Jesus Creed

Jesus Creed


Friday is for Friends

posted by xscot mcknight

We look today at the parable of the growing seed from Mark 4:26-29. We are looking at the parable by reading through Klyne Snodgrass, Stories with Intent, and here is the text:
Once you read the parable and Klyne’s view of its central point, what reflection do you have? How would you “apply” it?
26 He also said, ?This is what the kingdom of God is like. A man scatters seed on the ground. 27 Night and day, whether he sleeps or gets up, the seed sprouts and grows, though he does not know how. 28 All by itself the soil produces grain?first the stalk, then the head, then the full kernel in the head. 29 As soon as the grain is ripe, he puts the sickle to it, because the harvest has come.?
Same format: parable type (similitude) and helpful primary source material (OT, NT, Greco-Roman, early Christian and later Jewish writings). Klyne puts this parable in a section of parables on the present kingdom.
Is this a parable of contrast instead of growth? Klyne says the words of the text say if this is a contrast it contrasts the activity of the man and the seed’s activity/man’s inactivity during growth, or the attitudes of the man in working and not working.
The title traditionally given, the seed growing secretly, is fine but “secrecy” is not in the text. Titles matter. Klyne suggests “the parable of the growing seed.”
Options…
1. Medieval: Christ implanting divine seed in human hearts.
2. Older liberal: gradual evolution of kingdom in human society.
3. Apocalyptic: imminent judgment theme in parable. …. etc.
It all depends on what is taken to be the central feature of the parable: seed, man, earth, growth, … but the whole process is in view in a parable like this, not just one of the elements.
The man’s inactivity is not the point.
What about “automate” (“of itself”)? Means without human intervention. “The parable is not teaching how humans should act; it is showing what the kingdom is like.” Thus, the kingdom is like a process of growth that will move automatically toward growth.
There is probably an allusion to Joel 3:13.
Point: Jesus’ ministry has inaugurated a sequence of action leading to the fullness of God’s kingdom.



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Michelle Van Loon

posted April 11, 2008 at 6:49 am


This parable is a portrait of the supernatural nature of kingdom growth, isn’t it? Our attempts to manipulate growth with fertilizer or farming techniques are not a part this process. Growth is in the DNA of the seed, and in the soil.



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Bob Brague

posted April 11, 2008 at 7:19 am


Seed, man, earth, growth…yes. But how do you KNOW that the man’s inactivity is not the point? Or at least A point? Perhaps it speaks of the longsuffering [patience] of God toward mankind, as exemplified by 2 Peter chp 3. I mean, how do you KNOW?



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Bob Brague

posted April 11, 2008 at 7:20 am


…if the man represents God, and the seed/corn represents humanity, and the harvest involves the angels at the end of the world…



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WaynO

posted April 11, 2008 at 7:43 am


a thought occured to me as I read this. As I talk with young people my children included I usually try to make clear that what we plant will have an effect on our lives. If a man plants good seeds he will have a good crop of good stuff. If a man plants weeds he will harvest only weeds.
Jesus is the harvester and we will reap what we sow??????
WaynO



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Ken

posted April 11, 2008 at 7:46 am


I believe Kingdom parables have broad application. It relates to the old ‘function’ vs. ‘structure’ thought. If we try to apply structure to the parable, we may be in danger of limiting application to a much broader spectrum of meaning in various life-situations. If we apply function to the parable, it gives the Spirit liberty to apply Kingdom principle to specific situations at specific times.
i.e. I have used this parable in looking to make a paradigm shift of how we view ‘evangelism’ in the modernistic traditional church. If the ‘harvest’ represents a conversion of a soul from darkness to the light of the gospel, the traditional church exhalts and celebrates only the act of putting in the sickle, and statistically points out that only about 10% of the church are ‘gifted’ sickle-handlers. I contend that evangelism is a process, and there may be many who participate in the conversion experience; from the sowing of the seed to the putting in of the sickle. If this is true, then 100% of the church should be involved in the harvest. Thus, evangelism is a process, not an event.



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Peggy

posted April 11, 2008 at 12:03 pm


What happened to the principle that parables are stories Jesus used to get across one point? There are always many levels of application and thought, but they are to be subordinate to the intended point, are they not?
The point of this parable seems to be strongly “organic” in that the seed (which is usually The Word/Gospel), when planted, grows according to its Divine DNA — it has all the “code” by which a fully grown replication of the seed may be reproduced. It is a process — salvation is another of those “already/not yet” paradoxes which becomes evident in stages of growth and is meant to lead to maturity and functionality.



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mariam

posted April 12, 2008 at 12:39 am


Christ’s followers are the sowers. The good news is the seed. We plant that seed by word and deed. Once the seed is planted it will grow of it’s own accord. We often cannot see whether or not the seed we have planted will grow to fruition nor when. We do not know how God causes that seed to grow. We do not need to keep on digging up the seed to see whether it has sprouted, keep weeding around it or build a fence around the field. Our job is only to plant and to trust.



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Richard

posted April 12, 2008 at 6:23 am


Perhaps the parable is used by the Apostle John in writing to children (blade), young men (stalk) and fathers (full ear). (My apologies to any of my sisters in Christ whom might still have difficulties in excepting their wonderfull vechicle of God’s expression as perfect.)
If a house can be not a home ( No matter the size), what of a kingdom in discontent? Our bottom line in the moment isn’t yesterday, today or tomorrow. It isn’t fear, victory or security but the (sometime turbulent) rest in the steadfast awesomeness of the Love our Heavenly Father in the growing up His children in the obedience of their big brother.
All of Jesus’s parabless speak to me (as the bible does) of relationship and therfore identity… proof of the Kingdom.



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mariam

posted April 12, 2008 at 11:49 am


#8 Richard – So the seed are actually “seed” in the OT sense? And women are the ground? And the men don’t have to do anything but spread their seed? I don’t know. Sounds like a mixed metaphor to me. You know what God did to Onan.



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Bob Brague

posted April 13, 2008 at 6:59 am


Mariam (#9), I don’t want to put words in Richard’s (#8) mouth. He can reply for himself if he chooses. But I think Richard was apologizing (sort of) for using masculine terms like “young men” and “fathers” in his reference to I John 2:12-14 because he knew that some of his sisters in Christ have issues with non-gender-neutral language in the New Testament. He was talking about blade, stalk, full ear of corn, as far as I can see. Perhaps he can explain what he meant by women having difficulties in accepting their wonderful vehicle of God’s expression as perfect. He didn’t say women weren’t blade, stalk, and full ear of corn themselves.
I don’t get the leap from what he said to what you said in your response at all. It seems a little over the top to me. And Onan’s sin was that he *didn’t* spread his seed. (I guess your response makes some sense if you think he said women were the ground.) Can you elaborate on the steps in your thinking? I’m fascinated. But I’m also confused. Could you be missing what he is saying?



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mariam

posted April 14, 2008 at 2:06 am


11. Bob, Richard,
I realized later that I was probably over reacting to what I thought Richard was saying, when in truth I read it later I didn’t get what he was saying at all. So my apologies, Richard, if I have totally missed what you were saying. My impression was that he was saying the patriarchial home was an expression of God’s kingdom and the raising of son’s in a traditional home where the man is in charge and the woman’s accepts her God-given role is a model for, or even the work of kingdom. I assumed that because he talked about using male references to speak of the crop when there is no gender expressed in the parable. He also refers to his sisters “who might have difficulty expressing their wonderful vehicle of God’s expression as perfect”. It never occurred to me he was talking about gender-specific language here and how he apologized if we didn’t feel included, because the language in the parable is not gender specific, while his is. By re-interpreting the parable with male-only terms that are not there in the original parable he does appear to be excluding women from the Kingdom. It’s true that he didn’t say women weren’t blade, stalk and full ear of corn, but why not then refer to children and blades, young people as stalks and parents as full ears. Why use gender-specific language which is not in the parable, not accidently but deliberately, since he recognizes women might be offended by his interpretation.
He also says if the “house cannot be a home” what of a Kingdom in discontent. I honestly don’t see any connection to the parable in this unless he is somehow making this all about viewing the patriarchical family model as some sort of model for Kingdom.
As to my reference to Onan, I apologize. I hit submit and I should have deleted that sentence first. I made the connection, which I admit was a silly one, because Onan spilled his seed on the ground, which is what the sower does here and also because Onan is trying to evade responsibility, which if we take the parable literally also appears to be what the sower is doing. What do I think the story of Onan have to do with this parable? Absolutely nothing. What do I think this parable tells us about how to organize our families? Absolutely nothing. That was my rather badly-made point.



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Richard

posted April 14, 2008 at 6:48 am


My intent in my statement was was caught by Marian on her first reading. I am misinterpeted as often as it takes and who isn’t?
I soly meant that acceptance of ourselves, as God has us for His glory, is purely an exhebition of the Love that overcomes hate or indifference ( man-woman, black-white, homely-eye candy. Thus, salvation from bondage by the Love of God for choosing the better good.
I have been impressed by the symbology in the old testament regarding the freed slaves who in their freedom could choose to show allegiance to their master by placing an awl through their ear pierced to the door.
Thank you for not writting me off, I know I can be dificult.



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Richard

posted April 14, 2008 at 9:45 am


I have a moment that I can write in somewhat haste just to say That all parables, to me point to Kingdom as the person Jesus Christ since not a thing that exists was was not made by Him, and in Him we live and move and have our being. Finaly, it is so true that the Kingdom of God is within us as the living word by the same Holy Spirit.
Kingdom is family and if I don’t know what the Kingdom is, I know where He’s at, wrapped in humanity… as a person, Loved by God to the point of bloodshed.



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mariam

posted April 14, 2008 at 12:18 pm


Richard, thank you for clarifying (sort of). There is a long discussion possible here on what I think you are saying but, since I don’t actually think it is germane to the current post, or this parable, I look forward to discussing these issues at some other time.
I agree that finding ways of expressing our love of our Lord and our fellow man, no matter what situation we find ourselves in, in submitting our own will to God, and therefore the greater good is related to this parable. Even in Auschwitz and Dachua there were those, living under the most terrible of injustices, who allowed God to use them in love and service. However, I don’t think we need to perpetuate or affirm unjust systems like slavery and patriarchy to do that.



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