to hear the message of which the parable of the Sower spoke. Even when the farmer sleeps, the Kingdom of God is still growing. Its growth is due to God, not man, and follows its own timetable.
Unlike the parable of the Sower, the seed here seems to represent the Kingdom of God itself. Differences in interpretation result from emphasising different aspects of the parable, such as the seed, the sower, or the earth.
One of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints publications from February 2003 gave the following interpretation of this parable. "An important lesson of this parable is for those of us who are teachers, whether in the home or Church classroom, or who are involved in missionary work. The germination and full flowering of living gospel seeds in the hearts and minds of those we teach depends on factors over which we may have little control. The choice of whether a person will ponder and accept the truths of the gospel belongs, as a matter of personal agency, with those we teach. If a person’s testimony is to grow until it bears mature fruit, or conversion, God must be the primary force behind our harvest. Under the influence of the Holy Spirit, we may participate in the education of those who are growing and becoming fruitful. We, as authorized sowers, need to understand and trust that the restored gospel of Jesus Christ is a living seed and that if we will teach it, the grace of God will attend those we teach, as they grow to spiritual maturity and bring forth good works. Our joy will then be full in the day of the harvest."
- Gospel of Thomas: Lamb translation and Patterson/Meyer translation.
- George R. Knight, Exploring Mark: A Devotional Commentary, Review and Herald Pub Assoc, 2004, ISBN 0-8280-1837-5, pp. 107-108.
- Richard N. Longenecker, The Challenge of Jesus' Parables, Eerdmans, 2000, ISBN 0-8028-4638-6, p. 97.
- James R. Edwards, The Gospel According to Mark, Eerdmans, 2002, ISBN 0-85111-778-3, pp. 142-144.
- Klyne Snodgrass, Stories with Intent: A comprehensive guide to the parables of Jesus, Eerdmans, 2008, ISBN 0-8028-4241-0, p. 213.
- Klyne Snodgrass, Stories with Intent: A comprehensive guide to the parables of Jesus, Eerdmans, 2008, ISBN 0-8028-4241-0, pp. 184-190.