Contact Us

  • Phone: (509) 747-3007
  • Email:
  • Mosaic Address:
    606 West 3rd Ave., Spokane, WA 99201

Service Times

  • Sunday:  8:30 am, 10 am, 11:30 am
  • Infant through 5th grade Sunday School classes available
  • FREE Parking!



Back To List

May 19, 2024


Passage: Mark 4:26-34

Preacher: John Repsold

Series: Gospel of Mark

Keywords: hope, witness, perseverance, patience, power of the word, kingdom parable


Word Power

Mark 4:26-34

May 19, 2024

Fellowship Question:

Tell someone about something in your life that seemed or seems to be taking a lonnnnnng time to complete.

INTRO:  So much of life takes a long time! 

  • Growing up
  • Making life-long friends
  • Developing a career
  • Building a family/raising kids

None of those can be done in a day or month or even a year.  Things that really matter take time…and often lots of it. 

            That’s one of the main thrusts of Jesus’ parables today in Mark 4.  It’s a very timely parable for this time of year—spring planting.  But it’s universally timely for anyone who struggles with feeling like they aren’t seeing a lot of growth or change or progress in something that really, really matters to you…like your walk with Christ…or witness to others.

The Parable of the Growing Seed

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.”

            Mark’s Gospel only gives us about a quarter of the parables found in each of the Gospels of Matthew and Mark.  And this particular parable about the Power of the Seed only occurs in Mark.  It’s easy to understand possibly why.  It’s not a particularly memorable parable.  It doesn’t have any real surprises or great irony or humor in it like many parables do.  But I have a hunch that Mark included this parable because he may have been extra-sensitive to the Spirit’s message in this parable.  How so?

            Well, who was Mark?  John Mark, you may remember, was a companion of Paul and Barnabas on their first missionary journey.  Mark left them to return to Jerusalem mid-trip.  For that, he was scratched from Paul’s list of possible team-members when he and Barnabas were deciding who to take on the second missionary journey (Acts 15).  Paul was so utterly convinced against John Mark that he was willing to even jettison Barnabas from the team rather than include Mark. 

            While Mark was not one of the 12 Apostles, he is first mentioned in Acts 12:12 in reference to his mother, Mary.  She was holding that famous prayer meeting in her home when the angel sprung Peter from prison in the middle of the night and Peter when to her their house.  He and his mother, Mary, were, apparently, important in the early Christian community of Jerusalem. 

            Many biblical scholars believe that the reference in Mark 14:51-52 to the young man who fled (naked…after parting with his ’linen garment’) in the Garden of Gethsemane when Jesus was arrested is, in fact, Mark.  Mark is also referenced in 1 Peter 5:13 when Peter calls him his “son”, a reference to the close relationship Mark had with Peter when Peter was imprisoned in Rome. 

            Church tradition believes that Mark was the founder of the Coptic Church in Egypt.  Copts also believe that Mark was tied to a horse and dragged to his death by a mob of pagans on Easter, 68 A.D., in Alexandria. 

            So, how does all that play into this parable?  How might you have felt if you had been hanging out a lot with the 12 Apostles, so much so that you were even in the Garden of Gethsemane with Jesus during his most difficult hour…and you ran?  Then your next great achievement was to be a missionary drop-out in the early church…followed by a public rejection of you by the most important missionary in church history?  Anyone beginning to feel like you can identify with this guy?

But for all Mark’s faults and failures, he’s a plodder.  He didn’t give up because he wasn’t one of the 12.  He didn’t give up because he ran when Jesus needed him most.  He didn’t give up when he faltered on his first missionary assignment.  He didn’t give up when Barnabas broke with Paul over him.  He kept going.  He kept helping the chief Apostle Peter.  He kept gathering the stories and parables and teachings of Jesus for the earliest and shortest Gospel we have.  He kept taking God’s word to pagan lands, apparently to his brutal and bloody martyrdom. He was, as missionary William Carey said of himself, “one who could plod.” 

Why was that?  I think it was because of this parable.  As such, this is a parable every one of us desperately needs to embrace.  So, let’s pick this parable apart. 

You’ll remember that this parable followed shortly after the parable of the Sower and the soils.  That parable was all about how important it is how we receive the seed of the Word of God whenever it is scattered in our life.  Jesus via Mark told us back in vs. 14 that the “seed” is the Word of God. 

“This is what the kingdom of God is like. A man scatters seed on the ground. 

Jesus is telling his followers about the nature of HIS kingdom, His reign in this world, His initiated reclamation of the world He created and sustains.  He chooses one of the most common, plain, ordinary activities of his hearers.  And he tells this parable in one of the most ordinary, plain, unembellished ways possible. 

            “Some generic, ordinary, unremarkable, rural farmer scattered some unnamed, unspecified, uninteresting “seed” on some plain ol’, very ordinary, dirt.”  You can almost hear the crowd yawning.  But it fits perfectly the message Jesus wants to communicate.  THIS IS A PARABLE FOR ORDINARY PEOPLE IN ORDINARY LIFE FEELING VERY ORDINARY!

            But you know what Jesus is telling us ordinary folks?  “My kingdom employs ordinary people like you to spread the seed of my Word in this world.  You’re all farmers!  You’re all ordinary people with ordinary jobs doing seemingly ordinary, uneventful, sometimes tedious work.  BUT, don’t be fooled.  The ‘seed’ that you’ve been given of the Word of God…that ‘seed’ that has been sown into the soil of your own life…that’s the seed I want you to ‘scatter on the ground’ all around your life.” 

From talking to us as the soil he now reminds us again that we are also the farmers.

APP:  I sincerely hope that you believe what Jesus’ believed and taught about your ‘call to the ministry.’  Ajay reminded us of that when he asked, “How many of you have been called to the mission field?”  And he showed us that ALL of us are called to be missionaries—“sent-ones”…or else we’re ‘the mission field.’  In God’s eyes, all of us are kingdom farmers in this life.  If you have received the Word of God into the soil of your life and it is bearing fruit, then you have ‘seed’ that needs to be sown into the lives of others—your family, your neighbors, your fellow-students, your work associates, your friends, your acquaintances, etc.  What we have each received we are each expected to scatter around. 

            BTW, I love the fact that he uses this term “scatter”.  (Greek:  ballo) = to throw or let go of a thing without caring where it falls.  Jesus didn’t say we had to go to the store, get planting pots, fill them with a certain soil, measure how deep to put the seed, cover it lightly, water it daily and make sure it gets 12 hours of light/day.  Nope.  He just said, “Throw it out there in the field.”  Pass along the Word of God to the soil of other’s souls like a farmer who enjoys lightening the sack of grain around his neck by broadcast seeding.

ILL:  As I was thinking of that this week, running the park one morning, I was asking God how I could do that with my new neighborhood.  God just put in my mind a picture of going door-to-door inviting our neighbors to join us this fall for a “Bible-discussion dinner” or a series of Alpha Course dinners at our house.  “What good’s your house if you’re not going to invite your neighbors into it?” the Lord whispered.  That’s one of the fields God has assigned to me and Sandy. 

ILL:  It doesn’t even have to be that formal.  It can be as simple as simply weaving into a passing conversation the word of God in you.

Jerry Larson—stopped by to drop off N.T.s a couple of weeks ago.  Told me of an experience God gave him driving down some main street a few weeks ago.  He pulled up to a stoplight on a beautiful spring day and a guy on a motorcycle pulled up next to him.  Jerry rolled down his window and said, “Beautiful day, isn’t it?”  The guy lifted up his helmet face shield and they started a short conversation.  As the light was turning, the fellow wrapped it up with, “Well have a great day.” To which Jerry responded, “Well, may Jesus give you a great day.” 

            The guy stopped and said, “Did you say Jesus? I need to talk with you.”  So they pulled over down the block, Jerry got out, and the fellow told him, “You’re the 3rd person to talk to me about Jesus today!  Why did you do that?”  So Jerry shared the Gospel with him…and led him to the Lord right there leaning against the hood of his car.” 

            It was all about just ‘throwing out’ the simplest seed of just the name of Jesus Christ! That’s what happens when God has prepared the soil.

APP:  Where are the lives around you…the soil…that God is asking you to throw His seed/Word into?  The grocery checker who you could say, “God bless you today” to?  The neighbor you could have coffee with?  The long-time friend you could invite to read the Bible with you? 

            One of the primary jobs of a farmer is to scatter seed.  In fact, you could say that, if you’re unwilling to scatter seed, you’re probably not a farmer at all. 

ILL:  Frankly, planting is one of my favorite stages of gardening.  I like it a lot better than weeding…or pruning…or thinning…or sod-busting…or mulching…or watering.  There is something very hopeful and anticipatory about planting.  Where else in life can you take lifeless, brown little things, submerge them in dirt…and get the most amazing food and colors for months to come?  Farmers love to sow…and children of the King love to talk about their Daddy.   

27 Night and day, whether he sleeps or gets up, the seed sprouts and grows, though he does not know how.

Having talked about the PLANTING of the Word, Jesus now moves to

2.) …the POWER of the Word.  Notice that this has nothing to do with the farmer’s efforts at this point.  He can be passed out cold sleeping.  He can be sipping his breakfast coffee.  He can be doing anything…and the seed is doing things he can’t even understand. 

Jesus spoke this in an age when little to nothing was understood about the molecular and photosynthetic engine of a seed.  Today we know that the sprouting, growth, development and fruiting of any seed is an amazingly complex genetic, chemical and molecular process that rivals the most advanced factory in the world…all in a little seed. 

            For as much work as farming and gardening take on our part, God wants us to remember that He is actually doing the heavy lifting…night and day…24-7.  And so is the Word of God. 

            This Word is miraculous.  It does work nothing else can do. 

Isaiah 55:10-11—

As the rain and the snow
    come down from heaven,
and do not return to it
    without watering the earth
and making it bud and flourish,
    so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater,
11 so is my word that goes out from my mouth:
    It will not return to me empty,
but will accomplish what I desire
    and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.  

Hebrews 4:12--For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper 

than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.

Romans 1:16--For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes: first to the Jew, then to the Gentile.

There is an unseen power in the Word of God. 

There is an inevitability about the Word of God.

There is a beauty about the word of God that isn’t visible when we plant it, but it’s there.    

There is a force, a drive, a life about the word of God that rivals the life and force and power of a ‘simple’ seed. 

            None of those things in a seed or in the Word depend upon the farmer.  They all depend upon God who made every seed and made every word of His word. 

APP:  How should that make us feel? 

  • Relieved?
  • Free?
  • Unburdened?
  • Grateful?
  • Thankful?
  • Hopeful?
  • Energized?
  • Anticipatory?

Once we’ve scattered the Word of God into the soil of others around us, it’s completely up to God and His Word to generate the life.  There is a POWER in God’s Word that is unparalleled in this world.

28 All by itself the soil produces grain….

The Greek word for “all by itself” is automatos from which we get our English word “automatic”.  Spiritual germination is an automated process.  Apart from our work, God’s Word works.  Apart from our intervention, God intervenes.   Apart from our convincing, God’s Word convicts. 

This refers to the 3rd characteristic of the Word:  the PROCESS.  God takes the process from the first stirrings of life, through the sprouting, the growing and the fruition.

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.”

I think this is the process the Word of God takes with all of us who have prepared soil in our souls.  And he does it over and over whenever we embrace His word. 

  • Maybe you are here today and are hearing for the first time that Jesus wants to rescue you from your sin and put a new heart in you that seeks after God. Maybe you’ve never heard the Gospel that God loves you so much that He bore your sin, guilt and shame on the cross and took God’s wrath against your sin on himself personally.  Maybe you’ve never been invited to open your heart to Jesus by simple faith, to turn from your sin of trying to earn His favor and just trust in Jesus. 
  • Or maybe you’ve trusted Jesus for 50 years and had his word sown in your soul almost daily.

The process is the same:  there is a process from germination to growth to fruitfulness.  Like some seeds, the process is sometimes faster, sometimes slower.  But there is always movement of some kind. 

ILL:  Missions Scriptures, truths and teachings this past month.  I can tell they found good soil in many hearts.  How so?

  • The truth grew into action…fruit: actual faith commitments; actual financial giving; actual regular praying for our missionaries; actual offering to investigate opportunities to serve; actual setting aside of time this summer or year to go on a mission trip.  That’s the fruit of the Word planted in our souls this past month about the Great Commission. 
  • Locally that has translated into “fruit” of dozens and dozens of volunteers for the Haven Vacation Bible School Days

That process is going to be revealed again and again both at the Haven Days and the monthly resource events we follow up with like parenting groups and marriage groups and Bible-discussion groups.  The seed of God’s Word will just keep germinating, growing, blooming, and fruiting.

APP:  This should actually be very encouraging for all of us.  If we do the work of managing the soil of our souls—keeping the weeds down of distractions, of competing gods, of worldly cares, of spiritual shallowness—God’s word naturally moves us continually towards fruitfulness.  That doesn’t mean we always see it happening.  It doesn’t mean we always feel some dramatic impact of the Word.  But it does mean that God’s word is miraculously at work in us every time we seek to embrace it, read it, hear it, contemplate its implication, share it, discuss it or teach it. 

Paul put it this way in 1 Corinthians 3:6 when he told the church that it’s not about the people who taught them but the WORD that they were taught-- I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God has been making it grow. 

ILL:  Hockey great Wayne Gretzky was famous for saying, “You miss 100% of the shots you never take.”  Well, we miss 100% of the Word we never read…or listen to attentively…or don’t apply to our lives…or let fall away from our souls. Unlike natural seed that has some measure of failed germination rate, the Word of God never fails to germinate where it finds good soil.  It never fails to grow where it isn’t being chocked out by the cares of this world, the deceitfulness of wealth, the pressure of persecution and trials.  Where it finds “good soil”, it always bears good fruit and very often abundantly. 

            This is why Jesus stressed, “Be very careful how you listen.” 

ILL:  I can think back to dozens of couples I’ve counseled through the years.  Not all of them cultivated hearts that allowed God’s word to transform them.  Some of them just settled for mediocre or miserable marriages.  Some of them opted for divorce.  And some I got to see work the hard soil of their souls into marriages that blessed their children and grandchildren, gave hope to other marriages, and brought joy and laughter into their own lives.    

PLANTING…POWER…PROCESS.  That’s what this parable teaches us about the amazing nature of the Word of God.

            Then there is the 2nd parable.

The Parable of the Mustard Seed

30 Again he said, “What shall we say the kingdom of God is like, or what parable shall we use to describe it? 31 It is like a mustard seed, which is the smallest of all seeds on earth. 32 Yet when planted, it grows and becomes the largest of all garden plants, with such big branches that the birds can perch in its shade.”

            This parable is found in all 3 Synoptic Gospels. 

While the previous parable deals specifically with the amazing nature of the Word of God in the Kingdom, this one deals with the amazing growth of the Kingdom from its most humble, virtually miniscule beginnings. As such, this parable is meant to be a source of encouragement and faith for every one of us who may at times wonder, “Is my life in the kingdom really going to make a difference?” 

            First, let me address the obvious—Jesus’ statement that “a mustard seed” “is the smallest of all seeds on earth.”  (Lit: “though it is smaller than all the seeds on the soil.”)  Jesus wasn’t ignorant about the fact that there are many much smaller seeds than a mustard seed and much larger plants than a mustard plant. Jesus is using rhetorical hyperbole—an exaggeration to make a point (much like when he told people to “get the log out of your own eye” before you try to get the speck out of your brother’s). Jesus is not speaking botanically but proverbially. 'Small as a grain of mustard seed' was a proverbial expression among the Jews for something exceedingly minute"  

ILL:  We might say, “That kid’s an ox!” 

Jesus’ emphasis is on the change of size—from small to large—and the surprising nature of the growth.  Mustard plants apparently grew to be 10-12 feet high, more like a bush than a single plant. 

            While Jesus may well have spoken this parable when the crowds were growing and the accolades flowing, He knew that very shortly the Kingdom-faithful would shrink from thousands to dozens—in the end a mere 120 obedient followers after almost 4 years of life-taking work.  That group…and the whole kingdom… would be in the hands of a dozen very unlikely leaders of anything of magnitude or significance. 

            But they didn’t know that when He gave them this parable.  All they knew was that the opposition was growing.  The kingdom wasn’t materializing like they had envisioned and hoped.  For hat matter, the one they wanted to believe was the Messiah didn’t look at all like what everyone had expected the Messiah to look like.  He wasn’t born to nobility.  He didn’t have powerful connections with the religious leaders in Jerusalem.  He had not outstanding pedigree and no degrees from any prestigious teachers or Rabbis. 

Jesus was, in many ways, far too much like them—laborers, commoners, poor, discounted, and relatively unknown.  And very soon, those hopes for a long-promised kingdom revolution would be utterly destroyed with the lynching of their Messiah by most of the nation. 

            But Jesus knew something they didn’t.  He knew that from His life shared with them…sown into the garden of their lives…would come something that would change the world like nothing ever seen before or since. 

  • How could they know that within days of his body being sown in the grave, the body of disciples would explode into the life of a church probably numbering 10-20,000 people in Jerusalem in that first year?
  • How could they imagine a movement of people that would sweep the known world in less than a century and within 3 centuries dominate the known Roman Empire?
  • How could they know that some 20 centuries later, Christ-followers would number in the billions and be the largest religious group in the world?
  • And how could they know that hundreds of millions of people would experience the radical, soul-rescuing, life-transforming power of the Holy Spirit in every nation, every language and every people group of the world? 

They didn’t…but they needed to hear Jesus’ promise that out of what seemed terribly small at the time, God would do a work that would surpass their wildest dreams. 

APP:  And we need to hold onto this parable in our generation too.  The church in our city or nation may seem terribly weak and small and even shrinking.  But we need to remember that we are part of something that is so certain and will grow to be so big that what we are seeing now is the height of a pebble compared to Mt. Rushmore.  We have the benefit of the vantage point of 2,000 years of the growth of this “mustard seed”.  The faith demanded of us is not greater than that demanded of the church’s first 120 Christ-followers. 

            But that does not mean our faith will be any-less tested.  Following Christ faithfully today will require, for the vast majority of Christ-followers in this 21st century, a rock-solid conviction that this kingdom we are living for is THE greatest kingdom that will ever exits.  What God calls us in our lifetimes to put our shoulders to in the Kingdom may seem terribly small and insignificant from our perspective.  But we have no idea what God will do with our tiny mustard-seed faith 50 or 100 or 300 years from now. 

            This parable should do at least a couple of things to every one of us who feels terribly plain and insignificant.

  1. While we may be small and insignificant-looking compared to others in this world, the Kingdom we are a part of and every work we do to build it is THE MOST significant work that will ever happen in this world. Nothing those without Christ do in this life, whether building billion-dollar companies or running nations of the world or having famous careers…noting will have anywhere near the eternal impact that the most unknown Christ-follower will have living to build Christ’s kingdom.  For any Christ-follower seeking to build God’s kingdom on this earth by raising a family…or working a job to honor Jesus… or being the best student possible in the power of the Holy Spirit…or treating every encounter and friendship as a divine engagement …or praying daily for God’s will to be done on earth as it is in heaven—your steadfast, plodding and dogged faithfulness to Christ is THE most significant work going on in the world today.  To deny that is to deny that Jesus words here are true.  But to live into that even when it seems that nothing is changing or happening is to be a man or woman of greatest faith.  The kingdom of Christ is one that will never stop growing and never be eclipsed or surpassed by another. 
  2. Never stop planting in Christ’s kingdom. Take advantage of small opportunities to do things in Jesus kingdom.  Pray like His kingdom depends on you…because it does.  Serve like you are one of the most important disciples of all time…because you are.  Speak to people as if you are one of the last evangelists in the world…because you are.  Fixing a meal for your family or for a church dinner may seem like small potatoes in the moment.  But doing anything and everything to lift up Jesus in your life and anyone around you is going to change the One Kingdom in human history that will never end, never shrink, never crumble and never fade away.  The seemingly small steps of obedience you and I take day after day are planting Kingdom seeds the fruit and impact of which we have no comprehension of their significance.  But Jesus has promised in this parable that they will. 


  • Been tempted to think what you are doing in the Kingdom doesn’t matter? Reject that lie.
  • Been caught up trying to measure your significance in this life? Stop it!
  • Been wondering if it really matters whether you give you life to God’s call and kingdom? Declare to your soul today that it does!
  • Rededicate yourself this day to keep sowing the Word of God into your life day after day…and to scatter God’s word into the lives of as many people as you possibly can this week and for the rest of your days.